We have reached the Necropolis. We get the character’s dumbfounded reactions as Casey describes it: It’s a place of white clouds and rainbow bridges. Birds. Flowers. Butterflies.
We cut back to the table and see that Casey is sick, and out of his mind on cough medicine. (This was written before we came up with the earlier strip where Casey gets sick. Maybe this would have been too much, to have him get sick twice like this.) This setup is a nod to a classic – perhaps even legendary – Fear the Boot gaming story. FtB host Luke actually did this once, and he’s still teased about it today.
At the Necropolis Casey tries a few of the World’s Most Obvious Quest Hooks, which the players sidestep or ignore. They don’t want any sidequests. They want to head right for the Black Obelisk. Casey tries to force them, and Chuck puts his foot down.
Chuck insists that players MUST have the freedom to play the game as they see fit. They want to be free to act and deal with the consequences, without the GM helping or punishing them based on his preferences.
On hearing this, Casey becomes suddenly insidious. “Oh REALLY?” He stops trying to railroad them and lets them head north for the Obelisk.
Before leaving town, Josh buys a grapple hook and a mile of rope.
I think this would actually be a good spot to have the players remember the pigs they were carrying. Shawn and I were trying to work this joke in at various times since the attack on Calm Meadows. Casey tries to pressure them in the blackened wilderness on the way to the Obelisk, threatening them with starvation. Having never said they got rid of the pigs, but also not mentioning them for the last several game sessions, the players manage to swindle Casey and convince him they still have the pigs, which they eat.
There is another encounter with something absurd and seemingly overpowering. Josh kills it in a single round with his Rulebook-Fu.
The party reaches the Obelisk. Casey very nearly talks them to death with his breathless description of the evil of the place. Josh has some convoluted plan he’s working on with the ropes, but the players ignore him and head inside.
There is a massive spiral staircase leading up the inside of the tower. Topaz gets blasted by a magical trap as soon as she steps on the first step. They very quickly realize the there are thousands and thousands of steps going upwards, and Casey has most likely trapped them all.
Josh calls them back outside. He hands Topaz the grapple hook and rope and tells her to levitate up the side of the tower and hang the hook from the topmost window, which was the first thing readers were shown in the very first comic. (Marcus, never one to pay attention to game mechanics, didn’t even know he COULD levitate.) Casey is irritated, having just seen them route around a lot of his hard work, but he’s still being smug and cryptic. He’s planning something.
(Childish punchline panel: Topaz is flying up the tower. Lucretia looks bored, arms folded. The guys are Looking Up at their miniskirt-wearing mage levitating above them. )
The players climb the rope and pile into the topmost room, having circumvented everything below it. They find themselves in the “Throne Room” of Deuse Baaj, who has been waiting for them.