The 20-Sided Theatre, Episode d20: Ironheel's Task Force
Ormr Ironheel’s Imperial Task Force
Ormr Ironheel – Cian
Portia Fireleaf – Blake
Ozzrick Oddfellow – Gabe
Kalindir Celebnaur – Ceri
Wank de Winky-Wonk SkiddamarinkydinkydinkskiddamarinkydooIloveyou-Smith – Natalie
Ser Kallandriel Alastarthe – Rud
Felicia Cattermain – Ceri
Owen Dromeos – Blake
The DM – Rud
Rhomande Sorfinde, Bard in Extraordinaire – Rudraigh Quattrin
Background Driver 1 – Natalie
Background Driver 2 – Ceri
Background Driver 3 – Rud
Theo the Wonderguard – Cian
Kartoffel the Slayerspud – Blake
Threllis Lein – Cian
Electric Slide – Cian
Sam Sonar – Ceri
The Basterds (Credits) – Blake, Rud, Cian, Ceri, Natalie, Gabe
Scene 0: Show Opening & Theme Music
Vragul: QUIET!! TIME FOR START SHOW! VRAGUL DEFEAT AUDIENCE!!
SFX: (2d20 rolls)
DM: Your Move Silently and Hide checks are successful.
SFX: (pause)(51136_rutgermuller_Cough (short))
Rhomande: Good evening Lords and Ladies. You have chosen your entertainment quite wisely. You are about to experience the most wondrous spectacle in the Great, Venerable, and Multiplanar Empire of Voladros. I am your Host-Proprietor, Rhomande Sorfinde, and I welcome you...to The 20-Sided Theatre!
The Wiz: **From “offstage”** Dancing lights! SFX: (121558_sbarncar_whistleandreport.aif x 5 (bunched in time with opening of Theme Music)
Theme Music: (VCMG – Victory Flower Fields – 20-Sided Theatre Edit)
Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Scene 1: Introductions
Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Rhomande: The curtain rises, and we are joined by a new group of ““Heroes””!
DM: I heard the quotation marks in there, Bard. These guys might be a little… unconventional in their approaches, but they’re still basically good people. Unlike your group of basterds.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Rhomande: I– well… uh… Did you just correct me in my own theatre? Fine. No scare quotes. It is my pleasure to introduce you to a group of Heroes who have been tasked with the expansion and preservation of the Empire’s outer limits. Please join me in welcoming Ormr Ironheel’s Imperial Task Force to the stage! Led by Ormr Ironheel, Dwarf of the Clan of the Leaping Spears.
Ormr: By Vrassax! If we don’t get the Keys of Rilinkrena before that albino treefucker does, things are gonna be bad for the Empire! And Ormr Ironheel don’t let bad things happen for the Empire!
Rhomande: Portia Fireleaf, halfling corsair, though she’s still a bit new at it. Known more for her ingenuity with empty bottles than her skills at the helm, this ruthful pirate often forgets to hide her heart of gold!
Portia: Iiiii’m Saaaaaailiiiiiing Awaaaaaaaaay! Plot an open course…
Rhomande: Nope! Stop! Halt! Not one of my songs, nor is it a song that has been personally verified and covered by myself! You need to stop singing that one, dear.
Portia: But… But Ozz and Kal taught me that one about six weeks ago, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since!
Rhomande: I’m ignoring you and your non-Rhomandian music… Up next is Felicia Cattermain! A felis-sapiens who, quizzically, has spent most of her life ranging through the Cloaca Optima, the finest sewer system in all the planes, hunting the dread Sewercats of Sahn Daskaar!
Felicia: (cough, hack, hairball) Ach! Ugh. One heart, nine lives. Math isn’t my strong suit. Got any string?
Rhomande: Ozzrick Oddfellow, a gnome who is to gnomes what I, the Illikenable Rhomande Sorfinde am to Bards.
Ozzrick: You elided something important, Master Sorfinde.
Rhomande: Oh? Did I?
Ozzrick: I’ve got pale, almost translucent skin, which goes along with my bone-white hair.
Rhomande: Ah, I see! You’re an albi-Gnome!
Ozzrick: Yep! The most famous albi-Gnome in a music-based double-act alongside a half-dragon-elf in the whole Empire!
Rhomande: Well, I won’t promise that you’ll ever be able to lower the number of qualifying phrases, there, but keep trying! And while he keeps trying, I will introduce his partner: Kalindir Celebnaur, an elven bard of Argent Draconian descent. Their silver violin silver shines as brightly as their silver blood!
Kalindir: Yeah, Ozz and I met back when we volunteered for the Imperial Service Organization’s Morale Brigade. I’m silver; he’s white. It just makes a good color combination on stage, y’know?
Rhomande: I’m sure it does. Next up, we have Wank de Winky-Wonk SkiddamarinkydinkydinkskiddamarinkydooIloveyou-Smith. A half-celestial Gnome, whose aura is as golden as Portia’s heart. To be honest, neither of them is all that great at piracy, due to excessive compassion and mercy on their parts.
Wank: Yeah, but people love when pirates let them go! If we pirate people, and then we tell them we’re from the Empire, and then we let them go, won’t all of our victims learn that the Empire is actually a force for good?
Rhomande: You may be confusing “good” with “order,” but that’s a debate for another time. Ironheel’s Task Force is also joined by Ser Kallandriel Alastarthe, an elf from the empire’s middle-age. Having been infused with energies and potions of techno-magical origin, Ser Kal and his faithful steed, Vornorroch of the Star Pastures, were sent out to hunt the ancient and deadly Hungering End.
((Sfx: horse snort/sneeze))
Ser Kal: Well, Vornorroch, if those crystal things had turned out to be beds, then we wouldn’t have been frozen in time, and we wouldn’t be here at the edge of… of… I can’t tell what we’re on the edge of, but it’s something big and important. I can feel it in my technomagically enhanced blood.
((Sfx: Horse snort))
Rhomande: And, finally, Owen Dromeos! A human druid with cretaceozoological interests. He joined the Imperial Task Force Program with the hopes of cloning and breeding enormous, strange lizards, to bring their intelligent, loyal ferocity into our present day. Flanked by his faithful dromeosaur, this old man brings a somewhat antiquated sense of wisdom and perspective to this party of overeager adventurers.
Owen: Look. We’re all gonna die someday. If we’re lucky, someone will dig up our bones in a billion years, and they’ll clone us or cast true resurrection or something, and then things’ll get real weird. Isn’t that right, Lotty?
((Sfx: velociraptor sound))
Rhomande: Lords and Ladies of my beloved audience, please do recline upon your gilded seats, quaff your libations, adjust your listening devices to receive the full distribution of decibels, and please thoroughly enjoy your evening at The 20-Sided Theatre!
End Music Bed: (Sylvius Leopold Weiss – Courante in F Major.mp3)
Scene 2: The Open Sea
DM: You’ve recently made a daring escape from a dangerous, deserted island by attracting the attention of a passing vessel, stealing the ship, bamboozling its crew, and leaving them marooned in your place.
Portia: To be fair, voice, the guys we left on that island were all slavers. The lowest of the low. Absolute scum who deserved to be stuck on a dangerous island full of Dire Palms.
DM: And where are all of the slaves you “rescued”, at this precise moment?
Ozzrick: They’re all down in the main decks, still chained to the oars.
Kalindir: Yeah! We can’t row this whole thing ourselves. I’m not even 100% sure how it still floats, with that huge ram thing sticking out of the front of the keel.
Ser Kal: And furthermore, Master Voice, we have promised to set them all free, once we make it back to port! It is our duty, as emissaries from the Grand and Holy Empire of Voladros! Isn’t that right, Ormr?
Ormr: Oh, by Vrassax’s' toe fungus! Kal, why do you elves always insist on reminding us about things we already know?
Kalindir: I didn’t remind you of anything. I just said I don’t know how the boat works.
Ormr: Not you, Kal! I meant Ser Kal over there!
Ser Kal: Well, Ormr, if you could learn to tell the simple difference between the silvery-scaled elf and the radiant, star-studded elf who follow you, then we might not feel the need to remind you of what ought to be obvious, quite so often!
Portia: So, guys? Before we start the next thousand-year war between the elves and the dwarves, how about we figure out how to get back on course toward the next Key of Rilinkrena?
DM: An excellent suggestion, Portia! Anybody want to make a Navigation Check?
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Ozzrick: Well, when we got here, we were heading toward the rising moon, and we were supposed to turn left at that island, but we got shipwrecked. Then those slavers came, and we escaped from the same side of the island we arrived on, so now we’re backwards. Can you turn us 90 degrees to the right, Portia?
Portia: Uh… Maybe? Which way is right?
Felicia: Towards my short whiskers. The ones that got a little singed when we set those filthy slavers on fire for their crimes. I mean, I’m all for keeping things in a state of paralytic fear, but you gotta eat those frightened, little things after a while, or else you’re just being mean.
Owen: I think she means “Starboard”.
Portia: Oh! Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place? Here we goooooooooooooo!
((Sfx: wheel turning, water lapping))
Wank: Uh… Portia? You just turned the wheel to the left–er–Port.
Portia: Whoops! Thanks, Wank! Here we go– agaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!
((Sfx: Wheel turning, water lapping))
DM: Much better. Portia turns you Northward, toward the next Key of Rilinkrena. After two or three days of sailing, a new topic of conversation arises.
Kalindir: Hey, Ormr. Ozz and I were talking, and we want to know why we’re still going after these keys for that Morellian guy.
Ormr: Yeah, that’s been bothering me, too. The short, red-headed Glumenar fellow didn’t seem too bad when he hired us, but when we handed over the key to that demonic-looking, red-eyed, white-haired elf, I wasn’t quite so sure it was the right thing to do. But the Empire has ordered us to make contacts and to send reports on the societies and customs of this place, and feeling like this is sometimes part of the job.
Wank: But what happens if it turns out that this albino sorceror guy is going to be a threat to the Empire?
Ser Kal: It’s quite simple, Wank: we gird ourselves for battle, and we send them to separate, personalized hells! Is that not right, Vornorroch?
((Sfx: horse snort))
Owen: That’s probably not within our power right now, Kal. You saw that Storm Elemental he conjured up to speed our first boat along. That thing was HUGE!
Felicia: Well, we can still catch this key thing. Doesn’t mean we have to snap its head off and leave it on his doorstep or nothing.
Ormr: Felicia has a good point. We don’t trust Morellian, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up the quest he placed us on. We’ll just gather the other five keys for ourselves, and hopefully by then, we’ll have figured out a way to get the first two back from our employer.
Portia: Land ho! It looks like we’re coming up on the spot where Glumenar said we’d find the next key. Look! There’s the Triple-Peaked Fjord, just like he said!
((sfx: Horse sounds))
Ser Kal: That’s right, Vornorroch! We just need to find the Cave of the Three Clefts, now, and shortly after, the next key will be in our possession!
((Sfx: horse snort))
Ormr: Alright, Portia. Do as the star horse says; weigh anchor and let’s get off toward the coast.
Portia: Aye, aye, Ormr!
((Sfx: unspooling chain, splash))
Scene 3: Strange, New Friends
DM: You disembark from the ship and make camp in a nearby cove. Nothing bothers you in the night, and by the time you’ve packed up camp the next day, the sun is hovering a finger and a half over the horizon. You take the advantage of an early start, and by midday you’ve climbed a good 3500 ILDMs up the mountainside. Gods, but it’s good to be back to standard units of measurement! Anyway, you break for lunch before anything significant happens.
Ormr: Alright, lads and ladies and others! Let’s find this cave, so we can get out of here. What’s our marching order?
Owen: I’ll send Lotty out ahead of us to do some scouting. She’ll find anything dangerous, long before it bothers us.
Felicia: Nuh-uh! I’m going out in front. Cats are way better at stalking small game than a pig-sized bipedal lizard will ever be!
Ormr: Felicia, you take the left flank, and Lotty will take the right. That way, you don’t have to get in each other’s ways. Kal, you and the horse take up the rear.
Kalindir: Why do I have to take up the rear? I know I have the best voice to warn everybody of danger, but I’m not sure that Kal ceatharinn will be happy that I’m on top of Vornorroch.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Ser Kal: I’m not uncomfortable with the idea, so long as he doesn’t buck and throw Kal on their head. It’s basically up to Vornorroch.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Ormr: By Vrassax’ Voluminous Beard! Sorry. I meant Ser Kal should take up the rear, since he’s the one in armor. Plus, I trust the horse to keep its eyes peeled better than most of you.
Kalindir: Oh! That makes sense.
Ser Kal: ’Tis true that the steeds of the ancient star pastures have ever had keener eyes than even the elves of my day. Good plan, Ormr! Cat and lizard in front, Star Horse and Technomagically Infused Elf in back, everybody else in between!
DM: As you start lining up at the trailhead, you hear a loud snap as something stumbles over a fallen branch.
((Sfx: snapping treebranch, rolling potato))
Theo: Come, Kartoffel! Gird thyself with thy mace! For the sake of Scottalia and all the innocents therein, we must launch headlong into any hidden dangers, that we might defang them before they can do lasting harm! It’s just like that time I survived encounter with the Insufferable Basterds. To be a hero, you just need to stand strong and do your job!
Kartoffel: Ja, Theo! But, as you told me, you survived zat day by faking a wound to ze knee, vhich allowed you to escape ze cascading arcs of lightning cast by zat Mummy!
Theo: I didn’t fake that wound, Kartoffel! My knee gives out whenever it gets cold, and the temperature dropped very suddenly, in order to generate necessary conditions for Shenouda’s lightning! Anyway, Sumberton was a long time ago, and we’ve strengthened ourselves quite a bit since then, my fine Squire!
DM: Okay, both parties are terrible at keeping quiet, so it’s basically down to whichever group is quicker, at this point. Give me some rolls.
((Sfx: d20 roll x10, horse sounds))
Ser Kal: What’s that, Vornorroch? I don’t hear anything. And it’s impossible for me to not hear something if it’s there, thanks to the technomagical infusions of ages long past, which definitely haven’t degraded after our being crystallized for over 3400 years!
((Sfx: horse snort))
DM: Vornorroch rolls his eyes in exasperation, as he turns toward the sound of the approaching individuals.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Felicia: (hiss) I don’t like strangers! I’m certainly not going to come over here, sniff out this potato, nuzzle my head against him, bat him around for a moment or two, and then ignore him!
Kartoffel: Uh… good kitty?
Ormr: Alright, Felicia, leave that poor breadroot alone. He doesn’t look like much of a threat. That longshanks, though… What’s your name, Human?
Theo: I am Theo the Wonderguard, sole survivor of the Great Bakery Massacre of Sumberton. And this is my companion and confidante, Kartoffel the Slayerspud!
Kartoffel: It is a pleasure to make your acquaintances.
Kalindir: Well, you two don’t look very evil.
Ozzrick: Detect Alignment! Nope. And they don’t scan evil at all.
((Sfx: Detect Alignment))
Wank: Sumberton… Sumberton… where do I know that name from? Was it that town we passed through, before the Crypt of Kalas Var?
Portia: Sounds like a typical human town name. Could be anywhere, I guess.
Theo: Sumberton is the largest city in Central Scottalia! How could you not have heard of it?
Ormr: Wait! Scottalia? You mean the place where the Grand Weaponer spends a quarter of his time?
Theo: I don’t know who the Grand Weaponer is.
Ser Kal: It’s been so long since I’ve been back to the Holy City of Sahn Daskaar… I don’t think I know who the Grand Weaponer is any more. Is it still Lady Danvers Halaa?
Owen: Worst. Imperial Citizen. Ever. You’ve never heard of Master Imenand Shenouda, whose flesh colossi and other implements of carnage keep us all safe from the entropic menace known as the Hungering End?
Kartoffel: Vell vhy didn’t you simply say so? Ve have met Master Shenouda und his party of companions! If it were not for zem, I would never have met Theo. I also would probably have been reborn as a mere foodstuff, rather zan adventuring in my current form.
Ozzrick: Well, what brings you so far from your home planes, then?
Theo: Kartoffel and I are traveling the worlds, righting wrongs, uncovering secrets, and generally experiencing strange, new things.
Kartoffel: Und ve are searching for ze Toppler, a mighty weapon zat is legendary amongst my people!
Ormr: Sounds pretty straight-up to me. What are you two doing here, at this particular moment? If it’s more of the same, would you like to help us find the next Key of Rilinkrena?
Theo: Sure! That sounds like a quest worthy of a Wonderguard and a Slayerspud!
Ormr: Then you guys should take up the rear with Kal and the horse.
Kalindir: I’m not—
Ormr: Other Kal. The one who owns a horse. Fucking Elves. Why do all elf names sound the same?
Wank: Not all Elf names sound the same! What about Elwin?
Felicia: Or Tarwinna Upperleaf?
Rhomande: Oh, come on! You can’t be serious!
DM: You’re not in this scene, so you need to shut up.
Rhomande: It’s my theatre, so I can be in any scene I want!
DM: Your theatre, your rules. Your words, even.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
DM: Hah! I gotcha, Rhomande!
Rhomande: (strangled, angry sounds)
Ser Kal: Rhum-anna-diyeh? Does that translate to “Muddy Thursday”? What does that name even mean?
Rhomande: I hate you.
DM: They can’t hear you. Which is quite fortunate, because if Rhomande were here, you’d probably spend the next fourteen hours listening to the first movement in the first act of a four-month long “operetta”. Instead, you make your way up the hillside with no further incident. After three hours, Wank circles in the air and returns with news of something she’s spotted.
((Sfx: d20 roll, feathered wings that stop fairly quickly))
Wank: Hey, guys! There’s a weird spot up ahead, where three ridges seem to run into each other. If it were the rainy season, I’d be worried about flash floods! But it seems pretty safe for the moment.
Ormr: Hrm. Did you spot any caves, Wank?
Wank: Just one, but it didn’t look like a Triple-Cleft of any sort.
Ormr: It’ll have to be a good enough place to start our search for the next key. Onward, my brave Imperial Task Force! For the glory of the Empire!
Scene 4: The Strange, New World
DM: After a few more hours of wandering around in the low mountains by the sea, you finally come across a spot where three caves open into the mountainside. A very cursory inspection reveals that all three passages lead into the same cavern complex, about 20 ILDMs past the entrance of the longest tunnel.
Ormr: Alright, lads and ladies and others! We’ve got three paths that all lead to the same place. Which one do we go in through?
Wank: Is this a real question?
Owen: Yeah, I mean, there are enough of us that we don’t have to choose one path. Lotty and I are going left.
Wank: Good point, Owen! I’ll take the right, to balance you out.
Felicia: I’ll take the center, then.
DM: In a very short amount of time, you’ve split yourselves into three parties and you stand ready to enter the Triple Cleft. About 6 seconds after the three groups simultaneously enter their respective passages, the entire party regroups.
Portia: Well, that was probably the easiest thing we’ve done all week!
Ser Kal: We’re not through yet, Portia. We still need to go into that pitch-black passage ahead, so we can find the next Key of Rilinkrena. Come, Vornorroch! Our destiny awaits!
((Sfx: horse snort))
Kalindir: Uh, Kal ceatharan? There’s something wrong with your keen, elven eyes, I think.
Ozzrick: Yeah, that passage isn’t all that dark. All this weird, azure light is intense enough that if I were a reading-Gnome, I wouldn’t even have to squint to make out the letters on a scroll.
Ser Kal: What? I don’t see what you’re talking about, Kal ceatharwan. Vornorroch, can you confirm our bards’ impression of this place?
((Sfx: horse snort))
DM: The ancient horse of the star pastures rolls his eyes and shakes his head in what you swear is exasperation, before he trots over to Kallandriel and uses his nose to push the rim of the technomagically infused knight’s helm up and back across the elf’s forehead.
Ser Kal: Ah! Much better, now! Thank you, friends, for a great service that I hope to repay someday soon!
Portia: Now that we can all see, can we go investigate what’s making all that blue light?
Theo: I believe the Disembodied Voice said that this was an azure light, not blue.
Kartoffel: But, is azure not a shade of blue?
Ormr: You’re a potato. How can you even see these colors?
Kartoffel: Potatoes have eyes, Herr Ironheel. Ve see more zan most species.
Wank: Yeah, but they spend most of their lives in dirt, so there isn’t much to see.
Kartoffel: Zis is true. It is vhy ve send our roots and chutes out from our eyes, zat we might behold ze world around us!
DM: You guys are almost as bad as that other group of mercenaries. Yes, azure is a shade of blue. I was trying to be descriptive.
Ormr: Well, let’s skip the descriptions and investigate this cave. I think I can feel something humming, deep within the bones of this mountain.
Portia: Oooh! Is it treasure! Dwarves have a fifth sense for treasure, I hear!
Wank: Don’t you mean a “sixth” sense, Portia?
Kalindir: She most certainly does not. It is a well-known fact that Dwarves have no sense of taste in the traditional sense. Is that not correct, Kallandriel ceatharan?
Ser Kal: Indeed it is, Kalindir ceatharwan. They can only taste rare metals, which is why their foodstuffs are so grainy. If they don’t grind up bits of copper or gold, then they can’t taste their meals.
DM: You guys are also almost as racist as the other group. None of that is true.
Ormr: Actually, I partially disabled my sense of smell when I was but a lad. Whatever you do, friends, do not let your friends peer pressure you into a game of “how far up your nose can the spear butt fit”! In any case, we’ve been walking long enough that I can see what’s making the blue light.
Ozzrick: Cerulean light.
DM: Azure. It’s azure light. And yes! The source is a warp in the fabric of reality.
Owen: And according to this Rilinkrenan Artifact Detector, the next key is right through that portal!
((Sfx: dragonball detector/beepy-blinky thing))
Ormr: Gird yerselves, lads, ladies, and others! We don’t know what dangers lie beyond.
DM: The party readies its weapons and passes swiftly through the rift between worlds. You feel your bodies compress as you break the plane of the portal, but once the last of your body has passed the threshold, a stupefying magnitude of acceleration takes over, and you feel bodies spaghettify as you make the transition to a strange, new place.
((Sfx: knives, swords, etc. being drawn; portal-y sounds, followed by the sounds of city traffic))
Ozzrick: Holy Harlaw! Look at this place! The streets are paved with black gravel!
Ser Kal: That doesn’t bother me nearly as much as all of those Metallic Dragons racing along them, farting noxious fumes behind them as they course along.
((Sfx: horse snort; whinnies))
Ser Kal: What’s that, Vornorroch? No, those things can’t be carriages! There’s nothing to provide the locomotion. Those people you claim to see inside must have been eaten by the dragons.
Ormr: Who cares about a bunch of farting dragons that seem to be ignoring us? I’m more interested in how they melted their stone.
Portia: What do you mean, Ormr? All the stone around here seems pretty solid.
Ormr: But look how tall these palaces are! And then tell me where you see a seam between any two blocks. They either carved the foundations out of gargantuan slabs of stone, or they poured molten stone into a mold of some sort.
Kalindir: Gods damn, but it’s loud, here! I can barely hear the Elven Thoughtscape!
Owen: Maybe we should get a move on. The Artifact Detector says the key is less than a thousand ILDMs away; looks like it should be in that poured-stone palace, over there.
Ormr: Alright, Task Force! Our first challenge is to get past all these farting dragons. I’ll meet you all on the other side.
DM: How’re you gonna get there, Ormr?
Ormr: I come from the Clan of the Leaping Spears, Master Voice. ’Tis but a simple matter of gathering my legs beneath me for a mighty… JUMP!
((Sfx: d20 roll, jump))
DM: Ormr leaps high into the air, somersaulting over the broad street before you. The odd vehicles – they’re vehicles, guys; Vornorroch was right about that – the vehicles don’t interfere at all with your Dwarven leader’s mighty leap, and within seconds he stand on the far side of the boulevard, waving his hands cheerily at the rest of the party.
((Sfx: horse snort))
Wank: This one’s easy for a half-celestial gnome! I’ll just unfold my wings and fly to the other side, to meet Ormr!
((Sfx: feathery wings))
Feclicia: Meh. I’m not too impressed. Cats are great at getting where we want to be. Just watch!
DM: Felicia goes down to all fours, arches her back, and leaps headlong into the road’s blaring traffic. This has the immediate effect of two vehicles swerving into each other, to avoid striking the cat woman. Within seconds, Felicia has arrived at the far walkway, and in her wake she has left a tangle of dented, twisted, unmoving vehicles.
((Sfx: tires screeching, horns honking, general traffic mayhem))
Background Driver 1: Get outta the road, you crazy bitch!
Background Driver 2: Holy shit! What the hell was that?
Background Driver 3: Looked like kind of a giant cat. Wearing a loincloth… You’re going to La Guardia, right?
Portia: Quick! Let’s get across while these fart-dragons are all stalled!
((Sfx: running feet))
Ormr: Excellent work, team! Now let’s get into this building, so we can get that key and go home!
Scene 5: Not Nazombies–Kaizombies
DM: You enter a building with an enormously tall foyer, wherein you find two floor-to-ceiling banners, emblazoned with strange words and a painting of two men wearing small pith helmets, pointing metal rods at each other.
Ozzrick: Maybe these banners can tell us where to look for the key. Comprehend Languages!
((Sfx: Comprehend Language))
Kalindir: What’s it say, Ozz?
Ozzrick: Hrm… It says, “Relics from the Great War, on loan from,” uh… I think this is a place name, but the spell is translating it literally. I think it’s, “The National Museum of the Swamp” or something. Oh, and “swamp” is a feminine word in the root language.
Ser Kal: Sounds like an odd name for a place. What about the building we’re standing in? What’s that called?
Ozzrick: Uh, let’s see… one of these signs should say. Ah! Here it is. This place is called, “The New Yew Tree Metropolitan Museum.”
Portia: Now that sounds like a proper name for a town! I like it. Maybe we should found a City of New New Yew Tree when we get back to Those Young Kingdoms. It could be the Empire’s capital on that plane, and then I could get a proper Letter of Marque and pirate wherever I want!
Owen: Uhh, guys? Shouldn’t there be people in here?
Wank: Yeah, there should, shouldn’t there? But no people means no security, so we ought to be able to get that next key pretty quick.
Ormr: Gird yerselves for battle, team! This place is too weird not to have any defenses, so we need to be on our guard.
DM: You pass through the main foyer into a smaller, dimmer chamber. All around you, glass cases display those same odd metal devices that the two men in the painting were pointing at each other.
Ozzrick: Ooh! A plaque! What does this say…? Uh… “Battle, and it’s a feminine word, uh… and these are some numbers: One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight”.
Ser Kal: Well, this place is obviously a treasure trove for one of those farting dragons outside, so by Imperial Law, that means all of this loot is ours for the reclaiming! Since, y’know, most dragons get their loot through nefarious means. Come, Vornorroch! Let us free these Battle One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight devices from the thrall of a greedy, flatulent dragon!
((Sfx: horse snort, glass smashing))
Ormr: Oh, well. Always take the big gem when the dragon’s not home, as me grandpappy used to say. Alright, lads and ladies and others! Loot on!
((Sfx: more smashing glass))
Ozzrick: Uh… this plaque says something about ammunition. So maybe we should take all these little brass cylindery-coney-looking things, too.
Portia: Uh… are you really sure this is okay, Kal?
Kalindir: Oh, yeah! Totally okay! As a half-dragon, I can say with full certainty that keeping a trove isn’t nearly as fun as reclaiming or increasing a trove. So if the farting dragon misses this stuff, then we’ve given them an adventure to embark upon! Plus, aren’t you a pirate, Portia?
Portia: I’m not sure how far we are from the water. Piracy on land kinda needs to be within sprinting distance of your vessel, so you can make a quick getaway. But, anyway I was talking to the other Kal.
Ser Kal: Oh, yes! Under Imperial Law, this is certainly allowed. We just need to return to the Holy City of Sahn Daskaar, whereupon our sacred duty shall be to return these items to the Grand Imperial Lost and Found. If nobody has claimed the items after fifteen days, then ownership reverts to the finders. Who would be us!
Felicia: Well, now we’ve got a bunch of new tinkling shinies to bat around the floor when we get home, so let’s see to the homeward getting. What’s the key detector thing say, Owen? Is the next thingie in this room?
Owen: Nope. Looks like it’s a few hundred ILDMs west of us, right now. If we had a floor plan of this building, Lotty and I might even be able to tell what room it’s in.
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Kartoffel: You mean a map, like zis tri-fold pamphlet zat was in ze atrium?
DM: Kartoffel uses a spindly, green chute to present a map of the museum to Owen and Lotty the dromeosaur.
Theo: Excellently spotted, my Starchy Squire! Your many eyes are certainly an advantage!
Owen: Yeah! Exactly like that! So, it looks like we’ll have to go straight into this long hall, and then turn right through this small room, and then straight through into that big auditorium-looking space.
DM: You quickly pass through the next two rooms. The long hallways is festooned with sand-and-earth colored uniforms, most of which are topped by those tiny pith helmets. Once you reach the small room, just outside the auditorium, you need to stop and make some Listen Checks.
((Sfx: d20 roll x10, muffled: crowd noises with a single angry voice standing out))
Kalindir: Shhh! I hear people talking in the next room.
Ozzrick: Do you think it’s a lecture or something? Maybe we shouldn’t barge in on their presentation.
Ormr: No, it sounds more like there’s a lot of scared people in there, with one very angry person yelling at them. Alright, team, Owen says that the key’s in the next room, so we need to get in there, settle whatever situation is going on, get the next key, and then not give it to that albino treesleeper who hired us to find them all in the first place.
DM: You quickly prepare yourselves for battle and throw open the double doors. You see about two score terrified townspeople in the room ahead, all of them bound and kneeling. Seven ghastly corpses wearing the same uniforms from the display cases stand around the perimeter of the room, pointing their Battle One Thousand Eight Hundred Eighty Eight devices at the hostages. Floating about an ILDM and a half above the center of the room and pulling all focus is a gore-covered human male in about his early 40s, dressed in a raggedy robe. He clutches an old tome in his left hand, while brandishing a fistful of entrails in his right.
Ozzrick: And luckily, my spell of Comprehension is still in effect, so we can understand what he’s saying!
Threllis: Bwahahahaha! Now that I have found a single, moderately-magical tome in this Muggle-Hole of a reality you idiots live in, I’ll raise all of the soldiers from all of the worst wars in your history, one by one if I have to, just to watch a shit-ton of zombies eat everyone on this lame ass plane! You will learn to cower before the very thought of Threllis Lein, Master Necromancer, and Innovative Surgeon! BWAHAHAHAHA!
Ormr: Well, this one looks pretty cut and dry. Come on, lads and ladies and others! Let’s be the good guys and kill the insane necromancer! Ozzrick! Kal! Uh… The Scaly, shiny, half-dragon Kal!
Ozzrick: Yes, Ormr?
Kalindir: We could maybe shorten that, but I know which one of us you’re talking to, now!
Ormr: You two strike up a suitable tune, while we save these innocents from this weirdo!
Owen: Plus, the detector says that he’s holding the key!
Ormr: Let’s hope it’s the book and not the guts, then! Chaaaaarge!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
DM: Ormr sprints toward the ring of hostages, and leaps mightily as he reaches them. The nimble dwarf springs toward the center of the room, spinning and corkscrewing his body to aim his heavy, dwarven lance directly toward Threllis’ chest.
Threllis: I think not, dwarf.
((Sfx: Mage Shield))
Threllis: Bwahahaha! The only drawback to casting MAGE ARMOR is that nobody can see how brutally festooned it is with spikes until some idiot tries to hit you!
DM: The necromancer lights up, and you behold a red-framed sketch of a suit of plate mail hanging like a halo around Threllis. The chest is designed to resemble a gorgon at war with herself. She chews upon two strands of her own snaky hair, while the other snakes strike at her ears, eyes, and nose. Atop his skull sits his helm, which resembles the skull of a wolf, but that skull is, in turn sitting within the jaws of a dragon. The flash of energy is over in but a second, though, and Ormr goes flying across toward the right, to land heavily in a display case.
Ormr: (underneath) Wha—uh, oh! Aaaaaaaaaaaa!
Threllis: (underneath) SKULLCEPTIOOOOOOOON!
((Sfx: flickery mage armor/VR armor kinda sound?, shattering glass & wood))
Threllis: Who’s got ups? Come on? None of you wanna try to follow the dwarf in a stupidly suicidal frontal assault? Fine, then! Let’s see how you stand up to my ZOMBIE KOMMANDOS! Spelled with a K for some reasoooooooon!
Ser Kal: Uh, oh. Come, Vornorroch! We must save our friends! Quick! Up against the wall, and get behind me, everyone! My Madeuptium shield will protect us from all forms of attack!
((Sfx: horse snort))
DM: The seven zombies turn their weapons toward you, and seven deafening explosions peal out and bounce off all of the hard walls in this room.
((Sfx: d20 roll x7, rifle fire x7, ping of deflecting bullets, one bullet wound))
Felicia: Ow! Fuck! But it certainly doesn’t fucking protect against stray shots at our tails!
Wank: You need to remember to pull your tail in whenever you hide. It’s not enough just to get your head out of sight, miss cat lady!
Owen: Do you need any healing, Felicia?
Felicia: No thanks, Owen. It’s just a graze. But I’m kinda pissed now! Lotty? You wanna help me tear apart some those zombies?
((Sfx: velociraptor sound))
Felicia: Sounds like a yes!
DM: The cat and the dromeosaur spring toward the nearest two soldier zombies, savagely ripping them apart with claws and teeth.
Theo: Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Kartoffel?
Kartoffel: Ja, Theo! Ve should take zis opportunity to free ze hostages and get zem away from ze fighting!
Theo: Precisely! Off we go! Fear not, fair citizens! For Theo the Wonder Guard and his Squire Kartoffel the Slayerspud are here to usher you to safety!
((Sfx: rolling potato, many feet))
Threllis: Hey! Wonderbread! Where do you think you and the potato are taking my next batch of zombies?
Kartoffel: Uh… Vell, I vas just going to take zem to ze lobby, zen come back here und kick your butt!
Threllis: Hah! You certainly have some starch in you, little guy! Now let’s see if I’m right. Maybe I can get all of that starch on the outside of you, instead, with this K GROSSKAMPFWAGON!
((Sfx: rumbling of tank treads in the next room))
Wank: What the hells is a K Grosskampfwagon?
Threllis: This is!
((Sfx: collapsing wall, tank treads))
DM: The wall behind Threllis shudders, as a hollow, metal cylinder as wide across as your hand bursts its ominous face through the plaster. The rest of the wall quickly crumbles, as the rest of the vehicle crawls through the new opening.
Wank: Still doesn’t answer my question. It looks like a box on top of a box, and the top box has this long, neck thing that ends in a flared hole. What does it do?
((Sfx: cannon fire, d20 roll x10))
DM: The room is filled with rushing heat and force, as the K-wagon vomits forth some sort of shell that bursts against a high corner of the close wall in a concussive fireball. Fortunately, Theo and Kartoffel wasted no time in getting the townspeople to safety, so if the building is still standing, they should probably be safe.
Threllis: Bwahahahaha! I may have destroyed a few of my zombies, but I can always make more. You idiots still want any of this?
Owen: (cough, cough) What? What did you say? My ears are ringing… Oh, gods… Just a sec. Lemme get that scroll… Mass Lesser Restoration! There! Now we should be able to hear.
((Sfx: rustling papers/scroll; Restoration))
Ser Kal: Oh, shit! I think the K-wagon thing is the name of a dragon! The dragon’s home! We need to kill it before it figures out that we reclaimed its treasure!
Ormr: Ugh… No, we just need to get the next key! Alright, team! Just like we’ve trained! Attack Pattern Delta!
Kalindir: Well, Ozz, I guess we’d better get to our part of the plan!
Ozzrick: Sounds like we should! Time to pull the necromancer’s attention with a Simultaneous Fascinate!
Kalindir: Simultaneous Fascinate!
((Sfx: music cue?))
Threllis: What? Hey, that’s pretty good! I kinda like that… Yeah… Good tone…
Wank: Alright, Portia, it’s our turn!
Portia: Right with you, Wank! Uh, let’s see… This display case that Ormr fell on should do the trick! Huuuurrrgh!
Wank: Just… gotta… push… Urrrrrgh!
((Sfx: heavy furniture dragging across a floor))
DM: Wank and Portia put their shoulders to the case and within seconds it stands between Threllis and the K-wagon. They then scramble atop the furniture and go down on all fours, one of them behind each of the necromancer’s legs.
Ser Kal: And that must mean it’s our turn, Vornorroch! Yah!
((Sfx: horse snort, galloping hooves))
DM: The mighty horse of the ancient star pastures quickly interposes himself between Threllis and the fascinating bards. Rather than Kal attacking, though, Vornorroch wheels so his haunches are squared to Threllis’ body.
Threllis: Wait, what? Oof!
((Sfx: horse snort, d20 roll, hoof hit, crashing body against the floor))
DM: Vornorroch lifts his rear legs and launches them squarely into Threllis’ chest. The necromancer spins backwards, tripping over Wank and Portia. He’s still levitating, though, so he goes careening headlong into the barrel of the K-wagon, slamming the back of his head against it violently, before collapsing to the floor in a heap.
Ormr: And now it’s my turn! Let’s see… (sniff) The treasure’s right about… here! Whew! Thank Vrassax that the next key was actually this book and not that handful of guts!
((Sfx: d20 roll))
Owen: Yup! The Rilnikrean Artifact Detector confirms it!
Portia: But how are we gonna get home now?
Threllis: Ughhhhh. Ow. Hey, you guys got me pretty good, there! Plus that song the albino gnome and the scaly elf played was totally brutal. Here lemme open a portal for you guys. You can even keep that book thing. This plane’s pretty fucking lame anyway, so I was just gonna let a couple more zombies go and see what happens for a while before I moved on, anyway.
Ormr: Well, that’s pretty sportsmanly of you, Master Lein! Thank you very much!
Threllis: Hey, good music’s hard to come by, so you gotta do what you can when you can. Where you wanna go?
Ormr: Well, we came here from Those Young Kingdoms, so I guess we ought to go back there.
Threllis: Chill. Chill. I got you, brah. GATEWAY!
DM: You peer through Threllis’ interdimensional gateway, and you behold the cove where you left your ship and all the slaves who are still chained to its oars. Nothing even seems to have burnt, infested, or stolen it!
Ormr: Well, what do you say, Task Force?
Ser Kal: Kalindir: Portia: Owen: Wank: Ozzrick: Felicia: Theo: Kartoffel: Thank you, Mr. Lein!
Threllis: Yeah, no prob. Oh! Dwarf! Here’s my card, if you ever decide you maybe want to replace your shin bones with giant coils of adamantine or something.
Ormr: Uh… thanks! Now, back to our Quest!
Scene 6: 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 @20SidedTheatre spelled with an -RE, the Insuperable Rhomande Sorfinde @IllustriousRho, Master Imenand Shenouda @ShenoudaNecroCo, 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, and Rudraigh Quattrin. With special thanks to Jon Abinante for the use of Owen Dromeos and Lotty.
Issa: Original Adventure and Story by Cian Quattrin. Script adaptation by Rudraigh Quattrin. Edited by Blake Parker.
Imenand: Music by …
Imenand: For a complete list of and links to all the music and sound effects you heard on tonight's episode visit the show notes at 20sidedtheatre.com. While you’re there, consider donating to the upkeep and production of the Twenty Sided Theatre. If you don’t…
Stiev: Join ussss nexxxxt time at The 20-Sssssided Theatre!
Scene 7: The Tag
((Sfx: radio tuning))
Electric Slide: Greetings, denizens of the interdimensional Empire I’ve been spying on! This is Professor E. Slide again, offering you a brand new service from SlidingTech Industries! Is all reality crashing down around your ears? Do you fear the end of all life as you know it? Do you hate your neighbors and want to move? All of these problems and many more can be solved by applying for a triple-sub-prime loan to buy a brand new home at the SlidingHome Hills Housing Development! These wonderful buildings are fully furnished with all of the modern conveniences, including: dishwasher, washer-dryer, flush toilets, solar panels worth exactly one million dollars, wireless internet access in every room, fully organic garbage disposal that I swear isn’t a genetically altered pig that lives under your sink, home security cameras and microphones, state-of-the-art panic room, and semi-legal military-grade weather-stripping! But don’t take my word for it! Just ask one of my satisfied customers! Sonar! Get in here and tell them about the model home I had Partry build for you!
Sam Sonar: You mean the house that’s all stone, with the slate roof, and the feral pigs in the storm cellar, sir? The one where I have to open the refrigerator at night to warm the place up, since the walls and the single-glaze windows just bleed any tiny amount of warmth into the night, sir? The house you didn’t even put a stove into, much less a furnace? That house, sir?
Electric Slide: Precisely! When reality is collapsing around you and you need to flee to a safe haven, then you immediately become a beggar. And beggars aren’t allowed to choose their alms! Besides, Sonar, you didn’t even mention the excellent hench-schools for all the little henchlings these interdimensional refugees will inevitably bring with them.
Sam Sonar: I don’t have any kids, sir. Plus, I dropped outta school when I turned sixteen, ’cause I hated all the brainwashing and the bullshit they fed us in history class, so I kinda don’t believe in the school systems no more.
Electric Slide: Be that as it may! If you can hear this message, then you need to go immediately to SlidingTech.biz and fill out your application today! SlidingHome Estates and SlidingLoans Incorporated are equal-opportunity providers; however, as mandated by their parent company, SlidingTech Industries, robots, androids, and automatons will not be served.