The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 25: An Unwanted Party
Rhomande Sorfinde’s Insufferable Basterds
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Imenand Shenouda, President of The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation – Blake Parker
Maldreth the Impius, Ogroid High Priest of Makar – Gabe Abinante
Ssssstiev Pierab’bat, Chameleon Rogue – Natalie Abinante
Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess – Ceridwen Quattrin
Thrimlach Lenanien, Secretive Elven Mage – Cian Quattrin
Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops, The Half Bear Monk – Cian Quattrin
Vragul, King of Town Hall – Rud
Mhorton Salzgeld, a Dwarven Mage – Tony Scaruffi
Stil Colemanaani, Druid of the Frozen Summit – Cian
The DM – Rud
Torrea Marsvel - Cian
Sir Gnome — Rud
Tuxedo Beak – Blake
Luwok Airwakka, a Homeless, Multibreed Penguin – Tony
The Wiz – Cian
Erellior Harvestheart, a Messenger from Northern Scottalia — Rud
Pamande Mulkafinde, a pig-haired Northern Gentlelf – Blake Parker
Izreanna — Rud
Shakes — Blake
Zolov — Cian
Joren — Blake
Ragnaroctopus — Gabe
Helema Nisbet Alafinde — Tony
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: (Firefly Village Theme by Stephen O’Brien)
Scene 1: Reintroductions
Rhomande: This episode is a rather special one, my beloved audience. You see, my two hundred and sixteenth birthday now looms large, and in preparation for such an important event as my birthday, please allow me to reacquaint you once again with Scottalia’s own Insufferable Basterds!
Rhomande: Imenand Shenouda, who serves The Empire as Grand Weaponsmith and Third Hand of the Emperor. He also fills the posts of President and Spokesman for The Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This mummified Human Wizard is ever accompanied by the Greater Cadaver Collector, a twelve-ILDM-high golem made of gravesoil and headstones. And who can ever forget Imenand’s Special Skeletal-Kittie: his familiar, Bastet.
Imenand: SFX: (4914_noisecollector_cat2.wav) Do not believe for one second, Bard, that my ETERNAL war on foodstuffs has ended, simply because I have accepted that the fluid within alconuts can be used to fuel my bunsen burners and other weapons of the sciences.
Rhomande: The terrible, towering Maldreth the Impius, the ogre-blooded Patriarch of the Church of War, dedicated to Makar, Father of Strife!
Maldreth: Are we still on that fucking island with all the penguins? If so, how many more of them do I need to sacrifice on my altar before the rest fall in line and convert to Makarism?
Rhomande: Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops, the Half-Bear Monk! He also serves as President of Bear Industries. A shapeshifter of insurmountable strength and speed.
Smyd: These alconuts are okay, I guess. But the sandy earth of this plane really isn’t all that good for my specialty bear grasses. Maybe if I convince Maldreth and Imenand that I want to declare a war on sand, they’ll build me an aquagenerative farming system.
Rhomande: Ssstiev “the Chameleon” Pierab’bat; thoroughly odorless, colorless, and deadly!
Stiev: Firssssssst thing I do when we get back to that Ssssssssscottalia placccccce isssss I’m sssssstarting an alconut farm! Thisssss sssssssshit issssss delicccccciousssssss!
Rhomande: Issa Featherfoot, Pengonquin Princess. A 7-ILDM-tall shapeshifting Penguin Assassin! She is currently attended by her faithful and oft-missing bodyguard, the mysterious Tuxedo Beak, and a raggedy, homeless penguin called Luwok Airwakka!
Issa: Hey, Luwok, have you seen Tuxie? He’s usually about three feet behind me and slightly to the left.
Luwok: I’m not sure, Lady Featherfoot. Despite Master Sorfinde’s description, it’s usually quite easy to find Master Beak.
Issa: Meh. I’m sure he’ll turn up at some point.
Rhomande: Thrimlach Lenanien! A blindfolded Elf Sorcerer with a blackened potato perched on one shoulder and a Franken-Raven on the other. He is attended by his minions, Torrea Marsvel, an Undead Paladin and Sir Gnome, his faithful Gnome-Skeleton valet.
Thrimlach: Come along, Torrea. You, too, Lorramar. Ugh. And Sir Gnome, I guess.
Torrea: Yes, Lord Thrimlach!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
Rhomande: Mhorton… I can’t actually read his surname, mostly because I refuse to learn the Dwarven alphabet. A new addition to our team, forced upon us by the Empire’s Fairness and Equity in Representation Council, this Dwarf Mage has, sadly, proven too useful to sacrifice to our various and voracious deities. At least not yet. Now, Mhorton, are you by any chance related to…
Mhorton: No, my family has nothing to do with the Onion Magnates of Leek Creek. My clan made all their money in Salt Mining!
Rhomande: And last, but certainly not least: Yours truly, the Illegitimable Rhomande Sorfinde! Bard in Extraordinaire, Beloved of Quintillions, He Who Has Been Tickled By The Rosy Fingers of Dawn…
Issa: (interrupting) Get on with it, Bard!
Rhomande: An Elven Bard of pan-dimensional acclaim! But you already knew that, didn't you? O noble members of 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 thoroughly enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre.
Scene 2: The Invitation
DM: The rhythm of everyday life has settled in on Penguidise Island in the past few weeks. Your days are easy, and your nights are even easier. Nevertheless, the concerns of the planes wait for nobody, and you have been slowly and methodically planning your return to Sahn Daskaar and the defense of the Emperor. During one such gathering in the captain’s cabin of Thrimlach’s polycosmic ship, your schemings and deliberations are interrupted by a knock on the door.
((Sfx: door knock))
Stiev: Uh-oh! We weren’t exxxxxxpecting visssssitorsssss, were we?
Maldreth: I was expecting the opposite of visitors. I expected everybody within a mile’s radius to flee, for I have spread Father Makar’s commandments to the penguins of this island, and the commandment against interrupting a diet of church officials is one that carries amongst the lengthiest of penances.
Stiev: Then I’d better ssssssshift my color pattern to match the sssssssable and ccccccerulean crossssss-hatching of the wallpaper in here.
((Sfx: Lizard invisibility, knock again))
Thrimlach: If whoever’s at that door doesn’t know not to interrupt us, it must be someone not worth talking to. So, let’s give them someone not worth talking to. Sir Gnome!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter?
((Sfx: door knock))
Thrimlach: Go open the door and show whoever’s on the other side the sharp side of your tongue.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter. Right away, Mathter. But… I don’t have a tongue, sharp or otherwise. You took it as part of the ritual that forever bound us together.
Thrimlach: Ugh. Right. Well, let’s see here… Anybody have a spare knife?
Tuxedo Beak: Will a razor-sharp throwing fish with a copper rose in its mouth suffice, Master Lenanien?
((Sfx: door knock))
Thrimlach: As with everything you penguins do, Tuxedo Beak, that’ll be barely good enough! Sir Gnome! Take this razorfish and put it into your mouth, so you can get rid of whoever’s out there pounding on my door.
((Sfx: knife scraping on bone sounds?))
Sir Gnome: (mouth full) Ypth Mpthtpr!
DM: Sir Gnome crosses the room and throws open the door, only to be forced violently aside as an elf of middling height, dressed in plain, but finely made peasant’s clothes Rhomandily sweeps into the room. The elf stops short of your table, strikes a pose for a moment, then bows and introduces themself.
((Sfx: door crashing open, clatter of bones and armor))
Sir Gnome: (background) Whoa-oa-oa!
Erellior: I bear greetings to Sorfinde’s Insufferable Basterds of Southwestern Scottalia! My name is Erellior Harvestheart, and I am here on behalf of my cousin, Pamande Mulkafinde, the most famous Pig Farmer in Acoustica. His only daughter, Sismande, is turning two hundred and sixteen years old in half a month––a very important milestone in the life of an elf––and since our strict local tradition forbids the birthday girl from performing at her own party, we simply cannot hire the Red Hand Minstrel Assassins as we usually do. So, Mulkafinde ceatharinn was thinking that since y’all’re a sort of rivals with them, would you like to play the gig instead?
DM: Upon hearing this news Rhomande bolts up from his seat at the planning table.
((Sfx: chair scrape))
Rhomande: What… All these years, Pamande has been hiring the Red Hand for the traditional Acoustican Sweet 216? And now he wants me to play for Izreanna’s… No. NO! I’m… I’m not taking ANY PART IN THIS! Do-hoo-hoo!
DM: Your bard casts his cloak of charisma over his face, as he charges headlong out the door, whimpering like an evil gnome who’s about to be turned into a skeleton and forced into unending servitude by some irresponsible, blindfolded portalmancer.
Sir Gnome: Should I go after him, Mathter? I’ve cried like that before, so I may be able to help console Mathter Sorfinde.
Thrimlach: Eh… fuck him. But I suppose it’s still a good idea for you to leave the room, Sir Gnome. Let me just prepare a quick Gateway…
Issa: Wait. Hold your sea horses for just one second! This guy sent Rhomande into a pouty rage, just by asking him to play a show. I say we accept, if only to force the bard into it.
Stiev: Well, when you put it that way, I acccccccccccept!
Mhorton: Hold on a second. None of you have the cunning Dwarven business sense to ask the most obvious questions: What does it pay, where is it, and when is the gig?
Erellior: Ah, yes! The party will be held up in Acoustica, in the deep north of Scottalia. Y’all must learn a single, very important song to be played at a very specific time during the party. We’ll pay you the Red Hand’s standard rate of 10 gold Puntillos, three questions answered by our Swamp Prophetess, and one Item of Interest for each of you who performs onstage. Oh, and the instruments we want you to use are hitched up in my wagon, in the stables. The party will be held on the second day of the first week of the Month of Later Harvests.
Imenand: The deep north of Scottalia, you say? According to my scryomagical monitoring systems, something… wrong… has happened up there. The very fabric of reality seems to be stretched somehow, possibly laying bare the Heideggerian Fibers of Dasein. (HIE-duh-GARE-ee-yan; dah-SAYN)
Erellior: Oh, right… about that. There’s been somethin’ tearin’ up the countryside, up about 15 miles north o’ the Furthest Garrison. It usually takes about 10 days to get between Acoustica and Oak Vale, but that strange, variable landscape is stretchin’ it closer to 16 or 20 lately.
Smyd: As much as I want to annoy Rhomande, we still need to plan out our return to Sahn Daskaar. That emperor guy’s been pretty insistent lately with those distress calls of his.
Vragul: Vragul agree with bear. Vragul already defeat stupid bard and him stupid lute. Vragul need new challenge! Vragul want be King of Emperor!
Issa: You’d best become King of Shut the Hells Up. We have a perfect opportunity not only to defeat Rhomande, but to humiliate him in front of his family. This is a once-in-a-few-lifetimes opportunity that I refuse to let pass me by!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Stiev: Hey, Erellior? What’sssssss up with all the ssssssshuffling of your feet and the perssssssspiratttttttion? Issssssss there ssssssssomething elsssssssse that’sssssss on your mind?
Erellior: Ah. Well, um… Well, y’all didn’t hear this from me, but you mightn’t want to take this gig. There’ve been all sorts of death threats and mysterious notes, demanding that nobody play and the party be canceled. Well, we proud Acousticans refuse to give up our proud northern traditions, just to appease some anonymous southern carpetbagger, but y’all might want to think twice before you accept.
Maldreth: Whatever, elf. All I hear you say is that a new community of sapients needs the unholy protection of the Warfather. Furthermore, the penguin is correct: this opportunity to humiliate the bard in his home town in front of his neighbors and relations must not be squandered.
Thrimlach: Sounds like it’s decided, then! I’ll just open up a GATEWAY to Acoustica, and we can be on our way!
((Sfx: spell fizzle))
Thrimlach: Huh. That’s the first time this has happened to me, I swear. Usually I’m great at portaling. Maybe the runes in my mind were out of alignment or something. I’ll just center myself again and try to make another GATEWAY!
((Sfx: spell fizzle))
Erellior: I told you, ceatharan, something has broken the lands north of the Furthest Garrison. Squares have 89° angles, yet their sides are still parallel. Triangles have four corners that each measure 66.7°, yet you still get a straight line if you cut ’em all up and lay ’em out in a line. Hills loom in the distance, but you can never reach them, until you’re suddenly climbing up the steepest incline on the whole mound. I do declare, that landscape is pure chaos!
Maldreth: Ugh. Fine. By Makar’s Weightiest Warhorse, may we all be PLANE SHIFTED as close to Acoustica as the Warfather deems appropriate.
((Sfx: Plane Shift))
Mhorton: Whoa! This place is kinda cool. A little rustic, but it looks like there’s a bunch of construction, out near the edge of town. Plus, the salty smell of the sea air takes me back to my childhood, deep in the mines with my grandmother! So, where are we?
Smyd: We’re back in Oak Vale, Mhorton. It looks like Makar wants us to travel the whole sixteen days in order to get to Acoustica.
Imenand: At least this gives me an opportunity to gather a suitable retinue of Shenouda Necromages: now with radioactive decay! Hm… thirty-five irradiated mummies ought to make an appropriate impression for the Grand Weaponer of Voladros and the Uiadhenns. I shall return, once my attendants have been “assembled”.
Rhomande: Well, if Imenand gets to wander away, then I’m going to my private room at the Frozen Summit. Call me when you’re ready to leave.
Smyd: Good idea. Everybody take an hour or so to get ready for a sixteen-day journey, and we’ll meet back at the Frozen Summit to set out. Readyyyy? Break!
Scene 3: A Brief Word From Our Sponsors
Imenand: The 20-Sided Theatre is brought to you by a generous grant from the Children’s Terrorization Workshop, a bribe to the Discorporation for Public Propaganda, and the rampant extortion of viewers like you. Tonight’s episode is brought to you by the letter F, the letter (“ing”), and the number π. And now, back to our program.
Scene 4: Band Practice
DM: Over the next two hours, the party disperses, packs, reconvenes, and piles their various belongings into a sturdy cart.
Vragul: It not cart, Voice. It wagon. Vragul KING OF WAGON!
DM: Fine. It’s a wagon. In either case, the Scottalian countryside stretches lazily out before you, exposing its fertile belly like an unspayed housecat on an expensive rug.
Stiev: Grosssss. Anyway, while we’ve got thisssssss wagon carrying all of our goodssssssss and sssssssuppliesssssss, I’m going to take the opportunity to practiccccccccce that ssssssssspecial birthday sssssssssong that Erellior wantssssssss usssssssss to play.
DM: And which instrument will you be abusing while you practice, Stiev?
Stiev: Eassssssy! I’ll be playing percussssssssssion with and on my tail!
((Sfx: d20 roll, tail drum))
Stil: (yawwwwn) Keep that racket down! Some people are trying to sleep! Oh. A-hey, guys! Whatta we doing all the way out here on the road to the Furthest Garrison?
Luwok: (surprised) B’waaaah! Oh. Phew! Master Summit, you scared me half to death! Hasn’t anybody taught you how rude it is to hide under a pile of baggage?
Maldreth: Makar has a special punishment for those who unwelcomely stow themselves in baggage compartments.
Issa: Yeah, but Makar has a special punishment for everybody and everything, including a special punishment for people who have yet to earn any sort of punishment!
Maldreth: Ah! I’m glad to hear that my sermons are finally beginning to make an impact, Lady Featherfoot. Now, your penance for not understanding the Holy Commandments of War up until this point–– What is that racket?
((Sfx: Sir Gnomophone))
Thrimlach: Well, since Stiev was practicing that song that’s causing Rhomande such discomfort, I thought I’d pull off Sir Gnome’s arms and hammer the song out on his ribcage. Isn’t that right, Sir Gnomophone?
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
((Sfx: Sir Gnomophone))
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Gnomophone! You’re only supposed to be making musicky sounds, not talkingly sounds. Now hold still while I hammer you with your Humeral Lesser Tubercules.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Ma— I mean, Blingle Blonk Blinkity Blonk.
((Sfx: Sir Gnomophone))
Rhomande: That exhibition of musical prowess was perfectly terrible, ceatharan. So, I’d wager the hicks from my hayseed of a hometown will love it.
Maldreth: The sweetest music comes from the dying screams of Makar’s many enemies, but that is difficult to reproduce onstage. So, I shall play the second-most pleasing music to the Father of War: the RHYTHMIC CHAIN!
((Sfx: chain-tambourine sounding thing))
Issa: I think we need more low-end in this song. I’ve been eyeing this upright bass for a while, and it might be just what we need.
Mhorton: But, Issa! How will you play the bass when you’ve got flippers and not fingers?
Issa: Duh. I’m gonna play slap bass!
Mhorton: Still doesn’t explain how you’re going to finger the neck.
Imenand: Nobody has explained why we’ve left your tongue attached to your mouth either, Dwarf, so you might consider ceasing such useless lines of questioning, or else I’ll ask Vragul to finger your neck as he sings that terrible song about orc footwear.
Vragul: Me love that song! Ooooooh! Orc Shoe made out of—
Mhorton: Imenand: Rhomande: Thrimlach: Issa: Stiev: Maldreth: Smyd: Stil: SHUT UP!
Vragul: Yegh. Allbodys ams critorc.
Imenand: Indeed. Yet none will be able to criticize the horrifying tentacles of sound that emanate from the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation’s newest product: The Sonic Amplifier, Distorter, Delayer, Enhancer, Nullifier, Echogenerator, and Reclamation device. But in order to make my commercials shorter, my tireless team of marketing ghouls has condensed the machine’s title to its acronym: the S.A.D.D.E.N.E.R. Box!
Stiev: How doesssssss your amplifier boxxxxxxxx thingie work, Imenand?
Imenand: I’m glad you asked that, Chameleon. One simply takes a naked copper wire and attaches it to both instrument and S.A.D.D.E.N.E.R. using the magic of soldering! Behold, as I solder this wire onto this bass guitar. Now, with a judicious casting of MINUSCULE LIGHTNING–a spell which I “acquired” from that windbag of a wizard in that bird-shit-spattered blue robe–my electrified bass and I are prepared to rattle your very bones!
((Sfx: soldering, electric bass, Wak, minuscule lightning))
Mhorton: Ah! Then ’tis the time for Mhorton Salzgeld of the Dry Basin Clan to reveal that all this time, he has secretly been a Master Tambourinist! Hey, do you guys want to jam while we travel? I mean, a little practice before the big show couldn’t hurt.
((Sfx: tambourine, d20 roll x5 Music: horrible, other than the 2 bass lines))
Rhomande: Well, let’s see here… Imenand, you seem to know your fretting well, and your senses of timing and tempo are impeccable. I’d expect nothing less from the hands of a master surgeon-slash-mechanist. Issa, you’re doing fairly well, but you need to play something other than bar chords and open notes. Now, Stiev. Hamboning is not an acceptable replacement for a proper instrument. That being said, you keep a beat well, and the people of my hometown will appreciate the “simplicity” of your “instrument”. Father Maldreth, I do not wish to incur any more of your penances, so I will tell you that what you’re doing with that chain is acceptable in public. Mhorton, you play averagely… for someone who plays the tambourine. Thrimlach ceatharan, you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket; furthermore, if you cease pounding upon the Sir Gnomophone so hard, it will cease falling apart on you. Now that you have your individual critiques, it’s time for the group as a whole. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give you a 3.7. That’s below average, so I assume the yokels of Acoustica will be unable to tell the difference between the noises which you all make and proper music.
Scene 5: Background Loops
DM: You keep up your band practice until you’re within earshot of the Furthest Garrison, at which point you wisely pause. After a brief stop to resupply, you resume both your travels toward Acoustica and the sounds that Rhomande is refusing to call “music” without exaggerated air quotes. Farmhouses dot the hills around you for the first few miles beyond the Furthest Garrison, but after a while, something begins to feel off.
((Sfx: d20 roll x many))
Stiev: I don’t think that the sssssssssun hassssssss budged in the passssssssst ssssssssseveral hourssssssssss.
Luwok: I believe you are correct, Ms. Pierab’bat. And I’m pretty sure we’ve passed this particular hill-atop-a-tree before.
DM: Hill-atop-a-tree? What the fuck is going on here? Oh. I see now. That’s… weird. There’s a tree sitting on the plain, and there’s a hill, perched upside-down, somehow perfectly balancing on the topmost branches of the tree. The top of the hill looks pretty smooth, too, as if someone used a spatula of godlike proportions to move the whole pile of earth from its natural place to this exceedingly odd position.
Thrimlach: Sir Gnomophone, have you been leading us in circles again!?
Sir Gnome: Blinkety-blonk. No, Mathter. Blunk.
Torrea: Indeed, Lord Thrimlach! The road has been straight as the trunk of a cypress tree, ever since we passed that village which touted itself as The Only Bend in the Highway for the Next 23.7 Leagues.
Maldreth: I vow, by the sanctity of Father Makar’s Tooth-Shattering Axe that some day soon I shall tear down that village, straighten up the road, and establish an Academy for Wicked Fellowes, that the youth of Scottalia may grow up beneath the terrifying umbra of Makar’s sheltering shield.
Imenand: Hrm… Zertolio the Unintelligible may once have written about such a phenomenon as this, long ago. Even the most accomplished scholars cannot be fully certain, though, due to his poor grammar, liberal use of made-up symbols, and woefully inadequate penmanship. In any case, if my interpretation of his texts is correct, then we may have been traveling within a Background Loop for the past several hours. We are most likely making progress, but with our points of reference skewed, we cannot be certain.
The Wiz: (sobbing quietly, as from far away)
Tuxedo Beak: Do you hear that, Lady Featherfoot?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Issa: I do, Tuxie! It sounds like a human. A young one.
Tuxedo Beak: I think she’s been within earshot since the first time we passed that tree with the hill on top of it.
Issa: Well, we should probably go over there to calm her down… or whatever it takes to shut her up. C’mon, Tuxie! Get one of your razorfish ready, just in case!
DM: The party breaks away from the road and heads over toward the tree. As you draw closer, you can clearly see a young woman sitting in its branches, weeping softly into her hands. Some of you recognize the young woman from the Action Town Criers and their nightly news scrycasts: she is known as The Wiz, spelled with a little heart over the i. She usually wears a cheery white-and-red harlequin suit, but now she seems to be wearing black-and-maroon instead.
Thrimlach: Hmm… Detect Magic! Whoa! That girl is more infused with magic than Imenand is with radiation!
((Sfx: detect magic x2, continue through Imenand’s lines))
Imenand: Well, my embalmed necromages and I have been spending much of our time running experiments upon that organism the empire procured upon the Plane of Plutonium, after all. But for her fragile and fleshy form to house this much energy, something must have altered her physiology. Most humans expire quickly when you put too much of anything into them, after all. Hmm… yes, I see… This young woman is suffused with the energies of the great Mother of Weapons herself! We should retrieve her from that tree and remit her to the Swamp Temple for further examinations.
The Wiz: Aaaa! Don’t get no closer! Weird things’ve been happening all around me ever since that stupid glowing ball talked to me and then the stupid thing with the dragon’s breath happened and… And … And I don’t wanna be no Red Magus of no Circle of Iron Stars no more! Ah-doo-hoo-hoo!
DM: The young mage weeps comically oversized tears, which fall heavily to the grass at the base of the tree, seeming to gain in volume as they fall. The comedy ends with a splash, though. As the pig’s-bladder-sized teardrop makes contact with the grass, a fan of fish-tails sprouts from every conceivable point of the salty orb. Within seconds, the ball of fish-tails has sprouted a long, squidlike tentacle and begun to swim through the fluid medium of the air.
((Sfx: splash, fish-themed chichimec))
Luwok: Oh, Lady Featherfoot! That six-ILDM-diameter ball of fish-tails looks positively scrumptious!
Tuxedo Beak: We ran out of mermaid jerky a long time ago, so I hope this thing will make just as good a traveling snack!
Issa: C’mon, boys! Let’s go bring that ball of fishtails down, all the better to batter it and dunk it in boiling oil!
Luwok: But however will we get all the way up to it? The beast is flying around at the level of the tree’s top!
Issa: Simple! We’re gonna have to jump! (aside) And surreptitiously cast fly on ourselves before we do so. (loud) Now, get your beaks up for Flying Penguin Attack Pattern Delta!
((Sfx: fly, d20 roll x3, fish slap x3))
DM: Issa and her two followers gather their legs and spring surprisingly high into the air before their spell of flight takes over, only to be violently slapped aside by the flailing fishtails. The penguins scatter across the air like bowling pins, flapping their flippers wildly as they try to regain control of their momentum.
Luwok: Oh noooooooo!
Tuxedo Beak: Waaaaaaaak!
Issa: Iiiiiiiii haaaaaaaaaate youuuuuuuuuuu! (Alt: Team WAK-et is blasting off agaaaaaaaain!)
Thrimlach: Ha! That’s what you get for surreptitiously trying to cast a flying spell, you abominable penguins! As for you, mister… er… miss? Uh… Let’s just use the Elvish for this one, since I don’t want to be insensitive and get the monster’s gender wrong. As for you, olphestwa (ol-FEST-wa), for slapping my penguin friends around, you get a PRISMATIC EYE! And let’s also quicken some Delayed Blast Fireballs to stuff into this giant maraca that I just made out of my broken Sir Gnomophone! Now Go! Try to get that thing’s attention, Sir Gnomaraca!
((Sfx: Prismatic Eye, Runes, rattly bones?))
Sir Gnome: (muffled) Yeth, Mathter! But I still can’t see anything.
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Gnomaraca! Vragul, will you do the honors and throw Sir Grenade, here, at the ball of fishtails up there?
Vragul: Vragul KING of honors! VRAGUL KING OF THROW! HEE’YERUGH!
((Sfx: Sir Grenade))
Sir Gnome: Whooaaaaaa!
DM: The bundle of plate mail, gnome bones, and fireballs sails through the air, striking the monster and lodging amongst its many tails. Moments later, the whole area is filled with rushing heat and force and twisted bits of metal and fragments of Sir Gnome.
Sir Gnome: I… I fink I’m okay, Mathter. Can I please have some help putting myself back together now?
Thrimlach: You most certainly may not Sir Gnome. Not only do you make a terrible musical instrument, but now you’ve gone and ruined that set of enchanted dwarven plate mail that I gave you! I think you should spend a little time disassembled, so you can think about what you’ve done.
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
Torrea: Come, Spirit of the Swift Wind! Let us wend our way ’round to the far side of the tree, that we might outflank our foe! Between the penguins in the air, our companions over here, and us over there, the beast will have nowhere safe to flee!
((Sfx: SotSW, galloping away))
Stiev: While Torrea and Sssssssspirit of the Sssssssswift Wind get into possssssitttttttttion, I’ll clumb up thisssss tree, the better to ssssssseizzzzze thisssssss opportunity and sssssssssssneak attack!
((Sfx: SotSW, d20 roll, knives x3))
Smyd: That thing is pretty far up there; I’m not sure I’ll be able to reach it without jumping from the tree or the hill on top of it. Also, what in the hells is that thing?
Imenand: It is a Chichimec: an unwanted, stillborn result of the copulation of an elder elemental with a god. Given the squid arm and the fish tails, I would wager that at least one of this being’s progenitors has a strong connection to the Plane of Water. I studied them long ago, you see, before I had attained full tenure at the Imperial University of All Knowledges.
Smyd: So, it’s a fish-god? Like the one we killed, way back in the Water Temple, when we accidentally time-traveled sixteen thousand years backward, to Brext?
Imenand: No! Not at all like that horrendous thing! That being was a member of the species Homo Piscis, which had somehow consumed the magics of the Temple of Ulm, in an attempt to apotheosize itself! The Chichimec, on the other hand, was born this way.
Smyd: Oh, okay. I’m just gonna climb this tree, then, so I can jump off if the monster flies close enough.
((Sfx: tree branches rustling))
Imenand: Technically, this organism is swimming. Whether liquid or gas, most particles at the proper temperature and pressure, follow the laws of Fluid Dynamics. If a being is moving freely through a fluid medium, then it must be swimming.
Smyd: Fuck you, Mr. Know-it-all. Also, shut up; you’re gonna scare the chichimec away. Lemme hide in this tree in pea—eeee—EEEEEEE!
((Sfx: Wak, sound of a bear falling out of a tree))
DM: As the bear loses his balance and falls out of the tree, the terrifying aquan demi-god flies straight upward—
Stiev: How can it fly ssssssstraight upward, when there’ssssss thissssssss inverted hill ssssssssitting on top of thisssssss tree?
DM: Fine. The terrifying aquan demi-god flies diagonally upward, paralleling the slope of the inverted hill.
Issa: Oshit! It’s moving! Quick, everyone attack while it’s focused more on movement than self-defense!
((Sfx: wak, d20 roll x4, peck x3, knife, chichimec in pain))
DM: Despite a lightning-fast assault of beaks and knives, the Chichimec retreats for two hundred ILDMs, at which point it begins flying circles around a medium-sized cloud. With each completed circuit, the cloud cinches and contracts a little farther, until the water molecules are so compacted that it cannot hope to maintain its gaseous form. The entire cloud hurtles downward in one enormous glob of liquid, hitting the ground and thoroughly drenching everybody in the party. Instead of seeping into the ground to join the water table, though, the wrung-out cloud gathers itself back together, forming a vaguely-humanoid shape that towers a good six ILDMs over Maldreth.
((Sfx: splash, watery sounds, vanish))
Mhorton: That’s one tall glass of water, alright.
Maldreth: It would have to be; I am tall as the trees and old as the seasons, after all. So that Elder Water Elemental must be trees-plus-six-ILDMs tall, if we wish to be precise.
Smyd: Ah, great. Now we’ve got another monster to deal with. Oh, well. At least this one’s on the ground while the other one is— Hey! Where’d the big ball of fish go?
Imenand: It must have turned invisible, as godlike beings are want to do. Especially unwanted, hideous beings such as this one.
Rhomande: Well, I was going to perform a ballad to inspire your courage, but I simply refuse to go onstage with my wardrobe in its current, sodden state! I’m going to find a bush to do some secret elf things behind, and when I come back, I expect both of these monsters to be dead and a fresh costume change to be laid out for me.
((Sfx: fading footsteps, followed by a rustling bush?))
Mhorton: Feh. Elves. Can’t live with ’em, and a long-ass time ago the Empire would’ve died without ’em.
Rhomande: (from a distance) I heard that, Dwarf!
Thrimlach: Meh. That’s actually pretty close to an ancient elven phrase: Leprechinir: nae beota chedaitonto. (LEP-re-kin-eer: nye bee-OH-ta ked-eye-TAWN-to) That roughly translates to, “Suffer not a Dwarf to live.”
Mhorton: Just for that, Thrim, I’m going to see if I can get the aim juuuuuust right, so that when I cast Transmute Fish Tails to Fish Guts, you get splattered with cod livers!
DM: I think you meant to cast Polymorph, Mhorton.
Mhorton: Shut up, voice! I’ll cast whatever spells I want to! Maybe next time I’ll research how to cast Embody Voice, so I can kick your ass!
Stiev: Lookssssss like you’ve really ssssssettled in to the whole “offensssssively defenssssssive vibe” that Sssssssorfinde’sssssss Inssssssssufferable Bassssssterdssssss are known for acrossssssss the planessssssss, Mhorton!
DM: Sigh. Either way, this unwanted, unloved, semi-divine bastard is mostly-immune to shape-changing effects. Instead of turning the ball of fish tails inside out, you’ve merely reversed the direction the fish are facing. Fortunately, you’re all able to see this, so that means that the Chichimec is no longer invisible.
Thrimlach: Ewwww! That Fish King is staring at me!
Issa: I dunno; I kinda like it when I can see the face of whatever I’m eating. Especially if it’s a fish face! You know, fish eyes can add excellent texture and taste to an otherwise mediocre pudding, if we happen to have any. Luwok, you’re the most magical penguin in my retinue. I want you to immediately start researching a spell to Transmute Fish Eyes to Tapioca.
Luwok: Mmmmm! Sounds tasty! Right away, Lady Featherfoot!
Vragul: Uh… Vragul still want defeat big ball thing, but even Vragul no stupid enough for want be King of Fish. Vragul leave that for Aquorc-man.
Yfirma∂r: You not so dumb sometime, Husborc! Aquorc-man ams half-hu-mon, so him perfect candorcdate for be King of Fish. Waaaaaay better than Aqua-Orc. Him no even can swim!
Issa: Ahem. Excuse you, orcs. I believe I am King of Fish.
DM: Gods, I hate this party, sometimes.
Maldreth: Hate us all you want, voice. Once the dwarf has researched his spell of Embodification, I fully intend to use it, that I might inflict the heaviest of penances upon you!
DM: Maldreth, you may want to stop barking at me and look over toward the tree.
Maldreth: Why? All that’s in that direction is the Elder Water Elemen—MMMPFGH! (maldreth gets punched by the Elemental, mid-sentence)
((Sfx: water slam))
DM: Hahaha! I love it when you guys get sucker-punched! Especially by elementals!
Maldreth: Rrrrrrr. I am severely displeased. Fortunately, I know how the laws of physics work on an intimate level, and with the divine power of the Father of War flowing through me, shall I be able to force this water elemental to SUBLIMATE!
Issa: Hoooooo boy. Maldreth, I don’t think that worked out quite the way you intended.
Imenand: Indeed, it did not! Maldreth, you fucking idiot! You’ve just transmogrified this being from an Elder Water Elemental into an Elder Hydrogen-Oxygen Plasma Elemental!
Maldreth: Meh. I didn’t say I was displeased with the elemental. Besides, Father Makar gives fewer demerits to any cadet who hobbles himself or increases the challenges opposing him.
Stil: Hooooo, boy! We gotta find a way to take out those monsters! Fortunately, the Power of the Wild can be carefully channeled in order to restore the balance of mother nature’s internal humors. And so, I’m gonna Banish this plasma elemental back to the Plane of Deep Space where it belongs!
DM: The Druid of the Frozen Summit holds his birchwood staff aloft, threading the invisible strands of creation through the looped eye of his stick, weaving through the air and enveloping the superheated elemental. Stil pulls the threads of his spell tight, squeezing gently at first, but with rapidly mounting force until the shapeless beast slips away through a crack that exists between the right-angles of 5-dimensional space-time.
Stil: And that’s how you get rid of an unwanted elemental! Now, if you want to keep them from coming back, I suggest you put a ring of salt around your property line. Any good druid knows that elementals hate salt.
Tuxedo Beak: I thought it was snails that hated salt, Master Colemanaani.
Stil: Oh, right. I always get those two mixed up. Looks like we’re pretty lucky I picked the right spell this time, then!
Imenand: This has gone on for far too long. That young woman is filled to the eyes with the power of Mëassë, the Mother of Weapons, and I haven’t had the slightest chance to study her! Therefore, I must incapacitate the chichimec with a Quickened Lightning Bolt.
((Sfx: lightning, big thud))
Stiev: I’m not a mage or anything, but don’t you ussssssually casssssst quickened versssssssionssss of sssssspellsssss assssss ssssssecondary actionsssssss, Imenand?
Imenand: Indeed I do, Stiev. I have been using the intervening moments to prepare a WHALE OF THE BANSHEE to pin this new specimen in place, until my retinue of irradiated necromages can properly secure it and return the sample to my private workshop beneath the Swamp Pyramid of Mëassë. Ah, look! They’re already erecting a gateway. It is always good to see the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation’s reclamation procedures being followed so faithfully!
((Sfx: Whale of the Banshee))
Thrimlach: What. Is that sound.
Issa: Who cares about the sound? I’m more worried about that orca that’s plummeting from the sky!
Smyd: Brace for impact!
((Sfx: Whale of the Banshee, chichimec pain, feet gtfo-ing))
DM: Imenand’s Death-Whale hits the chichimec squarely in the face… since it’s got about 3,000 faces, it’s got to have hit at least one squarely. Anyway, the two bodies find themselves tangled up in an inelastic collision, with momentum pulling them inexorably toward the ground. Once the dust settles, you can see Imenand’s 35 necromages erecting the final components of a makeshift portal and preparing to drag the chichimec through it. Meanwhile, the party takes the time to soothe any bruises and take stock of the situation. Just as Rhomande is returning from his “secret elf things” behind a big rock, The Wiz hops down from the tree and strolls up to the party, gawking all the while at the 6-foot-diameter ball of fish heads and the beached orca lying on top of it.
((shuffling mummy feet x35, gateway, dragging a Huge body through it?))
The Wiz: Wow! That thing was in my eye? Jeez, maybe I oughta take Pally a little more seriously when she gives all those sermons about the holiness of hygiene or whatever. Oh! Hey, uh… Mister Blindfold? Now that you guys have helped me out with that little bit of distress, could you help me get back to Sahn Daskaar? I’m kinda afraid to ask the mummy or the ogre-priest.
Thrimlach: Yeah. Sure. Whatever, kid. Gateway. Now go away, before I send Sir Gnome with you.
((Sfx: portal sounds start))
Sir Gnome: But if you send me with her, Mathter, then how will you play me as a musical instrument for Mathter Thorfinde’s sister’s birthday party?
Thrimlach: Shut up, Sir Shrapnel!
Sir Gnome: Yeth, Mathter.
The Wiz: Thanks, Mr. Blindfold! I hope your musical instrument gets better at playin’ itself! Bye-bye! Oh, wait… Crap! I forgot to get Rhomande’s autograph! Nooooooooo!
((Sfx: portal sounds end))
DM: Once the portal closes and The Wiz’ unexamined magical nature can no longer warp the local reality, the Scottalian countryside settles back down, the tree goes back to sitting on top of the hill instead of vice-versa, and you find yourselves about three miles from the Acoustica county line.
Rhomande: Well, it’s still another hour and a half beyond that to Pamande’s homestead, but it’s getting late, and there happens to be a town with a charming, little inn nearby.
Mhorton: I bet it’s some weird elven treehouse inn, where they make you sleep on a pile of twigs or something.
Rhomande: You’ll take what you get and shut up about it, where inns are concerned. Besides, I have to pee, and the longer I take doing that, the less I’ll have to see my parents.
Scene 6: Acoustica
DM: The sun is hovering about a hand’s breadth above the horizon by the time you arrive in the hamlet of Acoustica. Your first stop in town is at The Hammock Tavern & Stove, the town’s only Inn.
Mhorton: Ha! I told you it’d be a weird elven treehouse inn! Look at how it’s suspended between those two massive oaks! Though, I’ve got to admire the ropework that’s keeping the building up in the air like that.
Smyd: Ah, crap. More tree-climbing? Alright, everybody up.
DM: You heard the bear. Give me some climb checks.
((Sfx: rope ladder, d20 roll x10))
DM: When you finally make it into the Hammock, the bustle and noise of a town’s only taphouse falls silent, as all present patrons and staff turn to gape at the strangers who have just climbed the tree into their bar. This moment of surprised suspicion doesn’t last long, though.
((Sfx: Strangers walk into a Saloon moment))
Pamande: Bromande, my sweet boy! I say, you’ve finally made it back home! I am so glad to see you, son! My oh my, you haven’t grown a single reed since I saw you last! And these must be all of your bandmates, to help play the traditional Acoustican Nameday Hoedown for my peerlessly-beloved daughter’s 216th birthday party. I’ve heard so much about y’all from my dear boy, here! Or rather, I’ve heard some of those fancy operas he wrote about y’all. To be honest, they’re too gaudy for my tastes, but nevertheless, I am still quite proud of my son!
Stiev: Who issssss thissssss guy?
Pamande: Oh, my deepest apologies, Miss Stiev. I was so swept up in the return of my prodigal son that I forgot to make proper introductions. I am Pamande Mulkafinde, most famous pig-farmer in all of Northern Scottalia! Y’see, our family’s been raising the finest pigs in all the land, ever since before the War of Southern Aggression, but my boy went and broke tradition and became a bard, so we threw him out without a penny to his name, in the hopes that someday he’d come back having learned a valuable lesson about the sanctity of tradition and the nobility of pig-farming.
Issa: Wait, wait, wait. Back up. Did you just say that your son’s name is Bromande?
Pamande: Indeed it is, Miss Issa! Come, perch upon these wooden seats, modestly sip your watered-down libations and enjoy your evening as I tell you all about the traditional Acoustican naming conventions. You see, my captive audience, Acoustican names concurrently describe relationships within a familial power matrix, professions, and hairstyles…
Scene 7: Credit where Credit is Due
Thrimlach: 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 Illiterable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Me–Thrimlach Lenanien @Thrimlach, Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW.
Rhomande: The 20-Sided Theatre is a joint Production of Bear Industries and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Tony Scaruffi. With special thanks to Jon Abinante, Jim Kolling, and Mike Solso for the use of Smyd Kaltrops the Half-Bear Monk, Stil Colemanaani the Druid of the Frozen Summit, and Vragul King of Things.
Issa: Tonight’s episode was written by Rudraigh Quattrin and 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…
Stiev: Join usssssss nexxxxxt time at The 20-Ssssssssided Theatre!
Scene 8: The Tag
((Sfx: music bed))
Izreanna: Hello, my brother’s beloved audience! I am Izreanna Alafinde, slam-dancer extraordinaire, here to remind you to support the arts! If my traditional Acoustican upbringing is to be believed, then art is all around us. Life creates it; makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us; it binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the arts around you, between you, me, the tree, the rock. Everywhere! Just listen to my beloved daughter, as she practices on her violin!
((Sfx: music stops))
Helema: Mooooom! Are you almost done recording this public service scrycast? Unca’ Rho wants me to organize all of his trousers on a color wheel this evening, and if I don’t get started in the next hour or two, then I won’t be able to finish before he wakes up tomorrow afternoon.
Izreanna: Helema, who told you to stop playing? Your uncle can organize his own fucking pants. Or if he really wants a hand with it, he can use your twin brother, Jaisin. He plays the spoons, after all, and if spoon-playing qualifies as art, it’s only barely.
Helema: (Sigh) Yes, mom. I’ll get back to the violin.
((Sfx: music starts again))
Izreanna: Much better, dearie! You were always the more obedient of my two children. Also, you’re the one who takes after me, rather than your father, so I expect more out of you than Jaisin. Honestly, when I told him to study the arts, I never expected him to take up the magical arts. I’ll bet the next thing we hear about him is that he’s taken up studying with that eyeless weirdo, Thrimlach. Honestly, your uncle has the worst taste in companions. Plus, I’m pretty sure that studying magic earns you a Degree of Sciences from all the major Imperial universities. But anyway, we’re supposed to be talking about the arts here, not the sciences. Here are my bandmates, the Red Hand Minstrel Assassins, to tell you about the many acceptable forms of art.
Zolov: Wells, firsts off, yous needs to studsies hows to makes musikks. Musikks is the oldstest, most commons forms of arts, across alls culstures and specksies.
Joren: You could also study painting, the second-oldest art form! Remember, if it doesn’t look like what you intended, you can always just claim that your subject matter is abstract.
Ragnaroctopus: My favorite art forms are sculpture and construction. When you’ve got as many hands as I do, you need waaaaaaay more work to keep them from going idle. Hauling massive blocks of stone or 40-ILDM lengths of truss will make sure that no devil, demon, or devious outsider can make use of your idle hands!
Shakes: Or you cans dances! Dancings ams always fun! Expressially if you has extstras leg, like Centaur do!
((Sfx: hooves, maracca swords))
Izreanna: However, incidental percussion instruments, such as the maracas or the tambourine are distinctly neither music nor art. We have been the Red Hand Minstrel Assassins, reminding you to visit your local tax collector today, to support all of the wonderful Imperially Vetted Public Arts Programs available in your community!