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List of Transcripts

Pre-ShowEdit

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight’s episode of Critical Role, where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons. Yeah! Before we get started for the day, let’s get into some of our quick announcements. First off, happy to be back. Me, Marisha, and Taliesin were gone for a better part of two weeks. We missed you guys. We actually met a few Critters around the desert with us.

LAURA: Oh, really?

MATT: Yeah.

LIAM: You were in Connecticut for a week, right?

MATT: Yeah!

TRAVIS: Were they dressed up like they were from Marquet?

MATT: Basically, yeah.

TRAVIS: Oh, really?

MATT: (laughs) It was really cool but we were happy to be back–

TALIESIN: How do you want to burn this?

TRAVIS: Spice? Spice? Spice?

MATT: Spice? Spice? Spice? Do you spice?

LAURA: Everybody spices at Burning Man. I’m pretty sure.

MATT: Sam will be about an hour late tonight. Unfortunately, he has work pushing later in the evening than normally would be, but he’ll be joining us as soon as he possibly can. So he’ll be on his way. Let’s see, also a big round of applause for Liam running an awesome one-shot last week. Once again, well done, man.

LIAM: I just wanted to see Travis show his true self.

TRAVIS: I don’t know what you mean, sir.

TALIESIN: No spoilers!

LIAM: It worked.

MATT: Oh, it’s great. Anyway, let’s get back in the swing of things here. Announcements real fast if you want to start with this, Travis.

TRAVIS: Yes! Our week’s amazing episode is brought to you by Loot Crate! And their theme for this month, the month of September, is Speed. They’ve got amazing, high-octane titles like: Speed, Battlestar Galactica, Iron Man, Gone in 60 Seconds, Arrow, Batman, CW’s The Flash, plus many more.

LAURA: The fastest things ever!

TRAVIS: I’m telling you, like that announcement. They got collectibles, a figure, and as always, a monthly t-shirt that looks amazing.

MARISHA: Yeah. It’s always stylish.

TRAVIS: You can get your hands on some of that sweet, nasty Loot Crate swag by going to www.lootcrate.com/criticalrole for $3 off your monthly subscription. You do it. You get it. And Goku’s on the table. He stays–

LAURA: Because you bite Goku through the game. I don’t understand it.

TRAVIS: He’s got pointy hair. I like chewing on things!

MARISHA: So wait, has this been an ongoing thing. Did this start last week and I missed it?

TRAVIS: If it’s not that, it’s pen or pencils. I digress. Loot Crate, thank you!

TALIESIN: Loot Crate: you can put it in your mouth!

TRAVIS: You can?

TALIESIN: You do! Probably shouldn’t, but you can.

MATT: Marisha, did you want to talk a little bit about a cool thing we have coming up now?

MARISHA: I do. We have a new product that we’re coming out with. We teamed up with our friends over at Espionage Cosmetics to come out with Critical Role nail wraps! We’ve got make-up now because that’s how cool we are.

LAURA: They look really, really awesome.

MARISHA: Yes, and so there’s some that are blue with our logo on them on silver. And then we have red ones that say “How do you want to do this?”

TALIESIN: It’s like a blood red with a little bit of black splatter–

MARISHA: And they glow in the dark. What?

TRAVIS: They do?

TALIESIN and MARISHA: Yes, they do.

LAURA: Shebang! This is the blood splatter one.

MARISHA: And when you open the package, they’re brought to you–

TALIESIN: Can you do it?

MARISHA: Yeah, I got this. I always rip them. But when you open it, they’re from Gilmore’s Glorious Goods.

TRAVIS: Oh snap!

LAURA: There he is on the inside.

MARISHA: Yeah, brought to you Gilmore.

MATT: Pretty fantastic.

LAURA: That’s so awesome, man.

MARISHA: Uh-huh. So yes, you can go get them right now. They are available tonight.

LAURA and MARISHA: In the store.

MATT: So you can go ahead and make sure your nails look absolutely glorious.

MARISHA: And we tried to make them like unisex because people like Taliesin like to rock the nail wraps.

TALIESIN: Yes I do. I love rocking nail wraps.

LAURA: I have a feeling you would rock the nails, wouldn’t you, Liam?

LIAM: Unicorn sex?

LAURA: What? Anywho, also available in the store tonight is a plethora of new merchandise for you guys. I know we’ve had a lack of it lately. Okay, I’ve got to say it all because it’s really exciting. Okay, we have these badges, they come in a set of five–

TRAVIS: Hold your badges up.

LIAM: Badges?

LAURA: Oh, I took yours. They come in a set of five, they were limited edition at Comic Con so we have some left and so we put them in the store. They’re super awesome. So those are available right now, but they are limited.

TRAVIS: How do you want to do this, Gilmore’s Glorious Goods, the Slayer’s Take.

LAURA: What’s the other thing that’s limited? Oh, the nail wraps, right.

MARISHA: Oh, also there are Geek and Sundry nail wraps.

TALIESIN: There also are some new Geek and Sundry nail wraps that have a blue and white thing and the little logo and I haven’t seen if they’re glow in the dark yet and I haven’t looked yet, but I definitely have an outfit that these are going to work with so I’m taking these home.

MARISHA: Okay.

LAURA: We also have the rings back in stock.

MARISHA: What?

LAURA: Don’t, baby, don’t flip off everybody. So those we have a limited amount of– Don’t! I had a fly on my food.

TRAVIS: A one?

LAURA: Oh no, you really did roll a one!

TRAVIS: This shit never ends.

LAURA: Those are limited. Also, something that’s going to be in store for a long time is my favorite thing ever, the Critical Role mug. As seen on Blindspot by Patterson. Yeah, so we finally had these in the store and these are made to order, but they are going to stay in the store so order them and whatever. In addition to those, we have things on pre-order that are going to stay in the store for a couple weeks and that is this amazing bracelet. You can check it all out at the store. It’s there right now. It says “How do you want to do this?” it’s got our logo on it, how badass is that?

TRAVIS: We already have ours because they’re amazing. It’s got like a raised CR too.

LAURA: And these are on pre-order too. You know you can’t see them on this shot, I’m sure it’s not close enough, but you can go on the store and you can see an awesome view of them and they’re enamel pins of our logo and also a “How do you want to do this?” So you can put them on your jean jacket or your backpack or your hat.

LIAM: Like flair.

LAURA: Like flair. You can wear them on your apron if you work at Bennigan’s or TGI Fridays.

TRAVIS: Rep your CR love, we’ll slap your hands. Like in a high five, not in a bad way. Like slap hands.

LAURA: So that’s all the amazingness that we have.

LIAM: These are sick.

LAURA: That’s a lot.

TALIESIN: No, I know it’s been slowly building and it’s this sudden–

LIAM: Making it rain!

MARISHA: All the shit. Live crit strong.

MATT: That’s Travis for the rest of the game.

TRAVIS: My OCD wife will slaughter me.

LAURA: Yeah, I really will.

MATT: Good. It never ceases to be the strangest thing to see a phrase that I organically made up in my home game is now on patches and pins. It’s so weird. That’s so weird.

TALIESIN: I’m glad that we finally have these. We had to fight to get these at Comic Con.

MATT: Yeah.

(phone notification beep)

LAURA: Who didn’t silence their phone?

MARISHA: It’s always Tal.

TALIESIN: It’s Sam, though!

LAURA: Oh, is he here?

TALIESIN: He’s heading this way in about 20 minutes, so he should be here 20 minutes after that.

LIAM: He’s just leaving El Segundo.

MATT: All right guys, that being the case, let’s go ahead and bring it down unless we have any other announcements. Do we have anything else?

TRAVIS: Negative.

LAURA: No. No, no, no.

MATT: All right, let’s bring it in after a two week pause to the main story of Vox Machina, tonight’s episode of Critical Role.

[dramatic music]

Part IEdit

MATT: Welcome back. So, last we left off, Vox Machina, in their perpetual quest to take down the Chroma Conclave and the path of destruction they’ve swept across all of Tal'Dorei and continents beyond, they found themselves going to the continent of Marquet, across the central desert, meeting the parents of Gilmore, and coming to the city, the jewel of Marquet known as Ank'Harel. You found yourself wandering the streets, meeting curious individuals. Our gnome apparently has made a spice deal that is to come to fruition at some point in the near future. In search of the bearer of one of the Vestiges of Divergence you have been seeking, in preparation of your battle with Thordak, as well as seeking allies in this strange, new interesting city. Through the continuous and perpetual threat of evil forces in the world, you found a hookah bar and got fuzzy drunk on a form of sandkheg-based liquor. You learned a bit about the city, about the culture, you learned from Jarett some good possible tips on how to engage with the people around the town.

LAURA: Oh, be pleased.

MATT: Yes, be pleased.

LIAM and TRAVIS: Beep-beep.

MATT: And you guys made your way towards the Cerulean Palace in the center of the city. After being balked by the Hand of Ord upon arrival you were then greeted by the Grand Maven and given entry to the Cerulean Palace. Upon passing up a large translucent blue tower, above the city of Ank'Harel– not Emon, I was tired–

MARISHA: We knew what you meant.

MATT: I know, I figured you guys would be all right with that. And eventually opened into a central chamber at the very top of this tower that overlooks the majority of the desert from this position that you can see. There were large windows across the entirety of this circular room, there was a raised platform in the center, balcony across the opposite way, and sitting atop this throne in the center made of brass and sapphire you met an individual, seemingly the ruler for a long time of this city. The androgynous long-living figure known as J'mon Sa Ord. And that is we’re picking up this–

TRAVIS: And the Grand Maven took us up there?

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: And we saw him and we met him, right? He was like “hello.”

MATT: Just greeted you when we left off.

LAURA: He knew who we were.

MARISHA: Right.

MATT: He? She? You’re not quite sure what the sex is of this figure specifically. The fine features, elongated limbs, and long dark hair seem to deflect trying to pin down a lot of details about the history or source of where this individual came from. However, they have risen from the throne, bowed deeply, and greeted you, “Welcome to Ank'Harel, heroes of Tal'Dorei. I am J'mon Sa Ord. It is my pleasure to greet you,” and gave you a soft bow. “Your arrival has not escaped my whispers and I’m curious if your presence means what I think it means.”

LAURA: What do you think it means exactly?

MATT: “I have heard our skyport access to Emon was balked by dragon attack. I would hope the problem would be sorted by now for the purposes of our vast trade network. And you’ve arrived, I hope with good news.”

TRAVIS: Oh, yeah, it’s like a mixed bag. A little good, a little bad.

MARISHA: Hmm, I’d say it’s mostly bad.

TRAVIS: It’s mostly bad.

TALIESIN: It’s good news in progress.

MARISHA: Hmm, mostly bad.

TALIESIN: My version of good news in progress.

LAURA: We are making headway. We’ve taken down one.

TALIESIN: We have a problem that, as far as I know, has never been accounted for in the history of civilization. The dragons are cooperating with one another. We are fighting not one dragon, but a conclave of dragons. All cooperating towards the destruction and sublimation of man.

MARISHA: It seems as if this is an extermination.

LIAM: Mostly successful.

TALIESIN: Mostly.

LAURA: They mostly come at night.

TRAVIS: Mostly.

TALIESIN: They plan at dawn.

MATT: “So you say these dragons are working together, attacking and destroying. I assume they are of the chromatic origin then?”

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: “Working together is quite strange. Hmm. What else can you tell me of this threat?”

LAURA: A great ancient red one known as the Cinder King is sitting on Emon.

MARISHA: He appears to be their leader.

TALIESIN: He was released somehow from the Plane of Fire.

LAURA: By a green dragon, Raishan.

MATT: “Raishan. I do not recognize this name. What is the name of the red you speak of, this Cinder King?”

TRAVIS: Thordak.

MATT: There’s a subtle reaction from the creature before you. Draws back and narrows their gaze a bit at the mention of the name. “Thordak, yes. (scoffs) I recall this name. A foolish drake from the Scaldwind Sands who saw, unwisely, to threaten my domain many years ago. We cut his heart and watched him sink beneath the ocean. This creature you speak of, I do not think it is the same Thordak.”

TRAVIS: No?

MARISHA: Why wouldn’t it be?

MATT: “Because I watched him die.”

TRAVIS: Oh! But our Thordak, he has like this thing that is at the center of his chest right? It’s like a jewel.

LAURA: It’s replaced his heart, potentially.

TRAVIS: And if you sliced his original maybe he upgraded.

TALIESIN: Or perhaps someone brought him back to life.

LAURA: Not unheard of.

MATT: “So this beast that harries you, you are certain it goes by the name Thordak?”

LAURA: Certain.

MATT: “What proof do you have of this being the same beast?”

TALIESIN: Other than his heart obviously having been previously maimed in some way, we have no proof that it could be the same beast. We were not here. But even if it isn’t the same beast, the fact that a dragon takes its name should trouble you.

LIAM: And we’ve heard of your success before and were hoping you could offer us a little guidance.

TALIESIN: It is an old dragon–

MATT: “The Thordak that came to war here was not quite as large and powerful as you seem to say this one is.”

LAURA: How long ago was it?

MATT: “This was centuries ago, the city was but maybe 100, 150 years at the time.”

LAURA: He could have grown by then.

MARISHA: Yes, I’m afraid we’re not talking about a drake anymore, we’re talking about an ancient, full-grown dragon.

TALIESIN: God knows how time works in the Fire Elemental Plane, he may be much older than time has allowed.

TRAVIS: With respect, you were here centuries ago?

MATT: The creature known as J'mon Sa Ord, they steeple their fingers and glance over to you– at head height with you practically, even stepping down from the platform.

TRAVIS: Oh shit.

MATT: “I have been here for some time, yes.”

TRAVIS: I’ve got to get your diet sometime, that’s amazing.

TALIESIN: Grog, in general it is impolite to query the age of any being. In general.

TRAVIS: Oh right.

TALIESIN: I would have assumed you would know that by now.

TRAVIS: (stammers) Beep-beep.

MATT: The still-narrowed black eyes, with a tiny pinpoint of molten metal peeking through, relax. The arms go from a steepled position to a cross and now a look of curiosity comes across their face. “If this is truth, then how do you plan to fell this everburning worm?”

LAURA: That is the question, isn’t it? We’re collecting items. Vestiges of power. Hopefully with them in tow, we will be able to gather armies to combat Thordak. We know we can’t take him on alone.

TALIESIN: We’re also gathering allies and we’ve already destroyed several of his companion dragons.

MATT: “You have?”

TALIESIN: We have.

LAURA: Well, a couple.

TRAVIS: And we did recon on a third.

TALIESIN: Preparing to kill a white dragon.

MATT: “So am I to understand that you are spearheading this endeavor?”

MARISHA: Well. It’s sort of unofficially.

TALIESIN: We’re as surprised as anyone, yes.

MARISHA: You know, we didn’t necessarily ask for this, it just fell in our lap.

TRAVIS: It fell on our city, actually.

MARISHA: Yeah, that’s true. Our keep came crashing down on around us and then we were committed.

MATT: “Very well, then what do you want from J'mon Sa Ord?”

TALIESIN: Perhaps, if it comes to it, a little bit of help possibly collecting the Vestige that we are looking for in this city, that we are currently, hopefully, collecting and being on our way with, causing as little noise in the city as humanly possible. We are aware that is complicated for people like us. And perhaps an ally in the coming battles to come. It may, I would imagine, please you to perhaps meet these dragons on foreign shores as opposed to in your city walls.

LAURA: It’s only a matter of time. If we can’t defeat them in Emon, he will spread his territory.

TALIESIN: If it is the dragon that you remember, he will come here, and if it isn’t the dragon you remember, the fact that he took that name means that he will come here.

MATT: “This city is well protected. I am not worried about this dragon or dragons you speak. I am protector here and we are warded against such threats.”

LIAM: But you would like to awaken trade with Emon again, yes?

MATT: “This does interest me as there is quite a stake in the roads we’ve built with Tal'Dorei.”

LIAM: Is there anything you can share with us from your encounter back then? It would help.

MATT: “The creature once known as Thordak had begun to grow tired of his meager dominion in the Scaldwind Sands, began to reach out with his many feral kobold armies and various serpentine followers, decided that the very jewel of our city was perhaps a good throne to sit upon. And, much to its foolish intent, attacked not knowing what it was after. We struck down its armies and for two weeks there was battle between the skies of here and the northern mountains before we took a fell strike against the beast. It escaped to the north and attempted to flee beyond the ocean’s waters, but we caught up to it, struck it down, and watched it fall into the fathoms. If this is the same beast you say, then it is uncanny it could survive such an encounter and would say it is even more dangerous having learned from these past struggles.”

LIAM: Do you think you simply wore it down or was there some angle you used?

MATT: “I have my ways. We have our ways. Well, you wish my aid?”

TALIESIN: We do.

MATT: “You go running into the furnace and you wish me to be at your side?”

LAURA: Well, we don’t run into the furnace willingly.

TRAVIS: Or hastily.

TALIESIN: The furnace is the only exit. We wish to just borrow an asbestos coat.

MATT: “Hmm.” There’s a brief pause as J'mon looks past and seems to peer through each of you, scanning back and forth with those strange smoldering pupils.

TRAVIS: Uh-oh.

MATT: “You look able-bodied and strong of will. However, I have watched many of your kind with these same traits waltz into oblivion before. I will not risk myself or my city by backing a fool’s whim. Show me what you are capable of, fellows of Vox Machina. Show the Soul of the Desert Jewel what you are capable of.” And J'mon Sa Ord begins to step back–

(mechanical whirring)

MATT and LAURA: What is that?

LIAM: What strange powers do you wield?

TALIESIN: He’s using a hydraulic pump! He’s an imagineer!

TRAVIS: He’s omnipotent!

MARISHA: It’s animatronic!

TRAVIS: That was like the best sound cue ever.

MATT: You hear the cracking and the rumbling of something in the distance as J'mon Sa Ord steps back and fades from view.

LAURA: Ugh, come on!

MATT: You hear a latching of stone behind you as it seems the Grand Maven has stepped back into the platform you arrived in and closed it behind you.

TRAVIS: Oh good.

MATT: Another loud crack hits the air around you (loud grinding) and you watch as, over past the other side of the room where the balcony stands, a looming shadow plummets out from seemingly the sky itself and lands, smashing onto the marble floor of the exterior, its silhouette humanoid, but swollen, across the sunlight that’s pushing past from beyond.

TRAVIS: Sam is here, somebody go get Sam! Sam’s at the door.

MATT: Blue dust and pebbles tumble across the archway from the balcony to your side coming to rest. The shape squeezes through the balcony arch into the room. What you see is a thick-limbed silhouette marching into the throne chamber, a 15-foot-tall armored structure of intricate decorated cobalt plates and iron bulk dragging a massive cleaver-like blade with one arm and a clenched boulder-like fist in the other. Two burning white flames flare as eyes within its solid helmet. I need you all to roll initiative.

TRAVIS: What? Man, you just got back in town!

LAURA: We just got here!

LIAM: Fetch the gnome!

MARISHA: The gnome is just in time.

TRAVIS: And a map?

LAURA: Why don’t we have Fassbender with us?

MARISHA: Oh yeah, where is Fassbender?

TALIESIN: Fassbender is busy being a good guy.

MARISHA: Fassbender’s with Wilhand.

ALL: Hey!

LAURA: Sam, we’re all going to die!

MARISHA: We just rolled initiative.

SAM: So I have some questions for the leader of– oh, what?

TRAVIS: Some shit went down, he asked us–

SAM: I know. I’m with this.

TALIESIN: I brought you some stickers from Burning Man.

SAM: Thank you.

TRAVIS: I got you.

MATT: Apparently the character minis were not brought to the table. Be with you in a moment when those arise.

LIAM: Got to shake off that Burning Man.

MARISHA: He’s like a big iron samurai.

TALIESIN: That is everything I’ve ever hoped for.

LIAM: Percy wishes he created that.

TALIESIN: I am definitely having a little bit of Tony Stark porn moment right now. I want to wear it like a suit.

MATT: Initiative orders. 25 to 20.

LAURA: Anybody? 25 to 20?

SAM: Wait, let me roll this.

LAURA: Wait, let me see. Oh, I think he got something good. No.

LIAM: What did you roll? What did you roll, Grog?

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: 25 to 20. No one? 20 to 15.

TALIESIN: 18.

LAURA: 17.

LIAM: 19.

LAURA: Oh, I was wrong. 14. I added wrong. Shit.

LIAM: 19.

TRAVIS: 17.

MATT: What did you get, Percy?

TALIESIN: 18.

MATT: 18, right. Okay, so Vax, Percy, Grog.

TRAVIS: That thing is huge.

MATT: All right, 15 to ten.

MARISHA: 12.

SAM: 14.

LAURA: 14 as well! All right, here we go. And then a fucking 20 again as soon as I–

SAM: (sings dramatic music)

TALIESIN: The sound of you slowly dying.

LAURA: What are those clear blocks? Are those glass?

MATT: Those are the windows.

TALIESIN: That’s like the DND version of those awful glass bricks from the 80s.

MATT: Keyleth, 12?

MARISHA: Yeah, 12.

MATT: All right and what did you get again?

LAURA: 14.

SAM: And he’s a test? We’re not to kill anyone else in the room?

MARISHA: Right.

TALIESIN: I don’t think he’s real, we just have to kill him.

MATT: As the entity bursts its way into the room, its flaming eyes flare. Vax, you have the beginning of this encounter, what do you want to do?

LIAM: Going to click the boots together and I’m going to slide over this way, between those two windows I’m closest to.

MATT: Between there?

LIAM: Yeah. All the way to the wall.

MATT: All the way to the wall?

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: Right there?

LIAM: Yeah.

TRAVIS: (singing) To the windows!

LIAM: I’m going to dagger and dagger and dagger him. Okay, first one is 24.

MATT: Hits!

LIAM: Second one I’m going to reroll with Luck. Second one– Balls! It’s 16.

MATT: Is this your last Luck of the day? Because you haven’t rested.

LIAM: That’s two. That’s my second. I’ve been checking them off.

MATT: Second? Okay.

LIAM: The third one is 24 as well.

MATT: All right, so what was it? 24?

LIAM: It was 24, 15 or 16, and 24 again.

MATT: So second one misses. The first and last hit.

LIAM: First and last. Okay. Give me the pyramid and I go and get nine, plus I have advantage so I get sneak attack, so that’s nine plus 14, 19, 20, 26, 30– 36 for the first.

MATT: What was that?

TRAVIS and LIAM: 36.

LIAM: And the second gets ten.

MATT: All right, 46 points of damage, first round of attacks from Vax. Well done. The blades hit and streak off, and you can see portions of the iron plates between the cobalt armor seem to have carved grooves into them and it’s actually made an impact on the outside of the creature. That end your turn?

LIAM: That ends my turn.

MATT: All right, Percy, you’re up.

TALIESIN: Okay, I’m going to, first of all, cast Hex on this creature.

TRAVIS: Attaboy!

LAURA: Thanks for the reminder, because now I’m going to do Hunter’s Mark.

TALIESIN: Going to cast my Hex and then I’m going to start gentle. I’m going to take three shots with the Retort pistol, including the first one is going to be an attempt at a headshot.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: So that’s a burn a grit. Come on, I know it’s been two weeks. Don’t be angry. Don’t be a cat, be a dog, just be happy to see me. And it’s happy to see me! That’s a 31.

MATT: 31 hits.

TALIESIN: My cats were not happy. That’s terrible! Hold on. Sorry. That’s 12 points of piercing damage– oh no, sorry, that’s seven points of piercing damage, five points of necrotic damage. And he has disadvantage on strength checks.

MATT: Okay! Disadvantage on strength checks.

TALIESIN: And he has to make a constitution saving throw.

MATT: Okay. That is a 22.

TALIESIN: I don’t like him.

MATT: As a note: the first shot, it hits the head and bounces off, seemingly no effect. There’s a little bit of necrotic seep into the armor that seems to have affected it to a small extent, but the bullets seem to have almost no effect on its form.

TRAVIS: Really?

SAM: But Liam’s did?

TALIESIN: No, yeah, Liam’s not doing piercing damage.

LAURA: Yes he does, he does piercing damage. But it seemed to get through less than–

LIAM: Magic?

MARISHA: Are your bullets not magic?

TALIESIN: The bullets are not magic. My bullets are bullets!

SAM: Maybe it’s because they’re projectiles?

TALIESIN: Okay, good to know! That could go really poorly!

MARISHA: Is he made of metal? Or is he a big dude in a metal suit?

TALIESIN: We don’t know.

MATT: You don’t know.

TALIESIN: So that’s good to know. I’m going to take another shot at the helmet for a headshot.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: Spread. Out.

LAURA: Where? I don’t even see where we are!

TRAVIS: We’re over there, in front of the throne.

TALIESIN: 27.

MATT: 27 hits!

TALIESIN: Better! 16 points of piercing damage, three points of necrotic. And another constitution saving throw.

MAT: Constitution saving throw. That is an 18.

TALIESIN: He now has disadvantage on attacks until the end of his next turn.

MATT: Okay. This one does hit the head, and it seems to knock it off to the side and one of the flames flutters for a second, but leaves no impact or damage against the helmet.

TRAVIS: You are kidding me. So is it fair to say that 16 points of damage didn’t happen?

TALIESIN: At the moment, I’m blowing bullets not for damage; I’m blowing bullets for effect at the moment. This is all effect-based, I’m not trying to damage him right now.

MARISHA: (singing) She blinded me with science!

TALIESIN: (singing) Blinded me with science! I have one more shot, so I guess I’m going to take it. And for shits and giggles, I’m going to take a Sharpshooter shot.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Fuck me. 19. 27?

MATT: 27 hits.

TALIESIN: 21 points of piercing damage, four points of necrotic.

MATT: Okay. Once again it ricochets off with a flash of sparks and energy. You can see the necrotic seems to have left this slight burn against the plate, but the bullet has left no groove in the armor.

TALIESIN: All right, that’s cool. I’m putting the gun down, and I’m going to back up. I’m going to pull to my left. And I’m going to try and get against the wall, not the glass!

MATT: All righty. End of your turn?

TALIESIN: End of my turn.

MATT: Grog, you’re up.

TRAVIS: It’s time to wake up, boys and girls! So I would like to rage. Am I in front of the throne? That’s me, right? That big, proud fuck over there? Can I run as far as my little feet can carry me, over in front of Percy and more towards along the wall?

MATT: Okay, so. (counting) 50 is where you can get right there.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that’s cool. I’m cool with that. I’m not in front of that window, right? More in front of the wall?

MATT: It’s just to the right of you.

TRAVIS: Okay, sweet. May I attach the Chain of Returning to my bloodaxe, and throw it at said giant bastard?

MATT: You may! What is the range on it?

TRAVIS: 120 feet, on the Chain of Returning. Yes. No. Is that right?

MATT: No, that’s not right. I thought it was 30, it’s a pretty short distance to throw it.

TRAVIS: Oh shit, is it? I don’t have it!

SAM: It’s like a thousand feet.

TRAVIS: We’re a little rusty.

LAURA: How tall would you say this guy is?

MATT: This guy? 15 feet.

LAURA: He’s 15 feet tall, Grog. 15 feet.

TRAVIS: Uh-huh. Chain of Returning! It doesn’t say! It must be attached. Melee weapon. Thrown. Bonus action: athletics strength check provided to pull the thing out. No distance. It’s even laminated.

MATT: Okay. It’s a 30-foot distance, just like most throwing weapons would be.

TRAVIS: Damn it. You know what? Since I’m raging, I take out the Javelin of Lightning and I’ll throw that!

MATT: All righty!

TRAVIS: That’ll work. Oh, and I’ll make it a reckless attack. That’s good because that’s a two. And that’s a four.

LAURA: Oh my god, is this is the dice that was fucking you last week!?

TRAVIS: Yeah, but I’ve got a lot to– no, it’s not! Don’t start with your juju. It’s 18.

MATT: 18. As you throw the javelin, it hits the shoulder pauldron and scrapes off, firing out of the balcony, and over the edge.

LAURA: No! Accio Lightning Javelin. He just lost the Lightning Javelin out the window.

SAM: Jesus. We’ll get it later, we’ll go get it later.

TALIESIN: That’s what you get for playing with it in the house.

TRAVIS: That ends my turn.

LIAM: Six seconds later: (screams).

(laughter)

MARISHA: Sorry, Steve!

LIAM: “I’m all right!”

MATT: All righty. It is now the cobalt golem’s turn.

LAURA: Okay. I like how we’re clustered right there. It’s fun, it’s really fun. Yay.

MATT: It’s dragging the cleaver behind it, scraping it across the grounds of this palace room as it moves. As it comes sauntering up, its large leg movement, taking large strides against the floor, leaving a small crack under each footfall. It turns around. The blade isn’t getting ready to fight, instead its flames curl up and darken, and you watch as its neck opens up to this dark space underneath and it (roars). This fume of purplish blue mist seems to spill out in front of it.

LAURA: No!

TRAVIS: Oh no, he’s reaching for something.

LAURA: Oh no! Area of effect.

SAM: As he attacks, can I use Cutting Words to reduce the attack?

LAURA: Yeah, Scanlan, do that!

MATT: You are more than welcome to try.

TRAVIS: That’s a no.

SAM: I’ll try.

MATT: So you use your Cutting Words.

SAM: Yeah, I say to him, oi! Your face is so ugly I’m considering casting Blindness on myself so I don’t have to look at it!

(laughter)

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and roll the dice.

SAM: A ten or an eight?

MATT: d10, it’s whatever your bardic inspiration is.

SAM: Hey, six!

MATT: Has no affect on it, unfortunately. All right, I need Vex, Keyleth and Scanlan to make constitution saving throws.

LAURA: Oh no! I hate constitution saving throws!

TALIESIN: That’s not terrible.

SAM: I got a natural 20!

MATT: Damn, all right!

MARISHA: 17 total.

LAURA: 19.

MATT: Okay. This is a lot of dice I’ve got to roll here, so let me–

LAURA: Oh no! How many is a lot?

MATT: (counting) So as the poisonous fumes fill the space, you can feel it burning the outside of your skin, filling your lungs. You guys start coughing as the horrible burning sensation in your interior begins to fill your entire experience right now. Scanlan, you manage to pull aside and close your nose just in time, but it still burns your exterior. You take 26 points of poison damage, Scanlan. That is 55 points of poison damage to both Vex and Keyleth.

LAURA: On a 19? I didn’t save?

MATT: 20 DC. You missed it by one.

MARISHA: Did you say 55? That just dropped me by half my hit points.

LAURA: Yeah, basically me too. More than half.

MATT: That’s going to end its turn. Vex, you’re up.

TRAVIS: Least you fell in love before you died.

(laughter)

LAURA: Is he within five feet? Can I get away from him?

MARISHA: Fuck you, Travis.

MATT: You would take an attack of opportunity if you do. One more rogue level.

LAURA: I’m going to hope that he doesn’t hit me and I’m going to try and run away from him.

TALIESIN: He has disadvantage.

LAURA: Okay, does he?

TALIESIN: Yeah, he has disadvantage on swinging at you.

MATT: He does, yes. So as you start rushing away, the one lax arm holding the cleaver goes (cleaver slamming) and comes down over her head like a giant, thick, three-and-a-half-foot-wide blade of solid iron. With disadvantage, that’s 25 to hit.

SAM: Whoa! This is a powerful fighter!

LAURA: He hits me. Watch me die right now!

MARISHA: He’s right, we’re not ready. We’re stupid assholes, oh God!

TRAVIS: We’re going to do drugs in your lounges for the rest of our lives.

LAURA: If he kills me right now, I’m going to be so pissed.

MATT: You take 29 points of bludgeoning damage. Not bludgeoning, sorry, slashing damage, as the blade strikes down, slicing right across your front torso, nearly throwing you to the ground and you can already feel the blood fill up in your mouth and begin to drip down the side of your chin, but you do manage to pull away from him. Where do you want to move?

LAURA: Oh my dear lord! I’m going to run around behind the throne but I’m going to shoot him as I’m doing it. I’m going to shoot him from there and then I’m going to keep going. But I’m going to shoot him with– hopefully, the lightning actually does something, because I’m going to shoot him with the Lightning Arrow. And I’m doing it at a fourth level.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: So I roll. Attack as normal. Okay. Oh no! Shit, what is that? 22? 22.

MATT: 22 hits. Go ahead and roll damage on that. So it’s normally 4d8, but you did it at a higher level, so it’s 5d8 points of lightning damage.

MARISHA: Wait, why was it higher? Did you do it at a higher level?

LAURA: Yeah.

MARISHA: Okay, okay.

LAURA: 19.

MATT: 19 points of lightning damage. The lightning streaks into it as the arrow hits and the lightning begins arcing through its armor. It bursts outwards. Keyleth, I need you to make a dexterity saving throw.

LAURA: Oh shit! Keyleth, I’m so sorry!

SAM: Why?

MATT: Because she’s within ten feet of the creature.

MARISHA: No, it’s fine. I’m good. Dexterity save?

LAURA: No, it’s a fucking lightning arrow, I never use it.

MARISHA: 11.

MATT: 11. You take nine points of lightning– no, it’s 2d8. So you roll 2d8 damage.

MARISHA: Does my spell resistance armor help with this? I’ve got advantage.

LAURA: Just eight little old points.

MARISHA: Does my advantage from spell resistance on my armor help with this?

MATT: It is technically a spell–

MARISHA: So can I roll again?

MATT: Go ahead and roll again.

MARISHA: Oh, that’s better! 21.

MATT: So yes, you take half damage. So take four points of lightning damage.

LAURA: Yay! See, that’s nothing!

MARISHA: Feels good.

LAURA: Now you feel alive.

MARISHA: Yeah, I’m awake.

LAURA: And I’m going to keep running and go behind the throne.

MATT: That’s as far as you can get at 30 feet.

LAURA: I’m going to stay right there.

MATT: Unless you want to run past this way. (counting) You can get over there.

LAURA: Okay. Sure.

MATT: Knowing you and your movement situation, you would have probably taken the more direct route because you were going to get hit regardless.

MARISHA: So lightning radiated off of him?

MATT: Scanlan.

SAM: So it did not hurt him at all?

MATT: The lightning hurt him, it arced through him and it seemed to react to the impact.

LAURA: He’s metal. He’s made of metal.

SAM: Okay, before I go, because I wasn’t in the room, did J'mon Sa Ord say this is a test?

ALL: Yes.

SAM: Okay.

TRAVIS: He said, show me what you can do.

MARISHA and TALIESIN: Show me what you’ve got!

SAM: Okay, I’m out of range so he can’t swipe me as I walk away, right?

MATT: As far as you know. It’s a long blade.

SAM: Then I’ll stay put.

MATT: You saw the blade slam down towards Vex and it slammed a few inches away from you so you’re right on that maybe/maybe not edge.

SAM: Let’s not risk that. So I’ll Hand Cone up. Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere to trap the beast.

LAURA: Yes!

MARISHA: Go, Scanlan!

MATT: Let me pull this up real fast.

LAURA: Please let this work.

TALIESIN: No, it’s a good plan.

LAURA: It’s enough to heal up and get ready.

MATT: A creature of object size Large or smaller. This is technically a Huge creature.

SAM: He’s Huge, I thought you said he was 15 feet!

MATT: 15 feet tall. He himself is about 15 or so–

SAM: (groans dramatically)

MATT: A Medium creature’s about six to seven feet average. A Large creature is about ten to 12.

SAM: I have perfectly huge balls.

TALIESIN: You have big balls, not Huge.

SAM: They’re Large or smaller.

MATT: So as soon as you start casting the spell you look at the size and think, this isn’t going to fit in one of my spheres.

SAM: Okay, so I ditch that. And because I saw lightning work I’m going to– well, then I’m going to have to move. Can I hit him now without hitting Keyleth or do I have to move for that?

MATT: You can because he’s wide enough you can go that way.

SAM: I’ll just Lightning Bolt, then. Level three Lightning Bolt.

MATT: All righty. With advantage on its save, that is a 16 dexterity saving throw.

SAM: It’s a saving throw?

MATT: Yeah, against your Lightning Bolt, to see if it manages to dodge out of the way.

SAM: Does my Cutting Words affect that at all?

MATT: No, Cutting Words is to reduce the attack of another creature.

SAM: No, but because I’m armed with Mythcarver, when I use it, my target gets disadvantage on his next saving throw.

MATT: Correct, its saving throw is still a 16, your DC is way higher, it failed.

SAM: Oh, okay.

MATT: This is a big creature, it’s not very dexterous. It can’t dodge quickly, it’s like (groaning), it’s like a small moving tank.

SAM: So 8d6 then.

MATT: Correct.

SAM: 24.

MATT: 24 points of lightning damage. The bolt of energy arcs out from your finger, passing Keyleth. You shake from the nearby impact, your body still a little numb from the previous electrical hit. It blasts the front as the arc from Vex’s attack begins to wear off, this time the energy coursing through its entire body. You can see as it tries to lift the blade up for another attack it almost drops the blade from the impact, but it stays firm and shrugs it off, but you can see the darkened period across its body where the electric bolts are beginning to take effect across its physical form.

SAM: Okay, I’ll use that opportunity to back away and hope it doesn’t get me.

MATT: You back away, and you’re out of range for it to try to make a strike at you. You can keep moving if you want.

SAM: Yeah, I’ll go all the way to the wall.

MATT: All the way to the wall?

SAM: Yeah, but not the glass. God, who’s coming up next? I will inspire Grog, he hasn’t happened yet, right?

LAURA: Yeah, Grog’s coming up soon.

SAM: I will inspire him with a hastily written limerick. Okay, ready?

    Kevdak had these terrible knuckles.
    They beat up on Grog while he chuckled.
    But while Kevin laughed,
    Grog sliced him in half
    And said, “These are mine now, fuckles!”

(laughter)

MATT: Those are all words that you can kind of understand! So you take your inspiration dice.

TRAVIS: Amazing!

LAURA: I like how his name was Kevin halfway through the limerick.

TRAVIS: Fuckles. Is that a d10 or a d12?

MATT: d10. So that’s the end of your turn?

SAM: That is all I can do.

MATT: All right, Keyleth, you’re up.

MARISHA: Okay, seeing that the lightning is doing some damage, I am going to cast Call Lightning at fourth level.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I’m going to take a step back first, actually.

LAURA: He’ll get a swipe at you.

LIAM: There’s a five foot square.

LAURA: Yeah, this is true, but at disadvantage he still got me at 25 before.

LIAM: Yes, but you’re ten feet away though.

MARISHA: Just five feet, I want to shift back five feet.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I can do that without getting a swipe, right?

MATT: He’s already used his reaction to strike.

MARISHA: Aw, sick! I’ll back it up a little bit more, there’s good, no right there’s fine, yeah. And I’m going to cast Call Lightning, fourth level.

MATT: All right, the very top– and this chamber comes to this large, dome-like precipice at about 60 feet up– upwards you see a skylight series of glass begins to fill with dark clouds, swirling. As Keyleth’s concentrating, her eyes fog over white. What are you going to do?

MARISHA: Right on his head!

MATT: As Keyleth focuses, she brings her arm down and one singular bolt coalesces, strikes down right onto his head. What’s the DC on the spell?

MARISHA: 19.

MATT: All right. Nope. He rolled a 19 and failed. He’s got a minus one on his dex save. He’s a slow guy. So he takes 3d10 lightning damage. Go ahead and roll that.

MARISHA: 4d10 because I cast it at fourth level.

MATT: That’s right, 4d10, because it’s fourth level.

SAM: He’s got 500 hit points.

LAURA: He’s got so many.

MARISHA: Three, six, not great. Eight, so make that– what’s six plus eight? 14 plus five, 19 points of lightning damage.

MATT: 19 points of lightning damage strikes into its head, and you see it has to fall back onto its back leg to right itself, and its growling sounds like creaking of metal and stone against each other.

MARISHA: And with that, I’m going to use my free action to go earth elemental form.

MATT: Bonus action, you mean?

MARISHA: Yes.

TRAVIS: “My free action!”

LAURA: Is that what you said? “My free action! Yeah!”

MARISHA: Did I sound like Mickey? Did that happen?

LIAM: (Mickey Mouse voice) I’d like to use my bonus action to go earth elemental!

MATT: As the growling sound of stone and metal seems to vibrate the floor, you step back and hulk out into your elemental form, almost returning a similar earth-against-stone growl back at it.

LIAM: There she is.

MATT: Top of the round. Vax, you’re up.

LIAM: Would you allow me to use my bonus action to go stealth and quietly run over using my hasted speed to get over to my sister behind that stone thingy in the middle of the room?

MATT: You could certainly try.

LIAM: Yes, I’d like to try.

MATT: Four, five, six. one. Get behind there, go ahead and roll a stealth check.

LIAM: Okay. I’ll use my last Luck of the day, though. Fine. 29.

MATT: Okay. Far as you know, it doesn’t see.

LIAM: Okay. I’d like to curve around by my sister and use sharpshooter to throw two daggers as hard as I can at him.

LAURA: What? Why are you going to–

LIAM: That’s what I want to do.

LAURA: No! He’s going to aim at me!

LIAM: First one is a 26. 25. And the second one misses, it’s a natural one. With sharpshooter. Oh no. 26, 21.

MATT: All right. These are with which blades?

LIAM: This is with dagger of venom and flame tongue. So the flame missed, dagger hit. Excuse me, venom hit.

MATT: Right, okay. So you throw. Go ahead and roll damage for the dagger of venom.

LIAM: Is it a sneak attack?

MATT: He does not seem to see you, so yes, you are rolling damage.

LIAM: All right. So it’s plus ten because I used sharpshooter. So one, seven plus ten is 17. That’s the 20, 23, 27, 32, 37, 40.

MATT: 40! Nice! 40 points of piercing damage as this one dagger hits one of its front chest plates and causes it to dislodge and hang to the side, and it’s hanging by some sort of interior bolted circumstance. You can see a bunch of iron mechanisms that are holding it together, some almost clockwork, some appear to be arcane in nature and are being held aloft by sparking whitish-blue energy.

LIAM: Do I have five feet of movement left?

MATT: You have about 15 feet of movement.

LIAM: I’m going to slink right behind the thing so I’m out of range.

LAURA: Yeah, good! Good job, thanks. So you hit him and he looks over and I’m standing there. It’s the best. That’s the best move. Ever.

LIAM: I didn’t hear any of that.

LAURA: I’m right behind you, you did hear it!

LIAM: That was longer than six seconds.

MATT: End of Vax’s turn. Percy, you’re up.

TALIESIN: Okay. I can see the damage that this thing has taken. Would it be possible to target the wound? I’d be happy to burn a grit to target the mechanisms and not the armor. Try and get a chunk of metal in there?

MATT: Sure.

TALIESIN: Okay. First thing I’m going to do is I’m going to take a couple steps to the right and try and shove my elbow on that glass to see what it feels like.

MATT: Okay. So you step by and it’s a pretty thick pane, about maybe an inch or so thick. It has very faint glass-cut carvings and designs into it. Mainly geometric vines that curl on themselves. It’s a really pretty display for the brief moment that you glance out the corner of your eye at it.

TALIESIN: I just wanted to see how strong it felt.

MATT: Pretty strong.

TALIESIN: Okay. Like high-rise glass.

MATT: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Okay. I’m going to pull the rest of my movement the opposite direction.

MARISHA: Yeah, don’t stand in front of a window.

TALIESIN: Yeah, I don’t want to be in front of a window. I’m going to pull out Bad News and I’m going to take a targeted shot at these mechanisms with the big gun. I obviously can’t do a trick shot because I’m shooting at a thing. Obviously. That would not work.

MARISHA: Obviously. Obvs.

TALIESIN: Spend a deadeye shot for it. And I’m going to do a sharpshooter. And I’m burning grit. Here we go. Didn’t need that grit, but fuck it. Nope, rolled 18 on both! So 25 to hit.

MATT: 25 hits.

TALIESIN: You can borrow the die. 25 hits. Oh boy, this is fun. Come on, where am I? d12s. And a d6. That’s a– (high-pitched giggling) I’m a pretty, pretty princess. 21, 31, 37. 37 points of piercing damage and five points of necrotic.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: You, sir, have the temperament of a Yalie. (gun firing)

MATT: As you fire Bad News you can see the smoke and dark mist that fires at the front of its barrel from the Hex, the heavy bullet goes into the opening in the chest that was given by Grog and you hear it bouncing around inside, seemingly not really doing any damage to the interior of the creature.

LAURA: Come on!

LIAM: Still well-aimed.

TALIESIN: I reload.

SAM: And shoot yourself in the face.

TALIESIN: Fuck it, I am Aquaman in this fight, I’m well aware.

LIAM: Take that sword out, man.

TALIESIN: I’m going to burn another grit. Oh, yeah, no, I am, but I’m trying to be helpful in the moment.

MATT: So you fire, reload, and for your–

TALIESIN: This is my third and final shot, I’m going to take an arm shot, I’m going to try and get it to drop its toy.

MATT: All righty.

TALIESIN: Finally, a– Oh, yay, that’s better. (counting) Sorry, I can’t count. 22.

MATT: That hits. So the bullet ricochets off the hand, doing no damage to it, but what’s the DC on–

TALIESIN: No damage?

MATT: No damage.

TALIESIN: Normal damage.

MATT: No damage.

TALIESIN: My bullets do no damage.

MATT: Your bullets do no damage.

TALIESIN: But you still get necrotic.

MATT: Yes, it does.

TALIESIN: One point of necrotic damage.

MATT: One point of necrotic damage.

(laughter)

MATT: What’s the DC?

TALIESIN: The DC is 19.

MATT: A 19? Okay, that brings it to–

TALIESIN: It’s a strength saving throw.

MATT: Strength, okay, that is a 17.

TALIESIN: He drops it. I yell out, somebody get that thing away from him!

MATT: As the bullet slams into its hands, its fingers, against its own will, are pried open from the blast, a little bit of poof of smoke off to the side. And the giant blade, which is about, I’d say, seven and a half feet long, clatters to the ground. That thing probably weighs quite a bit.

TALIESIN: I put my gun away and I’m done.

MATT: Okay, that’s the end of your turn. Grog, you’re up.

TRAVIS: Can I run, using a mixture of horizontal and diagonal movements, to run straight at Iron Giant?

MATT: Yeah. (counting) And you have two more squares of movement you can do if you want.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I want to get right up on him.

MATT: All right, you’re right there.

TRAVIS: Can I put myself on the opposite side of him from the window?

MATT: Right there?

TRAVIS: I would like to, since I have two attacks, I would like to try to shove him.

MARISHA: Yes. This is what I was going for, yeah.

LIAM: There’s a 20 on the die.

TRAVIS: He’s only one size larger than me, so–

MATT: He’s two sizes larger.

TRAVIS: In an effort to show off our Vestiges of Divergence, I’d like to retcon this and smash my Knuckles together and use the Enlarge to grow to incredible size.

LIAM: Do you see me, angel guy?

SAM: To ridiculous size!

MATT: As you rush forward, towards it, you slam your gauntlets together. As you get towards it you begin to swell in size, your strides getting longer and longer. By the time you approach it, you are right there. You are now one size category larger.

TRAVIS: Mighty Joe Young, bitch.

LAURA: Push him out the window, Grog!

MATT: All righty, so you are attempting to make a shove attack. Okay. You push it away from you.

TRAVIS: Yes, a strength check against either his strength or dexterity, it’s the target’s choice.

TALIESIN: He also has disadvantage on strength checks.

LAURA: So he’s going to choose dexterity.

MATT: Nope, his dexterity is fucking awful. So you go ahead and make an athletics check.

TRAVIS: Yes, which I get advantage on. 23.

MATT: 23? With disadvantage it’s 19.

LAURA: Yes! How far can you throw him?

TRAVIS: Only five feet, or knock him prone.

LAURA: Knock him prone!

SAM: I don’t know.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I’d like to knock him–

SAM: Yeah, I’m not there.

TRAVIS: I’d like to knock him prone.

TALIESIN: Live your dreams.

MATT: You rush forward, and leaning the axe to the side, you get low as it attempts to grab out and punch towards your head. Reach down and grab it from behind the ankle and then lift up, throwing its leg up over and it goes tumbling backwards, crashing onto its back on the ground, its limbs loosely flailing, trying to find some sort of purchase on the floor.

TRAVIS: Amazing.

MATT: You still have another attack, if you want to.

TRAVIS: Oh, I do?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: And because he’s prone, does that give me– no, I don’t know. Reckless. I hit him with the axe!

MATT: Go for it.

TRAVIS: Eight. Eight again. Fuck you!

SAM: You’ve got inspiration.

TRAVIS: But I don’t need it.

SAM: Oh great.

TRAVIS: Yeah, fuck, what did I say.

LIAM: 22.

TRAVIS: Thank you, 22.

MATT: 22? Hits.

TRAVIS: Thank you, sir. My brain don’t work so good. 19 plus one point of necrotic damage for 20 total.

MATT: 20 points of damage as you bring the axe down with both hands, whack! Right into the center of its chest armored cavity. You can see the axe fits about halfway, almost to the center of the handle itself into the chest and you have to work it back and forth to wedge it out of its metal hide. The axe is back in your grasp, and you can see a giant gash mark where it was left.

SAM: So it felt that?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you feel Grog.

TALIESIN: It’s armored, it’s got a heavy armor on.

MATT: So Grog, end of your turn?

TRAVIS: That ends my turn. You know Grog always leaves his mark, player.

MATT: Now the golem’s turn. Ah, look at that, it rolled a six. So it recharges its poison breath.

TRAVIS: Don’t say that so willy-nilly.

MATT: So it stands up in its space, using half its movement.

TRAVIS: I hate how confidently he’s saying that.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: It’s then going to pull back (deep breath). The helmet opens up from underneath and you can see that giant black vacuous space in the center of its throat. It lets another torrent of it forward.

LAURA: Yeah. Oh! Tell me I’m just out of reach!

MATT: Nope. You’re in reach.

LAURA: Fucking shitballs.

MATT: I need Keyleth, Grog, and Vex to make constitution saving throws.

LAURA: (singing) It doesn’t matter, even with a save I’m going to die.

MARISHA: I am immune to poison.

MATT: You’re immune to poison?

MARISHA: Because I’m a big earth elemental.

TRAVIS: I have resistance to poison.

MATT: All right. So what’s your constitution saving throw, Grog?

TRAVIS: It is an 18.

MATT: 18. All right. That fails, unfortunately, but you still take half damage.

TRAVIS: Because of the belt of dwarvenkind.

MATT: Indeed. So with a full roll there. All right. Grog, you take 25 points of poison damage.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: Keyleth, you take none because of your earth elemental form.

MARISHA: That’s right!

MATT: You take 50 points of poison damage.

LAURA: Awesome. I’m unconscious.

SAM: Did you say 50?

LAURA: Yeah. I’m straight up on the ground. I feel like Matt, he wants me to die. He makes me unconscious in every fight now.

LIAM: Who, that golem?

LAURA: No, Matt.

MATT: You were there!

LAURA: Nope. Matt wants me to die, I can feel it.

TALIESIN: To be fair, we have this really great idea of what to do with Trinket once you’re–

TRAVIS: Okay, let’s not! Okay? Let’s not!

MATT: To be fair, you’ve spent 90% of the game flying way away from everything you’ve ever fought, so maybe it’s about time it caught up to you a little. All right. That ends the golem’s turn. Vex, I need you to make a death saving throw.

MARISHA: Jesus fucking fuck.

TRAVIS: Roll one of the good ones? Which one will it be, of the 90?

TALIESIN: Which child will disappoint you today?

LAURA: Oh no, I failed it!

MATT: So mark off one failed death saving throw.

LAURA: Oh shitballs. Oh no!

MATT: All right. Ends your turn. Scanlan, you’re up.

SAM: I will heal Vex'ahlia.

LAURA: Oh Scanlan!

SAM: Am I 30 feet away or closer?

MATT: You are further away from her. You are currently off to that side. You are 40 feet from her.

SAM: Well, then I will walk 11 feet closer.

MATT: Okay. There you go.

SAM: And I will use Healing Word to heal her. I’ll sing to her (singing) Up, up and away on your beautiful, your beautiful broom!

(laughter)

MATT: What level?

SAM: I mean, it’s a bonus action so I can’t go very high with the level, can I?

MATT: You can go as high as you want on the bonus action, whatever spell you cast as your main action can’t be higher than level two.

SAM: As my main action can’t be level– what?

MATT: One of the spells has to be level two, the other can be any level it wants to. That’s how it works.

LAURA: Oh.

SAM: Got it. Well, then I’ll do this one at level two, and I can do anything for my main action.

MATT: Correct.

SAM: Okay. Level two!

MATT: All right. So that’s 2d4 plus six.

SAM: Do I roll? I roll.

MATT: You do.

SAM: One, two–

TALIESIN: Eight.

SAM: That’s it! Seven.

MATT: So you heal seven hit points, Vex.

LAURA: Yay!

MATT: Did you roll seven?

SAM: No, I rolled two.

TALIESIN: So it’s eight.

MATT: Okay, then eight. You’re at eight.

LAURA: Yay!

SAM: Six? I thought it was plus five? Well, whatever.

MATT: Plus six now because your charisma went up by one, buddy.

SAM: Oh that’s right! I got to mark that down!

MATT: Yes, you should. The soothing words of Scanlan Shorthalt pull you from unconsciousness as your eyes begin to focus downward. You’re looking out past the balcony and you can see bits of dust being scattered across the ground and you hear the heavy footfalls of your friends and the golem behind you as suddenly you’re like, Oh shit!

LAURA: And I cough out blood.

MATT: All right. Scanlan, you still have 15 more feet of movement. Or ten more feet, technically.

SAM: I’m going to go back to right where I was.

MATT: You get close to it at least. Right there.

SAM: And shit. Shitballs. Shit. Shitballs fucking shit. I will use (singing) Bigby’s Hand.

MATT: Grog, did you add your 1d4 points of damage for your enlarged state? In your attack?

TRAVIS: No.

MATT: Roll 1d4. Add that. When you’re enlarged you do an additional 1d4 with any weapon attacks because the weapon got larger as well.

TRAVIS: One.

MATT: There you go. All right. So what are you doing Scanlan?

SAM: Bigby’s Hand is going to make a huge fist, fly forward, and smash the window.

MATT: Behind?

SAM: Behind him.

MARISHA: Fuck yes. Yes!

TALIESIN: That’s what I’m talking about!

MARISHA: Yeah. We’re all on the same page. I’m so proud of us you guys.

MATT: Let’s have Bigby’s Hand make a melee spell attack against the glass.

SAM: Melee spell attack. Well, that’s cocked. 12 plus what?

MATT: Plus your spell attack bonus.

SAM: Oh. 22.

MATT: 22. Without an issue the fist appears behind the golem, fists up, and is about to punch it in the back of the head when, last minute, it whirls around and slams into the glass. Go ahead and roll 4d8 points of damage.

SAM: 4d8. I only have 1d8. 13 plus eight. 21. No! 22. No! What is it?

TRAVIS: 21! Holy shit!

MATT: You had it right. The window shatters, comes clattering down, and suddenly the wind begins to pick up into the room. At this high a point, all the silks are now whirling around. The storm at the top that Keyleth is holding is starting to meet the turbulence and the lightning bolts are beginning to course through it even heavier. Right now it’s pretty heavy winds coming through here regardless, so a lot of you are having to keep–

SAM: Can I use any action to take off my hat and let my hair flow, Matthew Mercer style?

MATT: Yeah. I’ll give you that. Like a fantastic 1991 rock video.

LAURA: Yeah!

TALIESIN and MARISHA: (singing) I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over.

MATT: All right. Keyleth, you’re up.

MARISHA: Okay. Grog’s sort of out of my way–

TRAVIS: Just bring it.

MARISHA: I want to full on linebacker style go for this guy, and we’re going out the fucking window.

TRAVIS: Yes!

MARISHA: And I’m going to take him, tackling him out the window.

MATT: Okay, so you’re going to go ahead and do a shove attack?

MARISHA: Yes, that is what I’m going to do.

MATT: All right. Go ahead and make an athletics check.

TALIESIN: So much strength disadvantage.

LIAM: Such hassle. Too much hassle.

LAURA: Yes. Do it, giant earth.

LIAM: Shove out window, fighting too much hassle.

SAM: You know, if we can’t kill it we can all kill ourselves out the window.

LAURA: Exactly.

MARISHA: What am I doing? I’m an earth elemental, so is that just strength?

MATT: Yeah, so add plus five to it.

MARISHA: Ten.

MATT: All right. 18. And with disadvantage that is going to be 22. So as you rush forward and slam into it, it puts its hand out and takes the blow, and it screeches a couple inches, but it’s still too heavy for you to get it forward. You have two slam attacks, as part of it?

MARISHA: Yeah, can I do it again?

MATT: You can do it again if you want.

MARISHA: Yeah, let’s try this again.

MATT: All right, go ahead and roll a d20 and add five.

MARISHA: Come on, big money– ugh! No. Just no.

MATT: What did you roll? What’s the total.

MARISHA: I rolled seven total.

MATT: Yeah, he– natural one.

(cheering)

MATT: He rolled a seven and then a one. So as you pull back with your other fist and you slam it square into the center of the one plate that’s still visible, you hit it, and using all your might, looking over at Grog to get a little inspiration, you grin at him with this horrible earthy smile as you watch as it scrapes across the floor of the throne room being pushed back right there, five feet. All right. That ends your turn.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Vax, your turn.

LIAM: I want to, like a hasted spider monkey, scrabble along the floor really low and flank the thing opposite Keyleth and stab it in any gears I see.

MATT: All right.

SAM: Sorry, Vax.

LIAM: I’ve got wings!

SAM: Okay.

LIAM: First attack is a 17. Second attack misses, it’s a natural one. Third attack is a natural one.

MATT: So 17?

LIAM: Oh, it’s advantage on all the attacks because I’m flanking?

MATT: Because you are flanking, it is advantage on the attacks, yes.

LIAM: Advantage on all?

MATT: Yes.

LIAM: So the first one was a 17.

TALIESIN: And now you have one more roll for the second.

LIAM: One more roll for the second is a 13. And then the third attack–holy cow–is a 25.

MATT: Okay, so the first two miss, the last one hits. The blades are (screeching) streaking across it. Which dagger is this?

LIAM: The last one is the Dagger of Venom. It is three plus six is nine plus– they’re right there. What did I say before? Nine plus six, 15, 18, 24, 25, 31, 37, 40 again.

MATT: 40 points of piercing damage. First two blades strike and make no mark whatsoever on its hide. However, the second one does manage to pull apart and open this slight piece where you see a number of its giant iron central torso pieces emerging. You see a slight seam there where they’ve been welded together. You take that moment to pull back your dagger of venom and slip it as hard as you can right into that groove. As it does, it sinks right to the hilt and the creature flexes its back in pain. (groaning)

LIAM: I’m going to guess I have a little bit of movement left, and I don’t care if he swings at me. I’m going to back into the corner between the hole and the window that’s still in one piece.

MATT: There?

LIAM: Yeah, all the way to the wall. Yep.

MATT: There you go. All right, as you back away, it swings back with its fist as it hasn’t been able to pick up its weapon yet. Its fist is still a large rock-like battering ram. That is a natural 20.

LIAM: Is it disadvantage, though, from Percy?

MATT: Not anymore, that only lasts for a round.

LIAM: I’ll use Uncanny Dodge.

MATT: Eight, five, eight on 3d8. So 21 plus nine. 30 points of bludgeoning damage, 60 points of damage.

LIAM: 60 points?!

MATT: 60 points of damage.

LIAM: With Uncanny Dodge?

MATT: With Uncanny Dodge reduces it to 30. Whack! It backhands you. While you’re running for the wall, your vision goes white from the impact. You hear that high-pitched whine as your ears can’t even deal with the ringing of the impact. You stumble and find yourself stumbling towards the broken glass where the wind’s coming from and catch yourself back into the side of the wall. (heavy breathing) Catch your breath there on the side. That ends your turn. Percy, you’re up.

TALIESIN: I’m kind of useless.

MARISHA: Don’t say that!

TALIESIN: I’m going to do something stupid here. I’m going to take a few steps to my left so I have a good, clear shot at it towards the window.

MATT: To your left here?

TALIESIN: Yep. More. Yeah, there. That’ll do. I’m going to keep blowing through in the hope that I get a crit because then I regain a grit. I’m going to pull out Bad News and start firing to see if I can throw it off its aim.

MARISHA: Are you grit farming right now?

TALIESIN: I’m grit farming.

MARISHA: You’re totally grit farming.

TALIESIN: I’m fucking grit farming.

MATT: You’re grit farming– okay, go for it. So Bad News is reload, attack, reload.

TALIESIN: It’s not Bad News, it’s–

MATT: Oh, it’s Retort you’re pulling out.

TALIESIN: Yeah, Retort, it’s off-balance so I’m trying to find a place where– give it some momentum to fall.

MATT: You have one more shot, a reload, then a shot.

TALIESIN: I have one more shot, a reload, and a shot. Two shots.

MATT: Go for it.

TALIESIN: I hit, so that I might as well just roll–

MATT: Just roll the necrotic damage.

TALIESIN: That’s six points of necrotic damage.

MATT: Six points of necrotic damage? All righty.

TALIESIN: And again. 21? Oh, 20.

MATT: 20?

TALIESIN: 20. Not natural 20. It misses?

MATT: It misses. The bullet goes past the armor and ends up hitting the side of the wall and cracks some of the marble.

TALIESIN: I’m just trying to grit farm at this point.

MATT: Staying where you are?

TALIESIN: You know? It occurs to me that this battle’s going to be over soon.

SAM: That’s wishful thinking!

LAURA: Why would you throw that out there?!

TRAVIS: Great way to hear God laugh is to announce your plans.

TALIESIN: Point!

MATT: Grog, your turn.

TRAVIS: After seeing Vex fall and then Scanlan lift her up and then Vax get slammed into the wall and Keyleth showing up in this very attractive form, I would like to reckless attack, and for a bonus action, go into a frenzied rage for a third attack, and use all three to try and push him out the window.

MARISHA: Yes!

MATT: All righty! You go into your frenzied rage. Go ahead and make three athletics checks. First one.

TRAVIS: I have advantage.

LIAM: Get it son!

TRAVIS: That’s a 23.

MATT: That is an 18. So the first one, you slam. Pushes it back. It’s now teetering on the edge. Right there. Now, as part of the shove, my question, I have to see if you get to move into its space afterward because, right now, it’s out of your range.

TRAVIS: That is a good question. I could move.

MATT: You’d have to move to that point to hit it. Because you’d have to move five feet because Keyleth pushed it away. You shove it back. Double-check this one more time.

MARISHA and LAURA: This. Is.

MARISHA: Ank'Harel!

SAM: Do we notice any rocket boosters on its heels?

MATT: You have plenty of movement. You push it back, you move in to get within range there. Go ahead and make another.

TRAVIS: 27.

MATT: 27, that is a 17.

LAURA: Yes!

MATT: Pushed back, it’s right up to the edge now, its shoulders dropped against the edge. Its blade is still on the ground. Do you move in and go for a final one?

TRAVIS: Yes, please.

MATT: Make an athletics check one more time.

MARISHA: Come on!

TRAVIS: That’s good! 26.

MATT: Natural one.

(yelling)

MATT: 15 and a natural one. All right, so.

How do you want to do this?

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Because I love 300, I look at him and I say, (yelling) This. Is. Vox Machina! And kick him in the chest out the window.

MATT: As your swollen, giant goliath foot slams into the front, you see the metal plate that’s dangling and the one that’s still there cave inward, sparks fly as the inner workings of it are jammed with its own armored plate. Its arms reach out and scrape and break off the sides of the walls as it falls backward and tumbles out of sight. You glance over and look down as you watch it plummet.

TRAVIS: We’re so high up.

LAURA: So high.

LIAM: Empire State Building.

MATT: (loud crash) Through the roof of some portion of the Cerulean Palace.

LAURA: No!

MARISHA: Sorry!

TRAVIS: Fore!

LAURA: I hope everyone’s okay!

MARISHA: Sorry, Steve!

TRAVIS: Do I have any movement to move away from the opening of the window, just in case any trickery happens?

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: I’m okay!

LAURA: Can I stand up? I’ve been watching this whole thing from the ground going: Yay Grog!

SAM: Covered in blood.

MATT: You stand up and look over the side just as Grog kicks it out the window and it disappears out of sight.

TRAVIS: I find earth elemental Keyleth. (heavy hand slap)

SAM: Don’t leave me hanging, says Bigby’s Hand!

TRAVIS: Yeah! Whack! It’s like a jive hand shake, it’s like, yeah! Get a little weasel.

LIAM: I’m going to skitter over to my sister and help her up Saving Private Ryan style.

LAURA: I’m going to cast Cure Wounds on myself there.

MATT: Go for it.

LAURA: At 3rd-level there.

MARISHA: Hey Grog! Chest bump! Huh! Yeah!

MATT: Both of you guys make athletics checks.

TRAVIS: Yes!

MARISHA: Who?

MATT: Both of you guys make athletics checks.

MARISHA: For chest bumping each other?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: 23.

MARISHA: 19.

MATT: (impact) You end up shoving her earth elemental form back about five feet.

MARISHA: Out the window?

MATT: Not out the window, you’re not close enough.

TALIESIN: Just double checking: can I feel if my Hex has dissipated?

MATT: Your Hex has dissipated, yes.

TALIESIN: Just checking.

SAM: Are there shards of glass on the ground? Or did they all go outward?

MATT: There are a few shards, but a lot of it seems to be broken.

SAM: Can I have Bigby pick up one and bring it back? A tiny piece.

TALIESIN: Do you have a mending spell of any kind?

SAM: No. You’re on your own, fuckface.

TALIESIN: I’m not fixing it, I just thought it might be nice, good god!

MATT: How many hit points do you heal, Vex?

LAURA: I’m at 28 hit points now.

MATT: 28 hit points. All righty.

LAURA: Oh no, what are you going to do now?!

MATT: You guys take a moment to yourself to look around and see if there’s no other threat. With the shattered glass window, the wind whipping through the room, the silks all swirling, entangling around you. The wind slowly dies down, suddenly and unnaturally so. You glance over the balcony, and what was once empty, you see a dark figure standing, silhouetted by the outside sunlight. Tall, thin, lithe figure. This appears to be J'mon Sa Ord reappearing, who walks inside, hands together and an expression of amusement, says, “Impressive indeed. Very well. You will have my alliance and allegiance for the coming storm.” The door behind you, where you guys entered up inside opens and you see the Grand Maven step out with a smile on her face as well. She looks over to the window and goes, “Perhaps I should go check on– I should go check.” She backs back in and you hear the chain rupture as it begins to shift back down. J'mon steps forward. “Join me by the throne, please.” Steps over and sits down once again. “The cruel red that you speak of, that we once fought, was crushed by our might and my hatred for its kind. This city has many wards, as I mentioned, and I am its protector. I have my ways, which I utilize only when necessary. Now what you ask, what you do, is already a deed of justice in and of itself. I require no recompense beyond that. While I cannot leave my city unguarded for long, I must remain until you are prepared to engage this Thordak head on. When the time comes, call to me and I will come to your aid.” And they raise their finger and does a small snapping motion. You watch as the throne itself lifts up and shifts off of its place. A chest beneath it opens suddenly, and the wind whips up once more throughout the room and as it does, a small, thin, extended rod-like object floats and is tossed in the air by the wind over in the direction of J'mon Sa Ord who then snatches it and the wind ceases once more. Presents it toward–

SAM: I’ll take that, please.

MATT: You take it. Looking at it, it’s a small brass flute. Looks simple. Like a penny whistle, almost. As you’re about to blow on it, J'mon puts their hand up and says, “It knows the melody to call Devo'ssa but once.”

SAM: To call who?

MATT: “Devo'ssa.”

SAM: Is that a name that you go by?

MATT: “Devo'ssa is the guardian of this city.” J'mon stands back and slowly extends their arms as a sudden burst of wind once again fills the room, swirling around, sending the silks tangling about once more, seeming stronger than what was brought in from the shattered window earlier. Your hair is being tossed and you watch as the lithe creature steps back, the shape bending and swelling behind the silks passing in front as it backs up toward the opposite side of the chamber on the outside of the balcony. You watch the flashing of color, of green and dark gold. A shadow takes the floors, the new form before you holds most of the room, lording over the throne (heavy footsteps). Wings (whooshing noise) unfurl as you see before you the form of the city’s protector: a massive brass dragon, scales glistening in the window-fractured sunlight, wings and tail tip becoming a gradient into green at the end. Incredible, frightening, beautiful. The dragon’s head curls down, over where the throne was moved, their head massive by comparison to you and reminiscent of most of your recent dragon fights, though there is almost a smile and benevolence to their presence. The same black eyes, with a smoldering molten pupil still stand there, staring back at you. “I share with you my secret. There is now trust between you and I. Do not forsake it.”

LAURA: Never.

TALIESIN: This is a greater gift than we could have hoped for.

MATT: (heavy footsteps) They sit back into a more casual position, their claws still there before them, head still level with the rest of your party. It slowly drifts back up, now looming down over 30 feet ahead of you. The voice booms out once more, “I will prepare here how I can. Now go. Time is ever fleeting.”

LAURA: When we call your guardian, is that how you’ll know that we’re calling you as well?

MATT: “I am the guardian.”

LAURA: I get it. I’m really smart.

SAM: She lost a lot of blood.

LAURA: (coughs) Also, like a big giant gash right here. I’m going to hold it together. For now.

SAM: Ahem. Excuse me. Your imminence– imminence? Eminence. As we are strangers in this foreign land, we were also wondering if you would lend us some sort of a calling card, something that proves that we are friends of the state, it might serve us well as we are automatically suspicious as we walk around your great city.

TRAVIS: I wave my giant hand that I’ve enlarged.

SAM: Or no. Either way, we’re good.

TALIESIN: I get the feeling that perhaps, even such a thing would make us even more of a target, perhaps?

MATT: The dragon leans forward, the head coming down straight to you. Their maw right across from your size, one of their front teeth is about up to your waist by comparison. (heavy breathing) (chuckles) “You are sly, gnome.” Turns around and reaches into the same box that carried the flute, pulls out a chain that dangles, fluttering in the wind, and hands it to you.

MARISHA: It’s a four-day Comic-Con badge.

SAM: Oh! Professional!

MATT: “Only one day.”

SAM: Sunday? Motherfucker!

(laughter)

MATT: The chain, as you grasp it– it’s dropped into your hand and you look at it. There appears to be a brass emblem with a single circular sapphire set into it. “This is a symbol of my crest. Few should argue should they be under my sway.”

SAM: Thank you so much. And I drop six inches, which is to my knee, and bow my head in supplication.

TRAVIS: Scanlan! Beep-beep. Beep-beep!

LAURA: He means “be pleased.”

SAM: Oh! Be pleased.

TALIESIN: Before we depart, my lord, I would ask perhaps some local knowledge. We have magical items that we require wisdom as to their origin and their function. Who would you trust in this city? Would you know who to trust in this city?

MATT: Thinks for a second.

TALIESIN: Flips through his notes.

MATT: (chuckles) Yeah.

TALIESIN: A little Rolodex.

LAURA: His Trapper Keeper. I like that everyone has a Trapper Keeper.

LIAM: Large brass Trapper Keeper.

TRAVIS: You hear the Velcro.

TALIESIN: The iPad is rebooting.

TRAVIS: Neon pinks and purples.

MARISHA: Updating? Goddamn it.

LIAM: (as Devo'ssa) “I love Night Rider.”

SAM: How am I supposed to remember “beep-beep” from two weeks ago?

MATT: “There are many who I would call friends, or trustworthy. The list would be long.”

TALIESIN: For ancient objects, such as we have. For Vestiges. For things that are old.

MATT: “You would seek Headmaster James Kryon.”

MARISHA: James Kryon?

LAURA: Krylon?

MATT: “Head of the Crystal Chateau’s program for arcane arts and training.”

TALIESIN: I will not tell him of anything other than our gentle acquaintance.

MARISHA: Crystal Chateau– what was that last bit?

MATT: “The Crystal Chateau.”

MARISHA: Got it. Sure. Crystal Chateau.

LIAM and MARISHA: Old magic.

SAM: It’s a two year professional degree.

LAURA: I don’t know how to spell chateau. I really don’t know how to spell it.

TRAVIS: Percy, what’s the proper way to leave a royal chamber?

TALIESIN: The way that you leave a royal chamber is you thank them for their patience and their time and for their wisdom, you keep your head beneath theirs, and you never turn your back. And you leave, facing them in reverence.

TRAVIS: Thank you for having patience, put your head, and–

TALIESIN: Be pleased. Don’t say the words, just do the things. I didn’t tell you what to say, I told you what to do.

TRAVIS: Thank you for your patience. And I turn around and walk out.

(laughter)

MATT: You hear a hearty, deep-throated chuckle as you turn around. As you make your way to the door of the exit, it opens once more as you hear the platform coming to rest once again. As it opens, there standing in the space is the cobalt golem, eyes flickering with white flame. (footsteps) It comes rushing forward past you, shouldering you out of the way. Grabs its blade. You can see there are dents in its armor, but it’s still standing. Apparently didn’t seem to take that much damage from the impact of the fall. It takes the blade and drags it behind it as it moves around J'mon, who steps back as the golem goes back under the balcony and then begins to climb back up outside to whatever strange device or platform it was affixed to before it dropped.

LAURA: Sick.

TALIESIN: Marvelous piece of engineering.

MATT: “We have many throughout the palace.”

TALIESIN: Your technology is impressive, your craftsmanship beyond anything I have ever seen, and there is nothing more pleasing than a monarch with a sense of humor. Bless you.

MATT: “My patience for your honeyed words grows thin.”

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Oh, that felt good.

TRAVIS: That was so good, too!

MATT: “Now, be on your way. I suspect when the time comes to call me you’d best be ready. Now.” Turns around and with a whirl, the wind picks up again and the form shrinks down leaving, once again, in the space as the shadow shrinks, the lithe form of J'mon Sa Ord. They walk back to the throne as the throne seems to magically lift up and cover the box that was there beneath it before. Sits back on the throne, crosses their knees onto the throne, leans on one side of the armrest.

TRAVIS: Should we ask how to tell if someone else is a dragon? Is there a tell?

TALIESIN: They won’t tell you.

TRAVIS: Oh.

TALIESIN: Because I think that’s their secret.

TRAVIS: Right.

LAURA and LIAM: Thank you.

TALIESIN: I begin walking out.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we all walk out.

LAURA: Backwards. I’m going to keep holding my slashed–

TALIESIN: That should actually give you excellent posture for a slight bow.

LAURA: Right, yeah.

LIAM: I’m going to cast Lay on Hands through my arm around her shoulder and give her a big five hit points.

LAURA: Oh, thank you. I’m in the thirties now.

TALIESIN: It’s like the life force of two kittens.

MARISHA: Two kittens worth.

MATT: You guys step back into the platform. The door closes. The chains shudder and begin to unfurl as the platform lowers down once more, giving you the view over the vast expanse of Ank'Harel and the deserts beyond.

MARISHA: Oh, in the see-through elevator?

MATT: Yep.

TRAVIS: Just us, no Grand Maven?

MATT: No Grand Maven. It finally reaches the bottom floor. The door opens once again, and there you see the Grand Maven surrounded by twelve different servants that are now picking up pieces of shattered rooftop, broken furniture, and a large crater that is now jammed in the center of what was once the waiting room where you guys were previously set. Furniture scattered and totally ruined, and there seems to be an air of haste in making sure that it doesn’t stay like this for long.

LAURA: So sorry about that.

SAM: Did anyone die?

MATT: “Thankfully, no. There was no death. You are lucky this time.”

TALIESIN: Just a heart attack and a metaphor for our entire existence, that’s fine.

SAM: Did you see a javelin? No? Maybe? Okay.

LAURA: Can we look around for it?

TALIESIN: We’re going to have to take a walk around the tower for a javelin. You threw it?

TRAVIS: How high is the top of the tower?

MATT: It’s hard to tell. A few hundred feet.

TRAVIS: A few hundred feet up, I chucked the shit out of it.

LAURA: It could be around.

TRAVIS: You know the needle in the desert metaphor?

TALIESIN: Is there a needle in the desert– is that a thing?

TRAVIS: Well, I’ve heard it before.

MATT: There is now.

TRAVIS: Many a wise and learned creature–

MATT: You wish to take some time to go ahead and try and figure out a trajectory and where it may have gone?

TALIESIN: I’m going to sit down and do a little math and see if I can get a vague sense.

LAURA: I’m going to ask the Grand Maven: Flying, is that sort of weird here, or is that totally okay? On a broom, maybe? I don’t want to do anything that’s wrong here. I feel like I might be able to see it.

MATT: “As far as I understand, there is no issue with flying within Ank'Harel.”

TALIESIN: Not old math.

MARISHA: New math. He’s finding fractals and shit over here.

MATT: Did you roll a natural 20?

TALIESIN: Weirdly enough, I’ve figured out–

MARISHA: He just created the Mandelbrots.

LAURA: Percy, point me in the direction. I’ll fly and get it.

TALIESIN: Natural 20.

MATT: You became the animated gif of the cat that gets the flower on its head and sees through space and time. You guys watch as Percy zones out for five minutes, the hand moving at a rapid pace across the paper.

TALIESIN: I found a window and I’m doing the Beautiful Mind.

MATT: What that enables you, as you get some ideas as to the trajectory, the speed, the strength of Grog in the non-grown form versus the grown form. This does allow you, whoever wants to lead this expedition, one investigation check to possibly even recover anything.

LAURA: Can I fly? I feel like I could fly down and get it.

TALIESIN: I’ll fly with her and use the math to–

LAURA: Point me in the direction.

MATT: So the two of you are using the broom. It only has space on it for one.

TALIESIN: I’m going to hang.

MATT: Okay, so Percy’s hanging from underneath as you fly up a few hundred feet.

LAURA: Hold tight, Percy!

TALIESIN: I’ve locked my gauntlet.

LAURA: I’m holding onto one of his wrists as I’m flying.

LIAM: I’m watching in case I need to catch.

MATT: You guys watch them vanish in a darker and darker spot as they get higher into the sky. Percy. Go ahead and make a wisdom saving throw. You’ve not been this high before and the sheer perspective and the fact that you have very little affixing you to this broom, we’re going to see if you can overcome this singular human fear of heights.

LAURA: No, Percy, you’re totally fine.

TALIESIN: No, I’m not. Oh, I can reroll a saving throw, can’t I? Yeah.

MATT: You can, as a fighter, yeah.

TALIESIN: I can reroll a saving throw, because I’m going to pretend that number didn’t happen.

MATT: Indomitable Will, this is a perfect use for it, actually.

TALIESIN: I’m going to do it again. I have one more, so I’m going to blow them all.

MATT: Okay, I’ll let you do that.

TALIESIN: Better!

MARISHA: Fight that vertigo, fight it!

TALIESIN: I’ll tell you what, because I had to blow all of those, we can say I threw up a little. Let’s go there. That’s a wisdom, that’s 19.

MATT: 19. You feel quivering of the broom as Percy’s hands are beginning to shake and you see the fingers constantly flutter. As you look down, about to ask if he’s okay, you watch as (vomit noise) this spray of–

LAURA: I throw up, too, because anytime I–

TALIESIN: This was a very poor decision!

MATT: Vax, you watch as you see a gentle rain.

TALIESIN: Have we gone forward, or have we just gone straight up?

MATT: Gone straight up in an arc.

TALIESIN: So we’re not going to hit them.

LIAM: Excuse me, but this is poetic justice if I have ever seen it. That is beautiful.

TALIESIN: This has been the metaphor game. This is a metaphor for our entire existence.

MATT: Yeah, some poor folks in Ank'Harel right now are having a really bad afternoon.

MARISHA: Yeah, I do a Gust cantrip overtop of us to keep from getting splattered.

LAURA: I’m going to keep my hand on your wrist, Percy.

TALIESIN: I’m not going to look down. I’m going to look ahead. I’m good.

MATT: He directs you vaguely where it may have landed. I need you to make a perception check.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

LIAM: That’s your jam.

LAURA: I’m going to try this fancy little dice here.

MATT: You’re going to have to roll crazy high.

LIAM: Nope!

MARISHA: Shut up!

TRAVIS: No, that’s a seven, right?

LAURA: This is a one. I’m going to blame it on Matt Abernathy. Thanks for that opal dice.

MARISHA: Is it the opal dice again?!

LAURA: Yeah!

MARISHA: What the fuck?!

LAURA: He got opal dice and it– okay. That’s okay.

MATT: We love you, Abernathy, don’t listen to her.

LAURA: 13 perception.

MATT: But you rolled a natural one.

LIAM: Automatic failure. Sorry, Charlie.

LAURA: Damn it.

MATT: As he begins telling you about the wind trajectory, and the direction of its travel and the hypotenuse, and he goes in this long series of various–

LAURA: I zone in and I notice that I accidentally puked a little bit on Percy’s head. And that completely distracts me.

MATT: Just focusing on the one bit of his hair. The little clump right there.

LAURA: That’s got a tiny bit of puke on the top of his head, and I feel so bad I can’t focus on what you’re saying.

TALIESIN: Because of that, we’ve done about 350. Have we done 350? Where are we now, 80, 90 feet ahead?

LAURA: And I throw up again because it’s so gross to see.

MATT: This time, thankfully, you have the mind to pull out of the way a little bit. However, after about ten minutes of conversation, and you unable to focus again: it’s lost. You have no idea where that javelin is.

LIAM: I would like to think you could feel my grinning from way down below.

LAURA: You were so smart with your math and I–

TALIESIN: No, sometimes math is not enough.

SAM: 20 and a one.

TALIESIN: Let’s go fly down.

LAURA: Someone is going to find a really expensive weapon.

MATT: Someone’s going to find some pauper impaled on a wall somewhere.

LAURA: Oh no! No, I hope not! And the mystery, it will just be unsolved mysteries, they’ll never know.

MATT: Three month investigation, no answers.

LAURA: They’re going have a documentary on Making a Murderer.

TRAVIS: It’ll be one dude impaled against the wall and some poor bastard that grabbed it and then got fucking electrocuted. There’s two corpses.

MATT: As you guys fly back down, gather the rest of your party, the javelin lost.

LAURA: Sorry, Percy, I’m so sorry.

TALIESIN: It’s all right. It wasn’t my javelin.

LAURA: No, but it was your hair that I threw up on.

TALIESIN: You threw up on my hair?!

LAURA: I mean! And I take some–

TALIESIN: Oh god.

LAURA: You know, if you hadn’t thrown up to begin with, this would have never happened.

TALIESIN: I wasn’t aware that was going to be a thing that could happen. My hair is very absorbent, that’s going to take some time.

MATT: So as you guys take a moment to gather your next stage in your endeavor for the day, we’re going to take a quick bathroom break. Back here in a few minutes guys; hold tight. We’ll continue this adventure here in just a moment.

LAURA: Man, I rolled a one!

BreakEdit

[break]

Part IIEdit

MATT: Hello guys, welcome back! So, finished our break, Vox Machina have exited the Cerulean Palace. Apparently revealed to J'mon Sa Ord that they were capable, and in doing so, J'mon Sa Ord revealed that so is the leader of the city. So one javelin down, unfortunately. You are now getting to the later evening of your time here in Ank'Harel.

LAURA: What time is it?

MATT: What is your plan?

SAM: Is it sundown yet?

MATT: It’s pretty close. The sun’s about 30 minutes from dusk.

LIAM: Is it spice o'clock?

LAURA: I’m going to use another spell and heal myself some more.

SAM: Oh yeah. Can we take a short rest somewhere? And hit dice it up or something?

MATT: Yeah, totally. Go ahead and take a short rest out there on the steps of the Cerulean Palace.

SAM: Take a knee.

MARISHA: A little therapeutic massages all the way around.

TALIESIN: Is Grit recovery a short rest or a long rest? I can’t remember.

MATT: What do you mean?

TALIESIN: Grit recovery.

MATT: It’s a short rest.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MATT: And don’t forget, Scanlan, you have an ability that helps everyone who’s using hit dice gets a bonus.

LAURA: You do?

MARISHA: Really?

SAM: It’s not very much but yes! Yes, I do.

TALIESIN: It’s even less if you don’t do it.

SAM: I’ve never used it because it’s so weak. But yeah, sure.

TALIESIN: He doesn’t like us.

SAM: Yeah. I do. I’m trying to find where–

MATT: Song of Rest.

SAM: Song of Rest. It’s only a d10? What is it?

TALIESIN: Yeah. 1d10.

LAURA: That’s still. That’s potentially ten extra hit points.

MARISHA: Between all of us.

MATT: Every person, as soon as you finish your short rest to heal. You heal an additional 1d10 hit points at the end of it.

SAM: All right. I will sing us a Song of Rest.

MARISHA: Oh, I rolled a ten! Oh wait, do I roll or you roll?

MATT: You roll.

MARISHA: We roll? Cool!

SAM: I’ll sing. (singing) I believe you can kill. I believe that you really will. Think about it every night and day. Sharpen your blades because it’s time to play. I believe! Okay, it’s time to go get some spice!

(laughter)

MATT: You finish your short rest. As the night takes the sky, the streets of Ank'Harel do not grow any calmer. The bazaar lights begin to glow in the distance as you see the lanterns and various magical light sources of the city spark to life and the lamps light themselves. But the city still seems to be bustling with all the energy and buzz of the day before. What would you like to do?

TALIESIN: There’s a casino if I recall.

TRAVIS: Yeah, that’s where we’re going.

LIAM: Do you gamble?

TALIESIN: I don’t know. I mean, I do, but I never gamble for fun.

LIAM: I don’t mean with lives.

TALIESIN: No, I do not gamble.

MARISHA: I enjoy the gambling game. That’s fun!

TALISIN: That’s right! We did play cards with you. That went really well.

SAM: Guys. If we’re going to this casino, I have a deal to make. I value your friendship. I value the backup you will provide, but I need you to stay far away. Be inconspicuous. And by the gods, do not help me in any way! Unless I say some sort of a codeword.

LAURA: What’s the codeword?

TALIESIN: Help me. Help me. Oh God, help me?

SAM: That’s a good one. Let’s make it that! Help me. Help me. Oh God, help me!

LAURA: I have a question.

SAM: Yes?

LAURA: Do you really think this is a smart move, considering that a brass dragon just gave us our aid and asked us not to fuck anything up?

MARISHA: Also, what exactly are you doing?

TRAVIS: (loudly) Your drug deal?

SAM: Keep it down, dude! Chill! Just chill!

LAURA: All right. We’re cool, Scanlan. We’re cool.

SAM: We are not cool.

LAURA and MARISHA: We’re so cool.

TALIESIN and TRAVIS: So cool.

TALIESIN: I’m cool enough to know that, perhaps, you should hand off that necklace that he gave you.

SAM: Not at all.

TALIESIN: They’re going to think you’re a narc.

LAURA: Oh, they are! What if they find it on you?

TALIESIN: You’re wearing a police badge basically.

LAURA: Give it to us. If anyone comes and tries to take you away, we’ll present it and say that we’re higher rank.

MARISHA: That’s true.

TRAVIS: Are you supposed to do anything to set up for this deal?

SAM: Set up? I have to change into my red shirt.

LIAM: And also, are you sure you really don’t want us nearby? My sister and I can be unseen.

SAM: Nearby is fine. Nearby is fine but keep your distance and do not do anything including if it looks like I’m in trouble.

LIAM: I mean I’m ready for the show, man. It’s fine.

LAURA: We’ve seen you turn into a triceratops and fuck things up. We trust you, Scanlan.

LIAM: Oh, we didn’t see that.

LAURA: Well, we know it happened.

SAM: I had it commissioned as art.

LAURA: Seen the tale throughout the mansion.

TRAVIS: Can I ask for one other codeword if you don’t want us to step in? What if you want us to create a distraction?

SAM: Okay, okay. What would that codeword be?

TRAVIS: Kill everything.

SAM: Well, we are being honest on this trip, right? “Kill everything,” means make a distraction, right? But “Help, help, oh god, help,” means I need help.

TRAVIS: How about “tomato paste” to create a distraction?

SAM: Tomato paste?

TRAVIS: Yeah, because I’ll cover the walls in tomato paste. But from people.

MARISHA: I feel like we need something that he could use in a sentence very easily.

LIAM: What about “Love-a the spice?”

LAURA: “Love-a the spice,” huh?

SAM: Let’s stick with tomato paste. I feel like that’s easier to work into a sentence than “Love-a the spice.”

LIAM: I don’t doubt you could fit it in, Scanlan. Let’s be real, please.

SAM: Really nervous, guys. I’ve never done a drug deal– (whispers) a drug deal before.

LAURA: Are you sure this is even a drug?

SAM: Yes, of course! I said, “Spice. Spice. Spice,” And shady people came around. That means it’s a drug, right?

LAURA: Did you say what the spice was?

TALIESIN: Oregano.

SAM: I told them. They seemed illicit about it. I’m very excited!

LAURA: All right. You’ll do a wonderful job. You’re so cool.

TRAVIS: How far away is the casino?

SAM: Where is the casino? I wrote it down.

TRAVIS: The north end?

SAM: It’s where the Ravenites are. Nope! That’s a different page.

LAURA: Should we get in fancy casino clothes? Because I feel like we’d dress up for it.

SAM: It’s not The Debt’s Respite. It is just The Casino, right? Does it have a name?

MATT: It’s called the Luck’s Run and you feel like you passed it when you first entered the Suncut Bazaar here in the city. You didn’t pay much mind to it at the time.

LAURA: Is it shaped like a pyramid with a giant light coming out the top? No?

MARISHA: Does it have a shitty roller coaster attached?

MATT: We’ll find out.

SAM: All right. I’m heading to the casino. Would you all like to join me? And you can entertain yourselves with some games while I–

LAURA: I cannot wait.

TALIESIN: I am very excited by this!

MARISHA: I really enjoy the gambling!

TALIESIN: I enjoy watching her gamble.

MARISHA: Yes. But we are cool. We are chill.

TRAVIS: Should we wear costumes? Should I wear my big pointy hat?

SAM and TALIESIN: Yes!

TRAVIS: I put the pointy hat on.

MATT: Looks fancy! And pointy!

TALIESIN: We’re going to get changed for the evening.

LAURA: Yes, can we get changed? Do we have enough time?

MATT: You guys have your room in the Debt’s Respite, which is maybe like a 20-minute walk from–

LAURA: Awesome clothes! For casino.

MARISHA: Look, it’s a night out in Vegas, man.

TRAVIS: Didn’t bring any extra clothes.

LAURA: We are hitting the club!

TRAVIS: We are adventurers.

LAURA: We’re making it hail!

TALIESIN: This is not an animated series. We have more than one pair of pants. Except for you.

SAM: I wear the same exact thing every day.

LIAM: 20 of it?

MATT: So Scanlan, you’re wearing your normal clothes?

SAM: I’m putting my red shirt on.

MATT: Yes, you are. Okay. So you guys go back to The Debt’s Respite. You get prepared for the evening, dressed up in your finest attire at your disposal, and walk your way back to where you believe this casino was when you first entered the city.

MARISHA: I Druidcraft a little frost on the edge of my armor. So that I’m cool.

SAM: Just going to melt? Or does it–?

TRAVIS: That will be soggy. It will be soggy in five minutes.

LAURA: Now it looks like you’ve been sweating a lot.

MARISHA: Guys, just tell me I look cool.

LAURA: You look so cool, Keyleth.

TALIESIN: I think I do know a way to make the frost hold. I could science it. I could frost-hold it.

MATT: What would you like to do?

TALIESIN: Add about 15% sawdust ratio to it and it should hold its form even at a high temperature.

LIAM: Well, can’t she keep the cantrip going for about–

MARISHA: For a little bit. It is a cantrip. I’m kind of badass now.

TRAVIS: Put that shit down! Put it down!

SAM: What, Travis? What is that?

TRAVIS: Put that damn mug down! I’ll tear that sticker.

SAM: What is it?

TRAVIS: How dare you! I’m going to ruin this transaction for you now.

MATT: All right. So the frost maintains itself as a high-level druid. This is a simple glamor-based cantrip to maintain.

MARISHA: Fuck yeah, it is!

LAURA: Can you glamor me to not look like I have a giant slash through my chest anymore?

MARISHA: Or totally, I do, like a little, give her a little bit of concealer. A little bit of foundation, a little powder.

MATT: Easy enough. You guys look rather fancy as a traveling group. Do you travel together?

LAURA: No.

TALIESIN: I’m with Keyleth.

LIAM: I’m babysitting Scanlan at a distance.

LAURA: Well, I guess I’m walking by myself.

TALIESIN: You can be with us.

TRAVIS: I’m very rich, wealthy. I’m alone.

SAM: You’re a high-roller?

LAURA: Oh, Percy, do you want to look like you have ladies?

MARISHA: Oh yeah.

LAURA: So rich. All right.

TRAVIS: I walk around double-fisting both bottles of the sandkheg.

SAM: Oh, yeah!

LIAM: That went from terrible to great.

TRAVIS: Just rolling in. Rolling in deep.

SAM: Wait. Have you even tasted it yet?

TRAVIS: Nope.

(laughter)

LAURA: And then me and Keyleth are on Percy’s arms.

MARISHA: Yes. We are.

TALIESIN: We are Vegas-ing.

MATT: You stealth.

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Wow!

LIAM: Natural 20.

SAM: Wow!

TRAVIS: What?

LAURA: Stealthing like a motherfucker.

LIAM: So that’s a 35.

MATT: You somehow are no longer in the narrative. You stealth out of the story.

TALIESIN: You’ve been retconned, even.

MATT: Vax was never there.

LIAM: Got you, Scan-man.

SAM: Who said that?

MATT: You guys approach the outskirts of the building you saw on the way in. What you see before you, with the little bit of light that dapples the edge of the Suncut Bazaar reflects across metallic framing on the sides of the building. The walls appear to be dark wood leafed with brass and gold, a beacon of precious metal at many points throughout the structure. It looks to be three stories in its entirety. A half-dozen armed guards not adorned in the guise of the Hands of Ord stand at each entrance, probably privately owned by the establishment, and you hear loud music and cheering bursting from within. You catch a chiseled signed across each doorway arch that read “Drensala Quan: Luck’s Run.”

LAURA: What does that mean?

MARISHA: Ren-sa-la quan?

MATT: Drensala Quan, which is the Marquesian speak for “Luck’s Run” with the Common translation beneath it.

LAURA: Okay, I understand.

MATT: So as you at your own paces walk through the front doors, the scents of sweat, perfumes, and tobacco immediately hit your nostrils, as the lively melodies of two musical groups compete from across the establishment, forming a strange discordant sound towards the center of the main room. Large square tables draped in crimson cloth fill the space from one end to the other, different shapes and sizes, crowds of different numbers huddled around each. You see three dozen patrons of all walks of life tending to their various games of chance. Card tables, dice games, even a small contained race table in the far corner stir cheers and anguish. You see servants–

MARISHA: No, wait, what are they racing? I go over to there.

LAURA: Already? I’m looking for craps.

MATT: Servants dressed in uniformed long shirts of dark gray and gold to match the building’s exterior rush drinks, food, and coin between tables as you begin to push through the crowd. You come upon, Keyleth, first, as you push past, to the far room there is a long table with a series of curved, almost miniature maze-like paths and there are five paths that all run alongside each other. As you glance over the crowd, you see five desert lizards about that long that are all being held in cages at one end. And you see a bunch of individuals that are currently in the process of setting bets down on the central table with a number of colored squares around it. They’re putting different amounts stacked up on the side, and they’re all speaking in a language you don’t understand. As you approach and glance over, some of them stop and glance over their shoulder at you, and then go back about their business, not paying attention.

MARISHA: They’re doing their own thing? Okay. How far away am I from the lizards?

MATT: About seven feet?

MARISHA: Can I go up to them? Or are they behind a gate?

MATT: They’re all in these very well-crafted cages side-by-side at the far end of a table, right next to where all the bets are being placed. And there look to be two guards flanking them and one man at the very end of the table that currently looks to have his hand on a single doorway that is at the front of these cages and is in the process of currently counting up and keeping track of all the best that are being placed.

MARISHA: Okay. I’m going to go up to the guy.

MATT: Okay. You walk up to him. (speaking in Marquesian)

TALIESIN: We’ll keep a couple feet behind.

MATT: He’s writing little notes, checking on the lizards, making little notes, and as you walk up he looks at you. “Yes, may I help you?”

MARISHA: Yes, be pleased.

MATT: “Be pleased.”

MARISHA: What are these magnificent creatures you’re racing?

MATT: “Have you not played this before?”

MARISHA: No, I’m a tourist, so I’m brand new.

MATT: “This is my surprised face. This is Quan a Drensal, or The Run of Luck. It is a traditional old Marquet game of chance. It’s what the casino is partially named after. It was founded on this particular sport, if you will. People bet on which lizard reaches the end first. Then the people who choose correctly make a profit. The second makes half back what was bet. The rest lose all to the house.”

MARISHA: Is it possible for me to get a closer look at the specimens you are racing?

MATT: “Why?”

MARISHA: I’m a purveyor of fabulous beasts and I just want to see these fabulous creatures you’re raising and racing.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

MARISHA: God damn it; this is not what I’m good at.

TALIESIN: Nope.

MARISHA: Ten!

MATT: He goes, “If you wish to put down enough money to make it worth my while to inspect your investment then perhaps we can talk. However tourists I keep away from the money making.”

MARISHA: How does 200 gold sound?

SAM: Well, shit.

MATT: “Well, that is higher than the 25 gold minimum buy-in, so yes. Which of the lizards would you like to bet on? We have Rul, Sonpa, Thordak, Wendis, and Devo'ssa.”

MARISHA: What did you just say? Sorry, what was the third name that you said?

MATT: “Thordak.”

MARISHA: Did you say Thordak?

MATT: “Yes.”

MARISHA: What a fascinating name. Where did that one come from?

MATT: “It came from the stupid bastard that attacked this city hundreds of years ago.”

MARISHA: Oh, wow, yeah. No, I was just wondering if there was any correlation.

SAM: Always bid on Thordak.

MATT: “Because it’s a tiny, puny piece of shit lizard. Of course it is.”

MARISHA: Can I get a closer look at them?

MATT: “Which one are you betting on?”

MARISHA: I would like to get a closer look at them before I decide on where to put my well-earned money.

MATT: He stands back and the two guards muscle a little closer as he goes, “Have a look.” And you lean forward and glance across the front of the cages. They all have this reddish-yellow sand-type scaled exterior; darker at the top and lighter on the underbelly. And they’re all pretty much the same size; age may differ; you can’t really tell which ones are healthy or not from this distance. What are you looking for?

MARISHA: How close are the guys to me?

MATT: To you? There a like foot from you maybe. They’re both being very careful. They’re watching you very closely.

TALIESIN: I’m going to engage the man in a bit of conversation. So is it a straight bet across or are there competing numbers based on historical averages for these creatures at this point? Where is the money going, at the moment?

MATT: “The money right now, we have currently a total of 750 gold pieces placed in total on the Rul who has apparently been doing very well for the day. Sonpa has been failing miserably but it might be the underdog, who knows; they’re all in equal health. And the variations can be plenty. Wendis is okay; Thordak has characteristically no votes. De'vossa has a decent amount. It is up to you. What do you wish?”

MARISHA: While they’re having this conversation, I’m going to lean into the lizards and cast Speak with Animals.

MATT: All right, go ahead and make a sleight of hand check.

MARISHA: Very under my breath.

SAM: Getting tossed from the casino.

MARISHA: Here we go again!

MATT: Well, let’s have a look at Speak with Animals. Let’s see exactly what components it requires.

MARISHA: Oh no.

MATT: Because this is going to largely–

MARISHA: Very discreetly.

MATT: Verbal and somatic so yeah. Sleight of hand.

SAM: What is that?

TALIESIN: That’s a one.

LAURA: Is that a one?

TALIESIN: Of course it’s a one.

LAURA: Oh no! Keyleth, don’t get arrested again!

TRAVIS: You’re like the biggest felon of our group.

MATT: Not even two minutes in the Luck’s Front Casino, you lean forward and begin muttering beneath your breath the various druidic incantations and as your fingers begin to manipulate the spectrums of divine energies in your hand, a giant, meaty arm claps down on your hand and pulls you to the side, and the guard pulls you off your feet at his face. “Excuse me, are you trying to do funny business?”

MARISHA: I’m very bad at funny. You talk to other people in our group for funny.

TALIESIN: I’m ignoring this.

MATT: “You are out of the Run.” And the other gentleman grabs your shoulder and they begin pushing you out, towards the exit of the Luck’s Run.

MARISHA: Oh, don’t, come on, man. Look–

MATT: Anybody do anything?

TRAVIS: Nope.

MATT: All right. As you’re conversing with this gentleman, you watch as Keyleth gets pushed very forcefully towards the back door on the opposite side of the chamber and kicked out onto the street; like full on boot-to-the-ass, about a three foot arc before slamming onto the dark red cobblestone streets of the Suncut Bazaar.

MARISHA: You guys. I just got kicked out of a casino! I’m so cool! I’m cool, Scanlan, I’m cool!

MATT: By the way, you lost your concentration and currently the shoulders are now dampered.

MARISHA: Guys, I’m a little soggy, but I’m so cool!

LAURA: That was really cool, Keyleth.

TALIESIN: I think I’ll put 25 on Thordak.

KEYLETH: Yeah, can I forward my bet?

TALIESIN: Let’s put 25 on Thordak.

LAURA: I’m not putting any money on Thordak.

MATT: You never actually put your money down.

MARISHA: Oh good, I didn’t lose 200 gold.

TALIESIN: I’m going to put 25 on Thordak.

LAURA: I’m going to put 25 on the second one that doesn’t have any bets.

MATT: Okay, let’s see here; we have 25 on Thordak and then we have–

LAURA: The one that you said hasn’t–

MATT: Which is Sonpa.

LIAM: If it’s any consolation, that was totally adorable. Just wait outside for us; we’ll be out in a bit.

MATT: And how much money you put down?

LAURA: 25 gold as well. All right, no, I don’t want to look like I’m putting down the minimum; that’s pathetic.

TALIESIN: No, we’re learning the game. No one’s going to give you anything. We’re learning the game. We don’t have to be big spenders here.

LAURA: 25 gold. You’ve got to spend big to make big, Percy.

TALIESIN: Yeah, but you’ve got to learn the game.

MATT: 25 gold buy-in for two of you on two different lizards. 25 on Thordak, 25 on Sonpa. The rest of the bets come in, they’re marked down, the coins are put on the table in corresponding colors, you guys place them completely incorrectly, and they correct them for you and glare. You watch as the gentleman who’s running the event goes, (Marquesian). He lifts up the front of the gates, and all the lizards start scurrying out rapidly. Everyone comes in real fast and begins cheering and cheering and chanting the different names of the people they put money on. All right, as we come around, we are rolling for each individual lizard for the entirety of this endeavor. Yeah, I have rolls for all the different lizards.

LAURA: Oh, that’s adorable. Go underdog!

MATT: All right, so. Rul. Be prepared. All right.

SAM: He’s just rolling once to see–

LAURA: Natural one.

MATT: It’s 2d4 for each one to see how well they do.

SAM: 2d4! It’s your rules, you could do anything! It could be 1d8! Why does it have to be 2d4?

TALIESIN: What a good excuse to finally order a d9 and have the d9 only for this game.

MARISHA: (giggles) Only for lizard racing.

SAM: Makes no sense!

MATT: And with that, you watch as they curve around each corner, skittering forward and past. They come around the far end and they come rushing back on the opposite side of the table. People are shouting. One gentleman to the left of you, Vex, seems to have some large cigar-type thing and is blustering out smoke in your vicinity, making you cough a bit, but you’re still focused on this. You watch as Rul pulls ahead; Thordak pulls ahead and pulls back. Sonpa pushes forward, and Wendis is falling behind. De'vossa gets close and barely scoots past, and De'vossa is the winner.

LAURA: Do I get anything for second place?

MATT: Second place, you get back half of what you bet so you get 13 gold pieces back. You lose your bet. A few other gentlemen seem to be happy and collect their winnings, and far more seem to be disappointed with the outcome. Some leave; a few more fill the spaces and come back around. The Run of Luck is complete.

LIAM: What’s it like outside?

MARISHA: (whispers) What’s it like outside?

MATT: It’s dark, but beautiful with the various lanterns that are now lit. There’s carts being pulled by. Some folks are leaving for the evening, some folks are bringing things into the bazaar. They prefer to actually shop during the evening, whatever their wares may be, you don’t know. But it seems lively.

MARISHA: It’s dark, and I’m in a shady alleyway, and I’m alone. It’s great.

LIAM: You know, maybe go out to the front where the people are. You don’t need to be in the back with the dumpster.

MARISHA: Yeah, no, I guess so. But it’s so pretty.

MATT: All right, so?

LAURA: It takes everything in my power not to keep betting, but we should probably walk away.

TALIESIN: Let’s try another game; I’m not feeling this one. I don’t like betting on live little–

LAURA: As we walk around, we keep an eye out for Scanlan’s red shirt.

SAM: I’m trying to wander away from them as best I can.

MATT: Right. So you keep your way wandering through the casino, looking over different games and such. You come across a card game. This one you’ve actually heard of it though you haven’t actually seen it played before. It’s called the Gambit of Ord. It’s a competitive card game between a group of card players at a table. That actually has a buy in, but can raise per round back and forth based on who drops out and who doesn’t. There is a dice game called Avandra’s Favor that involves you actually rolling 2d6 and if you get either a seven or a 12, you win, but you can double the bet to add an additional d6 to try and get either a seven or a 12 if the numbers don’t quite meet one or the other.

SAM: Go there.

TALIESIN: We’re going there.

MATT: So you go to the dice game.

LAURA: Yeah!

MATT: So you go to the Avandra’s Favor tables.

LAURA: I want to use my gold dice.

MATT: So you have to wait a moment as there is a small line of people queued up to go ahead and place their bets for the dice. Each person is betting on each individual as they go in, whether or not they’re going to make it. You wait for about 15 or so minutes before you watch a couple folks lose horribly and walk away very sorrowful about how much they lost in trying to push their luck as they step away and it’s finally your turn. And the woman who’s currently helping this table goes, “And you, miss, you are here to play?”

LAURA: This game.

MATT: “Yes, Avandra’s Favor?”

LAURA: Yes, that!

MATT: “All right! So what is your initial bet, my dear?”

LAURA: I can’t actually remember what you said the rules were, so what’s the minimum bet?

MATT: “25 gold pieces.”

LAURA: Okay.

TALIESIN: How much for the extended bet?

MATT: How much do you want?

TALIESIN: To get the third die?

SAM: I think you roll first–

LAURA: And then you add, you can double your bet to add–

MATT: To add an additional die.

LAURA: Okay. Then I’m going to put 25 down, just to see how it goes.

MATT: “25 gold pieces, please.”

LAURA: Okay, here we go.

MATT: Mark that off.

LAURA: Oh, I’m marking.

MATT: She slides it into your square. “All right, now, roll the dice, and may Avandra be with you.”

LAURA: Okay, what am I rolling?

MATT: 2d6.

LAURA: 2d6. You got it. Where’s my other?

SAM: This is the most important roll–

LAURA: Of my life. They’re gold dice, they’re the gold dice. Eight.

MATT: “Eight? Ah.”

LAURA: Oh god! This is a hard game! You lose really easily!

MATT: “Beyond seven, very close! Now, I could take the coin, or you could double your bet and add one more die.”

LAURA: To get to 12?

TALIESIN: To get to 12, or any combination of seven of two, or all three must be 12.

LAURA: All right, I’m going to double my bet and I’m going to throw one more dice in the –

MATT: “50 gold.”

LAURA: 50 gold, yes.

MATT: She takes the rest. All right, go ahead and add one more dice. Eight plus–?

LAURA: Aw, it was almost a four! It was a five.

MATT: “Avandra is not by your side this moment. I am so sorry.”

LAURA: No, it’s fine, it’s really super-duper fun!

TALIESIN: I need to take a round of this as well. All right, I’m going in as well.

MATT: “All right, 25 gold?”

TALIESIN: 25 gold from my wonderful–

MATT: “Now, roll the dice, and may Avandra be with you.”

MARISHA: Percy luck!

LIAM: Does it only work with 20s?

LAURA: He didn’t even look.

SAM: Seven.

(cheering)

MATT: “First at the table! Avandra has kissed upon your forehead! Please, take your winnings.” And she gives you 50 gold back.

LAURA: Ooh, 50 gold back? You should try it again. You’ve made money now.

SAM: This is a streak at this point.

TALIESIN: I’ll put 25 more in.

MATT: “25 gold? Oh, but you’ve already proven that this has been conquerable. Are you sure 25 is all you wish to pay?”

MARISHA: She’s good.

MATT: “The goddess watches over you this moment. How long she may last, we do not know!”

TALIESIN: 25 is fine. I don’t believe in luck.

MATT: “Hmm.”

LAURA: You should.

MATT: “Roll your dice.”

TALIESIN: Six.

MATT: “Mm, unfortunate.”

TALIESIN: I’ll put in the 25 for one more die.

MATT: “All right, a bet of 50. Roll your one more die.”

TALIESIN: No.

MATT: “The goddess left you. Sorry.”

TALIESIN: It was a wonderful thrill. Good evening.

MATT: “Good evening to you as well.”

LAURA: I tip her two extra gold, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

MATT: “Thank you kindly. Next up!” And another gentleman muscles past and throws down his coin. “My turn!” He sits down, and other folks come in and begin to watch his next turn go. As this is happening, you’re making your way through the casino.

TALIESIN: Let’s find the cheap drinks.

SAM: Yeah, I’ve forgotten, Matt, did they say to meet in a specific spot, or was it they’ll know you from your red shirt?

MATT: They’ll know you from your red shirt.

SAM: Okay, so then I am going up to, I’m walking past some of the higher rollers that I see, and as I walk past I’m going, (clears throat) I’m the guy. I’m the guy. (clears throat) It’s me. (clears throat, whispers) I’m the guy. And keep walking if they don’t–

MATT: About 20 minutes of this as you’re watching over, and some folks look down, expecting to see a child, are spooked by it. In your time here, you’ve only really come across maybe two other gnomes. They’re not very prominent here in Ank'Harel as a people, so some folks give you an odd look to the side, a sideways glance as you step around. At one point you do feel one hand clasp onto your shoulder. You glance up and you see a nice, billowing, dark blue silk shirt across a half-orc gentleman with his hair slicked back, short, over the edge of his scalp. He has a really well-trimmed goatee and a very big hoop gold earring in one ear. His hand is wrapped around your shoulder and he goes, “So. Verdaven said we are to speak, yes?”

SAM: Maybe.

MATT: “Well, then. Follow me to more private quarters where we can have a conversation.”

SAM: Lead the way.

MATT: He releases your shoulder and begins walking up the stairs to the second floor.

SAM: I’ll join him.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: Did we see him walking up the stairs?

MATT: Make a perception check.

TALIESIN: I’ll join in that perception check.

MATT: You kept your eye the whole time, that was your goal, so you see this happen.

MARISHA: Guys, get me a drink!

TALIESIN: 21.

LAURA: 15.

MATT: Okay. So yeah, Percy, Vax, and Vex, all three of you see Scanlan led upstairs, trailing behind this well-dressed half-orc individual.

MARISHA: If they have a Chardonnay?

TALIESIN: I was going to go red.

MARISHA: That works. A Shiraz would be phenomenal.

MATT: You guys following, or are you staying where you are?

LIAM: These stairs are peopled? Or are they empty other than Scanlan and this other guy?

MATT: Occasional foot traffic up and down. There does appear to be one of the various hired ruffians to keep the peace around this vicinity at the landing, up where the stairs stop and then head further up.

LAURA: Is the gambling only at the first level, or is it up higher levels as well?

MATT: You haven’t been to the second floor.

LAURA: I think I’ll, after a little bit, grab a drink and then–

TALIESIN: Drunkenly head up.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. So you guys head to get a drink.

LIAM: Can I ride my 20 up the stairs?

MATT: I’d say at this point, because you’re no longer hiding in a corner, you’re actually entering a social place, you’ll have to go ahead and roll another stealth check.

LIAM: That’s fine, 31.

MATT: Okay. So as opposed to just being out of sight, you are trained in the idea of blending in, making various subtle movements to not catch anyone’s attention, and to match the energy of the room about you so as to not stand out amongst the crowd. You adjust some of your clothing to match some of the shoulder-tossed shawls that some of the folks in here wear, and you naturally fall into the general atmosphere of the casino.

LIAM: I’m still wearing the fancy whites that Percival put over me the other day.

MATT: Not a worry. You follow up the stairs and up top you do see there are a couple more tables in a center room, and six doors on each side of this long run, before another staircase heads up to the third floor of this establishment. The half-orc walks to the fourth door on the left, pulls out a key, pulls the door open, glances over his shoulder for a second, and enters the room.

SAM: I will gladly follow.

MATT: As you turn the corner and enter the room, there is a singular table. There are two chairs facing each other. There appears to be some small–

(mooing in music track)

TALIESIN: There’s an ox in the corner.

LIAM: You can do anything you want in this place.

TALIESIN: How much for ten minutes with the ox? Be fair.

MATT: As you enter the room, you see there are a few tables on the far side. There is a window that looks out that is currently closed, and the half-orc is now standing on the opposite side of the table.

SAM: (clears throat) So what have you got for me?

MATT: You enter and sit down?

SAM: Oh, yes, I enter and sit down.

MATT: Okay, you sit down. As you sit down, the door closes behind you and you see the half-elf that you had met earlier in the alleyway was behind the door, walks around and leaves the room, closing the door behind him. You hear (lock clicking). The half-orc has sat down and goes, “So you were asking about spice.”

SAM: Again, maybe.

MATT: “Specifically, if I am to understand, 200 gold worth of fusaka?”

SAM: Maybe more, if it’s of a higher quality.

MATT: “Well. Let it be known that I brought, just in case, twice the amount.” He reaches off to the side and opens one of the small cupboards that’s part of the table arrangement on that side of the room, and pulls out two satchels that are about that big around each, and lifts them both, one after the other, onto the table. They are tied at the very top. It’s a high-quality burlap-type material on the outside, only the weave is much tighter so it’s not liable to leak or stumble out. “So it is difficult to acquire this. I would say one for 250, or both for 400 gold.”

SAM: How do I know it’s of a quality I’m accustomed to, from my homeland?

MATT: “Because I have a reputation to uphold. If you wish not to have any, perhaps you find business with less viable options.”

SAM: Forgive me, I’m not from around here. I don’t know of your reputation. Could I possibly have a sample to see?

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

LIAM: While he’s doing that, I’m pretending to sort of drunkenly lean on the wall outside that door.

TALIESIN: Did that just happen?

LAURA: What was it?

SAM: 20.

(yelling)

MATT: All right. As you glance and look around the side, you can see a tan-skinned half-elf in robes waiting impatiently with his back against the door that you barely saw Scanlan disappear into after he walked out. He gives you a look over. “Should you wish, but be careful not to inhale too deeply.” Then he takes the rope and unfurls and unties it, takes the satchel, and pushes it over towards you.

SAM: The whole satchel?

MATT: The entire satchel.

TRAVIS: Do you know if it’s a powder, or a plant?

LIAM: It’s the cinnamon challenge.

LAURA: What does it look like?

SAM: Yeah, what does it look like?

MATT: Well, it’s halfway across the table. You go ahead and pull it towards you?

SAM: Oh, I’ll pull it towards me, yeah.

MATT: It’s a little heavier than you expected. It’s not a light thing, it’s a very heavy material. As you pull it forward, it looks like very, very finely mulched bark almost, or shavings, and it has this pungent smell like dried cheese with a hint of cedar.

SAM: What is this shit! It’s not a fine powder, it’s chunky?

MATT: It’s chunky to an extent, and as you’re looking over it, he goes, “It requires additional refining for use, of course.”

SAM: Of course. This isn’t my first rodeo, friend.

TRAVIS: Put it in your lip, put it in your lip!

SAM: Being that I play stringed instruments, I have long nails, so I’ll take my pinky and sort of dip down and get a little on the end of my pinky, smell it a bit, on my gums a little bit.

TALIESIN: Sweet Christmas.

LAURA: The cedar wood chips.

MATT: The smell is strong, and the taste is stronger. It is not pleasant to the tongue. The aftertaste does have a unique zest to it. There is a slight numbness, and while the initial flavor is awful, the lingering flavor is actually quite nice, like a spiced meat almost. It catches you off guard.

SAM: Spiced meat. Am I feeling high at all?

MATT: Make a constitution check.

MARISHA: How fast is your metabolism?

SAM: Constitution check? I’ve never checked my constitution –

MATT: Saving throw.

SAM: Saving throw. Well, either way it’s 16.

MATT: 16, okay. Best you can tell there’s no immediate effect. You don’t know what it’s supposed to do. It doesn’t seem to be having an effect on you at the moment.

SAM: I’ll do a little bit more. Get it on my tongue.

TRAVIS: Up the nose?

SAM: (sniffing) Just a little bit more to see if it’s doing anything.

MATT: Make another constitution saving throw.

SAM: 16.

MATT: Still seemingly no effect, and you can see the half-orc is starting to get a little impatient and frustrated. “So you have tried of the wares. Are you satisfied?”

SAM: I’m not dead. I guess that’s good. You know, where I’m from sometimes we burn it and inhale it that way. Is that done? What methods do you guys use here?

MATT: His head pulls back a bit and he goes, “You may do as you wish with it upon purchasing. That is up to you. I am a little worried that you may not be regulating your intake.”

SAM: Don’t worry about me, friend, all right? My mom and dad, that’s their job, all right? All right. I guess I’ll take it. Your reputation and the seeming good quality makes me believe that this is of a fine caliber, quality, how that’s– ugh. Stings a little in the eyes, that’s all.

MATT: “That it would.”

SAM: For two satchels like this, why don’t we say 300?

MATT: His immediate eager lean forward slips back into an arms-crossed. “400 was already a discount.”

SAM: Fair enough. 400 it is.

MATT: “400.” He takes the other satchel and is about to push it forward and is seemingly waiting.

SAM: For me to pay him? Sure, I’ll drop four hundred large.

MATT: Okay.

SAM: Four hundred thousand dollars.

MATT: As you both wait a moment and pause, you both shove it across at the same time, and he catches the coin pouch after watching you count it across the table. Both your satchels are at your disposal. He goes, “It has been a pleasure doing business with you. If it’s not too much to ask, in case you require further assistance, what shall I call you?”

SAM: You can call me The Meat Man.

(snorting and giggling)

MATT: “The Meat Man. I hope to do more business with you in the future, Meat Man.”

SAM: And what shall I call you?

MATT: “I have a few titles, but in these circles, you may call me Rutur.”

SAM: Rutur?

MATT: “Rutur.”

SAM: Rutur. And so I’m clear here, this is a drug, right?

MATT: “Of course it is.”

SAM: Oh! Really? I’m not feeling it yet, do I need to do more of it, is that the thing?

MATT: “It does not affect you immediately.”

SAM: Oh. It doesn’t?

ALL: Oh, shit.

SAM: All right, great, thanks, bye!

MATT: He takes his coin, gets up, walks around the table, knocks on the door, a couple knocks. It opens, the half-elf peers through. The door opens completely. He stops as you say that.

SAM: Sorry. I’ve got two big bags of drugs. Could you give me a backpack or something to put this in? I mean, I can’t walk out of the casino holding this.

MATT: The half-orc rolls his eyes, looks over to the half-elf and goes, (speaking Marquesian). The other one turns. (sighs) “I’ll be right back.” And he goes to one of the other rooms. In 30 seconds, he comes back with some sort of a backpack-type ensemble and tosses it to you. You catch it. “Now, should you need more, just ask around the bazaar.” And they both quickly head down the stairs past you.

SAM: As they go, I say to them, remember, we met, but you did not meet the Meat Man.

MATT: They both stop on their step and look at each other and keep walking. They exit the casino and you have your satchel.

SAM: Okay. (breathing heavily) I hyperventilate for a second. I don’t know what’s going on. Where are you guys? Where are you guys?

LIAM: I place my hand right on his shoulder.

SAM: (yells in surprise) It’s not me, it’s not, they’re not mine! And I throw it across the room.

LIAM: I catch it! Grab him by the scruff of the shirt and start leading him back down the stairs. What the fuck is wrong with you?

SAM: Don’t say anything. I’ve got lots of drugs.

LIAM: Why are your eyes all bloodshot? What’s the matter with you?

SAM: I don’t know what I did.

LIAM: Is it this?

SAM: Maybe! It hasn’t affected me yet!

TALIESIN: No! No! What are you doing?

MATT: Make a constitution saving throw.

LAURA: Oh, you rolled really well.

LIAM: I rolled good, yeah, 19.

MATT: Seemingly no effect, little bit of numbness in the gum where you placed it.

LIAM: That tastes terrible.

SAM: I know! I don’t know what it’s supposed to do!

LIAM: Do I do more?

SAM: I think so!

MATT: As time passes, the after flavor does get better, actually, surprisingly.

LIAM: That’s good. Maybe I’ll do more.

SAM: Yeah, just one more.

MATT: (chuckling) Make another constitution saving throw.

LIAM: Aw, 15.

MATT: Aftertaste is quite nice.

LIAM: I’ve wanted to get high with you for so long! This is so cool!

SAM: One more.

LIAM: You’re right. We’re in a casino, life is so fucking hard these days, why not? Both of us together, right?

SAM: Yeah!

LIAM: All right, here we go.

MATT: You guys make a constitution saving throw.

LIAM: Two.

SAM: 13.

TRAVIS: Chew on it.

MATT: The aftertaste is nice.

LAURA: It’s a spice.

TRAVIS: Chew on it!

LIAM: This is so boring.

SAM: We’ll talk to some locals and figure out how we’re really supposed to do it.

LIAM: I’m going to get Kiki some fucking elven wine. Come on. And I yank him down the stairs.

TALIESIN: We’ve already been waiting in line for the most colorful, ridiculous drink that we can get. Something with whatever’s the local version of an umbrella.

MATT: For the cost of two gold pieces amongst the three of you, or four of you, if you’re a part of this as well, Grog–

MARISHA: The slushy margaritas.

TRAVIS: No, I’m hitting on ladies.

SAM: Yeah!

MATT: With a simple shoulder tap and an introduction, they turn with a smile and stare directly into the rhino-like helmet on your forehead, seem confused, and lose interest very quickly.

TRAVIS: You clearly do not know how rich I am as the Countess of Febreze. I own many magnificent horses.

MATT: Make a deception check.

TRAVIS: 15.

MATT: Now, the third woman you’ve come across in here turns around. She’s maybe early forties, graying sides to her hair, pulled up tight, but impeccable makeup, beautiful jeweled earrings. She turns and gives you a glance. “Oh, well, my apologies for not recognizing greatness in my presence. So why do you bother me?”

TRAVIS: Well, I am looking for a companion for the evening. I’ve had a great victory and I was hoping I might celebrate it with a fine lass like yourself.

MATT: “I do not mean to blush in the presence of such greatness, ha. I need to speak to my compatriot first. Honey?” And this gentleman turns around, in fairly nice attire, dark blacks, jeweled necklaces, dark skin, square jaw, rather well-built, a human. Turns and goes, “Yes, my dear?” “This fine fellow here is asking to spend the night with me, if that’s all right with you.” And he goes, (chuckles) “What, this one?”

TRAVIS: Yes, yes, I am the magister of Sh'breeze, and I have many steeds. A night with me would truly honor your lady fair.

MATT: They both share a glance and look back at you, and he goes, “Piss off, half-born putz.”

LAURA: Oh, shit.

MATT: “Piss off.” And he takes her arm by his side and pulls her close to him.

TRAVIS: I reach out and I grab his shoulder. I say: I’m so sorry, this amazing decorative piece on my head sometimes impedes my hearing. I take the hat off. What was it you called me?

MATT: Make an intimidation check.

MARISHA: Oh shit! Casino fight!

LAURA: Oh no!

SAM: Two people thrown out of the club!

MARISHA: Let’s all get thrown out! Yeah! Natural one buddies! Grog and Keyleth, on fire tonight!

MATT: As you lean in, he leans back and goes, “Oh, well, I’m sorry, I did not realize that was not part of your actual forehead.” You feel, now, several hands meet your shoulders as it appears about five of the various guards of the establishment have encircled you, grabbed you, and are now pulling you away from the group.

TRAVIS: Oh, I asked for a woman, not dudes, no really, I just wanted one lady.

MATT: They’re grabbing you by the arms, now, and they’re pulling you toward the entrance.

TRAVIS: Now, I’m not going to pay for this, really, I’m not. I’m very important!

MATT: And it takes all five of them, but they do manage to (grunt) heave-ho you out onto your face across the cobblestones, where Keyleth is there waiting, watching this happen.

MARISHA: Grog!

TRAVIS: Kiki!

MARISHA: Hey buddy!

TALIESIN: Are we at the bar?

MATT: You guys have just gotten your drinks, which are –

TALIESIN: Do they have to-go cups? We’ll take four. Just one of every color. Just one of every color.

MATT: The guy at the front goes, “Well, certainly. That would be an additional gold piece per drink.”

MARISHA: Percy, get me the flashy cup!

LAURA: I’m going to down mine really fast and then take another one to go, thanks.

TALIESIN: I’ll put down for the four cups.

MARISHA: I want the one that’s in the shape of the tower of Ord.

MATT: “Six gold, please.”

SAM: That’s a yard glass.

MATT: All right, you have your drinks.

TALIESIN: I take them outside and begin distributing them.

MATT: The cups themselves probably cost about three copper each.

TALIESIN: God I hope so. It’s about the memory.

MATT: You all are a bunch of out-of-towners being taken for a ride by every one of these patrons who comes across you.

LIAM: This is so much fusaka. What is Jarett or anybody going to do with this?

LAURA: Let’s go back to the rooms.

SAM: We need to find out if it’s real. Should we go back and ask those guys who sold this to me?

LIAM: I took three hits of this, and it has done nothing.

LAURA: Come on, let’s go back to the room and do some experiments on it. Yes? Grog?

TRAVIS: Thank you. (belches)

MARISHA: Did you guys bring me a drink?

TALIESIN: We did, yep, there’s that. I give her the most colorful, most ridiculous thing I can find, in the most ridiculous cup they have.

LAURA: We head back to the hotel, to the inn.

MARISHA: (giggling) I love this city!

MATT: So you head back to the Debt’s Respite, you go back to your respective rooms, finish your drinks along the way. You have your Luck’s Run collectible to-go cups that you bought off the barkeep because, sure.

TALIESIN: It’s not like I’ve never bought a ridiculous plastic dragon necklace with the flashing LEDs before.

LIAM: I disappointedly drop the backpack in Scanlan’s lap and say: Here’s your fucking cinnamon, you idiot.

SAM: Are you sure it’s not real?

MARISHA: What’d you guys get? What’s it look like?

SAM: It looks like nothing. Hey, can you nature check this? You’re a nature person.

MARISHA: I can try.

MATT: Yeah, make a nature check.

LAURA: Let’s set it on fire and see what happens.

MARISHA: Okay, but first I’m going to nature check it.

TALIESIN: The phrase “Let’s set it on fire and see what happens” usually doesn’t work out well.

TRAVIS: That’s a good idea.

LAURA: It looks like wood.

MARISHA: 14.

MATT: 14. I mean, it resembles a few things in your past that you’ve come across, when cut down and processed, but you’re not familiar with this one, unfortunately.

MARISHA: But it does seem plant-based?

MATT: Yeah, it is definitely natural.

MARISHA: I take a little finger-dippie.

TRAVIS: What are you doing with it?

MATT: There’s a brief bit of numbness that comes to your gums. The flavor is awful, and then it fades into a pleasant, smoky flavor.

LAURA: Does it taste like it would be good on a sandwich?

MARISHA: It’d be great on a rack of lamb.

TRAVIS: Are you high?

MARISHA: Am I high?

MATT: Make a constitution check.

LIAM: It’s got to be a natural one.

MATT: Constitution saving throw, at least.

MARISHA: Saving throw? 19.

MATT: 19. You seem to be fine.

TRAVIS: Aw, fuck it. I take a big old wad out of the thing and I stick a big old chunk in my lip.

TALIESIN: Only because everybody’s being an idiot, can I recommend that we perhaps try grinding it up into a tea, or something?

TRAVIS: 16.

SAM: He’s fine.

MATT: I mean, the initial taste is not bad. You’ve eaten far worse. And the lingering flavor is quite delicious.

TRAVIS: This is really nice. Should I swallow it?

SAM: Yeah, I guess.

LAURA: I don’t know, Grog.

TRAVIS: All right, I swallow it.

MATT: (gulping sound) No effect. A few minutes go by, your stomach gets a little upset, but then it passes. Yeah, a little bit, but then it passes.

MARISHA: I take a little bit in my hands and I light it with my flame hands to see what happens.

TALIESIN: Oh no.

MATT: Okay. The flame takes it, leaving behind this burning ember. The smoke emanates off of it. It gives this little plume of grayish brown.

MARISHA: I waft it a little bit.

MATT: Smells really nice.

LIAM: It is hilarious how badly we all want this to be heroin, and it’s not.

TRAVIS: Can we free-base this shit?

MATT: It smells like a very fancy kitchen.

LAURA: Can I walk downstairs and find the innkeeper?

MATT: Yeah, yeah. As you head downstairs –

TALIESIN: I’m going to take a little bit, I’m going to mortar and pestle a little bit, and make a tea.

MATT: Eventually you find Treev is down there, watching over the counter.

LAURA: Hey, Treev. Hi.

MATT: “Oi, hi, how do you do.”

LAURA: I’m looking for a meal. I’m a little homesick. I’m hoping you have a meal that maybe has some fusaka in it?

MATT: “Oh, we got a bit over here. It’s a bit pricey.”

LAURA: Oh, it is a pricey spice, yeah.

MATT: “A bit, at least, for what it’s worth. You only want to use bits and pieces in the meats.”

LAURA: Right.

MATT: “Use too much and it spoils the flavor.”

LAURA: Of course. It wouldn’t do anything to your body if you had too much of it, would it?

MATT: “You’d probably get sick a bit, I imagine.”

LAURA: Probably. Right.

SAM: I’m upstairs trying to take it anally.

(laughter)

SAM: Come on, this’ll work! This will work!

TRAVIS: Trainspotting. This is Trainspotting.

LAURA: Tell you what, I’m going to save the money. I think I’ll hold off on the fusaka for tonight, but maybe later. Thank you.

TALIESIN: I’ve ground and powdered a tea, and placed it in the room and walked away.

LIAM: I’m sorry to say that I am watching Scanlan, fascinated.

TALIESIN: I’m not. My head is turned around. I’m sketching things.

SAM: No one lies to the Meat Man. I want to go back to that place and get my revenge. Are you with me, Vax?

LIAM: Vex, Vax? Which of us?

SAM: Vax!

LIAM: Yeah, sure, buddy.

MARISHA: Why do you need revenge? You got the product you bought, right?

TRAVIS: How’s your butt feeling?

SAM: It feels a little tingly, but overall just fine.

MATT: It does itch.

TALIESIN: Does he have to make another constitution check at this point?

MATT: No, you’ve pretty much figured out at this point that it is just a flavoring spice.

LAURA: Here’s the thing, he said it’s an expensive spice. Maybe it was worth however much you spent on it. Tell me how much you spent on this.

SAM: Like, 50.

LAURA: Oh, 50 gold, that’s a lot, but I think it should be fine.

TALIESIN: You spent 50 gold on this? Good god!

(laughter)

LAURA: You can make 50 gold back betting in the casino later.

TALIESIN: It was 50 gold as a fine lesson, though. Real worth it.

LIAM: If you really want to go get revenge, I will get revenge with you, but I think we should call it a loss. 50 gold is a piddly thing. Is that a word? No.

TALIESIN: If it were any more, I’d feel bad, but it’s only 50 gold. I’d feel like an idiot.

LIAM: You are upset.

TALIESIN: I think he’s just had too much spice.

TRAVIS: He’s foreseeing the Washington Redskins season.

LAURA: They said it could make your stomach upset if you’ve had too much. Have you had too much?

SAM: He lied to me.

LIAM: Let me get you a drink. You want me to go down and get you a drink?

SAM: Don’t spend any money on it.

TALIESIN: I’ve got a great idea. I’m going to get a little bit of the wine, of the ridiculous wine that we got. I’m going to pour a little bit into my new collector cup that I got, and I’m going to sprinkle it with some of the powdered spice.

SAM: Maybe it has to activate that way!

TALIESIN: Here, there you are! Down that, that’ll go quite well.

LAURA: Oh, he drank the whole thing!

MATT: Those flavors didn’t mingle too well. You feel a little queasy.

LAURA: Is that the wine that was like–

TRAVIS: Yes.

LAURA: Grog’s wine?

MATT: Oh wait. Oh, this was the sandkheg?

TALIESIN: Yeah, just a little bit of the sandkheg.

MATT: Make a constitution saving throw.

SAM: 17.

MATT: 17, okay. Beneath your nose, you can’t feel anything. And right now, yeah, from here down. You guys watch as his tongue is hanging out, and you watch as drool is now pouring down the side of his chin.

LAURA: Scanlan?

SAM: (thickly) Huh? That’s good shit.

TALIESIN: I’m going to very gently try and take the gold medal that he got today away from him while he’s numb. Just try and pickpocket him.

MATT: Make a sleight of hand check.

TALIESIN: Okay.

SAM: (more inarticulate noises)

MARISHA: Oh my god. It’s the night of all the natural ones.

LAURA: Oh no.

MATT: Heh. Out of the corner of your eye, you see Percy pulling a shiny object from around your shoulders.

TALIESIN: Ugh! No slapping! No, don’t slap!

LIAM: I walk over to Scanlan and I squat down and I start play-doh'ing his face in all different shapes, pulling the cheeks out really wide, pulling the nose up as–

LAURA: We should get him to bed.

LIAM: If only I had scotch tape.

TRAVIS: So like, should we sleep? Because I know we still wanted to see Headmaster James Kryon at the Crystal Chateau.

TALIESIN: Yes, let’s get an evening’s sleep.

LIAM: Yeah, and we need to fix Scanlan before–

TRAVIS: Maybe he needs to be slapped sober.

LAURA: We’re still waiting to hear back on Mistress Asharru?

TALIESIN: Yes, we are still waiting on that.

LAURA: Yes. So we can’t leave here.

TRAVIS: Mister Ashad?

LAURA: The one with the cloak.

TALIESIN: And we have several magical items that could use a little bit of jiggery-pokery, so let’s sleep this off, perhaps, and be excited that we’re bringing a friend a taste of home at the bargain of 50 gold.

LAURA: But I have to say, I’m glad Jarett didn’t send us on a mission to get drugs. It’s quite out of character.

TALIESIN: I mean, you know.

SAM: (inarticulate noise)

LIAM: I’ve got my pinkies in the sides of Scanlan’s mouth.

LAURA: Leave him alone. He’s pathetic enough as it is, really.

SAM: (sobbing)

TRAVIS: All right, I’m going to bed.

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: All right, you guys find yourselves to your respective rooms.

SAM: (thickly) Be pleased.

MATT: You all have a full night’s rest, back to full hit points. You get half your maximum hit dice back if you’ve spent any more than half of them. Scanlan, you wake up, quite a pounding headache in your head, but the rest of your body has its feeling back as you come to consciousness.

SAM: Maybe I can package it into smaller amounts and sell it on the street to recoup some of the money. Do we have an afternoon to kill?

TRAVIS: Are you talking to yourself?

SAM: Yes. Damn it, what did I do? I should have insight checked him, or I could’ve dominated, there are so many things I could have done to him to find out! I flew too close to the sun.

(laughter)

SAM: (sighs) Next time. Next time I’ll do things differently. Next time I will find drugs. That’s the lesson to be taken from this, look harder. Look harder. The Meat Man never gives up.

TALIESIN: I believe in you, Walter White. I believe in you.

MATT: And another persona of Scanlan was born. All righty, so what are your plans for the day? As you stumble down into the main tavern area, you can see Treev’s barely conscious himself and a few other patrons are waiting eagerly for their food as a few of the various barkeep assistants are bringing out breakfasts and meals. “You’ll want food on your way out, then?”

LAURA: Yes, please.

TALIESIN: And whatever you have for a hangover for our friend who’ll be down in, oh, never quite possibly.

MATT: “Hair of the dog, it is.”

TALIESIN: I think he may have had the whole dog.

TRAVIS: We thought we might be going to the Crystal Chateau today. Anything to know about heading that direction?

(cricket sounds)

TRAVIS: Crickets in this tavern.

MATT: “Ah, get rid of them. Well, other than the fact that they’re a bunch of stuffy folk and generally not really considered classic traditional Ank'harel, I mean good luck getting a right answer out of anyone.”

TRAVIS: They snobs? Or are they like shifty?

MATT: “Snobs of the highest order! At least from what I’ve seen. Allegiance of All-Sight and all that.”

TALIESIN: I love snobs. I’m excited.

LAURA: Any word back from Mistress Asharru?

MATT: “Nope. No word. Who knows how long it’ll take. She might not even like it. You may never hear back from her. In which case, if you wait long enough, I can see if I can hire someone else for you.”

LAURA: Yeah, thank you.

TALIESIN: We have business, we can see to it. Let’s take everything that we need. We have several objects, if I recall.

TRAVIS: Yep, shall we?

LAURA: Scarf down the breakfast!

MATT: You get your food in your system.

TALIESIN: We’re going to actually need a Scanlan.

LAURA: How you doing, Scan?

SAM: I wander down, (sighs) good morning all! I hope you slept nicely. My jaw seems to work! Thank you for not nursing me at all last night, I would’ve done the same to you.

TALIESIN: (loudly) How are you feeling?

SAM: Aw, fuck you!

(laughter)

LIAM: Aw, I feel so bad. I walk up behind him and I start doing like a scalp massage, around the temples. You’ll be all right, eat something, okay.

SAM: All right. Something with meat, I need to use this spice.

MARISHA: I make a little bit of my glissfoil hangover tonic. Give it to him.

MATT: It helps. The next 15 minutes or so of you finishing your breakfast, the headache fades for the most part. The pounding subsides.

SAM: The innkeeper knew of the spice, correct? Can I talk to the innkeeper really quick?

MATT: Sure, you walk up to Treev, who’s right now sitting there reading a book, has like a rather thick pair of glasses that look rather hilarious against the small dragonborn eyes, focus against the really rough and tumble exterior.

SAM: Oy, Treev? That fusaka spice, how much does it go for usually for a bag? Big bag, sack?

MATT: “How big a bag are you talking?”

SAM: Hog’s head, right?

TALIESIN: Yeah, it’s a hog’s head.

MATT: “Hog’s head bag. It depends on where you’re buying it. Ten gold?”

(groaning and laughter)

MATT: “But you could probably barter most down from there, if you’re getting it in bulk.”

SAM: That hurts. I thought you people said it was expensive?

MATT: “For spice, yeah! Mostly dealing with coppers and silvers for mere poison food flavor.”

SAM: What if it’s really high quality fusaka?

MATT: “12? Fusaka’s fusaka and you don’t find many folks that’re asking for its flavor except for particular dishes, so I only keep maybe a small flagon of it at any times. In fact, last night is the first time someone asked for it in about three months.”

LAURA: What does it normally look like?

MARISHA: No one even fucking wants it!

LAURA: I mean when you’re using it in food.

MATT: “Well, it comes–” and he goes through like a small spice rack on the side of the kitchen, comes back out and pulls out a small glass container. He uncorks the top and inside you can see it’s a very fine dark brown powder. He says, “It comes in bits but you grind it down and then you sprinkle it over, cook it proper, usually with slow roasts, and it’s quite nice.”

SAM: Thanks, Treev.

MATT: “No worries.”

SAM: All right, I’m good.

LIAM: Enjoy that allspice.

SAM: Let’s go on our journey.

TRAVIS: We buying more drugs today?

SAM: No, I think my kingpin days are over.

LIAM: That is sad to hear.

TRAVIS: Off to the Crystal Chateau, then?

TALIESIN: Off to the Crystal Chateau.

MATT: Who’s leading the charge to the Crystal Chateau?

MARISHA: We ask Treev first: where is the Crystal Chateau?

MATT: He thinks for a second, “Ain’t been around those areas for a bit. Those’ll be over in the Sigil District, and that’s right down in the southeastern side of Ank'harel. Look for the raised landmass where it’s carved off at the top. That’s where most of all the bastards live and most of the training’s done by the Allegiance folk.”

LIAM: The bastards live, you said?

TRAVIS: Yeah, they’re snobby.

LAURA: Thank you.

MATT: “My pleasure.”

TALIESIN: Be back in a bit.

TRAVIS: Meep-meep.

TALIESIN: I’ll lead the charge.

MATT: All right. Make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: Oh, for the love of god.

LAURA: Are you finding anything, Percy?

TALIESIN: No. Six.

MATT: Six. What’d you roll?

TALIESIN: Two.

MATT: At least it’s not a one. It takes you about four hours of wandering the city to finally get the proper directions to lead you towards the Sigil District to the Crystal Chateau. As you ascend through these streets, the red cobblestone that you’ve seen through most of the streets of Ank'harel gives way to this slightly opalescent surface where the light itself almost dances across the surface of the stones. It shifts in the outskirts of where the large hillside comes to an end, and the buildings here give way to an open space where you see a large, open square, but in the center of the square, there are ropes around some sort of large hole in the ground, probably a good 150 feet across. It is a circular chasm off to the eastern side of this large open square. There are maybe a half dozen individuals standing around the lip of it. A few of them are armed and armored, and a few of them seem to be dressed in long, relatively nice robes and light clothing. You see a number of longhouses with high steepled roofs with a yellowish-tan tint to them. These buildings are very nice. They look constructed in a type of architecture that’s more reminiscent of Tal'Dorei or other civilizations than you’ve seen most of Ank'Harel’s construction, so you figure these buildings are probably newer or at least this district seems to have a little different cultural flavor to it than the rest of the city. To the southern side of it you do see a large multi-tiered structure that is made of a smoky quartz mixed with white marble in places. This, with an immediate glance, you’d probably gather is the Crystal Chateau.

TALIESIN: Does the opalescent stone have any similarity to the stones of Whitestone?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

MARISHA: Don’t use the opalite dice. Opalite hates us.

TALIESIN: There we go. 23.

MATT: You take a moment, glance down closely, and look at it. It looks like the cobblestones of this particular district, and it’s only really towards the top of this hill, where all the rest of these buildings are constructed, has a very faint trace of ground-in whitestone particles that had been part of the construct of these floors. A large portion of whitestone, over time, has been exported to this location for the construction of the top of this hill.

TALIESIN: Good to know.

LAURA: Can I wander over to the big hole in the ground and ask one of the guards: Oi! What’s in there?

MATT: As soon as you walk up, two of the guards give you a keen look and put their hands on the sides of their sheathed weapons.

LAURA: No worries. I’m from out of town. I just was very curious.

MATT: They look at each other and some of the more– for lack of a better term, more academic looking individuals– shy away from this seemingly growing possible confrontation, from their perspective. They begin to pull back and walk down this slightly descending, spiral-like path, that’s about ten feet off the inside of this carving into the floor. They begin to descend down into it. One of the guards says, “This is where the Allegiance is currently excavating.”

LAURA: Oh. And the Allegiance is the people who live here? No?

MATT: “The Allegiance runs all of the schools here.”

LAURA: Of course, yes, the schools for magic.

MATT: “You are not from here?”

LAURA: I am not, at all.

MATT: “Well, please be on your way.”

LAURA: Right. Thank you for all of your helpfuw information. Helpfuw? Helpful.

MATT: As you walk and turn away, they keep a close eye as you step back into the open area of the square.

LAURA: There’s a big hole in the ground.

TALIESIN: I was noticing. That’s odd.

LAURA: They’re esc-excavating something. I don’t know what’s happening to my brain!

TALIESIN: Had a little bit of spice, have we?

MARISHA: Does it look like a similar excavation site to the ziggurat in Whitestone?

MATT: The ziggurat is a subterranean chamber that was found through a long series of tunnels that were carved beneath a long swath of land, underneath Whitestone Castle, to the actual city of Whitestone. This appears to be just a large, strip mine-like cylinder that descends deep into the earth. You haven’t been able to get close enough to look down toward the bottom of it.

TALIESIN: How wide again, approximately?

MATT: About 150 feet across. You’re estimating from this distance.

TALIESIN: And it looks excavated, and not just like something opened up and then they kept digging?

MATT: Correct. You can see there is actually a pattern to the carving of the earth. It looks like it’s been carved in, layer after layer after layer, much like a small-scale strip mine.

TALIESIN: Do the stones look like they broke the ground, or does it look like the stones were actually built around this? Has this been here since the construction of this area? Or does it seem like perhaps in the last 20 years or such, they’ve just gone down?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

TALIESIN: No. It’s a hole!

MATT: Yeah. It’s hard to tell. For all your training in Whitestone, you haven’t really been too keen on reading about the various details and specifications behind paving roads.

MARISHA: Percy?

TALIESIN: Yes?

MARISHA: Is there whitestone located outside of Whitestone?

TALIESIN: Not really, that I’m aware of. It rests beneath the tree, in the hills, in the mines to the north, and that’s pretty much it that I’m aware of.

LIAM: And you would know about any dealings that Whitestone would have?

TALIESIN: Well, I would if I had paid attention to such things, but it wasn’t something that I was– I was very young the last time I was there. I don’t really know where anything went, but I can assume that this came from Whitestone.

TRAVIS: I bet they got this from Whitestone!

LIAM: That’s a bit of a stretch, Grog.

TALIESIN: This is interesting. How did you come to that conclusion?

TRAVIS: I don’t know, I just felt a little brain snap and then things danced between my ears and then it hit my mouth.

TALIESIN: You should write that down.

MARISHA: I Druidcraft a little gold star for him out of bark, and I say: Here you go, Grog! Good job! You have a gold star for the day!

TRAVIS: What do I do with this?

MARISHA: Just stick it right on your forehead!

LIAM: Or eat it.

MATT: You hear a crunching between his pearly white, larger-than-average goliath teeth.

TALIESIN: This is good news, if it is whitestone. It means that we at least have some leverage here. Let’s find a big door, the biggest door we can find, and attack it!

MATT: That’s always worked out well for you guys in the past. You make your way south of the square to the Crystal Chateau. There is a large white iron gate that surrounds the premises. And from where the cobblestone ends beyond that gate it is a fairly beautiful, well-kept, fenced-off garden, where you see some trees popping up, green grass. Looks to be a small stream that runs through, there’s a bridge off the main path that leads to the chateau that goes over it. The water seems to butt up against the chateau and vanish beneath it, to continue within the actual structure. As you head to the front gate you see the door there, and there are two small handles on the outside. You go to pull and it doesn’t open.

TALIESIN: I knock.

MATT: It’s that iron-like vibration of a heavy gate. You wait a few moments, and in the distance, you see the large two doors to the chateau, one peeks open slightly and a little head peeks through.

TALIESIN: Hello.

MATT: It’s about, maybe, 50 feet from you at this distance, and he disappears back behind the door.

LAURA: Scanlan, hold up that necklace.

SAM: Yes, sorry. Distracted. Here.

TALIESIN: We’re here on official business. Matters of trade and of research.

MATT: The door still remains ajar, but the figure has pulled back in. Are you shouting this at a distance?

TALIESIN: Yes, I am. It will be very worth your while, and someone will definitely wish to speak with us. We’ve traveled from Tal'Dorei.

SAM: Can we just walk up to the door?

MATT: The head peeks out again and you get a better look at it this time. It’s short, oval to the side almost? The head has this very wide, short, stocky, very pointed nose and a very pointed chin. No facial hair, however. Bald on top and what you see as a bit of grey hair that’s frizzed on the sides. As it steps outside, you see its stature is similar to Scanlan’s. This appears to be a gnomish individual. Pale skin, paler than most of you and definitely most people you’ve seen here in Ank'Harel and as it steps out, it has white robes with gray streaks across the front and back that fall into this cape in the back and with its arms placed within its robes. Its small footfalls comes across the path, over the bridge, up to the front of the gate and is now facing you guys on the other side of the gate. Up close, it is a very old gnome. Those of you who have known gnome longevity, that’s many years. Strangely adorable, the eyes are tiny and beady, the eyebrows are furrowed. There’s a slight smile and this elderly sweetness to him as he approaches with his arms in his robe.

LIAM: Hello there, grandfather.

MATT: “Yes?”

LIAM: We are looking for a bit of help. We’ve been told that your knowledge is great and we have some items that defy description.

LAURA: Are you Headmaster James Kryon?

MATT: “No, I am not. I am Grymond Trog.”

LIAM: One more time, grandfather.

MATT: “Grymond Trog.”

LIAM: Grymond Trog. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

MATT: “You, as well, and well met, whoever you are.”

LAURA: Be pleased.

MATT: “You don’t have to do that here.”

LAURA: Could we meet with Headmaster James Kryon? We’ve been sent by someone very important. J'mon Sa Ord.

TALIESIN: From across the continent.

SAM: I flash the thing again and say, in Gnomish: He’ll want to talk to us. We’ve come a great distance to meet him.

MATT: And he responds in Gnomish to you, “Very well. I will go and see if the Headmaster is available. I cannot promise anything, but I will return.” You guys see this exchange in Gnomish. It sounds like (fast twittering).

LAURA: I’ve never heard you speak Gnomish before, Scanlan.

TRAVIS: What’d you say?

SAM: (sighs) I said: Someone loan me 350 gold.

LAURA: 350 gold? Why 350 gold?

LIAM: That’s a very specific number.

TALIESIN: That’s a very interesting number.

MATT: The gnome spins around and darts back into little footfalls, coasting a strange little zig-zag back to the original doors and disappears. The doors don’t close; they remain ajar.

LIAM: He’s way faster than you.

LAURA: Why don’t you walk that fast, Scanlan?

SAM: I’m carrying two giant sacks of spice. It weighs me down.

TRAVIS: Do you want to put those in the bag of holding?

SAM: No! They’re mine.

TRAVIS: Your cross to bear. Got it.

MATT: You wait about 15 minutes before the gnome, Grymond, pops his head out once more. “Just a minute.” Pops back in.

LIAM: I like that little guy.

TALIESIN: I know; he’s quite pleasing.

MATT: Pops back out about ten minutes later. Darts over to the edge. “My apologies for keeping you waiting. The headmaster is unable to see visitors at the moment.”

LAURA: Oh no. Why?

MATT: “Perhaps try next week.”

LAURA: Oh no, that’s such a long time. We have a very short amount of time; we’re on a crunch.

MARISHA: Yes, is there a standby list we can get on?

MATT: “Is there something I can help you with?”

LIAM: We are sort of trying to save–

MARISHA: The world.

MATT: “That’s very sweet.”

LAURA: Can I insight check him?

MARISHA: Time is of the essence.

LAURA: 20.

MATT: 20?

SAM: Loot Crate, ladies and gentlemen. I’m wearing one of the shirts right now. It came in this month’s Loot Box! Loot Crate, I think it’s called, actually, not a Loot Box.

LIAM: I hear it comes with a gram of spice in every box.

SAM: Yeah, that alone makes it worth about $500. Every box. In some circles. Oh boy, Travis is looking!

(laughter)

LAURA: Look, we’re in a bit of a rush. This is very important business. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders.

MATT: Persuasion check.

SAM: Persuasion check. She’s the best at those!

LAURA: I’m not terrible at it. 20.

SAM: That’s good.

MATT: His eyes blink. Sigh. “Just a moment.” Turns around and disappears back up the walkway to the building. You wait another 30 minutes.

LAURA: Fucking little gnome on a power trip.

LIAM: Worth it.

SAM: What are we asking when we get in, by the way?

MATT: You wait another ten minutes, and right as your frustration is beginning to mount and you’re ready to start rattling that gate, you see a figure, much taller, step out from the open door to the front of the Crystal Chateau.

LIAM: Eyes up!

MATT: Much slower and deliberate walk. This taller humanoid, as it approaches, you see the same white robes with the same silver grey band that goes over the shoulders, the mantle pointing out past the shoulders, as it passes back into a cloak that drifts behind. The train of the robe’s dragging just a few inches past the back. They seem longer than should be for a normal traveling person; they’re almost ceremonial. As the humanoid approaches, you can see silver, almost purple-colored hair, that just falls back and trails past, without a stray hair in place, long past the shoulders, almost like a secondary cloak and flows with each step, just like the cloak does. The face is pure elven, skin pale white, the eyes white with a very faint gold iris. No pupil. Seems young, though the graying hair does lead you to believe that there is some age to this elven individual. Approaches, hands together in front. Eventually comes to the edge of the gate. “My apologies for the delay. Apparently, you have both the assistance of the soul of the jeweled city at your disposal, and you’ve convinced my clerk that you have important business. Well, you have ten minutes of my time. What can I do for you?”

TALIESIN: May we speak in private for that ten minutes? It is sensitive.

MATT: “Very well.” He snaps his fingers and utters this incantation under his mouth. Suddenly you have this crackling blue wall appear above you, and you all are encased inside this cube-like box, it’s about 25 by 25 feet, you hear this slight vibration crackling around you.

LAURA: Is the fence still between us?

MATT: The fence is still between us, but it’s enclosed. It closed all of you into this box, including himself. And all the breeze that was blowing through has been halted. You hear none of the surrounding sounds of the city around you. This appears to be a fairly private place. (laughs) For at least the time he’s willing to give you.

TALIESIN: Do you know of the news of Tal'Dorei and Emon?

MATT: “I don’t really pay attention to matters that far from where we are. I have important things to tend to.”

TALIESIN: Foreign affairs, obviously. But I can see that there are aspects of this place that are foreign, that you have brought culture here. And I pull out one of my guns, pull it out to show him the hiltwork, which is all embedded with actual whitestone. I cannot speak the name of where we come from, but I know how this place was built, and I know that perhaps we have a connection because of it. And I’m going to–

SAM: Shoot him in the head.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Dragons– There’s no secret to it. Dragons are ravaging the continent. A chromatic conclave of dragons, unlike we’ve ever seen before, have decimated the cultures of the other end of the earth. Dragons we have never seen before, but you have. And I’m going to Minor Illusion in my hand an image of the red dragon with the ruby in his chest sitting atop. I’m creating a little visual of it.

MATT: It’s rudimentary.

TALIESIN: It’s rudimentary, but it’s there. It’s obviously an illusion; it’s not meant to look real. It’s fuzzy.

MATT: It’s a Princess Leia, froze, coming out of R2D2 in A Lost Hope. Takes a look at it, seemingly unmoved, and goes, “And?”

TALIESIN: They will come here. They will come here and they will ravage. We’ve been given the opportunity and the hope of stopping them before they reach your shores.

LIAM: We have ended two of them, and we want to end them all before they come anywhere near these shores.

MATT: “That sounds like an absolutely remarkable endeavor and I wish you the best of luck.”

TALIESIN: If we could just have a bit of help, identifying a few objects of magical power, and hopefully finding a few more keys to stopping them, it would ingratiate us to you so much that I would be delighted to speak of a future of hopefully making sure that more of this beautiful whitestone that you use everywhere in this beautiful palace is available and deeply indebted.

MATT: As you do say whitestone, his eyes for the first time do lock into yours.

MARISHA: (whispering) Tell him who you are, Percy!

TALIESIN: I cannot tell him who I am.

MATT: “Well. You now have six more minutes of my time. If you are here for simple identification purposes, I can aid you in this. What would you like me to see for you?”

TALIESIN: They are not simple. We are not starting with the jug.

LIAM: Step up, Grog. Show him the gloves.

TRAVIS: Oh, yes. I got these Titanstone Knuckles off my uncle. They make me bigger and stronger, but I’m not sure what else they do.

MATT: He leans forward and places his hands through the gate openings on the sides of where the various bars are and touches them, and his eyes flare with a flash of sudden arcane energy. His hands just tense for a moment, and he lets go. “Indeed they are. A Vestige! I have not seen one in person. Congratulations. That is a very worthy find. There are museums and collectors that would pay quite a penny for such an item.”

TRAVIS: No, I’m not interested in selling it.

MARISHA: But you have heard of these Vestiges before?

MATT: “I have come across them in my research, yes.”

LIAM: We have three of them.

MARISHA: Have you heard of one called Cabal’s Ruin?

MATT: “I’ve heard of it.”

MARISHA: It’s a cloak.

MATT: “A cloak? Yes. Yes, I have come across it in my papers before, but that was quite some time ago and that’s the extent of my knowledge, I fear. Sorry.”

TALIESIN: Show him your bow.

LAURA: Our second Vestige.

MATT: Leans forward, this time with one hand and touches the edge of it. As he touches the edge, it curls against the tip of his finger and he pulls back, a little bit creeped out by it.

LAURA: Fenthras.

MATT: “Fenthras.” And his eyes flash again. The bow seems to stop moving for a second and then relax back into its slow, organic movement. “This is also quite a find. A powerful weapon. Fey in nature. It seems to extend sight and grow that which it slays.” He gives you information on each of these Vestiges as part of his Identify spell, and there is no additional information beyond what you already know about the item.

LIAM: I misspoke. We have four. Scanlan, show him your blade.

SAM: (French accent) Mythcarver!

MATT: (French accent) “Mythcarver?”

SAM: Is how some would say it.

MATT: He takes it. His eyes flash again as he glances over the blade. “One of the non divine-based Vestiges. Here you are. Much like those knuckles.”

TRAVIS: Non-divine?

MATT: “Some were created in the sphere of some deity’s influence. Some were created by powerful practitioners of the arcane. Remember, the Calamity, the battle that sparked the Divergence itself, was a battle against the gods, against wayward arcane magics, and the division between the societal belief in both.”

LAURA: Did anyone in the Allegiance create these items?

MATT: “No, the Allegiance has only been around for about 80, 90 years. But some of us have come across information about these, as scattered as they are.”

TALIESIN: We have the tea set, as well? Do we have anything else?

SAM: Can you tell me anything more about the blade?

MATT: “It resonates with sound and speech and song.” He gives you basically the information you have about the Mythcarver.

LIAM: Probably overkill, but I draw back the white that I’m wearing. What of this armor? Can you tell me anything about it?

MATT: He reaches forward and touches the armor. Eyes flash again. He gives you a full, detailed description of the armor you’re holding. He says, “This has been awakened. Interesting, yes. It’s rare that artifacts have an awakening. Interesting.”

LIAM: Is that something that any of these would do?

MATT: “I do not know. This is my first time actually handling any Vestiges. For the record, you carrying this many puts quite a target on your back from anyone who’s interested in selling them or making them their own. I would recommend not telling anyone what you have in your possession.”

TALIESIN: You are the only one that we’ve told.

MATT: “Good, keep it that way.”

TALIESIN: Just a few more things.

LAURA: I pull out the tea set that has LM engraved on it, that we got in–

MATT: “Unfortunately, you’ve expended most of my identification this day.”

TALIESIN: Less of a magical investigation, then. I pull out a piece of the green elemental shard from Whitestone and show it to him.

MATT: “Might I have a look at that?” He takes it, reaches into his robes, pulls out a very well-crafted glass jeweler’s piece, glances over it for a second. He clicks a small button on the side of it. Each time he does, you see the lens change color on the end of it. “I have not seen anything like this. Not of condensed, purified whitestone.”

TALIESIN: Yes. I take it back.

MATT: As you take it, he gives a little resistance, “The possibilities of such a substance is intriguing.”

MARISHA: Can I do an insight check on him?

MATT: Go for it.

MARISHA: 19.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: Can we ask him how he got his purple hair? Because I want some purple hair.

TRAVIS: Make sure to visit the Geek and Sundry store for all of our new merch items!

LIAM: Espionage nail wraps!

TRAVIS: We’ve got these new bitching bracelets!

SAM: But these have Critical Role themes to them!

LAURA: Look, Sam, we have a Critical Role mug!

SAM: No way, that’s really available? I want one! How much are they? $50, $100? Just $20?

TALIESIN: Think of all the spice you could get!

MATT: “Should you have any more that you do not require, I am sure I could convince the Allegiance to pay quite a hefty sum.”

TALIESIN: Money doesn’t interest us at this point. We are under siege. But cooperation and help in our endeavor certainly does. The process is known to my people and a closely guarded secret, obviously. We would be happy to restore normal relations once we are no longer in danger. Excited for normal relations, and proper trade. We are a city in need.

MATT: “If I may have your name, then, sir?”

TALIESIN: I do not give him my name, but I put together a quick piece of paper with the royal seal.

MATT: Okay. He takes it.

TALIESIN: It’s enough that you need not have any paper proof of who I am, other than the fact that if this place was built, then that should be very useful to you. If this place was built the way we expect. If we survive, and especially with your cooperation and help, we will be back to this city, and we will be grateful.

MARISHA: We can always come back with more of this condensed whitestone in tow.

TALIESIN: It’s very expensive and very rare, sadly.

MATT: “I look forward to your return once this wyrm intrusion is completed, and we can discuss business.”

TALIESIN: Worm intrusion? Oh, the wyrm. I thought you were talking about the hole out front. Is that anything we can help with? We’re quite adept.

MATT: “No, we’re good, but thank you.”

LIAM: I hate to wear out our welcome, but you said you were spent. Is it possible your friend who scuttled off could have a look at my sister’s tea set?

LAURA: Oh, really, they are so smart and magical–

MATT: “You are asking us to spend this last minute of time that I’ve promised to you to retrieve my clerk to see what your tea set does?”

LIAM: I was asking that, yes.

MATT: “Very well.”

TRAVIS: Well, I have a question. Would you ever engage in matters outside of this stupid-ass place?

MATT: “Referring to what?”

TRAVIS: You know, other countries, people in danger, dragons. You seem to be a powerful magician of some sort. Would you ever help?

MATT: “I do not, nor does the Allegiance, get involved in political matters. We are simply a collection of scholars and we attempt to keep it that.”

LAURA: In your scholarly knowledge, do you know how to kill a red dragon?

TALIESIN: With no heart?

MATT: “I would say that is probably a bit beyond my capability. But if, indeed, that little bauble that your tiny friend carries is to believe true, I think you’ve already found favors and allies far beyond anything we could provide.”

TALIESIN: We need everything we can get, and we are down several libraries on our continent. They do enjoy watching the knowledge of the ages burn.

MATT: “Well, perhaps you should get on seeing them felled fairly soon, then.”

MARISHA: Hopefully, take this as the fair warning that it was meant to be.

MATT: “The city has seen quite a few aggressors, and not one has made it farther than the outside walls.”

MARISHA: So I have heard.

LAURA: But this isn’t one. This is several.

TALIESIN: And that is why they have given us their favors, because they understand that this threat is greater.

MATT: “And yet you have already felled a few yourselves. I am certain you will be successful in the rest of your endeavor.”

MARISHA: One last note. You mentioned Cabal’s Ruin? Have you heard of the Den of Druja?

MATT: “Druja? Yes, that was naught but 60 years ago. There was a bit of an incursion, an uprising, of a guild that was getting a bit big for its britches and was muscling its way through most of the Suncut Bazaar. Some sort of a conflict arose, and the streets were lined with bodies at certain moments. However, it seems that they were dealt with rather quickly, succinctly. One of our wayward mages that had apparently been helping helm this endeavor was brought to justice with a blade to his throat.”

MARISHA: Really? What was the name of this sorcerer? Magician? Mage?

MATT: “I mean no disrespect to you, but it is a place of particular sourness and shame within the Allegiance, and we wish to move on from it.”

MARISHA: Sure. But isn’t knowledge like this best known so that history does not repeat itself?

MATT: “We know it well, and it will not be repeated. I do not know you, yet you ask us questions deep within our history that we do not wish to discuss for our own reasons.”

TRAVIS: Lot of answers we got here. Lot of answers.

SAM: Maybe we just asked the wrong questions.

TRAVIS: Maybe I should just ask him to identify this.

TALIESIN: I think you’ve already burned the charge on that one for the day.

MATT: As you put your finger up, he puts up three fingers. “And that is your ten minutes. Thank you so much for your time. Please, do make sure the Allegiance knows once you’ve completed your journey up in wherever these dragons are and return. I think there are many things we could discuss, to the benefit of both you and us. Now, I have things to attend to. I wish you good day.”

TALIESIN: Good day to you, sir.

LAURA: You ruined your business deal. Have fun.

TRAVIS: He counted ten like this! I thought they were learned.

MATT: And with that, he exits back and the door closes shut.

LAURA: That guy was a dick.

TALIESIN: Yes, he was, but we did learn some things.

SAM: To be fair, we were asking him favors for no benefit.

LAURA: This is true, but he was a snob.

TALIESIN: There was plenty of benefit to him.

MARISHA: We don’t do well with snobbery.

SAM: Do you want me to burn down his house?

TRAVIS: Triceratops! Triceratops! All right, easy, killer, easy.

MARISHA: All right, so, we know a little bit more.

SAM: Nothing.

LAURA: No, a little bit more. We need to find out who this mage was.

MARISHA: The Den of Druja was a guild. 60 years ago, though. That’s quite a long time.

SAM: We need to reach out to this woman, right?

LAURA: Maybe she’s really old.

SAM: We do know where she lives.

TALIESIN: You could go and check, and we could hang back.

SAM: I have contacts in the underworld here.

LAURA: They respect you.

TRAVIS: The name of the Meat Man goes a long way.

MARISHA: What time is it right now?

MATT: This time, the four hours lost since waking, you’re probably pushing 2:00 in the afternoon.

SAM: Should we go pay a visit to what’s-her-butt? What’s our play here? We need her?

LAURA: We need Cabal’s Ruin. But we don’t want to cause too much of a ruckus, because I don’t want to put ourselves at odds with J'mon Sa Ord.

MARISHA: Maybe we should find out more about this Den of Druja. It sounds like there was quite a civil war that happened back in the day.

SAM: Did we make a mistake here? Should we have said something else? But what information could this person have given us?

LAURA: Access to a library?

TRAVIS: If we had more of that stuff from Percy’s place, he’d be more willing to share.

SAM: Percy, can you give him that piece?

TALIESIN: I don’t trust him with it.

TRAVIS: I can’t imagine why.

MARISHA: He was definitely very interested in it.

SAM: We could sneak in.

TALIESIN: No. How?

SAM: We could just go down the hole. See what’s there. Kiki and I could be dragonflies and just buzz on down.

TRAVIS: That’s true, you’re little drones!

LAURA: This is an entire area of mages! You don’t think they’ll notice when you use Polymorph?

MARISHA: Well, mine’s beast shape. Mine’s natural. I’m au naturel.

MATT: Magical effect, just so you know.

TALIESIN: It’s just organic.

MARISHA: It’s organically natural.

MATT: Free-range magic.

SAM: So our options are go down the hole, get caught; go find the girl with the cloak–

MARISHA: Get caught.

SAM: Or all bum rush my friends at the casino, and get revenge. Maybe they know something more about things!

TALIESIN: It’s just 50 gold. I don’t see why you’re getting so uptight about it.

SAM: It was my lucky gold piece that I got.

TALIESIN: Why would you spend your lucky gold piece?

SAM: It was buried in with the rest. I didn’t notice it.

TALIESIN: Well, maybe if you just ask them to give it back–

LIAM: You are really uptight about this!

SAM: I need a nap, that’s all. I need a nap.

TRAVIS: How about we go up to the woman, then, if the hole sounds like a bad idea?

LAURA: Yeah, let’s make our way over that way.

TRAVIS: Come on, sneaky sneaker.

LIAM: Well, I can take us there. Do we want to be genuine and knock on the door? I can’t think that it’s going to be useful to go sneaking in.

LAURA: Maybe she’s taken the cloak off and we can take it.

SAM: You know, there’s also one other. We’ve heard that there’s shady people at the– Wait, have we been to the Debt’s Respite?

LAURA: That’s where we’re staying.

MARISHA: That’s our hotel, Scanlan.

TRAVIS: He drank a bit last night.

LAURA: Scanlan, do you need to go find a house of lady favors?

MARISHA: The Hilton by the airport, not downtown.

LIAM: We got a full night’s sleep, right?

MATT: Yeah, you did.

TRAVIS: Vax, do you feel like we should be door-knockers instead of sneakers?

LIAM: I feel like door-knocker.

SAM: Let’s knock on Mistress Asharru’s door.

MARISHA: Hang on, we’re just going to go knock and say what?

LAURA: “Hey can we have your Vestige that’s super valuable?”

SAM: Maybe we could trade her one!

LIAM: What’s your idea?

LAURA: I have no idea. Maybe wait until she comes to find us?

SAM: We could do some recon on her place.

LAURA: Yeah, let’s do that.

TALIESIN: Let’s take a look.

MATT: Okay. You guys all heading there?

LIAM: I don’t think we should do that. So that Grog doesn’t knock over a whole cart.

TALIESIN: We are going to definitely hang about a block back.

LIAM: I think you and I should go.

LAURA: Me?

LIAM: Yeah. We’re good at it.

SAM: I could go up to the front door and pretend to be a FedEx delivery guy or something.

LIAM: I pick up Scanlan like a football and walk off with my sister.

MATT: All right. So the three of you guys make your way, remembering the path that you very carefully marked in your memory, to where you followed the messenger through the other day. You guys follow Vax back to the outside of the Debt’s Respite and trace the path in which he followed that silent messenger that Treev had sent off when you first made your request of the mistress. Heading through alleyways, diving over from upper to lower levels through long hallways, beneath buildings, to small side roads, until eventually you find your way into this small area that’s nestled in between two large warehouses. There appears to be some crates. There’s some barrels around this small building that reads, on the sign above the door, A Kingly Home. The door is closed. There appears to be a window right next to the door. There is the series of barrels, and there’s the one barrel you saw where the individual moved it and placed the actual request that you guys made through a small slot in the wall.

LAURA: Are there any other people around?

MATT: You can see– actually, everyone roll a stealth check, who’s coming through. Yeah, you guys are behind, so the three of you guys.

SAM: 14.

LIAM: 25.

TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: Not you, Grog. You’re not going.

LAURA: 16.

MATT: Okay. You guys make your way through the hallway. As you turn the corner, there is one person turning around the corner the opposite direction, who’s carrying a bundle of various large, nut-like fruits. He turns and bumps into you and almost drops it and catches it, “Be more careful,” then just continues walking past. You guys look into the main area where the home is, and it’s right there before you. Other than that person who just passed by, it’s pretty quiet here. This part of the city doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic, which is probably why it makes for a nice home for an individual that does shady work.

LIAM: And nobody’s hiding?

MATT: You can make a perception check.

LIAM: 27.

SAM: Nothing.

LAURA: 32.

MATT: You guys take the next few minutes quietly off in the shadows, looking about the upper and lower regions of this small alcove where the house is. About four or five minutes into that, you’re pretty certain that nobody here is hidden and you are alone other than the home, at least for the time being.

SAM: Should I just go knock on the front door?

LIAM: That was my suggestion, but I thought we came here to watch for a bit. I say to Scanlan, sitting on my shoulders.

LAURA: Should we go peek in the window, maybe? Maybe you, since you’re sneaky? Oh yeah, or that. Scanlan, you can turn into a bug or something.

SAM: Whatever you want.

LAURA: Ooh, I can use– wait, does this have to be–

LIAM: I think bug.

SAM: Bug? You want bug?

LAURA: This doesn’t have to be attuned. I have, from a long fucking time ago, the cloak of the scuttling rat.

SAM: I don’t even know what that is.

MATT: Does it require attunement?

LAURA: It doesn’t say.

MATT: Do you have a cloak attuned to you right now?

LAURA: No, I don’t have a cloak attuned to me because–

MATT: That’s correct, you do not. So yeah, you could put that on if you want.

LIAM: This says five minutes of rat form. Scanlan can go all night long.

SAM: You know why they call her Vex the Rat?

LIAM: Do you know why they call her that?

SAM: Do you want me to do a bug? Be a bug? All right, I’ll be a beautiful dragonfly.

MATT: (buzzing) Scanlan becomes this dragonfly with gorgeous, rainbow-like color and a tiny little beret. What do you want to do, Scanlan?

SAM: Look for any openings in the windows or vents–

MATT: You (tink) against the glass. The window is closed.

LAURA: Is there a fireplace?

MATT: The door is actually pretty flush with the ground.

SAM: Chimneys? Air intakes?

MATT: You glance over the top of the roof. There actually is no chimney.

SAM: Right, so then I’ll just hang out by a window for a little bit and look.

LAURA: What about the little thing where the note got slipped in?

SAM: I don’t know anything about that.

MATT: You guys watch the dragonfly (tink)

SAM: Do I see anyone in any of the windows?

MATT: It’s dark inside. The drapes are drawn except for a little bit of a sliver where the light would get through. You see a little peek of a wooden floor, but there’s no light from the inside.

SAM: Okay. Just going to go all the way around the house, high and low, looking for a way in. Do I find it?

MATT: Make an investigation check.

SAM: A lot. 24.

MATT: 24. After coming around, you begin to slink around by the barrels and you can see, in the stonework that has been built, the masonry that forms the exterior of the building, there appears to be a very small hole, about cork-size, hidden behind one of the barrels in the front. There’s just enough space between the wall where you can barely squeeze in and poke through. It’s big enough where your wings will hit, so you have to attach to it and crawl through before coming out the other side. As you come out the other side, you’re now inside the house. Dark interior. Make a perception check.

SAM: One.

MATT: You’re inside the building, but it is very dark. All you see is the one little beam of light coming through the window that is facing where the sun currently is in the sky and is creating the one beam on the ground and the little bit of wood that’s there. That’s as much as you can make out at the moment.

SAM: I will fly around and see if I knock into anything.

MATT: You knock into a shelf unit. (buzzing) You knock into another shelf unit. (buzzing) You stop on the top of a chair that’s off in a far corner. Go over it. You glance over and a little bit of light is bouncing off the sunbeam. You can see, beneath the opening where you came in, the rolled-up scroll, that was placed inside the small case that held your guys’ message, is still resting right beneath the opening, untouched.

MARISHA: Wow, they haven’t even opened it? Assholes.

LAURA: Maybe she hasn’t been home.

SAM: Am I in a room that’s closed off? Can I keep going through the house?

MATT: Yeah, you can keep going through the house. There’s a big part of the house you haven’t explored yet.

SAM: All right, I’ll see if I can make my way.

MATT: Make another perception check.

SAM: Five.

MATT: All right. It’s fairly dark in here. Let me check one thing in the monster manual. I’m just going to see if there’s some possibility–

SAM: I doubt dragonflies are even in the monster manual.

MATT: No, but I’m looking for–

TRAVIS: The thing that’s about to eat you.

SAM: Look for dragon perception.

TALIESIN: A dire dragonfly.

MATT: Honestly, thinking about it here, you probably might have blindsight from a lot of different insects.

TALIESIN: They’ve got the big prismatic hoo-ha.

MATT: I’m not an expert on insect biology. As you putter around to the opposite side of the room, you can see there is a small table. There is a very simple bed on the side. There is a carpet that has been pulled and half-folded over. There is an opening on the floor on the opposite corner, a staircase that descends below, and a trapdoor that is left open.

SAM: Ooh! I go outside immediately.

MATT: All right. You find the opening, pull through, and then come through on the opposite side.

SAM: I bamf out. There’s a trapdoor. We’ve got to go down the trapdoor. No one’s in the house! We can just go in, snickety-snack! Let’s go in, go down the trapdoor, see what it is.

LIAM: There are three of us running in after–

SAM: No, we don’t need them. Let’s just go. They’ll make noise! You, me, and you, we’re the stealthy ones.

LIAM: That is true, but we don’t know what is in here.

SAM: Yeah, you’re right. We should totally tell the others.

TALIESIN: Hello, everyone. What’s going on? Are things going on? Hello?

LIAM: Scanlan is still grappling with some sort of depression.

SAM: I’ve got a bipolar thing going on, manic-depressive episode.

TALIESIN: I don’t know what any of that means.

MARISHA: Is it the spice? Are you having a rough morning from the spice?

SAM: Anyway. There’s a trapdoor. We should go down it.

TRAVIS: Trapdoor?

LAURA: Did you see any sign of life inside the house?

SAM: Yeah, I did. I saw the sign that someone had opened a trapdoor and gone down it.

TALIESIN: They could be hurt.

MARISHA: They could just have a basement.

LAURA: We could be breaking into somebody’s home for nothing.

LIAM: We either sit on our asses waiting for this woman, or we go make shit happen.

LAURA: We’re on a time crunch. Let’s make shit happen.

TALIESIN: An entire city may die if we take too long.

LAURA: Can we look around? Is anyone around? Can we pick this lock without anybody knowing?

LIAM: Give my sister and I a minute and then join us. Oh, we left them way behind.

MARISHA: Do we have time to go get more slushy beverages?

TRAVIS: No, Keyleth. No.

LIAM: You work on the lock. I’m going to go get the rest. I’m going to head back.

MATT: So Vax, you head back. You get the rest of the party. Vex?

LAURA: Do I see anyone around?

MATT: You actually see a couple folks walk by. You take Scanlan and you guys step into the shadows. You wait a minute for them to just pass by, and as soon as they’re out of earshot, you head back.

LAURA: Can I check for traps?

MATT: You may. Make an investigation check.

LAURA: Oh, well. That investigation was a 12, there.

MATT: Doesn’t appear to be trapped.

LAURA: Okay, I’m going to try to pick this lock, Scanlan.

TRAVIS: Can we look around the streets?

LAURA: Yeah, I totally checked already. I’m going to try and pick this lock. I’m going to try real hard. What do I roll?

MATT: Oh, this would be a sleight of hand. Not sleight of hand. No, this is a lock-pick tool, a thieves’ tools check. So you add your proficiency bonus and your dexterity bonus.

LAURA: Add my proficiency bonus? I don’t understand.

LIAM: Thieves’ tools.

LAURA: I have thieves’ tools!

MATT: Your proficiency bonus is five, right? And what’s your dexterity bonus?

LAURA: Oh, my dexterity is another five.

MATT: So add ten to your d20 roll.

LAURA: I think that’s a 14 that I rolled.

MATT: Okay, so plus ten, 24. Oh, four plus ten? You put your lock pick inside. As simple as it looks from the outside, it’s a very intricate lock. You spend about five minutes with it. You’re not getting any of the tumblers.

LAURA: Just go inside, unlock it from the inside. But don’t tell my brother I couldn’t unlock this, okay?

SAM: Wait, first I’m going to try to pick the lock.

LAURA: Do you have thieves’ tools? Then go fuck yourself. You can’t.

MATT: Just roll a d20 and add your dexterity modifier.

SAM: Four. All right, I’ll just go in there.

MATT: He pulls out a couple of barely unfurled pieces of wire, puts them in there for a second, and they both break inside of it.

SAM: All right, I will Dimension Door inside.

MATT: Okay, you’re now inside. As you go back to the door, you can see there is a heavy latch and some sort of a padlock on it.

SAM: Goddamn it. On the inside?

LIAM: Have I gotten back to the rest?

MATT: You have gotten back pretty quick, full speed. You guys, over the next two minutes or so, the rest of the party gets there. You can go ahead and make another shot. The DC is going to increase, though.

LAURA: I try it again. Natural 20!

MATT: Very difficult because it is not only a difficult lock, with the interior padlock, but Scanlan broke off pieces of wire in it that are in danger of permanently breaking the lock and making it unusable. You, however, thankfully manage to maneuver the tools to remove the pieces of wayward wire, finish the lock, and as soon as you finish unlocking the padlock on the inside with a curved piece, the door opens, and there’s a slight flash. Nothing.

LAURA: Oh no. It’s an alarm. We need to get the fuck out of here.

MATT: No noise. Make a perception check.

MARISHA: Did we forget to check for traps again?

LAURA: No, I did. I checked! 16?

MATT: 16? Ah, as Scanlan from the inside and you on the outside, you take a quick glance inside, just scanning around. You can see bed on the far side, the trapdoor that’s open, the stairs that lead down. What catches your eye is right around the outside of the entrance to the basement, you see these dark spots across the ground that generally fade as they reach the door that you’re at. These are familiar spots. These are tiny little spatters of viscera, blood. Dried.

LAURA: (gasps) Leading from the door to the trapdoor?

MATT: Leading from the trapdoor to the door, dissipating as it comes to your door.

MARISHA: Wait, and it’s dried?

MATT: It looks like it’s been there for a while, yeah.

LAURA: Oh shit. So the trap could’ve done something to somebody before?

SAM: No, more blood toward the trapdoor and then it fades, so someone came out of the trapdoor–

MARISHA: And tried to haul ass out.

TRAVIS: What was the flash?

SAM: An alarm.

LAURA: Do I see footprints around?

MATT: As you get close and look down, you can see, in a couple of the dried blood smears, there appear to be footprints in them that are heading out.

SAM: I go over to the trapdoor and inspect it for traps.

MATT: Make an investigation check.

SAM: It being a trapdoor, it should have a trap. 17.

MATT: The trapdoor is still open. It’s left open and the stairs that descend. There is no trap in the vicinity. Looks like it’s been untouched for a while. You guys are just now starting to approach the outside of the house. As you get there, you see the door is partially ajar, and it is open, and you can vaguely see movement on the inside of Vex and Scanlan looking about.

LIAM: Nice job, ace. What’s going on?

LAURA: There was a trap. I think there was a trap on it and I didn’t know. But I looked for traps! There was a flash. Does that sound familiar?

TRAVIS: Is anyone new on the streets or on the roofs above us?

MATT: Perception check.

MARISHA: Can I look down the road, because I’m down a bit, see if anyone looks like they’re coming this way?

TRAVIS: 16.

TALIESIN: 26.

MARISHA: 18.

MATT: Okay. The three of you looking about. There are some people in the distance that pass by three alleys down, but there’s nobody paying attention to or immediately in the vicinity of this little alcove. Nothing unusual.

LIAM: Scanlan’s by the open trapdoor inside?

TALIESIN: I’m going to nonchalantly walk in, open the door, and just we’ll all come in and shut the door behind us.

LAURA: Is there any blood on the inside of the door?

MATT: If you look on the inside of the door, there is actually a hand print in blood against the top of it.

LAURA: Does it look like it was trying to open the door? Does it look like it got the door open, or it was stuck inside?

MATT: No, it looks like, as it wraps around the top, it looks like somebody had lifted it up.

LAURA: Oh, the trapdoor.

TALIESIN: Is there blood on the handle? Is there blood on the door itself?

MATT: Looking at the inside handle, there are very faint traces of dried blood.

MARISHA: Can I do a check on the outside threshold of the door to see if I can see the blood go outward?

MATT: Sure, make an investigation check.

LAURA: I go and grab our note that we sent and take it.

MATT: Okay, you put it away.

MARISHA: Nothing, no.

TALIESIN: I will check for that, too.

MATT: You guys are out in the open right now, slowly inspecting the ground in the middle of this alley.

TALIESIN: 11. I’m at the door looking out.

LIAM: I’m going down the trapdoor carefully.

MARISHA: Okay, we’re all inside, right?

MATT: Yeah, you’re all inside. Vax is vanishing down the trapdoor.

TALIESIN: I’m doing a quick, gentle sweep of the room, looking for any invisible bodies in the corner. Just moving my hand around.

MATT: Okay. As you guys are scanning this, Vax, you head down into the bottom. Beneath this small hovel in this trapdoor, the stairs stop and to the left of you there is another door that is partially left open into another chamber that is beneath.

LIAM: I want to look for traps on the door.

MATT: The door is open, but yeah.

LIAM: Okay, but there could still be. Okay, investigation, right? 19.

MATT: Does not appear to be trapped.

LIAM: So I’m still stealthed? I’m going to gently open the door and peer in.

MATT: You pull it open, look inside. This is a larger chamber with a much better set of furniture. It looks like the woman that you had hired probably lived here more than above. You see what would be weapons racks, but have been cleaned out. You see a couple of lanterns that are placed upon a table in the corner that have since burned out. One of them has actually fallen over, and it appears the glass is broken on the ground. Make a perception check.

LIAM: 25.

MATT: Glancing across the room, you can see more of the thicker blood spatters with other footprints in them. Multiple footprints. You see a body, still, on the other side of the room.

LAURA: Oh, somebody else got the Vestige.

MATT: You come up to the body, and it appears to be a female form. You see black hair with white streaks throughout. Ornate scale mail armor of black and purple. As you pull her over, the face appears to be in her mid to late forties. Her left eye is ruined and sealed closed with a scar. There is a very large pool of drying, coagulated blood sitting beneath her. Giving a moment to inspect her, she is indeed dead and has been for the better part of a week. Her wounds involve several severe puncture wounds throughout her torso. Multiple stabs, one in her throat.

SAM: Can anyone talk to her?

MARISHA: Pike’s not here.

MATT: Are the rest of you guys coming down to see this?

TALIESIN: I’m heading down if everybody else is.

LAURA: I look around. Any evidence left behind of who it was that attacked her?

MATT: Investigation checks for the guys who are checking the room. What are you guys checking?

LIAM: I’m going to check her further.

MATT: Investigation check on the body. Investigation check on the room.

MARISHA: I want to see if they’ve turned the room.

LAURA: I want to see if I can find something left behind by the killers.

SAM: I’m looking for other exits.

LIAM: 21 on her form.

TRAVIS: I’m looking for treasures.

MARISHA: 21 as well, looking at the house.

TALIESIN: Trying to get a sense of the situation of the murder, how many people there were. Investigation? 13.

MATT: There’s a lot of foot movements, some more heavy than others. It looks like there was a scuffle here, but it’s hard to tell how many people were involved. Definitely more than two. What’d you roll? 21? 15? You’re having a hard time finding anything that really specifically represents that scuffle.

LAURA: I bring Trinket out and have him sniff around.

MATT: Okay. Trinket begins sniffing around the room. Keyleth, you find a series of puncture marks in the walls themselves, in some of the dirt and stone parts of the wall, some small stab puncture wounds across the wall in different places.

TALIESIN: Just to be safe, I’m going to close the trap door.

MARISHA: Is it dark down here?

MATT: It is pitch dark. Percy, for the most part, you don’t have any sort of sight–

MARISHA: Is it safe for me to throw out a Daylight spell? I throw up a Daylight.

MATT: The room now illuminates, and you all have a very clear perspective on this. You, inspecting the body, the puncture wounds that are in the front have corresponding puncture wounds in the back as well. You can see clasps on the shoulders where a cloak would be affixed, but the clasps have been broken off and there is no cloak there.

TRAVIS: Any treasures in the room?

MATT: What’d you roll for an investigation check?

TRAVIS: 18.

MATT: 18? Most of the room has been completely ransacked. It looks like there were places where some things might have been useful, but they have been taken. You find a couple of discarded jewel boxes or lockboxes that have since been broken open and left with a couple scattered gold coins here and there, but this place has been completely cleaned out.

SAM: I was looking for other exits and entrances to the building all around, and I rolled a 29.

MATT: There looks to be one hidden passage behind this one cabinet, where all the drawers have been pulled out and left on the ground empty, but behind that there is a small tunnel that exits outward.

SAM: To the street?

MATT: You don’t know. As you’re inspecting it, you’re seeing more and more of these, each one of these puncture marks that hit the front, also correspond to the back. It’s a clear wound through each way and it appears to be a burn around the outside of each one of these punctures.

TALIESIN: Well, I haven’t looked at them yet, and there’s no reason to look until someone, yeah.

LIAM: Percival, come here.

LAURA: Can I have Trinket sniff around for anything that doesn’t smell like her? For other people?

LIAM: Perce? This looks like your work.

LAURA: Advantage on smell.

TALIESIN: I take a look at the body.

MATT: You are very familiar with these type of wounds. Corresponding to the punctures you’ve seen in the wall behind, you go back, check, and begin to pry in, and you pull out small, iron balls.

MARISHA: I pull it out, and I hand it to Percy.

TALIESIN: Well, that was quick.

MARISHA: I’m sorry. I guess our girl is back in our narrative.

TALIESIN: That’s the best case scenario.

MARISHA: So hang on. Which hand is Ripley missing? Right hand? What hand print is on the trapdoor? Is it a left hand?

MATT: It’s a left hand.

TRAVIS: How did she even know about this?

MARISHA: She’s been doing a lot of research, and she’s been following our exploits.

TALIESIN: She’s probably spying on me.

MARISHA: We know she’s a huge fan of Percy.

TALIESIN: Waiting for me to build something.

SAM: Single Whitestone Female?

LAURA: Maybe Mistress Asharru wasn’t wearing the cloak. Maybe she happened to hide it down the tunnel.

SAM: I found a secret exit that someone could have used to come in and kill, or exit after, or maybe not at all.

TALIESIN: Are there exit wounds on the back of the body as well?

MATT: There are, yes. Corresponding exit wounds.

LIAM: I’ll walk over to Scanlan. I’m going in.

MATT: Okay. You guys follow this tunnel. It’s a very small tunnel, and it continues on for a very intense period of time.

LIAM: Trap check! That is a 24.

MATT: Okay. Keeping your eyes up as you continue along, you do not find any traps. Eventually it comes up and stops. There above, you can see there’s a small series of hand platforms or grooves in the wall that lead up to this cylinder and above you can see a grate.

LIAM: Start climbing up it.

MATT: You climb up and push off there. You come out. Just glancing up very carefully over the side, you see an opening into the Suncut Bazaar, just outside of an alleyway that opens up into the rest of the chaos.

TALIESIN: We need to get the word out and quickly. We need to find her before she figures out a way to return.

MARISHA: Get the word out about what?

TALIESIN: She’s still in this city.

LAURA: It was over a week ago potentially. She could be long gone.

MARISHA: The leader of one of the largest criminal masterminds is now dead in the city. We have to find the murderer. What do we say?

SAM: How long has the body been here? A week? I’ll talk to my contacts in the underworld.

MARISHA: If it’s a week, Ripley could be anywhere.

LAURA: Did Trinket smell anything?

MATT: Trinket did not, actually. Trinket had a rough time trying to just get the bearings and find anything specific.

LIAM: I hippety-hop back down.

MATT: Okay, you head back and join the group.

SAM: We could at least ask around and see if anyone has– But she disguises her appearance, doesn’t she?

TALIESIN: She’s got a missing arm, though.

MARISHA: Yeah, but she was able to hide that before.

LAURA: The guard at that one place. I feel like it was her.

TALIESIN: It’s not Ripley.

MATT: As you guys sit here and contemplate the various possibilities as to who is responsible for this, where they may be, why, and if they indeed have this Vestige in their grasp, we’ll end tonight’s session there and pick this up next week.

SAM: It’s a murder mystery now!

MARISHA: Hold onto those bullets. I might be able to track her down, because they belonged to her.

TRAVIS: Nice job, Matt!

SAM: Nice job creating an entire casino, including brand new games!

LAURA: I want to play more!

TALIESIN: I’ve figured out how to strategize! Your dice game has a base strategy, which is only double down on a six.

MARISHA: He’s actually right. Then you have a one in three chance of actually hitting.

LAURA: Oh, I rolled a seven!

TRAVIS: All right, okay, it’s not real.

LAURA: I know, but I want to play this game all the time. I just rolled a seven. I’m counting as a win.

SAM: We should really go back to this casino and ask around for Ripley, maybe.

LAURA: Yeah and then just gamble.

SAM: Maybe. Just to win favor with the locals.

MARISHA: I suck with cops. I get thrown out everywhere I go. It’s great.

LAURA: Yeah, you lawyered her out of jail before. Thanks, Loot Crate! Don’t forget about the awesome stuff that’s in the store!

MARISHA: Thanks, Espionage!

TALIESIN: Oh my god, Espionage, thank you so much!

MARISHA: Thank you, nail wraps!

MATT: And thank you guys for tuning in and watching our silly game as it gets more chaotic. Have a wonderful week, a wonderful weekend, and is it Thursday yet? See you guys soon.

[end of captions]

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