The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 24: The Search for Portal α-1.3
Ormr Ironheel’s Imperial Posthe
Ormr Ironheel – Cian
Portia Fireleaf – Blake
Ozzrick Oddfellow – Gabe
Kalindir Celebnaur – Ceridwen
Wank de Winky-Wonk SkiddamarinkydinkydinkskiddamarinkydooIloveyou-Smith – Natalie
Ser Kallandriel Alastarthe – Rud
Felicia Cattermain – Ceridwen
Owen Dromeos – Blake
The DM – Rud
Theo the Wonderguard – Cian
Kartoffel the Slayerspud – Blake
Paerun Skybar, a Blacksmith from the Plane of Winds – Tony
Tipp Indecent – Cian or Rud
The Chip Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers (Recap) – Ceridwen (Hera), Rud (Adanska)
Sorfinde’s Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Imenand – Blake
Vragul – Rud
Issa – Ceridwen
Stiev – Natalie
Maldreth – Gabe
Stil Colemanaani – Cian
Ludus Tres Homines
Brawna - Blake
Retlaw Semaj - Cian
Carfina - Cian
Golrak the Merciless - Gabe
Blondie - Rud (lulz)
Ravanys the Cleric - Ceri
Imperial Task Force No. 25558: Stonefist’s Imperial Strongarms
Dromor Stonefist, Dwarf Monk who sounds like a New Jersey Mob Soldier – Gabe
Serpenthras Silverscale, Snakeman Bard – Rud
Alladar, a Half-Elf Channeler – Tony
Mercedes Blackveil, a Fancy Ninja – Ceridwen
The Mammoth King, riding majestically upon his Wooly Mammoth even though they’re indoors – Tony
Imperial Customs Official – Rud? Cian? Ceridwen?
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, Ladies, Non-Binary, Multiform, Constructs, and Others. You have chosen your entertainment quite wisely, for you are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in the Great, Venerable, and Multiplanar Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde, and I welcome you...to The 20-Sided Theatre!
The Wiz: 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: Well, my beloved audience, I had quite the birthday celebration last month. Even though you weren’t invited to the party itself–and I can honestly say that this was primarily an issue of space–I hope you enjoyed the antics and follies of my Insufferable Basterds. Now you see what happens when I’m not around to guide them away from such nonsense. Anyway, the Emperor is still imperiled, and the Empire’s capital city of Sahn Daskaar is still under attack by the exoplanar collective known as The Hungering End. Not only has his Holiness Emperor Nashtif XXVII recalled all task forces, strike teams, and peregrine armies, but he has also sent the call for defense to the myriad enemies the Empire has made over the past ten millennia or so. One of those Imperial Task Forces, one may even say an Imperial Posthe, has recently been traversing the underbelly of the multiverse, in order to return to the Holy City for its united defense. I now give you Hera Laris and the Dipson Memorial Action Town Criers for more information. What’s the news, Hera?
((Sfx: d20 roll at “honestly say” phrase))
((Music: Ben Briggs – Star Clash Theme))
Hera: Thank you, Rhomande. Tonights top story follows Ormr Ironheel’s Imperial Posthe, as they tread along the Prismatic Path, a nondimensional boulevard that runs between and beneath the more fully-formed cosmi. Few individuals have ever returned from this nonspace, but the Action Town Criers are fortunate insofar as one of our very own reporters has done so. Let us now turn to the Vengeful Ghost of Adanska Rothgeld for more information on this Atemporal Avenue. Adanska?
Adanska: Thank you, Dame Laris. Though, I must make a correction. The place in question is neither a boulevard nor an avenue.
Hera: Oh? Then what is it.
Adanska: It is called a path. A Prismatic Path.
Hera: I stand corrected. What other information do you have on this locale?
Adanska: Not much. It does appear to be one of the many places a soul may end up once it is shorn from its corporeal anchor.
Hera: If I am hearing you correctly, this Prismatic Path is a place you go… when you die?
Adanska: Precisely, Dame Laris! I first came to this location shortly after that treacherous axe betrayed and murdered me! Fortunately, I seem to have found the correct portal to return my spirit to its plane of origin. Albeit, without that corporeal tether.
Hera: Which reminds me… Adanksa, you need to take better care of your corpse. Ever since Chip… passed away (single, teary sniff)… nobody has been able to recast Gentle Repose as necessary. Once we wrap on this report, I want you to wash and to properly preserve your body, so that it stops stinking to the high heavens.
Adanska: Of course, Dame Laris. I did not realize that the smell had gotten so bad.
Hera: I understand, Adanska. You are a ghost, and as such your sense of smell is limited to the ethereal plane. But you still could have guessed the state of olfactory affairs, by the greening skin and maggoty holes that have slowly grown over the past few months.
Adanska: My apologies, Dame Laris. It has been quite some time since I have worn my own body. Of late, Grand Marshall Umbar Spikeshoe has been using my psionic abilities to coordinate the city’s defenses. I honestly never realized how comfortable dwarven bodies can be. Grand Marshall Spikeshoe’s corpus has the perfect mix of sturdy limbs, a soft layer of body fat, and a thick, warm beard. He’s just so cozy!
Hera: Adanska, you are supposed to be reporting on Ironheel’s Imperial Posthe and their progress along the Prismatic Path, not on your own doings since arriving in Sahn Daskaar. Much less on comparative anatomy.
Adanska: My apologies, Dame Laris. I simply have no new information on the whereabouts or the progress of Master Ironheel’s Posthe. I was trying to stretch this segment out until we could break for a commercial. So, uh… Back to you, Hera!
Hera: Thank you, Adanska. Up next: halflings are calling it “The Fun Plant”, but the dangers of this florum are drastically understated. But first, a word from our sponsor, Frozen Summit Private Reserve Eiswein!
(Music change from Ben Briggs – Star Clash Theme to (fill in the blank I) )
Stil: Try my new Frozen Summit Private Reserve Eiswein! Only 500 barrels of this Limited Edition Eiswein were produced. All the COOLEST (SFX: snowy/icy wind) adventurers are already on their way to the Frozen Summit Crossplanar Bar & Grille to purchase theirs. Better get to the Frozen Summit Crossplanar Bar & Grille before they do!
Stil: We’re right through that door at the end of the alley. You know the one. It’s in every city, town, and swineherd village on every plane of existence.
Stil: Frozen Summit Private Reserve Eiswein, for only the COOLEST (SFX: snowy/icy wind) adventurers.
(Music change from (fill in the blank I) to Steven O’Brien - Firefly Village Main Theme)
Rhomande: O my beloved audience, please do recline upon your gilded seats, liberally quaff your libations, inspire your pharmakoi, and adjust your listening devices that you may thorougly enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre.
Scene 2: Ain’t Dead Yet
Ormr: Well, Lads ’n’ Ladies ’n’ Others, that was a mighty good time campin’ we just finished! Now, alls we gotta do is find the right portal so’s we can return to Sahn Daskaar and save the Emperor! Portia, howsabout you pick the next portal!
Portia: Right away, Ormr! Let’s see… Maybe it’s… this portal!
DM: As Portia indicates the portal in question, a figure emerges from it. A rather decent looking fellow steps onto the Prismatic Path and brushes some unseen dust from the lapels of his sharp coat.
Tipp: Oh! I didn’t expect to meet anybody out here. Pleasure to meet you. Tipp Indecent, owner and operator of Indecent Investigations. We can find any information about anybody or anything, provided you can pay my exorbitant prices. Here’s my card. So… the Prismatic Path, huh? Seems like quite the pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into, doesn’t it.
DM: Tipp works the room, clasping each of the Posthe’s primary appendages in a handshake and passing out his business cards to each of you. Some of you even rate so high as to warrant a friendly clap on the shoulder or a tousle of the hair.
Wank: Uh, thanks for the card, Mr. Indecent. My name is Wank de Winky—
Tipp: (interrupting) Whatever, kid. Step your tiny, wingéd ass aside. Maybe go play with the little girl who has all the dead orclets in her hair. Now, then. How are you guys going about navigating this place?
Portia: Actually, Mr. Indecent, we’re not kids; we’re halflings. And to answer your question, we’re just kinda trying each of them until we find Sahn Daskaar Portal Alpha-One-mark-Three.
Ozzrick: Indecent… Indecent…? Where have I heard that name before. Kalindir, do you remember an Indecent Investigator from any of our past travels?
Kalindir: Not from our travels, Ozzrick. But I believe there used to be a Decent Exterminator who adventured with the Insufferable Basterds.
Ozzrick: Oh, right! Whatever happened to that guy? The Basterds just came back one day and he wasn’t with them anymore. It made for an awkward gap in the parade that the Imperial Exploration Commission threw for them.
Tipp: Well, it seems like you’re all doing pretty well so far. You know… since you’re not dead or anything. This is a place you go when you die, you know.
Ser Kal: So, does that mean that you yourself are deceased, Master Indecent? Last night, Vornorroch brought up the possibility that all of us are dead, since we are all traveling the Prismatic Path. I keep trying to tell him that the Empire would not have murdered us merely to get us home, but the ancient horses of the Star Pastures were ever known for their stubbornness and intellectual convictions.
Tipp: Nah, everyone here’s alive, I’m pretty sure. I mean… I was dead for a time, but it was only a little while. And, really, doesn’t everybody die for just a little while?
Felicia: Not to my knowledge. Perhaps you are thinking of sleep, and not death. Everyone sleeps for a little while. People tend to stay dead for much, much longer.
Owen: Ehrm… That is patently untrue, Felicia. Upon their expiration, many animating spirits are returned to the loamy mulch of the Garden of Souls, that they might be broken down and recombined for subsequent reincarnations.
Wank: If I’m hearing that right, Owen, you’re saying that you believe when you die your very quintessence is turned into some sort of metaphysical compost?
Tipp: Well, it’s been fun meeting you all, but I’ve got a list as long as your arm that’s full of spouses that need investigating, so I’ll be taking my leave now. Toodles!
((Sfx: portal sound))
Ozzrick: What a decent fellow! And so polite, too! Not at all like his name implied!
Kalindir: He was certainly the fanciest investigator I’ve ever seen. He even––wait. Does anybody see my belt purse? I had my extra-secret rainy day reserve of one hundred Imperial Soverigns in there.
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Portia: My favorite ring is gone! That’s the one that Captain Falls Overboard let me pick as my first share of any plunder. Aw, man, that was my favorite, most sentimental piece of jewelry!
Kartoffel: Sat dastardly investigator turned out to be quite indecent!
Theo: Indeed, my starchy squire! It appears that he used formality and etiquette to distract us while robbing us blind.
Ormr: Well, if’n we ever meet that bastard again, either he owes us one free investigatin’ or we owe him a pair o’ mountaneerin’ spurs right up his main shaft! Either way, we still gotta find that portal what takes us to the right version of the Empire fer us to protect. Spread out and search, my Imperial Posthe!
((Sfx: d20 roll x10))
Owen: I believe that decency-faking elf went into this portal. Go on, Lotty! Get in there and bring him back!
((Sfx: Portal sound, terrasque, giant snapping jaws))
DM: As Lotty breaks the plane of the portal, a thunderous roar peals out. The dromeosaur leaps back a full pace, as the portal is filled by the snapping jaws of some kind of ancient, cthonic behemoth. I’ve actually never seen this thing before, so I can’t tell you much more about it.
((Sfx: d20 roll, Lotty Sound))
Owen: Ehrm… that isn’t just any ancient, cthonic behemoth; it is the primordeal ancient, cthonic behemoth of which all other such are merely weak shadows. This, my companions, is the snout of the legendary Terrasque. Note the ochre tips on these darkened ivory horns that stud its nose and upper lip. This organism is unique among the multiverse, and it is apparently in the midst of its feeding phase.
Wank: Well, at least it’s too big to fit through the magical hole in reality. I say we just give its mouth a wide berth, and we keep searching.
Ormr: Good call, Wank! Now, before puttin’ my head through this portal, first thing I’ma gonna do is poke around the other side with my spear. Hrmph! Uh… my spear’s caught on somethin’. Lemme just wiggle it a bit… Hurrrrgh! Oh shit!
((Sfx: portal sound, rumbling, wave of cashews))
DM: Ormr pulls his spearhead from the portal and leaps backward just in time to avoid being snowed under by an avalanche of cashew nuts.
Ozzrick: Just cashew nuts? Are they doing anything other than sliding out of the portal?
DM: Mostly just cashews. They’re about the size of an average, fully-grown human woman. The only things they’re doing at the moment are skittering down the pile, scattering across the Prismatic Path, verrrrrry slowly decomposing, and causing Felicia’s mouth to water.
Felicia: (mouth full) MMMMphMM! I lmve cashmws! (swallow) They’re fun for both food and play!
Portia: I thought cats hated nuts, Felicia.
Felicia: Purrr… They do, Portia. But I’m not just a cat: I’m a cat-person. And nuts are full of yummy oils and proteins! By the glass-roomed hells, even you lot should be happy to eat this stuff! (snarf, chew gobble)
Ser Kal: What in the name of the Great Tree Farmer is a cashew? Is it some sort of filthy Dwarven food?
Ormr: Actually, Horse-Kal, it’s the elves what discovered the Plane of Cashews over a thousand years ago. We dwarves just perfected the art o’ roastin’ them and servin’ them up in a beer hall. Cashews is a little more expensive’n peanuts, but they take up way more space, so the barkeep ends up savin’ money on volume. But, uh… you didn’t hear none o’ this from me. It’s a great Dwarven Secret about how we prepare and deploy our cashews.
Ser Kal: Well, the more you know, the less trouble you find yourself in. Come, Vornorroch! Let us explore the next portal in line… on the left!
((Sfx: Vornorroch, portal sound))
DM: Six well-known badasses stand in the center of a sandy arena, with thousands of ghostly spectators lining the stands above. Swarms upon swarms of skittering, insectoid creatures crash over them like waves, only to be broken and retreat like the surf. A lizardman springs through the air, somersaulting over one of the insectoids. He spears it in the back, before his momentum carries him back to the ground and the bug up into the air.
((Sfx: d20 roll, jump, spear hit))
Golrak: Here you go, Brawna! Allez-oup! And I’ll follow up with another Lizarrrrrrd… LEAP!
DM: The insectoid is hurled toward a dwarf woman riding atop a magic carpet. She snatches the enemy from the air and spikes it on the ground, a good twenty ILDMs away.
Brawna: Thanks, Golrak! You’re looking pretty fresh, still, unlike most of us. Come on, ’Fina! What’re you, tired? We just have another two score myriads left before we can rest.
((Sfx: d20 roll, fist hit x3))
Carfina: Hahahahaha! Yes, Brawna, but don’t you suppose that it might be a better plan to take a fall so we can recuperate in our cells for a bit? The minotaur’s looking pretty exhausted. I think he took a Touch of Nausea a few rounds ago.
((Sfx: d20 roll, spear hit x4))
Retlaw: Mooooo! I is feeling sicks to me’s stomachs… But nobody stops… minotaur! But…maybe me cans go fatster if Ravanys gives me the tummy healsings?
((Sfx: d20 roll, horns hit x2))
Ravanys: I’m a little busy over here Retlaw! Maybe–excuse me. Heee-yagh! Maybe Blondie can divert some of his attention toward your nausea.
((Sfx: d20 roll, mace hit x2, one of them’s a Holy Smite))
DM: Do you notice anything, Kallandriel?
Ser Kal: Only that their mage seems to be standing in the back lines, with hair like a frozen waterfall and a sword like a crystallized star burning in his fist. Ooh! Look! Now he is sending beams of quintessential ice to freeze and to bind his foes where… they… stand… Oh, no…
DM: Oh, yes.
Ser Kal: Those insectoids have no eyes. And not in some mundane way.
DM: And what about the arena?
Ser Kal: It… It drifts away, as if its very leptons are having difficulty remembering which way to spin.
Wank: So what do all of these details mean, Ser Kal?
Ser Kal: They mean that the ancient foe of my peoples is now resurgent in the material planes, and time is running out for his Holiness Emperor Nashtif XXVII and the citizens of Sahn Daskaar. The Hungering End has returned!
Portia: Well, we ought to get moving on this portal-finding. We know it’s Portal Alpha One-mark-Three that’ll take us home. I just wish these infinite-seeming gateways were labeled. But, as Captain Overboard used to say, “If all ships were labeled by their contents, then we corsairs would lose out on unexpected adventures and side-quests!” So, let’s see what’s in the next portal. If it’s the one we’re looking for, then we can go through, and if it’s not, maybe something more interesting will be there!
Wank: So, what do you see through there, Portia?
Portia: It looks like this portal opens up waaaaaaaay high up in the air. I’m looking down on some sort of enormous keep!
Kalindir: Big deal. I’m already looking at a Keeb, right here!
Ser Kal: Stop glaring at me, Kal, or I’ll mana tap you into next month!
Ormr: Gads, you elves are frustratin’. Not a Keeb–though, I gotta remember that particular slur for later. Portia said she sees a keep!
Theo: A Coop? Like you house chickens in?
Kartoffel: No, Theo. I believe Herr Ironheel said sat Fraulein Fireleaf sees some Keef. You know: se sticky, powdery crystals sat grow on Bear Grass!
Ormr: No, you ninnyhammers! I said Keep! Keep! Keep! Keep!
Kalindir: Here you go, Ormr. Have some bird seed!
Ormr: I hates you elves. Anything interestin’ happening in that keep, Portia?
Portia: Not really. Just a bunch of goblins and a wyvern scurrying around. I can’t quite see why, though. Oh! Wait! There’s a small group of people climbing up the northern slope. That green guy looks kinda familiar…
Vragul: (from other side of portal) Vragul defeat all! Vragul King of Keep!
Kalindir: Ugh. That guy? Let’s get out of here before he flies up through the portal and decides to become King of Path. Here… let’s try another portal. Hmm… not much out here. Just a vast, unending darkness, studded with tiny, weak stars. Oh… and the stars are winking out, one by one. Oh! I can even count the number of stars, now! There are seventeen–no, sixte–no, nine… Five… Four. Three. Two. One…
((Sfx: portal, ending of a universe))
Ozzrick: Are you okay, Kalindir? You look even more pale than I do!
DM: Kalindir just witnessed the final heat death of an entire universe. It might take them a while to process that experience.
Kalindir: It… It was beautiful. And terrifying. And. And… And how am I ever going to represent this faithfully in song!? (sobs)
Ormr: Alright, Lads ’n’ Ladies ’n’ Others! Let’s take a quick rest, so’s we can git everyone’s sanity a time to recover. Owen! Kartoffel! You two’re on talk therapy duty with Scaly-Kal. Meanwhile, the rest of us’ll try to make sense of this place, so’s we can find that Portal Alpha One-mark-Three what’ll take us home.
Scene 3: A Word From Our Sponsors
Rhomande: Tonight’s episode is brought to you by an unemployed secondary maths teacher and a firefighter. If they had anything to sell you, this would be the place to do so. Instead, please visit 20sidedtheatre.com. You can’t buy anything there, either, but you can see some illustrations of me, the Inescapable Rhomande Sorfinde! And now, back to our program!
Scene 4: The Return Approach
DM: After a quick rest, Kalindir seems to have settled down a bit, and any physical aches, pains, and wounds have been magically soothed. The Posthe fans out once again, in search of the portal that will take them home.
Ormr: Alright, Lads ’n’ Ladies ’n’ Others! Let’s git on up and find Portal Alpha One-mark-Three! Ozzrick, Scaly-Kal, Owen, and Wank, yer with me on the right! Portia, yer in command on the left. I want you to take Horse-Kal, Felicia, Theo, ’n’ Kartoffel to check out the left! Alright, mah Imperial Posthe! Readyyyy… Break! (clap hands)
DM: The party fans out to check ten portals at a time. Give me some Search Checks.
Portia: Actually, it’s eleven portals, Master Voice! Vornorroch is helping us search the left!
Owen: Ehrm… Actually, make that twelve portals. Lotty is widening the search on the right side of the Prismatic Path.
DM: Well, that can only make the search go faster, so I want all twelve of you to give me some Search Checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x12, portal x12))
Wank: Doesn’t look like this is the right one. There’s just a bunch of colorful blocks all around, and some block-person punching down trees. Wait… How are the branches still floating in the air, if he just punched out the trunk? This place is weird.
Felicia: This one doesn’t seem to be the right portal, either. There’s just some windy-faced smith working in a little shop, here.
Paerun Skybar: Welcome to my shop, Katyshka. I am Paerun Skybar, master smith. You give me gold, I give you Chicken Knife. You kill many dragons with Chicken Knife. It makes sense, don’t worry. You look unconvinced, Katyshka. Just look at my face. Is made of wind, you get it? Is magic Chicken Knife. Very good craftsmanship.
Ser Kal: Not this one either. Just a mummy on a floating disk, attended by a cadre of skeletons with stenographers’ tablets.
Imenand: Move on, elf. Nothing to see here. I’m just checking in on my “Accounting Department”.
Ser Kal: Hey, you Mummy and all you skeletons… You’re not about any sort of ill business are you? For I am Ser Kallandriel Alastarthe, Technomagically Enhanced Knight of the Glorious Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns, and it is my sacred duty to spread order wherever I tread!
Imenand: And I am Imenand Shenouda, Grand Weaponer of The Empire of Voladros and the Uiadhenns, Third Hand of His Holiness Emperor Nashtif XXVII. Now stop wasting my time.
Ser Kal: My… My deepest apologies, Your Eminence. Forgive my transgression, and may my third child serve you for a period of twelve years, and upon the completion of such servitude, may my shame and my sin be washed from me and the Alastarthe family name which I have sullied. Glory to the Empire! Honor to the Weaponer!
Imenand: Yes, yes. We all know the ancient ritual for the Shame Cleanse of Uiadh (wath). I accept your binding verbal contract, elf, and I shall contact you at such a time as your third born will be most… useful to me.
Kalindir: This portal is not the correct one, either. This one just has all of us looking through the portals, except we’re all wearing each other’s clothes and carrying each other’s items.
Theo: This one merely takes us to the Plane of Potatoes; Kartoffel and I once visited his grandparents there, so I recognize the place well.
Kartoffel: Ah! I sink I have found it! Sere is an atrium here, vis many people waiting in an orderly queue, as is typical of an Imperial Customs Office. And sis sign above se archway reads, “Citizens on Imperial Business use Zone Alpha, Lanes 1.1-3.8, All Other Entrants use Zone Beta, Lanes 4.1–12.12”.
DM: The portal deposits you all in the middle of a long line. A quick look at the signage tells you that you are in Zone Alpha One, Lane Three, which seems to be reserved for imperially sanctioned adventurers and military personnel. Unfortunately, your sudden arrival seems to have angered some of the locals.
Serpenthras: Hey! You can’t jussssssst cut in line like that! We’ve been waiting for sssssssssix hoursssssss to get thissssssss far!
Dromor: Yeah, how would youse like it if maybe we was to cut you in da legs, like like you just cut us in da line? Ain’t nobody disrespects Dromor Stonefist’s Imperial Strongarms and gets away wit it. Inn’t dat right, boys?
((Sfx: cracking knuckles))
Alladar: I, the great Alladar, can use my raw, elemental magics to root them where they stand, so you might teach them a lesson, Dromor!
Mercedes: Leaving them more vulnerable to the hidden strikes of Mercedes Blackveil, Fancy Ninja!
((Sfx: the sounds of sharp things))
Serpenthras: And I, the great Ssssserpenthrassssss Ssssssilversssscale ssssshall hypnotizzzzzze them with my myssssssssstical Bassssssoon of Boosssssted Basssssssss.
Dromor: Well, it looks like almost all da votes are in, except one. Whadda you t’ink, da Mammoth King?
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
Dromor: Dat’s exactly wut I t’ought. Get ’em, boys!
DM: The customs line erupts into chaos as the Mammoth King puts the spurs to his faithful wooly mammoth, crashing through his own party to make a bee line straight toward Ser Kal and Vornorroch. The furry pachyderm sweeps most of the Posthe aside with the sides of its tusks, lowering its head as it draws closer to the ancient horse of the Star Pastures. As the two beasts draw inevitably closer to each other, the Mammoth King makes another of his inter-cosmically famed proclamations.
((Sfx: mammoth/elephant trumpet, stampy-charge, vornorroch
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
DM: The king’s steed snakes its trunk curved tusks underneath Vornorroch’s belly, raising the stellar steed nine ILDMs above the ground. Meanwhile, the Mammoth King raises his mightily oversized mallet aloft, bringing it crashing down toward Ser Kal’s head.
((Sfx: horse scream/panicked Vornorroch, d20 roll x3, mallet hitting a Madeupdium Shield x3))
Ser Kal: Oh no! I must quickly redeploy my Madeupdium Shield, that it might save Vornorroch and myself from a swift and brain-spattering doom!
Ormr: Look, fellas: we ain’t meanin’ no harm, here. We’s just tryin’ to git back into the Holy City, so’s we can help Shave the Emperor… er… I mean Save the Emperor! ’Cuz, uh… we’re kind of a big deal ’round these parts. Hells, the Imperial Defense Council even put us on the Prismatic Path, so’s we could take a shortcut! Now, Stonefist Dvoyurdolich (duh-VOY’-yer-DOH-lick), why don’tcha have yer friend and his mammoth put my friend and his star horse down?
Dromor: I already told ya once, Ublydok (OO-blee-dok), ain’t nobody cuts Dromor Stonefist an’ his Imperial Strongarms in line. And anybody what tries’ll be around about as long as the burning spit on yer face.
Ormr: What’re you talkin’ a fool’s sense about, Dvoyurdolich (duh-VOY’-yer-DOH-lick)? There ain’t no burnin’ spittle on my face.
Dromor: (hawks up a burning loogie, spits it at Ormr)
((Sfx: d20 roll, acid sizzling))
Ormr: Aaaah! My face! My beautiful dwarven beard! Git it off! OhGit it off!
Wank: Oh no! I’ll help you with my inborn Celestial ability to channel positive energy, Ormr. Neutralize Acid! And have a quickened Cure Light Wounds! Uh oh… that’s some strong acid. I might have to cast another cure spell to get rid of all the scar tissue.
((Sfx: neutralize, cure))
Owen: I’ll help you restore the physical manifestation of your clan’s pride, Ormr. Unfortunately, it will only be a temporary fix when I cast SILVERBEARD!
((Sfx: silver beard))
Ormr: Ugh… Thanks, Wank. Thanks, Owen. That’s feelin’ a lot better. Don’t worry ’bout healing me again yet, Wank. I wantcha to focus on usin’ yer celestial wings to git you to the head o’ the line, so’s we can show our passports an’ declare our belongings.
Ser Kal: And so we can turn our recently obtained treasures over to the Lost and Found Desk at the Imperial Reclamation and Redistribution department, for proper cataloguing.
Ormr: I guess yer right, Horse-Kal. As my grandappy used to say, “Son, you gotta follow the rules in any place what’s got a reputation for puttin’ rulebreakers on the wrack.” As fer you, Dromor you sumbitch! We ain’t no Dvoyurdolde (duh-VOY’-yer-DOHL-day) no more! From now on, the clans Ironheel and Stonefist’re mortal enemies! Once we git through this customs line and do whatever it is what needs doin’ to save the Emperor, we’re all comin’ fer you! And I’ma gonna start this clan war with a traditional mighty dwarven LEAP!
((Sfx: jump, d20 roll))
Dromor: Holy shit, that guy can jump good! Good t’ing my cousin Guidoc (gwee-doc) was da foreman when dis place was put up. He was able ta get ’em ta pay t’ree times as much fer ceilings what’s only t’ree quarters as high as da blueprints called fer. Ah, fuck… looks like dat Ironheeled line jumper’s finally comin’ down. Uh… howsabout you deal wit’ dis one, Alladar.
Alladar: Gladly, Master Stonefist! A thick cushion of SOLIDIFIED FOG ought to keep that filthy dwarf up near the ceiling!
((Sfx: solid fog))
Ormr: What the… Why ain’t I fallin’ no more?
Dromor: Gods fuckin’ damnit! What’ve I told you about bad-mouthin’ dwarves, Alladar!
Alladar: But I wasn’t badmouthing him, Master Stonefist. You bathed last night. This fellow smells like he’s been sleeping on a boat for about 83% of the past four months, with the remaining 17% spent sleeping in the woods or in a plane full of farting metallic dragons.
Kartoffel: Oh my! Sis fighting is swiftly getting out of hand, Theo! Do you sink we ought to evacuate se civilians, like we did in sat museum?
Theo: No, my stout-hearted squire, we need not worry about these citizens! For these are the finest adventurers in all the empire, and they are quite capable of minding their own safety! Behold! That guy over there is putting up a wind wall, so our combat does not spill over into his lane. And over there, that lady is directing her companions to erect a wall of tower shields. So, as you can see, these civilians ought to be just fine!
Portia: Oh, barnacles! The civilians! Ser Kal, I have a quick question.
Ser Kal: Whoooa! What… would you like to know… Portia? Whoaoaa!
Portia: Under whose authority does this customs station fall, Ser Kal?
Ser Kal: Well… whoa! All polycosmic terminals in the Empire… whoa… fall under the purview of the…eeeeEEEEE… Imperial Port Authority.
Portia: So, this place is technically a port?
Ser Kal: Correct, Portia. This place is technically a port.
Portia: Ormr, I’ll be right back! I just remembered something really important we left on the ship.
Ormr: Head on up, Portia! Uh… maybe you wanna take a string’re somethin', so’s you can find yer way back.
Kartoffel: Here, Fraulein Fireleaf! Take a hold onto mein rootzen!
((Sfx: plant sound))
Portia: Will do! Be back in a jiffy!
((Sfx: portal sounds))
Kalindir: Well, Ozz, this looks like the perfect opportunity for us to strike up a classic fighting tune.
Ozzrick: Sounds like a plan, Kalindir! How about we play the one about Upshank’s Upstarts?
Kalindir: Just the tune I was thinking. I’ll start with the violin and you come in on the nineteenth measure with the fife!
((Sfx: violin starts))
Serpenthras: Oh, no you don’t, you ssssssilver-ssssssscaled treessssssssleeper! Not while Ssssssserpenthrasssssss Ssssssilversssssscale and hissssss enchanted Bassssssssoon of Boosssssted Bassssssssss can interrupt you with a COUNTERSSSSSSSSSONG!
((Sfx: interrupting bassoon/countersong))
Kalindir: That Bassoon of Boosted Bass thing is just awful! I can’t even hear myself play!
Ozzrick: Maybe it’ll work out a little better for us if I Countersong the snake-man’s Countersong!
DM: So, if he countersongs him who’s countersinging them… Then only they should be playing now? But if they already got silenced or thrown off tempo or something, then is he the only left one playing? Y’know what? Fuck it. I’m… actually pretty confused about how this is double-countersong affair is going to work out, so rather than consult the Celestial Tome of Rules and Tables, I’m just gonna wait and see what happens between the three musicians.
((Sfx: Music Cue?))
Dromor: Mercedes! You take out da little pale guy! I don’t want dis groupa diocan (deeoh-can) adventurers ta get no music magics if we ain’t gettin’ none!
Mercedes: Right away, Dromor! I’m not so fond of this tune, myself…. whatever song it’s supposed to be. Now, let me just Ghost Step to get into position…
((Sfx: Ghost Step))
Wank: Ah, crap. Hey, guys! The fancy ninja lady just disappeared! So, uh… be on the lookout for your kidneys and such, I guess.
DM: As soon as Wank finishes speaking, a ghostly hand axe appears in the air above and behind Ozzrick. The weapon swiftly takes form, solidifying from the head, downward. The haft is soon followed by a hand, an arm, and the rest of Mercedes Blackveil.
Mercedes: And her baroque, black-brocaded dress!
DM: And her baroque, black-brocaded dress.
Ozzrick: Baroque, black-brocaded dress? That sounds like something worth seeing. I’ll just turn ar—HURK! My neck!
((Sfx: d20 roll x2, hand axe hit x1))
Felicia: Hey! I’m the only one who’s supposed to be unexpectedly pouncing upon smaller creatures! Alright, fancy lady! Let’s see how baroque your dress is after I’ve sharpened my claws on it for a while! M’rowww! Hisss!
((Sfx: d20 roll x3, claw x2, bite))
Mercedes: Aaagh! Get her off! Get… Ah.. Ahhh… AHHH-CHOO! Domebody pleade ged her off! I’m allergic to gats! Aaaaah-choo!
DM: The carnage in Customs Lane Alpha One-mark-Three continues for another ten or fifteen minutes, with each side’s attempts at escalation cut short by their opponents. The Imperial Security Service has cordoned off the lane, preferring to let as much of the customs office run as regularly as possible and to let the adventurers exhaust themselves before any attempts at arrest. Just as the Imperial Riot Quenchers are readying themselves to enter combat, a low and sourceless rumbling permeates the air. Give me some Spot Checks.
((Sfx: growing rumble of many feet, d20 roll x15))
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAMMOTH KING!
Dromor: No need ta point, buddy. We’s all able ta see da giant glowing portal what just opened up in the middle of da line. Oh, FU—
((Sfx: portal sound))
DM: About a hundred beings burst through the portal, all of them natives to That World Which Contains Those Young Kingdoms. Riding atop the crest of bodies is your very own Portia Fireleaf.
Portia: Hey, guys! We nearly forgot to free all those slaves from the galley when we got here! Only… I had a little trouble remembering which of these guys were the slaves we promised to free and which were the pirates we captured from Morellian’s ship. So I just let them all free!
Ormr: Good work, Portia! I’m sure the Empire’ll be able to sort out which of these folk is refugees and which oughta be thrown in jail fer piracy! Now… Any sign o’ them Imperial Strongarms?
Mammoth King: I AM THE MAM—mph!
Owen: It appears that the Imperial Strongarms have been lost in the press of the crowd. I recommend that we make haste to the head of the line. This will be made much easier with a Mass Spider Climb!
((Sfx: spider climb))
DM: The party swiftly works their way over or through the crowd to the walls, where they crawl upward and across the room to the nearest Imperial Customs Official.
Customs Official: Papers, purpose of visit, and any declarations, please.
Ormr: Uh… We’s the Imperial Mixed-Species Task Force Number 57822, aka Ironheel’s Imperial Posthe. We, uh… We got an appointment, I guess. We’s supposed to report in to Grand Marshall Umbar Spikeshoe what so we c’n defend the Holy City against the Hungerin’ End. Oh, uh… And we got about a hunnerd slaves ’n’ pirates to declare, plus about two dozen o’ these Battle One Thousand Eight Hunnerd Eighty-Eight sticks an’ a shitton o’ ammo fer ’em.
((Sfx: paper shuffling, bullet cartridges clinking on table, rifle hitting a table))
Customs Official: All items will be inspected and returned to you within seventy hours. And, with a little stamp-stamp-stamp… you’re cleared to enter. Welcome to the Holy City of Sahn Daskaar!
((Sfx: rubber stamp x3))
Scene 5: 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 @ 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.
Issa: 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.
Stiev: Original Adventure by Cian Quattrin. Ssssscript adaptatiiiiiion by Rudraigh Quattrin. Engineered 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 will attune my advertising frequencies directly to your brainwaves, that you and you alone may suffer the constant, schizophrenia-inducing interruptions and machinations of Professor E. Slide.
Maldreth: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 6: The Tag
Tipp: Oh! Hello, there. I must not have seen you, while I was dusting my stetson and inhaling from this herbal vaporizer from the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. That’s why it looks like I was sucking on this rib bone. Well, since you’re here, it must be time for another exhilarating episode of Common Decency with Tipp Indecent, where we learn all about the various courtesies that you, the citizen who has reached a legal age of reason, can work into your everyday lives, to promote peace of mind for everybody.
Tipp: Today, we’ll be talking about fitting in with your expected roles and lifestyles. If your parents are Commoners, Warriors, Experts, or Adepts, then you fall into a social caste known as Nominally Protected Citizens, or NPCs for short. So, step one to fitting in as an NPC is to dress similarly to your parents. You can change a few details here or there, but the Decent Citizen will expect some form of continuity when your parents inevitably age out of usefulness and you take their place running the family business. One or two pieces of identifying flair are acceptable, but don’t go overboard with it. Remember: the tallest poppy gets its head lopped off first. Similarly, it’s the memorable NPC who first gets murdered by the local group of adventurers. So, to avoid getting murdered, don’t dress too fancy.
Tipp: Secondly, nobody likes you making them feel stupid. Furthermore, the chances are that you aren’t the smartest person in your village, hamlet, or town. So, if you see a group of people who express a strong opinion–especially if that expression comes in the form of pitchforks and firebrands–it’s best for you to join them, even if you think you disagree. Just remember what happened to that kid who thought that Emperor Holbek the Fourty-Ninth was holding a naked parade! So, if your friends and neighbors think that somebody is calling down a hex upon your place of residence, they’re probably right and you should join the mob that’s heading down to drive them out of town, so they don’t think you’re in cahoots.
Tipp: And finally, nobody likes a windbag. Just ask anybody who’s spent more than twenty seconds in the same room as Rhomande. In order to fit in and to promote other people’s peace of mind, you should never speak unless spoken to. In the rare occasion when it is appropriate for you to speak, you should limit yourself to a three-sentence maximum. If your interrogator persists and asks you further questions, just repeat your original statement until they go away.
Tipp: Well, that’s all the time we have for today, but I’ll give you a fourth piece of advice for free. Nobody likes a stale houseguest. So, you should always know when to take your cue and leave. Remember, Nominally Protected Citizens of the Empire, everybody likes and respects a Decent Fellow. I’m Tipp Indecent, reminding you to do your best to fit in, because not doing so makes other people uncomfortable. Ta-ta!