The players who showed up were pretty happy with the list of goodies for sale. Of course, they didn’t have enough money to get both the sceptre of light & dark and the dancing bear. The goblin/halfling/ranger desperately wanted it to be able to ride it into battle. Eventually, they’d settled on a possible agreement with the orc that he and his bear be taken on as hirelings for 2 shares of treasure, but the goblin, upon learning that under no circumstances (other than outright purchase of the bear) would he be allowed to ride on the bear’s back. So the party decided that since the bear would probably get killed anyway, they’d go for the scepter of light and dark.
Their initial experimentation with it was less that successful. They had returned to the site of Malek, the elven city filled with giant insects, and were again attacked by goblin skirmishers. They tried to hide their position with the scepter, but when you’ve got a big glob of darkness in the middle of the forest where guys used to be, archers are just going to shoot in the general direction of the darkness. The party awkwardly lashed out without really knowing where the goblins were other than their general position. The party’s goblin managed to get a lucky arrow off, killing a goblin who didn’t make his hide/concealment check. Meantime, the other goblins managed to bugger off.
The party descended into the Nameless Dungeon (which has now been named Malek), following the right hand rule. The party stumbled into a pit trap in the octagonal room, drawing the skeletons from 20. It was a tough fight, but the party handled themselves nicely, deciding that turning the skeletons would just turn into a cascading encounter (since it had before). The room with the firebeetles proved an easier encounter, though they ended up covered in bio-luminescent goo that will keep them glow in the dark for the next 2 days or until they can wash their clothes. The trap room off the octagon speared the monk, but they didn’t find the secret treasure chest in the trap mechanism.
The party headed west through 20, opened the secret door, finding the corpse with all the coins. Random encounter of two giant flies ended up giving them a minor annoyance, but the party dispatched them without too many problems. The party stumbled onward, finding the giant ant colony and the bat room, carefully backing out of each.
One of the things that strikes me about the Nameless Dungeon is how many monsters are cramped into tiny rooms. Firebeetles are 2 1/2 feet long. 6 of them are cramped into a 20×10 room with no exits save a closed door. The room with the giant ant colony is bigger but considering that giant ants are the size of ponies, and there were 2 dozen of them, that’s gotta be pretty cramped. There’s at least an egress for them to come and go from. How all of these giant insects are together, relatively foodless in a such a cramped monster menagerie style dungeon has been hand-waved as being the result of evil elf magic.
My group’s elf dropped out due to being over-committed, though he extensively complimented me and my game. Another player has raised the question of when the game will conclude (I think he’s interested in running a game). Even though everyone seems to be having a good time and enjoying themselves, I’m also experiencing DM fatigue. If I had a more flexible schedule that allowed me to participate in multiple games on multiple nights, I wouldn’t be feeling this way, but when i can only game 1 night every two weeks, I’m wanting to play more than DM, and I’m ready for it to end. But I also don’t want to leave players hanging who might be invested in the story.