Kayou has been placed on the missing persons list and will henceforth be named Brick Probably Buried in a Shallow Grave Sir Not Appearing In This Session.
Anise is feeling left out and will be coming along to Vegas so God can have an NPC. Once the Cthulu soundtrack is playing, we get to work. Alex tells the Mysterium where she’s going and when to send the rescue party; if Latoya doesn’t hear from her in 3 days, they’ll send a body cleanup crew eventually/ er, have a nice trip. They have an official service for this; the Lara Croft society has a high casualty rate, unless there’s something interesting.
We all hop on a Delta flight in government funded coach seats. We arrive in Vegas, the land of bleakness and heat. Maxime wants to gamble the money we’ve got away, but the rest of the party sternly disapproves. Anise is already beginning to complain about the horrors of Las Vegas. We’ve got a lot of money, so we rent a car to get to the VRBO and pick up the Humvee, then drive it and the rental car back to it’s place of origin.
The VRBO is in fact a cabin that has been decked out with military glory, despite being locked. Ha ha. It’s about 15-20 minutes from a town near the airport. There’s a literal mountain of pelican cases with all the stuff Smokey said there would be. Smokey phones in ‘how’s Vegas? Lolz smileyface’ direct to Eric’s brain. There’s a shipping container in the driveway that contains a flat dark earth Humvee and a trailer to put the pelican cases in. They’re like 40-foot shipping containers. Anise makes noises in the direction of pretending to be Furiosa until Maxime mentions cutting of her arm.
Craig wants to take the Humvee for a “test drive” and tells Anise that there’s patriarchy in the driver’s seat, specifically the gas pedal, and she orders the manservant to drive while she rides on top. Alex objects strenuously, but the Humvee has button ignition and she can’t keep the keys from anyone as a result.
“Awaken the Humvee!” says Craig, in an effort to have that as our new NPC rather than Anise. They “test drive” the Humvee in the direction of their location, the Tonopah Test Range. God finds his adventure notes, finally. Autobots – roll out! The Humvee only holds 5, so Anise is strapped to the top/in the trailer. Alex is driving.
We’re driving through desert side roads and Eric is listening on his head SDR that’s mostly picking up the airport. They’re discussing that they’ve got few flights incoming, but they’re talking about shutting down the airport temporarily due to dust storms. Our humvee is enclosed, but without AC (although we retconned a retrofit with a recirculater AC when we dropped the rental car back in Vegas) and does have the Iraq-proof features thank goodness. He informs the party about the dust storms on the horizon.
Using the GPS coordinates we’ve picked up, we narrow in on our location of God’s choice. The dust storm is, uh, getting closer. It’s got some directional travel going on; it’s not coming quite at us from the right hand side, but it’ll probably intercept our path. Maxime turns on Matter mage sight, but doesn’t see anything magical. We decide to continue on as normal to our GPS coordinates. Our Humvee is zipadeedoodah; we didn’t know Humvees could go that fast and that smooth. Craig’s spiritual encouragement probably helped a midge.
We roll up on the ruins. They are carved in the cliff walls. This would be consistent with what Alex has seen of Anasazi ruins, but they aren’t quite in the right area for it and the size of it is large enough that she would have expected to see it in a book previously. It’s not super likely that an archaeologist missed it, really, even if it is a little hard to see and reach. It is consistent with what you’d expect to see; it’s been abandoned for a lot of years but doesn’t look like it’s had subsequent resettlement which is a little strange. Mage sight doesn’t show anything from outside the ruins.
Craig tries to summon a lesser spirit that’s wandering around. The strongest thing he’s going to find in the area is going to be a low to mid-level elemental heat spirit and he starts to ask it questions about the ruins. “Same as it’s always been,” comes the reply. “We heat, land gets hot.” Craig asks if its seen others like us. “Occasionally.. They come they go they die, they come, they go.” Further, anyone very recently? “You know, you’re asking a lot of questions.” Craig pulls out a lighter and turns it on, which makes it happy. It’s a literal fire elemental. “There was a couple that came, maybe a month ago.” Alex shows it Jerome’s ID and it confirms that it was him and three others, that went into the ruins. It urges them not to go to the ruins, because it’s not hot. It wasn’t around when the ruins were built, and it wasn’t, but it tells us to go find the big fire spirit of Death Valley and hope that it doesn’t try to kill us. Craig thanks it, and gives it more fire for its troubles, which makes it very amused and pleased.
Alex walks first into the ruins, slowly and carefully with Mage sight up. Anise is staying in the wagon. Everyone has their pistols; Eric is taking the subsonic suppressed AR-15. Alex and Craig each have a P90. Maxime has his Khukri and a grenade or two. Rama also has a staff attached to his backpack and a bigass knife. Alex uses magic to check for hidden hordes.
From looking, she can tell that this is a raw ruin.. No one had been here in about 1500 years, a long ass time at the very least. We find evidence in a couple houses that there was modern camping gear as well as a few ammo boxes. There have been a couple different parties through the area, so it’s a bit more tracked up than we’d expect. There were sleeping bags, jugs that used to have water in them and a couple small ammo containers with common types of ammo in them, suggesting other mage adventurers. But of course, they aren’t here anymore. The stuff is not magical; someone left their basecamp behind to go adventuring and didn’t make it back.
Searching the gear, no one left backpacks or IDs of interest. They left behind the heavy stuff that they wouldn’t want to carry long-distance, as though they’d come back later for it. Rama decides to grab and pack away the 9mm ammo. It’s a standard basecamp; there’s a little HAM radio with a dead battery. It looks to be from the early 2000s. Alex notes that nothing has really been excavated; no one has been doing proper archaeology here. They’ve just done adventuring, as far as she can tell. Mage sight reveals that there’s a false wall like the one in Lilliana’s place; no pictograms, but there’s a city that goes much deeper into the actual cliff face.
It’s just an archway, which is the direction the tracks were leading. It’s a standard sized doorway. Stairs are leading downward. They match roughly the construction of the actual ruins and are in decent condition since there’s not much that could have shifted out of place. They’re not brick stairs, they’re carved out of the rock. Alex has been to pyramids before and other places; even the best stone masons leave chisel marks. They all mess up a little bit, which is normal. We don’t have any conclusive proof, but they were probably constructed using magic.
We aren’t the bestest of mages, but Alex has a notion that it might be possible that in an older era, people who were better at this could have made magic flashlights and they just aren’t here right now. There’s no torch holders or smoke on the ceiling, so they weren’t using regular flames if any. We use muggle flashlights, some of them on the guns themselves.
The stairs continue downward spiraling counterclockwise, down and more towards the mountain. There’s nice sheer rock on either side, so there’s nothing to fall down. We reach the bottom of the stairs. There’s a stone archway with a door in it; it’s relatively flat and smooth. There’s writing with a warning sign of some variety, essentially ‘hey do not enter’ and below that a drawing of an island-looking thing with a mountain in the middle, which matches closely the descriptions we’ve seen of Atlantis. “Hey, I just met you, this is crazy, do not enter, Atlantis maybe.”
There’s no keyway for the door, and the door is set such that there’s no way to put a shim into it. The way it opens isn’t related to anything physically done on the outside. It doesn’t respond to Atlantean. Craig touches the door and before he can get to spelling it with gentle caresses, he hears clockwork mechanisms that open it up on it’s own (almost like there’s an Atlantean gene ha ha no it’s a mage detector). There is a foyer beyond that’s relatively large. It’s 14mx20m. Eric heads in first, and as we enter on the left hand side of the room there is a glowy-flashy mural. It’s multicolored, roughly square, and just barely touches the ground. It’s maybe 2mx2m, so fairly large, and it’s like trying to give us a seizure with all the colors and flashes. It’s hard to tell if it’s trying to display information or not.
There are precisely four hoplite (Greek warriors) looking things that are sort of statuesque, two on either side of the flashy mural business. There are three doorways; we entered in one and there’s a door on the long side of the room, and one u-turn to where we came in. The statues all have spears on the side of the mural. There’s a couple of long-dead adventurers lying on the ground, also, by the way, as an added detail. They’re wearing modern-ish clothing; fashion statements are of the 2000s, so probably the people we saw the gear from upstairs. Maxime tries to summon spirits of the dead people, but the spell fizzles. They’re desiccated, not skeletal or gooey.
With Mage sight up: the wall is damn magical, as are the hoplites, and also maybe the bodies are magical. Whoops. Craig can’t sense intelligent minds, so they’re about as smart as automata ought to be. Maxime determines that the mural’s proper function is that, under the right circumstances, it ought to give us information but at present we’re unable to read it. The automata are made with Matter magic, the mural from Forces and Prime, the bodies are Death magic.
Maxime locates some spirits in the area and asks them if they belong to the dead bodies, what stabbed them and how long they’ve been here. They’re a little dazed. They inform us that they automata only stabbed them when they failed the puzzle. They started pushing buttons on the puzzle when they couldn’t figure it out. He also asks if we can drag them out of the room, because they’re bound to their bodies still. Rama starts dragging one of the bodies out and as he does so it starts to wake up and the spirits urge us to move the bodies out faster, Jerome apparently used to use the shotgun but he’s a dick. As we toss the body, he thanks us. Before all the way out, we ask what Jerome was doing here – that he explored the dungeon and solved it but he doesn’t remember how he solved the puzzle.
The zombies are gone; we bypassed that problem easily enough. Alex has Jerome in a soul jar, and he’s been listening to Nyancat for like a week and a half. Maxime asks about the puzzle. Rama examines the mural, and the glowy image part of it is just a layer in the air off the surface. If we look closely, there are stone buttons we could press and there are quite a few of them and it’s kind of hard to tell them apart in a way that makes sense. Maxime compels Jerome how to tell us how to solve it, which involves solving the other puzzles and coming back with lenses. The dungeon apparently resets itself. And they may be less lenses and more a filter.
The doorways are like the ones previous. It doesn’t appear to matter, according to Jerome, which door we take first. We choose the one farther away. It doesn’t open when Eric touches the door. As soon as he thinks about it opening, it opens – it’s about the intent, and Eric notices the Mind magic go off. Beyond is a loading screen. There’s a corridor that hooks to the right of it, and Eric minimaps around it. There is a big long empty room roughly the size of the one we just came from. There’s a number of doors in the room, along with a bookshelf with two eagles on it. It’s more like a scroll shelf, but they’re very old and there are about 2 dozen of them. Now that we’ve finally approached it, it has a message. On the top of the bookshelf, just below the eagles, there’s a placard: a hunter of knowledge shares so that others might learn. Alex rolls up one of the papers she’s got and puts it on the shelf. One of the eagles hands her a yellow lens and resumes it’s position. Eric pulls the scrolls out and take pictures of them. The eagles eye him to make sure he’s being gentle. The scrolls that are on the actual shelf are pretty much perfectly preserved, almost like they’re on a magic shelf of magic preservation. There’s also books on the shelf. It can be dated as for when people arrived; there’s a long period of nothing and then books. Eric grabs the ISBN and publish date, title, etc for review later and do dating.
As Craig goes into the first room, Eric goes to open the other room (don’t split the party11!!). It’s the same size and shape. There’s a pedestal that has two ravens on either side of a bowl. The ravens are classically accurate in terms of detail, and are Greek style. They’re even to size. The bowl is big, bronze, and designed for mixing. The ravens are not statues, they’re more like the hoplites. The bowl is made with Prime magic.
After dealing with the eagles, Eric tries to open the left door but it has a keyhole. The right door opens however, beyond which are stairs up to another room. There is a lookout point to view the desert, like a pillbox.It’s a bit of a hike. We can see quite a bit of stuff out there. Anise is queen of the War Wagon out there. In the pillbox, Eric finds three spears a lot like what the hoplites were carrying just lining the walls. There’s also a shield or two, enough to man the battlements, made with Matter magic. The spears are, happily, magical, made by Forces magic. There is apparently a button on the spear – oh look, we’ve found a staff weapon. Yeeeeee.
Eric fire the staff at one of the shield Maxime is holding, and it doesn’t hurt as much as it ought to. Eric takes a shield and staff for himself. Back to the bowl: a seeker of knowledge does not suffer the work of tricksters. The bowl is wide and round, and has no apparent substance inside of it. They make the choice to pour some water in the bowl, and the ravens just make sadfaces at it. Not the correct answer. After a minute or so, the bowl sucks the water out. They put a map on the bowl – also the wrong answer. Dollars get nowhere either. Craig takes a piece of paper and writes a bunch of lies on it (5+5=15, e.g.) then sets it on fire and tosses it into the bowl. The ravens hand us a red lens.
We go back to the mural and examine it through the lenses. For starters, the hoplites don’t react at all to this. We don’t get stabbed for playing with the lenses, only for playing with the buttons. Over each eye, over each other, the ordering seems to matter in terms of what they do. It’s not a linear combination problem. Red in front of yellow and yellow in front of red shows something different, but there’s still too much white noise.
Jerome informs us that he normally picks the locks rather than using a key. Eric picks the door in the raven room; turns out Atlantean machinery isn’t all that complicated. There’s a secret door in the raven room, and another in the original room. These are the kind that open when touched with intent. There are no secret doors in the eagle room. Behind the secret door in the mural room, there’s a smithy where the weapons are made, and a few more weapons as well. There’s jewelers equipment, forge without coal in it, all the stuff you’d need if you knew what you were doing to make Atlantean gear if you knew what you were doing. They’ve also got the hoplite plate, but it’s not really wearable. Also, there’s a table with three pillars and some stones – it’s a Tower of Hanoi because this is a Bioware game. There’s no message. Eric completes the puzzle; as soon as he gets them all over to the right hand side without messing up, the drawer of the table pops open and slowly slides out and there’s a little orange lens. We’re looking for ROYGBIV, it seems.
There’s a door in the smithy, too (all the doors all the time it’s like we’re a 1960s band). Down a hall and into another room, there’s a table in the corner. The table has a bunch of urns (like a lot) and they all have different, interesting symbols on the sides and a box in the corner like a trunk with a lock on it. The symbols are mostly unique, there are a few matches. The interesting thing of them is a) the containers are not magical and b) the symbols are pictograms from different cultures but they’re all different kinds of poisonous snake, insect, or other thing. The trunk is nonmagical with a lock on the front with three little keyholes. Craig only finds as much consciousness as he’d find from the hoplites in the general area of the table, so it’s hard to tell but there’s nothing in the box obviously. Eric attempts to pick the tri-lock while Craig tries to convince the box to open. Using the method of having people open the tension rods open for him, we bypass the need to do the puzzle and pissing God off. We get a blue lens.
There’s yet another door in this room and the hallways connect around to the other secret door (cutting out Indigo along the way because God wants to shift the pacing) with another room. There are two minotaurs, and when we open the door they see us and they’re a lot less asleep than the hoplites were. They can’t really fit through the door, but. Minotaurs. It’s a problem.
The party returns to the door Eric unlocked, and since God retconned indigo out of the picture there’s just a hallway that leads to the one we just went through to find the minotaur. The dungeon is symmetric, and there’s another room of minotaurs on the other side, annoyingly. The last available door has a room beyond and a table in it. The table has 7 buttons in a row and the buttons glow; they all flash and then one flashes over and over. Eric tries to run his hand along the entire row at once and spikes come down to whap Eric.
Hitting red only, it gives us all red violet green orange yellow blue eventually. When we solve the Simon Says puzzle, the table gives us a violet lens. That done, we need to deal with the minotaurs to get the last lens; they’re wearing frowny faces and makes axe motions. Eric opens one of the doors and tosses two frag grenades into the room. The minotaurs make a lot of loud angry noises; upon peeking they look like clockwork minotaurs with a lot of shrapnel in them. Now it’s time for the staff weapons. They have a range increment of 50 (50/100/150), they hold 10 charges, they’re mana based (naquedah), and they do 4 lethal damage. After shooting them with the staff weapons, they look additionally hurt but are still standing.
The very hurt minotaur goes at Eric first, attempting axe his arm off. The other is after Maxime. Craig and Alex shoot over them and pull the trigger on the P90s to do some damage. Before too long, the two minotaurs are exposed of their internal clockwork mechanisms and smoking. They’re very intricate, magical circuitry, gears so small that it’s strange they could be made by hand.
Behind the final door, there are four pillars with symbology on them. One of those pillars looks like it has fire symbol on it, another with waves (water) and then air and earth. Craig brings his lighter to the fire one, Eric pours water on the second, Maxime brings earth to the third and Alex blows on the fourth. A green lens falls from the ceiling.
We go back to the mural and each hold them in the order the Simon Says puzzle informed us to. The noise basically goes away, dimming so much that it’s actually visible finally. There are seven blinking dots that blink at once, then an ordering then comes out. It’s almost like the game is training us to do things. Ha. We follow the pattern; the hoplites continue to not stab us. Once the order is done, the puzzle shoots into the ceiling startlingly quickly and behind it there are more stairs down. These stairs are bigger and wider, not standard dungeon width.
Time for a dungeon crawl.