The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 18: The Portal of Pa’vos
Chip Dipson, Action Town Crier of Paldas the Bright – Blake
The Vengeful Ghost of Adanska Rothgeld – Rud
The Wi<3z, a magical harlequin – Cian
Hera “Pally” Laris, a disapproving paladin – Ceridwen
Pinky the Problematic Pixie, a Half-Pixie, Half-Dragon – Natalie
Engar Flamehand, an elderly fire mage and mad scientist – Gabe
Åx Balbjorn, an Axeomancer– Rud
The DM – Rud
Maldreth – Gabe
Rhomande - Rud
Thrimlach - Cian
Imenand - Blake
Stiev - Natalie
Vragul - Rud
Kasalan the Hateful - Blake
Sir Gnome - Rud
Grestin Deepfathom, an Evil Cleric - Cian
Peldra Kassin, a Confused Monk - Blake
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
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 entertainment quite wisely. You are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in the Great, Venerable, and Multiplanar Empire of Voladros. 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 and Story Thus Far
Rhomande: Well, my Insufferable Basterds seem to have sorted out the foodstuffs issue. Issa and Smyd snuck into Imenand and Maldreth’s cabins the other night and stole their necromancy supplies. We’ve all threatened to scatter their little onyx gems and bits of bone all over the sea, unless the Warfather and the Mother of Weapons resume their divine production of our victuals and clean water. But you’re not here for any of that, are you? You’re hear to catch up on the news of the day with Chip Dipson’s Action Town Criers! What’s the word, Chip?
Chip: Thank you, Rhomande. Our investigative team has been traversing the Glass Road in the Walled Desert, to find the Portal of Pa’vos, at the behest of the as-yet unseen Emperor of Voladros. Upon entering the Walled Desert, the following message rang out all around us:
Kasalan: (USE “translated” version from Ep 17) You have set foot within the domain of Kasalan the Hateful, Radiant Master of the Sisters of the Many. Pitiful companions of the Crimson Magus, each step you take brings you nearer to your doom. You shall not reach the Portal of Pa’vos. Your blood shall run down the temple steps as I prepare the way for the Hungering End.
Chip: To further complicate matters, Kasalan and the terrorist organization, The Sisters of The Many, seem to have magically displaced the entire temple complex in which the Portal of Pa’vos is housed. We go now to our Senior Ecological Correspondent, Pinky the Problematic Pixie, for more.
Pinky: Thank you, Chip! As you can see through your scryovision sets, the ochre sand of the Walled Desert extends for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. However, if we bring the crystal recorder here, past this jagged break in the glass road… we find ourselves standing not in a desert, but in some other twisted, sickly hellscape. The skies here are orange-and-black, with a cracked, scraggy, sort of grayish-brown landscape. When we first arrived, we were greeted by the sight of four eyeless dire buzzards tearing apart the shell and skeleton of a Desert Megatortoise. Eyewitnesses Hera Laris and Engar Flamehand had this to say… (quietly) Uh, Adanska, how do you get the quotes we recorded earlier to play?
((SFX: portal sounds when Pinky goes into the Wasteland))
Adanska: It is this button here, at the base of your Crustallum Vocis.
((Sfx: click as Pinky’s recorder turns on))
Hera: As a paladin, nothing frightens me; however, it did unsettle me greatly to see the thorough and absolute corruption spreading throughout those poor animals. No treatment in magic, prayer, or science could have saved them.
Engar: Oh, quite right! Although those buzzards were native to this place, their remains were suffused with chaotic energies of extraplanar origin. Between the chaotic field surrounding them and the volume differential of extraplanar protons, we’re looking at between six and fourteen years of high-level, cross-discipline collaboration before we’re ready to even analyze these remains properly. Even then, it’ll still be another ten to twenty years after that before we have a cure.
Pinky: Scary things are afoot in the Walled Desert. Word has been sent to the authorities at Z’gor D’riiz, and we hope the area will be quarantined soon. For now, we recommend halting any plans to travel to the Walled Desert. Back to you, Chip!
Chip: Thank you, Pinky. This just in: We have reports that one Åx Balbjorn has come into direct contact with the aforementioned extradimensional energies. Healers from the orders of the Triple Goddess and Paldas the Bright are keeping him for observations, but so far no permanent damage seems to have been sustained. We go now to The Wiz for an exclusive interview.
The Wiz: Thanks, Chip! So. Mister Balbjorn. You’re one of them axe-o-mancers, aintcha? That must be weird. Anyway, you had some o’ that weird chaos energy flow into you. How’d that happen?
Åx: Well, I charged my axe with a leeching spell, before I swung. When it hit the bird, then I was stuck. I saw some things that you wouldn’t like. Sometimes I can still see all of it when I close my eyes…
The Wiz: Well, if I wouldn’t like it, then I don’t wanna hear none of it! You look fine physically, so howsabout you get back to your job guarding the wagon, now? Back to you, Chip!
Chip: Thank you, The Wiz. If anybody has information about this strange disease or its plane of origin, please contact the Order of Paldas or the Order of the Triune Goddess immediately. That’s all the news for now! This is Chip Dipson signing off!
Rhomande: Lords and ladies of my beloved audience, recline upon your gilded seats, quaff your libations, and adjust your listening devices to receive the full range of resonance and reverberation, that you may thoroughly enjoy your evening at the 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 2: The Crawling Apocalypse
Chip: Another excellent news cast, my Action Town Criers! Especially you, Pinky! You’ve come a long way in a short time!
Pinky: Thanks, Chip! I’ve had some great support and guidance from all of you guys! But how come you look so pained, Chip? Do gnomes have a different expression for happiness than other species?
Chip: Oh, no! I’m quite proud of you all, and my heart sings with joy and hope for all of you. Unfortunately, that ghost in Trur Dros also left its mark, and it causes me a little twinge of pain every now and then. I’m sure once we reach the Emperor, he’ll be able to direct us toward his healers and clerics, and they’ll be able to treat my condition.
DM: You spend the rest of the morning packing the cart and the camel, preparing to journey toward the Temple of Kasalan and the Portal of Pa’vos. You step through the barrier, into the hidden world that houses the Portal complex, and this time nothing bars your way forward. After four and a half hours’ journey––
The Wiz: (interrupting) NO STOP! BELIEE-EEEVE! JUST HOLD ON TO THAT FEE-EEE-EEL!
DM: What. Was that.
The Wiz: It’s a cut off the new album that the famous Bard Rhomande produced. It’s called “Vragul: King of Sing” and it’s available in all the finest taverns, for a mere 47 silver pieces!
Pinky: Forty-seven silver pieces!? But that’s nearly half an average farmer’s yearly income!
Engar: Good music is worth great remuneration, to ensure the survival and further production of the artists. This, however, was not good music.
The Wiz: You know that music is in the ear of the beholder, Engie. So for all intended purposes, this is good music.
Hera: I believe the phrase is “for all intents and purposes,” The Wiz. Honestly, this is the most commonly misapprehended clause in the whole Rhiosian Common Lexicon!
Engar: Actually, Dame Laris, the adjectival construction our young companion deployed is entirely, grammatically sound. Her use of that old adage, however, leaves a wide gap in her logical armor. I heard her singing, therefore I am the beholder, and my ear tells me that this is not “good music”.
DM: Damn straight it’s not. That’s traditional Scottalian folk music, interpreted by a half-orc, and spiced up in post-production by Rhomande, and then sung along to by The Wiz. But none of that’s important right now. The important thing is the low rumbling that peals out across the twisted, grey-and-beige wasteland, as the temple complex comes into view. Make some Spot Checks.
((Sfx: rumbling; d20 roll x6))
Åx: What is happing with that sand, yonder?
Hera: It’s shifting this way and that, despite the lack of breeze. As if some enormous serpents were crisscrossing in some elaborate snakey dance beneath the surface.
DM: The same voice that warned you off at the edge of this demiplane rings forth once again.
Kasalan: Mhikdtho borthwo wiza Buidtha Quakkdi, lili colta nhizahmwe pa ghizdo nuaga khem-f’hol. Lilo chusta khem-pro, medda zha Whazh Nath-a-dhas colta piste mago-tay cho bith-ooh-whe Zhalavor. Khasta li vhertiso hogo xi eghamste chadra persediis. Cho Lia-Wikkdthe khrunta woldthi galo-lili, chadra mulchis-lili khrunta bwen-rho-ti cho Weilxiindtho Noiltheirchi medda prhis-taldthi. Lili-gron: cho ixtho yerth sem pah’rove li vhertiso! Lili meir lo kha xi eghamste ti cho Ypwacgaa Vwe-T’ocse wi Kasalan Fhey’rthol kizdha cho ku-scho-dos!
Chip: Whatever that dragon just said cannot be good for us, especially with the shifting sands growing closer. O Paldas the Bright, please see fit to make your servants Comprehend Languages, that we might heal this place of its corruption!
((Sfx: comprehend languages))
Kasalan: Pitiful companions of the Crimson Magus, you have dared to ignore my warning. Yours is a fool’s errand, for the Sisters of the Many have already begun the final Ritual. Soon this world will be devoured and dispersed. The Many Mouths shall swallow you all, and your souls shall join the Howling Darkness for all time. Behold: the first servant to have reached this plane! You are now to be consumed by the Crawling Apocalypse of Kasalan the Hateful!
DM: The sand bursts upward, spraying 46.9 Rhiosian Units into the air. You look toward the base of the eruption, to behold a decaying, sickly tentacle flailing its pace-wide girth in a blind attempt to crush or capture you all.
((Sfx: sand, crash, beast roar of some sort))
Adanska: What is our next plan of action, Chip?
Chip: We should make haste to the Temple! Hera, you and Solstafir take a rear guard with Åx and the camel. Adanska, Pinky. You two take point. The Wiz, Engar, and I will climb into the cart, and drive the mule toward the temple complex. From what the Emperor said, all will not be lost, so long as The Wiz makes it through the portal. Now, RUN!
((Sfx: solstafir, running feet, wagon wheels, galloping ostrich?))
DM: You break out with all the speed you can muster, but the Crawling Apocalypse easily outpaces you. Within seconds it reaches a spot a little over 41 Units ahead of you, crashing one of its tentacles down across the stone roadway.
((Sfx: crash, cracking stone, beast roar))
Chip: Adanska! Pinky! Clear the path!
Adanska: I am on this, Chip!
Pinky: Yes sir, Mr. Dipson, sir!
Adanska: On my signal, Pinky. Just like we have practiced.
((Sfx: pixie wings))
DM: Adanska sprints forward, never slowing pace as he careens headlong into the obstructing tentacle. The 6.6-unit-tall ghost disappears completely into the 14.1-unit-tall limb, as Pinky flies to hover 17.6 Units above the top of it.
((Sfx: ghost phasing, start wagon creaking))
Engar: Oh, dear. The obstruction does not seem to be moving.
The Wiz: Yeah. Uh, Chippie? Maybe we oughtta steer a little?
Chip: Have faith, my Action Town Criers. Pinky and Adanska will come through for us.
((Sfx: d20 roll x2, psi blade hit x2))
DM: As the cart closes the distance, two blades of purple energy burst forth from the top of the tentacle, then spread in opposite directions along its circumference. The tentacle spasms in pain, arching upward over the road.
Pinky: Got your signal, Adanska! Now it’s time to encourage this monster to get out of the way with some ACID BREATH! BLEAGH!
((Sfx: acid breath, beast roar))
DM: The tentacle recoils in pain, pulling upward and leaving a desiccated arch hanging over the road.
((Sfx: creaking wagon wheels))
Chip: Yah, Mule! Yah! Engar! The Wiz! We’re not going fast enough! That tentacle’s going to come down right on top of us!
Engar: Well, I have nothing in my robes that might affect our speed. Unless, of course, you’d prefer that we all shrink by about 50%, but that would halve our velocity, as well.
((Sfx: clinking bottles))
The Wiz: Then we just gotta keep the tentacle from coming back down! And the best way for that is to pass under some SOLID FOG!
((Sfx: Solid Fog))
DM: A solid block of fog gathers about 10 units above your heads, trapping the flailing tentacle in its firm embrace. But you might want to make some spot checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x3))
Chip: The Wiz, what are you doing? That fog is descending right into the roadway! We’re still going to crash!
Engar: It’s not a problem if we erect a tunnel. Two ICE WALLS should do the trick!
((Sfx: Ice Wall x2))
DM: Engar’s ice roof stretches into existence, racing ahead of the party to provide a safe passage beneath the cloud of solid fog. The way ahead looks pretty clear, at this point, and the Temple Complex lies 500 Units ahead.
((Sfx: big rumble, cracking stones))
Åx: Chip! The road is tearing itself apart!
Hera: That’s not the road’s doing, Åx. That’s… Is that a Kraken surfacing behind us?
DM: The Crawling Apocalypse of The Many heaves itself from its sandy submergence, snatching bits of flying road in its tentacles and snapping them into its mouth.
Åx: Look at it’s eyes! It has the same disease as those buzzards!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Hera: By the Triple— Look out, Åx! SHIELD OTHER!
((Sfx: Shield Other, tentacle hit))
DM: Hera’s protective spell flares into existence, between Åx and the onrushing tentacle. This allows Åx to prepare a countermeasure.
Åx: We’ll never get away in time, Lady Hera! Quickly! Grab onto my hand, and we will DIMENSION HOP!
((Sfx: dimension door))
DM: The paladin grasps hands with the axeomancer, and they blur as the spell envelops them. Reality warps a little, and the four of them–Hera, Åx, Solstafir, and the camel–shift their position, while retaining their relative velocities. Like Electrons!
Engar: Edifying as that was, Master Disembodied Voice, now is not the time for lessons in Particular Calculus! Look! We’re almost to the temple!
DM: You’re closing the final distance to a ziggurat with a 4000-square-unit base. The ancient stone is dark with age. The many carvings that stud this ancient edifice have been worn down by ages of sandstorms, leaving only vague impressions of the original images. Your collective feet, wheels, and hooves clatter onto the flagstones of the outer courtyard, as the Crawling Apocalypse of the Many heaves itself through the sand beneath the roadway behind you.
Chip: Keep moving forward, my Action Town Criers! This courtyard looks broad enough that we should be safe from any flailing tentacles, once we reach the stairs!
((Sfx: running, wheels, camel hooves, bird running))
DM: You race to the far end of the flagstones, gathering at the bottom of the ziggurat’s central staircase. The Crawling Apocalypse has stalled at the other end of the courtyard, unable to pass through the bedrock foundation.
Chip: Whew! That certainly got my heart pumping! Ow… My chest! Oof. Everybody sound off! Let me know if you need any healing. Pinky, I can’t see you? Are you invisible, or are we going back to save you?
Pinky: Right here, Chip! I was just scouting ahead. The upper levels seem to have a bunch of mosaics that show a bazillion different places. The only thing that shows up in all the pictures is a big, blue ring.
Adanska: We believe these to be depictions of the many places the contacted by the Portal of Pa’vos. I am also here and in no need of healing, Chip.
Engar: Oof. Perhaps a Lesser Restoration might be in order, to realign my vertebrae after that wagon ride. But I am otherwise unharmed, Master Dipson.
The Wiz: Mirror Images! We’re all here, Chippsie Dippsie!
((Sfx: Mirror Image, begin multi-wiz))
Hera: Solstafir and I are unharmed, by the grace of the Triple Goddess.
Åx: I think the camel threw a shoe.
Pinky: Camels don’t wear shoes, Åx.
Åx: Then what did I see flying off of its feet? And why are you all so blurry?
Chip: Hrm. Kneel down, Åx. Let me look into your eyes. Hrm. Let me test your pupillary response with a Minor Light… Hmm… Dilation response seems normal. Okay. Let’s try Paldas’ Retinal Exam next… Okay, hold still while I cast Minor Gust. Hrm… Nothing jumps out as wrong. Okay. Dispel effects. I’m not sure what to tell you, Master Balbjorn, but nothing seems to be wrong with your eyes. I can cast Hawksight to get you through the day, but you’ll want to follow up with a superior in the Order of Paldas once we get back to civilization.
((Sfx: light, Pupil dilation spell, puff of wind, dispel, hawksight))
Åx: Thank you, Master Dipson. Everything is much sharper and clearer now.
Chip: Alright, my Action Town Criers. Let’s take a short rest before climbing the temple steps to confront Kasalan and her Sisters of the Many.
Scene 3: The Portal of Pa’vos
DM: You rest for an hour to regain your strength and to re-prepare a small number of spells.
The Wiz: (multiple) Does this mean I’m gonna have to cast Mirror Images again?
DM: Well, seeing as there are eight of you asking me that question, I’d say that you already recast it.
The Wiz: (multiple) Oh, right. I even used Extend Spell this time, so I don’t have to cast it again once we get to the top!
Adanska: Hrm. I had probably ought to possess my own body, from this point onward. I do not think the wagon will be able to make it up the stairs. But my body still has not been Mended, so I worry about damaging it beyond repair!
Chip: Fear not, friend Adanska. We’ll simply unhitch the mule and split the wagon’s contents between our two beasts of burden. We can tie your body onto the camel, if you’d like; it ought to be safe all the way up there.
Adanska: I thank you, Chip! From the bottom of my ectoplasmic heart.
Chip: Well, it looks like everyone is rested and has prepared themselves for our greatest challenge yet. Onward and upward, my Action Town Criers! We have almost reached our goal!
Pinky: Uh, Chip? I kinda thought there’d be a lot more cultists, minions, and other bad guys crawling all over this temple thingie. But we’ve been here for an hour and haven’t seen any people at all!
Chip: You’re right, Pinky: I’d expect a lot more defense on the outside of the ziggurat. They’re probably involved in whatever ritual Kasalan has been warning us not to interfere with. We should expect resistance to grow as we draw closer to the portal.
DM: You ascend the steep staircase at a quick clip. You reach the top and find yourselves standing at the edge of a 45-square-Unit plaza, at the center of which stands a hexagonal stone shed, measuring 7 Units on a side. There you behold Sister Grestin, the evil cleric of the Many, deeply involved with some unknown ritual at an altar in the shadowed recesses of the stone box.
((Sfx: running feet/stair-climbing feet))
Åx: Is this the right place, Chip?
The Wiz: (multiple) Yup, this is definitely the right place, Axie. My feets are just itching to get into that little, stone shed. They kinda hurt, now, actually…
Grestin: Not as much as the rest of your body will hurt, in a very short time. Welcome, Crimson Magus. Thank you for delivering yourself unto the Sisters of the Many.
Adanska: Oh. Great. This broad again.
Hera: Apologize for that, Adanska! Evil though this woman may be, slurs and negative epithets ought never be deployed against another sapient being. Especially one whose friend you killed.
Adanska: For the hundredth time, Dame Laris, I did not kill that woman. I merely… blanked her mind for a while. And I apologize for using the pejorative epithet for that evil woman.
Chip: Grestin Deepfathom, we will not let you open that gate. As defenders of Rhios, by the authorities of Paldas, the Triple Goddess, and the Explorers’ League of Z’gor D’riz, I hereby place you under arrest.
Grestin: I think not, gnome.
DM: Grestin turns back to her task, waving her arms and dancing her fingers through an intricate set of movements, all the while muttering incantations under her breath. A dull light the color of stained blood envelops the sea elf, illuminating the altar and revealing a humanoid shape lying upon it, cloaked in a linen sheet. The light around the cleric of the Many intensifies and envelops the figure upon the altar. After a moment, the figure stirs and lifts herself from the cold, stone slab.
Grestin: (quietly, beneath ritual description; modified bit from Vergil’s Aeneid)
Excudent stulti spirantia mollius aera
(credo equidem), vivos ducent de marmore vultus,
orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
describent radio et surgentia sidera dicent:
tu regere imperio populos, Entrophas, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere silentium,
arripere subiectis et debellare superbos!
Adanska: See, Lady Hera? I didn’t kill that woman! Can we please arrest them so we can leave, now?
Peldra: Arrest? Grestin, what is the ghost with the unkempt hair talking about?
Grestin: Lies and half-truths, Sister Peldra. Nothing more. In any case, these interlopers are already too late. Is that not right, Grand Mistress?
((Sfx: Dragon roar))
DM: You look up, to behold a tiny speck of light circling in the dark clouds above the temple. The speck wheels in wide arcs as it descends, growing larger and larger, until you can make out the opalescent radiance of a mature celestial dragon. While the dragon is still aloft, something sharply splats against the ground.
Engar: Is that… Yes, I believe it is… An eyeball just fell from the sky. Look! It’s all ruined now, but this piece here is definitely a cornea.
DM: Another splat echoes from the far edge of the courtyard, and then another, and another, gaining frequency until until you stand in the calm center at the center of an eye storm.
((Sfx: eyeball rain, starts slow and builds to a steady rainfall))
DM: Kasalan lands directly in front of the Portal Shed, finally close enough that you can see that she, too, suffers from the same ocular degeneration that you saw in the Dire Buzzards and the Crawling Apocalypse.
((Sfx: boom of a dragon landing; your discretion about whether to put in a Draconic version))
Kasalan: Allies of the Crimson Magus, you are already too late. The Sisters of the Many have emptied and refilled their Vessels. They have been scattered beyond the Ninth Wave, to wreak the vengeance of the Entrophytes upon all particulate existence. All that remains is to corrupt the Circle of Iron Stars. Sister Grestin, prepare the Crimson Magus for her Conversion.
Grestin: With pleasure, Grand Mistress.
Pinky: Hold on. Back up one second. Grand Mistress? You mean, all this time Kasalan has been a girl dragon?
The Wiz: (multiple) Huh. I guess that makes sense. I kinda thought it was weird that a boy dragon would want to live in a nunnery full of evil ladies.
Engar: Well, my dear, if you had been studying those Anatomy scrolls as you should, you would have easily noticed the secondary sex characteristics of the female dragon before us.
The Wiz: (multiple) Ohhh, yeah! I can see it now! She gots some eyelashes!
Chip: You’ve given away a key detail, Kasalan. And like a good reporter, I always catch the details! While The Wiz yet breathes, there is still a chance that your nefarious plan will fail.
Hera: All we need to do is to get her to the portal, to aid this Emperor fellow. Come, The Wiz! Take my place atop Solstafir. He will carry you swiftly and safely to your destination, past that gaudy and tackily-patterned dragon!
The Wiz: (multiple) Oh, no, Pally. I ain’t going anywhere while my friends are in trouble. That’s Action Town Crier Rule Number 1. Either we all… Eyether we all… Both we… no that doesn’t work…. Nobody’s going through that portal unless all of us do!
Kasalan: Very well, then. Grestin. Peldra. Kill them all.
DM: Kasalan opens her jaws wide and a spray of pearlescent, pastel colors assaults your vision. Her corrupted radiant breath bathes over you, threatening to burn away both mind and flesh. The entire party collapses defensively around The Wiz, sparing her from the attack.
((Sfx: radiant breath, d20 roll x7))
Chip: Engar: Hera: Åx: Adanska: Pinky: (cries of pain)
The Wiz: (multiple) All right, that’s enough!
((Sfx: The Power of Mëassë))
DM: A deep, wine-red glow envelops The Wiz, gently pulsing in time with her quickening heartbeat. She stands up, crawling from the protection of her charred friends. The white swaths of cloth in her harlequin hosiery have darkened to a jet black, and the bright, cheery red has darkened to match the wine-colored glow around her.
The Wiz: (multiple, Crimson Magus) Hey, you overgrown lobster! Quit hurting my friends! Why don’t you take your ugly-colored breath and choke on it!
DM: The seven extra copies of The Wiz step between Kasalan and do… I’m… I’m not even really sure what it is they do. They do something to Kasalan’s radiant breath, allowing them to grasp the waves of energy. They all raise their hands, then all at once, The Wizes flick their hands downward, sending Kasalan’s breath backward in a wave, heading straight for the dragon’s throat.
((Sfx: magic shit))
Kasalan: (choking) But… How…? The Circle.. is still… unforged….
Grestin: Fear not, Grand Mistress! The Action Town Criers are weakened, and they shall not survive a Mass Infliction of The Many!
((Sfx: Mass Inflict Light Wounds, d20 roll x7))
DM: Grestin raises her evil mace aloft, and a dozen ghostly, green tentacles sprout from the ground at your feet, crawling up your legs, simultaneously freezing and burning any patch of unguarded flesh they can find.
Hera: (through teeth gritted against pain) Rrrr. I have seen the corruption you intend to spread across the worlds, cultist. And The Paladins Triple Goddess shall stand ready to lend all peoples their Protection from Evil!
Chip: (gasping, recovering from pain) We need to get to the Portal! Pinky, can you clear a path for us?
Pinky: Gladly, Chip! Let me just put on the old Pixie Invisibility, and I’ll take care of their caster!
DM: Pinky disappears from sight, but if you listen carefully, you can still hear her wings beating.
((Sfx: d20 roll, pixie wings))
Grestin: What are you talking about, you dismantled ethereal noise box? I can’t hear anything.
Pinky: I bet it’s because of that helmet, you mean old sea hag! I bet it gets pretty uncomfortable in there. Especially when it fills up with Acid Breath! Bleagh!
((Sfx: un-invisibility, acid breath))
Grestin: G’ah! My face! It burns! Get it off!
Åx: Gladly, Mistress Evil Cleric! GWRW OER!
DM: Åx quickly closes the distance, channeling a Shocking Grasp through his axe. The crackling blade arcs downward behind his shoulder, and the Axeomancer brings his weapon toward Grestin’s helmet in a heavy, upward strike.
((Sfx: shocking axe to helmet, helmet thudding two yards away))
Grestin: (no more helmet flange) G’uh! Sister Peldra, you must stand in defense of the portal!
Peldra: Sister… Grestin. Where do I know her from? And why does she call me “sister”? Where am I?
Chip: We still need to get past Kasalan! Engar, I trust that you have a flask or a potion for this?
Engar: Hrm… I may have something… Honestly, I never considered that a celestial radiant dragon might someday be corrupted by an exoplanar force that wants to destroy the multiverse. So, I may be improvising somewhat, with my potions and spells.
((Sfx: bottles clinking))
Chip: Good, Engar! You’ll figure something out. You always do! We need to neutralize Kasalan until Engar is prepared! Anybody have any ideas?
The Wiz: (multiple, Crimson Magus) Well, the eight of me could probably fascinate her with our juggling routines and clapping games! Miiiiissssss Maaaaaa-rrrrry— Whoa! Where’d my partner go?
((Sfx: cartoonish pop; “whoa whered my partner go” should be deeper/“bigger” when she grows))
DM: The Wiz turns toward her mirror image — which really shouldn’t be possible, by the way; they’re all supposed to be facing the same direction as The Wiz Prime — and begins her clapping game, but as soon as the two Crimson Magi make contact, they produce a silly “pop”, instead of a clap. The Wiz usually stands about 5.5 Units tall, but her volume has now doubled, so she’s now closer to 7 Units in height.
Adanska: I know how we can keep Kasalan busy until Engar comes up with a more permanent solution, Chip!
Chip: Then go for it, Adanska! We’re all right behind you.
Adanska: The Wiz, do you trust me? I will need to possess you. I am better at wrestling than you are.
The Wiz: (multiple, big, Crimson Magus) You know, Danskie, we joke around a lot, but when it comes down to it, I trust all of you guys with my life. Go ahead. My mind is open to you.
DM: Adanska strides over to the enlarged Wiz and reaches up, gently brushing her cheek with his fingertips. The Wiz closes her eyes and a gentle shudder runs up her spine, as Adanska fades from sight. When the giantess opens her eyes again, they glow purple with psionic energies.
Adanska: (big, possessing) Excellent! Now we just need to gather the others…
((Sfx: big running feet, 6 more pops))
DM: The Wiz… er… Adanska… Well, both of them, I guess, since they’re working together. The two Action Town Criers zig-zag across the battlefield, high-fiving all of the regular-sized mirror images. When the last copy has been absorbed, The Wiz-danksa stands exactly 11 Units tall, which is still about half the size of Kasalan.
Adanska: (big, possessing) This is okay, Master Voice. My plan is not yet complete.
((Sfx: either Psionic Expansion or whatever a brewing keg sounds like))
Pinky: What’s that smell? Is that bread?
Åx: No, Pinky. That is one of my favorite smells. GWRW BRAGU!
Pinky: Uh… don’t you usually go smack something after you scream out your war cry, Åx?
Åx: That wasn’t my war cry! My war cry means “cold beer”. What I just said means “brewing beer”.
DM: Adanska envelops the enlarged Wiz in his purple psionic glow once more, and the yeasty smell of brewing beer permeates the courtyard. The Psionic Expansion inflates The Wiz, so that she stands nose-to-nose with the Mature Adult Celestial Radiant Dragon. The 22-Unit tall Crimson Magus shoots her right arm beneath the dragon’s throat, snaking it over the top in a headlock. Her left hand grasps Kasalan’s foreleg by the ankle, drawing it out to its full extension, while the magus’ right foot kicks violently at the base of the dragon’s rear-right shin. The tangle of bodies tips away from the portal shed and comes crashing down in the center of the plaza, landing directly on Kasalan’s opal-scaled face.
((Sfx: crash of a giant wrestling a dragon))
Engar: Good, that should keep her distracted for a bit. Hrm… No, the Flask of Ferrous Fetters doesn’t have enough volume to keep mature dragon down. Maybe if I combined these two bottles…
((Sfx: clinking bottles))
Grestin: Peldra! Sister, you must stop the elderly mage!
Peldra: I… Yes, sister… That word still feels odd in my mouth… Master… Master Flamehand! I must insist that you stop rummaging around in your robes!
Engar: What? Oh. I’m sorry, my dear, but I cannot do that. The very fundamental fabric of reality is at stake, here. But I thank you for asking politely, instead of attacking me.
Peldra: Thank you…? All reality…? What… what the hells is going on?
Chip: Excellent teamwork, my Action Town Criers! The love and mercy of Paldas fills me, that I might shine that healing light over my friends in a Mass Heal!
((Sfx: Mass Heal))
DM: Wave upon wave of Paldas the Bright’s soothing light emanates from Chip, flowing over the Criers, healing charred skin and restoring blinded sight.
Grestin: This will not do! Wizard or Ghost or whatever you are, you shall unhand the Grand Mistress! The power of the Many shall aid her escape with an EXORCISM!
The Wiz: (double-big, possessed, Crimson Magus) Danskie, what’s going on?
Adanska: (Double-big, possessing) I— I cannot hold on, The Wiz!
The Wiz: Adanska: (cries of pain)
DM: Grestin reaches out with her corrupt heart, petitioning the Many to fulfill her desires. Within seconds, Adanska is forced from The Wiz, disrupting the Psionic Expansion affecting them both. The tide of battle suddenly turns, as The Wiz halves in height, allowing Kasalan to roll over and pin the harlequin.
Hera: The Wiz! Come, Solstafir! We cannot let The Wiz fall. If she does, then all is lost!
DM: Hera puts the spurs to her celestial riding bird, and Solstafir charges across the battlefield, leaping upon Kasalan’s shoulders. As the golden beast leans its head down to peck at the dragon’s mother-of-pearl scales, Hera raises her holy scythe aloft.
((Sfx: d20 roll, beak hit))
Hera: Kasalan, who is called The Hateful. Hera Laris, Paladin of the Triple Goddess hereby finds you guilty of the tackiest, most gaudy fashion sense. Also, you’re trying to destroy the multiverse. For these crimes, you must be punished!
((Sfx: d20 roll, scythe hit, dragon roar))
DM: Hera’s scythe sweeps down in a tight arc, catching Kasalan beneath one of the scales on her neck. The radiant dragon recoils in pain, allowing The Wiz to roll to safety. The Wiz takes this opportunity to put her thumb into her mouth and puff her cheeks.
Pinky: The Wiz, what are you doing?
The Wiz: (big, Crimson Magus) Well, I’m feeling a little oogie right now, Pinky. It’s uncomfortable, so I thought I might spread that out among some TINY IMAGES!
DM: The Wiz puts her thumb back into her mouth, and resumes blowing. She balloons up to four times her normal size, before bursting into a dozen shreds of fabric. Each scrap of fabric floats gently to the ground, then pulls itself upward, standing erect to reveal a half-scale copy of The Wiz.
((Sfx: balloon blow up, pop))
Pinky: Good thinking, The Wiz! Since you’re my size now, they’ll have a hard time hitting you! Plus, they’ll have a hard time picking out which of you is the real one!
The Wiz: (small, multiple, Crimson Magus) Uh… yeah. About that. I’m having a hard time figuring it out, too, actually! I think we’re all the real me, now!
Pinky: Oh. Then I guess we’d better get all of you through that portal. And you’re not so good at hiding, even when you’re small. So we’d better make it harder for the dragon to see you!
The Wiz: (small, multiple, Crimson Magus) Uh… Pinky. Only you disappeared, there.
Kasalan: And I can still smell you, Pixie. Were you not a half-breed, I would fry you up in oil, add some garlic salt, and have a single pixie chip for my Cheat Day. But since you’re half-dragon—
The Wiz: (small, multiple, Crimson Magus) Lobster.
Kasalan: She’s a half-dragon, you nitwit. Eating her would be cannibalism, for me.
Pinky: Yeah, I was kinda counting on that. Now that you’re looking for me, it’ll be easier to give your eyes the old PIXIE SCRATCH!
((Sfx: d20 roll x2, pixie scratch))
Åx: That will make it easier to slip by the dragon! Now we just need to take care of the Cleric and the Monk!
Grestin: Hah! You stand no chance, Axe-o-mancer! Not when the Many has granted me use of its DESTRUCTIVE RAYS!
((Sfx: hungering end chaos ray))
DM: Grestin’s eyes begin to… ugh. They’re bubbling, like the water in a tea kettle. Oh, gods. I’m so glad I don’t have a stomach or a mouth, right now. Otherwise you’d all be covered in– Never mind. The rays streak directly toward Åx, who instinctively parries the magical beams of chaos with the flat of his axe.
((Sfx: d20 roll, deflecting magic rays))
Grestin: No! But… how did you do that? The polarity of your atoms should have been neutralized!
Åx: I neither know nor care to find out why I am not dead. I merely wish to remove your threat with an AWESOME BLOW!
((Sfx: d20 roll, axe hit, thud of a falling body))
DM: Åx closes the distance to Grestin and catches her on the chin with the point of his mighty weapon. She sails a good 7 Units through the air, before landing in a crumpled, bleeding heap. Meanwhile, Adanska picks himself up from the ground and notices something at the corner of the battlefield.
((Sfx: d20 for spot check?))
Adanska: Peldra! What are you doing, just standing there? Are you not allied with Kasalan and Grestin, for the purpose of dismantling everything across all realities?
Peldra: What? That is what these people want? I… I can’t remember much… I was a little girl, and then… and then I woke up here.
Adanska: Then let me show you. Open your mind to this MEMORY LINK!
((Sfx: Memory Link))
Peldra: No… I would never… NO!
DM: Peldra clutches her head in white-knuckled hands, collapsing to her knees. Chip crosses the distance to her and lays a gentle hand on the crown of her head.
Chip: Peldra Kassin, hear my voice and know this to be true: Paldas forgives you. Whatever your life has been, up to this point, you are now free to determine its course. Join my Action Town Criers, at least for a little while, until we can bring you to those who can help you better than we.
DM: After a moment, the monk lifts her tear-streaked face, to meet Chip’s sky blue eyes.
((Sfx: clinking bottles))
Engar: Eureka! I have found it! An extra-potent dose of Engar’s Macular Regeneration Mixture! This ought to even the odds against this melting-eyed dragon! QUICK! DUCK!
((Sfx: true strike, fragility, d20 roll, shattering glass))
DM: Engar’s flask of eyeball regeneration sails through the air, striking Kasalan squarely between the eye… sockets. Between her eye sockets, I guess, since her eyes aren’t looking too solid, at this point in time.
Kasalan: What…? How is this…? My sight! The Knowledge! It returns, to sear my mind!
((Sfx: dragon howl))
DM: Engar’s potion takes quick and devastatingly overactive effect. Within seconds, Kasalan has regrown her eyes completely, but then another pair begins to bud in the corners of her tear ducts. Then another pair, and another, until the dragon is blinded by an ever-growing hydra of eyeballs sprouting spontaneously from her optic nerves.
Chip: Quickly, my Town Criers! While our foes are distracted, we must make for the portal! Come, and we will– Peldra, what are you doing!
DM: Peldra strides right up to Kasalan, whose neck can no longer support the weight of her raspberry-like cluster of eyes.
Peldra: You stole my life. You seek to steal everybody’s life. Their right to choose. The most sacred right for all sapient beings! Sleep now, ““grand mistress””. STUNNING STRIKE!
((Sfx: d20 roll, fist hit, stunning strike))
DM: Peldra’s fist flares with a purified, pale blue light, and she catches Kasalan on the nose, snapping the dragon’s head so hard to the left, that the beast’s entire body spins on her rear right heel.
Pinky: Chip! Look out for her tail!
((Sfx: d20 roll, slam, crunch))
Chip: (groans of pain)
The Wiz: (small, multiple, and Crimson Magus effects fade out) Chippsie!
DM: Kasalan is down. Her enormous body lays sprawled across the battlefield, pinning both Grestin and Chip to the flagstones.
Hera: Oh, goddesses preserve us! CHIP! Speak to me, Chip! CURE LIGHT WOUNDS! Åx! Adanska! You have to get him out from underneath this tail!
Chip: (cough) No, Hera. (cough) This is my time. Paldas… has blessed me again and again… but never more thoroughly… (cough)… than when he led me… to all of you… I am proud… to have been… your friend… (cough)
Pinky: (sadly) Oh, Chip…
Chip: Do not… grieve… my Action Town Criers… soon… I shall be one… with Paldas… Hera… it is to you… old friend… that I shall pass the Leadership of the Criers…
Note: This is a riff on the Death of Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Hera: But Chip, I am just a paladin. I am… I am not worthy.
Chip: Nor… was I… But in time… any of us… anywhere… can rise above our station… and make… a true difference… May Paldas… shelter you…
((Sfx: solemn pause))
Hera: (with a tear in her voice) Go to your rest, my dear friend. Paldas shelters you in the palm of his hand. I swear to you here and now, Chip, with Paldas, the Triple Goddess, and all of our friends as witness. I will carry your body through the Portal of Pa’vos, where we might erect a monument fitting such a noble Gnome. Wherever we go, The Action Town Criers will defend the defenseless, investigate the public good, and, as ever…
Åx: Adanska: The Wiz: Hera: Pinky: Engar: Peldra: SPREAD THE NEWS!
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Rhomande: Visit The 20-Sided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. You can also follow us on Twitter through scryomagical links that Imenand and Thrimlach have established. You can follow the Twenty Sided Theatre @20SidedTheatre, the Inconsolable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach ceatharinn @Thrimlach, Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW.
Stiev: The 20-Sssided Theatre is a joint productiiion of Bear Indussstriesss and the Ssshhhenouda Necromancccy Corporatiiion. Thisss Episssode ssstarsss Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, and Rudraigh Quattrin.
Maldreth: Original Adventure and Story by Blake Parker. Script adaptation by Rudraigh Quattrin. Edited by Blake Parker. Special thanks to Publius Vergilius Maro, for Grestin’s ritual, and to Jonathan Abinante for the use of Åx Balbjorn.
Imenand: Music by …
Imenand: For a complete list of and links to all the music and sound effects you heard on tonight's episode visit the show notes at 20sidedtheatre.com. While you’re there, consider donating to the upkeep and production of the Twenty Sided Theatre. Subscribe to and favorably rate us us on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher. If you don’t, the dread pirate Kelora Tamlin will press you into service keeping the decks of her newly acquired vessel clean of the… leavings… of Lorelei’s several hundred hummingbirds and finches.
Thrimlach: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 5: The Tag
((Sfx: fade in crowd cheers, followed by fade in EctoBall theme song))
Adanska: Welcome, Ladies, Gentlemen, Multiform, Non-Binary, Genderless, Constructs, and Others, to the 971st annual EctoBall Championships! I am Adanska Rothgeld of the Township of Velk.
Sir Gnome: And I am Izzlebink Wishwallow, from Inburg.
Adanska: It looks to be a match to remember this year, Izzlebink. Does it not?
Sir Gnome: Absolutely, Adanska. The Mortalia Marauders have had quite the Cinderella season, from their early defeats to their stunning comeback, beginning in game 346.
Adanska: You used to play for the Marauders yourself, did you not, Izzlebink?
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Adanska. I am proud to say that were it not for my playing in the first 300 games this season, the Marauders wouldn’t have had such a difficult record to overcome, and the Cinderella Story wouldn’t have been possible.
Adanska: Well, the Marauders have taken the field, now. And here come their opponents, the Nevermore Nightmares. The Nightmares remain undefeated this season, largely thanks to the exorbitant amount of money paid out by the team’s owners.
Sir Gnome: And it certainly helps that player trades are allowed mid-game. The Nightmares actually hired me for every game, and then forced trades to the opposing teams.
Adanska: So, it seems you have had a hand in both teams’ success this season, Izzlebink.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Adanthka.
Adanska: Well, we just have one more moment before the faceoff, and we’ll use that moment to introduce the Nightmares’ new starting centerfielder, Chip Dipson!
((Sfx: crowd cheer swells))
Sir Gnome: It is my understanding that Master Dipson only recently became eligible for the Professional EctoBall League.
Adanska: Yes, Izzlebink, it is true that Chip died recently, having been crushed by the falling corpse of a Mature Adult Celestial Radiant Dragon.
Sir Gnome: Oop! Here comes the faceoff… And Chip snatches an early possession for the Nightmares!
Adanska: What? No, Chip is right there, not possessing anybody.
Sir Gnome: I mean he has the ball.
Adanska: Oh, right. Yes, Chip runs the ball to the infield… And he passes to Mognok the Pious, who dribbles upfield… He is raising his mallet…
((Sfx: wooden hammer hitting something))
Sir Gnome: It’s on target for a seven-point shot… OH! And the Maurauder’s defensive line merges into a 35-ILDM tall wall, blocking the shot!
Adanska: Kelgor the Cowardly takes possession… Oh, and what a kick! The ball goes sailing back to the midfield… To be intercepted by Chip Dipson! And it appears… Yes, Chip is switching jerseys! Chip is now playing for the Marauders. He certainly could be the Prince to put the glass shoe on the Marauders’ Cinderella Season!
((Sfx: playground ball bounce, crowd cheer swell))
Sir Gnome: Chip scoops up the ball onto his field bat… He tosses it up for a serve, aaaaand—
Thrimlach: Sir Gnome, what are you doing here?
Adanska: Sir who? I am sorry, friend, but this is a closed booth. Please present your ticket to the closest available usher, so they can––
Thrimlach: Why are you here, commenting on what looks like a ghost melee, with five end zones and six balls in play at once? You’re supposed to be scouting out new penguin tribes for us to contact!
Sir Gnome: It’s the 971st annual EctoBall championship game, Mathter. I am running commentary in place of a zombie who was suddenly resurrected. And I did contact another tribe for you, Mathter. The Phantom Penguins have agreed to stand with Lady Featherfoot in defense of the Hammering Bends. I hear that’s a very serious affliction you get from surfacing less than an hour after eating under water.
Thrimlach: Were you just giving me lip, Sir Gnome? You’d better not be giving me any lip. Because you’re a skeleton. AND YOU HAVE NO LIPS.
Sir Gnome: No, Mathter.
Thrimlach: Good. Now, come with me through this portal, Sir Gnome! You were supposed to be the second witness at Rhomande and Torrea’s wedding. It will break Torrea’s heart if she finds out that the whole contract is void, since I had to forge your signature!
Adanska: Hey, you cannot just take my cohost in the middle of—
Thrimlach: I can and will, ghost. And unless you want to spend the rest of eternity as a double ghost, who’s so dead he can only haunt regular ghosts, then I suggest you zip it, too.
((Sfx: some sort of menacing magic))
Adanska: Uhm… Yes, Master… uh… I did not catch your name.
Thrimlach: And you won’t, just yet! Come, Sir Gnome! We have a… Quest! We must find an Imperial Notary!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.