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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 9: Playing the Race Card

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Turns out, useful for more than just that . . .
A.K.A. The Argument Trump Card

If you've been following along to this point, you're aware of the . . . inequalities in the way events unfold within this castle/prison with regard to the vertically challenged. Loki's mentioned it on more than one occasion, this fact that the place hates little people. (Drink your milk kids)

Well, as it turns out the castle has ears as well, and perhaps a small amount of compassion. But we'll get to that.

As we left off, Thor had just discovered a porcelain, headless mannequin. So, of course, the plan was created. Stick the head into the mannequin. Chocolate and Peanut Butter, right?

Loki objected strongly (much as he had when they freed Nebula) and upon being ignored stomped back upstairs and left. After short discussion Steve was sent after him.

The Brawler found the Magus marching determinedly back towards the first mausoleum, intent on pilfering the tomes they'd left there with option to desecrate the shrines of the short person hating pricks they belonged to. Steve quickly caught up to him, grabbing Loki by the scruff of his cloak and lifting him off of the ground. It took Loki a moment to realize that the locomotive action of his legs was no longer translating into forward movement, at which point he turned a glare on his captor.

When asked, Loki explained his intentions, leaving out the desecration possibilities. After a short argument (and a pathetic escape attempt on Loki's part), Steve (ever the do-gooder) immediately turned the two of them around and headed back to the rest of the party.

As they approached the entrance to the third mausoleum the mannequin, complete with head, exited. She stopped and looked at the skeletal constructs, as if thinking hard. A moment later the constructs fell into line with her as she marched off.

"You let her go?!" Loki asked in disbelief, to which Cap had no response. They hurried below to find out what the fuck.

They found their group seemingly unharmed. The group explained how they'd had no trouble at all adding the head to the body, as if proudly. Just a few connections (read: heal checks) and the body sealed itself around the head.

They then continued (as Loki was beating his head into a wall in frustration) to explain how she seemed like a nice enough person. A bit stiff, definitely upper class. She'd explained how she'd financed 'these people' until she'd discovered what kind of experiments they were performing and that when she cut her funding she became an experiment. All this while she dressed herself from garments in a chest next to the bed. Then she'd left.

Then it was Loki's turn to explain where he'd went. After one listen the group agreed that those tomes might just be worth a bit and set off to collect them. After that it was on to looting in the miscellaneous quarter of the graveyard. As it turned out, 'miscellaneous' meant any race not a dwarf, human, or elf. (i.e. gnomes, goblins, kobolds, halfling, all the small races; I suppose they should be happy they have a spot at all right?)

There they found a three story mausoleum with a crowd of caskets arranged airline seating style (What; they're small so they need less space right?) on the third floor. There Loki was able to acquire a ROP 2, a +3 Mithril Chain Shirt, a Tree Feather Token (yes I know, trees don't have feathers), Dust of Appearance, a Helm of Comprehend Items, a Scarab of Death (Which they left right the hell alone), a Staff of Swarming Insects, a +2 HB of Mental Superiority, and a Ring of Jumping. All small sized. Which meant that Loki just went from the worst protected character in the party to the best protected character.

{Player's Note: Not sure if this was genuine luck with the loot tables, DM benevolence, or DM fear as I had informed him that if Loki died I was building Frank Castle. Just think of the possibilities . . .

P.S. I'm thinking Paladin Titan Brawler

P.P.S. Oh, and I was thinking of going halfling as a race . . .}

Oh, and they let an ooze out. It had been trapped with two of its brethren in one of the caskets (read: smelly treasure storage boxes) until their greed had given it the opportunity to escape. It slipped through a crack in the third floor before they could stop it. And yes, they could most certainly have tracked it down, but Loki was quick to point out that unleashing an ooze most definitely fell under the heading of interfering with the normal function of the graveyard, and as such would most certainly draw the wrath of the lich. Better to just skedaddle and let the undead overlord of the graveyard handle it. Which they agreed to, strangely. Apparently the group just listens to whomever has the most gear.

They decided to cut through the one quadrant they hadn't visited: the elf quadrant. As they crossed that boundary they stopped seeing skeletal workers, instead finding the place being maintained by elven spirits. The group did attempt to speak with one of them, gaining only an oft repeated 'GET OUT!' for their trouble. After the fourth or fifth time they took the hint and made there way to the nearest exit.

At which point, Loki turned around, and asked loudly who to speak to in order to reserve a plot. (What; isn't it important to make sure your affairs are in order?)

{Player's Note: It was at this point that I earned 'the look' from the DM. I don't know why, but I'm looking forward to finding out.}

A shadowy figure emerged from the ground behind them. It introduced itself as the keeper of the elf quarter and asked what Loki had to trade for a plot. Fortunately, Loki just happened to have some stones he'd pilfer- er, loot- I mean liberated earlier. Those were enough to get himself a top floor of the central mausoleum, and his brother a nice plot. (Well of course he had to have a better plot than Thor!)

They then headed back to the hag. They told her of the mannequin woman they'd freed, to which she backed up Loki's estimate of the situation; mainly 'what they hell were you thinking?' She told them that this woman had been one of the ones in charge, and that they were lucky they were still alive.

In order to change the subject they pulled out the jar of eyes. She seemed positively delighted at its sight, immediately rooting through them, trying on different eyes in her empty socket. As she tried one on she focused on Steve and shuffled closer to him, examining his left eye.

She then asked what he wanted in trade for that eye, stating that it was 'nice handiwork'. Looking closely, the group realized that Steve's left eye actually had a halo around the iris, something not seen in his other eye. As in, it was not his eye. His mind flashed back to his first conscious moments in the castle when the constructor that had him bound had prodded his eye slightly. And stated that it was 'going to keep an eye on him'. Suddenly, an eye swap seemed a good idea.

Loki then took over the negotiations and told her they couldn't let Steve's eye go for anything less than a Staff of Power. This was rightly ignored. The Hag then haggled (you see what I did there: hag, haggled. Get it? Shut up, that's funny!) him down to an eye that increased his darkvision distance.

Thus followed a rather twisted version of a scene from ER, with the Hag as the head surgeon, Hazel assisting. Several checks later and the eye was removed. As they removed it, they noted that the back half was some sort of device.

They then replaced the presumed spying device without difficulty. Afterwards the Hag remarked that the operation went better than normal. When pressed she admitted that most 'patients' died in the process.

The Hag then handed over the corset, which Hazel (packrat that she is) immediately offered to 'hold'. As soon as it was in her possession she put it on. Spider legs immediately wrapped around her torso from the back of the corset. More sprouted down to the ground giving her extra legs and a full climb speed as well as hang-from-the-ceiling, and creep-people-out abilities.

Their next destination was back to Drider Lady (The DM swears she's not a Drider: her name is Jeskai) to turn the corset in. They also asked her if she'd noted that one of Steve's eyes was fake. She said she didn't. She also seemed quite concerned when they told her they'd left the Scarab of Death behind, to which they went 'duh'. She then told them that Maipher needed help, and she'd square things afterwards.

Which incited a certain suspicious set of looks from the group. Okay, mostly from Loki. Her announcement could well have been a dodge to avoid payment. Perhaps she was hoping they'd just forget, which wasn't going to work in this group, I assure you. Maybe it was a negotiation tactic. But, on consideration the group decided that she probably didn't stand to gain much from such a tactic. They weren't going to forget, and were more likely to charge interest if she continued delaying them. And, if nothing else, doing as such would ensure they did no deeds for her in the future.

Plus, there was the fact that Maipher was definitely the closest person to a friend they had (including each other) in this twisted place. So they hurried upstairs.

They found Maipher in his room, seeming to be fine. Loki immediately asked if he'd noted Steve's 'upgrade'. He claimed he hadn't in a somewhat distracted air. To be fair, he also had other things on his mind. Every Maipher part (except one creepy jar of organs) the group had recovered was now gone, taken by one particular Gnoll. One that just happened to have a peculiar key hung around its neck. One that bore a striking resemblance to the one they'd lost when Hazel and Thor had been captured.

Of course, he could have just added that particular detail to elicit their help. Hey, I said he was the closest thing to a friend, not actually a friend.

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