We had a full group of players again this week, except that Secondborn has largely decided to sit out the game. His character is still technically present, but he's still being played by the monk's character. Meanwhile, the players of the mousefolk cleric and the halfling arcane trickster have apparently been talking to another kid at school who really wants to join the game as an Aarakocra moon druid; I told them to give the kid my cell phone number and have either him or his parents contact me about it. Moon druid would not be a bad addition to the party, and when I spoke to Secondborn he indicated that he'd be willing to have his character join Jax The Dwarf Barbarian (originally played by his cousin) as a secondary, non-banner company team still employed by Lord Aldenmier. (That way they still have a plausible story presence if they want to join up again.)
So, this week two main things happened:
First, since they're now third level, I followed through on the "enhance and balance characters" initiative. In character, several of our adventurers found themselves transformed or enhanced as they entered the dungeon of the mad mage this time. The monk is now an elf instead of a human; the halfling rogue reworked his ability scores to better fit his role as an Arcane Trickster. In addition, an issue I noticed early on -- that the cleric's player had rolled for ability scores, and overall had substantially better abilities than the others (who got standard arrays during creation). The cleric's player and I did some math, and decided that if we gave everybody else 3 more points to add to their ability scores, that would about even it out. So there was some addition as well as some rearranging, and overall the characters are looking a lot more formidable now.
Secondarily, of course, they ventured back into the dungeon. They went past the spider room and paused to set it on fire again, then entered and retrieved the bronze short sword that always seems to be there. (The cat statue that they originally retrieved from this room is still with Firstborn's Dragonborn Draconic Sorcerer, but at the moment it is neither purring nor meowing.)
They then proceeded on, electing to ignore the room with the kobolds, and tried the next door. It was had a dozen or so largish baskets scattered around the walls and apparently full of grain. The cleric (still the best-armored of the party) stepped inside, and immediately noticed that there were some small piles of mid-sized animal pellets on the floor. The monk, behind them in the hallway, had the distinct impression that the room was not empty, though he couldn't have said why. The dragonborn had also spotted the droppings, but unfortunately didn't too well at identifying them. He put a hand on the cleric's shoulder and said: "Careful. I think there're Death Bunnies in here."
The cleric didn't trust his assessment, but didn't do any better herself: "Those aren't death bunny pellets," she replied. "Those are clearly from Doom Hamsters."
The monk advanced into the room, sniffing the air and looking carefully around. "Smells more like rats," he said.
"Rats, is it?" asked the sorcerer, and immediately used fire bolt to set fire to a basket in the far corner of the room. Seven giant rats (about the size of Corgis, say) immediately emerged from behind the baskets. Unfortunately, they rolled really poorly on initiative and didn't get any real chance to attack: the cleric took out one with Toll The Dead before combat even started. Then the monk took out two more, the cleric nearly killed another one, the rogue took out one (I think), and the sorcerer finished off three more with magic missiles.
The mousefolk cleric was really pleased with the discovery of this much grain. For one thing, they're vegetarian; for another, a supply of food here in the dungeon means that they can stay longer.
So they proceeded to the next room, and opened the door. On the walls to their left and right were two pairs of sarcophagi, while ahead of them a large throne sat on a low dais. Two large onyx jackal statues flanked the throne, and a tapestry behind it showed humans and elves lounging on silks and eating exotic fruits. The group began checking the room - looking for traps, and throwing handfuls of grain at various things to see if there was any reaction. The monk tried to open one of the sarcophagi, but found that it was sealed. In fact, nothing much happened until the cleric stepped onto the dais.
That was when all four sarcophagi opened, and a zombie lurched out and slammed into the monk, damaging him fairly severely.
I called the game there, because we were seriously out of time; but we'll open with the Battle Against The Undead next time.