The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 21: The Seas of Madness
Ormr Ironheel’s Imperial Task Force
Ormr Ironheel – Cian
Portia Fireleaf – Blake
Ozzrick Oddfellow – Gabe
Kalindir Celebnaur – Ceri
Wank de Winky-Wonk SkiddamarinkydinkydinkskiddamarinkydooIloveyou-Smith – Natalie
Ser Kallandriel Alastarthe – Rud
Felicia Cattermain – Ceri
Owen Dromeos – Blake
The DM – Rud
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
The Emperor – Cian
Imperial Wizard – Rud
Theo the Wonderguard – Cian
Kartoffel the Slayerspud – Blake
The Basterds (Credits) – Blake, Rud, Cian, Ceri, Natalie, Gabe
The Chip Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers (Recap) – Blake, Ceri
Fearful Pirate – Cian
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
Vragul: 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: (Steven O’Brien – Firefly Village Theme)
Scene 1: Recap
Rhomande: Well, my beloved audience, quite a lot has happened since our last episode. Most gossipfully, Thrimlach ceatharan looks simply dreadful in that plantain-hammock he insists on wearing whilst “swimming”. I’d simply say he was swimming, but his skin never touches the water, while he visits the beaches of Penguidise Island. He simply gathers four or five alconuts, yanks off Sir Gnome’s left femur, casts Lenanien’s Floatation Device, and hovers about three-fingers’ breadth above the waves, fast asleep. Luckily, the plane’s small enough that if he drifts too far out to sea, he just ends up on the far side of Penguidise. Oh. And we started telling the story of a nameless adventuring party that’s led by a Dwarf. Ugh. Well, I’m not going to talk any more about Dwarves than I’m contractually obligated, so I’ve hired the Chip Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers, live from Sahn Daskaaar, to do the job for me! What’s the news, Hera?
((Music: Ben Briggs – Star Clash Theme))
Hera: Thank you, Rhomande. Our top story tonight comes from the Imperial Exploration and Task Service. A Task Force led by one Ormr Ironheel of the Clan of the Leaping Spears has made contact with a plane that rivals The Empire for its marvels of engineering and architecture. Here’s our own Peldra Kassin with more.
Peldra: Thank you, Hera. Ironheel’s Task Force was originally dispatched to contact, befriend, explore, and report on a plane that commonly refers to itself as These Young Kingdoms. Their first significant contact on the plane hired them to find seven artifacts, known as the Keys of Rilinkrena. The collection and redemption of these keys will allow the Task Force entry to a long-isolated island of austere and violent Elves, whom the Empire has been courting for almost two centuries, now. However, the party hit a little bit of a snag with their employer. We’ve got a sound-bite.
Ormr: The short, red-headed Glumenar fellow didn’t seem too bad when he hired us, but when we handed over the key to that demonic-looking, red-eyed, white-haired elf, I wasn’t quite so sure it was the right thing to do.
Hera: How did you get that clip, Peldra? I know the Imperial Task Forces are supposed to turn in regular reports, but nobody’s that comprehensive. Not even we, the Action Town Criers!
Peldra: Well, Hera, about seven months ago, a spokeself from the Uiadhwanja Thoughtscape Monitoring Bureau disclosed that they had discovered an unfamiliar signal from unknown origin. It seemed to cut across planes, which shouldn’t actually be possible, according to the experts. This individual’s connection to the Thoughtscape seems to be highly amplified by either magical or technological enhancements, so it literally allows the Imperial Thought Monitors to watch events in real time through this individual’s eyes.
Hera: Thank the gods this person is working with the Empire, then! Such spycraft could be devastating in the wrong hands. It’s time for a word from our sponsors, but when we come back, we’ll go to Engar Flamehand for this week’s Health Tips for the Lazy and the Compulsive.
Rhomande: Lords and ladies of my beloved audience, please do recline upon your gilded seats, quaff your libations, and adjust your listening devices that you may optimally enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre.
Scene 2: Embarkation
((Music: Blackula Hunter – The Way of the Ironheel))
DM: You’ve been at sea for two days, now, and you’re nearing the spot where you agreed to meet Glumenar and Morellian to hand over the next key.
Ormr: Except that Ma Ironfellow never raised her son not to give no magic artifacts over to nobody with no red eyes. Red eyes is evil eyes, she always said.
Kalindir: How many negatives were in that sentence? I’m not sure they all cancel out, but I take your sentiment, Ormr.
Ozzrick: That’s your problem with that sentence, Kalindir? Not that Morellian has pink eyes, since he’s an albino?
Portia: Yeah, Ozzrick, he usually does, but you saw how his eyes glowed crimson-red when he touched that huge, black sword with the rat’s skull pommel. Only evil people glow their eyes that color.
Wank: Mostly true, Portia, but what if someone good has power over fire or they’re the red member in a rainbow-themed Task Force of some sort? Then their eyes might glow red, even though they’re good.
Theo: You speak truly, friend Wank, but from what you have told us, Morellian wears black armor and wields an oversized, ebon runeblade. Those are also attributes that few good individuals take upon themselves. Is that not right, Slayerspud?
Kartoffel: Ja, Theo! Und, vhen you combine ze black armaments vith ze red, glowing eyes, zis most often adds up to an evil individual.
((Sfx: horse sounds))
Ser Kal: Vornorroch of the star pastures says he agrees with you, Kartoffel the Potato Squire!
((Sfx: horse snort))
Kartoffel: Zat is “Slayerspud”, Ser Kallandriel.
Ser Kal: My apologies, brave Slayerspud. And, uh… Could you please pass the salted pork? Thank you, Kartoffel. And, thank you, Owen, for providing the wild boars before we disembarked.
Owen: You’ll have to thank Lotty for that. My old dromeosaur just saw those little piggies, got that predatory look in her eye, and just took off like a shot.
Felicia: Ahem. You all didn’t seem to be providing for yourselves, so some of us had to pick up the slack. I swear, if I didn’t leave so many decapitated quadrupeds at the edge of our campsites, you’d all starve.
Owen: Sorry about that, Felicia. I didn’t mean to discredit you. I’m not quite as good with cats as I am with archaeosaurs, so I never know whether to pay them attention or to ignore them.
Felicia: It’s okay, Owen. You’re only human, so whichever approach you take with a cat will usually be wrong. Purrr….. Hmm… Ormr, your beard seems a little shorter than usual.
Ormr: Wow, Felicia! Yer the first one who's noticed!
Felicia: Did you get chewing rubber in it again?
Portia: I think that was a newborn Sticky Ooze, not chewing rubber
Ormr: By Vraccas’ brow sweat, that was terrifyin’! Had to cut down my whiskers practically to the root, just so’s Owen and Ozz could try to coax the little feller off my teeth. No, t’wern’t that again. Just my groomin’ cycle: gotta start the ol’e Winter Beard even.
DM: Things have pretty literally been smooth sailing for you, ever since the evil necromancer whimsically decided that he liked you and didn’t want to turn you into zombies. But now things are about to get tricky.
Ozzrick: It's okay; we have a corsair with us! With Portia at the helm, we’ll be fine.
DM: I can't tell if you’re being sarcastic.
Portia: Let's see, here… where are we heading agian?
DM: Toward the Inverted Island at the center of the Sea of Madness.
Porta: Gotcha. Now, lemme just get out this map… Is that North, East, South, or East from where we are on this river? Wait… Are we still on a river?
((Sfx: shuffles maps, followed by horse sounds))
Ser Kal: Vornorroch says that we are on the ocean, Portia. Or at the least, we’re on an enormous inland sea.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Portia: Ah, right. Gotcha. See? I’m getting the hang of this Corsair-ing business! Now, we just need to head East-by-Northeast from where we are, and then it’ll just take some delicate helmsmanship to get to our destination. Tell the slaves below decks that they’ll be free soon! One more stop, and then the next time we put in at a port after that, their day of emancipation will have arrived!
DM: After another day of sunny skies, you reach the edge of the Chaos-driven seas around a long, thin tail of rock. The image on Portia’s map suggests that this is one of three trails of sea-rocks that unfurl from the southern edge of the local continent.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Ozzrick: According to the locals I spoke to, the last time we were in a dockside tavern, this place is called the Cape of Madness. Somehow Portia must have managed to direct us through all the Scyllae and Charybdes and the battling Sea and Sky elementals that are supposed to define the limits of these seas.
Portia: Well, you have to know these things when you're on the sea. Especially these seas; you know, it's madness on the Sea of Madness.
DM: Give me a Bluff Check, Portia..
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Portia: Don’t worry, guys. I’ve got this! No chaos-driven sea has ever bested Portia Fireleaf!
Wank: Uh, Portia? We’ve never been anywhere near a chaos-driven sea before.
Portia: Thus, giving such a sea no chance to best me!
DM: Well, Portia, I hope your confidence is well-founded. Let’s see… Hrm. Portia, what’s your goal, here?
Portia: Well, these are the Seas of Madness, and they’re super-stormy, so I’m heading into the strongest part of the storm, since there’s always a calm eye at the center.
DM: Uh… huh… (uneasy affirmative grunt) Well, that’s certainly one way to handle things. Let’s see how you do with your Corsairing.
((Sfx: d20 roll, begin stormy seas of Madness))
Ormr: Uh, Portia? Are ya sure this’s the best way t’get through this crazy sea. I ain’t complainin’ or nothin’, but if I die in more’n 3 fingers of water, then I lose a bet.
Portia: Uh… Yeah! We ought to be through the worst of it pretty soon! Just a few more minutes. Like, a third of an hour, tops.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Kalindir: That’s what you said three hourglasses ago!
((Sfx: horse sounds))
Ser Kal: Vornorroch says that it was actually closer to four hour glasses ago. You see, we measured time a little differently back in my day, but the Grand Imperial Temporal Decimalization Decree switched everything from base-7 to base-10. And I’m pretty sure you’re using my old hourglass, which was obsolete by the time Vornorroch and I were frozen in time.
((Sfx: horse snort - x2?))
Portia: Look! Who’s the Corsair, here? I’m telling you, we’re almost through the worst of it.
DM: Actually, Portia’s right. She’s been very carefully steering you to avoid the spots where air, water, chaos, and order elementals are battling or cavorting or whatever’s causing all of these heavy winds and lightning strikes. While the halfling mans the helm, the rest of you should make some Spot Checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x9))
Ozzrick: Hey, there’s a break in the clouds over there! I can see daylight!
Wank: And it’s shining on a red archway. I can’t really tell from this distance, but I think it looks like stone.
Ormr: (sniff) Hrm… Yup. That’s rock alright. (sniff) Some kind of Basalt… (sniff) Maybe Scoria? Alright, Portia, the seas look like they’re calmin’ a bit, so howsabout you take us toward that archway.
Portia: Aye-aye, Ormr! Let’s just spin the helm over to the right a bit…
((Sfx: spinning ships wheel, d20 roll, end chaotic sea sounds))
Theo: Mistress Fireleaf? We seem to be turning a little too far. Maybe you should swing the helm back?
Portia: Uh… thanks, Theo, but… uh… I think I’ve got this. I actually didn’t like the angle, so we’re gonna turn all the way around to make a better approach.
DM: You know what kind of skill check to make here, Portia.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Kartoffel: Okay, Fraulein Fireleaf. We are almost facing ze correct direction, now. Are you going to straighten out ze boat, now?
Portia: I uh… Um… oh, hey! Look! There’s a coral reef over there, down where I was aiming for. We don’t wanna run onto that! Think of all the little sea creatures whose habitat we’d be messing up!
DM: Give me another one, Portia.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Owen: Portia! Are you sure you don’t want a hand up there?
Portia: No… everything’s okay. I mean, I got us through all that stormy weather just fine, so going straight, through calm waters, toward a stationary point’s relatively easy. Er… at least it would be, if I didn’t keep seeing dolphins and stuff that I don’t want to run over.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Scene 3: Circling the Open Seas
DM: This continues for a little while, with Portia ultimately turning the ship in six or seven circles, before Vornorroch rolls his eyes and gives a significant look to Ser Kallandriel.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Ser Kal: That’s right, Vornorroch! It is usually me who causes you such exasperation! Maybe you should go help Portia, with the same elegance and grace with which you usually aid me.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Portia: No, it’s alright, Kal! I don’t need any help. I’ve nearly zeroed in, and if my calculations are correct, this should be the last full turn we need to make.
Wank: Portia, spinning in circles is not a calculation! You're a terrible pirate!
Portia: That’s because I’m a Corsair! Plus, I’m still new at this, miss Landlubber! Er… Skylubber!
Wank: Skylubber? What does that even– oh, wait. I get it. Because of my wings, and the fact that I’m almost always circling above your ship, since it gives a better vantage point than the crow’s nest.
Ormr: Whaddaya mean yer still new at this, Portia? I thought you said you was travelin’ with pirates fer years before ya joined up with mah Imperial Task Posse!
Portia: Hey! I spent over five years on a ship with a crew of pirates!
Ormr: So, what the hells was you doin’ all that time?
Portia: Learning! You know… boat stuff!
Kalindir: What kinds of “boat stuff”?
Portia: Uh… let’s see… Knots, tacking sails, sewing, fishing, coiling rope, weaving rope… uh… Preventing scurvy… uh… drinking rum…
Ormr: Oh, well, then you got mah apologies, Miss Portia. I didn’t know you larned to drink rum with pirates. If pirates teach someone to drink rum with ’em, then they usually teach ’em all kinds o’ other stuff, too. If’n you can larn stuff from pirates while all o y’all’re drunk, then you just gotta be an expert. Drinkin’s the most important part of bein’ on a boat. Just like minin’!
Owen: Says the hydrophobic Dwarf.
Kartoffel: Vas? Hydrophobic? Ormr does not have rabies. Zere is no foam at his mouth, and he is not raving.
Ser Kal: No, he’s not… y’know what, never mind. It is not important. For now, we just need Portia to steer the ship in the correct direction.
DM: OK. While all of you have gathered on the middeck to argue about whether Portia ought to be guiding the boat–
Portia: (interrupting) Even me?
DM: Where are you standing, Portia?
Portia: Uh… oh. Not near the helm. Ohshit! I gotta get back up there before we hit that school of clownfish!
Ser Kal: Worry not, friend Portia. For Vornorroch of the ancient Star Pastures has assumed your place at the helm! Behold! E’en now he grasps the wheel in his teeth, and his steady jaw guides us to the relative safety of a calm sea!
((Sfx: vornorroch snort))
DM: Uh, Ser Kal? You do see what you’re heading towards, right?
Ser Kal: Not at all, Master Voice! Whilst one’s steed commands one’s forward momentum, one gains the freedom to swivel one’s head around from left to right. There is no need to look forward!
DM: Ugh. Is anybody looking ahead? Y’know… seeing as a horse currently steers your boat toward a place called the Sea of Madness?
Ser Kal: He’s not just a horse. He’s an Ancient Elven Steed from the Star Pastures.
DM: Noted. Also, I’ve noted that you’re not looking out for any approaching dangers, Kal.
Kalindir: What? Sorry, did somebody say my name? I was tuning my violin.
DM: Sorry. I meant Kallandriel. Also, I now know that you’re not paying attention either, Kalindir. Who is paying attention to their surroundings, here?
Ormr: I’m climbin’ up to the crow’s nest right now, so I’d really rather not look anywhere but up, fer now.
Felicia: Purrrr… I’m enjoying the warm sun falling on the darker patches of my fur, so I’m not going to stand up and look over the railing any time soon. Ahhh. Just gonna stretch out here, for a bit…
Theo: Sorry, Master Voice! I am currently regaling Ozzrick and Kallandriel with the tale of how Kartoffel and I escaped the deadly Pit of Poisoned Peppercorns, back when we were in the Land of Hurd.
Kartoffel: I am looking forward, Master Voice! Und I can see ze roiling, bubbling cloudbanks moving swiftly towards us.
DM: Well, at least someone’s watching out for you guys. Okay. Everybody make a Reflex Save. The seas are getting pretty choppy, from all the Sky and Sea elementals out there.
((Sfx: Stormy seas, d20 roll x10, splash x2))
Ormr: I just reached the crow’s nest, so’s I can git a better view. How’re y’all doin’ down there, Lads ’n’ Ladies ’n’ Others?
((Sfx: feathered wings))
Wank: Oh, I’m fine, Ormr! Being Half-Celestial generally makes it easy not to be knocked down by earthquakes and shuddering decks and the like.
DM: But how do you fare against storm winds, Wank?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Wank: Not so great, but it was worth it not to be knocked down by the ship lurching from side to side, like that. I’ll just flitter down to the main deck and tie myself to a safety line.
DM: Speaking of safety lines, you guys should also make some Spot Checks.
Owen: Ehrm… So… Have any of you glanced back up at the aftcastle, since that big lurch we took?
Ozzrick: Uh… Wasn’t Vornorroch driving the boat, just a moment ago?
((Sfx: vornorroch snort))
DM: Indeed he was. Unfortunately for you, the star horse and his faithful knight have fallen overboard. But that’s not what I was trying to draw your attention toward.
Ormr: I think I see a ship out there! My eyes ain’t quite as good as Vornorroch’s, but I think that’s Morellian’s flag they’re flyin’.
((Sfx: Vornorroch snort))
Portia: Yep! That’s definitely the flag of the Sorceror Kings of the Violent Towns of Mal-Baloney or whatever that place is called! The ships of that nation are typically crewed by vicious thugs of variable uniforms, likely plundered from all types of upstanding folks. Oh! And they’re known for going barefoot, except for their Footwraps of Spider Climb.
Ozzrick: Ohhhh, boy. Looks like we’re gonna have a fight. I’ll man the cannons, I guess. Uh… Do we have cannons?
Owen: Ehrm, no. Maybe if you work quickly you can craft a cannon. But I don’t think you have quite enough time for that. Perhaps we can use those Battle One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight Devices that we reclaimed from the farting dragon’s trove, instead.
Wank: Good plan, Owen! Let’s see, here…
DM: Give me a Use Device Check, Wank.
((Sfx: d20 roll, bolt action rifle loading))
Wank: It looks like the little brass cylinder-wearing-a-cone-as-a-hat things go into this hole in the side of the barrel. So, now I pull the lever to close the hole… and I guess the rest is just to point it and pull the trigger.
((Sfx: rifle fire))
DM: Felicia jumps from her lazy, feline revery as the Battle One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight device peals out. She arches her back and raises her hackles, before fleeing up the mast, to join Ormr in the Crow’s Nest.
Theo: Did Wank at least hit the approaching warship?
Kartoffel: Nein, Theo. Ze projectile seems to have fallen short of ze warship. Now, would you please help me pull Ser Kallandriel and Vornorroch from ze water, before he drowns?
((Sfx: vornorroch snort))
Theo: Of course, my brave companion! Fear not, fair star elf and star horse! For Theo the Wonderguard is here to save you!
DM: While Theo and Kartoffel haul Ser Kal and his steed up onto the main deck, the war ship comes close enough for you to make out the scores of drunken, motley pirates who make up its crew.
Felicia: (hiss) This is terribly frustrating, and puts me in a bit of a mood. Beware pirates; I'm prone to lash out!
DM: One of the hardened pirates drops the cutlass from his mouth, and jumps into the sea, terrified by Felicia’s menacing display.
Fearful Pirate: AAAAGH! A SEA-BOUND CAT!
Ozzrick: Well, with so many pirates, I guess one of them was bound to have hydrogataphobia. One down, about sixty to go!
DM: Meanwhile, Theo and Kartoffel have finished pulling Ser Kal and Vornorroch onto the ship. The star horse promptly returns to his place at the helm and clutches the wheel in his teeth, steadying the ship.
((Sfx: Vornorroch snort))
Ser Kal: Thank you, friends! I shall repay the kindness at my first opportunity! But before that happens, I should follow Felicia’s lead and thin out the pirates’ herd with a TRIPPING HAND!
((Sfx: Tripping Hand))
DM: Ser Kal selects a pirate brashly standing atop the foremost ballista, reaches out his hand, whispers a spell, and sends a magical manipulator to pull the sailor's feet out from under him, throwing him ass over end. The pirate falls a good ten feet onto the railing below, probably cracking some ribs.
Felicia: Ah! I sense a weakness in these pirates!
Ormr: Yeah, they’re kinda dumb and squishy alright. But they ain’t nearly as terrifyin’ as that!
DM: The party swivels their heads around to see a grim elf wearing gilded, black armor. His hair and skin very closely resemble Ozzrick’s, since both men are afflicted by the genetic abnormality of albinism.
Ozzrick: I’m not so keen on the word “afflicted” there, Master Voice. It’s just a different set of circumstances, you know?
Kalindir: Yeah, Ozz, but you can’t stay in the sun too long, or you’ll burn horribly. This is why you keep your parasol with you wherever you go. Look! That Glumenar fellow is even holding a parasol for Morellian over there! Maybe you two are more “inconvenienced” than “afflicted”.
Ormr: Alright, lads and ladies and others! There’s that guy we think is evil what ‘cuz he has them red eyes!
Ser Kal: And there’s that other, redheaded fellow who looks even more evil than the albino! Red haired people are always evil; this is common elven knowledge. Why do you think so many of the sneakiest, least trustworthy dwarves have red hair? Because of the Evil!
Kalindir: Ya, Kal ceatharan. Redheads are always evil. That’s why so many of them burn when you put them under the cleansing light of the sun! It’s doubly why redheaded Dwarves hide underground in their mines!
Ormr: I hates you elves sometimes. Alright, lads n ladies n others! It’s time for us to charge straight ahead and ram that flower-fellatin’ elf’s ship! Owen, you tell the drum master to pick up the pace for the slaves at the oars, while Vornorroch there keeps the wheel straight.
((Sfx: NOT vornorroch snort; V. is in the Emperor’s Trance with the Kals))
Owen: Right away, Ormr. Come on, Lotty. Let’s get belowdecks, so we can tell our erstwhile slaves that their period of servitude is nearly at an end.
((Sfx: velociraptor noise, feet going down wooden stairs))
Ormr: Hunh… That’s weird. Usually the star horse responds to his name with a snort. Hey, Kal, what’s wrong with yer horse?
Wank: Uh, Ormr! Something’s wrong with Kal. With both Kals!
Felicia: And with the Dire Mouse that the armored one is always sitting on.
DM: Kalindir, Kallandriel, and Vornorroch all stand at rigid attention, staring blankly into the sky.
Ormr: Oh, shit. Portia! Git up there and grab the wheel! The horse ain’t really in a state fer drivin’ right now.
Kartoffel: Are you sure zat is such a good idea, Herr Ironheel?
Theo: Good idea or not, my brave squire, it’s happening, and it’s happening quickly. Our duties are clear: we cannot allow that Morellian fellow to have the Keys of Rilinkrena, and he will surely attain them if nobody stands at our tiller!
Portia: Aye-aye, Ormr! Just gotta shove Vornorroch out of the way… huuuurgh! And here we gooooooooo!
((Sfx: clop-clop of a horse being shoved to the left a pace or two; spinning ship’s wheel))
Wank: Portia! What are you doing? Ormr said to keep the boat straight!
Portia: What? He did?
Ormr: Yeah, I did! And now yer spinnin’ us off to starboard!
DM: Let’s see if you can get back on course, Portia. Give me a Corsair Check.
((Sfx: d20 roll, ship/oars start moving faster, feet climbing wooden stairs as Owen returns))
Owen: The taskmaster is beating at quadruple-time. We should reach ramming speed in about 17.4 seconds.
Theo: This may not help us, Master Dromeos. Portia is swinging the ship this way and that so quickly that I’m not even sure which way we should be ramming any more.
Ormr: Well, unless you can get the slaves to row backwards, it looks like we’re headin’ the wrong way. Which is just as well, with a quarter of our party mesmerized. Musta been a spell by that Morellian fucker. But I wonder why it only affected the elves and the star horse.
DM: The answer to Ormr’s question comes very quickly. Your three companions’ lips peel away from their teeth in horrible rictus grimaces, and they stand with all muscles taut for a long minute. They blankly stare into the clouds overhead, as all three–the half dragon, the technomagical knight, and the star horse–begin speak in unison.
Imperial Wizard: Hello? (tongue clicking) Is this thing on? You have the honor of being contacted by his Excellence –
Emperor: Give me that trinket, you fool! We have no time for pleasantries! This is the Emperor himself. I am reaching out to all forces in the field, to all strike teams, to our allies and to our enemies. Sahn Daskaar, the Holy City of Voladros and the Uiadhenns, is under attack. The Hungering End has returned, and our knights and magi are not enough to hold back the flood. If they take the Gateways in the harbor, then all is lost. They will ravage and consume all worlds that our Empire has touched. Whether you love us or hate us, you must send your armies. You can kill us all later, if you get the chance. At least we would die knowing that there will be a later.
DM: All of the Vocal Conduits relax and regain control of their bodies.
Ormr: Ah, shit. This just got bigger’n a buncha ancient keys, I think.
Scene 4: Credit where Credit is Due
Maldreth: Visit The 20-Sided Theatre online at twentysidedtheatre.com. You can also follow us on Twitter through scryomagical links that Imenand and I have established. You can follow the Twenty Sided Theatre @ Two-Zero Sided Theatre spelled with an -RE, the Insufferable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach Lenanien @Thrimlach, Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW.
Thrimlach: The 20-Sided Theatre is a joint production of Bear Industries and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, and Rudraigh Quattrin. With special thanks to Jon Abinante for the use of Owen Dromeos and Lotty.
Rhomande: Original Adventure and Story by Cian Quattrin. Script adaptation by Rudraigh Quattrin. Edited by Blake Parker.
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. If you don’t, I shall personally render your fat into tallow for my many patented lubricants, your bones to carbon for smelting steel, and your soul to a thick, sticky goo, to make you all the more… pliable. Yesss… delicious, Pliable Goo…
Issa: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 5: The Tag
DM: Meanwhile, back on the Plane of Beaches, Rhomande is pacing rings in the sand, while studiously trying to avoid kicking any grains onto his poorly scrawled and half-edited leaf of parchment.
Rhomande: Honestly, it’s bad enough that they’re led by a dwarf, but Ironheel’s Imperial Task Force simply can’t keep calling themselves that. It’s just not a good team name.
Thrimlach: Well, we could always call them by their official Imperial Registry Title. You know, like how Imenand and I thought it’d get your goat if we jumped in line before you and named us Sorfinde’s Insufferable Basterds, before you could register as The Malicious Melodious Militia or whatever you wanted to call us.
Rhomande: That wasn’t funny. And I still think that Rhomande’s Ribald and Rambunctious Regiment is a far better name. Anyway, we can’t call Irohneel’s group by its official registry, because they’re in the book as Mixed-Species Task Force Number 57822. Any ideas?
Torrea: The Agents of Order and Chaos?
Thrimlach: Two Fantastical Elves, and some other guys… dot. dot. dot. And that Star Horse. Man, what a horse!
((Sfx: horse sounds))
Torrea: Spirit of the Swift Wind disapproves of referring to Vornorroch as “that Star Horse”, Lord Thrimlach. How would you like it if those mighty steeds started calling you “that Elf”?
((Sfx: SotSW, Vornorroch))
Thrimlach: Which elf? That one?
Rhomande: Stop pointing at me, ceatharan, and start coming up with a better name for the dwarf’s group!
Thrimlach: Let’s see… The Filthy Dwarf Lovers and that Amazing Star Horse.
Rhomande: The Manure Munching Mercenaries. You know. Because Dwarves can only digest shit.
Thrimlach: And they can only taste it if it’s got grains of metal inside, and even then they can only taste the metal, so the fact that they’ve put shit into their mouths doesn’t really matter to them. Other than the mouth feel.
Rhomande: Let’s see… Maybe there’s an angle that we’re missing to this team. So, we’ve already covered the Dwarf angle. What else is distinguishing about them? Other than the cat, the halfling who can’s see over her steering wheel, the albiGnome, the half-dragon, the half celestial, the really old guy who wants to clone dinosaurs, the really old guy that wants to become Captain Empire, and that amazing star horse?
Torrea: Well, they have all dedicated their lives to exploring the outer limits of the known worlds. They seek to spread the order of the empire, and yet they preserve balance by plunging headlong into the chaos of new frontiers.
Rhomande: Okay, so as a team, these frontiersmen are somewhat a force for law and order, but they’re always in the thick of things, and they sometimes make either very questionable decisions with good reasoning or very good decisions with questionable reasoning. Is there a word for that? A group of frontiersmen, who are sometimes good and sometimes bad?
Sir Gnome: A posse, Mathter Thorfinde. A bandit can gather a pothe justht ath eathily ath a Stherriff or an irate rancher.
Thrimlach: Excellent work, Sir Gnome! Thank the laws of statistics that–over infinite trials–some low-probability events seem to cluster together!
Rhomande: What do those words mean in that particular order, ceatharan?
Thrimlach: Sir Gnome has succeeded at something, once again! And in such a short time since the last time he succeeded at something! Plus, it doesn’t really matter what he said before, about a word for a group of frontiersmen, who are sometimes good and sometimes bad. The most insulting thing we can possibly do to that dwarf is to let Sir Gnome name his team!
Rhomande: Excellent thinking, ceatharan! You’re quite a genius sometimes!
Thrimlach: Duh. That’s why I say things out loud, ceatharan.
Rhomande: Well, Sir Gnome, what shall we call Mixed-Species Task Force Number 57822, from now on?
Sir Gnome: I shall call them Ironheel’s Imperial Pothe, Mathter Thorfinde! Mathter Thorfinde? Mathter Lenanien? Where did they go, Torrea?
Torrea: I believe they stopped listening, as soon as you started speaking, Sir Gnome, and they wandered away to find another source of alconuts. It is a naughty habit that those two have developed since we landed on Penguidise Island. Come along now, Sir Gnome! We’d better go look after them, so they don’t get into too much mischief. And I don’t want you unsupervised near the alconuts. We all know you have a drinking problem.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Torrea.
Torrea: Honestly, Sir Gnome, Spirit of the Swift Wind and I are flabbergasted at how you can still be an alcoholic, despite your lack of nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems.
Sir Gnome: It justht maketh me feel tho cool, Torrea. Like maybe I fit in a little better and people will like me more.
Torrea: Well, Sir Gnome, maybe Spirit of the Swift Wind should tell you about the time he tried to look “cool” for some people who had very bad intentions, indeed.
((Sfx: SotSW, horse “talking”))
Sir Gnome: (various uh-huh, yeah, etc. reactions)
Torrea: And there you have it, Sir Gnome! Quite a compelling story, wasn’t it?
Sir Gnome: Yeth, indeed, Mithtreth Torrea! I have learned my lethon, and from thith moment forward, I shall no longer make decithions bathed on looking cool, but inthtead on feeling good about mythelf! Thank you, Thpirit of the Thwift Wind, for teaching me thuch a valuable lethon!