The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 11: The Gates of Dawn, Part 3—The Right to Leave
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
The Faceless Pirate – Natalie
Storm Giant 1 — Rud
Storm Giant 2 —Rud
Storm Giant 3 — Rud
Drowmande — Blake
Emissary of Stone — Cian
Emissary of Water — Gabe
Emissary of Wind — Ceridwen
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. We had little time to investigate, though, as we had been chased, harassed, and attacked by my sister’s band, a horde of demonspawn from the Hungering End, and most lately a Celestial Dragon who claims to be the father of one of our eldest foes, Draeclin Denarion.
Rhomande: Now, I’m not one to gossip, but the rumormongers on Ditch Street in Sahn Daskaar all claim that Denarion was conceived to be the next Emperor, until a group of adventurers uncovered a scandal most adult-in-nature. His mother, the Empress, had been displaced on her wedding night, and thus the Emperor did not realize that the woman in his marriage bed was actually a male Elder Radiant Celestial Dragon in disguise! Because the resulting baby had scales and wings, the populace knew immediately that the infant was not the offspring of His Holiness Emperor Natshif XXVII and Her Radiance Empress Kalsheen d’Arnspill, even though the baby most definitely had the emperor’s mother’s eyes. In any case, we met Denarion a number of years after these events, and none of my basterds ever cared one whit for the holier-than-thou half-celestial-half-dragon-half-elf.
Rhomande: The long and short of it is that I single-handedly defeated Draeclin’s true father-and-or-mother, the dragon Athairsidrinn, thusly:
(short section from end of Episode 10 begins here)
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.
(short section from end of Episode 10 ends here)
Rhomande: We scurried through the gates behind the dragon, locking them securely behind us.
Scene 2: The Rosy Foyer of Dawn
DM: You emerge into a round foyer of pink marble. As soon as the last of you steps more than 5 Imperial Linear Decimal Markators past the gate, a wall of wind springs up, howling and whooshing around the perimeter of the circular room. The exit at the far end of the foyer is now impassable. Give me some Spot Checks.
((Sfx: d20 x8))
DM: The floor of this room is covered in an inch of water, which is slowly sliding across the floor, gathering itself on the raised dais in the center of the hall.
Issa: Um… water doesn’t typically flow uphill. Is that something to be worried about? I’m not sure how water works on the Astral Plane.
Thrimlach: You should always be worried on the Astral Plane, penguin. It’s quite a dangerous place. But, no, water doesn’t typically fight the prevailing tug of gravity, here. Maybe you should go stand on that mound and see if it makes you fall upward!
Issa: No thanks, Thrimlach. I’m not going into the air again, unless it’s to fly up and catch a Wind Fish or something.
Imenand: Thrimlach, what are you doing harassing the penguin, when you have a perfectly good test subject standing right behind you?
Thrimlach: What? I’m not going to send Spirit of the Swift Wind onto that mound. I already made him fly once today, and I refuse to repeat my actions until the sun goes down.
Thorn: Well, Thrim, seeing as this place is called “The Tower of Dawn” and there’s a rather large sun perpetually rising in the central well of this place, you might be waiting here for a while.
Maldreth: I do so hope I’m there to watch when you cretinous and sinful parishioners all die horribly. It would be even better if Father Makar sees fit to make me instrumental in the cause of your… “accidents”. I want a flying horse no more than you do, sorceror. I believe Master Shenouda was referring to Sir Gnome.
Thrimlach: I’m not speaking to Sir Gnome. I might yell at him, but I refuse to speak to him until he dismantles his so-called “family” and returns them to whatever owl’s nest he found them in. ISN’T THAT RIGHT, SIR GNOME!?
Sir Gnome: Yeth, mathter. But I love Lady Gnome and my children. Especially Thrimlette.
Thrimlach: Spirit of the Swift Wind, will you please inform Sir Gnome that I hate him? And then tell him to get onto that raised dais so we can get on with all of this?
((Sfx: neigh, followed by horse-talking))
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Thpirit of the Thwift Wind. I underthtand. I will get back in the mathter’s good gratheth by obeying forthwith and without delay.
DM: Sir Gnome strides to the center of the room as quickly as he can, which isn’t very fast, considering the fact that he’s a skeletal gnome mage who is heavily encumbered by a suit of full-plate designed for a Dwarven Goatrider. After two interminable minutes of watching him inch closer to the dais, something interesting finally happens.
((Sfx: sudden, heavy wind starts))
Sir Gnome: Oh noooo!
Stiev: Wait… can Sssir Gnome fly on thisss plane, too? I thought that wasss jussst limited to the penguinsss, for sssome reassson.
Smyd: I’m not sure he’s really flying, Stiev. That looks more like he got himself caught in a strong current while trying to catch a salmon.
Vragul: Skelegnome look like he not have fun. Or maybe him have lots fun. It hard for tell. When him mouth closed, it look like him smiling, but when him mouth open, it look like him screaming. Maybe him screaming for fun of ride?
Yfirma∂r: You stupid, husborc. How can skelegnome smile, when smile need lips for happen? Hims obviously gritting teeths so him not bite tongue off when him fall to floor.
Vragul: How skelegnome bite tongue off when him haves no tongue? Eh, wife? Who smart now?
Yfirma∂r: (sarcastically) Oh? Me not know. How him talk when him haves no tongue, husborc? You still stupid. You no can see that skelegnome have invisible tongue. Invisible thing still there, even though you no see it. Just like moon during day time or Orog in deep cave when you above ground, or like wind.
DM: Sir Gnome continues tumbling through the air on ever-changing currents, which must be pretty strong, if they’re able to raise up that set of Dwarven Plate and hold aloft for so long.
Sir Gnome: Whoooa! Mathter? I’m trying to get to the thenter of the room, but I can’t theem to find my feet.
Thrimlach: I’m still not talking to you, Sir Gnome! Torrea, can you do something about this?
Torrea: I’m not so sure this is within my set of specialties, Lord Thrimlach. Spirit of the Swift Wind and I are more attuned to the administering and relieving of physical harms.
Thrimlach: Mandos’ hat! Are all of my minions now rebelling against me!?
Rhomande: I’ve seen Mandos’ hat, and it’s not all that impressive, if you ask me. Not one feather in it! But I may have a solution to this quandary, ceatharan. But first anyone who is able must Detect Magic!
((Sfx: Detect Magic))
Imenand: I see, now. This is old magic. Very old. Older than if one were able to combine the ages of Father Maldreth and myself.
Maldreth: And I’m older than many trees! You are correct, Master Shenouda. This room storms with elemental energies from the Plane of Air. That probably accounts for the whirlwind that Sir Gnome is caught up in.
Sir Gnome: Tho, can you find a way to thtop it? I’d like to get down, tho I can fulfill with the Mathter’th commandth.
Thrimlach: Why would I want to stop it? Anyway, this magic is too old and too powerful for a simple Dispell to be of any use. SIR GNOME, YOU’VE CAUSED MY MAGICS TO BE AS INEFFECTIVE AS YOU ARE!
Sir Gnome: Thorry, Mathter.
Tuxedo Beak: Master Shenouda, if I am not mistaken, you have a certain artifact that may be able to unbind this spell. My previous employer kept close tabs on you when you visited the Shrine of Ulm and the Hall of Gai.
Issa: Once again, I’ll ignore the question of how you know all of this stuff about us, Tuxie, but I’ll agree. You had that magic ring that unleashed some sort of delicious fish-god, way back in the Water Temple.
Tuxedo Beak: It was called the Shrine of Ulm, fishball head. Not “the Water Temple.” None of you ever stopped to read the inscription over the lintel.
Stiev: Wait. That sssoundsss familiar. Why ssshould I think I’ve heard about that?
Rhomande: Because my esteemed cousin Drowmande – who has agreed to record all of my feats and adventures on a scrycrystal, so that I have a second set of notes to compare against; Hello, Drommie! – well, he announced during the sea battle that the Faceless Pirate had been harassing us ever since the Water Temple. You were around, so that’s why it should be familiar, Stiev!
Stiev: Thanksss for the exssplana-ssshon, Bard! Now, would you mind finally telling me about what happened in Brexsst?
Imenand: We’ll have time for storytelling later. For the moment, we have more pressing matters. Father Maldreth, would you like to explain what is going on, here, or should I?
Maldreth: No. I would not like to explain anything to these cretins. Furthermore, Makar has declared that I am no longer allowed to directly aid any of my parishioners in their wars against their own ignorance.
Imenand: Very well, then. We fled the fall of Brext and escaped to the Shrine of Ulm, where the power of the Mother of Weapons unraveled an ancient spell that blocked our way to the Plains of the Godkillers. Months later, when we visited the Halls of Gai, which had been overrun by the Fire-Iron Otter clan, the power of Mëassë again dispelled another set of ancient magics, which bound the power of the Great Anvil to within a ten-mile radius of the anvil itself, which in turn had been rooted to the heart of the mountain.
Issa: Filthy Otters. They’ll never encroach on the Pengonquin fishing grounds ever again! What ever happened to that anvil, anyway?
Imenand: With the Bindings of Stone undone, the Great Anvil was once again able to be moved, and so it now resides at my Black Magma Forge, where I can perform lengthy, detailed, and, most importantly,uninterrupted research on its properties. Mëassë’s Ring of Unbinding ought to do the trick, here, a third time. Ahem. BY THE UNENDING POWER OF THE MOTHER OF WEAPONS, MAY THIS WHIRLWIND BE DISPELLED!
((Sfx: wind stops, dispel))
DM: The winds die down, revealing a pillar of liquid standing at the center of the dais. Sir Gnome immediately falls into the pillar.
Sir Gnome: Whooa!
DM: The water flows up, over, around, and through Sir Gnome, forming a sort of watery flesh surrounding his bones. The effect is rather disgusting, though, as the humanoid form taking shape is over 2 paces tall, but Sir Gnome stands barely one.
DM: The magical waters around Sir Gnome swell, then begin to pull in two directions. After a few moments of mitosis, a humanoid figure composed entirely of water splits off from the skeletal gnome and hurries down the far hallway. You watch the figure recede down the hall, before turning left. As soon as the figure is out of sight, the pillar of water around Sir Gnome collapses, revealing a familiarly liquid face.
Faceless Pirate: Yarr harr harr! Ye scalawags think you can surprise me in me secretest of places, do ye? How fortunate that when I chose left this time, I didn’t even have to find the path back to ye!
Issa: Great. The guy who killed Kelora is back. Didn’t we kill you in the arena?
Stiev: You know how the arena workss, Isssssa! He probably jussst woke up in a cssssssell when we popped him like a sssskin of wine.
Maldreth: In any case, Father Makar has not decreed that I must feign any semblance patience for this impediment. Watery Pirate of Many Faces, the mere Word of Makar shall render you STUNNED!
((Sfx: Power Word Stun))
Faceless Pirate: No! Wait a min— du’hrrrr…
Maldreth: Good. Now, the rest of you idiots have twelve seconds to fashion a properly dismal fate for this irritating shapeshifter.
Thorn: But Sir Gnome is still in there!
Thrimlach: Oh, who cares? Sir Gnome has gotten himself into this, and I don’t care if he ever gets back out of it.
Torrea: What about the portable storage facility in Sir Gnome’s skull, Lord Thrimlach? I often keep bits of fruit and other horsey-treats in there for Spirit of the Swift Wind.
Imenand: At the very least, bind the pirate’s arms and legs! I would rather he be conscious, but unmoving, when I flense away the many layers of magic and flesh, until I discover their innermost workings.
Thrimlach: Ooh! I want in on the exploratory magical surgery! I want to find out why this sack of silt keeps coming back after we kill him.
Issa: Stiev, I think that’s you and me on rope duty. We’re the rogues, after all. Tuxie, where did you put that rope?
Stiev: One ssstep ahead of you, Issssa! Jussssst putting the finisssshhhhing touchessss on thissss Consssstrictor Knot!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Stiev: And that ssshhhould do it!
Thrimlach: And now a brief TIME STOP!
((Sfx: Time Stop))
Thrimlach: And the dais is now prepared for use as an operating table!
Faceless Pirate: What…? Hey! Let me go, ye bilge-swilling barnacle bellies!
Imenand: I think not, pirate. You have eluded us for far too long, and now the Mother of Weapons and the Warfather call you home. Father Maldreth, would you care to make the first incision?
Rhomande: Father Maldreth raised his wicked, hooked sacrificial knife in both hands, the point hanging pendulously above the Faceless Pirate’s throat. As he chanted a solemn intonation, a dusky, red aura slowly enveloped him.
Maldreth: May the Lord and Lady of slaughter accept this sacrifice at my hand, for the praise and glory of the Name of Violence, for our benefit and the benefit of all who serve on the Battlefield.
Rhomande: The knife plunged downward, easily piercing the watery flesh of the still-half-formed changeling pirate. The dusky glow of Makar’s unholy power spread from the dagger, into the pirate’s throat, and there it veined its way throughout the sacrificial body. The reddened water pulled upward along the blade, then flowed over Maldreth’s gnarled knuckles and up the hilt. It pooled in the air above the sacrificial knife, drawing the very quintessence out from the pirate’s innermost core.
Rhomande: Once again, Imenand’s Ring of Unbinding flared to life with its own purple glow, and the ancient water-magics bound to the Pirate’s soul began to separate and emulsify in the air, just above the Pirate’s navel, which happened to coincide with the nose hole in Sir Gnome’s face.
Imenand: Good. Now I just need to place this phial of everglass beneath the concentrated magic, and we will let the natural forces take their effects.
DM: The Faceless Pirate’s soul separates from the ancient water magics that gave him his long life and shape changing abilities. The soul drifts upward from the reddish orb hovering above Maldreth’s hands, while the purplish orb of magical essence drips downward into the phial held in Imenand’s. After about ten minutes of this process, Maldreth has consumed another soul for his unknown-but-probably-violent purposes, Imenand has procured a phial of concentrated water magics from the Temple of Ulm, and Sir Gnome has been freed from the possession of the Faceless Pirate.
Sir Gnome: Hooray! I’m free and I didn’t have to get hurt.
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Gnome. Time works in weird ways on the Astral Plane, so there’s still plenty of time to hurt you.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
Vragul: Vragul bored. Vragul also hungry. Back home when funny hat orc make sacrifice, us always have big feast after. But whenever ogre-priest make sacrifice, it always strange thing like potato kids or water mans. Vragul no can eat water mans! Vragul hungry! It be long time since me had foodstuff. YOU! PRIEST! GO MAKE FEAST FOR KING!
Maldreth: I am pointedly ignoring you, while I finish the rituals necessary to bind this soul to the Plane of War.
Thorn: Vragul does have a point. I think the last time we ate anything was way back in the dungeon of the potato castle. Can we break for a snack?
Maldreth: Ugh. You cretins demand so much of me. Fine. We can stop for an hour, so that you may all shut up and feast upon feast upon Maldreth’s Gobstopping Trail Rations!
((Sfx: create food))
DM: After what you hope is an hour, you break your "camp", but you’re still unable to tell whether and how much time has actually passed. You take in the room around you; the vestibule you stand in stretches into a hallway, at one end, and a blank wall now stares at you from the other, leaving no hint of the gates or the dragon behind you. The hallway stretches for about 100 Imperial Linear Decimal Markators, before ending in a T-junction. The halls to your left and right disappear into the gloomy distance.
Vragul: Vragul know how this go. Vragul choose left!
Smyd: Vragul’s right. You always choose left, if you have the choice.
Maldreth: Indeed. All suitable challenges and foes are to be found toward the Sinister. That’s Old High Dwarven for “left” if you’re an idiot.
DM: The party heads leftward at the junction, and you soon emerge from the hallway into a room that looks suspiciously identical to the one you just left, with two key differences. Firstly, instead of a wall of wind and a pillar of water, though, this room contains three Storm Giants. The giants squat in a circle, hurling a massive pair of number cubes into the center. Every time the cubes stop skittering and spinning, loud groans of despair and cheers of victory ring out from the gambling giants.
Thrimlach: (bored/sarcastic) And what’s the other key difference, O Giant Voice? Do tell.
DM: The second key difference is a dead body lounging near the entrance. Anybody care to take a closer look?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Maldreth: Hrm. This rotting corpse, apparently a half-elf in her mid-twenties, must have come from the Arena of Ahk’rapp. Look. She even holds one of those wooden short swords that the Great Horrible one gave us when we beat him.
DM: While you quietly investigate the corpse, the giants’ boisterous game of dice continues.
((Sfx: 2d6. 2 BIG d6, if you can))
Storm Giant 1: G’ruck thAA!
Storm Giant 2: K’heeroc toallast!
Storm Giant 3: Las’tallorick vatha kellovac rig. Telma naay.
Issa: Hunh. I guess there’s not a lot to do in this tower, unless you’re trying to get to the top of it.
DM: One of the giants raises his head, finally aware of the approaching horde of you basterds. He grunts in an unfamiliar language, and his two companions also turn their attentions away from the dice and toward you.
Imenand: I tire of being unable to understand the beings we come into contact with. We must rectify this state of affairs immediately!
Stiev: Ummm… Aren’t you going to casssst a sssspell of comprehensssssssion or ssssomething, Imenand? That’ssss what you did when we faccccced the dragon!
Imenand: Oh, chameleon. You are sorely undereducated in xenopolitics and negotiation, aren’t you? Father Maldreth, what do you recommend we do with this group of beings whom we cannot and care not to understand?
Maldreth: Simple, Master Shenouda. We put a halt to their ability to speak, that we need not be confused by their babbling barbarism!
Thorn: Why not? This seems to be the way we’ve dealt with everyone and everything, ever since that potato king captured us. Oh, voice?
DM: Yes, Thorn?
Thorn: You said these were Storm Giants, yes?
DM: Indeed, I did.
Thorn: Then I shouldn’t hit them with lightning! I’ve learned to observe my foes before casting spells. That red-skinned potato dragon taught me that particular lesson.
Yfirma∂r: So, what pixie do instead of throw lightning bolt at giant?
Thorn: Throw the opposite of lightning, of course! Polar Ray!
((Sfx: Polar Ray, ice sounds))
DM: The ray of arctic chill bursts forth from the outstretched palms and fluttering wings of the pixie, striking the closest giant in the ankles, sealing his feet to the ground.
Issa: Wait a minute! How the fuck is an ice spell the opposite of a lightning spell?
Thrimlach: Simple elementalism, Penguin! Imenand gabharan, would you kindly tell the penguin what lightning is made of?
(gabharan: elven for “smith”; pronounced GAV-uh-ran)
Imenand: Well, Penguin, lightning comes from the sky, and it sets things on fire, so it is obviously a combination of Wind and Flame. Wind and Earth are opposite forces, as are Flame and Water. And what do you get when you mix the properties of Earth with those of Water?
Tuxedo Beak: Ummm… Ice?
Thrimlach: Correct! Give the well-dressed penguin a fish!
Issa: Oh-kaaaay. I kinda see what you mean, but I still think you’re making this up.
Thrimlach: How could two wizards independently make up the same reasoning for Ice being the opposite of Lightning? It’s obviously science. Er. Magic. Magical Science.
Imenand: Thaumatology. The systematic, meticulous study of Magic, the revealing of truths that are incomprehensible to...smaller minds..
Thrimlach: That’s the ticket! Thaumatology! I have a ““degree”” in that, you know! I ““earned”” it during my time at ““Wizard College””.
Issa: Wak-ever. I still don’t believe you. Come on, Tuxie! Let’s give these giants the old Peck-Peck so we can get on with this silly dungeon and finally go home.
Tuxedo Beak: Right behind you, Lady Featherfoot!
((Sfx: penguin waddle & slide x2, d20 roll x2, beak hit x2))
DM: Both penguins waddle away from the group, then launch themselves across the floor, sliding on their bellies. They cross the room in a fraction of a second, then twist their bodies upward when they simultaneously reach the frozen-footed Storm Giant. Two beaks slam into the enemy’s chest, skewering and splattering the immobilized foe. The giant hits the ground at an awkward angle, breaking both of his knees, since his feet are still affixed to the floor.
Issa: This one’s not getting up again!
Tuxedo Beak: No, but that one isn’t down yet!
DM: The second Storm Giant takes a single, massive step forward, then swings his enormous greatsword in three rapid strokes.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3))
DM: The first strike passes harmlessly over the penguins, as they duck under the 9-foot high swing, but the Giant plunges his sword downward to his left side, then brings it back up and whirling downwards, right into Issa’s head.
((Sfx: Sword hit x2))
Issa: Ouch! (and other pained penguin noises)
DM: The giant then rolls the blade off to his left in another moline, and brings it down toward Tuxedo Beak at a 45° angle.
((Sfx: sword hit))
Tuxedo Beak: G’waaah’k! (and other pained penguin noises)
Smyd (becoming a bear): Grrrr. Rhomande, this is all your fault.
Rhomande: What?! Kaltrops deartharan, I will have you know that as glorious as I may be, I have no power over and no idea about what will happen in this place! Honestly, all of that ended for me once we got to the Potato City. Isn’t that right, Nelio?
((Sfx: monkey ook))
Smyd: Exactly! If it weren’t for you and your monkey business, we wouldn’t be here, fighting a group of giants. It’s been so long that those idiot merchants on the Town Council in Oak Vale have probably forgotten how to collect taxes from my farm again.
Rhomande: I didn’t know it would take us this far! Honestly, I thought we’d just end up with a kingdom of exotic foodstuffs as a near-endless resource.
Smyd: Well, either way, we need to get back home, and these giants are in my way.
((Sfx: bear roar))
Smyd: AND NOBODY STANDS IN THE WAY OF THE CEO OF BEAR INDUSTRIES FOR LONG! ESPECIALLY WHEN HE CAN STILL BRUTAL CHARGE!
((Sfx: d20 roll x5, fists & claws))
DM: The bear bounds across the room, leaping over Tuxedo Beak to land on all fours, behind the closest giant. Brother Kaltrops rears up on his hind legs, stretching up to his full height of seven and a half feet. Despite that great height, this still leaves about four feet worth of Storm Giant towering above Smyd, who seems not to notice or care. The half bear monk rakes his right claw across the giant’s midsection, tearing four parallel gashes through its belly. He follows up the first claw with a roundhouse kick to the groin, which folds the storm giant in half, leaving its ears low and exposed to a boxing from a pair of massive paws. The bear finishes the combination by snapping his traplike jaws shut around the enemy’s throat. Within seconds, a second giant lies twitching and bleeding out on the flagstones.
Imenand: That’s two down. I lay claim to the third, that I might use its great bones and flesh to construct a new Flesh Colossus.
Thrimlach: Ewwww. Imenand, haven’t you changed that particular invention’s disgustingly adult-sounding name yet?
Imenand: Well, technically it’s a Mechanically Enhanced Conglomeration of Humanoids. I suppose you could use the acronym “M.E.C.H.”
Rhomande: Actually, Imenand, at ““Bard College”” I learned that Acronyms and Initialisms are for the weak-winded and those who fear ebullient verbosity. Do not rob yourself of line length, my Insufferable Basterds! We should all take a vow immediately to refer to these devices of Imenand gabharan by the full name, only: A Mechanically Enhanced Conglomeration of Humanoids, designated primarily as a Flesh Colossus.
Imenand: Shut your noise-hole, Bard. I will call my inventions whatever I please. But for the moment, I have only one such invention with me! Go, my Cadaver Collector, and retrieve the terminally-electrocuted remains of the final giant!
Imenand: Shut your noise-hole, Bard. I will call my inventions whatever I please. But for the monent, I only have one such invention with me! GO, my Cadaver Collector, and retrieve the icy remains of the final giant!
((Sfx: Collector stomping)))
Stiev: But, Imenand, that last giant isn’t dead or electrocuted!
Stiev: But, Imenand, that last Giant isn’t dead, and Thorn’s Polar Ray didn’t hit it!
Imenand: Oh, isn’t it, Chameleon? Then I must rectify this situation with TWO BOLTS OF LIGHTNING!
Imenand: Is that so, Chamelion? Then I must rectify the situation as to not be the disseminator of untruths. In order to remove this impediment, and to preserve the specimen’s more delicate parts, I Shall STrike IT WITh MY POLAR RAYS!
((Sfx: Polar Ray x2))
DM: Imenand stretches out his hands, firing a line of electricity from each. The tendrils of raw power jump across the room and strike the remaining giant squarely in the chest.
DM: Imenand stretches out his hands towards the Storm Giant. Blooms of purple energies swirl from the Mummified Necromancer’s hands before a pale blue ray bursts forth from each of his palms. The lines of Thaumatologically channeled energy flash across the room and strike the Giant squarely in the chest. Rapidly growing crystals of ice form on the Giant’s torso as its movement slows to a crawl.
DM: Meanwhile, the cadaver collector comes to a halt before the enemy, before enveloping the giant in an enormous bear hug, lifting it more than a pace from the ground. A sickening crack rings forth as the giant’s spine breaks. The collector then fulfills its primary function and collects its quarry, lifting the limp giant over its head, in order to slam it down onto the jutting gravestones and sharp rocks studding the collector’s back.
((Sfx: bones cracking, dead body squish))
Vragul: Vragul want fight still! Vragul was looking forward for fight!
DM: Well, Vragul, you have the same choice as before, now. You can only go down the hall in front of you, and after about 100 ILDMs it splits in a T-junction. You can go left or you can go right.
Vragul: Me go left!
Yfirma∂r: You always smartest when you go left, sweet axe!
Issa: As much as I’d rather not agree with the orcs, let’s go left.
Maldreth: Wait a minute. That gladiator reminds me of something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though. Something about that wooden rudius.
Rhomande: Perhaps the inscription? I believe it conferred upon us “The Right To Leave.”
Maldreth: Exactly. And the last thing the Great Horrible One told us was that if we fail the final trial, then we wake up in his cramped, gods-forsaken cells forever. I think the inscription was a hint.
Drowmande: Indeed, it was! And I’m honestly quite surprised that you figured that one out all on your own.
DM: Who is that!?
Stiev: The bane of my exxxxisssstencccce.
Issa: He’s the big voice that took over when you went to wherever you went.
Rhomande: He is my esteemed and very-many-times-distant cousin! The Impresario of the Great Arena of Ahk’rapp! Drowmande Sorofein! Cemori∂, this is the Giant Voice that follows us around most of the time!
Drowmande: Pleased to make your acquaintance. Now, are you just a voice, or will you be able to wake up in a cell with us sometime?
Rhomande: Not him, cemori∂! We need this one. You can have anybody else we come across, as per our agreement.
Drowmande: Right, right. Well, anyway, you idiots all learned how to read. Well, except for Vragul, I guess. Now see if you can figure out the clue. If you can’t, then don’t worry about coming to look for me. The Arena of Ahk’rapp will come to you, first!
DM: Uh. Okay. Not really sure what’s just happened, there. Which way do you go?
Rhomande: I believe we must correct our proclivity for sinister drift.
Tuxedo Beak: Could you say that again in plain Common?
Maldreth: What the bard means to say is that we go Right.
Scene 3: The Emissaries
Rhomande: We turned right and after a very short time, we found ourselves in total darkness. We turned about, drinking in the emptiness with our light-starved eyes.
Yfirma∂r: Me not know what you talking about. It fine for see in here.
Vragul: Yeah. This just like growing up in Cave. Cave was orc city where me grew up.
Thrimlach: Yes, Vragul, I’m sure that hearing about your time growing up in The Cave will be as interesting as Issa telling us about her first fishing trip with her mother. But Vragul’s right. Lorramar is an undead, stitched raven, so he and I have no problem seeing in the dark.
Lorramar: <kwok> That’s right, boss. <caw> Makes it easier to find that sweet, sweet, nighttime carrion.
Thrimlach: Same goes for Torrea and Sir Gnome, since they’re undead, too.
Torrea: Indeed, Lord Thrimlach! And Spirit of the Swift Wind is a celestial horse, so he has the blessing of Infravision!
Maldreth: I’m a lich.
Imenand: And I’m a Mummy.
Rhomande: FINE! Not all of us had eyes that were starved for light, but Thorn, Stiev, Issa, Tuxedo Beak, Brother Kaltrops, and I all benefitted greatly when I lightly tickled my lute strings and brought forth an orb of incandescence!
((Sfx: lute, light))
DM: You no longer seem to be in a brick-and-mortar tower complex. Instead, you stand in what appears to be a natural, unhewn cave. The walls, floor, and ceiling all glisten damply, while the drip-drip of slowly growing stalagmites echoes throughout the chamber. You look about for the source of the dripping, and you see a stalagmite "throne" with a pool of water slowly growing in the “seat”. Another dead gladiator lounges at the foot of the throne. Nearby, lays an empty forge, atop a pile of debris. You see no exits to the cave.
Imenand: A forge! If only I had some coal. Then I could try out some of the new designs I’ve been sketching. Well, some coal, some steel, and a number of assorted and fleshy parts, that is.
Smyd: Well, there’s a pick axe over in this pile of crap. And if bears know caves, like I think they do, then there’s a vein of coal in this wall, over here.
Maldreth: If that Drow gameshow host is still following us, then this must be another one of those asinine trials. Master Shenouda, I suggest you right the forge and get it primed while Brother Kaltrops produces us some coal.
Imenand: Shut up, Maldreth. I was just reaching that conclusion, myself.
((Sfx: metal scraping sounds for the forge being straightened; mining/pick axe sounds))
Smyd: It’s too bad we don’t have any Dwarves who follow our party around. I bet they’d already have mined out this whole cavern.
Thrimlach: It’s a good thing we don’t have any filthy Dwarves following us around. I bet they’d make everything we own smell like goat urine.
Rhomande: This is the truth, ceatharan!
Thrimlach: I know. That’s why I said it. Dwarves are smelly.
Rhomande: Except that one dwarf we met that one time, whose name I can never bring myself to remember. But he’s the exception that proves the rule.
Smyd: I’m done knocking chunks of coal out of this wall, if you elves are done bad-mouthing our theoretical dwarven slaves.
Imenand: And I have the forge ready. My cadaver collector will tirelessly work the bellows for me.
DM: Within a quarter hour, Imenand has stoked the coals to a red-hot glow. You wait for another half-hour before anybody speaks.
Vragul: This BORING! Vragul want something happen soon. Vragul still want fight!
Stiev: Yeah, sssomething’sss definitely wrong, becaussse we’re ssstill not getting out of here. And I really don’t want to wake up in a ccccell again, like thisss poor bassstard at the foot of the throne.
Issa: Maybe Imenand built the fire wrong.
Imenand: And maybe you should shut up, penguin. I will handle everything fire-and-forge-related, whether it please you or not. If we ever need advice on fish or frost, then I promise we will defer to your expertise.
Issa: And maybe you should apologize for being such a jerk! I was trying to be helpful.
Thorn: Stiev may have a point. Maybe we didn’t finish the whole puzzle yet, and that’s why we’re not getting out of here. Perhaps the water in that stalactite has something to do with it.
Imenand: Stalagmite. Those grow from the floor. Stalactites grow from the ceiling.
Thrimlach: And when they grow into each other, it’s called a column. How does that happen, anyway?
Imenand: Water dripping from the surface slowly deposits minerals over a course of millennia. This slowly builds up stalactites from the top, and stalagmites from the bottom. Eventually the two meet, and the mineral deposits seal the gap.
Stiev: Well, we mined ssssome coal and turned it into fire. Maybe we ssshould use the water to put it out.
Thrimlach: See, Stiev! You’re learning basic elemental thaumatology, already! If what you’re doing doesn’t work, then add another element! Sir Gnome, get over here! I have a Quest for you!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, mathter.
Thrimlach: Take this old, crappy carpenter’s cup that I’m pulling from the dimensional portal in your head, fill it with water, and dump the water on those coals over there. When you’re done, take your head off and punt it somewhere into the cave. When you put yourself fully back together, then your Quest is complete, and I promise to find something new to be mad at you for.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, mathter! Right away, mathter!
((Sfx: hissing coals))
Rhomande: As the coals hissed their deaths, smoke filled the room and darkness settled once more over our cavernous prison. We stood in silent expectation for a long minute in the unchanging black. For that entire stretch of time, the only sounds we could make out were Sir Gnome’s head clattering around in the cave and his body fumbling amongst the many tripping hazards, as it sought its final piece. Then, suddenly, three swirling lights appeared, pinpricks at first, but they quickly grew, seeming at once to displace reality and gather it inward. After a blinding ignition of critical mass, three grand elementals stood before us. These emissaries from the planes of Air, Water, and Stone stood resplendent, each gently shedding an off-white light.
Stone: As Emissary of the Domains of the Youngest of the Three Fundamental Fabrics, I am duty-bound to address you first.
Imenand: Hmm. Secondary-tier thaumaturgical philosophy states: earth, water, and air are the 3 elements that combine and recombine to make up the universe. The Primordial Mind Fire cools to air, air condenses to water, water loses more of the initial heat and becomes stone. Thus, Stone must be the youngest of these three emissaries.
Stone: Indeed, Imperial Mageling. Many unnumbered years ago, we of the Earthen Realms convinced our elders to strike a pact with the native people's of your worlds. "Nor Wind, nor Water, nor Stone shall raise hand, in aid or in submission, to partake in the Labors of the Forge Mother. And to bind this pact, the sons and daughters and other children of Voladros - his tribe and his holdings and all people's therein - shall join with the Tuadhwa Uiadhenns in the unending hunt to scourge all realities of the Fabric-Eaters, known to the peoples of Daskaar as the Hungering End."
DM: The cave trembles all around you. Make reflex saves, or fall prone.
((Sfx: earthquake, d20 roll x10))
DM: A crack opens up in the wall behind the emissaries. The fissure runs deep into the lightless earth.
Stone: The last of the pact is undone. This means you have slain the ancient predators of our peoples. You have our thanks. Stone withdraws its power, and shall go about whatever business it pleases.
Rhomande: Then, the liquid form of the Water Emissary spoke forth.
Water: At the time of the pact, the Aqueous held their reservations. Without water's presence - sometimes only the lightest caress - without water, life cannot take root. We were divided, but our need overshadowed our fear of removing the touch of life from a goddess.
DM: The earth trembles again, and a flood of water comes gushing forth from the fissure in the cave. Make swim checks to grab onto something solid, or be smashed into the far wall of the cavern. And then probably drown.
((Sfx: rushing water/flood, d20 roll x10))
DM: You all grab onto stalactites, stalagmites, or columns, as appropriate and handy. After a few minutes, the flood dies down, and you can see it draining through a new fissure in the floor behind you.
Water: Because of our divided minds, our binding was weak. The Tuadhwa Uiadhenns also failed in their vigilance, and our binding was subsumed by a would-be fish god. You descended into the shattered temple, and you freed us from the Piscine Demigod's thrall. In thanks,we return the waters to this place. We of the Aqueous Nations would see you live.
Rhomande: We waited silently - I assure you, none of us fidgeted from boredom, and nobody tried to sneak a peak at the Scroll of Titillation hidden in his exquisitely embroidered coat. We waited as the Emissary of Air reached forth with a cloudy finger, lofting up the ash from the forge. A mighty wind struck up throughout the cavern, slamming through my Basterds like a bowling-stone through pins.
DM: Make saves against the hurricane, or have your brains splattered against the far wall.
((Sfx: hurricane, d20 roll x10))
Rhomande: As the howling tempest subsided, our eyes took in the Emissary of Winds. She had taken all of the ash and dust of the cavern into her swirling, phantasmal form. She lithely strode to the far end of the cavern and lay a graceful finger upon the wall, tracing out a doorway with the soot and grit floating throughout her body.
Wind: The Cult of Reigning Entropy arose among the Aetherians in days long, long past. Before the sons and daughters and other children of Voladros established their city -- before Brext of the Glittering Ramparts -- before the First Reformation of the Cosmos, they preached the peace and equity of Absolute Dispersal. The Entrophytes - as they came to be called - ravaged whole Cosmi, destroyed innumerable planets, species, and cultures. If any of our terrible cousins or their wretched servants persist, you must kill them. The Countless Winds shall be ever at your back. Now, go. The Gates of Dawn await.
DM: A crack peals out, as the wall before her splits open. From the Emissaries' gate spills forth the warm, rosy light of dawn.
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Stiev: Visssit The 20-Ssssided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. And follow usss through sssscryomagical links that Masssster Sssshenouda and Thrimlach have esssstablisssshed. You can follow Rhomande @IllustriousRho, Masssster Sssshenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach @Thrimlach, and the Issssssa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot.
Vragul: 20-Sided Theatre ams joint production of Bear Industry and Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode star Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceri Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, and Rudraigh Quattrin. With special thank to Jonathan Abinante, Sierra Cirimelli-Low, and Michael Solso for the use of them Player Character.
Torrea: Written by Rudraigh Quattrin and Edited by Blake Parker.
Thorn: Sound Effects Design by
Thorn: Music by
Maldreth: For a complete list of and links to all the music you heard on tonight's episode visit the show notes at 20sidedtheatre.com.
Issa: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 5: The Tag
Thrimlach: Ceatharan? Are you there? I’m tapping into the Elven Thoughtscape again.
Rhomande: Indeed, I am ceatharan! That must mean this is another exciting instance of Thrim & Rho’s Elven Corner! What’s the topic of discussion today, ceatharan?
Thrimlach: Well, ceatharan, today we’ll be talking about livening your life up through music!
Rhomande: Indeed, we will be, ceatharan! And to aid in this edification, we have conscripted the help of the most famous sitarist in all of the Empire: Zolov the Mesmerist!
Zolov: Thanks. It’s goods to bes heres.
Thrimlach: So, Zolov. This is elven corner. What makes you think we shouldn’t kick you off our talk show?
Zolov: Wells, you sees my pointsted ears? You knows that the onlys species that’s this tall, with pointsted ears, and isn’t greens is the elves. And I has poinsted ears, and I’m tallers than Rhos-mandes, so I must haves been an elfs before becomings a vamps-pires.
Thrimlach: (not fully convinced) That sounds like a very Rhomandean response. Ceatharan, why don’t you take point on this interview, while I consult some tomes.
Rhomande: Glad to, ceatharan! Now, Zolov. Do you have any advice for aspiring sitarists?
Zolov: Of course, I dos. You can’ts finds a teachers so goods, and there’s nots all that much writsten musics, so the best advice is just to plays untils peoples comes to listens to it.
Rhomande: Quite unlike the lute, I’d expect. I mean, I taught myself to play the lute, but there were books of tablature for me to study from. Now, Zolov ceatharan, my next question: How long does it take to string and tune the Stellar Sitar of Sitalian-Mar?
Zolov: Wells, it takes fors-evers. People thinks “oh, yous just plays the four strings on the tops.” But NOES! Many layers of strings and you plays thems all, it’s verys diffskicults. And every strings needs to bes tunsed just a half-steps off froms the nexts. That ways you dontsts has to retunes it every times you plays a songs in a new keys.
Thrimlach: Ceatharan! I’ve made a very important discovery! Get this charlatan out of here and off of our Elves-only Talk Show!
Zolov: Whats? Whats you founds out, Thrimslach?
Thrimlach: According to the ““textbooks”” I acquired at ““wizard college”” the vampirization process actually elongates the ears of any species into pointy, elven-style cartilage! That explains why he’s more than half a head taller than both of us! This impostor used to be a human!
Rhomande: Zolov, is this true? If so, then we must immediately boot you from the show and start over with a new musical guest!
Zolov: Wells, you founds me out. Yep. I used to bes a humans. I’ll just takes my Stellsar Sits-tars of Sits-tals-ians-Mar and goes back to bands prackstice. You knows. For the Reds Hands. The bands that’s so big that Rhosmande gets aksked to opens for us, but never the others ways around.
Thrimlach: Hey, that’s right! You’re constantly getting asked to open for the biggest stage act in the Empire. Aren’t you, ceatharan? You know, since they have a much larger audience than you do.
Rhomande: I hate you both. Get this vampire off of my talk show! Another episode fully RUINED and UNLISTENABLE! Sigh. Stay tuned for Chip Dipson’s Action Town Criers, with the news of the day that your overlords have determined you should care about.