The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode 29: Scottalia’s HardXcorE Strikers, featuring Moonslice
Scottalia’s HardXcorE Strikers
Godric Goodfellowe, a Lycanthropic Paladin – Gabriel Abinante
Elrenaar Wolfrond, and his Companion Moonslice – Cian Quattrin
Westley, a Pantsless Halfling – Natalie Abinante
Grorque Jorsten, a Cleric of Aigh Dubbil Yukay with a Huge Mace – Blake Parker
Thelindrias Ratkin, a Lycanthropic Ascetic Hunter – Rudraigh Quattrin
Yavië Sindara, a Red-Robed Witch – Ceridwen Quattrin
Jonorcthan Coultorc, a Half-Orc Bard/Sorcerorc – Tony Scaruffi
The DM – Rud
Rhomande – Rud
Jaisin Hamsson, Rhomande’s Nephew – Tony Scaruffi
Ratoul, the Most Interesting Dire Rat in the Planes – Cian
Talek, a doomed bat-man guide – Gabe
Thrimlach – Cian
Issa – Ceridwen
Credits: Mhorton, Rho, Issa, Imenand, Maldreth – Tony, Rud, Ceridwen, Blake, Gabe
Professor Slide – Cian
Sam Sonar – Ceridwen
Mayo, a Pitt Musician – Blake
Mosh – Blake
The Mason – Rud
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, Unknowable, 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: Introductions
Rhomande: Oh, how good it is to be back, my beloved audience! Honestly, how could you not tell that I had been replaced by a version of my sister from a now-destroyed universe? Didn’t you see me as The Brando when I last trod the great boards of the Dodecahedron Theatre? Ah, well. Speaking of the Imperial Theatre Society, I must admit that I am beginning to worry just a little for the safety of the Holy City of Sahn Daskaar, Crown Jewel of the Empire. I have a winter home there, you see. But it will take my Insufferable Basterds some indeterminate amount of non-time to traverse the network of tunnels and tubes that run beneath and between realities––at least, that’s what our resident Irresponsible Portalmancer says. So, rather than bore you with the details of a run-of-the-mill transcosmic journey, we proudly introduce you to your final band of protagonists. And they’re Scottalians this time! Well… half of them are. In any case, it is my pride and joy to introduce… oh, dear Lords of the Dance! This cannot possibly be their registered colloquial designation. Ugh. Well, I’ll just make a quick edit to the script here… It is my pain and misery to introduce Mixed-Species Task Force Number 77169, known more commonly as “Scottalia’s HardXcorE Strikers, featuring Moonslice”.
((Sfx: quill scratching))
Rhomande: Godric Goodfellowe! Born and raised in Slumberton, Central Scottalia, this Paladin of Gomas the Lawbringer was inflicted with Lycanthropy shortly after the unexpected death of his dearest friend and squire, the halfling Whistlethorpe. Despite his affliction, Godric never wavered from his senses of legality and morality, so the Lawful Orderhood of Gomas rewarded him first with the honor of not being cast out for turning into a giant rat, and secondly by choosing him to bear Sanction, the great sword of Lowra Weaverra, the First Justicar ever annointed in our fair island nation.
Godric: Oh, Whistlethorpe! I shall travel the Empire in your honor, righting wrongs and spreading the Law of Gomas. Of course, we will need to get out of this cavern complex first.
Rhomande: Elrenaar Wolfrond, accompanied by his faithful lupine companion Moonslice! Though, I’m not sure how much I can trust a druid who spends more time in the shape of a wolf than in the shape of an elf. Fortunately, no matter how distasteful it might be for Elrenaar to parade around in his fur like that, Moonslice is always such a good boy! Yes he is! Let’s see… I’ve got some pilfered mermaid jerky around here somewhere…
Elrenaar: Onward, friends! Moonslice has picked up a scent down that tunnel to the left. Hopefully it leads back up to the surface.
Rhomande: Every adventuring party needs a bard, and this group has ticked that box! Unfortunately, they decided to hire a half-orc to fill the role. Even less fortunately, he didn’t just study the bardic traditions; apparently he graduated from the Imperial Academy of Municipal Adventurers with a Minor in Sorcery. And least fortunately, I must admit that Jonorcthan Coultorc is actually quite good. Ah… I wish there could have been a bluff check there.
Coultorc: Me just write funny song bout office workorc who no cansfind love. You see, it funny because office kind of make-up place only find in story and pixie tale!
Rhomande: Westley, a halfling whose life cannot encompass the deployment of trousers. Fortunately for Wes, we here at the Twenty-Sided Theatre are all too polite to look. Fortunately for us, the worlds show us myriad groin-enshrouding garments, many of which are not even technically pants!
Westley: There’s no time for pants! At least, that’s what Grorque yelled when you guys dug in through my roof. Luckily there was time to grab my flying carpet.
Rhomande: Grorque Jorsten, Cleric of Aigh Dubbil Yukay, god of Parties and Positive Reinforcement! This human servant of the divine has kept his friends whole and healthy ever since Godric brought him the two halves of Whistlethorpe’s body, in hopes of a miracle.
Grorque: Some wounds are just beyond regular healing. And some souls just know when it’s their time to slip back into the stream and wash away the grime of this life in preparation for the next. But until that happens, it is your duty to live by the most sacred of Aigh Dubbil Yukay’s commandments!
Westley: Was it, “No time for pants”?
Grorque: Close, Westley, but not quite. The Greatest Commandment is, “When the time of the Party is uponst you, thou shalt always Party Exuberantly.”
Rhomande: Thelindrias Ratkin, an Ascetic Hunter! This elf was bitten by wererats at the same time that Godric contracted the old skin-turning disease. Fortunately, his companion Ratoul, the most interesting dire rat in all the planes, was an excellent tutor in the ways of vermindom.
Thelindrias: If-a you guys would-a like, Ratoul and I can-a scout ahead. I’m-a pretty a-sure we canna-slip-a-through some-a-da cracks in-a that pile of fallen a-rocks that we passed a while a-back.
Rhomande: Yavië Sindara, an elven witch who has seen fit to take my nephew Jaisin under her tutelage.
((Sfx: spoon music))
Yavië: We’d best not split the party. But if you want some scouting done via magic, then Jaisin and I can… we can… Jaisin, stop playing those spoons!
Jaisin: But my mom says that if I can’t play an instrument or if I can’t play it well, then I’m out of the family! Even my dad plays the mouth harp!
Yavië: Two things. One: your dad is a pig-man, and the tusks somehow give him an advantage with the mouth harp. Two: spoons are utensils, not instruments.
Rhomande: And that opinion about spoons is why I trust Yavië ceatha∂an with the education of my least unfavorite nephew. 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: Deep in the Dark
DM: For the past five months, your Task Force has been on an Imperial mission to the newly contacted world of Yaraí. Unfortunately, your–ahem–“scouting” of local politics and intercity relationships got a little too personal and you became a little too involved in the fates of the peaceful, fruit-eating bat-people of the Weyalar Jungle. Thanks to you, their tribe is now safely relocated in the underground cave network on this continent; unfortunately, that safe hiding necessitated collapsing the largest ingress from the surface, and means that you have no easy way back up. Luckily, Talek, your guide, is still with you, and he knows these caves like the backs of his wings.
Talek: Indeed, I do, mister voice! I used to play in these caves as a child, when my siblings and I were able to sneak off and go exploring.
Westley: Well, you were the guy who found those Azurestone Caves for your people to move their village to.
Godric: “To which your people moved their village,” Westley. All laws are important to uphold, and grammar is a branch of law.
Coultorc: So, how we go for surr-face now? Witchy Elf and Piglet Elf ams break cavemouth so us no cans go back.
Talek: Well, the ruins of the ancient Deep Elf City of Faíre Síoraí (Fair Shor-EYE) are just another two or three kilometers down this corridor. The old stories say that those dastards used to raid the surface all the time before the Uncovering of Eyes and the Great Disaster. So there’s got to be a way out. Maybe a few ways out, if the Deep Elves were as secretive and paranoid as the old stories say.
Godric: Excellent! I think. Hm… Maths are an important set of laws as well. Talek, if I may ask, how does one convert kilometers into Imperial Linear Decimal Marcators?
DM: Talek and Godric discuss conversion rates while you traverse the relatively short distance. After a little more than half an hour, you round the next turn in the cavern complex, the earth heaves beneath you. A thunderous crack rings out, and you are showered with collapsing stones. Give me some saves.
((Sfx: many d20))
Godric: <cough, cough> Everybody sound off! And wail in agony if you need the healing hands of Godric Goodfellowe laid upon you.
Elrenaar: <cough, cough> WHAT’D YOU SAY, GODRIC? THAT CRACK WAS PRETTY LOUD. I THINK I MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO HEAR SO WELL.
Westley: You don’t need to shout, Elrenaar. Godric said only to yell if you need healing. Speaking of which, YEEEEEEEOWCH! My leg is crushed by a fallen stalactite!
Grorque: I’m here with you, Westley. You’re gonna be just fine, buddy. Let’s roll this stone off your leg so that the hallowed light of Aigh Dubbil Yukay may get your pantsless legs back onto the proverbial dance floor! H’urrrgh! Uh… This is quite a heavy stalactite.
Coultorc: No worry, Grorque! Me ams here for Inspire! You! Strong-th!
((Sfx: wtf does JoCo play? Piano?))
Thelindrias: Great a-thinking, a-Coultorc! Here, I’ll-a help-a you lift-a-the stone, Grorque. It’s-a pretty heavy a-still, so I’ll-a ask-a Ratoul if he canna scurry under there and-a move-a Westley’s crushed a-leg. Ahem. (makes rat sounds)
Westley: What did Ratoul just say?
Thelindrias: He said-a he’ll a-do it, and-a he’ll avert-a his eyes since-a you’re not-a wearing any-a pants.
((Sfx: NO TIME FOR PANTS!, quiet/in distance/refrain/chorus/ceremonial response))
Westley: Oh! How polite of him! Now, can we get this process started before I slip any deeper into shock?
Grorque: Of course we can! On three, Thelindrias. One. Two… Three! (grunt of effort) There! Now you’re free, Westley! And now you can rest under the life-confirming lampshade of the Great Partier, Aigh Dubbil Yukay!
Westley: Ah, so much better! Thanks, Grorque! I can walk again!
Yavië: You two do know that Jaisin and I could easily have moved that medium-sized stalactite with a few spells, right? Actually, we could have used our witch-magics to reconstruct Westley’s leg, too. You boys didn’t have to be all testosteroney and back-strainey.
Jaisin: Indeed, Mistress Yavië. Alternatively, I could have just bitten Wes to make them stronger and more resilient. That’s why grandpa Porcissimus bit me on my thirteenth birthday! At least, that’s why he said he did it.
Coultorc: Hey, Piglet Elf! You ams have doubleborn sistorc, right? Ams she werepig, too? Because… me think you tusk very pretty, but you not quite me type.
Jaisin: Nah, my sister’s way stronger and more resilient than I am, so she didn’t need any toughening up.
Godric: Hrm… that’s almost everybody. Do any of you see Talek?
((Sfx: many d20))
Elrenaar: I think Moonslice caught his scent! Where is he, boy? We’re already lower than the bottom of the nearest well, so Talek can’t have fallen far.
DM: Moonslice lopes off into the settling dust cloud and bids you follow. He leads you through the haze, and within moments you find Talek. Unfortunately, your guide has been crushed to death, and the stones which committed this murder now block the tunnel that heads back to the bat-people’s village.
Yavië: Well, I guess there’s only one reasonable course of action at… this… point….
Grorque: You and Jaisin use your fancy witch-magics to move all these rocks, so we can bear Talek back home and lay him to rest with his ancestors? Uh… hello? Yavië?
Coultorc: Witch-elf look like she no feel so good. She all straight-standy-uppy.
Westley: It’s not just Yavië. Jaisin seems to be affected, too. Maybe it has something to do with their witch-bond?
Godric: I doubt it. The same force seems to be afflicting Thelindrias and Elrenaar, as well.
DM: Suddenly, the elves all snap their heads backwards, eyes staring blankly toward the ceiling of the cave. A long, slow moment later, they engage their vocal chords and speak in unison.
((begin Same audio from Episode 13))
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.
((end Same audio from Episode 13))
Godric: A plea for aid from the Emperor himself? We must respond quickly to this terrible honor! For the first edict laid down by Gomas the Lawbringer was that each sapient being must aid his fellows whenever possible.
Coultorc: Me agree. Plus, us save emperorc make much bettorc song than us go back for tell Talek family he dead.
Westley: We should at least, I dunno, bury Talek and mark his grave or something. Plus, all the elves look like they might need to take a few minutes to recover from the magic that made them all talk in creepy unison.
Grorque: Agreed. We will erect a cairn for Talek and say a few benedictions for him, before his gods receive him into the Final Celebration.
Godric: Strikers, let us break for a brief funeral! And let us break out the rations for the reception, that we might properly remember our friend. But after that, we must make haste to those ancient Deep Elf ruins Talek mentioned, so we can find a way to the surface and return to Sahn Daskaar!
Scene 3: A Word From Our Sponsors
Thrimlach: Hi. Has this ever happened to you?
Issa: Ewww! I’ve got sticky honey all over my flippers!
Sir Gnome: I’ve got to hurry home to Mathter wif all this toasted oat in my head, or else he’ll disassemble me again.
Issa: Oh no! Licking it off went terrrrrrrribly wrong! Now the honey is sticking my flippers to my eyes!
Sir Gnome: Whoops! I tripped, and now I’m all wobbly from being so top heavy! Look out, Lady Featherfoot! Whoooaa!
Issa: Sir Gnome, is that —ooof!
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Scene 4: The Gates of Faíre Síoraí
DM: A few hours later, you’ve paid your respects to Talek’s spirit and made great progress in your trek toward the ruins of Faíre Síoraí. You emerge from a tunnel into a 40-ILDM-wide cavern where a deep, dry moat sprawls out before you, with a 60-ILDM suspension bridge spanning across. On the far side, a pair of 30-ILDM high, black iron gates lays torn and broken on the ground, rusted and pitted with age. Beyond, the long-dead city of Faire Síoraí waits patiently in the still darkness of the cave complex.
Godric: Come, Strikers! We must cross this span quickly, that we might save the emperor! Fortunately, dire rats are quite good at climbing, so this will prove little challenge to Godric Goodfellowe! Squeak!
((Sfx: lycanthropic transformation))
Thelindrias: Quite-a so, friend-a Godric! Come, a-Ratoul! We must away to-a-the far-a side of-a-the chasm! A-Squeak!
((Sfx: lycanthropic transformation))
DM: The three dire rats scurry down the side of the chasm, climbing nimbly from perch to perch. When they reach the bottom, they turn left and follow the wall around the perimeter of the moat until they reach the far side, whereupon they run along the wall until they can scamper straight upward to the terminus of the suspension bridge.
((Sfx: reverse lycanthropic transformation))
Godric: Come over, Strikers! There seems to be nothing remarkably dangerous on this side!
Yavië: Yeah, uh… about that. Not all of us are rats. In fact, the rat population is a distinct minority in the makeup of this group.
Jaisin: So what should we do, Yavië? That suspension bridge looks terribly dangerous.
Yavië: Yeah, no. We’re not using that rickety old death trap. Instead, we’ll do the same thing we do every time we have to get past an enormous hole: Move Earth!
((Sfx: Move Earth))
DM: Rather than trust to the ancient bridge constructed by some long-dead Deep Elves, Yavië raises her arms into the air, hands cupped upward. A dusky orange light surrounds her as she uses her witchcraft to delve deep into the ground and heave up a series of pillars to serve as a causeway.
Coultorc: (sarcastic) Great go, witchy-elf. Now instead of us need balance on bridge, us ams need balance on rock instead.
Westley: In her defense, though, those plinths are wider than the rope bridge.
Elrenaar: Moonslice just pointed out that since Yavië’s causeway wasn’t built by Drow, it’s way less likely to collapse from under us at the least opportune moment.
Grorque: No need to be worried about making your way across, Coultorc! Even if you weren’t already fully capable on your own, the great Aigh Dubbil Yukay would still usher you across with his GUIDANCE!
((Sfx: Guidance, 5d20))
DM: As the rest of you reach the far side of the moat, you can make out a small door worked cunningly into the gate’s foundations. If the Deep Elves built cities like just about everybody else has throughout history, it probably leads to a guard post.
Grorque: Sounds worth investigating.
Godric: Agreed, Reverend Jorsten! Onward and inward, Strikers!
DM: The first room of the guard post has been fought in and picked over many times since the city’s demise, apparently. An assortment of weapons, tools, and bones lays broken across the floor. A desk sits near the far wall. Two stone doors silently flank the desk.
Grorque: That is a lot of debris. And I’m pretty sure most of these broken bits of weaponry weren’t built by the ancient Deep Elves. For example, look at this scimitar’s lack of symmetry, its absurd weight, and its horribly beaten and pitted finish. Obviously orc craftsmanship. Or this plain-yet-serviceable spearhead: human work, if I ever saw it.
Godric: Hmmm…We ought to tidy this place up a bit. Maybe separate out all the bones as best we can and give each of these poor souls a proper send-off to the afterlife.
Westley: Yeah, because when you leave bones all over the floor like this, you’re likely to end up with ants.
Coultorc: Bone no orc-ttract ant, no-pants half-thing. Bone orc-ttract ghost.
Godric: In either case, we should still tidy this place.
Elrenaar: Yeah, we don’t want to end up being haunted by some giant ant-people ghosts or whatever.
DM: You start sifting through the debris, and within a quarter hour you’ve identified a baker’s dozen skulls and started to separate the bones into proper funerary piles.
Jaisin: Hunh… This robe seems to be the only thing that’s not completely rotten. Doesn’t seem worth much, but maybe my uncle can use it for stage costuming. Just gotta shake the skeleton out before I put it on. Oh, hey! Look! It’s even got a sweet pointy hat to go with it!
DM: Jaisin quickly and Rhomandily dons the ancient garment. When he finishes, you can barely see the half-elf’s face, since he has the collar of the robe popped up and the wide brim of the hat turned down. But you can still make out the glow in his eyes as he works minor magics to clean the garment and tidy the room.
Thelindrias: Hel—lo! Ratoul and I think-a we’ve found-a something.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
DM: On the east wall, a hidden door slides away to reveal a set of stairs leading up to a landing.
Godric: We shall investigate that staircase in a moment. First, we must invoke Rasia and Gomas, givers of Life and Law, who first domesticated the speaking peoples of Scottalia and taught us the Ways of Communal Harmony. We must invoke them and we must beseech them to look after these thirteen souls, to usher them to whatever reward or punishment awaits in the Halls of Death.
Westley: Is… Is he done? Was that the prayer? Or was he just talking about how he was gonna pray?
Godric: That was the prayer, Westley. Now you may proceed, Thelindrias.
Thelindrias: Urrrgh… It’s not opening. It might be locked?
Yavië: It’s not opening because you’re pushing with your shoulder, when you ought to be pushing with an Irresistible Force!
((Sfx: magic, door shattering, alarm))
DM: Yavië gathers magical energies and channels them through herself, letting them well within the billabong that is her soul, before releasing a torrent of force that shatters both the door and a large chunk of the masonry around it. She also sets off a magical alarm that might be older than all of your ages summed together and then cubed.
Coultorc: AAAAGH! SOUND TOO LOUD! ME NO ABLE FOR HEAR ME OWN THINKS!
Westley: Stop yelling, Coultorc! I… I think I can hear something. It sounds like four and a half house cats scurrying around on a marble floor.
((Sfx: alarm fades, shuffling rats-in-walls sounds creep in))
DM: As the alarm fades, you can confirm Wesley’s suspicion. You hear a shuffling and a scratching inside the walls, but you’re not given much time to reflect on what might cause such a sound. The north wall of the next room suddenly convulses, then before you know it fragments of ancient bricks are flying through the air and three fox-sized cockroaches bound into the room.
((Sfx: exploding stone, giant roaches))
Yavië: Oh, dear gods. What. The fuck. Is going on with their eyes?
DM: As the dust clears and you get a better view, you find that the roaches’ each of the hexagonal cells in their compound eyes is empty, an acrid smoke wafting from the gaping vents in the vermin’s heads.
Jaisin: Oh… shit. I thought Uncle Rho was making up at least 70% of the stories he told about the demons with no eyes. Hopefully these things can’t— (hopefully these things can’t fire chaos rays yet)
Ratoul: (interrupting/warning) Esthquique!
((Sfx: rays of destruction))
DM: While Jaisin is talking, the three cat-sized roaches seem to draw in breath and puff themselves up like filth-spreading pigs’ bladders, but instead of breathing out a mixture of carbon and oxygen, they instead dispel around 12,000 tiny, fanning rays of entropic energy from the empty facets of their eye clusters.
Thelindrias: Thanks for-a-the warning, a-Ratoul! Because-of your-a sharp eyes and-a quick a-squeaking, Godric and I were able to shift-a into-the-rat form and-a duck under most-a-the rays.
Godric: Oof. I agree with your sentiment of “most of the rays”, Thelindrias. I took a blow, but I yet live, which means that I have followed the First Law of the Orderhood: don’t die. Now I must see to the Second Law: Do not let your friends die. How are those of you who cannot understand Dire Rat?
Yavië: Jaisin and I are unscathed. Largely thanks to his powers of observation and reaction. Honestly, I’ve never seen a shield go up that fast! Where’d you learn to do that, Jaisin?
Jaisin: Eh… it’s something I had to pick up in Wizard College. Mom wanted me to join a secret society; she said it was so I could network in my future career, but I think she just wanted to be able to play a venue that my uncle wouldn’t be allowed into.
Godric: The correct syntax is “into which my uncle wouldn’t be allowed,” Jaisin. The Laws of Grammar tell us not to dangle our participles. Despite that, I am relieved that you two are unscathed. How did the rest of you fare?
Westley: I’m a little charred, and now I’m missing a part of my shirt. Plus I still have no pants.
((Sfx: NO TIME FOR PANTS))
Elrenaar: I shifted into fox shape when Ratoul gave the warning, but Moonslice wasn’t able to downsize. Yes, yes. It’s okay, buddy. I’m here with you, boy. Just let me focus the healing light of nature to get you back on your paws.
((Sfx: heal, followed by moonslice?))
Westley: Oh, no! I think Coultorc took a direct hit!
Coultorc: (groans of pain)
Grorque: My shield is thoroughly ruined, but my god has not yet seen fit to call me to the Great Afterparty.
Godric: Grorque, you stitch up Coultorc. Jaisin, you are charged with magical shield duty; keep those chaos rays from hitting anybody else. Yavië, I want you, Elrenaar, and Moonslice to take the roach on the left. Westley, you go with Thelindrias and Ratoul to assault the roach on the right.
Westley: What’ll you do, Godric?
Godric: I shall do as the Lawful Orderhood of Gomas has taught me: I shall lead the assault in the center. Now… Hardcore Scottalians…
Godric: Westley: Thelindrias: Grorque: Coultorc: Jaisin: Yavië: Elrenaar: STRIKE FOR THE EMPIRE!
DM: The party breaks into four groups, each setting about their tasks with gravity and determination. Yavië breaks left, flanked by her lupine companions, while a miniature version of the scene plays out to the right, as Westley takes off with the dire rats. Unfortunately, all progress is cut short when two of the Dire Roaches of the Hungering End spray forth more fans of entropic energy.
((Sfx: chaos rays))
Jaisin: Fortunately, uncle Rho and his friends gave me the best training available, when it comes to double-casting SWIFT SHIELDS!
((Sfx: mage shield x2, energy ray deflection))
Westley: Whew! That was close! I sure am glad your mom paid your uncle to help you get into that fraternity at Wizard College, Jaisin.
Jaisin: Right now, I’m just happy the third roach didn’t spray its destruction spell, too. I’m not sure I can sustain more than two shields at a time. As it is, I’m only protecting Grorque and Coultorc by standing in front of them.
Godric: And the third harbinger of chaos shall ne’er have the chance to fire its rays, for it shall fall to mine mighty smiting Sanction!
((Sfx: d20, smite, great sword crit))
DM: The wererat paladin of Gomas leaps across the 20-ILDM room in a single bound, using his descent to add a little extra force to the massive overhand strike of his sanctified greatsword. The blade erupts in white-hot flames as it rends open the enormous cockroach’s carapace, and the holy fire quickly spreads throughout the soft, gooey innards of the chaos bug, consuming its tendons and viscera and animating spirit.
Coultorc: Me… no feel… me face… Ams that bad thing, Grorque?
Grorque: It’s okay, Coultorc. You’ll be in perfect health very soon. Now that the candles and the offerings of beer and pixie dust are properly situated, the power of the great Aigh Dubbil Yukay shall flow through my corporeal vessel into thee, stitching thine wounds and bidding thee RISE AND RETURN TO THE PARTY!
Coultorc: (sharp intake of air as you’re being healed) Ouuuuuwch. Me chest feel like it ams just un burned backworc.
Grorque: That’s pretty much what just happened, buddy!
Elrenaar: Come, Moonslice! I’ll join you in wolf form and together we will wipe these twisted and tortured organisms from beneath the skin of the earth!
((Sfx: shapeshift, moonslice))
DM: The druid and his enormous wolf spring forward, breaking away from each other at the last moment, to flank their enemy. Moonslice snaps his mighty jaws at the chaos roach, driving it back toward Elrenaar’s expectant maw. The elf-in-wolf’s-clothing clamps down as swiftly as he can, but the troll’s-boot-sized insect opens its wings and flutteringly hops away from its attackers.
((Sfx: d20 roll, snapping jaws, brief bug wings))
Elrenaar: (spits) Pthfeh! I managed to take off two of its right legs, at least. But this thing tastes awful. It’s like it died in a swamp, got digested by a crocodile, and then came down here to harass us.
Yavië: Godric, are you still detecting alignments?
Godric: Indeed, I am Yavië. The paladins of Gomas are ever vigilant! These creatures are not truly evil, though they are both the spawn and agents of chaos.
Yavië: Excellent! I had hoped that wasn’t what those entropy rays were suggesting. Fortunately, I have studied with the Witches of the Imperial Parliament of the Eternal Source, and they always taught that best way to combat chaos and entropy is to reestablish order, down to a quintessential level. And since minerals are the most orderly of elements, I’ll try to transmogrify this vermin’s Flesh to Crustal!
DM: Yavië draws the invisibly gleaming threads of elementalist witchery into herself until she is brimming with as much power as she can hold. In a cerulean flash, she hurls her spell at the four-legged roach as it attempts to hop away from Elrenaar and Moonslice. The insect glows with blue light as its petrifying body sails through the air. The beast comes down hard, shattering into ten major pieces when it makes contact with the ancient marble floor.
((Sfx: flesh to stone, crash/shattering rocks))
Coultorc: Many thank, Witchy Elf! Me ams always like see statuorc get borkend, and you just inspiroc me next song! In return, me inspiroc you courage with me Upright Pianorc!
Grorque: Maybe you’d better sit back down, Jonorcthan. We left the upright piano back in Sahn Daskaar, before we came to this world.
Coultorc: That orkay. All bard know how for Summon Instrorcment!
((Sfx: summon upright piano))
Westley: So, Ratoul… You’re the most well-traveled dire rat in the Empire. Any advice on how should we proceed without getting fried by those spraying eye-rays?
Westley: Um… I guess I forgot that it’s gnomes who can speak with burrowing animals. I’m a halfling. Can you please translate that for me, Thelindrias?
Thelindrias: Of course-a, my short, a-pantsless friend! One moment-a, though. Ratoul’s a-plan seems-a good in-a-the theory, but-a-the tone of-a-his voice and-a-the mauve edges around-a his aura belie-a his lack of-a-the full confidence. A-Squeak-a-squeak?
((Sfx: NO TIME FOR PANTS))
Ratoul: (a few seconds of rat sounds)
Thelindrias: (a few seconds of rat sounds)
Ratoul: (a few seconds of different rat sounds)
Thelindrias: A-Squeak. Okay-a, Westley. Do you a-still have-a-the flying a-carpet?
Westley: Always! It’s how I keep up with you long-legged folks.
Thelindrias: Bravo! You a-go high, Ratoul and I will-a go low.
DM: Westley jumps atop their flying carpet, rising two-thirds of the way to the 9.5-ILDM ceiling. Meanwhile, Thelindrias and Ratoul charge the remaining chaos roach, maneuvering it toward the room’s nearest corner. The roach doesn’t like this, so it lowers its head and sprays another fan of destructive rays toward the ascetic hunter and the well-traveled dire rat.
((Sfx: chaos rays, mage shield))
Jaisin: But I’m still on shield duty! And this job is way easier now that Coultorc’s healed and two of our attackers are dead.
Godric: For those of you who cannot understand the Dire Rat tongue, our esteemed comrade just announced that everything is going according to plan.
Ratoul: ESTHQUIQUE, Weeeeeeek!
Godric: Now, Westley!
Westley: That roach made a huge mistake when it lowered its head to hit my rat friends! As my violenceball coach used to say, “If you can see the floor, you’re about to get clobbered!” Yah!
DM: Westley hurls themself down from the flying carpet, wrapping the chaos roach up in a full-body tackle. The halfling swiftly takes the insect’s back, forcing its head and blaster-eyes down with their left hand, while simultaneously grasping at the edge of the roach’s shell with their right. Westley nimbly flips the enemy over beneath them, exposing its soft underbelly to a pair of quick and flashing knives.
((Sfx: d20 roll, tackle, prison-shank-style hits))
Westley: (catching breath) And that… should do it… Whew! Great plan, Ratoul!
Godric: I would never have been able to say it better than that, my friend! Okay, Strikers. This ancient ruin of a Deep Elf city appears to be quite dangerous, so I propose we make camp here for a bit, while Thelindrias and Ratoul scout the ruins beyond this gatehouse. You all know your camp duties, so I expect an orderly line of tents and a latrine marked out in the next third of an hour. And, as Gomas the Lawbringer teaches, let us never forget the most important sentences for adventurers: I owe my life to my friends; I am proud to stand among you, and your safety buoys my spirit.
Westley: Thelindrias: Grorque: Coultorc: Jaisin: Yavië: Elrenaar: So sayeth the Lawbringer.
Godric: (solemnly & proudly) So sayeth. (half-beat pause) The Lawbringer.
Scene 5: Credit where Credit is Due
Mhorton: 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 Implacable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, Thrimlach Lenanien @Thrimlach, Issa Featherfoot @LadyFeatherfoot, and Spirit of the Swift Wind @SpiritOTSW. Check the show notes if you need help with the spellings!
Rhomande: The 20-Sided Theatre is brought to you by Sorfinde Productions and the Shenouda Necromancy Corporation. This Episode stars Gabriel Abinante, Natalie Abinante, Blake Parker, Ceridwen Quattrin, Cian Quattrin, Rudraigh Quattrin, and Tony Scaruffi.
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…
Maldreth: Join us next time at The 20-Sided Theatre!
Scene 6: The Tag
Professor Slide: Has this ever happened to you?
The Mason: Oh no! I’m a regular old human who can’t fly or talk to rocks or nothin’. And that bear over there looks pretty hungry. I feel unsafe.
Professor Slide: How about this?
Mayo: (congested) Sometimes my band leader turns into a weretiger, but I’m allergic to cats. That makes rehearsals really hard sometimes, y’know. Aaaah-choo!
Professor Slide: Or what about this?
Sonar: Who keeps throwing hailstones all over my fucking victory garden? These damned plant stalks are way too fragile.
Professor Slide: These and many more of life’s day-to-day problems can easily be fixed… FOR A PRICE! Introducing the newest branch on the SlidingTech Industrial tree: SlidingGenes, Ltd.!
Mason: How’s new pants gonna help with my bear problem? I mean, other than maybe if I shit myself then the bear won’t wanna eat me.
Professor Slide: Easy! Gene Batch 2427 can turn your skin into a sort of chitinous exoskeleton. LIKE CRABS HAVE! Then even if the bear does manage to catch you, you won’t be able to feel the chewing!
Mayo: (congested) Yeah, but what about my weretiger allergies? How can expensive, trademarked gene therapies help with that?
Professor Slide: Simple! Just inject your band leader with this syringe of SlidingGenes Sample 7779 and expose him to our proprietary Vigor Rays for a week, and you’ll have yourself a nice, hairless, hypoallergenic lycanthrope! Now, come on; give me a difficult one!
Sonar: You gonna give my whole garden denser stalks because you figured out how to turn cellulose into copper or something, sir?
Professor Slide: Not at all, Sonar! Our patented nucleotide nudgers don’t actually work on plants! But just a few modifications to their brain chemistry, and you can get this pesky hive of wasps to climb all over each other and form up a PROTECTIVE CANOPY for your hail-hammered horticulture!
Mason: Hey thanks, Chief! I’m still way slower than the bear, but now it don’t hurt when he bites! Unless he gets me in the joints, at least.
Mayo: Thanks to SlidingGenes-brand therapies, I can finally breathe easy during band practice!
Mosh: (background/distant) What the fuck happened to all my body hair!?
Professor Slide: What about you, Sonar? How’s your victory garden going?
Sonar: Well, the garden’s doing great, sir. But the wasp queen kinda went into overdrive on egg production, and… Well, long story short, now I can’t get outta my house because of all the wasps that’re “protecting” it.
Professor Slide: You hear that, folks? Whether it’s personal safety, medical issues, agribusiness, or simple home defense, SlidingGenes Limited has the solution to your particular problem. Just take it from our three highly-satisfied customers!
Mason: Ouch! Fuck! I think the bear just ripped the tendons out from the back of my knee!
((Sfx: bear, wak))
Mosh: (distant) Mayo, I know this was you! When I find you, I’m gonna take the E-string off your bass, feed it all the way through you, and string you up like a butchered hog!
Mayo: Uh, oh… I hope I don’t have to try to find a new band, now.
Sonar: Sir, I still can’t leave my goddamned house!
Professor Slide: SlidingGenes, Limited! Change the bees you want to see in the world!