The paladin glared at the vending machine as its scrolling marquee announced the availability of …magic potions, enchanted door keys, maps, traps… “I’ll never understand. Here of all places.”
“Lets just pay the damn thing,” the party’s rogue demanded as she stuffed a few coins into the machine’s slot. She had lifted the coins from the paladin’s pocket earlier and so didn’t mind treating everyone.
A map was selected and given to the party’s dwarven fighter who studied it and their surroundings, looking for hidden doorways and traps. Come back soon! Stock up on healing potions, trust me! Are you sure you have enough magic? the vending machine offered.
The party set down a tunnel and was immediately beset upon by a giant red lizard. It was defeated, but the cost was high.
“Down the damn cleric,” the rogue snapped irritably, covered in blood and scales. “Well there wasn’t a ‘Beware Beast’ mark on the map!” the dwarf returned, raising his fists. The party’s paladin, the unofficial leader, stepped between them and held up her hands to break them apart. Their losses were already high and taking each other out would only weaken them further.
Later, another vending machine offered Sanctuary Candles. Had it been there a minute ago? Was that wall not blank? Keeps you safe — six hours!
The adventurers all looked at each other; what choice did they have? Pockets were emptied, money was pooled, and candles were purchased. After one was lit (matches were sold separately, of course, the paladin observed with annoyance), everyone indeed relaxed. As promised, a feeling of calm and safety flooded the area for as long as the candle remained alight.
Rations were supplemented by yet another vending machine— some choosing healthy energy bars that tasted like driftwood, others favoring quick energy boosting candy. The rogue met her end in a jolt of lightning as she tried to pick the vending machine’s lock— much to the dwarf’s heated anger.
The party’s diminished strength began catching up as the week wore on. Camping every eighteen hours or so, they used the Sanctuary Candles to keep the monsters at bay. No matter, the casualties began mounting when they traveled: a spike trap took out two warriors, a lich blasted the wizards before vanishing, and the party’s ranger went looking for a privy and is assumed lost as he never returned. “Take the map,” the dwarven fighter had offered. “Rangers never get lost, they have exploits!” the ranger countered.
Defeated and broke, the shattered remains of the party used the map to find the dungeon exit.
Resurrect-a-Cola! a final soda pop machine offered. Many flavors! Each selection button had a glyph indicating a lost party member.
Depleting the last of their treasure, the survivors of the rag tag team brought back to life nearly everyone they had lost. Quick jaunts into the dungeon, bashing some hidden treasure chests and looting a few monsters secured the coins needed to bring back the remaining lost adventurers, including the ranger. “I should have taken the left tunnel,” he mused grimly.
“You cost three times as much as everyone else, so breakfast is on you,” the dwarven fighter greeted the newly breathing rogue. The vending machines apparently communicated and levied stiff penalties for attempted robbery.
“It was,” the rogue said as she coughed out the ectoplasm of new life, “worth a shot.” The paladin had to restrain the dwarf from re-murdering her, yelling, “we don’t have the time or the energy to hunt down more coin, settle this later over cards or something ya bloody blowhards.”
The adventurers gathered at Creepy Crepes, a diner in Peyroux, to review and recover. Overhearing their conversation, a troll called over its waitress and handed her a small stack of coins. “That party there? Their breakfast is on me,” he said quietly. “I’m making a fortune off of them in my caverns!”