H.G.: Welcome back to the House of Monte, everyone. If you want hot, syllabic action, you've come to the right place. To recap, before the break, the cleanup crew had cleaned up some cloakers, flying bat-like things that make your head explode. Well, no bloody way were the cleanup crew's heads going to explode! They showed those cloakers a thing or two, didn't they, Roy?
Roy: They certainly did, H.G. And they did it with the marvellously simple tactic of not having anything in the head to explode. Empty vessels can't explode -- it's simple physics, basic stuff, really. And yet it's something that all the clever d*cks out there keep missing.
H.G.: Also, during the break, the cleanup crew found a hermit living in the caves, along with his dire bear pet. He said he'd been kicked out of the Inner Fane, and now he only wanted a place where he could live in peace and grow his mushrooms. And he had quite a sizeable crop too. Lots and lots of magic mushrooms.
Roy: I think we're all mature enough to know what that means.
H.G.: Yes, I think we are, Roy. To be honest, I'm not sure that this sort of encounter is really suited for a PG-rated dungeon.
Roy: I agree, H.G. Good, healthy violence is one thing, there's nothing wrong with it. A bit of the old-fashioned poke and niggle is good for the soul. Violence never killed anybody! But DRUGS -- that's something else altogether! Now I realise that the Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee is a dungeon from the old school, aimed at old-school gamers. These are people who grew up with the Keep on the Borderlands, the original Tee'o'ee'ee, the Slavers, the Giants modules. You know, old farts like us, who are old enough to handle this kind of material. But that's not good enough. Think of the kids! Don't they know that D&D products are sold over the counter, without any regulation or adult supervision needed? Kids could come along and pick up lurid descriptions of DRUGS, one thing leads to another, and the next thing you know, they're hooked for life!
H.G.: Well, the joke blew 100 gold pieces on a couple of doses of magic mushroom juice, "for medicinal purposes", of course. I'd never have guessed she had a habit.
Roy: It just goes to show, H.G., you can never be sure. I'm very disappointed in Padma, personally. I'm sure she can handle it, and I don't deny that as an adult she has a perfect right to use whatever she wants to use; but that's not the point. Doesn't she know she's a role model? There must be thousands, if not millions of people hanging on to her every move. Kids everywhere are looking to her and the rest of the cleanup crew to provide an example. They're saying, "when I grow up, I want to be just as stupid as these characters". It's just a dereliction of duty for her to act in such a completely irresponsible manner.
H.G.: I should also say, Roy, that we're only revealing this because we -- Roy and I -- we have a firm and unshakeable commitment to journalistic integrity. We believe in giving our viewers the full picture.
Roy: That's right, H.G. We're here to give you the straight dope.
H.G.: Exactly. Moving on from that distasteful business, the cleanup crew have left the hermit pusher and his product far behind... they're penetrated a long way into fire temple territory. And now they've come to a strange cavern. The floor of the cavern is covered by a large bronze or brass sheet in the shape of a diamond, and there are four pillars around it with big, flaming orbs on top of them.
Roy: It looks like they've reached the temple complex, H.G.
H.G.: It certainly looks like it, Roy. Some fire mephits fly down to meet the crew... they're demanding that the party surrender. And the joke obviously doesn't have a CLUE what's going on, because she wants them to surrender instead! She's high, isn't she?
Roy: As a kite. Who needs boots of flying, when you've got mushroom juice?
H.G.: The mephits fly off, probably in disgust. The cleanup crew doesn't like being stood up like that, not to mention that the mephits will probably alert the whole bloody temple. They're giving chase! They chase the mephits down the corridor!
Roy: They're using the map of the fire temple that the gargoyle drew for them earlier, H.G. Another example of how they're using their stupidity to advantage. A clever d*ck party would probably try some clever d*ck tactic, like stopping and asking for directions. Not this party! Rather than overheat their brains by thinking up clever d*ck tactics, they're going to take the stupid way out and use the map.
H.G.: It's against the adventurer's code of honour to stop and ask directions, don't you know. They've caught up with one of the mephits! It pulls on a rope, and an alarm bell rings out! The jig is up now, there's soldiers running in from all directions. There must be dozens of them, with heavy armour and spears.
Roy: This is going to be painful.
H.G.: You're absolutely right, Roy, as Galadhriel with an H steps up, and FIREBALLS THEM ALL! That's what I like about sorceresses with huge Charisma, they get straight to the point. Those mooks shouldn't have bothered showing up. Go back to reserve grade, you losers! The mephit wasn't harmed, though, and it flies off, into a large cave filled with thick smoke. It's like LA on a bad day down there, you can't see a thing.
Roy: That's the worst smog I've ever seen. Yet more evidence -- as if we needed any -- that this dungeon really is a toilet.
H.G.: The cleanup crew are blundering around in the smog, completely lost. What's that shriek? It's the joke! She's fallen into a hole and can't get out. An 80-foot-deep hole, judging from the distant splatting sound she makes as she hits the bottom. A nasty trap indeed, Roy.
Roy: She's all right, H.G. She was flying so high from the juice that she managed to avoid taking much of the damage.
H.G.: Now she's got to get out again, though. Brat and Jayse have the rope out, and throw it down to her. And Duncan the teenage ninja comes running up, he's heard the shriek, and wants to see what's going on. Oops, he wasn't watching where he was going, and falls into the hole too!
Roy: He's a ninja, I'm sure he can take it.
H.G.: Not when the joke tries to grab him and breaks his rhythm, he can't. They tumble down the hole together, and there's another distant splatting sound as they hit the bottom again. This is starting to resemble a Warner Brothers cartoon, and the joke is playing Daffy Duck.
Roy: Speaking of which, Chuck Jones, R.I.P. 2002; we'll never forget you, Chuckie. Yes, you've got the joke down pat, H.G. Daffy is completely psychotic, never has any idea what's going on, and tends to jump from crisis to crisis in a very silly way. That's Padma the joke, all right.
H.G.: The angry necromancer and the wizard finally haul the ninja and the joke out... meanwhile, Kondara the b*tch has finally found the exit! The cleanup crew stumbles out of the smog, and it's about time, too. So, Roy, if the joke is playing Daffy Duck, who do you think the rest of the cleanup crew is playing?
Roy: Well, for starters, I think Brat the angry necromancer would be Yosemite Sam. Always angry, and the owner of a fast-shootin' wand of negative energy ray, to boot. And Galadhriel would be Wile E. Coyote. She doesn't say much, but whenever she's around, watch out for the explosions. She should try looking for a sponsorship deal from Acme. I'll have to think about the others. There's just so many possibilities to choose from!
H.G.: Yes, moving on, the cleanup crew are heading for the temple proper. That's where they're sure they'll meet Tessimon, the cleric in charge of the show, and all her goons. And straight away, they're proven wrong, when the b*tch is grabbed from above by a huge serpentine tail! It's a bloody great fiery salamander, and it drops down from the ceiling to attack them!
Roy: It's the father of all salamanders!
H.G.: It's the father of all salamanders all right, Roy. It's the leader of the salamanders here at the fire temple. It's strangling the b*tch to death, and now it unsheathes its huge greatsword -- I've never seen one that big before. It's hitting on the sorceress with huge Charisma, it's saying, "come here and let me get intimate with you with my whacking great sword".
Roy: Perhaps you mean a greatsword of whacking, H.G. Oh, and that's a GOOD HIT! She's DOWN!
H.G.: Yes, Roy, the salamander really hit on her hard, and Galadhriel's just gone down on the end of its greatsword of whacking, if you know what I mean. It'll take them ages to clean up that mess. The rest of the cleanup crew swings into action! The joke jumps in, and slashes at the father of all salamanders with her frost sword -- that's nasty, against a fire creature. The teenage ninja grabs his bow, and lets fly several arrows. They all catch alight and burn to ashes, but not before inflicting hefty damage. Duff the D*ckhead misses, as usual....
Roy: They're surrounding it. Is that a good move?
H.G.: Not a good move at all, as the salamander goes completely troppo and unleashes a WHIRLWIND ATTACK! Some impressive slicing and dicing there, Roy, lots of blood on the floor. The cleanup crew may have empty heads, but they've got gallons of blood to bleed. But that was the last throw of the dice for the father of all salamanders, so to speak, because he's made Jayse the wizard angry, and the last thing you want to do is unleash the mongrel in a wizard. He cuts loose with a spray of magic missiles! The father of all salamanders collapses in a heap! He's DOWN and OUT!
Roy: I'm quite impressed, H.G. That salamander had the biggest sword I've ever seen, but it just goes to show that size doesn't matter, stupidity does. And no-one's as stupid as the cleanup crew.
H.G.: Yes, but now they're in trouble; two party members are down and seriously hurt. Padma gets out her wand again, and starts burning through the cure light wounds... hang on, they're interrupted! From down the other end of the tunnel, a boofheaded fighter in plate armour is charging at them, screaming bloody murder!
Roy: Late for the fight, as usual. What is it with these people, don't they know how to stick to a timetable? Isn't there anybody in this dungeon who's competent to run things?
H.G.: Obviously not, Roy. He charges into Duncan, and slaps him around a bit -- actually, quite a lot. The b*tch is on 5 hit points, and is content to unsling her bow and shoot off a token arrow. But the rest of the cleanup crew swings into action once again! The necromancer on angry pills fires off more negative energy rays from his wand... that's a good trick, if you know how to pull it off. Duff the D*ckhead switches direction, and charges up to meet the enemy. I can't tell who's who, all boofheaded fighters in plate look the same to me. Ah, one of them missed, that must be the d*ckhead. Galadhriel with an H has just woken up, and contributes more magic missiles.
Roy: The fighter's totally befuddled, H.G.! He wasn't expecting the cleanup crew to be this efficient.
H.G.: Yes, they swarm up and around the fighter... the joke flies past him, fuelled by those magic mushrooms, and lands another hit with her frost sword. More boom spells come flying in from the wizards... even the d*ckhead manages to hit this time! And it's all over! Your comments, Roy?
Roy: All in all, I'd have to say that that was a pretty impressive display of stupidity from the cleanup crew, H.G. Notice how as soon as those enemies appeared, they reacted without thinking at all. You can only do that if you've short-circuited the connection between brain and body. None of this flank this way, dodge that way bullcrap. That only works in a game, and this is no game! When you come right down to it, when the sh*t hits the fan, and the boots hit the paddock, and it's down to two packs of stinking, sweaty blokes bashing heads against each other in a primal, blood-and-guts, life-and-death, winner-takes-all contest, then it's just a matter of seeing which side can be more stupid when it counts.
H.G.: Completely agree, Roy. Meanwhile, it looks like the cleanup crew has finally reached the fire temple proper. What awaits them inside? To find out, join us again right after the break, here at the House of Monte!
[to be continued]
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