Following the 'dwarves' information, we unwittingly walked towards our doom. The path came to a T-junction with both paths going 10' before becoming a room. We chose left, naturally, and took two steps into the room before Jimbo called for initiative.
Our characters all failed our knowledge checks (a running theme that game), but from Jimbo's scripted description we players knew that we faced a Deepspawn, a foul beast that can birth copies of any race that it has devoured. That explained the off-dwarves and the poor drow. It also explained the psuedo-Grimlocks that stood in the room with it.
Combat was fast and fierce, but within four rounds we had another issue. The room back to the right was spawning new horrors; more undead. The hallways being only 5' wide (all the better to be defended by dwarves, my dear!), I rushed to the other end and stood stalwart in the doorway.
Brainburn, Paddy, and Gobbler faced the aberration and its children while I fought a cadre of modified skeletons. Once my turn attempts had run out, I fought with mace and shield. It took me several rounds but my Cleric eventually cleared out the entire room on his own (a feat usually reserved for Paddy's characters) and returned to my comrades in arms.
I returned to find the Deepspawn and her brood dead. I also found Paddy's Soulknife locked in mortal combat with Gobbler's Ghoul. Brainburn did what little he could to aid his brother from another undead mother.
During the fight, Gobbler had rolled poorly and had taken a chunk out of Paddy whilst the mindblade wielder held the mamma in a multi-headlock. He had taken it poorly. Once their mutual foe had been vanquished, Paddy turned on the Ghoul. As Paddy had been Brainburn's initial captor (plus the fact that, in-game, Paddy had been a dick to the flameskull, much moreso than the rest of us), the flaming head had chosen Gobbler's side.
I arrived just in time to see Paddy get the killing blow on Gobbler. Sighing in frustration, I teleported the three survivors back to the Kingdom for some healing before we broke for the evening. Having received enough XP to take us to 4, my cleric was ready and rearing to go when the next game session came around a week later. Gobbler was prepared with character number five in hand although Paddy's Soulknife was nowhere in sight. He had lost the character sheet.
"Fuck it," he said. "Creating a new character from scratch is easier." I found myself running the last starting character alive as Paddy rolled up an Elven Wizard to join Brainburn and I, along with Gobbler's Nixie. Also, in a rare treat, my brother had joined us for that campaign.
Now, my brother (three years my younger) had gamed with us in the past. I am quite certain that, at some point, I will cover the games where he was DMing. He had been a good player but at that junction in life, he had decided that women were more interesting than his brother and friends. He is thusly dubbed DB Skirtchaser for this blog's purposes. I'll leave the 'DB' to my readers' fecund imagination.
Adding his Dwarven Barbarian to our greatly bolstered ranks, Skirtchaser joined us as meatshield. Using my ring of brokeness, I took us instantly back to the room of doom and looted the corpse of Paddy's last character (which he rattled most of the items and money off of by memory) and the re-corpse of the Ghoul. We also took what few goodies our enemies had possessed.
Taking the goods to the Kingdom's treasurer to unload our riches (quite a bit, considering how much Paddy carrier on him), we split the enemies' loot evenly but only Brainburn and I got to reap the rewards of party death (that group charter was a brilliant idea). Brainburn, being nothing more than a flying head, had little to spend his money on that would actually be beneficial, which saddened Jimbo greatly. Gobbler threw out the idea that we could carve out a hole in his skull and screw in a metamagic rod or two.
Once the laughing had subsided, our flying friendly flame specialist was sprouting a rod of lesser maximize from his forehead. He had spent extra money to have it designed to appear like a natural boney horn. The human unicorn, or the flaming humicorn as he was quickly dubbed, was quite proud of his newest extremity. Having very little to spend my money on, I decided to keep it for 'later'. Little did I know that later would never come.
We continued our dungeon trudge, fighting random encounters the further we went into the complex that momma Deepspawn had her children carving out. The only real thing of note that happened that day was the ridiculous amount of time DB Skirtchaser spent texting his girlfriend. When we broke for food, he left. Honestly, I think I spent more time describing him here than he spent at the gaming table that day. Sheesh, some people have their priorities all wrong (says the guy with a date this weekend!).
Returning from food netted us one final encounter against some Grell. What they were doing in my Kingdom, I have no idea. We were determined to find out, though.
Initiative was rolled and Paddy, saddened that his own grapple monster was no more, opted instead to blast the beaked bastards with a fireball. The now-crispy critters went next, grappling Paddy (who was at that precise moment quite displeased with his decision to not remake his Soulknife), Gobbler and myself. Brainburn, despite his huge penalties, managed to evade the fourth Grell grapple.
I cast Body Blades, a spell I had prepared for just such an eventuality, and was promptly free. Gobbler attacked as best he could but his Nixie, like the majority of his characters that campaign, failed to be useful. Going last, the flaming humicorn used his eye-beams of fiery pain to kill the creature holding fast to his spellcasting brethren. Paddy thanked him before casting a round of magic missiles into the Grell nearest Brainburn once initiative rolled over. Then the Grells went. Then Gobbler's Nixie died.
To say that Gobbler was angry would be an understatement as large as the man himself. I recall dice being lobbed while the rest of us died of laughter. Once he was calm, he began working on his sixth character for the campaign in about as many sessions while the rest of us avenged his Nixie's death. We mopped them up quickly, thanks in great part to a second helping of fireball, this time from a more frequent source than Paddy. Grells dispatched, we travelled to the third level in Undermountain, claiming all we saw in the name of Kingdom.
A few random encounters later, we came to a great pit, easily thousands of feet deep. We returned back home for some further loot selling and the feeding of the Western Watch. There, Jimbo informed me of the sad story of Dwarf claiming his direct ancestors had once ruled Undermountain. Sensing a challenge to my claim, we immediately went out to check the validity of these claims (and silence them, if necessary).
We needn't have worried. His name was Gyud, a fighter of little prominence. His haggard appearance calmed my anxiety. He had been haunted by dreams of late about a plain crown with a bloodred gem attached, laying at the bottom of a great chasm. He wasn't interested in ruling anything but rather felt a familial obligation to not let the thing fall into the clutches of evil.
The threat to the throne thwarted, we took off in search of my new crown. Gyud was good enough to inform us that it was at the bottom of Belkram's Fall. His description matched that of the giant chasm we had encountered on our last excursion into level 3. I returned us there post-haste and we looked down. I scouted out below but it was designed in such a way that I could not pick out any location well enough to safely teleport us there.
Returning briefly to the Kingdom for some epic climbing gear and back again to the Fall, we were met with sounds from above us. Gobbler had his sixth character ready.
A halfling Ninja came hurtling at us from the darkness above. Before we could recover our wits, initiative was rolled and we found ourselves facing Gobbler's pursuers. The poor bastards were not even memorable enough for me to recall their race!
Introductions were made off-camera and we began our final descent. Another bout of unremarkable travel had us eventually reaching Skullport. We were not as ill-received as I expected. Paddy wanted to take over the joint but cooler heads prevailed. After all, as the flaming humicorn informed us, all the flaming skulls without additional appendages functioned as a hivemind. Jimbo politely informed us that the entire Kingdom trebled could not make a scratch against the forces of Skullport. Humbled, we gathered what information we needed from the dealers of such things and exited the town.
We travelled further upon our road and faced some more Grell, adults this time, but that was where the campaign ended. Looking back, I don't know whether to celebrate or cry that things never progressed further. Hel, I don't even remember why we didn't continue. I think that things had gotten to out of hand, what with Gobbler's revolving door of characters becoming increasingly more fantastical than the last and all. Still, I have fond memories of this module and one day hope to take part in that adventure again. Maybe with Pathfinder rules. And maybe with a cartographer in tow!