Jenny: Human Barbarian, Does Not Do Puzzles.
Hatch: Halfling Arcane Trickster, rogue skills and empowered scorching rays.
Ramikin: Imp Familiar, wielder of the Wand of Grease, usually invisible.
Chuck: Human Sorcerer turned Vampire, always up to start something.
Durest: Dwarven Priest and Necromancer, travel and trickery.
Bob: Skeletal Frost Giant, Durest's companion/mount, and smacker of things with the Very Large Axe.
We're thousands of feet underground, navigating through ancient ruins that seem to be one giant set of mechanical puzzles and nasty constructs.
"There's all these dumbass metal bugs floating around, they're like lightning assholes or something. Crystals in cages, too, probably bad shit. Then there's this giant fucking... I don't want to say for sure, but it was a beholder guys. So, like, we're out right? We're done? Job complete." Thus does Chuck explain the next level after scouting ahead.
We make ready, and descend down the water-vator.
There are tiny lightning-bug constructs providing dim light across the massive room. We're standing on a bridge, which seem to form a sort of maze. At various points in the maze there are crystals on pedestals, trapped in metal cages. A beholder is orbiting the nearest one.
Chuck: "Is this your place? I want to bargain. I've been stuck down here a long time."
It doesn't respond.
Chuck. "All right, I see how it is." He leads off with an Empowered Scorching Ray.
That definitely gets it attention.
Jenny charges and lays into it with her chain, connecting solidly. Chuck shifts his position and zaps him again; the Beholder tries Charm Monster on Chuck, but fails; then it tries disintegrate. Chuck is partly dissolved, but doesn't die. It then tries to charm Jenny, fails, and then tries Finger of Death on her. She is injured but not killed; he tries to make her afraid, but that fails, too.
Durest gets petrified (because of course I failed that save). It then tries Inflict light wounds on Chuck, which... heals him, because he's a vampire. The beholder curses colorfully. It tries to put Jenny to sleep, and finally succeeds. It casts Slow on Chuck, and succeeds, then picks him up with Telekinesis and throws him off the edge.
Bob charges and buries his axe in the beholder. Hatch lets loose with empowered Scorching Ray, and basically immolates the thing.
They manage, despite the odds, to restore Durest to mobility.
They stagger forward, and start searching. And Hatch starts rooting around in the beholder corpse and finds a key inside it!
The pedestal has a keyhole. Chuck, looking it over, thinks this is come kind of control console. Hatch searches it for traps. He doesn't find any traps, but the mechanism clearly affects things way down below up. He turns the key, and the chunk of maze that we're standing on moves. A bit of experimentation indicates that the key can be used to move this section back and forth.
We move up to the next pedestal. There's a large safe sitting on a corner next to it. The pedestal is surrounded by metal body parts. Durest attempts to assemble the robot-construct-thing thing, but... well, I mean, it turns out that if you shove the head into place really hard, it'll stay as long as you don't move anything. "Och, Captain, I'm a necromancer -- not an artificer."
Hatch, meanwhile, is looking to break into the giant safe -- it's like 15' tall -- but the dial on the front is huge and high, so he calls Jenny The Barbarian over to help. Bob the Frost Giant skeleton lends a hand, and with Hatch guiding them they turn the dial back and forth. There's a satisfying *click* as the tumblers fall into place, but unfortunately even Bob isn't strong enough to turn the lever -- even with Jenny's considerable help.
Hatch uses Grease on the mechanism to try to loosen it up. Finally, barely, we manage to push the lever up and open the door.
Hanging inside, on a little chain, is another key.
We move to a central platform. There a hollow, metal craft that vaguely resembles a lobster or crab: legs, pincers, portholes, and a door on the bottom that irises closed; there's a button next to it. This is almost certainly the artifact that we were sent to fetch, only it's way too heavy to move.
Hatch presses the button. A voice from the artifact says: "Path not found. Maintaining hibernation."
We move on a bit, and find a pipe organ with a circle of tuning forks beside it. The forks are sensitive; they hum a bit in response to our voices. The organ, however, does not have music on it; doubtless we need to play something, but Chopsticks does not do it.
We move to the edge of our current area and start dropping spells on the constructs across the way. Jenny is disappointed not to be part of the killing, but we assure the barbarian that she can have the tiny mechanical village to stomp on when we get over to that section of the maze. (Jenny's reply.)
We take out the lesser guardians, but the big one starts dropping spheres of force around us and then teleports into the sphere. Now we're in real trouble, because Jenny -- our heavy hitter -- is outside the sphere, and this large construct is in a position to flatten the squishy spellcasters.
This plan was not as good as it seemed.
It looses chain lightning, injuring all of us, and Durest teleports everbody back out of the sphere. Jenny comes around and Durest aligns her weapon to Chaos. She slaps the smack out of the thing with her spiked chain.
It dies, and we take its key.