Bob* the cleric and the Rapida the cat**, had independently followed the party's trail of bludgeoned bugs and eviscerated ettins looking for adventure. They were also the characters of our two new players: Andrew, a longtime friend and recording client of mine, and Adeline, Amanda (Xanna)'s super-smart-but-still-kinda-scared-of-the-DM's-monster-voices seven year-old daughter.
Armed with fresh hit points and new allies, the party pried the door open and stared into the blackness beyond. An acrid stench stung their nostrils like acid and the slow, steady drip of liquid echoed along the quiet, finely-chiselled hallways beyond. At this point, Arda the dwarf drew forth an ancient map that she'd kept hidden up to now. Unlabeled though it was, it provided a decent overview of the main living and working level of the mine:
|The entrance is on the bottom of the map.|
Click to enlarge. It's a big damn dungeon.
Winding their way through the labyrinthine hallways, the characters' first encounter was with a handful of deadly Black Puddings blocking their path. Some oil, fire, and magic quickly cleared the way (once Ambiorix and Fil discovered that smashing the puddings with swords only created more puddings).
|And then the party had a tasty snack.|
Moving on, the group next found a huge, high-ceilinged chamber lined with intricately-carved pillars and various frescoes and relief carvings. At the far end of the chamber was a massive stone sarcophagus (think the big stone box that covered the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark). As our heroes moved closer to investigate, two 5' humanoid frog creatures carrying spears and wearing crude loin cloths*** emerged from each of the northeast and northwest passages. Angry and stabby, they proceeded to spear, claw, bite, and poison the party. The battle did not go well for our heroes, and this adventure's second TPK almost occurred. In the end, both Fil and Aesopos the NPC cleric (aka "The Intern") were killed while almost everyone else was either knocked unconscious or severely injured. Someone managed to grab Fil's lifeless body and drag it along during the retreat but the remains of the poor "intern" had to be left behind. Thankfully the frog-monsters were more interested in protecting their territory than chasing the characters.
The PCs retreated back outside the mine to hide in the forest and heal. Fortunately, Indis the elf had found a Raise Dead scroll on a previous adventure and it was used to bring poor Fil back to life. That said, being frog-filleted to death takes a lot out of a guy and he would be in no shape to travel or fight for at least two weeks.
Thus, a choice had to be made: hang out in the woods with Fil and risk random encounters and maybe more frog-monsters coming from the mine to hunt everyone down, or go back in with a strategic plan and try again? I'll give you one guess as to which one they chose.
* I have a theory. At some point, nearly every D&D campaign will have at least one quickly-rolled-up character named Bob. That's been my experience over the last 30 years of gaming, anyway.
** Kudos to Aisha (Elazti the magic-user) for the kitty's badass name.
*** Are there fancy loincloths?