The thief, the cleric, the halfling and the magic-user descend to the third level of the island temple in search of the “pearl of the gods.” The temple’s third level is a vast cavern filled with pits of boiling mud, interlaced with stone paths. Exploring the cavern, they spend way too much time examining a boiling well (actually it’s the termination point of the well they encountered on the second level, forming a kind of J). Eventually concluding the well doesn’t hold untold wealth or a Sword of Awesome +20, they proceed across the cavern to examine a strange formation on the opposite side.
While crossing, a strange-looking merman-like creature pops out of the mud. Caught by surprise, the halfling is immediately charmed by the creature to serve the interests of the ‘kopru.’ The now pod-personed halfling turns and, following the directions of his kopru master, grabs the magic-user and starts dragging him towards the edge of the mud pit. The cleric and thief start attacking the merman creature, who drops beneath the mud again. After that, they attempt to bludgeon the charmed halfling into submission, but the halfling is a tough little guy. He manages to get the magic-user over to the mud pit, and the kopru once again pops up and charms him.
Things are looking rather dire, with the thief considering joining the ‘dark side’ willingly. But the cleric pops off a hold person on the halfling and the magic-user, neutralizing them before they can do any more damage to the party. Enraged, the kopru hauls itself out of the mud and attacks the cleric. It is shortly joined by a second kopru.
Though the merman is a tough creature, the cleric and thief teaming up on it kill it in short order. The second kopru slips away into a mud pit before it can share the same fate. Fortunately, killing the kopru broke the charm effect, so the party is whole once again. Continuing their explorations, they come upon a mineral-encrusted stone throne with a mineral-encrusted skeleton sitting upon it. The skeleton is holding a mineral-encrusted sword and wearing a mineral-encrusted ring. Retrieving the items and cleaning them off they find them to be “very nice,” and one detect magic spell later they’ve determined the items are indeed magical (later identified as a sword +2 with charm person and a ring of telekinesis).
Finding nothing else of interest, and fearing more charm attacks, they head back up to the second level and proceed through the rear door in the tripwire trap room. Opening the door releases another torrent of water into the room and reveals a long corridor ending in an obvious secret door. On the other side of that door is the largest oyster they’ve ever seen…and inside is a large, black pearl! Thinking the ‘pearl of the gods’ has some sort of divine power, the cleric jumps into the oyster, cradling the pearl. Naturally, the oyster slams shut, trapping the cleric within. There’s some talk of leaving the cleric, but the party decides they really want that pearl. Working together they manage to force the oyster open, retrieving both the pearl and the cleric. The oyster makes for an excellent meal.
They spend a restless night sleeping on one of the dungeon’s few dry spots and early the next day complete their explorations of the temple’s second level. They kill some mako sharks and piranhas (no idea how they got into the dungeon in the first place, though), find a little more treasure and the cleric finds a nifty bone-handle mace (which turns out to be a mace +2).
Clearing a blocked stairwell, the party ascends to the first level to egress from the temple. On their way out they encounter a stone alter with finely carved wooden box sitting on it. Opening the box reveals a gold statue of a kopru…and everyone in the party has to make a save vs. spells. Oops. This time the cleric and magic-user are charmed to serve the kopru. The cleric immediately comes up with a clever story about using the statue at the boiling well on the third level to open a secret door, hoping to lure the other two party members back down to be charmed by the remaining kopru. The halfling and thief are confused, but go along (mostly) unsuspecting.
Back on the third level, the cleric and magic-user turn on the party. After a few rounds of furious spell-slinging, poisoned arrow shooting and head bashing the entire party is either unconscious or so violently ill they can’t do anything but retch and spasm…they party TPK’d itself! OK, maybe more like TPKO’d itself. The halfling recovers first, knocking the helplessly ill magic-user unconscious, then grabs the thief and finds a place to hide and recover. Mulling things over, the halfling decides to try splitting the kopru statue in half, hoping it breaks the charm effect, which it does (actually, the module doesn’t say anything about it, but it seemed reasonable so I rolled with it).
After a second charm episode, the party beats feet out of the temple. On the other side of the lake they encounter a small village of friendly natives who warn them about the head-hunting ‘rebels’ on the island. More helpfully, the natives show them a secret cavern through the cliff wall so they don’t have to climb over it again. They meet up with the rakasta again and hang with them for a few days (again, there’s a bit of rumbling about killing the rakasta and taking their stuffs…man, I love my murder-hobo PCs), and then head back to the village and their ship.
Arriving at the village a couple of weeks later, they’re greeted by a crowd of agitated natives. Apparently, a week earlier pirates had attacked the village. Some villagers had been kidnapped, some of the PC’s guards had been killed but worst of all the PC’s treasure-laddened ship had been hijacked! How dare someone else steal what they worked so hard to steal! So, naturally, it’s on.
Borrowing a few war canoes from the village, along with liberal employment of speak with animals interrogating rather single-minded fish, a week later they’ve managed to track the pirates down to one of the smaller outlying islands. The pirates have a fortified camp along the shore of the island, complete with a low berm and three watch towers. The party’s treasure galleon rests at anchor just offshore.
The party comes up with a pretty good plan: they’ll approach the camp under cover of darkness and a silence spell to take out each of the towers in order. The sudden silence actually alerts the guards in the towers, but to little avail, and the pirates are soon shuttled from their mortal coils, or whatever. They’re dead. Along the way, they discover a pirate cave at one end of the encampment, which they decide to explore once they’ve dealt with the pirates.
Stage 2 consists of using the silence spell to murder…er, I mean ‘dispatch,’ the pirates in their sleep, hut by hut. The plan starts out well enough, but soon they find a couple of huts with captive natives inside. Releasing the natives, most of them run for the pirate’s beached canoes, but a few want to stay and find separated family members. This causes a general ruckus that wakes a few of the pirates and the next thing you now, a general alarm has been raised. Pirates rushing about, natives running everywhere…it’s chaos.
Deciding their best chance against the pirate horde is to ’300′ them, the party rushes to the pirate’s cave in the hope of defending the entrance. However, inside the cave are about a half-dozen pirates, guarding a treasure chest (Cha-CHING!). The guards prove little match for the combined firepower of the party. However, outside the pirate leader has finally organized his lads, and they advance on the cave set on murderizing the PCs. A quick darkness spell from the cleric, cast into the leader’s eyes, quickly turns resolve to confusion. The pirates muddle about, trying to figure out why the boss is staggering about like a howling madman.
The halfling issues a challenge to the pirates, trying to egg them on to attack, followed by the thief putting an arrow through some poor saps throat (“They killed Kenny!”). Between their captain’s incapacitation and the chilling demonstration of marksmanship, the pirates had enough. The pirates break up (much to the PC’s surprise), some heading over the walls and some heading for the canoes. Fearing the pirates might make for their ship, the magic-user cast fireball into the lot of them on the beach, turning a retreat into a full-blown route. The pirates scatter to the four winds.
Back in the cave, the halfling forces open the pirate’s chest, causing a secret compartment to pop open, releasing a deadly viper. The magic-user hits the snake with his snake staff, and after months and months of failed attempts to coil the staff around anything, it finally succeeds…against a snake. Irony just got a natural 20, I think. Inside the chest is a modest amount of treasure, and a magic sword. An intelligent, talking, magic sword…this’ll be fun.
Their ship is liberated, the captain and sailors released. Most of the mercenaries died fighting the pirates, and the PCs held a solemn ceremony honoring their loss, with promises of repaying the guard’s sacrifice by giving a small portion of their treasure to help the guard’s surviving family.
Oh wait, no they didn’t. Guards…what guards? Oh, you mean those guys who died doing their jobs. Yeah…true murder-hobos.
Next session the party plans to sail back to Spectaculariumopolis to cash in, pick up supplies, new guards and hopefully trade some of their magic for more useful items. I think it’s time for the PCs to encounter a new menace, one they can’t defeat with steel or sorcery…bureacracy, special interests and government corruption, er, “taxation.” Especially if they decide to get miserly with the captain or surviving sailors and guards. Oh, and rumors of a treasure-filled ship just sitting in the harbor for the taking…that should interest the thieves guild, I think.