Tonight was a resounding success for the players.
One player decided to shelve his druid and bring out his gnome. (I'll be writing a separate post about why druids in OSE are fuckin' terrible) They hired three fighters and kitted them out in plate mail, shields, spears, and bows. The players were tired of mucking about as a bunch of broke, perpetually first level scrubs. It was time to kill the minotaur or die.
A lot could've gone wrong, but luck was with the players. They navigated the maze much better. They no longer had lots of fire beetles or stirges to deal with. The minotaur failed two saving throws, both against phantasmal force and darkness. (Courtesy of the gnome and the drow, respectively.) The party rolled much better for missile fire. The magic-user came prepped with magic missile instead of sleep.
In the aftermath, the party was able to recover the belongings of their slain cleric compatriot and two retainers. (Their remains had, for the most part, been eaten.) The assassin found the secret door to the minotaur's treasure hoard. A couple of crowbars and some caution avoided the poisoned needle in chest #1.
The party dismissed the three fighters after paying them, but kept their hired thief on retainer. The gnome spent money on better equipment. The magic-user gained a level, met another of his kind, and negotiated a spell swap, gaining charm person and light in the process. The drow has the magic plate mail and the healing staff after the party had the magic loot identified by a wise man. The assassin compensated for her low charisma by buying rounds of honey mead and eavesdropping on adventurers.
So now we've got another 2nd level character, the assassin is nearly 3rd, and the gnome is off to a decent start. The players are contemplating swapping the druid and drow out for wilderness and underground adventures, respectively. Both in and out of character, they are debating raiding the caves again or moving on to other adventures.