The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 10: The Gates of Dawn, Part 2—The Tower of the Rising Suns
Rhomande's Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops, President of Bear Industries – Cian Quattrin
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceridwen Quattrin
Imenand Shenouda, President of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation – Blake Parker
Thrimlach Lenanien, Secretive Elven Mage – Cian Quattrin
Vragul, Baron of Keepfield etc. (see “King of-” list) - Rudraigh Quattrin
Thorn the Trixie Pixie of Unknown Gender – Blake Parker
Maldreth the Impius, Ogroid High Priest of Makar – Gabe Abinante
Stiev Pierabbat, Chameleon Rogue – Natalie Abinante
The DM – Rud
Torrea Marsvel - Cian
Loramar (Thrim’s Raven) – Gabe
Sir Gnome — Rud
Yfirma∂r, Queen of Vragul – Natalie
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Athairsidrinn the Open-Hearted, a dragon – Blake
Izreanna — Rud
Zolov — Cian
Ragnaroctopus — Gabe
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music and Story Thus Far
Vragul: **From “offstage”** QUIET!! TIME FOR START SHOW! VRAGUL DEFEAT AUDIENCE!!
SFX: (2d20 rolls)
DM: Your Move Silently and Hide checks are successful.
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)
Scene 1: Recap
Rhomande: When last we left my Insufferable Basterds, they had just traversed the astral plane, to a non-place called the Citadel of the Rising Suns. The citadel’s enormous turrets connect impossibly large walls, and the whole complex has something to do with the metaphorical risings of literal suns, as seen from literal planets. But we did not have much time to muse on this odd plane-between-planes, as we were harried and chased across the aether by the howling denizens of the Hungering End. And just when we thought it was safe, we ran into none other than my sister and her company of minstrel assassins, the Band of the Red Hands. When all seemed lost, with both adventuring groups overwhelmed by the Howling Darkness, my sister’s sitar player, Zolov the Mesmerist, pulled an amulet from his robes.
Izzy: It’s too late, Rag. We’re totally overrun, and the End has breached the walls. Zolov, you know what to do!
Zolov: Ofs course. We ams the Reds Hands. We always has the seconds chance!
DM: Zolov reaches into his robes and pulls an amulet from the folds. At the center of the circular amulet stands an angled gnomon, like the arm of a sun dial. The enhanced vampire holds the amulet aloft, then hurls it to shatter upon the ground.
DM: Time slows down, crawling and creeping to a slow halt, before everything …
((Sfx: rewind sound; possible rewind the whole fight scene?))
Zolov: If you does, peoples will die. Trillsions. Whole worlds resducedssd to their basics pars-tickles.
Ragnaroctopus: For crimes not yet committed – crimes that have been witnessed by Dawius Gwaven, Lord High Seer – you have been sentenced —
Rhomande: (interrupting) Quick! Before they finish their speech! GET THROUGH THE GATES AND LOCK THEM BEHIND US!
((Sfx: stampede, gate hinge, slamming gate))
DM: Uhm… I guess with that, you’re safe enough to rest for a little bit.
DM: The tower opens to a soaring expanse of gilded rococo carvings, all depicting sunrises. A thousand thousand landscapes awake to a new day in the reliefs and carvings that hang on the walls all around you.
Smyd: Wow, this place is pretty neat. I bet we’d make a ton of gold if we were able to charge people admission to this place.
Issa: I don’t think we have time to consider opening up a museum. And anyway, if that’s what you really want to do, why don’t we open up a museum with all that art we looted from the potato dragon?
Tuxedo Beak: You guys killed the great Baked Potato Dragon? Wow! That thing had been terrorizing the kingdom for ages! King Prautha even hired a young slayer spud to die hilari— ahem. To fight it valiantly.
Thrimlach: I’m just going to ignore the part where Tuxedo Beak – whose identity I can’t discern, thanks to the hat and tiny domino mask he’s wearing – knows way too much about the part of our adventures before we met him. Besides, we already sold all of that junk, once we arrived in the potato city. If you don’t believe me, just ask Torrea. She’s a paladin, so she can’t lie.
Torrea: That wasn’t one of the vows that Spirit of the Swift Wind and I took, Lord Thrimlach. But we do strive to tell the truth a vast majority of the time. My lord Thrimlach did, indeed, sell the aforementioned items of artistic value. But he did so with the aid of magic, in order to fetch a higher price.
Thrimlach: Don’t be such a tattle-pally, Torrea. Nobody likes it. Not even Sir Gnome. Isn’t that right, Sir Gnome?
Sir Gnome: No, Mathter. I mean Yeth, Mathter.
Imenand: Come, Father Maldreth. While our… associates… prattle on, we should inspect these carvings more closely. If I am right, then each of these carvings coincides with a real place, on a real plane.
Maldreth: Excellent deduction, Master Shenouda! Then we should find out which planets are populated, and then… Evangelize them. ((Say “evangelize” but think…))
Vragul: Um. Me stand up now? Me tired of spread wings out for change table. Am baby done with diaper change, sweet-tusk?
Yfirma∂r: Almost done, King of Changing Table. Vriggle not old enough for loin cloth training yet, and us adventure long time, so need wash old diaper first.
((Sfx: baby orc?))
Stiev: And watching her wash that thing was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had to endure!
Thorn: Gah! It’s that chameleon again! Where’d you come from?
Stiev: Um… I followed you guys out of the arena. I really hated that place. You never really get used to dying all the time, or being hunted, just so some psychopath can while away his days with professional-level scrycasting entertainments.
Thorn: Well, the next time you follow us on an adventure, you’d better make yourself more useful! We really could have used another combatant against the Band of the Red Hands. They were kinda jerks, but I forgive them, since they’re all sooooo dreamy!
Rhomande: And if you ever mention my sister’s band in my presence again, I will make sure that you suffer the wrath of the Inconsolable Rhomande Sorfinde. I’m way better than that stupid group of show-offs. Anyway, let’s take a look around. Voice? I believe this is your department.
DM: That’s… uncharacteristic of you, Rhomande. What do you think you’re planning.
Rhomande: No plans, secret or otherwise! I’ve recently learned that there are far worse voices by whom we could be followed around.
Maldreth: Fortunately for me, those other voices proved to be far more murderable, as well.
Stiev: Not that you ever fought Drowmande. Hell, you didn’t even realize half the times you ran into him!
Issa: Gods, I hated that guy.
Rhomande: I will not suffer another word against my esteemed Deep Elf cousin, who just happens to be my new business partner in interplanar scrycasting! Anyway, I was trying to find out how big this place is, and whether there’s anything that’s likely to stab me.
DM: Well, you stand on what appears to be the middle of an infinite expanse of tiered floors. A central well runs through the whole tower. Each floor opens dangerously into the central well.
Thrimlach: No balustrades or hand railings?
DM: None at all. The Imperial Hazard & Safety Council would have a field day with this place, if it had any employees. Anyway, you have three exits to this floor. You could go back outside, where you left the Red Hands and the Hungering End. You could go up the stairs to the right, or you could go down the stairs to the left.
Thrimlach: Wait a minute, guys! This place is called the Tower of Dawn. Dawn is the illusion of the sun rising over the horizon. I say we look down that central well, and if there’s anything dangerous down there we kick Sir Gnome into it first.
Issa: (sarcastically) Good idea, Thrim. Let’s just take a little peek over this extremely dangerous ledge!
Rhomande: Siiiiigh. Fine. I’ll do it. I want to get a good description for my notes anyway. I swear I’ve been taking good notes on this whole adventure, and I’m not making over half of it up from memory.
Imenand: Cease your endless prattle, Bard, and just make yourself useful. Father Maldreth and I have already discovered three new intelligent species that are unblessed by the concepts of Weapons and War.
Maldreth: Indeed! We hope to begin sending our priests out to found Missions with each of them, as soon as we return to the Prime Material Plane.
Rhomande: Far below me, a massive ball of flame climbed the well of the tower. Its rising waves of heat washed over me like the Siroccos of the Crystalline Desert of Brext.
DM: And because you were looking down the whole time, you didn’t see the eyeless dragoons waiting in ambush above you.
Rhomande: The eyeless what, now?
((Sfx: blunderbuss, chaos ray))
Rhomande: (pained noises)
DM: Make a will save, Rhomande. These demonspawn still eat intelligence.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Rhomande: Hah! With charisma like mine, how can you even tell whether I’ve lost intelligence?
Issa: Rhomande, your favorite coat is on fire. When that demon hit you and you sprawled out, you stuck your arm into the well with the sun coming up through it.
Rhomande: My what is on who, now? AAAAH! PUT IT OUT! PUT IT OUT!
DM: Issa, you’ve been distracted by watching Rhomande try to remember all of those Public Service Announcements based on the Monster Survival Manual. His memory is currently stuck playing a loop of “What To Do When Allips Besiege Your Tree House,” so it’ll be a while before he gets all the way up to “What To Do When Dragons Set You On Fire”.
Issa: (cruel penguin laughter) Oh, silly, stupid bard! This is why the Heiress of the Pengonquin Expanse keeps you around!
DM: Uhm… Issa? You remember the part where I said you were distracted?
Issa: Uh? No? I was laughing at Rhomande. Hell, even Spirit of the Swift Wind found that funny!
((sfx: neigh; horse laugh?))
DM: (giving up) Ugh. Fair enough. I’d forgotten how exasperating this party can be.
((Sfx: d20 roll x2))
DM: A whole squadron of Imperial Dragoons has showed up, leaping down upon you from the upper levels. Two of them have already attacked Rhomande, and the other ten have arranged themselves into two groups of five. One group has surrounded Issa and her faithful Tuxedo Beak. Their bayonetted firebelchers hang uselessly from the enormous, twisted rings piercing their arms, legs, necks, and torsos, but that makes them no less dangerous. A grand total of zero eyes glitters in the twenty-four crusty sockets gazing in your directions. Tendrils of black, oily energies are welling up in the demons’ empty cavities.
Tuxedo Beak: Duck, Issa!
((Sfx: Crash, ray of disintegration x5))
DM: The two penguins go down in a heap, saving them from the five intersecting rays of unbridled chaotic energies. The black rays of untempered power tear through the room, each colliding with one of the reliefs lining the walls. When you peer at the damage, you see five holes ripped in reality. Through each hole you can make out a planet hanging quietly in the void of space.
Issa: Woof. Thanks for saving my life, Tuxie! You can get off of me now, but we should return to this position sometime later.
Thrimlach: Ewwww. I don’t want to think about penguin eggs. Ever. But especially not right now.
Imenand: My colleague is correct. Instead of observing yet another disgusting mating ritual, let us take stock of the situation. We are under attack by a dozen Imperial Soldiers who have succumbed to the service of Entropy. But those uniforms are unfamiliar. The cut is definitely Imperial, but the button arrangements are all wrong. Where did these dragoons come from? Some long-forgotten colony?
Smyd: (dry-mouthed/“oops”) I think I know where they came from.
Maldreth: Indeed. These uniforms were worn by the soldiers we accompanied when we visited Brext.
Stiev: You guys have mentioned this Brext place a few times, now. What in the ever-changing number of hells happened there?
Thorn: Ooh! I haven’t heard all of this story yet, either! I just know that Brext was a city made of crystal, and these guys somehow burnt it to the ground.
Vragul: That not us doing. Otherwise Vragul be King of Burning Crystal, but me never get chance. Us was chased out of city by wingy-elf.
Maldreth: Now is most certainly not the time for storytelling, especially stories involving that half-celestial ninnyhammer, Draeclin Denarion. No. Now is the time for you to show Makar of the Gore-Footed Stallion what happens to anything that strays into our path.
DM: Maldreth is right, especially since the last five dragoons have taken their positions around the perimeter of the room. Three of them level their firebelchers at Smyd, Torrea, and Vragul, while the other two close in on Thrimlach and Thorn.
Thrimlach: Torrea, get between me and that demon!
Torrea: I’m trying, Lord Thrimlach, but Spirit of the Swift Wind is still in convulsions of laughter at the bard’s plight.
((Sfx: neigh, horse laugh?))
DM: The enemy strikes with the perfect timing that only comes from long hours of training as a group. Two bayonets find flesh, just as three firebelchers peal out.
((Sfx d20 roll x5, gunfire x3, stab x2))
DM: The three marksman find their targets easily, washing flames over the bear, the paladin, and the winged half-orc. The pixie and the blind sorceror are impaled upon bayonets, then lifted from the ground and flung into the lines of the firebelchers’ attacks.
Thrimlach: (pained noises, then “whoooooa” from being thrown)
Thorn: (pained noises, then “whoooooa” from being thrown)
Maldreth: Ugh. Thoroughly. Un. Ac. Ceptable. But on the positive side, it looks like I’ll finally get my wish and be able to watch you gormless parishioners meet your inevitably ugly and messy demise.
Stiev: Well, if you’re such a good pastor, then why aren't you herding your flock away from the danger?
Maldreth: Oh, Chameleon, you do not know me very well yet. Do you?
Stiev: Not really, but I’m more worried about surviving this tower and its rising ball of superheated gases than getting any closer to you guys. Now shut up for a second, while I blend in and get behind this dragoon.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
DM: Stiev quickly drops to the floor and shifts her skin color to match the yellow-and-grey mottled flagstones. She lizard-crawls right up to the ankles of one of the demon-infused soldiers, then pauses for a moment.
Stiev: By the Great Lizard’s Sunning Rock! These guys stink. Oh, well. Guess they’re gonna stink even worse once we stab ’em in the kidneys and leave ’em here to rot.
((Sfx: d20 roll x2))
DM: Stiev’s blades drive deep into the lower back of the enemy, piercing both of its kidneys simultaneously. The demonspawn doesn’t even flinch, and the whole room grows quite still for a pregnant moment, while the fiend slowly turns its gruesomely disfigured and eyeless face toward the Chameleon. The denizen of the Hungering End shows its teeth in a wicked smile, before firing two black rays of unbridled entropic energy from the gaping holes where its kidneys should be.
((Sfx: ray of disintegration, d20 roll))
Stiev: Holy crap, that was close! Thank the gods for my roguish training in evasion.
DM: As the chaotic energies peter out, a cloud of matter swirls in the ray’s former path. The dust cloud sucks inward, through the kidney holes, and wraps into a twisting ribbon. Within seconds, the demon’s wounds seal around a newly formed mobius-ring that loops through its lower back.
Stiev: Well, the direct approach doesn’t seem to work. Which way should we head?
Rhomande: Anywhere but down. There’s a gods-damned sun down there, and it hates my coat! We need to clear the way to the ascending staircase. And I, Rhomande Sorfinde bard in extraordinaire, can start that process with a GREATER SHOUT!
((Sfx: greater shout, clattering armor, skidding feet?))
DM: One of the demons flies across the room, having taken the brunt of Rhomande’s enhanced soundwaves. She lands, somehow keeping herself upright, and then she skids to a halt before the two fallen penguins. The demon’s mighty feet seem to have melted the flagstones, in an attempt to slow her trajectory.
Issa: Pardon me, Voice, but the feet’s never quite as mighty as the beak! PECK-PECK!
((Sfx: d20 roll x3))
DM: Issa springs upward from the floor, catching the demon in the armpit. Bits of floor shower down over Tuxedo Beak as Issa lifts the demon, shakes her head, and hurls the foe the rest of the way across the room.
Issa: Come on, Tuxie! We’ve got a staircase to climb!
Tuxedo Beak: Right behind you, fishball head! Wak-Waaaak, wak-WAAAAAAK! (start singing penguin Song of Courage)
DM: The tuxedoed penguin kicks his feet and begins spinning in circles on his back. During his revolutions, he tosses three of his rose-mouthed razorfish at the surrounding foes, until he finally builds up enough momentum to coffee-grinder his way back to his feet.
Issa: Such style! Such a voice! And he can dance, too! I should definitely keep this male around.
Thorn: You penguins should stop making googly eyes at each other and make a beeline for the stairs. Meanwhile, I’ll be making a pixie line, right behind this LINE OF LIGHTNING!
((Sfx: lightning, flying pixie))
DM: Thorn’s bolt of electricity burns a path through the air and through the bodies of the enemy. The pixie then makes as direct a path as it can to the stairs. Unfortunately, that path takes it right past a number of bayonets.
((Sfx: d20 roll x5, 4 “whiff”s))
Thorn: Whew! By Oberon’s favorite cat, that was close!
DM: Thorn, you’re not quite done yet. If you look in front of you instead of behind, you’ll see something important.
Thorn: Something important? Like what?
((Sfx: d20 roll, steam gun))
Thorn: OhShitDodge! I see now. “Something important” like the barrel of a firebelcher. Thanks for the warning, Voice.
DM: No problem. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give you a warning in time to avoid the ray that was just fired by Issa’s target.
Thorn: The what? (sounds of pain)
((Sfx: ray of disintegration, d20 roll))
DM: At least you made your fortitude save, Thorn. You could have been disintegrated.
Thorn: I… hate… you…
Vragul: YOU NO COOK PIXIE!
((Sfx: d20 roll, flat axe hit))
Vragul: Only wife cook pixie. And that only if pixie die of “natural cause”, like fall into bowl of batter, then fall into deep fry oil.
Yfirma∂r: Or if pixie accidentally gut and stuff self, then crawl into 400° oven for six hour. You no forget me favorite pixie recipe, Vragul. You always King of Forget. Like how you forget actually kill demon thing. Haaai-yah!
((Sfx: d20 roll x5, 1 hit, punching))
DM: The dread she-orc unleashes a storm of fists, elbows, heels, knees, and feet. Most of her blows cannot find purchase, but one strike makes it through the demon’s combination of magic, agility, and heavy armor. When it does, her lawfully aligned fist flares and reacts with the demon’s chaotic aura. A bolt of white-hot energy arcs to the nearest of the demon’s body piercings, bursting the metal hoop with enough force to blow Yfirma∂r off her feet.
Vragul: ME GOT YOU, SWEET TUSK!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Yfirma∂r: (lovingly) Me hero!
Vragul: (contented sigh, sniff, then grunt, sniff again, ugh) How ’bout me become King of Stairs, and put wife on top them, so she no sweat so much. Me know there sun rising in tower, but me think you have glandular problem.
Yfirma∂r: That not sweat. That pheromone production. Make you want me more.
Thrimlach: That’s absolutely disgusting.
DM: And absolutely a lie. Give me a bluff check, Yfirma∂r.
((Sfx: d20 rollx2))
Vragul: Well, me guess that make sense. Me always want you more when you show how strong, smart, and useful you am. Fine. Me go make you Queen of Stair.
((Sfx: orc wings))
DM: Five of the Hungering Brextians move as a unit, positioning themselves around the two penguins, cutting the flightless bird-people off from their allies. Two of the foes stab their bayonets at Tuxedo Beak, skewering him between their firebelchers.
Tuxedo Beak: (pained penguin noises)
DM: A third and fourth aim their firebelchers at Issa.
Issa: Oh shit.
((Sfx: gunshot x2, d20 roll))
DM: Issa drops to the floor, safely out of the firing path. The entropic energies of the demons’ guns cross the space where Issa’s chest used to be, and the two enemies strike each other squarely in the head. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be affected by each other’s attacks. The fifth demon turns his attentions outward, firing a ray of destruction at Smyd.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3; Bear Roar))
Smyd: The only way to fight being fired at is to fire back! Preferably with a BRUTAL CHARGE!
DM: Smyd ducks under the incoming ray of destruction as he bounds across the room on all fours. He stops short and rears up before the enemy, then unleashes a wicked flurry of claws and teeth.
Imenand: Thank you for your timely dodge, Brother Kaltrops. The ray of energy struck another relief, with the result that Father Maldreth and I can take clearer readings of the realm beyond. Unfortunately, we won’t have the time to explore and dissect this new place, because my wrappings are beginning to smolder.
Issa: Too bad there’s a huge group of eyeless dudes with huge, metal piercings between you and the stairs.
Imenand: But those metal piercings are exactly what I want my foes to have in this situation, Penguin! For it will be easier for me to hit them with CHAINING BOLTS OF LIGHTNING!
((Sfx: Chain Lightning))
Imenand: Which should distract them long enough for me to erect my Cube of Force, that I might cross the room more easily. Come, Father Maldreth, we have business to attend upstairs.
((Sfx: Cube of Force))
Maldreth: Indeed. And these poorly inflated humanoid shells are in our way.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3))
Rhomande: Father Maldreth strode to the center of the grand foyer of the rising suns, raising up his mighty weapon, the Fang of Pain. He cast the chain and its barbed weight at a nearby foe. While the chain was still tracing its path through the air, Maldreth spoke the command word, and the projectile split into three, each trailing a chain back to the fist of its master. The center and right barbs struck their targets, piercing what flesh they could. The chains coiled through and around the bodies of the two demons on the right. The leftmost foe elected to dodge, though, as the leftmost of any foe is the most experienced and most difficult to overcome. It drew breath and puffed itself up, and with the lightest touch of Father Maldreth’s mighty chains, the foe burst into a trillion tiny grains of sand. The demon cloud then coasted up the chain, warping and wrapping itself around Maldreth’s desiccated arm.
Maldreth: Cogaidhwa! (co-GUY-thwa; elvish: WAR)
Maldreth: Oh, fuck, this is gross. I don’t need anything touching me quite this much.
Rhomande: With a thunderous grunt, Maldreth heaved his sword-arm backwards, lifting the two solid-state demons from the ground. He then hurled them backwards to crash against a shattered relief on the far wall.
Thrimlach: O ceatharan, if you’re done with the note taking, maybe you can get yourself a little closer to these stairs. Especially since I’m going to cut the enemy off from pursuing us with a HEIGHTENED, EMPOWERED, AND ENLARGED WIND WALL!
((Sfx: wind wall))
Thrimlach: Torrea, get over here! Quit playing with that demon and come protect me.
Torrea: Right away, Lord Thrimlach. Just let me apply Logic to this demon’s face! Hiii-yah!
((Sfx d20 roll x3, mace hit x3))
Torrea: Come, Spirit of the Swift Wind! Let us withdraw to the stairs!
Thrimlach: Excellent. And Sir Gnome! I have a … Quest for you.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter?
Thrimlach: You take Lorramar and this moldy potato that I still have as a second familiar for some reason, and go upstairs. Protect them with your unlife; that way I can run reconnaissance and we won’t sacrifice anybody we don’t want to get rid of anyway.
Sir Gnome: Right away, Mathter.
Lorramar: <kwok> You got it, boss. <caw>
Thrimlach: Oh, and Lorramar. One more thing.
Lorramar: <quork> Yeah, boss? Whatcha need?
Thrimlach: You’re in charge up there; we all know that Sir Gnome is useless, unless you count his skull as a useful place for me to stash my loot.
Rhomande: I didn’t know you played an instrument, Thrimlach.
Thrimlach: Not that kind of lute, ceatharan. The pirate kind of loot. You know, booty. I keep my booty in Sir Gnome’s head. Well, the portal to the interdimensional chamber where I keep my booty, at least.
Issa: Hunh. I knew Thrimlach was a bit of a butthead, but I didn’t know that Sir Gnome was, too.
Tuxedo Beak: Awww! That was an awful play on words, Lady Featherfoot.
Issa: Oh, gods, it was! I’ve been spending too much time with Rhomande.
DM: Issa, I’m glad you finally figured that out. Now, everybody make a spot check.
((Sfx: d20 roll x13))
Thorn: Why are those demons not battering themselves against Thrimlach’s wind wall?
Imenand: I do not like the way they all seem to be looking upward. I think they’re looking up, at least. It’s hard to tell behind that wall, even if it is made of wind.
Thorn: Even with the wind wall, it’s getting pretty hot in here, guys. Plus, Thrim didn’t cut all of the demons off from the fight. We really need to go up a level, preferably before Vragul smells my wings starting to cook.
Stiev: Yeah, Yfirma∂r is looking at me with that “me want cook you” kind of look. Just gotta leap over this fifteen-foot gap, here…
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Stiev: (grunt of effort from jumping) Stab this demon in the back…
((Sfx: d20 roll, knife hit))
Stiev: And run the hell up these stairs! Just gotta color match myself to the stone work first, though.
((Sfx: d20 roll, Chameleon Vanish))
Rhomande: Stiev is absolutely correct. And to aid in our desire not to be cooked, I shall cast a MASS EXPEDITIOUS RETREAT!
((Sfx: expeditious retreat))
Rhomande: Pardon me, Sergeant Demon, but I really must be going now.
((Sfx: d20 roll, whiff))
DM: Rhomande blurs as he ducks under the demonspawn’s attack, then streaks across the foyer and up the stairs.
Issa: I never. EVER. Want to hear about Rhomande streaking EVER AGAIN. That being said, let’s get out of here, Tuxie. PENGUIN SLIDE!
((Sfx: d20 roll x2))
Tuxedo Beak: I’m still surrounded, Lady Featherfoot! The demons won’t let me through! Wak!
DM: The enemies close in on Tuxedo Beak, ignoring the many razorfish sprouting from their limbs. A particularly large demon lifts a halberd one-handedly, high above its head, then brings it crashing down low toward the male werepenguin’s tiny ankles.
((Sfx: d20 roll, trip))
Tuxedo Beak: Wak! Oof! Isss-aaaaaaa!
Thorn: Tuxedo Beak! Maybe this CONE OF COLD will slow your enemies and put you into a more comfortable state!
((Sfx: Cone of Cold))
DM: A frigid blast of wind bursts forth from the pixie’s flapping wings, spreading over the entropic foes surrounding Tuxedo Beak. The entropy demons slow their blows to a crawling pace in reaction to the spell, allowing the penguin stand up and defend himself more easily. The halberdier puts a second hand on his pole arm and swings it in another wide arc. This one is far easier for Tuxedo Beak to sidestep, though.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Tuxedo Beak: (Dodging) Hoo-wah! Many thanks, kind pixie!
Thorn: Don’t mention it. Literally. Don’t. Just get your ass up the stairs!
DM: Another demon closes in on the bear, leaping upon him in a desperate and weaponless attempt to cause harm. Despite Brother Kaltrops’ many hours practicing wrestling, he cannot throw the demon away from him, and the foe sinks its putrid teeth into Smyd’s shoulder.
((Sfx: d20 roll x2, bite))
Imenand: Brother Kaltrops! These demons attack our very wits! Are you currently unscathed in this manner?
((Sfx: bear roar))
Smyd: WANT SALMON! ME EAT FISHIES!
DM: Smyd crashes through the line of foes, focusing on one who may very well have been a fish-man before it became a demon. Entrails fly through the air, dissipating into dust before they hit the floor. This leaves the bear covered in a fine, fishy dust.
Imenand: Guess that answers that.
Vragul: You! Wife! Go up stair! Me come up after help save boy penguin.
Yfirma∂r: Me stay; save penguin with husborc. If husborc die, me not want live. Baby too hard for raise by self.
Thrimlach: You know, since childrearing is such a time-consuming endeavor, I could send the boy to the future and place a Quest on someone to raise him for you. I promise I’ll remember to go back and get him once he’s old enough to be less of a handful.
Vragul: Hmmm. Not sound so bad. What you think, wife?
Yfirma∂r: What? You stupid? Me no send Vriggle to future for be raised by some strangeorc. Especially not with no-eyes elf. Me not want lose precious moment, like hims first tusk come in.
Vragul: Yes, dear. Me no send baby to future. Me just save boy penguin, then head up stair.
((Sfx: flying orc, d20 roll x3, blunt axe hit x3))
Vragul: H’raaah! Gah! Here-Yah! There. Now boy penguin safe. Go up stair and find you she-penguin. That order.
Tuxedo Beak: At once, King Vragul! I’m coming, Lady Featherfoot!
((Sfx: penguin waddle?))
Imenand: I agree with the pixie and the bard. Despite the abjurative effects of my Cube of Force, it is growing rather hot in here.
Maldreth: But, Master Shenouda, Makar has left us with foes that must be conquered on this level, before we can ascend to the next. Have you forgotten the Parable of the Gauntlet.
Imenand: I have forgotten nothing, Father Maldreth. I was about to cast a pair of QUICKENED ENTOMBS upon them.
((Sfx: entomb x2))
Issa: Why do you have a spell that entombs things?
Imenand: Well, it’s actually the reverse of a far more useful spell for a necromancer. I usually use Dis-entomb to quickly acquire… materials.
Issa: Gross. Just quit talking about your hobbies and come on up these stairs!
Maldreth: Hmm. I suppose the penguin has a point. Makar always places the hardest challenges at the tops of towers; if we pass over the lesser challenges and still win against the master of the place, then we are victorious over the whole tower, by the transitive property. I’ll just get rid of these impediments, first.
((Sfx: chains, thud x2))
DM: Maldreth twitches his weapon arm, and the triple chains lift their demonic payloads from the ground. At the top of their arc, Maldreth speaks the command word, and the chains retract into the Fang of Pain. The demons fly away and fall into the central well, to be roasted in the fiery corona of the rising star.
Maldreth: Cogaidhwa! (co-GUY-thwa; elvish: WAR)
Maldreth: That was the last of them on this side of the Wind Wall, so now we can proceed upstairs unimpeded! Makar is only vaguely displeased with your progress.
Thrimlach: Just in case anything gets past the wind wall, I’ll drop a PRISMATIC WALL at the bottom of the stairs!
((Sfx: prismatic wall))
Thrimlach: And I’ll quicken a PRISMATIC EYE, since both Lorramar and my potatoling see foes awaiting us on the next level.
DM: The Prismatic Eye sprouts into existence in the center of the upstairs landing, which is nearly-identical to the previous one. The landscapes in the reliefs are different, but the greater architecture and design remain the same. Unfortunately, the Hungering End already has its denizens crawling over this and the upper levels. Two of the demons are bathed in violet light from Thrimlach’s Prismatic Eye, but they are unaffected by the effects of magically-induced insanity.
((Sfx: prismatic ray))
Thrimlach: Well, that didn’t work. TORREA! SPIRIT OF THE SWIFT WIND! DEFEND ME!
Torrea: Right away, Lord Thrimlach!
Thrimlach: And Sir Gnome!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter?
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Gnome! You’re still useless.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
DM: Torrea puts the spurs to Spirit of the Swift Wind, launching them across the gap between the stairs and the Hungering End. At the end of his charge, the mighty celestial stallion rears up and smashes his front hooves into the skull of a demon who had once been a wolfwoman. At the same moment, Torrea’s mace whirls in the air and plunges toward the chest of a dwarf demon, knocking it from its feet and hurling it a full twelve Imperial Linear Decimal Marcators.
((Sfx: neigh, d20 roll x3, hoof hit, mace hit, thud))
((Sfx: Ray of Disintegration x7, jump x7))
DM: The ground rumbles, and cracks spiderweb across the flagstones, as the floor bulges upward in seven distinct places. The dragoons that had been trapped behind Thrimlach’s Wind Wall now burst through the floor with their rays of disintegration. As soon as the floors dissipate, the seven foes leap upward and level their flamebelchers at the party.
((Sfx: d20 roll x7, flamebelcher x7))
((pause for a beat))
Rhomande: Anybody hit?
Imenand: No, but I’m still inside my cube, so not much will bother me.
Issa: I don’t think any of those guys actually took aim.
Smyd: I like honey. And baked lizard. And honey-glazed baked lizard. Where’d that lizard lady go?
Stiev: Will somebody please Restore his intelligence? I really don’t want to be eaten on my first trip out of the Arena of Ahk’Rapp. Just to be sure, I’m going to jump across that wide gap again, to put as much distance between me and the bear as possible.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Thrimlach: You know, you’re just slow-roasting yourself as you keep jumping across the central exhaust vent of an artificial star, right?
Stiev: Hadn’t thought about it that way. All I was thinking about was a SNEAK ATTACK!
((Sfx: d20 roll x2))
DM: Stiev sails through the air, spearing both of the foe’s trapezius muscles with her deadly knives. She then flicks her tail forward, carrying her the rest of the way over, to land in a crouch with her back to a wounded foe.
Rhomande: Meanwhile, I brandished the Toppler, my Potato-Souled Vorpal Scimitar, crafted by the hand of none other than Mëassë, the Mother of Weapons. I snakkered and snikked at the demon before me…
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Issa: Rhomande! How could you miss at that range!
Rhomande: Ah, but I only missed if you think I intended to do damage! After all, I wield… THE TOPPLER!
((Sfx: sword “shwing!”, thud of a body falling))
DM: Rhomande’s opponent slowly slides off of his shins, collapsing in a heap beside a pair of still-standing feet. The eyeless soldier immediately rolls over and begins affixing his lower legs to his knees.
Rhomande: But that gives me just the opportunity to leap over him and run to the next staircase! Especially with my Mass Expeditious Retreat still in effect! I’ll meet you all upstairs!
Maldreth: This is still taking far too long. My flock isn’t properly attuned to cause these creatures lasting damage, and we still have an unknowable number of floors to climb before we reach the Scottalian Gate.
Imenand: Well, Father Maldreth, why don’t you do something about it, instead of just whinging on and on about how useless our arrow-fodder… er… “companions” can be?
Maldreth: Do not tempt me, Imenand. It is my place neither to start nor to end wars. Only to elevate them, where they already exist. Makar has given me a grand role to play, and in return, I must serve his will. So I shall not aid my companions in their foolishly chosen war. This battle is nothing, in the grand scheme of time and reality. The planes offer a plethora of far more interesting places I could be terrorizing with far more interesting companions than what I have here, in this place with this band of insufferable bastards. Ugh. But such is the life of a pastor. I must save my flock, that they might take me to better battles. By the power of Makar’s Brain-Encrusted Shield Rim, shall you pass through a CORRIDOR OF BLADES!
((Sfx: Blade barrier))
DM: Hundreds of thousands of shards of razor-sharp metal pop into existence, each fluttering in the air and spinning with dangerous intent. Maldreth flexes his will, and the blades stretch out to form a low hallway, carving a direct route to the staircase.
((Sfx: line of blades?))
Maldreth: It extends a lot farther than that. Makar has seen fit to provid us with the most direct route to the most interesting battle that this tower has to offer. He must have tired of these preliminary challenges, as much as I have.
DM: In any case, the demons of the Hungering End hurl themselves at the blade barrier, but none pass through in any shape to harm you. Their assorted bits and pieces all slough away to regather and reform outside the barrier for repeated attempts.
((Sfx: meaty “splortch” & cutting sounds; howling of the Hungering End))
Maldreth: This barrier won’t hold for long, and I don’t want any dawdling, so I’m capping off this end and making it chase us. Anybody who falls behind gets minced.
DM: You climb an great number of levels in the Tower of the Sun, with the foe constantly failing to pass through Maldreth’s Blade Barrier. After some uncountable amount of non-time, since this is the Astral Plane and time isn’t clearly linear here, the howling of the Hungering End ceases. Shortly afterward, you all emerge from the hallway of spinning metal, into a foyer of pink marble, where a radiant, silver-blue dragon blocks your path.
DM: He drones a spell in the Celestial tongue, and the air grows a little more damp and a little more cool. Behind the dragon, a hallway stretches out, carving deep into the tower. You just catch a glimpse of a winged figure fleeing down that corridor, as the dragon stops chanting.
Athairsidrinn: (dragon chanting)
Athairsidrinn: Long have I watched your travels and your cruelties. Mine own son has suffered mightily at your hands, yet you never took note. But now, you shall. For you face Athairsidrinn, the Father of Eternity.
Rhomande: For the past I-don’t-know-how-time-works-on-the-astral-plane-long, Father Maldreth has chased me with a trillion, low-hanging, spinning blades, each of which would have ruined my haircut. If that did not stop me, then no Dragon, no matter how celestial or radiant, shall further stall the progress of the Unimpedable Rhomande Sorfinde!
((Sfx: d20 roll, dragon roar, massive thud x2))
DM: The vorpal enchantment on Rhomande’s sword flares to life and a dull, brown aura envelops the bard. Rhomande strides right up to the dragon’s reclining chest, and flicks his arm. Athairsidrinn looks very startled as the elf moves with much more strength and speed than he ought, and before everybody’s eyes, Rhomande has unimpeachably, single-handedly killed an Elder Radiant Dragon from the Plane of Good.
Thrimlach: Well, it’s not like we were likely to make friends with him anyway. Oh, wait a minute. What’s all this black goo that’s coming out of its neck?
Issa: Rhomande, the one time you’ve done something right, I think you managed to screw it up beyond anyone’s wildest fears.
DM: Indeed, he has. Now that Athairsidrinn has suddenly died, the infection of Hungering End is flaring to un-life within his corpse. The neck spasms and flails wildly until it makes contact with the head. As the tendons, muscles, and scales begin to knit together, the dragon’s eyes swell with buboes, which pop and spill their vitreous and aqueous pus all over his radiant, golden scales.
Issa: I think it’s time to go with Rhomande’s plan from the courtyard.
Imenand: That was so long ago that I can barely remember how our fight with the Red Hands ended. All I know is that I am quite tired of being chased across this non-plane of dreamlike and metaphorical realities.
Thrimlach: Let’s see. I think I can make the Decipher Script check to read Rhomande’s terribly scrawled notes.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Thrimlach: Here it is! The vampire broke that Amulet of Second Chances, and just as the band was getting ready to attack us, ceatharan here yelled …
Rhomande: (interrupting) Quick! Before dragon finishes reforming! GET THROUGH THE GATES AND LOCK THEM BEHIND US!
Maldreth: No, I’m pretty sure there was something about a speech in the original delivery. But the bard speaks more sense than usual. Through the gate!
((Sfx: running feet, creaky gate, gate slam))
DM: And with that, I guess it’s safe for you to rest again.
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Maldreth: Visit The 20-Sided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. And follow us through scryomagical links that Master Shenouda and Thrimlach have established. You can follow Rhomande @IllustriousRho, Master Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach @Thrimlach, and the Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot.
Rhomande: The 20-Sided Theatre is a joint production of Bear Industries and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceri Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, and Rudraigh Quattrin. With special thanks to Jonathan Abinante, Sierra Cirimelli-Low, and Michael Solso for the use of their Player Characters.
Smyd: Written by Rudraigh Quattrin and Edited by Blake Parker.
Imenand: Sound Effects Design by
Imenand: Music by
Issa: For a complete list of and links to all the music you heard on tonight's episode visit the show notes at 20sidedtheatre.com.
Torrea: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 7: The Tag
Issa: Man, that was some weird shit, before we went through all of this. You know… When we fought the Red Hand Minstrel Assassins again, just before getting into this tower.
Thrimlach: What? The constantly shifting realityscape? Or the alien vampire’s magical locket that wound back our combat what felt way longer than the 18 seconds my hourglass says we covered?
Issa: Neither of those. Did you see Rhomande and his sister standing next to each other?
Thrimlach: I don’t have any eyes. (pause) But, yes, I was able to perceive them.
Issa: I’m pretty sure the only differences between them were their haircuts and the fact that Rhomande’s breasts were ever-so-slightly larger than Izreanna’s.
Thrimlach: Don’t be a racist, penguin. Not all elves look alike. We’re not Dwarves, after all!
Issa: I wasn’t talking about all elves! I was talking about one particular elf and his twin sister! I mean, if you put some sort of hair-enveloping hat on both of them, I don’t think I could tell them apart.
Rhomande: I overheard your conversation, Lady Featherfoot, and this confirms one of my hypotheses!
Issa: (flatly) Oh. Great. Rhomande has finished whatever it is he does instead of setting up the tent. And he’s got delusions of science.
Thrimlach: Pffft. We all know nobody sets up the camp in this party. I just summon a magical door to one of the many rooms in my Arcane Mansion.
Thrimlach: So, ceatharan, what’s the theory you’ve confirmed?
Rhomande: Penguins are most definitely colorblind. Otherwise Issa would have been able to discern the tiny differences in the coloration of our highlights! My hair tends toward the orangey-yellow end of the color spectrum, while Izreanna’s ill-kempt coif tends toward the yellowy-orange end.
Issa: I ALREADY SAID YOUR HAIR WAS DIFFERENT! Gods, I hate you.