The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 1: Across the Blighted Desert, or Adventures in Potatoland, or Rhomande Plans a Trip to the Planes of Sour Cream and Chives
Rhomande's Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire & Host-Proprietor of The 20-Sided Theatre – Rudraigh Quattrin
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceri Quattrin
Imenand Shenouda, President of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation – Blake Parker
Tad Decent LLC, Town Exterminator of Oakvale – Chris Wong
Thrimlach Lenanien – Cian Quattrin
Vragul, Baron of Keepfield etc. (see “King of-” list) - Mike Solso
Thorn the Trixie Pixie of Unknown Gender – Chris Clouse
The DM – Rudraigh Quattrin
Sir Gnome – Rudraigh Quattrin
Torrea Marsvel - Cian Quattrin
The Wiz – Cian Quattrin
Potato Groupie – Ceri Quattrin
Kartoffel, a Slayer Spud in Training – Blake Parker
Tuberius Balk, Mayor of Tots Eisley – Chris Clouse
Bartender – Gabe Abinante
Sentient Vodka – Cian Quattrin
Sir Isaac Newtot, a well-known Potato Philosopher – Rudraigh Quattrin
Cranky Tater – Ceri Quattrin
Useful Tater – Cian Quattrin
Khentin the Salespud, a dealer in magic carpets, both new and used- Gabe Abinante
Tuberorsus the Blighted, a mass-murderer turned hellscape – Blake Parker
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
Vrogol: **From “offstage”** QUIET!! TIME FOR START SHOW! VROGOL DEFEAT AUDIENCE!!
SFX: (2d20 rolls)
The DM: Your Move Silent and Hide checks are successful. SFX: **Permanency**(reverb and/or effects on voice of the DM, as he is “outside” the world of the show)
SFX: (pause)(51136_rutgermuller_Cough (short))
Rhomande: Good evening Lords and Ladies. You have chosen your evening's entertainment quite wisely. You are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in all of Western Scottalia. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde, and I welcome you...to The 20-Sided Theatre!
The Wiz: **From “offstage”** Dancing lights! SFX: (121558_sbarncar_whistleandreport.aif x 5 (bunched in time with opening of Theme Music)
Theme Music: (VCMG – Victory Flower Fields – 20-Sided Theatre Edit)
Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Rhomande: The curtain rises, and we rejoin our Heroes --
The DM: (interrupting) Really? Heroes?
Rhomande: Yeah, Heroes.
The DM: Ugh...Give me a bluff check. SFX: (d20 roll) Godsdamnit. (muttered to self). Fine...Heroes.
Rhomande: Allow me to introduce you to our heroes: The Insufferable Basterds.
Rhomande: Dark Brother Smid Kaltrops! The Half-Bear Monk and President of Bear Industries. A shapeshifter of near insurmountable strength and speed.
Smid: SFX: (70333_mrbubble110_bear-roar.wav)The Scottalian Bread Merchants think they can strong-arm Bear Industries out of business‽ Not if I have anything to say about it. Which I will.
Rhomande: Thrimlach Lenanion! A blindfolded Elf Sorcerer with a potato perched on his shoulder and his minions Torrea Marsvel, an Undead Paladin and Sir Gnome, his faithful Gnome-Skeleton valet.
Thrimlach: Come along, Torrea. You too Sir Gnome! Or I'll put you in a maze!
Torrea: Yes sir.
Sir Gnome: Yes Master.
Rhomande: Tad Decent LLC, Town Exterminator of Oakvale. Undoubtedly the most accurate archer in all of Western Scottalia.
Tad: I'll turn Don Vincenzo into a pincushion.
Rhomande: Imenand Shenouda. He is known throughout The Empire as The Weaponsmith and he serves as President and spokesman of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. A mummified Human Wizard, accompanied by his Skeletal-Cat Familiar, Bastet.
Imenand: SFX: (4914_noisecollector_cat2.wav) You can count on The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. When you need it dead yesterday.
Rhomande: Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess. A 7' tall shapeshifting Penguin Rogue!
Issa: Bow before the Princess of the mighty Pengonquin tribe or I'll peck you in the face!
Rhomande: A tiny thief of questionable gender! A master magician of variable size! Thorn, the Trixie Pixie!
Thorn: When I catch Vincenzo, he won’t know what hit him… or from what direction!
Rhomande: And last, but definitely not least: Yours truly, the inexplainable Rhomande Sorfinde! Bard in Extraordinaire, Beloved of Millions, The Light of the Shining Dawn…
Issa: (interrupting) *ahem* Get on with it!
Rhomande: An Elfen Bard of pan-dimensional acclaim. But you already knew that, didn't you? Lords and Ladies of my beloved audience, recline upon your gilded seats, quaff your libations and thoroughly enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre!
End Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Scene 1: Intro
Rhomande: In our lives, we dream and play at many things, yet we hold the conceit that only we imagine being other than we are. How many of us have dreamed of knighthood, or wielding eldritch forces, or taking the forms of beasts? And why should not all creation dream so? The goddess Harvannë, in all her bounty, would reward the humblest of plants, allowing their afterlives to fulfill their deepest desires. The heroes of Oak Vale and Western Scottalia were like many of us, having never thought to ask: Would a potato dare to dream of being King?
Scene 2: Potato Heaven
DM: You step through the portal and arrive in Outer Haikon, in the Plane of Potatoes.
Rhomande: I don my Cloak of Charisma!
Potato Groupie: He's soooo dreamy!
Issa: Rhomande, did one of your groupies follow us through the portal?
Thrimlach: The spell only transports 8, and we're all here.
DM: A bevy of potato bobbysoxers floods toward you, clamoring at the Illustrious Rhomande.
Potato Groupies: Can I have your autograph? Give me your spuds! Rhomande is sooo dreamy! Etc...
Issa: What is going on here? Has your monkey been singing your praises since it was plane shifted here?
Rhomande: Everybody's heard of me. I have fans in this and every reality, Penguin. And probably most timelines, as well... Hmmm... Need to look into that.
DM: Torrea summons her paladin mount.
Torrea: Spirit of the Swift Wind, come to me!
SFX: neigh, galloping sound
DM: Her horse gallops out of a starburst in the distance. Spirit of the Swift Wind SFX: (neigh) floats on the air as he charges, gradually lowering until he alights gently on the grass before his paladin. Potato birds softly chirp their sizzling songs.
Issa: Do potatoes have a natural predator here?
DM: Not on this plane. Everything eats them in every other reality. Here, the potatoes rule the land.
Imenand: Well, we are here to see the potato king.
Rhomande: Bardic Knowledge! SFX: (d20 roll) Indeed, we are, my friend. The king of this land...
Thrim: (interrupting) wields the scepter in one hand, and the masher in the other!
Rhomande: Ahem. The king of this place is known as Prautha the Masher.
Issa: Wait, what happens when potatoes die here?
DM: Nobody truly knows, but the prevailing theory is that when a potato dies here, it is born again in another reality, to feed all of creation. Potato Heaven lasts for a long time - so long as to feel an eternity - but all potatoes will eventually grow again.
Tad: So, Potatoes believe in Reincarnation?
Rhomande: More of a Rein-Starch-Nation.
Issa: I hate you.
Scene 3: Baked Potato Dragon
DM: The colors on this plane skew suspiciously toward earth tones. Fluffy, yellow-white clouds hover above brown grass and red-skinned trees. Suddenly, a monstrous howl peals through the glade, and a ponderous shape swings low in the sky.
Rhomande: Thrimlach! Do your keen elven eyes see what mine do?
Thrimlach: By the Ancient Spirits of Evil! Baked Potato Dragon! Hit the dirt!
SFX: (Dragon noises)
DM: Rhomande's unimaginative potato squirrel runs away to hide up a nearby tree.
SFX: (squirrel chatter, leaves & branches)
Issa: Wait... How is that potato supposed to be a squirrel? It's just a lumpy, bent tuber. I mean, that bit on the end, there, might look like a tail.
DM: I told you, it's not an imaginative potato. It wanted to be a squirrel, but it doesn't know much about arms or legs or storing nuts. Just running up and down trees, and having a big, bushy tail. Anyway, the dragon is of more concern to you, at the moment.
Issa: Right! Where is this thing?
DM: In the sky, about 100 feet above you.
Issa: I cast Fly!
SFX: (Ceri’s fly sound)
Imenand: Wait just one minute. Why can the penguin fly?
Rhomande: For the same reason I have this amazing cloak: Dramatic effect!
SFX: (lute strum)
Imenand: (flatly) Can the paladin's horse fly as well?
Torrea: To my knowledge, Spirit of the Swift Wind is landlocked.
Thrim: What kind of stupid magical horse is named Spirit of the Swift Wind, and can't fly?
Torrea: It's a fast horse!
Imenand: It's also a ghost horse.
SFX: (dragon roar)
DM: The hulking mass of the red-skinned potato dragon swings down and snaps at the flying penguin...
SFX: (d20 roll) Snatching her up in its jaws! This potato apparently had a very good imagination, at least as far as teeth were involved.
Issa: Noooooo! GET ME DOWN! <long penguin noise>
Thrimlach: I cast Fly on this stupid not-flying paladin's mount. SFX: (Cian fly) And I cast a quickened Lightning Bolt! SFX (Cian lightning)
Issa: Hey! Watch where you're shooting those things!
Rhomande: (singing) Hooooly shiiiiit! We have to killlll iiiiiiiiit!
Imenand: I cast two lightning bolts of my own! (sfx) Wait... Where did Smyd go?
DM: Your bear ran off to poop in the potato woods. This distracts your shot, and the dragon barrel rolls out of the way of your spells.
Imenand: Well, then. I erect my Cube of Force.
SFX: (Blake cube of force)
DM: Now you’re shielded from anything that might try to come into your ten-foot radius comfort zone. Fortunately, you're a mummy, so you don't have to worry about running out of air.
Thrimlach: Wait… one… two… carry the eight… by the inverse square of distance… There are five of us, when there should be six! Where in the names of the gods did Tad go?
Issa: … And here I always thought he was such a decent fellow.
DM: He ran toward the tree line the moment you gave your warning, Thrimlach.
Thrimlach: That coward! Torrea! Take care of that dragon! Lightning Bolt!
SFX: (Cian lightning)
DM: Your lightning bolt soars toward Torrea’s mace, as Spirit of the Swift Wind SFX: (neigh) carries her into the blue, toward the potato dragon. She lands her mace squarely above its left eye.
SFX: (dragon roar, critical hit)
Torrea: Critical Hit! Hahahahaha!
DM: The dragon’s starchy roar wakes Thorn, the Trixy Pixie Sorceror, from its cat-nap.
Issa: Cat nap? During a dragon raid?
DM: Well, it’s not sleeping any more. It was napping inside Bastet’s skull.
Imenand: How dare you defile my special kitty!
SFX: (pixie flying)
Thorn: Yawwwn! Is it breakfast already? It smells like … Prataniel Bruithongwel out here, guys... What the fuck is that !?
SFX: (dragon roar)
Thorn: Oh. I see.
DM: Where are Bastet and Thorn, by the way?
Imenand: My familiar sits upon the crown of my cadaver collector, as always.
Thorn: Fireball! Preferably away from its mouth.
DM: The fireball soars toward the dragon, exploding and dealing massive damage to Issa. Give me a spot check, Thorn.
SFX: (fire, explosion)
Thorn: SFX: (d20 roll) Oh… That’s a red-skinned potato dragon. Sorry, Issa.
Issa: I hate you.
DM: A flight of arrows soars out from the nearby thicket.
SFX: (arrows x3)
Tad: Called Shot to the left foreleg! SFX: (d20 roll) One hit… and two crits!
DM: You strike its wrist, elbow, and shoulder in quick succession, disabling its left arm. The dragon growls in pain, SFX: (dragon growl) grinding its teeth on the flying penguin.
Issa: (pained penguin noises)
Thrimlach: Where did those arrows come from?
Tad: Tad Decent, Limited Liability Corporation. Lawfully Elected Town Exterminator of Oak Vale. That’ll be seventy thousand gold, ma’am.
Issa: I’ve already met you!
Thrimlach: And you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.
Rhomande: And why do you have standard paperwork for exterminating dragons?
Tad: Hey, a pest is a pest. I’ve studied up on the hostile environment of this plane. Don’t lose any limbs. The ground will just suck them down, and try to make roots out of them.
DM: How… did you figure that out? Did you look at my notes?
Tad: Like I said, I studied up on this place. And bought a Potato of Regeneration at the last town. Don’t try to repeat that experiment, if you can avoid it.
Imenand: I, too, have studied this plane.
Imenand: Long ago, I visited the Labyrinth of Jareth the Goblin King, which borders on this plane. There I encountered a system of hand-roots that made semblances of faces in a sad attempt to communicate.
SFX: (dragon roar)
DM: Issa, would you like the good news or the bad news first?
Issa: Sigh… The good news, I guess. The bad can’t be much worse than a dragon chewing on me.
DM: It opens its jaws, freeing you.
DM: And it lets out a sixty foot cone of scalding baked potato steam. SFX: (steam blast) Make Reflex Saves, all of you.
SFX: (d20 roll x5)
Issa: Oh goooods!
Tad: I’ve been burned by yams before. This is not going to be pleasant for us.
Imenand: It won’t be pleasant for you. I’m safely in my Cube of Force.
DM: The potato dragon bathes you all in boiling steam, then it flies away, leaving Thrimlach and Thorn dead in its wake.
Imenand: Well, don’t look at me. I’m more of a necromancer than a ressurrector.
Rhomande: Hrm… Luckily, I was able to talk that potato mendicant out of his walking stick.
Issa: What good will that do?
Rhomande: It’s really a Staff of True Resurrection.
Issa: Why would a potato have one of those?
Rhomande: I don’t know. Maybe he was some sort of … how do you say… Papa de Pappas.
DM: I don't remember that. How many charges does that have?
Rhomande: Would I lie to you?
SFX: (True Rez x2)
Scene 4: The Slayer Spud
DM: Anyway. Issa, as you hover in the buttery clouds, you see smoke rising over the horizon to the south. From the plumes, you guess that it is a sizable settlement.
Issa: Hey, guys! There’s a town!
DM: A fat, vaguely torso-shaped potato falls out of the tree adjacent to Tad’s, bouncing off of the ground.
Tad: Not my fault!
Kartoffel: Oh! Sank you so much for saving me from zat beast again!
Imenand: And what in the name of the Mother of Weapons are you supposed to be?
Kartoffel: Mein name is Kartoffel. I fight him every day. One day I shall deztroy zat dragon.
Issa: I really don’t understand what you're trying to do, here.
Tad: Slayer Spuuuuud!
Kartoffel: Ja! Mein dream was to be ein… how do you say… dragonslayer. But now I have learned zat you must work your way up to slaying dragons. (faintingly) Oh! Zis is such hard work.
Imenand: And where, exactly, did you come by this idea?
Kartoffel: One day, in ze last life, I was frying in ze pan, und I heard an amazing story. Zere was a man called Sigurd, who killed a dragon und saved ein hamlet. Hearing zis, I knew zat some day, in zis afterlife that the goddess gave me, I would be ein dragonslayer myself. Zis I prayed of Harvanne, und here I stand.
Thorn: But… you’re a potato.
Kartoffel: Yes! Und zis is Haikon. Potato Heaven.
Thorn: That explains so much.
Tad: Your heart was in the right place, you just have no concept of what a slayer looks like, I'm guessing.
Kartoffel: Yes. It is very good to hear you say zis. Und, what is zis 'heart'?
Tad: Well, it's a... Male... Deer.
Torrea: Spirit of the Swift Wind! Teach this potato to be a hero.
((series of horse noises, punctuated by "ja, ja. Mmhmmm. Yes" etc))
Thorn: Sleight of Hand!
DM: To do what?
Thorn: I'm going to cast True Strike, sneakily. So Kartoffel has a boost of confidence the next time he tries to slay something.
DM: Give me a Sleight of Handroll. SFX: (d20 roll) Despite having 360˚ vision, the slayer-in-training is completely unaware of you.
Thorn: Chin up, old starch! With a little practice, you'll be much better at this. That magic horse gave you some good advice, you know.
Issa: True. You’re also going to need a weapon of some kind, Kartoffel. Maybe a magic sword. Probably a shield, too.
Kartoffel: A sword! Zat is brilliant! But, the only magic sword I know of is the Toppler, and zat has been lost for centuries. If only someone could find such a blade…
Tad: You’ll also need a hand, if you want to hold it.
Kartoffel: But, what is zis ‘hand’?
Issa: One of these! Oh, wait. No. That’s a flipper.
Imenand: Do you need any scarabs?
Kartoffel: Um... Sank you, no. Zey just eat away at mein starchy body.
Tad: In my opinion, you shouldn’t try to be a dragonslayer. Instead, you should be a Beholder. You’ve already got the prerequisite number of eyes.
Issa: Gods! I hate you.
Rhomande: Why are you looking at me?
Issa: Because I know that all of these puns are your doing. Somehow. With your bardy tongue and such.
Kartoffel: Perhaps after mein next life, I shall become ein Beholder. Zen I could destroy zat beast with but a glance! Sank you, mein freunden. Perhaps you would care to accompany me to ze nearby town.
Tad: What's this town called?
Kartoffel: Tots Eisley.
Chorus: Gods damnit.
Rhomande: Enough of this! Quest! (sfx) Go find Theo the Wonder Guard, and train under him. Begone from my sight, starchling!
Thrimlach: Brilliant idea! Plane Shift! (sfx) Now that that's done, let's see about that village.
Scene 5: A Less Wretched Hive of Scum & Villainy
DM: After a short journey, the land suddenly changes to a desertscape. You can even discern the line between the desert and the outer planes.
Issa: Wait, why does the grass end in a perfectly straight line where the sand begins?
DM: Like I said, potatoes aren't very imaginative. The only landmarks beyond the grass line are a brown cactus and a cobblepotato road. Following the road for a while, you arrive in Tots Eisley, the last outpost on the edge of the great desert of Tuberorsus the Blighted.
Thorn: Tuberwhatsis the Who Now?
Rhomande: Bardic Knowledge! Long ago, in the kingdom of Eer-land, or some other such ridiculous name, Tuberorsus was a great potato who strove to liberate his people from the bondage of the farmer – though some stories say that he was merely unwilling to submit to the diggers, and this earned Harvannë's displeasure. Who can say, but the Blighted One and Harvannë themselves? The long and short of it is that he spread a terrible blight of mass suicides amongst his people, in an indirect attempt to kill the diggers. We now stand on the edge of Potato Hell, which may in fact be the worst mass murderer in potato history.
Imenand: So, you're telling me that he was some sort of potato cult leader.
Issa: How do you know that?
Rhomande: Oh, you know. One picks things up here and there...
Issa: Sure you do. There'd better not be a half-potato half-elf running around somewhere.
Rhomande: Perish the thought! Look! The mayor!
Mayor: I am the lord mayor, Tuberius Balk. It is a great pleasure to have so many strangers in town. Especially such odd-looking ones as yourself! I do say, you quite resemble the other guest our town so recently hosted! Welcome to Tots Eisley!
Issa: Good gods.
DM: Mayor Balk must have a decent imagination for a potato, because everything about him positively screams "Mayor", from the monocle, down past his handlebar mustache, to the two arms gripping his waistcoat.
Imenand: Do his arms actually do anything?
DM: No, they are stuck in that position. He spends his days walking his town, looking important.
Tad: That must be how he became mayor in the first place.
Imenand: Your Lord Mayorship, we seek an individual by the name of Vincenzo. We are told he seeks to negotiate with King Prautha.
Mayor: Ah, yes! The Vincenzo was through here eight days ago. Very polite. He left before sunrise on the third day after he arrived. He watered himself and spread his roots a bit at the Tipsy Tato Tavern.
Imenand: And where would we find the king?
Mayor: He is in the city of Khadavan, in Inner Haikon, which lies beyond the desert.
Imenand: And how long does the crossing take?
Mayor: Hrm... You need to roll that way, lengthwise, over forty thousand times, over that knobbly bit on your back.
Thrimlach: That isn't very helpful to us. We don't have that knobbly bit. Where did you say he ... Um... Watered himself, again?
Mayor: The Tipsy Tato Tavern. Follow me, I was about to pass it on my mayorly rounds.
DM: You pass a startlingly diverse group of buildings on your way to the tavern. Some seem to be gargantuan, hollowed out potatoes, while others are log cabins built from julienned potato trees, and still more are made of potato stone held together with mash mortar. Some are thatched with potato stalks, while others have hash browned shingles. No two houses are identical in this village.
Thrimlach: I cast Geas on the Mayor before leaving his company.
SFX: (Cian geas)
DM: Whatever for?
Thrimlach: To force them to learn the Empire's Base-Ten System of Measurement and Counting. And to appoint a city planner.
Mayor: I... Must meet with the wise council immediately. Please, enjoy your stay here at the Tipsy Tato Tavern.
Scene 6: The Tipsy Tato
SFX: (background tavern talking)
DM: You enter the Tipsy Tato Inn, while two massive potato bouncers give you the eyes. Inside the common room, spuds drunkenly wobble and roll between the tables and the bar, singing old songs of their proud, deep roots. The bartender loudly grunts, before thrusting an appendage toward Torrea, Imenand, and Issa.
Bar Tender: Yer undead have to wait outside! We don't serve their kind in here!
Imenand: Well, that’s just life-ist.
Issa: What kind of fucking attitude is that? I flip him the flipper. Waaaark.
Imenand: Can my cadaver collector stay inside?
Bar Tender: Of course it can. It's not the walking dead. It's dirt’n’rocks. Dirt’n’rocks is respectable. Why, I lived next to dirt’n’rocks all my life! (thoughtfully) Except for at the end there when I was next to those onions and sausages.
Issa: Screw this. I cast Disguise Self!
SFX: (Ceri disguise self)
Bartender: Where'd the big leathery water potato go?
Imenand: She left. So did I.
DM: Give me a bluff check.
SFX: (d20 roll)
Bartender: Oh, my mistake! Come right in! Have a drink on the house!
Imenand: No, thank you... Wait, why did I say "thank you"?
Rhomande: Because you were trying to be charming. Like me. Good morrow, I'm the Irrefutable Rhomande Sorfinde, bard in exraordinary. Don't worry barkeep, we'll keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Mass Fascinate!
SFX: (lute strum)
DM: Now that you've settled in at the bar, give me some Gather Information checks, (rolls). Tad, you go first.
Tad: So... Potato. What's your deal?
Sentient Vodka: I always dreamed of being drunk, and then I was vodka!
Tad: Right. (gulp). Dream fulfilled. (pained) Ugh… I feel slightly sick.
DM: Thorn, you approach a potato wearing a curled white wig.
Thorn: So, friend tater, did you see someone come through here a few days past? He had a plume in his wide-brimmed hat.
Sir Isaac Newtot: Feh! The Undead have no place in our afterlife, and I won't suffer them in my bar. You ever heard of an undead plant? 'Course you haven't! It's just against common sense!
Thorn: You wouldn't happen to be Sir Isaac Newtot, would you?
Newtot: Ah, you've heard of me!
DM: The philosopher potato extends a hand at you, because he knows that philosophers always extend their appendages when they encounter someone. Thrimlach approaches the next of the locals.
Thrimlach: So, barfly, what's the latest news? Seen the other stranger?
Cranky Tater: The bloke in the hat weren't one of us. Oh, sure he was polite, but he just looked ... His color was all wrong, that sickly pink, like his insides were all over the outs. And there was a peel over one of his face-eyes, and a scar across the other. And the peel on his talking-face bit kept moving up and down.
Thrimlach: Kind of like this?
DM: Thrimlach lifts his bandanna from his neck, covering his mouth and nose.
Thrimlach: His mouth moved up and down like this?
Cranky Tater: Exactly like that! Whatever devil sorcery do you outsiders mess about with, we won't tolerate none of it here!
Thrimlach: Whoops! Sorry about that. How about another drink?
Cranky Tater: I'd be much obliged.
DM: Imenand menacingly approaches one of the bouncers.
Imenand: You. You shall reveal to me all that you know about the stranger with the plumed hat.
Useful Tater: Yeah, there was a stranger with a sprout on his head. Left 5 or 6 days ago, looking for a way to Inner Haikon. I told him to ask Khentin the Salespud for a way to cross the desert.
Imenand: I don't like the way the bouncers are eyeing me. I increase the radius of my Aura of Terror.
SFX: (Blake aura of terror)
DM: The room darkens and warps around you. Potatoes clamor for the exits, fleeing from the extradimensional mummy that has invaded their bar. Within seconds, you are the only ones left in the place.
Issa: I continue to gather information! Hey, you! The potato with the bits hanging off of it! What news?
Imenand: I gather that Tad's drink wanted to be drunk. And there's a flying carpet salesman somewhere in this town.
Issa: Dang. I thought you looked familiar.
Rhomande: Well, that's enough of that. Where is this Salespud?
Scene 6: The Used Flying Carpet Salespud
DM: You cross two sections of the town and arrive at Khentin's Discount Flying Carpets. Khentin seems have a yellow and black checked suit branded into his peel, and a wide-brimmed, white leather hat sits atop his brow.
Khentin the Salespud: Carpets! Flying Carpets for sale! Ah, Customers! Howdy, folks. Now, you look like you're in the market for a flying carpet, aintcha?
Tad: Man, what a hunk of junk!
Khentin: Now, folks, you gotta understand this: all these carpets were dreaming potatoes in their last life, and every last one of em wanted to be a flying carpet, instead. And just look at all of these models we have! How about this little winner? That's our Economy Model, ma'am. Very comfortable for short trips to the bazaar, or to the little one's farming recital.
Tad: Who are you calling ma'am?
Issa: (in background): Farming recital?
Khentin: Dangful sorry about that! You outlanders don't seem to have the proper gender bits that we tubers do. Quite frankly, it's hard to tell you all apart. Now, come over here to browse our fine selection of Sport Utility Carpets. Quite spacious, and only uses four times the magical energy of the economy model. Guaranteed to fly off the lot!
Issa: So, you met the other stranger? The one with the floppy hat and the eyepatch and the bandanna?
Khentin: I don't rightly know what most of them words ye just said are, but the covered traveler did come here. I sold him a magic carpet to carry him to Khadavan.
Tad: Excellent. Let's take another look at the Economy Model, then.
Khentin: I'm glad you folks decided to buy a flying carpet. It is quite a noble dream to be a flying carpet, especially for 'nous pommes'. How could anybody deny this fine carpet the opportunity to fulfill its dearest wish? Now, then. This little baby seats three, and it's a steal at 5000 coins!
Imenand: Coins? What sort of coins?
Khentin: Uhh.... You know... The little round ones that have a face on them.
Tad: Sounds great! We'll take three. One for the cadaver collector, and two for the rest of us.
Thorn: And I'll just go back to sleep in the cat's skull.
Tad: I thought you had wings of your own.
Thorn: Well, yeah, but I don't want to fly that far, especially though some blighted desert. How much will that be, merchant?
Khentin: Uhm... This one's a steal at 5000 coins!
Imenand: What about the other two?
Khentin: Look, folks, I’m gonna level with ya, here. I ain't too good with the whole numbers thing. Could you just do me a favor and buy one carpet at a time? Then you could just come back for the other four.
Thrimlach: No, penguin! I count five!
DM: Give me a bluff check, Thrimlach.
Thrimlach: ((failure sound)) Yes... Five carpets...
Khentin: Now I'm just confused. I only have four in stock.
DM: It becomes fairly obvious that Khentin cannot count. He has dozens of carpets arrayed around his stall, each hovering two fingers' breadth above the ground.
Thrimlach: Enough of this! MAGIC CARPETS! I DEMAND MAGIC CARPETS, VENDOR!
Khentin: Alright, alright. I think I figured out the maths. You can have this carpet for 5000 coins.
Thrimlach: That's pretty expensive for something that wants to be bought.
Issa: Fine. I give him the five thousand gold.
Khentin: Thank you kindly! Now, I can also give you this carpet for 5000 coins!
Thrimlach: Fine, here you go. Don't bother to count it. I'm sure it's all there.
DM: What was in that bagyou just handed to him?
Thrimlach: Three thousand, four hundred and seventy copper pieces. And a few rocks. I think they're rocks, at least. They might be potato bugs, given where they came from.
DM: Fair enough, I guess.
Khentin: And I can sell you another carpet for 5000 coins.
Imenand: I'm beginning to see how this works. Here you go, sir. Five thousand coins.
DM: Oh gods... What did you just give him, Imenand?
Imenand: It was only Bag of Holding.
DM: Wow... That's uncharacteristically charitable of you.
Imenand: (interrupting) Filled to the brim with scarabs! Now, let us be gone from this place!
Rhomande: But, I wanted to see him open the bag!
Issa: Nobody asked you, bard. Besides, you didn't fork over any cash for the transportation, so you don't get a vote.
Rhomande: Fine. Suggestion! SFX: (Rud suggestion) Don't worry, old bean. I'll take those filthy carpets off your, um... Roots. Just hand em all over. And don't worry about counting the contents of this purse until we're gone. It certainly isn't a glove full of scorpions.
Khentin: Thanks a hundred, folks! This is the best sales day I've ever had! And, hey, if you're looking to cross the desert, y'all should gird yourselves well. Tuberorsus has been restless of late. The desert is no laughing matter. It shrivels all but the hardiest-dreaming potatoes.
Imenand: I don't need to bother with that.
Khentin: No, I suppose you don't. Couldn't get much more shriveled there, could you? Don't mean to pry, but did you have an accident or something?
Imenand: No. I did this on purpose.
Thrimlach: Enough gawking at the locals! We have a criminal mastermind to hunt down!
Scene 7: Across the Blighted Desert
DM: As you fly on your carpets, the ashen desert glistens beneath you. The second day of your journey brings you into a dry, cracked expanse. In the distance, clouds of dust obscure the horizon. The sun beats down upon you, and no green thing is to be seen throughout the grey wastes.
Tad: Ahem. Tree shape?
DM: One green thing is to be seen throughout the grey wastes!
Tad: Much better. I commune with nature, to determine the trajectory of this storm. I prefer to avoid all entanglements with sandstorms, whenever possible.
DM: As you meditate, listening to the wind and the sands and the cactus -
Thorn: There are cacti in the potato desert?
DM: Sort of. Just one, and it’s a thick, spiny potato plant. It actually looks more like a giant thistle than a cactus. Anyway, Tad, the voice of nature eventually tells you where the storm is headed.
Tuberorsus: SFX: (distortion, chorus) The storms are coming for you. So sayeth Tuberorus the Blighted! Bwahahahaha
Tad: Oh dear. Tree Shape!
SFX: (Chris tree shape)
Thorn: Not a bad idea. Stone Skin!
SFX: (stone skin)
DM: Those won't help you much. The storm is still at least twenty miles away.
Thorn: I was just doing it to get my fair pixie skin out of the sun for a minute.
DM: Fair enough. The rest of the day is uneventful, once the novelty of flying on a magic carpet to see a potato king wears off. That evening, during the third watch, the ground begins to tremble, and your campfire is swallowed by a widening crack in the desert floor. Give me reflex saves against the earthquake.
SFX: (d20 roll x4)
Imenand: I float upon my disk.
Thorn: And I have wings.
Thrimlach: Torrea, look out!
DM: Thrim, why did you just hurl yourself at your paladin and her horse?
Thrimlach: Well, somebody had to fall over.
Rhomande: And at that moment, the air did fill with the fetid trace of corrupting tubers, and out of the darkness a score of moldy potato zombies shambled and rolled toward us, intent upon invading our bodies with their plague-ridden roots.
DM: What are you doing?
Rhomande: Composing my epic, of course.
DM: Leave the atmosphere to me, bard.
Rhomande: Everyone's a critic...
Tad: Wait, this is the plane of potatoes, right?
Tad: And potatoes are plants, right?
DM: Where are you going with this?
Tad: Command Plants!
Tuberorsus: SFX: (distortion, chorus) NO. I COMMAND THIS PLACE.
Tad: Well, it was worth a shot. How dangerous are these potato zombies?
Issa: Well, potatoes are members of the Deadly Nightshade family.
Tad: Ah, right. So don't eat them.
DM: Issa ignores Tad's warning, and she dives at the nearest zombie, beak first.
Issa: Duck your face, Bard! PECK PECK!
DM: Issa soars SFX: (jet) over Rhomande's head, diving at the nearest zombie. SFX: (splat, squish) The spongy innards of this moldy potato soul loudly burst when she pierces its skin, spilling over the desert sands.
Issa: ((Penguin war cry))
Tad: Now it's your turn to duck, Penguin!
SFX: (arrows x6)
DM: Six arrows sail through the air, feathering the next rank of blighted zombies and releasing the malodorous guts of rotting potatoes.
SFX: (splat, squish)
Imenand: I'm quite glad not to have to smell things anymore.
Thrimlach: Are you thinking what I'm thinking, pixie?
Thorn: Dear gods, I hope so.
Thrimlach: What is the best way to deal with the undead?
Thrimlach & Thorn: Scorching Rays!
SFX: (hella fire)
DM: Strands of fire snake through the zombie crowd, igniting several of the wobbling blighted. Despite your valiant efforts, more and more are climbing from the freshly opened chasm.
Thorn: Gods damn these potatoes thrice over! Invisibility!
Imenand: They're still coming! Arc of Lightning! SFX: (Blake lightning x2) And another, Quickened Arc of Lightning. Get back to your graves, Scum!
DM: The front ranks flash fry as your spell chains through their bodies. As they fall, the ground trembles and another rank rises. Three of them close on Imenand, passing effortlessly through his Cube of Force and dog piling atop the mummified weaponsmith.
Rhomande: It's no use fighting them separately! We must band together, Basterds!
Thrimlach: I hear you, ceatharan. Imenand, where is your cadaver collector.
Imenand: Yonder, amidst the fray.
Thrimlach: Excellent! Tad, fire on my mark!
DM: What are you doing, Thrimlach?
Thrimlach: Something effective! Ice Storm! Now, Tad!
SFX: (Cian ice storm)
DM: Tad's arrows whistle as they approach the column of falling ice. When they arrive, each arrow strikes a hailstone the size of a pig's bladder, shattering the ice and throwing shrapnel in a fifty foot radius around the cadaver collector.
DM: The collector breaks a stone from its back SFX: (crack) and begins volleying the larger hailstones toward the undead harvest. The zombies continue shambling through the ice field, swarming over Torrea and the collector. One beast tries to come for the party's casters, but it strays too close to the collector's swinging fists and ends its hellish existence in a moldy mash. Another catches Spirit of the Swift Wind SFX: (neigh) in its grasp, tearing through the holy mount's flesh.
Torrea: Unhand my steed, blighted soul! Holy Smite! Critical Hit!
DM: Torrea's flanged war maul cleanly removes the offending zombie's head and most of its starchy chest, freeing her mount from the cold grasp of the desert's blighted denizen. A score of the undead potatoes makes its way past the melee, closing in on the party's rear ranks, when a hand the size of a large dog emerges from the crack in the floor.
Issa: Oh, gods, what fresh hell is this?
Rhomande: That, dear Penguin, is something very, very bad.
Issa: I could have told you that. Where did it come from?
Tuberorus: SFX: (distortion, chorus) You dare to cross my desert! Now you shall perish before the aspect of Tuberorsus the Blighted!
Rhomande: I think you have your answer.
Tad: Oh dear. Do you suppose this is because I tried to command him earlier?
DM: The aspect of Tuberorsus focuses its abhorrent and many-eyed gaze directly upon you, Tad. The forty-foot tall potato hulk crushes four of its minions as it crosses the distance between the two of you.
Imenand: Get. These. Things. OFF OF ME! Blight!
SFX: (Blake blight)
DM: The three undead spuds atop Imenand rot away and dissolve into the desert sands within seconds.
Thrimlach: Why weren't you doing that all along!?
Imenand: I was unsure that it would affect them. The epithet of this place is "The Blighted," after all.
Issa: Quick! Take down the big one! Peck PECK!
DM: Issa charges the aspect of Tuberorsus, deftly avoiding his counterattack and leaping to strike the back of his knee. Unfortunately for you, the giant keeps its footing, even as rotten black slime oozes from its wounds.
Issa: (coughing, spluttering) I hope I don't smell this bad after I'm dead.
Imenand: Superb thinking, Lady Featherfoot. Charge, my cadaver collector!
SFX: (heavy crash, charge)
Tad: SFX: (d20 roll) How many of these things are there? SFX: (d20 roll) I'm starting to run out of arrows! Oh, shit. SFX: (fail)
DM: Tad looses four arrows that strike true, SFX: (arrows x4) but as he draws the fifth, his foot slides in rotten potato mash, and he falls to the putrescent ground.
SFX: (splat, fall)
Thorn: Good job ducking these Scorching Rays, Tad!
SFX: (Scorching Rays x3)
Tad: Uh... Glad to oblige.
Rhomande: And then, did the Pixie, a thorn in the feet of both the Seely and Unseely courts, bring a glorious new dawn to the desert, as...
DM: Bard! What did I tell you about setting the scene? That's my job.
Rhomande: As if you could do better.
DM: I might be able to. Ahem. As the strands of Thorn's spell reach the Aspect of Tuberorsus, the potato Titan ignites like so much kindling. Burning and thrashing in its death throes, it wipes away more of the undead potatoes with one blow than you have felled in the last few minutes. How was that, Rhomande?
Rhomande: Meh. I've heard better.
Issa: Bard! Stop talking to that disembodied voice and help us move the tents before they catch fire. You can fiddle with your words later, but now you need to pull some weight.
Rhomande: (sigh). Whatever you say, Lady Featherfoot.
Rhomande: And with the Aspect of Tuberorsus destroyed, the Bastards did resume their sleep.
DM: (sigh). Half of you don't sleep. The other half are elves.
Rhomande: ... The bastards did start over with their trances, prayers, and spell preparation. Though we were not bothered in the intervening hours, we all left the campsite without feeling the tiniest fleck of rest or recuperation. The dangers of Potato Hell and the sweltering heat of the desert did press down upon our minds, just as the great compacting mechanisms of Rhub'bash press down daily upon the fields of refuse to the north of the capital city of Voladros' Empire.
Rhomande: And now the players take their bows, exulting in your delight. Join our further adventures next time at the Twenty Sided Theatre!
Scene 8: Credit Where Credit Is Due
Rhomande: This episode of The 20-Sided Theatre stars Gabriel Abinante, Chris Clouse, Blake Parker, Ceri Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Chris Wong.
Thorn: Writtent by Rudraigh Quattrin, and Edited by Blake Parker.