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Q & AEdit

MATT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to tonight's pseudo, not-really episode of Critical Role, where a bunch of nerdy voice actors sit around here and tonight, maybe play a little bit of Dungeons & Dragons. My name is Matthew Mercer and unfortunately, we have a number of members who were sick after our convention appearances this last weekend, who couldn't make the game tonight due to unfortunate circumstances. So with the amount of people who couldn't make it, we decided to instead not play this week and instead, do a live Q&A with the questions in the chat room and as well as questions that were put on Reddit, so we'll get to those there in just a moment. And then, when that's over, as decided recently, I'm going to have a fun battle royale. I made a small arena and the latter half of today's episode is going to be Grog versus Keyleth versus Zahra versus Kashaw free-for-all. See who stands winning at the end of this show.

WILL: It's going to be such a slaughter.

MARY: I'm looking forward to the three minutes of gameplay.

WILL: Exactly! It's going to be 90 seconds of great fighting.

MATT: I cannot wait!

TRAVIS: Can anyone cast Hold Person or Friends?

WILL: I can. That's good to know! Okay, see, I wouldn't have known that. Just like turning undead the first time.

TRAVIS: I shouldn't have said anything.

MARY: Why did you say anything?

MATT: So that will be the second half of the show after we take our midway break. Before that happens, let's do a quick round of announcements. First and foremost, I wanted to say thank you to our Critters and fans that came out to Wizard World Portland this past weekend. We had an incredible turnout. Wizard World was very happy and we're looking to possibly be doing more of those in the near future. So we'll be able to see other parts of the US, meet more of you guys we didn't have the chance to that weekend. It's wonderful to meet all of you, both at the con and at Guardian Games out there. It was a great game store. We got to hang out with a bunch of you in person. But thank you so much for coming out and visiting. We really appreciate it. Also today, I put up on the Dungeons Masters Guild site, dmsguild.com, a new order for the blood hunter class. It's called Order of the Lycan. Which I mentioned a little bit at Wizard World, but it's essentially a blood hunter order that involves, as part of a ritual called the Taming, they accept the lycanthropic curse and through training and honing their willpower and the blood magic that is part of blood hunters' training, they can control the curse of lycanthropy to a certain extent to prevent themselves from going berserk, but still reap the benefits as they transform into whatever were-creature they choose--

TRAVIS: Were-creature?

MATT: I mean, there's were-tigers, were-rat. So you decide which strain you're infected with.

WILL: A were-rat would be pretty damn cool.

TRAVIS: Can you change, or are you locked into one?

MATT: No, you're locked to the strain of lycanthropy you are, unless you get uncursed and you get another strain.

MARISHA: Like half rat, half person.

TRAVIS: Like a big ass rat or you're like little bitty?

MATT: No, you're like, big ass nasty--

TRAVIS: Princess Bride.

MATT: --Warhammer Skaven style. It's pretty rad. Yeah, bigger than that.

WILL: I don't think they exist.

MATT: But yeah, it's on the DMs Guild site. It's free. Go check it out, see if it's something you guys want. Check it out. It's good. Also, another announcement I want to make real fast, I'm saying this because I've gotten 15 to 20 tweets a day about it, for the Earthbreaker Groon fight last week, it was intentional that the Quivering Palm ability was held back. He was testing individuals in the battle, not trying to go lethal or kill. It was more of a tease for the actual ability. God forbid they ever come across a not quite as helpful or restrained monk in the future. But I'm well aware. It was intentional. I should've made it more clear that he was holding back in the moment and I apologize for the confusion it caused.

TRAVIS: Hold on. He was holding back during that whole thing?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: Cool. Awesome.

WILL: Somebody asked me about that too. I think my response was, "What?" He keeps holding back! And it's like, all right. I just want a good fight.

TRAVIS: Put my belly button with my spine. That's holding back?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: I love how that's part of the announcements, though, you try to--

MATT: I'm just trying to quell it now, because it's been perpetual and I'm like, I know. It's all good.

WILL: It's a good fight!

MATT: It was a good fight. I love me some monks, man. It was so great to bring a monk in there and more hopefully to come, because there are those in the world that are trained for different sets.

MARISHA: In fact, maybe now's a good time to hearken back to your episode one announcement, because it's been almost 50 since you've made the announcement that you like to house rule a lot of stuff.

MATT: Yeah. House rules, rules are fluid, you have a good time. But don't worry about it. I know that you guys want to see it come out in all its full glory and that may still happen in the future. We shall see.

MARY: You'll be a lycan-tiger monk or a lycan-rat monk?

WILL: Wow.

MARY: Can you cross?

MATT: I mean, you could multiclass.

WILL: It sounds like something we would have on ThunderCats.

MARY and MARISHA: Yeah!

TRAVIS: Snarf gets an upgrade.

WILL: Snarf-grade. Snarr!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: The quivering snarf.

MATT: The quivering snarf?

WILL: The quivering snarf.

MATT: That's a great romance novel descriptor. As he lies there, his quivering snarf in the moonlight-- All right. So that I think is all my announcements. You guys have anything else you want to talk about before we jump into the Q&A?

TRAVIS: This cookie's good.

MARY: Oh! Steve Blum and I are going to be at CoastCon next weekend, not this weekend. The next weekend in Biloxi so come on out and say hi!

WILL: Nice! March 17th, I will be in Toronto at the big con up there. So that's going to be a lot of fun. So come out Canada and come chill out. It will be a good time.

MATT: Fantastic! Go check him out there. And me and Marisha--

MARISHA: We leave next week.

MATT: We leave next week. We'll be gone from the 2nd to the 9th in Ireland. We'll be at a convention at Kaizoku Con in Cork, Ireland which--

WILL: Say that three times fast.

MATT: Kaizoku Con in Cork, Ireland, Kaizoku Con in Cork, Ireland, Kaizuku Con in Cork-- no.

(screaming)

MARY: That was so close!

WILL: It's always the C take!

MARY: Yeah, you get cocky on the C take and you're out.

MATT: That's a problem. But yeah, so there will not be an episode next week because we'll be gone but we'll be returning to the next proper session which will also have the return of Will and Mary as well to finish off that arc on March 10th, I believe? So we'll be doing that. Anything else? You good? Oh, that's right. And we'll be giving away two copies of these books throughout tonight. Brandon Sanderson's The Bands of Mourning. That is not me on the cover as the Internet likes to perpetually point out.

WILL: Can I say something? Because Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author, bar none. These books are incredible. They're amazing. You should read everything he does. These are all from Mistborn-- they start with the Mistborn trilogy. They go from there. These are standalone novels that take place after everything you knew about Vin and everybody else. They are incredible so these are a really cool prize.

TRAVIS: Laura says the same thing and I think it was Kit Buss' art of those novels that we saw first and we're like, oh, she's an amazing artist!

MATT: Yeah. Thank you, Brandon Sanderson for bringing us our main artist on Critical Role! So yeah, we'll be giving these out throughout the show tonight--

MARISHA: Along with those giveaways, with Lootcrate I did an Espionage nail-wrap tutorial and Jamie hooked me up and gave me a few Critical Hit nail wraps. Yeah, you can go see how easy and awesome it is. Actually, someone asked me at the Con this weekend if I was a paid sponsor, like paid promoter for Espionage. And the answer is no. Ashley Johnson and I actually, legitimately, really love their products and are huge fans. I'm just a legit fan. I think I tweeted the link yesterday. I'm going to go tweet it out and go check out Espionage Cosmetics. They're great.

MATT: Do it.

TRAVIS: Those go on your nails?

MARISHA: I have some on right now.

MATT: They can. You can certainly try.

WILL: Is that what those are? So that's not paint?

MARISHA: No, that's not paint. They're these. They're nail wraps and you stick them on. They're like stickers and you put clear coat on them and they last two weeks.

TRAVIS: No, they don't!

WILL: No. I don't deserve it.

MARY: You could demonstrate on Will.

MARISHA: I could, yeah. I could. You want to demonstrate? I need a nail file.

WILL: You're going to need more than nail file. Some kind of a big thing.

TRAVIS: (chainsaw sounds)

MARISHA: I demonstrate in the tutorial. But they're really great! And actually do make some for dudes, as well. They make some that are like gender neutral.

WILL: Okay. I'm not a big nail-guy, but all right.

MATT: I'm not either, but I've worn before.

TRAVIS: It's gender neutral. Is it really for dudes?

MATT: It's for everybody. Yeah, Marisha.

TRAVIS: Come on.

MARISHA: Yeah. Semantics. All right.

MATT: All right. So that being the case, the first half of this evening is going to be a general Q&A, guys. We're going to be poring through the Reddit, we're going to be trying to keep up with the chat room to answer what questions we can, so feel free. If you see something come by the chat room on the side there, guys, if you caught something that seems like a fun question to answer, feel free to jump out and take it if somebody's in the middle of explaining--

TRAVIS: Are you serious? That thing moves like The Matrix screen.

MATT and MARY: I know.

WILL: I just like, Matthew, you're dreamy.

RYAN: We're pasting a lot of questions that come up.

MATT: Great.

TRAVIS: Oh, there's an emoji thing!

MATT: Ryan will be helping with this.

MARISHA: So good.

MATT: There it goes.

MARISHA: Hey, where's Wendy? We could bring Wendy out.

MATT and MARY: Yeah. Where's Wendy?

RYAN: I'm going to go get her.

MATT: We're going to pull her real fast, see if you guys say hi to Wendy. She is one of our official Critical Role artists. She did all the artwork for our fantastic story of Vox Machina pre-stream video and for the show.

MARISHA: She also did all the art for the Winter's Crest Festival.

WILL: Yay!

MARY: She's wearing the best t-shirt ever.

(cheering)

TRAVIS and MARY: Hi Wendy!

MARISHA: We're getting a chair for you. Here you go, scooch up a little bit.

MATT: Ryan! You want to start throwing questions out?

RYAN: I have to frame her up and then I can do questions.

MATT: Perfect! In the meantime, I'll start with some--

MARISHA: Do it all at once, damn it!

MATT: Some of the Reddit questions we have ready to go. PregosFearStaircases on Reddit.

ALL: PregosFearStaircases?

TRAVIS: Can we just talk about how that's the best name I've heard all day? That's amazing!

MARY: Better than Bonertown?

TRAVIS: Well, Bonertown's a classic.

MATT: What does the PCs do for prep? I notice dry erase markers for temporary hit points. Do they lay out their spell cards or have them typed up on one page? What do you guys do to prep for a game?

TRAVIS: Well, there's many hours of meditation and reflection that goes into what Professor Grog is going to do next. Or you can tattoo "impulse" on my forehead; that would probably be it.

MARISHA: Does it need to be that clear? Nothing. Yeah, how do they mean?

MARY: Do you go through your spells and stuff?

MARISHA: Clearly not.

WILL: You guys also know them so well by now that-- We're learning, so we're there going like-- most of my prep is calling you and saying, "What can I do at level four?" That's what I do because we watch you guys and it's like, "All right, they know everything." I didn't know any of this stuff. You know it better than I do.

MARY: I feel like I'm cramming for an exam. It's a constant school nightmare of, "I'm not wearing pants and I didn't study!"

WILL: "And there's a dragon in front of me and I don't know how to kill it!"

MARY: Hellish something!

MATT: The classic school argument.

WILL: Exactly!

MARISHA: I guess I sometimes try and go back and watch the end of the last episode so I can remember where we were.

WILL: Like Breaking Bad?

MARISHA: Yeah!

WILL: Nice.

MARISHA: I also have all my spells on little cards. I've got a few spell references: I've got the book, cards, and spreadsheets. I have dry erase markers and my notebooks, endless notebooks. I've become the token party notetaker of the group.

TRAVIS: You're very organized.

MATT: And every now and then we still get a Wind Walk. as much as we prep, we still sometimes don't get it right.

MARY: The question was for the playable characters, but how much time do you put in?

MATT: Per week, I put at least as much time in prep as we do playing. So from like three, four hours plus a week into prepping for each one of our games. That involves, not just prepping for that session, but also writing ahead, planning for future elements that might tie into events, seeing how things that happened last session will affect, ripple down the line, and trying to make sure that I'm not completely caught off-guard. Not that it ever helps; I'm always completely caught off-guard. But it makes me feel better and sleep at night during the week.

TRAVIS: It's kind of great because we have this endless resource of people who are going to let you know when you miss or forget something. So it's like, what's the point of prepping because an hour after the show I have 500 people going, "You might have forgotten about that!" Yep, never even thought about it.

MATT: It's like having a wave of Clippy the paperclip. "Um!"

MARISHA: "Uh, by the way!"

MATT: It looks to me like you're trying to use Reckless Attacks!

WILL: Did you mean Quivering Palm?

TRAVIS: To be clear, I like that it is there, so please keep it coming otherwise I might not remember any of that stuff.

MARISHA: See, I have a bunch of people shouting spells at me that I should do, that I may or may not have learned because druids work-- do druids work like clerics where we learn spells at the top of the day? Do clerics work like that?

MATT: Yeah, same way where you choose the ones you have memorized, prepared and then you can choose from that list.

TRAVIS: How many do you get?

MARISHA: Like 17.

TRAVIS: 17 spells?!

MARY: But you can only choose between how many per day?

MARISHA: Well, I can choose 17 that I have total, and then I have four 1st-level spell slots, three 2nd-level, three 3rd-level, three 4th-level, two 5th-level, one 6th-level and one 7th-level that I can use. So, theoretically, I could learn ten level four spells, but I only have three slots that I can use of those ten. So I have 17 spells that I can learn that I can pull from my entire list, which is like 100 spells, but I have to balance it out. So I have four 1st-level spell slots that I can burn, so I try to pick three to four first level spells that I learn at the top of the day. So when people are shouting at me over the internet going, "Keyleth, Polymorph Trinket! Polymorph him!" I don't necessarily have it learned. I have to learn every time at the top of the day.

TRAVIS: You also don't hear them.

WILL: I did, because I had Wil Wheaton going, "Turn undead! Why aren't you turning undead?" Because I don't fucking know what that means! What are you talking about? That's what I had. That was my prep. You have the whole internet. I had him yelling at me.

MATT: Now, that's my high school nightmare. Wil Wheaton in my ear the whole time.

MARY: Stop rolling ones. Oh.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARY: Sorry, Wil. I love you.

MATT: All right, so see if we can find another question coming up here.

MARISHA: I saw someone ask if Wendy was going to play with us.

WENDY: That is up to you guys.

(laughter)

MATT: Good to know. It's an interesting balance for the show, because for Critical Role, it's the story of Vox Machina. I'm trying to not turn it into a guest-of-the-week show. This is why I'm very sparing with storylines and bringing guests in. You guys I brought in for the Slayer's Take, and this was the right time to bring you guys back for a bit. We'll have a couple more guests coming in next month, it looks like, but I don't want to make it too constant. We may have you in as a guest in the future. It may not be very soon, but it's good to know that you're interested.

WENDY: I would be honored.

MATT: Okay. Yeah, we will have guests occasionally. Occasionally, because this is the story of the core party.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

WILL: It should be. It's the way it should be.

MATT: We could do a spinoff with guests only or something. I don't know.

WILL: We're already talking about it. You guys have Thursday nights. We'll pre-you. We'll do Wednesday night, and we'll have our own show. It'll be fine. Just the two of us going, "I don't know."

MARY: "I don't know. I burned my three spells. Can we wait an hour? I need a short rest."

WILL: And Wil's voiceover going, "Turn undead!"

MATT: There's no dungeon master.

WILL: There's no dungeon master at all!

MARY: That's all I remember: Hellish Rebuke. What a day! I'm out.

MATT: That would be amazing.

MARY: We're going to get a home game.

WILL: We have other friends that really want to play, so we're going to start playing, probably getting a game together a week, and it's some interesting people that want to join us.

MARY: If we can get one of them to get in town for longer than a day.

WILL: We've got some cool people that want to join our little club, so you guys have definitely inspired us, which is good.

MARY: So much so that Liam has said, "Can we come and watch?"

WILL: That's going to be fun.

MATT: Let's see. This is an interesting question. From Raquem on Reddit: Do you or anyone ever get tired of this being broadcast and wish you could go back to your more personal game? While a lot of good has come out of Critical Role in terms of exposure, do you find the invasive nature of the internet to be difficult to handle? Would you have a problem saying, "Okay, we're done now. Thanks, "Geek and Sundry. Thanks, everyone, and see you later." That was our fear when we first started the show, and it was a very real fear, because taking something that's so personal to us and putting it on the internet is one, a risk; two, a danger, having the internet come out and set fire to it and tell you that your fun is wrong.

WILL: Your fun is wrong! I want that shirt.

(laughter)

MATT: I don't speak for everyone here, but while that was our fear, in practice, I'm pleasantly surprised that was never the case. The community that's sprung out of this is so supportive and so positive. Even the exceptions are people that are passionate enough to want a voice and to feel involved. There's not the hate that we were expecting from it, and it hasn't really changed how we play the game or our experience with it. We enjoy it just the same. It may not be as close physically, and the map proximity to the players is something we're still working on getting better, but other than that--

WILL: That's a question I would have, then. You guys play Dungeons and Dragons, and it's a ton of fun, and everybody's having a great time, but at your core, you're all entertainers. We're all entertainers; that's what we do. How much of any of it has changed because now there's an audience? Everything changes when there's an audience. There's an audience, and you're entertainers. That's what you do.

MARY: Or do you forget about it? At this point, forget that the cameras are there, and you--

MATT: That's more the case. If there was a live audience, it's hard not to, and as a stage performer, you draw energy from the audience, and it's a mutual sharing.

WILL: You do for the cameras, too, though. You might forget that the cameras are there, but you always forget that the cameras are there while knowing exactly where the cameras are. That's how we are as performers. The cameras are gone, but you know exactly where you have to look. I've totally forgotten that the camera's there, but I know it's right there.

MATT: It's become a layer of it. I wouldn't say it's impeded or changed our experience. At least, not for me.

MARISHA: We seem to become more committed, maybe. We try not to dick around in between. At home, we'd go, "Hang on, I've got to go. Can we take 45 minutes for a break?"

TRAVIS: Did we? I think those were some pretty marathon six-hour sessions. We would break off for whispers.

MATT: But there would be catching up on shit you did during the week.

TRAVIS: We were pretty slap-dickish when we were playing, and I think we've carried that through pretty nicely.

MATT: This is true.

MARISHA: I think we were pretty selfish in wanting to entertain ourselves.

TRAVIS: That's true. It's weird, because Sam's such a great improv person, Liam's got crazy theater experience, so everybody knows to honor moments, when to be quiet, when not to. The timing is such a great thing among the cast. We're all friends, so there's no trying to figure each other out.

MARISHA: I feel like all that was there before the show. That was all there.

MATT: It's a lot of luck that we had those relationships beforehand, and making that momentum in the game before we put it on camera. What things may have changed have been so minimal by comparison that I haven't noticed too much of a difference, personally.

WILL: I was saying, it would be a cool experiment to have you dungeon master a game with a group of people that have never played before.

MATT: I've done it. On camera.

WILL: That would be really interesting. It's like being on any other cast, where after a while, you know what your fellow cast member's going to do. In a certain way, you know what's going to happen. It'd be interesting where it's six people who have never met before: go.

TRAVIS: That was like that D & Diesel thing, because he had played years ago, but Chobot and Dan were new to it, and when you sit down and you're happy-go-lucky about it, and you drop into your dungeon master thing, people are like, "Oh shit, this is real."

(laughter)

TRAVIS: It's the perfect tone-setter.

MATT: That will be one of my shining moments of my entire career, was looking over at Vin fucking Diesel, this burly Fast and Furious guy.

TRAVIS: Tiny arms.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: He sat down. It was like, (thuds).

(laughter)

MATT: I shook his hand when he got there. I was like, "Hi."

MARISHA: I still remember the camera guys were like, "All right, Diesel, sit in frame." He was like (thud) and the camera guy's like, "Let me just scoot the camera back a little bit, adjust the focus."

MATT: That was the defining moment, watching that arrive. He was so nice and so cordial and so much fun and open to it, and then he sat down, and as soon as we started, looking over and seeing this burly man turn into an eight-year-old--

MARY: Completely. And you could see it on camera. It was amazing. And then to see him slowly and eventually come out of that shell and gain confidence and remember what it was like to play this at his age now.

TRAVIS: Those criticals didn't hurt, either.

MARY: No, it was so awesome!

MATT: His luck was ridiculous. We only had 25 minutes to play that game, which they cut down from an hour when we got there. I was like, "okay!" I was so afraid he would roll shitty and have a terrible time, but he rolled really well, and I was like, "Yes, thank you."

TRAVIS: Thank you, RNG Jesus.

WILL: I also have to say-- I don't know if you actually saw the movie-- it was fun.

TRAVIS: Yes!

WILL: It was fun! It really was. I watched it two nights ago. I had fun.

TRAVIS: First five or ten minutes, I was like, "this is going to be a great movie."

(laughter)

WILL: They made a movie just for me.

MATT: Travis, do you and Laura even break into character at home during stressful situations to lighten the mood?

TRAVIS: Shit, no. Laura is already rolling her eyes enough at Grog that if I tried to be that stupid at home, she'd be like, "Fucking stop." She wouldn't let that fly. We talk to each other in weird voices, almost never our own, but if I tried to talk as Grog, I would get dragon eyes of death. I'd get smarter real fast.

WILL: I would like to slap you. Roll a dexterity saving throw.

MARY: Feel better, Laura.

MATT: Hope you feel better. Ryan, do we have any burning questions in the chat room?

RYAN: I have eight pages.

MATT: Do you want to toss one out? Toss one out there we can maybe tackle?

RYAN: I can also just give you the damn thing.

MATT: Also viable, but I like hearing your voice.

TRAVIS: Lob it. Softball that bad boy.

RYAN: Red Sea Logos: does the positive outweigh the negative on the internet? Does it make it worth it? Because we love you guys. I'm assuming they're referring to comments from people and the community that have been developed. Does the positive outweigh the negative?

MATT: Far. Far far far. The negative is so comparatively miniscule in comparison to that positive energy that you guys continuously generate. Not just around the show, but this entire Twitch channel and everyone that works hard on it. It's been overwhelming. That was my biggest fear, that the internet was going to come in and go, "No!" and stab me in the chest. Don't do that, please. No. I've already answered the question from my perspective. It's been so overwhelmingly positive.

TRAVIS: It's really such a weird thing to be positive all the way across, and if you're not, we mute you.

WILL: I still want the "your fun is wrong" shirt. Your fun is wrong.

MARISHA: Even the people who get heated or upset, they're getting heated and upset at our imaginary characters that we made up in our heads, so at the end of the day, it's still working. We're still affecting them.

MATT: You guys are so invested in the play time to have this much passion to yell about.

MARISHA: It makes them feel that.

MARY: Think about the effect that it's had creatively on people. Let's talk to Wendy about that. Come on, the artwork has been-- and the fanfiction?

WILL: There was some fanfic this morning. I was like, "What? Wait a minute, he's doing what? Why is he naked?!"

MARY: What am I doing with my tail?

WILL: Seriously, she's using her tail.

MARY: Who's driving? Okay. But in terms of artwork, it's unbelievable.

WENDY: And your characters come to life so well, and the world that you've painted is so vivid, so it's easy to doodle it out.

TRAVIS: It's so great.

MARY: Wendy doodles.

MATT: It's not just artwork, too. There's people that have produced incredible musical tracks, many of which I've actually incorporated in our in-game soundtracks. People that have sent fanfiction and have gotten into writing heavily, some of them because of the show. People tell us, "I haven't written in 15 years, and after watching the show, I'm working on a new novel." It's much bigger than us, at this point.

WILL: That's cool, though. That's what you want. That's when everybody's imagination takes over, and it goes to a whole other level. The same thing happens with fantasy baseball. It's that kind of thing. It started with a bunch of people around the table, then everybody takes it and do whatever they want.

MATT: It's music. It's doing what you love and inspiring other people to do what they love, and there are many people that inspired me to do this and things before this, and it's great to continue that chain, to do honor to those that inspire me to continue to do the things that I love, and hopefully continue that chain.

MARISHA: Beyond that--

TRAVIS: No, sorry. I had an art question.

MARISHA: I know you guys, you were saying you talk with Kit and Meg all the time, and we were having the conversation not long ago. All of our official artists thus far, one's in Los Angeles, one's in the UK, in London, one is in-- where's Joma?

MARY: The Philippines.

MARISHA: The Philippines. The other's in the Philippines.

MARY: And Viktor is in--

MARISHA: He's in Sweden. All of our official artists have been on different continents, which is crazy.

MATT: Mikandi's in the Middle East.

MARISHA: Yeah, Mikandi's in the Middle East. That's right.

MATT: We have people all over the world. It's incredible. And people creating their own adventures and sending us pictures and stories from their own home games, and art of their characters. It's so cool!

MARY: Anything that spawns that kind of creativity is amazing.

WENDY: Creativity spawning creativity. Sorry.

TRAVIS: If you come up with a sketch, do you ever stop and start and stop and start, or is it what hits the page is eventually what comes up? We see so much art, and rarely do we ever go, "No, that's not how I saw it." We're like, "Yes. Also yes!"

WENDY: I know sometimes I'll be watching and sometimes I sit there and wait for a really cool moment to come up, and then, "Bam! There it is. I've got to get that down." My job is to put what happens visually, so it just comes to me, I guess. Sometimes it doesn't work. I'll sketch something out, and it doesn't look right, so I'll have to do it again, but what I put up, yeah.

TRAVIS: It's so cool. It's like a crystal ball.

WILL: One of the things you guys have also done, in a weird way, is you've given people permission to do this, if that makes any sense. I've talked to certain people who have been like, "Yeah, I've played D&D forever, but we don't really talk about it." Literally, people are like, "We don't bring it up; we don't talk about it. It's our thing. There's six or seven of us. Nobody really tells their friends about it. We just do our thing." And now, we watch that show and we talk about it! It's permission to go, "Yeah, we nerd out. It's the greatest thing in the world, and it's so much fun!" I think a lot of it is you guys doing that, where it's a show.

MARY: It's improv. I never knew what it was! The first time I played was here, and I was like, "Oh my gosh! I studied this in grad school and college. It's improv."

WILL: With wizards.

MARY: With wizards!

WILL: It can't get better than that.

MARY: Can I do it? Sure, roll. Okay. So then there's gambling.

(laughter)

MARY: Yelling at my dice! It's craps and improv and amazingness.

MATT: It feels like-- I mentioned this at Portland-- it feels like being part of Fight Club. I was going through TSA when we were coming back from Portland, Oregon. I'm going through TSA, and the guy comes out with the laptop, because it gets picked up from the side, and the guy has the gloves on, and he pulls it off and looks at it and hands it back to me and goes, "Here you go. Also had to stop your buddy Scanlan earlier." I was like, "What?" And I go back, and Sam, who had already gone through, tells me that yeah, he had some of his checked, and the guy hands it to him and goes, "Your bag, Scanlan Shorthalt."

(laughter)

MATT: People all throughout the world that sit down and watch the show, and they keep it all secret and put little comments off to the side, and it's incredible.

MARISHA: And two days later, the Hollywood Pantages tweeted, "Scanlan just walked the red carpet."

MATT: Yeah, the Hollywood Pantages.

MARISHA: The Pantages. Whoever runs social for Pantages watches Critical Role.

MATT: So hi, if it's you. I had a bartender at the Echoplex when we were there for Booty LA one night, and I went to order some drinks, and he goes, "Sure. Do you play Dungeons & Dragons on the internet?"

MARISHA: Which is very jarring when you're drenched in sweat, and you're like, (untz untz untz). Someone's like, "D&D?" and you're like--

MATT: It was awesome.

MARISHA: I feel really sober now.

WILL: That's cool.

MATT: Next question. Are there any you've chosen there?

MARISHA: Someone asked: would you recommend playing a game with friends or finding a group made up of strangers?

MATT: You can go either way. I would recommend, if you haven't played before and have any level of self-consciousness about it, try and find friends and people you're comfortable with to try it out for the first time. If you don't find that much of a social problem with engaging new things with people you don't know, you can definitely give it a shot, and if it turns out not being your thing, if it's at a premade game with strangers, then you can go back and try and find friends to play, and if your friends are like, "I don't know how D&D works," send them an episode of Critical Role.

TRAVIS: Yeah. There's a guy we know that plays at Emerald Knights, and I forget what night they have D&D nights--

MATT: Wednesday nights.

TRAVIS: Wednesday nights. He showed up a couple of times to play with one group, and then he hopped in some rando group and was totally nervous about it, but he was like, "It was the best game I've ever played," because nobody knew him or what he was going to do, so he was free to make these wild choices and be totally nuts. He was like, "It was exhilarating!" I'm like, "D&D night was exhilarating?" He was like, "Yeah, man! It was great!"

WILL: There's a place right near us that does stuff like that. Fire & Dice, right near us.

TRAVIS: We're coming.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Hello! Are you open?

MATT: That's a good question. Someone asked, how did you guys decide on the name Critical Role for the show? I think that was actually a Liam suggestion, wasn't it? You and Liam were doing a few on that one.

MARISHA: We had a text thread going. We had a few different options that we were floating around.

MARY: What were the other ones?

TRAVIS: d20 Turds.

WILL: Prego Fear Staircases.

(laughter)

MATT: Nothing But Doors. Doors Forever. I can't remember some of the ones we had, but Critical Role was the one that seemed to best encompass who we are, where we come from, and it plays in with the RPG theme, but also role-play, and us being actors who play roles for a living. It put everything together what we were, so that one stood out.

MARISHA: I think Charisma Save was being tossed around, but someone else already had that.

MATT: There's a lot of RPG-based names that already exist! Strangely.

MARISHA: We were trying to do something around Dice Box, or Dice Tube or something.

(laughter)

WILL: We did Andrew Dice Play for a while. That wasn't working.

TRAVIS: Everybody gets a pop and do the glasses.

MARISHA: We had a few different ones. I have an art question, so while Wendy is here, from Carbacca. Hey, Matt and the gang: What scenes do you think you could describe or even act out-- that's not going to happen-- from before the stream that you would like to see drawn by us crazy fan artists, because there would be no "new mewments"-- no new moments this week.

MARY: No nude movements?

MARISHA: No nude movements.

MATT: No, Twitter has proven that wrong.

MARISHA: Artists need something to draw.

TRAVIS: Pre-stream?

MATT and MARISHA: Pre-stream.

TRAVIS: I have one. So one of the first pranks that Vax pulled on Grog was we were sleeping around a campfire, and in the middle of the night, Vax went over and wrote "dork" on Grog's forehead with a piece of charcoal from the campfire, and when I woke up-- we might've been drinking while we were playing. When we woke up, I look in my goblet in-game, and I see the reflection, and I said, "Who wrote Kord on my face? ...Krod?"

(laughter)

TRAVIS: In character. Can't even spell it backwards.

MATT: It's so good.

TRAVIS: It was one of the first ones, and off went the prank war.

MATT: There was that. And I remember, named after that, you guys purchased an ox at one of the small towns on your way out to Emon. It was near Westruun. You purchased an ox that was useless, and you named it Dork the ox.

TRAVIS: We were going to use him as a sacrifice.

WILL: Dork the ox?

MARISHA: And we tried to interrogate him, because we were hoping he would know stuff--

MATT: Speak to Animals. The ox was just like--

MARISHA: He was like, "I'm a cow. I don't know shit."

MATT: It was similar to you interrogating the cows in the later episode. You learned so much from the first time. As you started to travel, because Dork doesn't travel very well, Grog took it upon himself to find a way to cram him into the bag of holding, which took a series of strength checks and tensile checks to see that the bag didn't burst in the process.

TRAVIS: It's like in Hermione's handbag.

MATT: He wasn't a huge ox, but he was still growing up. Managed to push him in there, and this was also the sad lesson when they reached the next town to realize that the bag of holding does not have a perpetual air supply, and that was the end of Dork the ox.

TRAVIS: Dork was toast. We pull him out. This giant carcass fell out.

WILL: Poke holes in the bag for Dork.

MARY: At least you ate well that night.

TRAVIS: I was like, "Oh shit!" And we butchered him, and we put him back in little pieces, but then we also learned that the bag of holding is not refrigerated, so three months later, I pull it out, and this gelatinous ooze comes sliding out. We're like, "Has it coated everything else in there?" "Let's say no."

MATT: Oh man. What are some other great moments from pre-stream?

MARISHA: Two years' worth.

MATT: The most serious one was Pike's death.

MARY: That's what I was going to say.

MATT: Pike being killed in the throne room. I think your artwork in the pre-stream video, wonderfully done with the shadow against the wall.

TRAVIS: We were not expecting that.

MATT: Yeah, that was the glabrezu, the treachery demon, getting the killing blow on Pike as the whole party watched on and crumpled to their knees.

TRAVIS: Yeah, Ashley literally pulled her shirt up to her eyes, and Laura sat under the table

MARISHA: Yeah, in the fetal position.

TRAVIS: They were both crying, and the rest of us were in shock. What? We do what? What happened?

MARISHA: It was really sad. We always remember the time we discovered the magic carpet, too, because that was so good. It was so epic. Allura's tower, which we've seen now happen on game, right, her tower implode?

MATT: Well, Allura's tower has a specific magical defense, where it can crush itself into a small extra-dimensional space and then rebuild itself. However, the recent attack on the tower was not part of the defense mechanism. That was Vorugal actually destroying the tower, so what you saw recently in Emon was the end of Allura's tower, which is unfortunate. Great question here, and this pertains to you and technically, you. Romance between player characters is not something you see in a lot of games. This is by Gore Ax on reddit. Liam said in an interview that he approached you first about the possibility of adding romance to the game. What advice did you give to him or would you give to DMs and players about that subject? Also, since you knew about Vax's interest in Keyleth months before Marisha, did that ever create an awkward moment that you had to play dumb about it? Interesting question. I think romance in game is an interesting storytelling facet. I think it's been a phenomenal thread in our game, and it's driven a lot of great character moments, and it's brought some needed realism to both Vax and Keyleth's relationship. It's been really cool. You do have to be respectful, and you have to make sure that the game group is mature enough to handle that. That would involve one, talking with the players and the DM before it happens. In this situation, Liam talked to me without talking to Marisha because he wasn't sure if he wanted to pursue it or not. He just wanted to make sure it wouldn't be weird for me, and as we're actors, and we trust we understand the separation between character and ourselves, that was never an issue. I was very comfortable with Liam. But not all games will be like that, and some people might have jealousy issues, so you want to make sure before you even pursue anything like that that you talk to everyone involved and make sure that it's cool. It's not necessary, and it can be a really cool facet if everybody treats it like that. And romance doesn't have to be a very melodramatic thing, either. It could be an element of the flavor. It could be a flirtation you carry on and is an off-camera thing that gets mentioned here and there. It doesn't have to be that you sit there at the precipice of a cliff declaring your love for 30 minutes while the other players gag themselves in the corner.

WILL: You could just kiss her and leave. That's what I did. Kiss her and walk out the door.

MARISHA: Cowboy in the sunset.

WILL: By the way, I probably should've asked you about that. Do you mind if I kiss her and then leave?

MATT: No, it was a great moment! I knew you were leaving.

(laughter)

WILL: Exactly. I knew you were out.

MATT: It's cool, too, because some romances succeed and become a cool driving moment for the character to try and protect the one they care about. Many romances fail and end up leading to an interesting tension between the characters. I'm excited to see where this goes, because it could go either way. There's been a lot of interesting perspectives here. What I like about your guys' romance is it's very realistic in the sense that it isn't an immediate grasping each other, and it's perfect. Both of you are broken people, and you're both trying to still figure out whatever this is, and Keyleth's very unsure, and you're both feeling out the circumstance in the midst of this apocalyptic chaos. I find it fascinating.

WILL: And then Kash comes back in the middle to add a little-- that's how life works! It's absolutely how life works, though.

MARISHA: Because you know Kash was Keyleth's first kiss, right?

WILL: Yeah. It's one of those things.

MARY: And it doesn't have to be this bang, bong thing. The most beautiful moment, I think, was when he knocked on your door and said, "I don't want to be alone tonight." And one of my favorite pieces of art came out of that, of "You are my sun." That was so beautiful and encapsulated that moment so perfectly, without having it hot and heavy or anything else. Just two lonely broken people seeking solace.

MATT: Everyone's like, "Oh, are they going to go and bang?" I'm like, "No." Not where they are as people. They're both so hurt and feeling so sad and alone that they need that comfort of somebody else there to hold them. That artwork, I felt, was a great encapsulation of that.

WILL: That's the thing that amazed me about watching you guys and how into your characters you guys got. The last episode we did, when we're all in the bar and they're having a drink. We finish the episode, and Liam went, "Man, we needed that." And it was like, "With everything going on, we needed to sit at a bar, and we needed to drink. We needed that." You could tell. Everybody gets into what's going on. It's really cool.

MARY: And then we watched Scanlan cause diarrhea--

WILL: And the snarfed quivering palm technique.

(laughter)

MATT: I like that. If you guys see any questions, by the way, that you want to reach out and grab, feel free to. Or we could look through some of these papers.

RYAN: There's a question for Wendy that someone sent. By Toruya: What class would she play if she were to join?

WENDY: Well, in a game that I'm playing already, I play a druid, and her name is Clover.

MARISHA: Clover's so cute.

WENDY: She's a faun. That's what I would play.

MATT: That's awesome! Clover's awesome.

MARISHA: Travis, what is yours and/or Grog's favorite kill that you've had?

TRAVIS: (Grog voice) They're like your children. You can't really pick one.

(laughter)

WILL: It's going to be Kashaw in about an hour.

TRAVIS: I think the one where he bit the tongue out of the mouth and then tore it out. That was pretty good. The gorier the better.

MATT: You bask in the glory of those so well.

TRAVIS: I do. I get so happy when it's a blood shower.

MATT: This question here: Matt, does anyone in the game have a deck of many things? No. And if I can help it, they never will.

WILL: Write down where we can find that!

MARY: Deck of many things.

MATT: Oh, good luck, guys. Deck of many things is what you throw in the game when you're bored and want to get it over with.

TRAVIS: That was the charity game, right?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: I have someone here saying, how detailed are our notes? She just says, how detailed are your notes? I don't know if she's asking Matt or us. Why don't you go first?

MATT: My preparation is pretty-- a lot of my notes are narrative points and bullet points. I'll choose whatever locations they might possibly go to, I'll list what NPCs are there and what their current circumstance is. I will then bullet-point important bits of information that NPC might know, based on certain topics that are relevant to the current storyline, and have that there for quick reference. A lot of it's shorthand, to remind me. A lot of it looks like a broken-down report that you would send to some company somewhere. It's a structure of information for myself. It's very loose, because I don't want to feel like I'm reading a page too often. There are certain scenes I want to set properly, and I'll write those in advance and go back and forth, but for the most part, I'll outline basic notes and points the NPCs would know, and then based on what you guys do--

WILL: Do you ever do specific dialogue? Like, I have to put this line in.

MATT: Every now and then, if it's a very key character moment and the story lends itself and there's a good possibility that someone will ask about it. There's many things that don't get asked that the NPCs never mention. Maybe that'll come to light down the line. For more important NPCs or very specific story beats, I will write out lines of dialogue to make sure that I don't miss any important information and to make sure that I don't end up leading the players astray accidentally, because when you're improvising off the cuff, sometimes stuff comes out and you're like, "Oh shit. What'd I just say?"

MARY: Accents and everything else, I was just thinking, the notes you have to keep for making sure you get the right voice.

MATT: That's the other thing, too. Whenever I create an NPC, I'll note a texture and timbre of their voice. I'll put "gravelly, low-key, haughty and full of himself, Cornwall." Make note of the texture and dialect I use, if any. That way, I can get something ballpark of what they were before. It's not going to be perfect, and I'm sure if you line them up, you'd be like, "Oh, it's changed over time."

TRAVIS: What did you write next to Victor? Crazy?

WILL: Mad Hatter.

MATT: Victor, I didn't have to. Victor was created on the spot.

WENDY: Really?

MATT: Yeah. And since then, I had to write down, "fucking crazy old guy." Prospector, I think is where it came from. Very much that (Victor voice) crazy old prospector type thing. That realm.

MARY: I was going to try to mask of many faces of Vanessa, and I turned to Travis and was like, "What accent did Vanessa have?" I totally forgot! I can't sell it if I don't have the accent.

TRAVIS: I was like, Spanish?

MATT: She's eastern European.

RYAN: This question has come up several times, so I figure it should be asked. It's by Villager26, Valkyr Parable, and Gaica. Has there been a storyline that hasn't been or cannot be explored now that the campaign's on stream? If so, can you tell us about it? Also, was there a failed version of the campaign before Vox Machina, with the same group. Like, you guys tried it, you had different characters that didn't work and you had to reboot it.

MARISHA: TPK'd?

MATT: No, actually. This group, Vox Machina was its first time coming together in this world I created. It's been created over time with the campaign. I didn't go out to build the setting to build the whole world. It was a one-shot, and I built a town. I built Stillben. Then as we turned from a one-shot into a campaign, I began expanding, and now it's become much bigger than I anticipated, and I'm perpetually fleshing it out over time. But yeah, there was no failed earlier attempt per se.

MARY: Didn't Taliesin have a different character and he rerolled?

TRAVIS: Very first game, right?

MATT: Very first game, he had a character, and he couldn't make it for the next few games. It was a dragonborn paladin, and then he couldn't make the next few games, and when he was able to, his schedule opened up for the next one, I was like, "Do you want to play the same character?" He was like, "I want to try something different." And then Percy was born. That was where you guys found him over in the Umber Hills.

TRAVIS: Which is great, because when he was playing that dragonborn wizard, sorcerer?

MATT: Paladin.

TRAVIS: Paladin. He knew everything. He saved us from dying in that first hour and a half. We were fumbling around like a bunch of blind morons, and you could see him biding his time. I wish we had video of it so I could go back and see if you gave him a nod, like "go ahead and save these jackasses." He was like, "I would like to freeze this gear and move this and shift that," and everything stopped, and we're like, "We're alive!" Just because of Taliesin.

MATT: Yeah. I will say, there aren't any dead story threads from pre-stream. It's hard to equate what that would be; the party went where they went. There are many different facets of the world that they didn't come across.

MARISHA: It's like trying to argue past timelines that never existed.

MATT: I'm sure there are things that might answer your question that I can't recall.

MARISHA: I'm sure I have a bunch of unborn children that will never happen.

MATT: That got weird.

MARISHA: I don't know why I said it.

WILL: I just kissed her, dude!

MARY: That's a powerful kiss, man.

WILL: Just grab my medal, hey. That's what all the slices on the arm are. No.

MATT: This is an interesting question. From Sanderf90 on Reddit. Which NPC that Vox Machina encountered became a lot more important than you first expected? We know Clarota wasn't supposed to join the party and Victor came out of thin air. Are there any examples where a character you didn't expect became far more important? Gilmore.

MARY: Gilmore, yeah.

MATT: Your Gilmore was phenomenal. Ryan's Gilmore was awesome. He was a merchant in Emon that I had created that had a fun personality, and I fleshed out his background a little bit, and I thought it would be a fun character that they would occasionally come across, but after that first encounter, it turned into a full discussion, he and Vax began to build this relationship, and you guys kept going back to him as your go-to purveyor of magical goods in Emon. Then the investment became more attached, and then as it progressed, he became a central NPC, which I'm really happy about. I love Gilmore. He's such a great character.

MARY: I can't wait to see where he goes, to be honest. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. I'm as big a fan as you guys are of the show, and it's not just because you guys are my friends. I'm invested in these characters. It's such great, compelling storytelling. It really is. Bravo to all of you guys. Plus, it's really fun, but you also get invested in these great characters. It was hard last week to not hear about certain characters and go, "Oh my-- oh. I don't know them."

(laughter)

MARISHA: Going off that, Maelyn in the chat asked if there was any more background for Gilmore.

MATT: Yeah. There's plenty of background for Gilmore. Since he became a central character, I've fully fleshed out his backstory. We'll have to see if it comes to light.

MARISHA: And going off that again, StormShadow17 in chat asked, Are we more attached to these characters because we made them from scratch and they didn't come from a script?

MATT and MARISHA: Very.

TRAVIS: Yeah, totally.

MATT: There is something to be said about-- as actors, you're handed roles, and you work as a collaboration with a production team to tell a story, and all of you craft it together. You're a facet of the machine. There's something about creating from scratch a character's personality, strengths, weaknesses, and then stepping into their shoes and developing them and seeing whatever their potential is for good or evil and seeing it through in that imagination-based body of theirs that is so much more personal and connected that any role I've played. A lot of NPCs in this game are closer to me than any character I've played in a video game.

WILL: I also think you get the benefit of time here, which you don't with a lot of roles you play. A lot of roles we do, it's like, "Oh, when did you play that role?" It was two Tuesdays ago for three hours; that's when I played that role. Whereas this, you're building it out, and you become your character. It's the difference of when you start a show, they're writing for you, and when you really get to know the character, then they're writing to you. You know what I mean? So you guys have that awesome benefit of time, so you really become your characters. We have recording sessions, and even long-running shows, you might record once a week for three hours for four months, and that's it, and then you're on to the next character.

MARY: Yeah, but somebody else is making your choices for you. In this, you make your own choices. You make your own mistakes, you've got your own success, and everything else, so it is from you guys and what the character is learning.

WILL: When you came to me and were like, "Would you like to come on the show?" It was like, yeah, great. And you're like, "All right. Who do you want to be?" What? "Here you go. Who do you want to be? Let's build it." You sat at my house. I'd assumed Matt's going to come over for a half-hour.

MARISHA: Well, my prom in eighth grade--

TRAVIS: It's all therapeutic.

WILL: I thought he was coming over for a half-hour. We were working for five hours. "All right, roll." Dude, this is the greatest. It was awesome.

MATT: Which plays into a great question someone else asked in the chat room. I can't remember who it was, unfortunately, but they asked: For Will and Mary, how did you guys come up with your character backstories?

MARY: Oh. I'm obsessed with the moon and astral geography and everything else, so I knew I wanted that to have a very important part in her story, and then to be honest, I had never played Dungeons & Dragons, so I looked at the group, and I was like, what does everybody have? We've got a sorcerer, we've got a druid, we've got gnomes, we've got bards. I went on the internet and was like, what's-- oh, a tiefling. Oh, a warlock. That still is a spellcaster; I knew I wanted to cast spells, and I thought, a tiefling. That's not on the show. Let's do that, it's really cool. Looked at the design and everything else, and then make it as tragic as possible, because that's always good. Everybody's got a terrible childhood. And we do, but I love the image of her first time being outside was at night after this castle, and looking up at the moon and having it sing to her and save her life. That's the moment when she came to life the first time ever is that moment. And then she throws rocks at it. No, I'm kidding.

WILL: Yeah, I don't know. The name Kashaw was one of the main characters in a story I wrote when I was 16. He was the bad guy. He was the bad brother, so originally I was sitting there going, "I guess Kashaw could work." And then it changed the whole character, then you and I sat down and talked, and once you and I talked for a while, as a writer, I then went, "Here we go." We've talked about this, since Laura's the same way. I love fantasy so much that once you get one little nugget of an idea, then you start building a world, and the story goes from there, and what happens if we go this way or that way. And then it's the little things. Different-colored eyes having a whole story and the scars all have a story, and you can build from every little thing you do.

TRAVIS: It's like the ultimate character customization screen at the beginning of a video game. It's unlimited.

WILL: Side, quick thing. You guys do a lot of video games. Isn't it the greatest when you're the voice of the you character, so you can make it look like you and it's your voice? It's the coolest thing ever. I'm the only one in the world that can do this!

(laughter)

MATT: It's really cool until your character dies a horrible death, and you're like, "I'm going to take a walk."

WILL: It's so funny. I love that, though.

TRAVIS: Your own death.

MATT: On the topic of backstories and tragic backstories, I will say, there is no more dangerous occupation in any fantasy world than being a parent, because everyone's an orphan.

(laughter)

MATT: If you have a kid, you're counting your days down until a demon or orc comes and kills you and burns your village.

WILL: Yeah, I guess it's rare. I created this character. His life's great. Parents have been married for 75 years. This is great, man.

MARY: They're funding my quest.

WILL: Yeah, taking a year off from college.

MARISHA: It's my bar mitzvah money.

TRAVIS: We do need to have one guest that's got the silver spoon and has never suffered tragedy in his life. We need a super optimistic person.

WILL: Everything will be fine! Come on! We can befriend the dragon.

WENDY: Almost Clover, but not quite. Almost. Does have the tragic backstory.

MARY: Parents still alive?

WENDY: Everyone's dead.

TRAVIS: Everyone's dead!

MATT: Just me and the DM. No NPCs.

MARISHA: A friend of mine, Eric Campbell, who's been on the stream a few times, in his current D&D campaign that he's playing, he's playing a guard from Whitestone-- in our world-- who saw Vox Machina come in, do these heroic feats, and is like, I want to be like those guys. But he's got parents, a nice background. He's going to hit the road because Vox Machina inspired him, and then find out how fucking terrible and awful it is. He's real excited to be broken and beaten. He's trying to be optimistic and a hero--

MARY: I got a care package from Mom and Dad!

WILL: It's their heads! Oh my god!

TRAVIS: What's in the box?

ALL: What's in the box?

MATT: I saw a question in chat. Someone asked if the loss of the magic carpet was intentional, and making it difficult to enchant. It was not intentional. It was a particular danger in the room to any of the players. It was unfortunate that rolls--

MARISHA: The carpet took the brunt.

WILL: You saved me, though. Thank you.

MATT: The carpet took the brunt of it.

MARISHA: That's right! I feel really bad for you guys, because Liam and I were like, "No!" And you're like, "What the fuck is wrong with these people?"

TRAVIS: We were in the other room. We were outside in the studio.

WILL: There's the delay, so 30 seconds after it happened, you heard from the other side of the room, "No!"

MARISHA: You could feel the pain twice, like it happened twice.

TRAVIS: You did it on purpose.

MATT: No, I did not do it on purpose!

TRAVIS: I'd like to roll insight. It's all good.

MARY: He's telling the truth.

MATT: It made it so much easier for you guys to get from place to place when you had that magic carpet.

TRAVIS: We flew over the Underdark. We flew over the whole encampment and stuff.

MATT: It was cool. It had a lot of utility.

TRAVIS: Now we're going to die quicker.

MATT: These things happen. Let's see. For the cast, what predictions about where the story was going did you make that turned out to be completely wrong? Or did you have any theories that turned out to be spot-on?

TRAVIS: Clarota was a bitch!

MARY: You never trusted him from the beginning.

TRAVIS: I said it, but half the party was all about it. I wrote it four times.

MARY: I remember when you guys went down into that cave, and I was like, this is totally random, and everybody said, "Don't do it!" And down you went. I thought, "How much of this was planned? Was there somebody there in the first place?"

MATT: There was. I didn't expect them to ever encounter it for the next four or five sessions, let alone have it go so positively. It was going to be an encounter, but they managed to roll socially in a way that convinced Clarota not that they were friends, necessarily, but to the betterment of his survival to infiltrate and manipulate.

TRAVIS: I thought the Briarwoods were both vampires and somebody was going to turn vampiric. I'm not going to say it was an easy fight, but I thought somebody was going to be on death's door legit, not just because of the ziggurat's anti-magic zone.

MARY: Laura was.

TRAVIS: That was after-- was that because of the fight, or was it because of the ziggurat?

MARY: No, Vex was before you guys went to Whitestone. Wasn't it?

TRAVIS: Going down to one? That was down in the ziggurat.

MARY: No, it was outside the castle. She cast Finger of Death.

MATT: She's done it twice.

MARY: She's done it twice. Before you guys got the carriage driver. I think this is right. Finger of Death and Laura was two points away from dead.

WILL: You're already up. Your fun is wrong. Your fun is wrong! (laughs) I want one of those. I call that.

MARISHA: Do you want to answer that question?

MATT: This is a good question, because this comes up often. Will Cooper, @willmortis asks, @matthewmercer, how open are you to ideas and suggestions from us about allies for Vox Machina to encounter? I'm careful, because it is my game world. I have a very specific layout as to how the things in the story ought to go. If I do intend to possibly in the future put this content out for you guys to utilize, I have to be careful with copyright stuff and not using too many outside ideas because then it gets a little tricky. Plus, a lot of people that have submitted stuff have been like, "Hey, I have an item I'd like for someone to use. It does plus six damage and gives them the strength of four gods." Okay. That's cool, yo.

TRAVIS: What's wrong with that? Give me that thing.

MARY: You have it. It's called Bacon.

MATT: Or I'll get NPCs that have a 14-page backstory that is fun to read, but the focus is on the players. I'll try to bring in what I can. So instead, we've done a couple of circumstances where we've incorporated NPCs that fans have submitted as part of a contest, and we'll start hopefully doing that more as the year progresses. There will be opportunities for that, and you're more than welcome to send stuff in. I don't have time to read everything, unfortunately; my free time is gone forever now, and I accept that, but we'll have contests and stuff and incorporate stuff for fans. We've had fans that we've lost due to illness or circumstances in the past that I've incorporated into the game. We've had fans who were sick, and we've brought into the game as NPCs, as well, and we've had contests in the past and hopefully do more of those in the future. As far as how open to it? I'm careful, because it is still my game, and I don't want it to be too much of a door I open, where everyone throws everything and I no longer have control over it, and I have very specific balancing ideas, too. But there will be opportunities.

WILL: You're right, though. It's one of the reasons why legally, your favorite television show, you can't go and write a script for it. They can't read it, because then if it shows up later, then they can say, "Hey, I wrote that." It's one of those things that it's a cool idea, but you do have to be careful when you're building your own world that it's just yours.

MATT: Yeah, if I ever intend to try and release anything in the future, like a campaign setting, which I would love to. The question comes up often. I have to be very careful about that. That's the largest reason.

WILL: He's not being uncool. He's being totally prudent. You have to, though. It's important.

MATT: There will be opportunities in the future.

MARISHA: And a lot of the players get that, too, and we're on the same path. What, do you not get that, Travis?

TRAVIS: Laura texted me and said my pulled-up pants look weird like that.

MARY and WILL: Wow.

TRAVIS: It's hot in here! I was pulling the pants up.

MARY: I thought we were waist-up!

WILL: I'm sorry. I'm also about to get married, so the idea of live-stream nagging is amazing to me. Wow.

MATT: (shushes, whip crack)

TRAVIS: You don't know what it's like living with a dragon.

WILL: Could you make a masculinity throwing save?

MATT: That's an eight.

TRAVIS: Advantage? Two!

WILL: That's awesome. I love that. She's hysterically funny. "Your rolled-up pants look weird."

MATT: Preciously Insane on Reddit asks whether Matt has ever had to discard any cool ideas because of the players going in an entirely different direction or because he felt it wouldn't fit in the world. Often! But I hold onto them because that could come into a one-shot in the future, or if it comes back around in the story, they return to the same place, they continue that thread, possibly, and like I said, if I ever end up wanting to release a setting, it would be a cool thing to put into the world that even if Vox Machina never encounters, you guys can in your own games. So yeah, I hold onto it all. Not everything gets caught. It's part of the fun of the randomness of the game is you never know where the players are going to go. I'll put a lot of effort into maps and threads, and be like, "All right, cool, so today, they're-- where are you going?"

TRAVIS: I loved it in the pre-stream games, you'd show up with these two bags and five or six maps, and I remember there was one night, a six- or seven-hour game, where no maps were put upon the table. You were rolling them back up, and I was like, "Were those for tonight?" You were like, "They were going to be." And we didn't go any of those places.

MATT: It still happens here, often. But that's fine.

MARISHA: My favorite was still when we snuck in the back door of the Clasp the first time, and we were like "Knock-knock. Oh, hey, Clasp leader. Hey. What's up? We're here to decapitate you." And we didn't plan any of that and you're like, "Oh, you walk in? Let me start drawing real quick." And starts drawing things. He's like, "Clasp leader is there." It was good.

TRAVIS: Off the cuff.

MARISHA: Oh no, it just went dark. It's another one going off that. Ivar @mistbornelite asks, how often do we strategize outside the game? Which is never, really.

TRAVIS: Strategize?

MARY: But do you think about it during the week? I remember going, "Well, we ended that, and we've got frost giants coming up. What can I do?"

MARISHA: It's impossible not to think about it.

TRAVIS: I really wanted to look to see what their traits are and stuff, but I can't.

MARY: I didn't do that. I didn't cheat--

TRAVIS: I wanted to cheat. I'm saying I wanted to cheat.

MARY: I was like, "I really want to find out about white dragons." But no, I did think about what could I do?

MARISHA: I'll do that. Honestly, I think more often than not, I'll be like, "Goddamn it, Percy totally had the last word. I should have said this."

WILL: Oh, you're doing the drive away from the fight!

MARISHA: I should have done this.

WILL: The Jerk store called, and they ran out of you!

MARISHA: And I'll be like, next time!

MATT: To be fair, Taliesin is the master of the one-liner bookend. He throws out some of the best-- he'll wait for the perfect moment, and then, "I'm sorry." (boof)

WILL: But there's a genius to that. Being able to button a scene. There is a genius to that.

MARISHA: But I'll spend the week being like, "Next time I see Percy, I'm going to give him a piece of my--" And it never happens.

MATT: What you guys were saying about the creature stuff, don't forget, in-game, you can research creatures that you know you may encounter out in the world to learn about what they do, and you can, depending on how well you research and retain the information, learn things like weaknesses or what type of abilities they have.

TRAVIS: Me, research? He ain't going to read.

MATT: You have a problem with that.

TRAVIS: But if it has pictures.

WILL: I asked you about that, because you were bringing me back, and I said, "Look, I haven't been able to watch the show lately. What should I know?" And you were the first person to go, "You know what? You're in a whole different part of the world. You shouldn't know anything going on. So come in the way you came in before. They're coming to you, so you shouldn't know what was happening." I was like, "Okay. Yeah, that makes more sense." I wanted to research and you were like, "No. You don't need to."

MATT: For instance, in the game, Laura has a very strong knowledge of dragons; that's been her favored enemy for a long time. You guys could spend time and really delve into what threats they pose beyond your encounters, and who knows what you might find.

MARY: Exactly. Working for the Slayer's Take, how much time have we had in the library after encountering a rakshasa or the dragon. How much time have we had to do our rakshasa--

WILL: You and I talked about a bunch of that stuff coming back in, where we all met up, and we were there 20 minutes before Matt got there.

MARY and WILL: What have we been doing?

WILL: What was the last mission we were on? We came up with a backstory for each other, for our relationship.

MARY: Why we're together.

WILL: Why we're friends, and why we've hung on, and all that kind of stuff. Friends, all the people on the internet. Just friends. But yeah, I love that stuff.

MATT: Any other questions burning right now?

MARISHA: Travis, do you think Grog is unable to be corrupted by Craven Edge due to his lower intelligence? You're too dumb to be corrupted?

TRAVIS: I don't even think Grog thinks the sword's trying to corrupt him. He's just a chatty sword that for some reason talks to him. That's it. He got the battle-sound lightsaber at Target, and it talks.

MARISHA: Is Grog convinced that it's in his head, and it's like Wilson and Tom Hanks in Castaway?

TRAVIS: I think he thinks it's just loud enough for him to hear, so he's always like-- I have no idea how that sound actually works.

MATT: I wasn't expecting you guys to retrieve Craven Edge from the corpse. I wasn't expecting it to be kept, and I definitely wasn't expecting it to be handed to you, and now I'm so excited to see where this goes.

TRAVIS: You didn't think we'd keep it?

MARISHA: He told me later he thought we'd throw it into the acid with everything else.

TRAVIS: Fuck that noise. I'd throw Percy in if he tried to do that.

MARY: I'm still waiting for the Calvin & Hobbes mashups of Grog and Craven Edge. I put that out there.

TRAVIS: I wasn't equipped for that shit in the monk pit. That was unexpected. I had trouble putting baby down.

MARY: Baby didn't want to be put down. You're not picking up a flaming hammer instead of baby.

MATT: Interesting question from duetempte in reddit says, how do you balance combat around six to eight PCs, especially one- or two-enemy boss fights? Best fast answer as I can. When you have that many players, you have to keep running quickly. Taking initiative is a huge thing. For initiative, when I ask from top to bottom in chunks of five. 25 to 20? 20 to 15? And what I do is write the players' names down in the order, and then if an enemy falls into that order, I'll write it in the column to the right of it, staggered. It almost looks like a back-and-forth line so I can tell one column are heroes, one column are enemies, and I have them in the order that they show up in initiative. That way it's very easy, very quick to write down, and visually it's easy for me to reference who's up next. But for balancing? You don't always want to give something more hit points, because that means it's going to take longer. With a lot of players, you still want it to be around long enough to be a challenge. I recommend increasing damage it deals, because it doesn't mean you have to have as long an encounter, but still have that threat of serious danger. Not crazy damage, but scale the damage it deals. A lot of creatures have legendary resistance and legendary actions, which are very helpful.

MARISHA: That's some bullshit. It's such bullshit.

TRAVIS: You get three per round or something?

MATT: Oh my god, you're seven players. That's fair.

MARISHA: It sucks when you're like, I'm going to burn this 5th-level spell, and it's going to be fucking amazing, and it can't fail, because the spell says-- oh, legendary resistance. Oh.

MATT: So sorry. Maybe don't start off with all your powerful shit.

WILL: Wow. You know what would help? The deck of everything, or whatever the hell that thing is.

MATT: No.

MARY: Wand of healing. Do you guys ever go home and have moments of contention about what occurred in the game?

WILL: I'm so glad that was the question. I thought it was going a different way. I'm so glad that was your question! I've got to be honest with you. I'm glad that's where you went.

MARY: Do you ever role-play Gilmore?

WILL: That's what I was waiting for! Do you ever go home and have moments of contention? I was like, thank god.

MARISHA: What was that tweet that we got that they tagged you, me, and Liam in it, and it was like, "God, Vax's voice is so sexy. Hey, Marisha, do you ask Matt to do Vax's voice for you?" I was like-- out of everything; out of all the fan art, fanfic, now you done made it weird. That's the line right there. We found it.

MARY: But did stuff happen in the game and do you have to take moments of breathing, or do you realize it's just a game?

MARISHA: Only a few times. Getting the polearm in the face, I was like, really? All three attacks on Keyleth?

MATT: You can barter with an NPC. You can't barter with the DM.

MARY: What!

WILL: (whip crack)

MARY: Did you hear that? I hear that one, too.

MARISHA: So many whips in the atmosphere. Not too bad, though. Every game, we have people being like, "Oh shit, Matt's sleeping on the couch tonight!" And I'm like, no, it's fine.

TRAVIS: That doesn't happen at your house? When I almost smacked Trinket and he ran through the minefield?

MATT: You deserved that.

TRAVIS: Generally, everybody laughs, and when you clean it up, you're like, "Man, that was fun." She's like, "You never do that again." "Oh shit, it's just a game." She was like-- and went upstairs. "Babe, I love you!"

MARISHA: I love it so much.

TRAVIS: Imaginary bear. "What?" Nothing!

WILL: Totally real.

MARY: Start doing bear sounds downstairs.

TRAVIS: (bear-like) Grog is okay.

MATT: A two-part question; I want to answer a couple of these. PseudoX1 on Reddit writes, with some enemies that Vox Machina has faced, every once in awhile, a PC gets one-shot by something. Do you plan on one-shotting someone when they come up against these enemies to provide a challenge, or is it a side effect of the monster? All the ones they've come across have been actual side effects of the monster, like the banshee. That's what they do. It's a nice way to bring in challenge, especially when you have certain players that are really resilient. Every now and then, it's nice to remind them that not all attacks just do damage. Some of them snuff you out. It's a cool dynamic to it, because it immediately turns the tide of the battle to not only intense danger, even if it's not a very powerful creature, to survival as well as being on the aggressive, which is great. It adds tension to it. Other part of the question: when listening to players monologuing with each other, you look like you're staring into their souls. What is usually going on in your mind during those? I'm remembering Nick at Night reruns, usually. Dick van Dyke Show.

WILL: You've got (sings Meow Mix jingle).

MARY: (flatline sound) A nice 1K tone.

MATT: Someone please edit that, and at one of those moments when the players are monologuing, my brain going off on the Gilligan's Island intro.

TRAVIS: When you were monologuing, I actually leaned over to Laura or to you and was like, "He hasn't looked down yet," because you were explaining the history of the world, and we're always looking for a little bit of-- and come back up, and you were up here the whole time. I'm like, "He's a god."

MARY: It was such an amazing monologue.

TRAVIS: It was insane! It was six minutes!

WILL: It was the history of the world!

MATT: I was afraid it was going to be boring. I didn't realize I was going to be telling you guys the whole-- and that was the condensed version.

WILL: I love that, though. Oh, he's talking about how the world was created.

MARISHA: It's creation myth time.

MARY: It's like Greek mythology. We've got all of it up until--

MATT: You guys never got to the point where you inquired about the creation myth of Exandria and what the Second Spark was, the Penance, and all these other terms you've come across at points in the game. It all plays into that world, and that might be unveiled more as time goes on, as now you're looking for the Vestiges, which do tie into previous time periods. But yeah, as soon as you guys started inquiring about it, I was like, okay!

TRAVIS: We do go back and watch those things, though, because there's no way some of us catch that the first time around. You're a good note-taker, but I'm like--

MARISHA: Even so, though, I'm generally scribbling hot words, because I can't get it all. Oh, that seems important. Key points.

WILL: I scribble them wrong. I was home later that night going, "What's a vestibule?"

TRAVIS: The vegetables of the portents.

WILL: We're looking for vegetables. What's going on?

MARISHA: Someone said, Matt, how hard was it to decide to destroy the city of Emon after you spent so much time to build it? Additionally, how early in the story planning did you decide to destroy the city, and what caused you to take that route?

MATT: That's a great question. It was very difficult. I'd spent a lot of time developing and fleshing out this entire city, and I'd set the stage for it a long time ago. I didn't quite know the form it was going to take, I just knew that the Chroma Conclave, depending on events that transpired and the return, which was going to coincide with-- I know I had a two-year window of Winter's Crest festivals. I was keeping tabs on that. That was when they were going to be signifying the release of Thordak from the Fire Elemental Plane. It just so happened that Emon became so central to the campaign at that time, and based on his previous experience being sealed by the adventuring party that now largely incorporates themselves with the Council of Tal'Dorei, that would be the first place to strike. And it's not just Emon. They're hitting a lot of other targets of major power that have some history with members of the Conclave, and it was a tough decision, but it made sense driving forward for the story. It brought together a moment where players themselves, their characters were starting to wonder what their purpose was. It was a really great crux moment. Unintentionally! I had this whole story arc looming, and the characters were hitting interesting points of having an existential crisis of what is it that's holding us together? What is our purpose? And I was like, "Oh my god, this is going to be perfect. This is going to be perfect! Boom!" And dropped it. It was so good.

MARY: The minute Vax said, "I don't know what we're doing. Why are we doing this?" All of a sudden, I was like, "You did not plan that out." I seemed at that point that you said to Liam, "Just plant that, because the bomb's ready to drop."

MATT: That whole conversation, I'm sitting there going, "Just give me 30 minutes! Just give me 30 minutes, man. It's coming!" It was so great. It was very hard, but as a writer, sometimes to really elevate the stakes of a story, which is what you want to do when it continues like that, you want to elevate the stakes and bring everything back to a core, central focus and make everyone feel the gravity of what's to come, you have to destroy something that you love, and Emon happened to be the gem of that time.

MARY: Plus, they were getting complacent. They're all on the council, they've got a nice keep. It's all lovely.

MATT: You've got to mix things up a little. I was glad to bring that two-year seed to bear. It was fun.

MARISHA: That's crazy. Two years.

MATT: What was your favorite PC that you've played as?

MARY: Victor!

MATT: PC, like when I've actually played a game. Actually, my friend Jason Bender, who's a game designer, he ran a game years ago where I played a dwarf fighter, my first time playing a combat character in a D&D game. I was always casters before that. I played a dwarf fighter named Grimthorne, which I actually incorporated into Exandria as the dwarf that ran you guys through the brawlers' league. That character is my old PC, Grimthorne. He was a fun, brash character.

TRAVIS: He was our manager, right?

WENDY: The wheels are turning. Oh yeah, that guy.

MATT: Yeah, shaved dwarf with no hair on his body, and most of the dwarves shunned him for that purpose.

TRAVIS: He took us through that tournament, right?

MATT: Yeah, he took you through the brawler's league tournament, yeah, where Scanlan summoned a pony and you cut it in half to intimidate the other team, and it worked.

TRAVIS: I didn't just cut its head off. I smeared its gore all over us and we started screaming like crazy people.

MATT and TRAVIS: Like you do.

MARY: Wow.

WILL: Fair enough.

TRAVIS: You know you've done well when Mercer's eyebrows go up, especially like-- oh.

MATT: Did Percy's demon get stronger with every target on the list that he killed? Maybe. Also, what would have happened if he killed all five or six, counting Cassandra? I don't know. I guess we'll never find out.

MARISHA: He does this all the time. I don't even know anymore.

MATT: But glad you're paying attention.

TRAVIS: What did you say?

MATT: Nothing.

WILL: Why'd you write "kord" on my head?

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Kord. I mean, krod. (moans)

MATT: Let's see. What are your favorite snacks or drinks that you like to be gifted at conventions.

MARY: Apparently, beer!

WILL: Be careful how you answer this. I said Twizzlers once as a joke, and everywhere I go now, I get Twizzlers.

TRAVIS: I get bags and bags of Reese's Pieces, and I like them. I don't drink them.

MARISHA: I would say, good note, though: please don't bring us weapons at cons. Don't gift us weapons.

WILL: Important safety tip.

TRAVIS: We've got to fly with them.

MARISHA: We've got to fly, and we have a hard time getting them home.

WILL: Bet TSA likes that.

MATT: Yeah, we had a few great weapons gifted to us at this recent convention, which were wonderful gifts, and thank you guys for those, and we had to go through Wizard World and find a way to ship them back to us for that purpose, and it was a whole--

WILL: (blade scraping) Yeah, I'm in seat 1A.

(laughter)

MARY: Sir, your warhammer is flaming. Could you put it out?

MARISHA: There's no smoking on the aircraft.

MATT: Somebody at the con gave Taliesin a Pepperbox replica, with an actual spinning barrel. A very small one, but a Pepperbox replica. He was like, "This is really beautiful. Oh god. I'm not checking luggage." So he took it in two pieces and put them separately in there in the hopes it wouldn't be a problem. Sure enough, TSA stopped him from going through. He had to fill out all this paperwork. Spent 30 minutes. This is the same TSA where the guy recognized me and Sam, so I walk over to check up on him, and the guy goes over and goes, "Oh, of course it'd be Percy." And he helped actually explain to TSA what it was and that he's not trying to hide a gun through. We actually had a Critter as part of TSA that was helping Taliesin not get arrested for trying to carry a 150-year-old firearm.

WILL: Do you mind proving you're Percy? Roll a d20.

TRAVIS: They take you into the mirrored room, and it's like--

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Am I going to jail or walking out?

MARY: That's right!

MATT: I will happily run an improvised one-shot to not go to prison.

TRAVIS: I saw there was a person that was asking about, do we have too many magical items? I think it's important to say that you told us that we can only have three.

MATT: Three attuned.

TRAVIS: Attuned to us, yeah, so we don't walk around and be like, "Oh, I'm going to use this."

MATT: You guys have been collecting magical items for over three years now. That's the thing. They have a number of them, and a lot of them are circumstantially helpful. I try not to give out too many. You only really get one major upgrade every six months or so, or somewhere in that neighborhood. I try to make it more special so when you do find one, it's a cool thing. If you give out too many too quickly, few have the impact, and it's not really awesome when you find something new.

WILL: You guys tend to have a lot of stuff. I remember the last game, Laura's like, "No, 750 knick-knacks," and we're all like, "Oh, okay. Knick-knacks." And she's like, "No, it's written here. He told me I had 750 knick-knacks." Tons of stuff.

MARY: Who's got the skull? Where's the skull?

TRAVIS: Oh, I found out where it was, because Vex is a sneaky bastard.

MATT: Vex was the last person to have it.

MARY: Vex was the last person to have it, okay.

MARISHA: She hid it, I'm pretty sure.

TRAVIS: She didn't hide it. I rewatched the episode.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: I missed it the first time! I miss a lot of things the first time. I missed Percy doing the shadow thing.

MATT: That was so beautiful. That worked out perfectly.

MARY: Do you know what math is?

MATT: Someone's asking, Tophlitz on Reddit asks if I was part of the Black Rock City cuddle puddle.

TRAVIS: What?

MATT: Burning Man. Yes, I was. Good to hear from you. That's really cool. It's a Burning Man gathering event. It's really cool.

WILL: The Black Rock City cuddle puddle?

TRAVIS: Cuddle puddle.

MARY: Are you guys dressed as rabbits?

MATT: No, that's the Billion Bunny March.

MARISHA: Not to be confused--

MATT: This is a bunch of strangers all getting together and cuddling and hanging out and telling stories.

MARISHA: Whereas the Billion Bunny March is a bunch of strangers dressing up as bunnies and protesting The Man.

TRAVIS: How often do you rewatch episodes? Only if I feel like I missed something important. But normally, that's a character choice, too. But I don't catch shit.

MATT: I'll rewatch beats of previous episodes as I'm preparing for the next one to make sure I remember all the details of how it ended and try to pick up from there. Try. Doesn't always work, but I try. And to remember NPC voices.

MARISHA: Good question. Marisha, are you going to Awaken Trinket someday? No! I'm not.

MARY: What does that mean?

MARISHA: No, and that's my Quivering Palm question, is "Are you going to Awaken Trinket?" No. I can't, actually. Trinket is literally too smart for me to awaken him, and if I ever did, it would mean that Trinket could theoretically be like, "Oh, what? You've been my master this whole time, Vex? Well, fuck this shit. I'm out." And I don't want to ever do that, so no!

TRAVIS: I wouldn't ever do that.

MARISHA: It's her bear. It's Vex's bear.

MARY: What does that mean to awaken?

MATT: It's a spell that druids have. Creatures that have certain low-level intelligence, you give them human intelligence and the ability to speak and converse. They essentially become NPCs.

MARISHA: Do we want to read it?

TRAVIS: How smart is Trinket?

MATT: Trinket has an intelligence of four. Smarter than the average bear.

(groaning)

TRAVIS: That's so low-hanging, and you-- It's running down the jowls.

MATT: And yet, it is 100 percent accurate.

TRAVIS and MARY: It is.

MARISHA: The target must either have no intelligence score or an intelligence of three or less.

MARY: And what is Grog's intelligence?

TRAVIS and MARISHA: Six.

WILL: He says proudly. Six.

TRAVIS: I remember when we were rolling the character and I rolled it, and it was some awful roll, and you're like, "Your intelligence is six." I was like, "Yay! What's that mean?"

MATT: I cannot implore you guys enough to really embrace low stats as a character. It's such a wonderful distinguishing trait for your roleplaying capability. I'm disappointed when a player doesn't roll anything lower than a ten. I'm like, oh, man. What a missed opportunity. I absolutely adore, as a player and as a DM, rolling at least one or two low stats, because it really exemplifies all sorts of crazy shenanigans you're going to get into in the future.

WILL: That totally gave me my character, because I didn't know what I was going to do. Did I want an accent? I had no idea. And then I rolled a nine charisma, and I was like, he's a dick.

TRAVIS: Yes! Awesome.

MATT: Which also, I want to point out, is another great example. Both you and Keyleth are great examples of characters that have low charisma. A lot of people equate charisma to physicality and appearance and beauty, and that is one way to do it. For some people, they look like the kind of person you would listen to or follow. Very politician-like. They have this spirit to them, and this visual perspective. You guys are relatively attractive characters, but personality-wise-- not you, your D&D characters.

WILL and MARISHA: Oh. Sure.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you two are total trainwrecks.

MARY: Keyleth is fucking hot.

MARISHA: That's why we do voiceover!

MATT: Exactly.

WILL: I've got the body for voice over.

MARY: And a face for radio.

MATT: But a perfect example. Kashaw has such an abrasive personality that even the most average individual is more likeable in general, despite your appearance, than Kashaw is. You rub everyone the wrong way, and that's the perfect way to play a nine-charisma character.

WILL: It was so much fun to play that, and also, it's one of those things where he does things where it's this great juxtaposition where he's a dick, and he tried to intimidate the last time. He's got a minus-one for intimidation, so he's like, "How's your family? This isn't going to work." It's like if I tried to intimidate somebody. Not going to work. All right, sorry.

TRAVIS: How's your family? They're doing well.

MARY: Thanks for asking.

TRAVIS: The boy's in soccer.

WILL: It was so much fun to let the numbers dictate. I wasn't used to that, so yeah. It helped the character.

MATT: Someone asked here, Matt, have you ever considered dwarves with not-Scottish accents? Yeah. I love the Scottish brogue. It's my favorite dialect of all, and so I revel in the chance to utilize it, and I've grown up around fantasy tropes of the Scottish dwarf. The Kraghammer dwarves are definitively mostly Scottish. They have some variations in there. There's some West Country. There's some that fall out a bit. Dwarves in other regions would probably have different dialects, so if ever you guys travel to other regions and meet other regional dwarves, perhaps there will be variations. Let's see if they have any other ones. We've got time for another ten minutes of questions before we'll take a short break, and we'll come back for our battle free-for-all.

MARY: Zahra doesn't know about Percy and Lillith.

TRAVIS: She doesn't?

MARY: Nope. Zahra got a letter from Lillith saying that she had an interesting time with the guys in Emon, but she didn't name names. Lillith is not a kiss-and-tell.

WILL: Kashaw is.

(laughter)

WILL: Telling everybody what just happened.

MARY: She told me about the world itself, but not specifically--

TRAVIS: What happens to Vox Machina when everyone reaches level 20, or something like that?

MATT: Oh, that's a good question. I'm foreseeing, currently, the campaign has probably another good year, little over a year, before everyone were to reach max level. I don't know if we'll get that far. There is a definitive arc to the story, and it will progress to the point where the heroic deeds of Vox Machina-- hopefully, whoever survives to that point-- will be battling deities, and not just worlds, but also realm-saving circumstances. At which point, there will come a moment where the story comes to completion, whether it be through the fall of Vox Machina and the next wave of heroes that rise up to try and take that place, or they will complete their goal, become the heroes of the land, and fade into the sunset to pursue whatever their epilogue-based storyline is, which you guys would help to write.

MARY: They come back through the wardrobe, and they're kids again.

MATT: In which case, I would like to start a new campaign with the new level-one characters you guys would create, probably in the same world, after the events of the first campaign. There would be elements of the universe that you've affected with your choices.

MARY: Lycan rat.

MARISHA: I was going to say, were-rat.

TRAVIS: Have you ever made a character that went to level 20, anybody that's played before?

MATT: I've had a campaign that went close, but not quite.

TRAVIS: What do you mean "not quite?" Meaning you stopped playing?

MATT: Meaning we stopped playing, because adults get busy and lives scatter.

MARISHA: Was that the Ravenloft campaign?

MATT: The Ravenloft campaign ended at 15, and the previous campaign ended around 15, as well.

TRAVIS: Deities?

MARY: There's some spells that you only find on another plane.

MARISHA: Eventually, we go god hunting.

TRAVIS: God hunting? Did you see the size of that dragon back there? We're fucked next to that thing.

MARISHA: Ghostbusters-style god hunting.

WILL: Are you a god?

MARISHA: If someone asks if you're a god--

MARISHA, MARY, and TRAVIS: You say yes!

MATT: TiamatZX asks: Question for Mary. What are your thoughts on the friendship between Vex and Zahra?

MARY: Oh. Wouldn't you like to know? Maybe you'll find out. I think Zahra has not had many friends in her life. I'll put it that way.

WILL: Neither has Kash.

MARY: Yeah, and those that she does have, the few she holds very dear, and I don't think that level of devotion has any idea-- it's a level of passion that goes beyond the plane of physical, attractive. There's an attraction to someone's soul, and I think that's what she feels.

WILL: I think Kash is the same way, where it's almost confusing to be with somebody that you actually care about.

MARISHA: Keyleth feels some of that. It's a weird feeling sometimes.

MATT: Quick question to answer here, since I get questions about house rules a lot. Why did you choose to make inspiration-- the normal one, not a bardic one-- a d6 instead of the default advantage? That was partially because there are a lot of abilities and situations that give you advantage already in the game. I felt it would be a tweak where you could, in theory, combine the two. I like the disadvantage and advantage system a lot. I think it's one of the best things they did in 5th edition to streamline combat and get rid of a lot of the floating modifiers that I felt bogged down combat in other systems. I felt like this was a way to incorporate it where those that could still get advantage and consistently get advantage, based on how they play, would still be able to benefit from the inspiration die. Mind you, because there's a bard in the party, and such a good bard, I don't feel that I have to throw it out there too often. You guys are pretty self-sufficient in giving your own inspiration.

WILL: That's amazing, watching him.

TRAVIS: Isn't it? If you want to talk about genius, we've got genius doing storytelling. I've asked him. I'm like, "Do you come to the show with two or three songs in your pocket ready to go?" And he says no, because he's a cappella-- Mensa level, from college, right?

MARY: The fight song, come on.

MARISHA: He has the limericks. He's been writing down the limericks. That's been a very new thing, though. He'll be like, "I've been listening to Top 40 more recently." That's pretty much all he said. He's like, "I'm trying to listen to the radio more."

WILL: It's amazing to sit there. Damn.

MARISHA: He's crazy. He's great.

WILL: Totally awesome.

MARISHA: It's all that UCB training.

MARY: I'm pretty sure I saw him and his sister Eden in Les Mis when they were in it on Broadway.

WILL: Oh, who hasn't been in Les Mis on Broadway?

TRAVIS: Let's wave a flag over some furniture.

WILL: We can't eat bread! Okay, I get you. Come on. Take your prison time and shut up.

(laughter)

MARISHA: His story, by the way, at this Wizard World panel.

MARY: Oh, it was amazing.

MARISHA: Yeah, if anyone hasn't seen the Wizard World panel, he has a story of him as Gavroche falling off the barricades, and it was in the middle of the Miami riots, back in the day, and he went to the hospital and was like, "I fell off the barricade." He's all smudgy.

TRAVIS: The doctor's like, "You were on the barricade?"

MATT: This little kid.

WILL: He's dressed like a French peasant. "My god, boy, what the hell were they doing to you? Why are you still harmonizing? My god."

MARISHA: You have to watch him tell it, though. We can't even do it justice, but it's great. It's a good story.

MATT: Let's see. We've got time for a few more questions, and then we're going to take a break and come back for the free-for-all.

WILL: Oh my god, I've got minutes to live.

MATT: Yes, you do.

MARY: It's going to be so exciting!

MATT: Interesting question. Matt, have you ever gotten a TPK or killed most of the players in the party? Yes, actually. In the last campaign I ran, the players went into the Shadowfell, and in this particular world, necromancy had been banned and outlawed for a hundred years, so undead and the whole idea of undead creatures largely was folklore. No one saw them. People thought they were old wives' tales to keep kids in from outside. And so when they actually went to the Shadowfell, they were unprepared, wandered into a tomb, and were surrounded by ghouls, and as opposed to focused, targeting down, they decided, "Each of us take one!" and kill them off. Well, then three of the five were immediately paralyzed and were torn down, and two of the remaining party members, one of them started screaming while the other grabbed her and pulled her out as they watched the three other party members be devoured by the ghouls that were there.

MARISHA: Remember how when we were fighting the banshees, they have an ability where they can touch you and you're down? Ghouls have a similar ability where they touch you and you're paralyzed, and you get canned. So if you split up, the divide and conquer technique is probably the worst that you could use against ghouls.

WILL: Backs to each other.

MARISHA: Yeah, pretty much.

MATT: In that circumstance, they lost three party members in one battle that were eaten. They watched them be eaten in front of them.

MARY: Oh, that's awful.

WILL: Now what do you do? Quick question. What do you do? You're playing with seven players and you put them in a situation where four die. How do you come back next week with the three that are left?

MATT: What I do is in that time period, I would get with the players that lost characters--

MARY: Why is he pointing to you?

TRAVIS: I don't know.

MATT: Because you're there! I would see if the remaining party members had options in which to attempt resurrection at their disposal, see if that was successful or not, preferably before the end of that session. If any of those were not successful and the players were lost permanently, then over the next week, I would meet with the players that lost characters to have them create new ones, probably a level lower than the lowest member of the party--

WILL: And meet up with them?

MATT: And meet up with them, and find a way to incorporate them in the story where they would then become a member of Vox Machina going forward. It's what I've done before, in the past. There is a detriment to losing your character. I do bring you in a level lower. Not starting at level one, because that would be stupid.

WILL: You also lose your character.

MATT: Exactly.

WILL: Horrible.

MATT: That's how I would do it. That's how I will do it.

(groaning)

MATT: (cackles) All right, each of us pick a question to finish this off, if we can. I'm sorry if we didn't get to your questions. This is a lot of questions here tonight, and not a whole lot of time. We have record of these; I'll try and answer them on Reddit later.

TRAVIS: Somebody asked if I could re-pick the people that went into the Earthbreaker Groon pit, would I do it? No. A, I didn't understand what you were actually asking, because he was speaking in such a poetic way, and I was trying to give you an intense struggle. "Shit, I'm missing all of this. I don't know what he's talking about." And you were like, "Who are your blah-blah-blah muses?" And I was like, "My muses? Pike. She's not here. Shit. In case we fight, who's good? Oh, Vax has daggers, and Scanlan's my pal." And we jumped down and they're like, "Oh, we're fighting." And I was like, "Fuck!"

WILL: The second he got pushed into the pit, I saw your face go, "Aw, shit."

MARISHA: I misunderstood the question.

WILL: All the blood drained from your face.

TRAVIS: The first five minutes, I was going through my mind, how it would have gone if I had picked other people, but I wouldn't have changed it for a second.

MARISHA: It was great.

MARY: Vax and Scanlan.

TRAVIS: It was so great.

MARISHA: It worked beautifully.

MARY: Oh, will we see Salty Pete and the gang again?

MATT: I don't know.

MARISHA and MARY: I don't know.

MATT: One of the members is up in Seattle now, and another member only occasionally comes on for another game. Maybe! It was fun. Definitely a unique experience doing that. If we have another Extra Life-type stream like we did, because that was very successful, and we had a good time with it. As much as it was a gamut for me to run, with you guys helping with the story-- deck of many things-- if it happens again, I would love to have them all back, so we'll see if we can get them and schedule them for it. I hope so.

MARY: Oh, that was good. Somebody said, what color dragons would you all be?

MATT: What color dragons would you be?

MARISHA: In real life or our characters?

MATT: Let's say in real life.

MARISHA: In real life?

MATT: I can't answer a character question. All of them! No.

MARISHA: Red.

TRAVIS: Ain't those the bad ones?

MATT: Yeah.

TRAVIS: You would be a bad dragon in real life?

MARISHA: That fire-breathing, man. Fire dragons.

WILL: "You'd be a bad dragon?" That was such an earnest question.

TRAVIS: I was expecting more from you.

MARISHA: A chromatic dragon, just peaced-out--

TRAVIS: Whatever, Voldemort. Shut up.

WILL: She Who Must Not Be Named.

TRAVIS: I'd be a gold dragon.

MARY: Would you be a gold dragon?

TRAVIS: I'd call myself Kanye.

MARISHA: So influential.

TRAVIS: I'm a wordsmith. You're welcome for my existence. I'm an influencer.

MATT: I'm going to make you play that if we ever do a one-shot.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: I'll start smiling and then go--

MATT: There you go.

WILL: I've got a good question from Twitter. How open were you for me to create my own deity as a cleric?

MATT: I was very open.

WILL: You were suggesting to make one up if you want to make one up. I don't know how other DMs run the game, but you were very open to suggestion and here's what you could do, and let me help you a little bit here, but it was more "what do you want to be?" and you guided me, as opposed to "this is what you do, and here's how you build it."

MARY: You encourage that. I was like, I've done research and I want to do this. You're like, "No, don't pick anything that's established. You run into problems with people nitpicking what you got wrong about the lore and everything else. Make your own." Which was so wonderful.

WILL: They always say write what you know.

MATT: Tailor it to the rules. So for you, your whole moon deity worked well for the Great Old One pact because it was an entity that is outside of the pantheon and you don't truly understand the nature of where it comes from, just from the sky. It was a perfect tie-in to that. And with you, I didn't want to define anything, and I said, "You can choose from the existing pantheon of the world," and I laid those out for you, and I said, "You can create your own deity, but understand that based on the current rules that it would probably be a much more confined belief system; a god that doesn't have the same following of the others. Thus, why it's a receded worship than other gods."

WILL: Which then guided the backstory of how nobody's ever heard of Vesh, and there's one person that knows who she is, and that's Kashaw.

MATT: It worked out perfectly.

WILL: It worked out great, so yeah, it was very cool.

MARISHA: I had a question scroll by, and forgive me, I didn't see the name of who it was, but they were asking about being a female playing D&D in an all-boy group and how you break that comfort level. Luckily, I think, especially now with the resurgence of D&D, the boy's club aspect that might have been surrounding it is definitely slowly starting to get broken. D&D should never be a gender-specific game at all. It's tough. It's also where you grew up and where you're located and the part of the country. I know, growing up in Kentucky, I didn't have access to anybody, especially other females that would want to play with me. But yeah, if you feel uncomfortable, I try to remember that it's probably a little bit of them feeling uncomfortable on their end, as well, so try to be open-minded to that, and I think you'll get used to it, but there's not supposed to be gender specifics. And guys, we have a ton of our players that like to RP girls. We're all actors. Maybe the best way if you're a female in an all-guy group, fuck it, make a male character, as well.

MARY: Or be the strongest, most feminine role-playing character that you can be.

WILL: I'm sorry, I should mention that the guy who asked that question was @paleheathen, whose picture is actually with you and Laura.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I like him.

MATT: Good question. I will say, too, I've played with many players that have created characters that are across sex. Male players who made female characters and vice versa. You see me play female characters all the time. It's not a defining facet of the character.

MARISHA: Female should never be a personality trait.

MATT: Yeah, exactly. It can guide elements to it down the road, but you want to create an interesting character who just happens to be male or female. I know some people have some weirdness or they're not comfortable trying to play someone of the opposite sex, and that's totally fine, but you'd be surprised how cool it is sometimes to jump into the character that's so different from what you're used to and see how one, it can be a very freeing experience from a role-playing standpoint, and you might learn a lot about yourself.

MARISHA: Actually, there's a really great video that's on YouTube that someone linked me to this past week, and it was from about three years ago before the Fine Brothers milked this format, and it was boys, a group of ten-year-old boys playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of girls for the first time. Did you see that? Yeah, and it was great, and I love kid logic, because I feel like it really simplifies what we're all actually thinking on its purest form, and all the boys at the end of it were super mature and were like, "Oh, this is great." They were like, "The girls were really bloody and violent. I thought they would puke at the blood. I didn't know that girls could be that violent." I'm like, yeah, man. So I feel like the kids realizing that there really is no separation is quintessential, how everyone feels.

WILL: It's also a flat-out awesome improv exercise.

MARY: It really is.

WILL: It really is, to play the opposite sex, for no other reason that it's really cool to open up and be free.

MARISHA: And ultimately, to be 100 percent honest, I really enjoy people who have implemented Dungeons & Dragons in elementary schools as teaching mechanisms, and there have been a lot of people who've used it for kids who have social imperatives or social awkwardness things in real life.

WILL: I deal with anxiety, so I know exactly what it's like to deal with that kind of stuff.

MARISHA: Yeah, totally, and I think it really does teach you empathy on a different level, and you really can put yourself in the shoes of someone else that you're probably nothing else like. Keyleth has taught me a ton. Playing Keyleth has taught me a ton because I don't really consider myself anything like her in real life, so playing something super empathetic, she's taught me a lot, and I think everyone can learn from that. That's my tangent. I'm done.

MATT: One more question. This one's come up quite a few times from different people. Someone's asking about balancing encounters for creatures that could easily take down one member of the party but would also be difficult to fight for another-- that would be a good challenge for one member but would completely annihilate another person in the party. How to handle that. How does the party handle that? That's a great point of tension in the battle. If a player knows that they're squishy, their tactics should revolve around learning how to stay away from that creature that could probably take them down very quickly, and it's the tougher members of the party's responsibility to try and get between them as much as possible.

WILL: That was Sam last week. He's the first one who said that. He's like, "I don't fight, so I'm going to sing and run this way."

MATT: So yeah, you want to incorporate aspects of a battle that will be a challenge across the party, but you also want to make sure that you don't tailor every enemy specifically to a player all the time, like "This guy's a barbarian. He has a lot of good resistance, so I'll build a creature only for him," and then go for this character. Find a good challenge for the overall party and let them figure out the mechanics. Sometimes they'll run really well and combo their abilities together like a well-oiled machine, and they'll completely annihilate the encounter. Sometimes, they'll do the entirely wrong tactic that they should, and end up walking away, limping, going, "That was bad. That was very bad." Sometimes, it will go really poorly and they have to run. That's the good thing, too. I always scale on the level of making the encounter difficult, as opposed to too easy, if you've done a few encounters that the party has steamrolled, because if it gets too hard, you can insinuate, you don't have to stick around. They could always come back later with a better plan if the first plan failed. In fact, some fun battles are the vengeance ones, where things didn't go so great the first time, but going back with the knowledge you have now, you set up an ambush or find a way to use the terrain to your advantage next time.

WILL: Real quick, do you have to be real careful that you don't pick on one specific person too much, like you keep attacking one character?

MATT: It depends on the creature or monster that they're fighting. If it's a beast-- if it's a creature that is driven by instinct and isn't super intelligent, it will go after whatever is either the easiest and nearest kill or the thing that apparently right now poses the biggest threat to it. I try to think of the creature's mindset of who it would go after, so if the battle begins and all of a sudden the healer does something really crazy and flashy and hurts the enemy, it might be going after the healer for a while. If it's a really intelligent creature, especially if it's a well-trained combat veteran that knows the strengths and weaknesses of different classes, once a few rounds of combat have shown who specializes in what, he may tell his team or whoever he's commanding to focus down the healer or the support class that's changing the tide of the battle. If they know the barbarian's going to resist the most damage, they'll ignore him for now, take out the things that are supporting him and keeping him up, and then we'll worry about him later. It's based on the intelligence of what they're fighting, and I think for me, that's a lot of fun. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes the party comes up with a really cool plan and my really awesome, interesting battle gets steamrolled. But you know what? The players earned that victory. I'm not going to fight and change numbers behind the screen just because I wanted it to be cooler. They earned that victory. I'll give it to them.

TRAVIS: So glad we're not fighting him tonight because I just got infinitely more nervous.

WILL: I'm sensing you'll be fine.

MATT: All right, guys. It is 9:00. We're going to take a short bathroom break, and then we're going to come back here and see which one of these fools is going to be the final standing fighter.

MARY: Place your bets!

WILL: I've got ten dollars on everybody but me.

BreakEdit

[break]

Battle RoyaleEdit

MARISHA: --cock.

MATT: Welcome back, everyone. So, we're going to see how this works out. Thank you, Marisha. So, for the purposes of this, everyone's going to be level 13, so bringing both Kashaw and Zahra up one level. I need you guys to both roll additional hit points right now, which we'll add to your character at the moment. So d6 for you. For you, it'd be a d8, I'm pretty sure.

TRAVIS: Are you playing as Gilmore?

WILL: This is my eight, right?

MARISHA: That's a ten.

WILL: Five.

MARY: Four.

MATT: Four, plus your constitution modifier, which is two. So yeah, that's 83. What'd you roll?

WILL: I rolled a five.

MATT: You rolled a five plus, what's your constitution modifier?

WILL: 16. Oh, plus three.

MATT: Plus three, so eight. So, add eight to your total hit points, for the purposes of this battle.

WILL: So I am at 108 for this battle.

MATT: Oh wait, warlocks may be a d8. Let me go check this again. I'm used to the sorcerer stuff. Let me see here real fast.

TRAVIS: I'm going to do what Laura would do and warm up this d20. Shit. Fuck. That's the same number!

MATT: Yeah, a d8! I'm sorry, reroll it. I'm not used to you warlocks.

MARY: What if I roll less than a four?

MATT: Well, I'll let you keep the minimum.

MARY: I rolled a three.

MATT: We'll let you keep the four. It's my fault.

MARY: Oh, thank you.

WILL: Have I been killed yet? I'm surprised I'm not dead yet, to be honest with you.

TRAVIS: We haven't started.

WILL: I thought I was killed. My bad.

MATT: All righty, so. Since your proficiency bonuses have also gone up, don't forget that your spell attack, your spell DC, and your physical attacks all go up by one. For this battle.

WILL: So, my spell attack goes to plus ten and my spell DC goes to 18.

MATT: 18, correct.

TRAVIS: This set is amazing, by the way. I'm so excited by it.

MATT: This is my first time using Dwarven Forge sets, which I've always wanted to. I was a Kickstarter supporter when they first did the dungeon tiles. I was stupid and didn't get them pre-painted. Never making that mistake again. So I've dry-brushed all of these with white to make them look decent. I hope to use more Dwarven Forge stuff in the future, for our game, because it makes for some really cool, dynamic-looking sets. So. Just so you guys are aware, for this battle, this open pit here in the center is an open pit. It falls into darkness. You don't know what's below there.

TRAVIS: What are you talking about? Really?

MATT: Yeah, this is an open pit.

WILL: So Grog, push everyone. Push Grog into the open pit.

MARY: It's an open pit? How deep is it?

TRAVIS: You don't know. "It falls into darkness." So it's deep enough.

MATT: You'll have to go and make a perception check next to it so you can see.

TRAVIS: What if there's a giant trampoline down there?

MATT: Could be.

WILL: Has anybody thought about the idea of meeting in the center and talking things out?

TRAVIS: I would like propose a pre-game handshake. (under breath) I will throw all of you in.

MARISHA: Instead of violence, we can solve this with rock paper scissors. It'll be great.

WILL: There was something you said about a 7th-level spell?

MATT: You and Zahra both get access to a single 7th-level spell casting. Also, you have access to all the equipment you have on you, except for healing potions. Each of you only has one superior healing potion.

WILL: And what does a superior healing potion do?

MATT: 8d4 plus eight.

TRAVIS: Okay, all right.

WILL: 8d4 plus eight. You'll have to explain to me exactly what that means when I need it. Now, do we need to pick our 7th-level spell now?

MATT: I would prefer for you to. I mean, you have a couple prepared, but you have to choose which one you use in combat.

MARISHA: So my armor, with spell resistance, I've got advantage on spell attacks against me? I can get saving throws? My armor that has spell resistance?

MATT: You get advantage on your saving throws, yes.

WILL: I think I know what I'm going for my 7th-level.

TRAVIS: I'm ready to die.

WILL: Seriously? Are you kidding me?

MARISHA: Oh my god, this is so nerve-wracking, you guys.

MATT: All righty, guys.

MARY: I'm very afeared now.

WILL: I got my 7th-level, I think.

MATT: All right, folks. I would like all of you... to roll initiative! For the sake of this guys, because I forgot my bag of side minis, which is really stupid of me, the part of Kashaw will be played by this rather buxom dwarf cleric. The part of Zahra will be played by this red-coated Percy. So you guys can keep track on that. All right.

MARY: I suck big balls and I cannot lie.

MATT: You know you have advantage on initiative?

TRAVIS: I rolled it twice and they both suck.

MATT: As all of you are suddenly and instantaneously transported by some omniscient entity, you find your feet slamming into the stone ground of what appears to be some pit, a hundred feet recessed into the floor of some indeterminate location. The walls and the floor are built of ancient stone. You see each of you placed behind a wall with just enough visual across the top to see that the other of your band are there across from you. In the center lies a darkened pit to some unknown distance of depth.

MARISHA: Grog?

TRAVIS: This is nice stone!

WILL: Z?

MARY: Over here!

MATT: Looking up into the sky, you can see the blue sky, clouds drifting above, but too high to reach. You hear a voice rumble up from around you, going, "Now, show me who is your champion." So, initiative! 25 to 20, anyone? 20 to 15? (giggling) 15 to ten?

WILL: I have a 14. Oh wait, I'm adding my initiative? Where's my initiative? Front, there we go.

MARISHA: You have plus two.

WILL: Okay, so I'm a 16.

MATT: 16? All right, so Kash is up first. Five to ten?

TRAVIS: Ten.

MARISHA: Oh, I have 14.

MATT: 14.

MARY: Ten!

MATT: Grog and Zahra, who has the higher dexterity between the two of you?

MARY: Plus one.

TRAVIS: Probably not me. 15?

MARY: Oh, dexterity? Ten.

MATT: All right, I'll say Grog is going slightly faster than Zahra. All right. Based on that, Kash! You're up first. What do you want to do?

WILL: I want to get my papers I'm already losing!

MATT: You're right over here.

WILL: Yeah, I know. Yeah, I want to move closer to Grog, I guess.

MATT: Okay. You can grab your mini.

WILL: Now how far can we move, here?

MATT: Well, your speed is, I believe, 30, so you can move six square spaces.

WILL: Maybe that's not the best plan.

MATT: Whatever you want to do, buddy.

WILL: If I can stay away from him, the better. You know what? I'm actually going to make my way around here. So, six squares? I'm going to get right here and I want to check out the room and the giant pit, which I am now apparently in front of.

MATT: Okay, so go ahead and make a perception check.

WILL: That's the d20?

MATT: Yep, d20 and add your perception skill.

WILL: That is a seven and, where's perception? Plus four. But it has advantage.

MATT: Okay, so roll again.

WILL: Now it's two. Four. So great.

MATT: Okay, so you look down. What little bit of light is making it down, you can see, vaguely, the bottom of the pit. About 15 feet down, ten to 15 feet, so it's not a huge drop. You do see there is texture to it, meaning it's not a flat surface. There is something down there that probably, at least it doesn't look like it would happily accept your body plummeting into it.

WILL: Ah, it is not feathers. I'm sensing that's going to come back to suck at some point.

MATT: All right, is there anything else you want to do for your turn?

WILL: No, I'm good for now.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: Going to get straight into this, I guess. I am going to cast Call Lightning at 5th level.

MATT: Call Lightning at 5th level? Okay. You guys all of a sudden feel the hair on your body and your beard drift up, almost like gravity suddenly has no impact on the moment, as the smell of crispy ozone hits the air. Above you, you can see clouds gather out of what was once a blue sky. You hear in the distance the rumble of thunder.

TRAVIS: Looks like rain!

WILL: I'm not dressed right for this. Look at the size of her breasts.

MARY: Use them as a shield, Kash!

MARISHA: Then I say, I'm really sorry about this, you guys! I think this is an alternate reality, though, and we'll be fine if we just get out of this! I can go ahead and bring down a spell, right? Or no, yeah, I can the same time.

MATT: Yes you can.

MARISHA: I'm going to go ahead and hit Kashaw because I can see him through my little window.

WILL: Suck.

MATT: All right.

MARISHA: I get 5d10, right?

MATT: Yeah, 5d10 points of lightning damage. I need you to make a dexterity saving throw.

WILL: That's a d20 again? Four.

MATT: Plus your dexterity?

WILL: Three.

MATT: All right, I'm going to say that's a fail. So you take full damage from Keyleth, at this point.

WILL: And it's how much?

MARISHA: Sorry, Kash! 5d10.

WILL: Never should have kissed you.

MATT: That's a terrible roll. You're lucky.

MARISHA: That is a really terrible roll. 17, and another one.

MATT: 18. You take 18 points of lightning damage as a bolt of energy slams out of the sky like an elemental hammer, hitting you and causing you to hold yourself against the wall, directly to the back.

MARISHA: And then I take my bonus action to turn into an eagle.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: (eagle sounds)

WILL: I tried to check out the room a little bit, first, see what was up.

MARISHA: Fuck that shit! Shit's getting real!

MATT: So a giant eagle, or just an eagle?

MARISHA: Giant eagle.

MATT: All right, since I don't have your polymorph figures with me--

[no audio until 2:17:40]

(Matt scatting)

WILL: Do I have to tell you my 7th-level spell eventually?

MATT: Whenever you want to use it.

MARY: Ooh, surprises.

WILL: I'm using a 7th-level Run Away spell.

MARY: Run away! That's my favorite.

OFF-SCREEN: They can hear you right now, but now they can't see you. We're working on it.

MATT: But now they can hear us?

MARY: Kash, put your pants back on! Oh no!

TRAVIS: Is that a beholder coming out of the pit?

MARY: No, no, not a beholder! Don't eat Grog!

OFF-SCREEN: Program glitch. You're doing great.

[no audio]

OFF-SCREEN: They can hear you. They can't see you.

MATT: Okay.

MARY: They can see Grog, but they can't hear Matt.

WILL: Now they can't hear or see either of you, but they can smell you all.

MATT: For those who were paying attention, Keyleth, after casting her 5th-level Call Lightning, turned into a giant eagle and then flew 80 feet up into the pit.

MARISHA: Fly away!

TRAVIS: Can you move diagonal squares?

MATT: Yeah you can. This is getting interesting. Well, in the meantime, we shall see if we can get this to work. RIP, sound? Oh no!

TRAVIS: One plus one, plus two, plus one.

WILL: Can I ask a question? While she is an eagle, is she considered a creature now? Can she be taken control of, if she's an animal?

MATT: That's a good question.

MARY: Because you use Polymorph, right?

MARISHA: Beast shape.

WILL: Could you use Geas on her?

MARISHA: I keep all of my mental stats.

MATT: Oh, a creature? Anybody's a creature.

WILL: Okay.

MATT: Any entity is a creature, whether it be a monster or a person.

TRAVIS: It says we can see the board, but not you guys?

OFF-SCREEN: Yeah, they can see the top-down right now, but the shot right here doesn't have audio for some reason. We're fixing that.

MATT: Can they still hear us and see the top down? Okay, well then never mind! Let's get this running! We'll stick with this. All right, that ends Keyleth's turn. Grog?

TRAVIS: I would like to go into a frenzied rage. I would like to move ten spaces. Right there.

MATT: All right. As a note, if you are raging and you don't take damage or deal damage, you lose your rage.

TRAVIS: Oh. So, should I maybe move first and then rage?

MATT: Or not rage, if you're not going to do anything.

TRAVIS: Oh. I'm very calm as I run from this spot to here, preparing to rage.

MATT: Okay. Good to know.

TRAVIS: Shit, I don't think I ever knew that. You learn something every day.

MATT: Yeah, if you fail to hit something or get hit, which happens very rarely for you anyway, the rage drops. Something to remember.

TRAVIS: Hit a little kid in the area if I have to attack something. C'mere, boom!

MATT: All righty, so, if that's ending your turn, Zahra, you're up. You see the eagle of Keyleth take up after calling a bolt down from the heavens.

MARY: You're beautiful, darling!

WILL: Good, now kill her!

MARY: All right. I would like to cast, because she is within range of 120 feet, I'm going to do the combo of Eldritch Blast, a cantrip, plus an invocation of Agonizing Blast.

MATT: All right, so the invocation goes on that. Are you casting that first?

MARY: Pardon me?

MATT: Meaning, the eldritch invocation just happens on top of the Eldritch Blast. Did you have another spell or bonus ability you wanted to do beforehand, or not?

MARY: No, I think I'm going to save it, because I realize that casting Hex actually takes up one of my spell slots, does it not?

MATT: Yes, but you can always move it to different targets if one falls.

MARY: Yes, I know.

MATT: Okay, good to know. All right, so, Eldritch Blast firing against, all three against--?

MARY: All three against Kiki.

MATT: All right, what's the range on Eldritch Blast?

MARY: 120 feet.

MATT: Yeah, she's definitely in range. All right, what's the AC of your eagle?

MARISHA: 13.

MATT: 13, all right. Go ahead and roll three d20s.

MARY: All right, do I get a spell attack bonus?

MATT: You do, plus 12. So don't roll a one. Roll three times.

MARY: Roll three of the d20s?

MATT: That's a hit. That's a hit, and third one? 19, that's a hit. Go ahead and roll three d10s and it's plus seven to each of them. There you go. So 17 points of damage.

WILL: Hurts, doesn't it?

MARY: 17, plus--

[intermittent audio]

MATT: --13, so 33. A total of 33 points of damage.

MARISHA: Okay, well, that brings me, zero to my... 33 so that's nine points.

MATT: Did you drop form now?

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. First off, make a concentration check for each one of those hits. It's a constitution save.

MARISHA: I have a ring. So 14?

MATT: 14. Roll again? So you have to beat ten on each one.

MARISHA: Ooh, no. Eight.

MATT: Eight? So as you're hit with the first agonizing blast, it slams into your form and you keep yourself in the air. The second one hits you again. This time, the clouds disperse as your concentration is wrecked from the blast. The third one finally hits you, losing your form. You transform back into a druid and immediately plummet 80 feet to the ground.

WILL: And you don't have the big breasts to block you, like I do!

MATT: So that's 8d6 falling damage.

OFF-SCREEN: We're back!

MATT: We're back? All right! Hold on. You take 28 points of fall damage as you fall down into the pit, smack! Slamming into the stone ground. Your bell is rung for a moment as your eyes have a hard time focusing around you. You can feel the blood beginning to pour down the side of your head from the impact of slamming into the stonework.

MARISHA: Oh, bad idea. Okay.

MARY: Just a warning, don't hurt Kash! Just a warning! Don't hurt him!

MATT: All right, Zahra, anything else you want to do with your turn? Stay there?

MARY: No, I think I'm fine.

MATT: Kash, you're up. I'd say, actually, Keyleth, you are prone on the ground because you fell that height.

WILL: Can I see her, or no?

MATT: Yeah, you can see her, barely, around the side.

WILL: I don't like Grog right behind me. That kind of scares me a little bit.

TRAVIS: But I'm so stealthy!

WILL: Maybe he doesn't see me! I'm going to give myself a little protection here and I'm going to cast a 4th-level Guardian of Faith.

MATT: Okay.

WILL: I'm going to get a little help in an area here, if I can.

MATT: Certainly. 4th-level Guardian of Faith.

WILL: And apparently the range is 30 feet and it lasts eight hours. So if I hang near him, hopefully that'll be helpful.

MATT: So any creature hostile to you that moves to a space within ten feet of the guardian for the first time on your turn has to succeed or take damage. All right. So you choose an unoccupied space within range and it occupies that space. So where do you want it to remain?

WILL: Can I move first and then cast it?

MATT: Yeah, if you wanted to.

WILL: All right, I'd like to move back to kind of where Grog was. So I'm going to go (counting) so I end up about here. I'd like to cast the Guardian of Faith right here, in front of this little window.

MATT: Okay, I'm going to go ahead and use this piece of popcorn here as the guardian.

WILL: He guards me and is wonderfully crunchy!

MARY: He smells so good!

WILL: That's my, yeah, so for right now I'm good and I feel a little bit protected.

MATT: Keyleth, you're up.

MARISHA: Oh, me again? Already? Oh my god. Okay, well, I stand up.

MATT: Uses half your movement.

MARISHA: I'm going to go ahead and throw a Call Lightning up again, this time at 4th level.

MATT: Okay, the clouds re-form.

TRAVIS: What the shit. This is like Seattle.

WILL: Rain again? What, are we in London?

MARISHA: I think I've got a bit of a view on Grog, kind of know where he is?

MATT: Ah, barely.

MARISHA: I can see Kash, though, right? Sorry, Kash! (lightning crash) Right on Kash again.

MATT: All right, I need you to make another dexterity saving throw.

WILL: And that's the 20 again, right? Come on, come on. Eight, plus what? Dexterity? Plus two, ten.

MATT: Plus your save, which would be more. Yeah, you still failed. So 4d10 lightning damage to Kashaw. That's better. 29 points of lightning damage as another bolt streaks down, slamming into the ground.

MARISHA: I'm going to use my bonus action to do a Cure Wounds, or sorry, Healing Word at myself, just at first level.

WILL: Okay, so I take 29 points of damage, is that what you said? Eesh. 61 already.

MATT: All right. Keyleth? That's Keyleth's turn. Grog, you're up.

TRAVIS: I would like to perform a little community outreach and I would like to run. Frenzied Rage!

MATT: That's your bonus action, okay.

MARISHA: This is the shit of nightmares. I want you to know that.

TRAVIS: I would like to look at Keyleth and go, Hi! And attack.

MATT: This blur of grey and black comes streaking around the corner as you see the foam frothing from Grog's mouth, running toward you, Craven Edge out of its scabbard.

MARISHA: Keyleth friend! Keyleth friend!

TRAVIS: 26?

MATT: Hits.

TRAVIS: 14?

MATT: 14 misses.

TRAVIS: 24.

MARISHA: Hits.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21 points of slashing damage.

TRAVIS: It was the third one that hit. 18.

MATT: 18 points of slashing damage.

TRAVIS: And she needs to make a constitution check.

MATT: Two of them.

MARISHA: 18 would bring me to 40. Right?

MATT: 40. All right, so roll two constitution saving throws.

MARISHA: Ooh!

MATT: Succeeds with both! 18 and 16! You hear the voice creeping in your face go, "Come on, take her life! Give me her strength!"

TRAVIS: Well I'm working on it! Shit, relax a little!

WILL: I love the fact, I'm sorry, I have to point out that we're being guided by Mumm-ra. Which is kind of awesome, I'm sorry.

MATT: Ancient spirits of evil. All right, so, that ends your turn Grog. Zahra, you're up.

MARY: Can I move first so I can get Kiki and, so sorry, my darling--

MATT: Where are you going?

MARY: I'm going to go toward Keyleth so I can get her in sight.

MATT: You can see her there.

MARY: All right. I'm going to cast--

TRAVIS: Just do it!

MARY: Finger of Death.

TRAVIS: (shrieks) Does she have that?!

MATT: She does now!

WILL: Oh shit! Don't look at me!

MARY: I look like Percy, so No Mercy Percy.

TRAVIS: Do you have to roll for it?

MATT: Hold on, hold on. Okay.

TRAVIS: Well fuck the foreplay, let's get on with it.

MATT: Constitution saving throw. It is a spell, so you would have advantage on the roll for your armor.

MARISHA: Oh, that's good! That's good. 17, that's good for the first one. And a natural one! So I'll take the 17.

MATT: All right, plus three? So you make the save. You take half damage. Go ahead and roll 7d8 plus 30.

WILL: 7d8 plus 30! What?!

TRAVIS: You have that?

MARY: Just today. I don't know, I woke up! I may need your help.

MATT: Chat room: "Well, that escalated quickly."

TRAVIS: 16? You're having me help you with math. That's four. One more.

MARY: Grog and Zahra do math.

MATT: So you take 30 points of necrotic damage.

MARY: Plus 30? Oh yeah, that was 60.

MATT: Yep, 60, and half that. So you take 30 and you're still up, at ten hit points, as a beam of greenish necrotic death streaks across this battlefield, slamming into your side unexpectedly from behind as you're staring up at the horrible form of Grog raging in front of you. You feel most of your vitality sucked out of your body immediately. You glance over your shoulder and see Zahra around the corner going--

MARY: Slightly possessive of Kash, sorry! I'm so sorry! You're too beautiful!

MATT: All right, Kash, you're up. Unless you wanted to move still.

MARY: No, I'll stay there.

WILL: I think, wait, I have to see how close I can get. I'd like to move first. My guardian is going to stay there. I could stay there and ride it out, let them fight it out. Seriously. Scanlan's tactics. I'm going to move closer to the battle here. So I'm going to go (counting). Wait, wait. Hang on.

TRAVIS: Oh, into the pit! You die!

WILL: I guess it doesn't matter where I go, I'm still not going to be able to see her, am I?

TRAVIS: There's a window. Is there a window, Matt, or is it supposed to be a wall?

MATT: It's a window.

TRAVIS: Through the window, to the wall! To the sweat drops down dragons' balls!

WILL: So can I see her?

MATT: Just so you're aware, that didn't use a spell slot. No, because it's part of the mystic arcanum ability. You get to use that once without spending a spell slot.

WILL: Wow, that's a good spell. So can I actually see her, then, through said window?

MATT: Keyleth? You could, yes. But she would have three-quarters cover. If it has a spell attack roll, she would get a bonus to armor class.

WILL: I'm still going to try to give her, if I can see her from there, a 5th-level Flame Strike. Okay, so that's what I'm going to do.

MATT: Okay.

WILL: She came out swinging! I was like, hey, let's check it out!

TRAVIS: I was coming over to say hi and then it was like, (explosions)!

MARY: You totally frizzed my hair with that fucking lightning, so. Bad hair day is all Zahra needs.

MATT: It's a ten-foot radius, so you're getting this area? So I need both of you guys, Grog and Keyleth, to make a dexterity saving throw.

MARISHA: Dexterity save?

MATT: Yes.

MARISHA: Nine plus--

MATT: You have advantage because spells.

MARISHA: So excited! Ooh, that's much better. 20 total.

MATT: 20? That would do it, so you take half damage from this.

TRAVIS: 15.

MATT: I believe your DC is 18, so no.

MARISHA: What are you hitting me? Oh, you're firestorming us?

MATT: Flame Strike. So roll 8d6, because it's half fire and half radiant damage.

WILL: 8d6? Is this the six? Yeah, where is it? I don't have-- yes I do. So eight. You mind if I borrow these?

MARISHA: What does the cover grant you? What's the three-quarters cover do?

MATT: It helps give you a better armor class, but it doesn't help you against radial spells.

WILL: Come on, daddy needs to cook a druid. Here we go. (counting) If it's on critical role? All right, so there's 16... 30.

MATT: 30. You roll two more.

WILL: I roll two more, sorry!

MATT: So there's an incredible roll. 39. So, 18 points of damage. You take 39 points of fire. Keyleth is now currently unconscious right there.

WILL: Try fighting now!

MARY: First kiss my ass!

MARISHA: Anything I can do to fix myself while I'm out?

MATT: No, you keep making death saves until hopefully you'd roll a 20 and maybe stabilize. Well, if you roll a 20 you, fuck. I have to remember the roll. You come back to consciousness with one hit point.

MARISHA: But I have to roll a nat 20. Other than that, that's it? Oh man.

WILL: You started with Lightning Striking me! That's not something you forget! Yeah, that's my turn.

MATT: Keyleth, I need you to go ahead and roll a death save.

MARISHA: Yeah, totally. Nope.

MATT: All right, so that's one failed save. Go ahead and mark that off. Grog, it's your turn.

TRAVIS: I would ask a question. Is there any way I can move just up against the wall so that Keyleth and Zahra are in a straight line?

WILL: Oh, that's not a good sound. That's a bad question.

MATT: Oh, not really. I mean, depends on what you want to do. If you're trying to ricochet Keyleth's body--

TRAVIS: No, I have the Javelin of Lightning, but it only works in a straight line.

MATT: Yeah, you'd probably have to hit one or the other.

MARISHA: I'm also on the ground.

TRAVIS: I'm going to hit Keyleth on the ground.

MATT: You're going to hit Keyleth on the ground?

TRAVIS: Yeah, isn't she down on the ground?

MATT: Yeah. You can separate your moves and your attacks. You can hit, then move, then hit.

TRAVIS: I'll hit her once and then move. I'm going to pimp slap and run!

MATT: Okay, because it's a melee attack within five feet, it's an auto-crit which is an immediate two death saves. How do you want to do this?

(yelling)

MARY: Oh my god! What?

MARISHA: Come on, come on. All that pent-up aggression you've been wanting to get out.

TRAVIS: I pick up Craven Edge over my head. Seeing her there, unconscious, I turn my head away, turn the point down, and go, whack!

MATT: And with that, you hear an attempt at breath and a slight gurgle as your eyes are closed as you draw the blade. You hear a satisfying, "Yes, delicious. Two more, Grog."

TRAVIS: I'll do my best. Do I get an extra attack after I make my move, because I killed someone?

MATT: Well, you have your bonus action attack anyway because you have your frenzied rage, so you still have your movement and two more attacks.

TRAVIS: All right, I would like to move to Zahra, please. I would like to do like Joaquin Phoenix and swing away. Yeah, Joaquin Phoenix in Signs? See, and swing away? Grabs the bat and he beats the shit out of the alien? I would also like to do reckless attack on these.

MATT: All right, not great weapon master though?

TRAVIS: No. Reckless. Advantage, and whoever's fighting me gets advantage. 24 is the first one.

MARY: Yeah, that hits.

TRAVIS: 18 is probably going to be good enough. 27 on the second one.

MATT: Both hit. You only get two attacks on her.

TRAVIS: Oh, that's right.

MATT: Yeah, because you killed Keyleth with one.

WILL: While she was unconscious! While she was down and unconscious, awesome.

TRAVIS: Ten, 18 for the first one.

MATT: So 18 points of slashing damage.

TRAVIS: 12. 20 on the second one.

MATT: So 38 points of slashing damage against you, Zahra. I need you to make two constitution saving throws.

MARISHA: Grog off the leash is a bad day.

MATT: Yeah man, you guys' best bet was probably to gang up on Grog, and you guys let him stick around. This is going to be rough.

MARY: What do I need to do?

MATT: Roll a d20 twice, adding three each roll. So that's a fail. Second one again? Success. So your strength goes down to ten as Craven Edge saps a strength point from you. You get a plus one to your strength, which brings you up to 18, I believe? So currently you get a plus one to hit and damage on all your attacks.

TRAVIS: A beautiful thing.

MATT: I believe that's the end of Grog's turn, because you can't do much else? Zahra, you're up.

MARY: I would like to tell Grog how much I love him.

MATT: Don't forget, as a reaction, before your turn ends, if you wanted to use your Hellish Rebuke?

MARY: I know, but do I want to let it all go now?

MATT: It's either that or have him cleave your face off next turn!

TRAVIS: It's always an option! Face slits are always in!

MARY: Out of nowhere, a voice comes to me and says, "Use Hellish Rebuke!" And so, as a reaction, I shall.

MARISHA: Now I'm envisioning Grog's Rhinoplasty.

MATT: Make a dexterity saving throw.

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: He succeeds, so he takes half the damage. Roll 2d10.

WILL: Come on, you can do it, Z.

MARY: 14.

MATT: So he takes seven points of fire damage to Grog.

MARISHA: God, he is made of meat and hit points.

WILL: Made of meat, hit points, and shame.

MATT: What are you at right now, Grog? He's at 134 hit points, guys.

MARY: Fuck you.

MATT: Seriously, Grog has rolled some of the best hit point rolls I've ever seen in my life, and then he took the toughness feat. And has a constitution of 20. It's stupid.

WILL: So we can't kill-- Dude.

MARY: I know. Witch Bolt is a concentration, so I can't Hex him, is that correct?

MARISHA: Whenever he fails that save on Finger of Death, that's fucking--

TRAVIS: Tell me she only has one of those a day, right?

MARISHA: One for free, without burning a spell slot.

MATT: It's one of those things where, if it's a concentration spell and you're not using it to concentrate, Generally, just a one-off thing, I'll allow you to concentrate on two things at once if you use it as a one-off spell. So I would say, if you wanted to Hex somebody and then do a Witch Bolt but not have the concentration effect, I'd allow that.

MARY: I don't know what that means.

MATT: What that means is, as long as you're not maintaining Witch Bolt, I'll let it not override Hex because you're just doing it as a one-off spell.

MARY: Okay, but what if i want to keep it going?

MATT: Then Hex would not overlap with it.

MARY: I'm going to Witch Bolt Grog.

MATT: It is also a ranged spell attack, which means you have disadvantage to hit him with it because he is right in your face. You can step away from him to try to do it.

MARY: I'm going to Hex him. If I Eldritch Blast am I still at disadvantage?

MATT: Same thing, disadvantage on blasts because he's right up in your face. You'd have to get away from him to do that.

MARY: All right, I'm going to use my Cloak of the Bat and fly away from him, but he gets to whack me then, doesn't he? All right. Wait, let me, is that considered an action?

MATT: Well, it depends on what the ability is.

MARY: Cloak of the Bat allows me to fly at will.

MATT: All it does is give you flying? So you don't turn into a bat form, it means you can just fly? So you can do that.

MARY: And then do I still get to cast something afterwards?

MATT: Let me pull up the book real fast.

WILL: Like a kid at Christmas over there!

TRAVIS: No, I'm not getting excited about anything because if Christmas is any indication, shit can go south. I got a remote control car! (crashing) (crying) I got a Nerf football!

MATT: You can choose to fly 40 feet. It's not an actual action to use it, so you can do that. That'd be your movement.

MARY: I'd like to do that and cast Evard's Black Tentacles.

TRAVIS: What?! Whose?!

WILL: You'll find out!

MATT: Are you going to cast that first and then go?

MARY: No, I need to get out of there before.

MATT: Okay, so Grog you get a swipe at her.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I do. Do I get advantage on my recklessness?

MATT: Yes. Though technically, he does have reckless attack on him, so you could attack him without disadvantage. I forgot about that. So if you wanted to hit him with a spell, your disadvantage is canceled out by the advantage you'd have on him because he used reckless attack.

MARY: I'm not sure I understand that.

TRAVIS: You roll once instead of having to roll twice and take the lower. Because you have disadvantage, but I gave you advantage, so they cancel each other.

MATT: So it's a regular roll if you wanted to stay where you are.

MARY: He's still going to cleave my face off next turn.

MATT: Yeah, but he won't get a bonus attack of cleaving. Up to you. If you want to take the hit to the face and run away?

MARY: I'm going to take the hit to the face.

MATT: All right, make an attack, Grog.

TRAVIS: 15 was the total of the second roll. I'm sorry, so that's 24.

MATT: That hits, roll damage. Where do you want to fly?

MARY: I'd like to fly over here.

TRAVIS: 21.

MARY: Fuck you.

MATT: 21 points of damage to you.

TRAVIS: And a constitution save.

MARY: Not yet. And I'd like to cast Evard's Black Tentacles. Would you like to hear the description?

TRAVIS: In explicit details.

MARY: Squirming, ebony tentacles fill a 20-foot square on the ground that I can see within range. For the duration, these tentacles turn the ground in the area into difficult terrain. When a creature enters or is affected for the first time, the creature must succeed a dexterity saving throw and take-- it's not too much damage. A creature that starts its turn in the area is already restrained. Basically, you're restrained.

TRAVIS: I'm restrained, okay.

MATT: This'll be the markers for the area. This whole area is filled with dark tentacles.

WILL: And he can't go anywhere.

MATT: It's difficult terrain, which means every five feet step you take it costs ten feet of your movement.

TRAVIS: So my speed is halved.

MATT: Yep.

TRAVIS: Shit.

MARY: Do I get anything else?

MATT: That's your action. If you wanted to use your bonus action to drink a healing potion?

MARY: That's what I'd like.

MATT: Go ahead and do that. You heal 8d4 plus eight.

TRAVIS: She needs to make a constitution saving throw.

MATT: That's right, yeah. So that's 14. Roll two more. 19 plus eight. So you heal 27 hit points. That's the end of your turn. Kash, you're up. These black tentacles.

TRAVIS: Come join the party, it's like an anime nightmare in here.

(laughter)

WILL: It's tempting. What's also tempting is my Guardian of Faith that's still over there waiting for me.

TRAVIS: Orville Redenbacher?

WILL: Yes! He will protect all. No.

MARISHA: Orville!

WILL: I think right now while he is trapped there--

MATT: That is eight plus three. That is a failure; you lose another strength point.

MARY: Can I use luck?

MATT: If you have luck, yeah!

MARY: 15.

MATT: Yeah, never mind! It doesn't happen.

WILL: It is getting down to the nitty gritty. He can't move now, which is--

MATT: That you know of, unless he makes his save.

WILL: Oh, well that's disappointing. With the way he's rolling tonight, I'm guessing he'll make the save.

TRAVIS: So I have to make a save to move, or it just halves my speed?

MATT: At the start of your turn, you have roll to see if you're restrained and take damage.

WILL: I think I got to hit him hard right now while he's away from there.

TRAVIS: No! Look, she's right there in the open world.

WILL: I think I'm going to use my 7th-level Firestorm.

MARISHA: Yeah, you will!

MATT: Are you using it on both of them?

MARISHA: Yes, you are.

TRAVIS: You don't want to do that.

WILL: Yeah, I think I probably should.

TRAVIS: Think about all the poor tentacles that just came to life.

MATT: That's true. It might knock her concentration and lose the tentacle spell.

WILL: I imagine it might lose the tentacle spell, but again, with the way he's rolling, I imagine he's going to make his saving throw.

MATT: The point is, I guess, from a technical standpoint, if you just hit him, the tentacles will stay up. If you hit both of them, it'll probably knock her down, but you lose the tentacles and he'll be able to come after you next turn.

WILL: Okay, then I want to do the one where he'll go back after her and keep me alive and well, which is what I'm guessing is going to happen.

MATT: It's up to you. You can go after them both and take her out right now, probably. Your call. Whatever you want to do.

WILL: I don't want to take her out right now, because then it's just me and Grog. I've got nobody who's helping me out.

TRAVIS: You might not get this chance again. I mean, we're both right there.

WILL: How many hit points do you have? 309? How many are there? 7000 hit points? You're at what?

TRAVIS: 134.

WILL: And you're at what? How many do you have left?

MARY: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. I didn't quite hear you.

WILL: "My hit points are so low, I can't hear anymore."

MARY: My hearing is gone. Apparently you lose hearing. 57.

MATT: She looks hurt.

WILL: You know what, one thing at a time. I'm going to go for Grog right now and I want to make sure she holds her concentration on the tentacles.

TRAVIS: I expected more.

WILL: You're still going to be like, "Oh my god, it's the biggest hit I've taken all night! I'm down to 120."

MATT: As you're currently dealing with all these dark, arcane tentacles that are sprouting out of all the stones around the ground, a beam of light seems to descend from the sky for a second as it turns to a dark red crimson and bursts around you in a giant inferno of searing divine energy.

WILL: Hey, how you doing! Boom!

MATT: It curves around and incinerates the remains of Keyleth.

MARY: Bye, Kiki!

TRAVIS: Sarah Connor style!

MATT: Go ahead and make a dexterity saving throw.

TRAVIS: Oh wow, really? That's 21. It's a 19. Dexterity saving, right? Yeah. Plus two.

MATT: So you take half damage from that. Go ahead and roll 7d10 fire damage.

TRAVIS: 7d10?!

MATT: That's what she did to take out the wyverns.

WILL: Are these d10? No, those are d8. So I got, these are all d10s here, right? Nine. Does anyone have one more? I have six. I need one more. There we go.

TRAVIS: Why would I give him mine? I see a ten. I see two tens.

MATT: 43 points of fire damage. You take half of that, so 21 points of fire damage.

WILL: That's like nothing! And then for the rest of my move, right? I'm going to run back to my spiritual guardian and be like, what's up? That was my 7th-level spell and nothing! We barely touched him!

MATT: Keyleth smolders. Grog, it's your turn.

TRAVIS: I'd like to try and break free of the tentacles of love.

MATT: Go ahead and make your dexterity saving throw.

TRAVIS: It's 14.

MATT: 14 is a failure. You take 3d6 points of damage. Could you roll that, Zahra?

WILL: Just keep tagging him, Z!

MARY: I'm trying, darling. I'm trying.

TRAVIS: What kind of damage, there, Matthew?

MATT: This is bludgeoning, so you take half the damage. So he took four points of bludgeoning damage and you are restrained currently. Restrained, to specifically read you what it does, your speed becomes zero, so you cannot move. Attack rolls against you have advantage, and your attack rolls have disadvantage. You now have disadvantage on dexterity saving throws.

WILL: And you're still going to beat us all.

TRAVIS: I don't know, it's not a good thing.

MATT: So Grog, what are you doing?

TRAVIS: I'm turning toward the black tentacle dealer, right, and I'm giving her the bird. No, I would like to take the Javelin of Lightning and throw it at Zahra.

MATT: Okay. Let me see the card? You don't have to roll for it, it's each creature in the line. It turns, as you see, Grog, the tentacles, turn around, and throw something toward you, all of a sudden it sparks with electrical energy and streaks toward you like a bolt of lightning horizontally. I need you to make a dexterity saving throw, Zahra.

MARY: 12.

MATT: That's a success, so you take half damage. Roll 4d6 lightning damage, Grog.

TRAVIS: Eight.

MATT: So you take four points of lightning damage as the javelin streaks past you and skids across the stonework behind, sending a few sparks, and then falls to the ground, its energy used. All right. Ends your turn, Grog? Zahra, you're up.

MARY: Right, so I've still got Witch Bolt on him, yes? Is that what I used last time?

MATT: No, you used Evard's Black Tentacles.

MARY: Oh, I used Evard's Black Tentacles, which is technically a concentration. It is. So I shall use-- is Eldritch Blast? Can I do a combo of Eldritch and Agonizing again, using my cantrip and invocation? Or is that considered concentration?

MATT: Well, let me see. Agonizing Blast isn't a cantrip, it's an Eldritch Invocation which gives you the benefit on top of your Eldritch Blast. So yeah, you can do that three times. That's your cantrip, and you can do that, yeah. So all three against him, or do you try and aim for your buddy over there?

MARY: No, we've got to try and take out our giant friend.

TRAVIS: I feel so loved.

MARY: It's a compliment. So that plus the Agonizing, yeah? It'll still hold the concentration?

MATT: Let me see the Javelin, what it does? Yeah, I don't know what you guys are talking about. You guys are really weird. Oh, and because it is four damage, go ahead and roll a constitution save to maintain concentration on your tentacles.

MARY: Ten.

MATT: Ten's enough to keep it, so the tentacles stay. Thank you for the reminder, guys. So you're doing all three against Grog? All right, roll with advantage on each roll, because of his reckless attack.

MARY: So it's 1d10 plus seven.

MATT: Go ahead and roll that twice. A nine, roll again.

MARY: A nine.

MATT: All right, so that, what's your AC?

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: 19, it does hit you because you have plus 12 on that attack roll. So roll for the second one. That's one hit.

MARY: 11.

MATT: And roll again? That hits again. Roll for the third one?

MARY: 14.

MATT: Roll again. See if it gets a crit.

MARY: Natural 20!

MATT: Two hits and a crit. All right, so let's go ahead and roll that. So that's one plus seven, so that's eight points of damage.

TRAVIS: Bludgeoning?

MARY: What's the plus 11?

MATT: No, it's force damage. That's to hit, not damage. Plus seven that. So that's eight points of damage. Second one?

MARY: Five?

MATT: Five plus seven is 12 points. And then this is the crit.

MARY: Four.

MATT: So that's eight, plus seven is 15.

TRAVIS: So 35. Can I use my Stone's Endurance to limit that damage?

MATT: From the last one? You can, totally.

WILL: Got an answer for everything, don't you?

TRAVIS: No, shut up. So that's 14. No, 15.

MATT: Okay, so the last critical hit does nothing.

TRAVIS: Okay, great. So 20 total.

MATT: So as you hit him with the final hit, it slams into him and he puts his chest out, pumps it, takes the blast and it seems to disperse across his muscled form to no effect.

MARY: Oh, it looked so good going in, too!

TRAVIS: Still pretty good. You actually burned off the baby oil on these pecs.

WILL: That's what that smell is! All right. Let's see if we can keep hitting him.

TRAVIS: I mean, look guys. Share and share alike.

WILL: I'm going to move a little closer to him.

TRAVIS: (whispering) Yeah, come closer.

WILL: So let's go there.

TRAVIS: Leave that guardian alone. He doesn't need to come.

WILL: He can't come. He'd like to, but he can't. He just hangs out there.

MARY: He's eating popcorn the whole time, enjoying the fight.

WILL: But he looks awesome. He is, he's guarding me just in case. He's a place to run back to if I need it. I'm going to do another level five Flame Strike. Yeah, because I can do two level-5s, right? It's better than raising the dead. Doesn't seem apropos at this moment. I would have raised you, but you're ashes and you blew away. My bad.

MARISHA: Yeah, thanks. Matt had to go into detail.

WILL: How do you think everything's going, Keyleth? Oh, you're just ash.

MATT: All right, so, against who?

WILL: "Against who!"

MATT: All right, make a dexterity saving throw with disadvantage, because you are restrained.

TRAVIS: 16.

MATT: 16, not enough. That's a failed save. Do 8d6 damage against Grog.

WILL: Where are the d6s now? Eight?

MATT: As you're being held back by the tentacles, all of a sudden you see another streak of divine energy come from the ground as flames erupt from beneath you. Your vision becomes nothing but fire.

TRAVIS: Not this again-- argh!

WILL: I have seven here. Here we go, come on. Aw. Argh! 21, and then one more. Come on. 26.

MATT: So 26 points of fire damage.

WILL: To drink my potion, do I need to be able to move?

MATT: It's a bonus action in my games, so don't worry too much about that.

WILL: I'd like to drink my potion, sir. What do I need? 8d4 plus eight, is that right?

MATT: Don't forget, you have your danger sensibility. Roll another dexterity saving throw, to be safe. It's things you can see, like spells and traps.

TRAVIS: It's a nine.

MATT: Nah.

WILL: So I can drink my potion?

MATT: Sure. 8d4 plus eight. So you're up next, Grog. Know what you're going to do.

WILL: (counting)

MATT: Shitty rolls!

WILL: Awful rolls. So 22.

MATT: All right. Grog, I want you to go ahead and roll a constitution save real fast.

TRAVIS: I don't like the way you're asking. Ooh, 11?

MATT: 11. As the flames subside, you take a moment to take in the damage you've taken. There's a familiar smell, a smell you've smelled once before, when Trinket ran across a series of lightning traps: the smell of burnt hair. As you reach up, you find your chin clean.

(yelling)

WILL: I took Grog's beard!

TRAVIS: No! What have you done!

MARY: Seppuku with Craven Edge!

WILL: Kashaw the cleric takes Grog's beard! I want to see that fan art real bad! That is the end of my turn, sir, because I already moved out here, so I can't move back.

MATT: Grog, you're up.

TRAVIS: So I have to break free of the tentacle trap, right?

MATT: Yeah, top of the turn, I need you to try and break free.

TRAVIS: Son of a fuck! No, I have advantage on dex, right?

MATT: You are restrained currently. Let me double check really fast to make sure we have the specifics, here. We haven't used this spell before.

TRAVIS: Wienerschnitzel!

MATT: Okay, so, you take another 3d6 bludgeoning damage because you started your turn restrained in the tentacles. So do another 3d6.

MARY: Oh, that's better. 11.

MATT: So you take five points of bludgeoning damage. Round it down. You have to use an action to make a check to try and break free of it.

TRAVIS: Well, I would like to do that.

MATT: All right, go ahead and make a strength or dexterity check, your choice.

TRAVIS: Oh, well, I have advantage on both of those because I'm raging and I have danger sense. 19, that's good. What am I talking about? Strength! Thank you! Yeah, 26.

MATT: All right, not a saving throw. A check. That's still enough. You break free of the tentacles. Break free using your action. You still have your bonus action and your move, though you can't move quite as far. Which way are you going? You've got two targets right now.

TRAVIS: I know. I'm going to go towards, ding dang dong, Zahra.

MATT: All right. (counting) You can just get up to her with your barbarian speed.

TRAVIS: And what do I have left?

MATT: You have your bonus action still.

TRAVIS: Just my bonus action. I'll take my potion, my superior potion, because I can't attack anybody. Can I grapple or anything like that?

MATT: You can attack with your bonus action. You have frenzied rage, remember?

TRAVIS: (inarticulate yelling)

MATT: Up to you!

TRAVIS: Awesome. Yes, let's do that. Let's attack her.

MATT: All right. Go for it. Is this a reckless attack?

TRAVIS: Yes. 26.

MATT: 26 hits, go ahead and roll damage.

TRAVIS: You piece of... (counting) 21! In your horned face!

MATT: 21 points of damage to you, Zahra. And a constitution save.

TRAVIS: Oh, 22 points of damage, because I forgot to add.

MATT: I need you to make a concentration check, so roll another constitution save. Oh, that's a failure. The tentacles vanish from the scenery as the spell disappears. Bye, kernels! I need you to make another one from Craven Edge. That is another failure. You lose another strength point. You're now a strength of nine, and you gain another plus one, Grog.

TRAVIS: Plus one to attack and damage?

MATT: Well, plus one to your strength. What is your strength at, now?

TRAVIS: Now it is 19.

MATT: So no bonus yet. Next time. All right, that ends Grog's turn. Zahra, you're up.

MARY: All right. My question is, with my dark staff, does this expend a spell slot?

MATT: No, it's from the staff itself.

MARY: Okay. Then I will cast Witch Bolt from my staff at 5th level. That leaves me with one charge left.

MATT: Okay. Using almost all the charges in that staff. You still have to make a ranged spell attack, which right now would be at disadvantage, but he attacked so it would be a straight roll. So go ahead and do that, roll a d20. That's a nine plus your spell attack, which is 12. 21. What's your AC?

TRAVIS: 19.

MATT: It hits. That's 5d12 points of lightning damage against Grog. Five, because she did it at 5th level.

MARY: 21 plus 20. These two, it was the nine and the 11. 41.

MATT: 41 points of damage to you, Grog. Lightning damage. All of a sudden, up in your face, she holds her staff in her front, closes her eyes, and a blast of dark lightning hits you.

MARY: Don't taze me, bro! Sorry, love!

TRAVIS: It's okay, I'm going to kill you soon.

MATT: Zahra, is that the end of your turn? You still have a bonus action.

MARY: I have a bonus action. What do I do with a bonus action? If I move, does he get--? Meh.

MATT: That's Zahra's turn. Kash, you're up.

WILL: Okay, so I have a question here.

TRAVIS: Yeah, you can jump in the pit.

WILL: Can I? Great. Kash goes, I'm out. Taps out and jumps in the pit. If Will was in the UFC, same thing. You mentioned at the beginning of the battle that we are now on a different plane, correct?

MATT: You are out of your normal vicinity, yes.

WILL: Okay, but are we on a different spiritual plane, do we know? I have a question.

MATT: You also know that you can cast lower spells at a higher level if you wanted to.

WILL: I know, but my question is, I have a wonderful Banishment spell, which is, if we're from a different plane, I can Banish him, and if I can hold the spell for up to a minute, he can't come back. So can I banish him from the battle?

MATT: What's the range on it?

WILL: 60 feet, but I haven't moved yet.

MATT: Yeah, if he fails the save, you can banish him for a period of time to another plane.

WILL: But that's the thing, according to the spell, if we're not from this plane, he can't come back. It's not just a period of time. He doesn't return.

MARISHA: Oh, like, you're going to banish him? Oh my god, do this. Send him to bizarro world!

WILL: Because we started, you said, we look up and we're in a place we didn't know. It seemed like we're in a different plane. So if I send him back?

MATT: Technically it would be the same plane. It's just in a different timeline.

WILL: Okay, so then he can return? Damn.

MATT: If you were fighting in the Hells, yeah, it would send you back to the Prime Material Plane and he would sit there.

WILL: Okay, so then it doesn't make any sense, then.

MATT: It takes him out of the fight for a while, but it's your call.

TRAVIS: Yeah, take me out a bit. You two talk it out.

MATT: What are you doing, Kash?

WILL: I don't have a Flame Strike left. That's my problem. I'm running out of spells.

MATT: With a 6th level, you could Flame Strike both of them if you have one left of that.

WILL: Oh, I do have a 6th level.

MATT: Which would do more damage. It's your call.

WILL: But then she's going to die too!

MARY: (whispering) I have resistance to fire.

WILL: Well, then that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to use a 6th level and I will do a 6th-level Flame Strike on him.

MATT: I was just shooting it out there!

WILL: No, it's a good idea! I want to Banish him. I wanted to be nice and go away for a while, but he won't, so let's drop a huge thing of fire right on his face. So we're going to do a 6th-level Flame Strike right now.

MATT: All right, so that's 9d6 points of damage to each of you. Do you want it to be radiant or fire damage more? It's split into two types of damage, so do you want to do more radiant or more fire damage?

WILL: What hurts more?

MATT: They both hurt the same, although she's resistant to fire. So fire or radiant, what are you going to do? Just say one or the other.

WILL: I'm going to do radiant.

MATT: So roll 5d6 right now. I need you guys to both make dexterity saving throws.

TRAVIS: Which I have advantage on.

WILL: 5d6, come on. I've been rolling crap here. Let's go. Ones! Everywhere! Three ones. 13.

MATT: So you take 13 points of radiant damage that is not reduced. You take 13 points of radiant damage. Then roll 4d6 more.

WILL: Come on, come on. No whammies! Big money, no Wheatons! Come on!

MARISHA: Oh my god, so many Wheatons!

MATT: 13 again. So you take 13 points of fire damage.

TRAVIS: That's not reduced by making the save throw?

MATT: Oh, you made the save! Both of these are halved. Sorry, I forgot about that. You take half of it, so you would be at, it was 13, you'll take six points of damage.

WILL: I'm rolling like crap tonight. It was rough! It could've been a huge strike.

MATT: All right. That ends your turn?

WILL: Yeah, it ends my turn. Oh wait, I haven't moved yet! Can I move back to my guardian?

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: I still imagine that it's a giant, floating popcorn kernel.

MATT: Grog, it's your turn.

TRAVIS: Right, okay. I would like to attack Zahra and see how that does with the first of my three attacks.

MATT: All right, make your first strike. With advantage?

TRAVIS: Yeah. 23.

MATT: Her AC's 14. That hit.

MARY and MARISHA: (singing) So never more shall we see you again.

TRAVIS: 21.

MATT: 21 points of damage.

MARY: Bye-bye, I'm out.

MATT: Zahra falls unconscious. I need her to make a constitution saving throw.

WILL: Come on, Z!

MATT: You roll a d20. Okay, so she succeeds. You are unconscious now, on the ground, bleeding out as the blood that you draw from the blade you can see seeping into the outside of Craven Edge. Grog, what do you want to do? She's unconscious at your feet, and you see Kash in the distance rushing near a wall.

TRAVIS: No, I hit her again.

MATT: Roll with advantage, twice.

TRAVIS: 28?

MATT: That hits. It's an automatic crit, so you lose two death saving throws. Mark those off. You don't roll damage, she just lost two death saving throws. She's on the edge. You have one more attack.

TRAVIS: Is this my bonus action or one more attack?

MATT: This would be your bonus action to attack, yeah.

TRAVIS: And I can still move? I would like to run behind the wall over here. Can I down a Superior potion?

MATT: You haven't used your potion yet, right? Yeah, you can do that. It's not d6s, it's d4s. 8d4 plus eight. This is getting intense.

WILL: It's not getting intense! It's a matter of time before he comes over and kills me!

MARISHA: You've done really well.

WILL: Yeah, because I'm just running away.

MARISHA: You are kind of taking the defensive route, which is great.

TRAVIS: 28 points.

MATT: All right, so you heal that up. Zahra, it's your turn. I need you to make a death saving throw.

TRAVIS: Fail it. Fail it, baby. Fail it for me.

MARY: 16.

MATT: That's a success, so mark a success. That brings us to Kash. It's your turn. You have an unconscious Zahra over there that you could finish off, or toss a distant heal if you wanted to bring her back. Or go directly after Grog and try and bring him down.

MARISHA: There might be a cushy water bed in the pit. You don't know.

WILL: We're sensing it's not a water bed in the pit. I don't know, technically, but we're sensing it is. I'm at 83, so I don't have to heal yet. You know what? I'm going to move closer to Grog. I've got to start doing some damage. Let's move. I want to be able to see him. I want a clear line of sight on him if we can. Do I have a clear line of sight?

MATT: No, you'd have to move over here to get a clear line of sight on him, really. You could move that far, but then you're outside of your guardian, which you can do if you want.

MARY: (chicken noises)

MATT: So what do you want to do?

WILL: I want to get as close to Grog as I can. I've got to start doing some damage. He's going to fuck me up the next round, but I have to be able to.

MATT: You can get there.

WILL: And can I see him pretty well?

MATT: You can see him all right.

WILL: All right, and I can cast them at higher levels, correct? So I guess that I'm going to have to do some damage. I've used my 7th, I've used my 6th, and I've used all my 5th. I have two fours left, so I would like to cast Spiritual Weapon, but at a level four.

MATT: Yeah, you can do that.

MARY: (coughing) Heal Zahra.

WILL: My heals are sore! I'm running out of things.

MATT: Okay, so you create a floating Spiritual Weapon.

WILL: And I think I can hit him twice with this.

MATT: I will make this little kitten your Spiritual Weapon. Where do you want to put it, within 60 feet?

WILL: I want to put floating death kitten right in front of him.

MATT: All right, little tiny floating death kitten. So, all right. You have a spirit weapon, a giant cat bludgeon, summoned by Vesh, and dark energy pours off of this floating cat. (cat yowl) Every impact.

WILL: And now, taste Mittens!

MATT: All right, so go ahead and make a melee spell attack. Roll a d20 twice and add plus ten. Take the higher one and add ten.

WILL: 28.

MATT: That hits. Go ahead and roll, is it a 4th level? Okay, for every two levels, so it takes 2d8 plus five damage. Roll that twice.

WILL: 16.

MATT: 16 points of force damage, so it's not reduced.

WILL: Mittens is death!

MATT: (cat noises) You're being bludgeoned by a somewhat ethereal-looking dark energy kitten.

WILL: That's right. Who hits you and then goes-- (swipe noise)

MARY: Plus, Grog's allergic.

WILL: And now it says here that I can then, as a bonus action on my turn, I can move the weapon up to 20 feet and repeat the attack against a creature. Again. Okay, so, I want-- Mittens, baby! Let's move around the other side and hit him again! Can we float him around the back or, I guess it doesn't really matter.

MATT: Go ahead and roll again for the attack. 2d20.

WILL: 2d20. 12, seven.

MATT: So plus ten, it still hits. Go ahead and roll 2d8 plus five.

WILL: Five, seven. 12 plus five, so there we go, baby.

MATT: 17 points of force damage.

TRAVIS: I had exactly 17 hit points left, so I would like to use my relentless rage.

MARISHA: Oh, he does have that!

MATT: Yep, this is where things get real interesting.

WILL: Yeah, what exactly is happening? Damn you, Mittens!

TRAVIS: I have to make a DC 10 constitution saving throw. If I succeed, I come back to one hit point.

MATT: Yep. Barbarians.

WILL: Hey, buddy? I hope you fail. Just want you to know that.

TRAVIS: That's a 21.

MATT: So you are back at one hit point. That ends your turn, Kash?

WILL: Yeah, I'm done!

MATT: Grog, it's your turn.

TRAVIS: Can I stalk toward Kash?

WILL: Slowly and menacingly? Hey, buddy!

TRAVIS: How big are you?

WILL: Oh, shit. I'm guessing 6'8", 280? No, I'm probably not huge, I would imagine.

TRAVIS: Can I attempt to pick up Kash and throw him into the pit? Like, grab him and sumo-Greco, whoom!

MATT: You know what? Go ahead and make a grapple check. Roll an athletics. You can roll athletics or acrobatics.

WILL: Is it 20? Let me see which is higher. Oh, I don't have anything. Are these dex? Because I don't have anything here.

MATT: Which is higher, your strength or your dex? Probably your strength, so roll a d20 and add--

WILL: Yeah, my strength is higher, but my acrobatics are two.

MATT: What's your athletics? Three. So roll a d20 and add three.

WILL: 19.

MATT: What'd you roll?

TRAVIS: 18.

(exclaiming)

MATT: So as you go to grab him, you get your hands on Kash and, as you begin to try and pull, all of a sudden Kash's eyes go jet-black and you see this burst of dark energy around as Vesh comes in to protect the one cleric follower. As that happens, your hands are forced off of his form. You still have a bonus action.

TRAVIS: I do, huh? Can I try it again?

MATT: No, it's an action to try and grapple.

TRAVIS: So I could attack? Oh, motherfuck. And intimidate is an action? Okay, yeah, I'll attack him.

MATT: Great weapon master, or not?

WILL: It sounds like you're helping him.

MATT: I've helped you!

WILL: Well, there's a difference! I suck!

TRAVIS: You have a high AC, right?

WILL: I do. Wait, high AC? The attack bonus? No, my AC is 20.

TRAVIS: Oh fuck, no great weapon master. Well, all right, yeah. Let's try it. This one, great weapon master, reckless attack. Plus, okay. 26 minus five is 21.

MATT: 21 hits. Go ahead and roll damage.

WILL: Okay, wait now. I have a question, too, because I also have a Ring of Protection and a Sentinel Shield.

MARY: That's all wrapped up, I think.

WILL: Does it? Okay.

MATT: I'm double-checking, I'm trying to remember if grapple is--

TRAVIS: 35.

MATT: So 35 points of damage?

TRAVIS: 35 points of damage and a constitution save.

MATT: I'm double-checking one thing, because I'm trying to remember if grapple is an action or an attack.

WILL: Are you still at one?

TRAVIS: (high-pitched) Yeah! Just one!

WILL: Your voice! (high-pitched) I could tell you, but yeah!

TRAVIS: I'm kind of one-eyeing it.

MARISHA: If you get through this with one hit point--

MATT: You also have an additional attack, because it only takes one attack to attempt to grapple. Or you could attempt another grapple. Your call. Do you want to grapple with your second attack, or do you want to hit him again?

TRAVIS: I'll just hit him again.

WILL: What was the first damage? 35.

MATT: Great weapon master, or not?

TRAVIS: Oh yeah. Oh, it rolled over from a 20! Son of a bitch! Okay.

WILL: Oh, this sucks. I can't do the math.

TRAVIS: No, that won't hit. Aw, it rolled over from a 20!

MATT: So, as the first strike comes down with Craven Edge, striking across the armor, it splits and beneath you can see the red crimson already spilling inside. Make a constitution saving throw. d20, add your constitution modifier. Two, I believe, right?

WILL: Yes. Four! Oh no, wait, I'm sorry. Three.

MATT: It's a failure! So he steals one of your strength. Your strength goes up by one.

WILL: So my strength goes down?

MATT: It goes down to 16. Doesn't make a huge difference. So, the second strike comes down across with Craven Edge. This time, you put your shield up, and you can feel the weight of it almost pushing you off your feet, but it streaks across the armor, no impact. That ends Grog's turn. Zahra, make another death saving throw.

WILL: Come on, Z!

MARISHA: Roll a nat 20!

MARY: 19.

TRAVIS: Oh, it rolled over from a one, oh my god.

MARY: It sure did!

MATT: Two failures, two successes. Kash, you're up.

WILL: I have one more 4th-level spell. I would like to do another 4th-level Spiritual Weapon.

MATT: It would replace the other one.

MARISHA: Yeah, Mittens is still up.

MATT: You can use your bonus action to send Mittens there and do another regular attack, or a spell if you wanted to. Your call. It's a bonus action. However, you do need to make a concentration check for the damage you took last turn. What was the total damage of that attack, again?

WILL: It was 35.

MATT: Total damage, 35? Half of 35, that brings it to, we'll say 17. Roll a constitution saving throw.

WILL: And it has to be over 17 to see if Mittens is still in the game? Come on, Mittens! Eight.

MATT: Nope, Mittens. So Mittens vanished from the impact, but you can cast it again if you want to.

WILL: I can cast it again, though, and still hit twice with it, can't I? Okay, so I'm going to bring Mittens back. Hi, baby! So that's the last of my 4th-level spells, okay.

MATT: Hold on, let me check one thing really fast. Spiritual Weapon, checking one thing here. Just to make sure. Lot of stuff happening really fast. Spiritual Weapon is not concentration! My apologies. So, you don't have to do that.

MARY: Mittens lives!

MATT: I look over and see Travis going like, concentration check! I'm like shit, right! I need to stop doing that. Mittens can move 20 feet and repeat the attack.

WILL: Is she 20? Let's get Mittens over there.

MATT: Roll 2d20.

WILL: 2d20, come on! 16.

MATT: 16 plus your spell attack, that'll hit. Go ahead and roll. Even at a minimum, Grog, I need you to make another constitution check, with a DC of 15 now.

TRAVIS: Yep. Yes! 28.

MATT: 28. Still at one hit point, Grog takes the hit, almost goes down and then comes right back up at the feet, angry.

WILL: Okay, so can I attack again?

MATT: You can use your action now to do something else. Only a bonus action can do that. So now you have your action. You could hit with your spear, or you could do another spell if you wanted to.

TRAVIS: Now it's 20? (singing) Living on a prayer!

WILL: He's going to pick my ass up and throw me somewhere.

MATT: You still have your action. What are you going to do?

WILL: But I could also run back to my guardian.

MATT: You could, yeah. He'll get an attack on you if you run.

WILL: I think I'm going to have to hit him with my spear, which has six points of nec on it, right? Yeah, let's do that.

MATT: All right, roll 2d20, adding ten to each hit. So go ahead. I'm sorry, adding nine.

WILL: 18.

MATT: Roll again.

WILL: Four.

MATT: Yeah, so you hit it. The damage hits. I need you to make another constitution saving throw. DC of 20, buddy.

TRAVIS: That won't do it. That's a 14.

MATT: (chuckles) How do you want to do this?

(yelling)

TRAVIS: Wait, don't I get saving throws and stuff?!

MATT: Well, in theory, he could finish you off next round.

TRAVIS: (stammering) All right.

MARY: Severe allergies.

TRAVIS: That's true. Severe allergies.

WILL: So is this a straight-up attack with the spear?

MATT: This is your dark spear, the Shadow Spear.

WILL: So he walks over to Grog standing in front of him, and he looks him up and down. You are the biggest individual I've ever faced in my life. See ya! Right through the chest!

MATT: As the Shadow Spear pierces the front of your unarmored chest, it goes sticking out the back of your torso. At that moment, you can see his eyes go dark once again as the spear itself sends this cold wave through your body, the necrotic enchantment on the spear sucking the life from you. You watch as Grog reaches out, grabbing it, but his muscles wither and atrophy within a matter of seconds, his face going sallow, his entire life force drained into the spear as you withdraw it from his body. The now extremely malnourished, shriveled body of Grog crumples to the ground with a cracking sound of bones against stone. You hear in the back of your head, now, a voice that says, "You've proven yourself worthy. Lift me. Become my new master."

WILL: Can Kash do something here?

MATT: Yeah.

WILL: He reaches down, picks up the blade, and says, I've already had one dark master. Throws it in the pit.

MATT: (blade spinning through air, impact) I need you to roll another death saving throw.

MARY: Two.

MATT: Two. And with that, you hear in the distance this small (exhale).

(laughter)

MATT: As the last of Zahra's life force expires and her body disappears.

WILL: There can be only one!

MATT: There was a slight chance you would have rolled a 20, and it would've been great if you woke up and went--

TRAVIS: What are you at?

WILL: 43.

MARY: No, he would've taken me out.

WILL: 48.

TRAVIS: Man. You're sitting pretty.

MARISHA: Wow.

(cheering)

MARY: That was amazing.

WILL: That is ridiculously exhilarating. It was cool.

MARY: So much fun! Thank you.

MATT: Well done, guys. That was really interesting.

TRAVIS: You all wake up in your bed and go, (gasps). Oh man.

MARISHA: I had a terrible dream! You were there, and you were there, and you were there.

MARY: And you weren't there, but I felt you there, and you were evil.

MARISHA: I hope I never get on Grog's shit list.

WILL: I though you were going to chuck me into the pit.

MARISHA: Oh, by one point.

TRAVIS: I thought you were lower. I should have done another grapple check, but hey.

MATT: It's okay.

MARISHA: And the maiden voyage of the Dwarven Forge.

MARY: Yeah.

MARISHA: It looks so great.

WILL: Kittens and popcorn!

MATT: I'll remember to bring my proper minis next time.

MARY: Keyleth should feel very complimented that we felt the need to take you out first.

WILL: Talk about coming in swinging. My god.

MARISHA: Falling through the sky as a dead bird.

MATT: So yeah, the pit, if anyone would have fallen in there-- you saw the texture in the bottom-- it was a cluster of undead that would grab and pull down and devour. Every single turn, you'd have to roll to try and get out of the grasp. If not, you'd be restrained and be taking 3d10 points of damage every turn.

MARY: Isn't there a spell that lets us control undead?

MATT: There are spells like that, yeah.

WILL: I have a question, because one of the things I was going to do, but then it looked like I wasn't going to be able to-- if you take control of a creature, you can't then have them do something that will commit suicide, right? So I couldn't have taken control of Grog and gone: jump in the pit.

MARISHA: Well, is jump in the pit considered suicidal?

MATT: Which spell is this?

WILL: Geas.

MARY: What if you suggested to him, Grog, I saw a cask of ale down in the pit. Go get it!

TRAVIS: I'd jump in there after that.

MARISHA: I want to get into some Kilgrave shit.

MATT: Geas isn't a direct-- you don't command them to do a specific action; you tell them to complete this task for you and they're compelled to do it and if they resist it they take damage. The moment you send someone on a suicidal impact, the spell immediately breaks.

MARISHA: But would "Hey, explore the bottom of this pit" be considered a suicidal action?

WILL: You still know you're sending him to a suicidal mission, though, right? So wouldn't that essentially break the spell?

MATT: Possibly, but you could be like, "hey, I need you to focus your attacks on Zahra," then he could choose to do that or try to resist it and take the psychic damage.

MARY: Could I have used Mass Suggestion to go: "Guys, there's ale or something in the pit. Go find it."

MATT: It would've been a hard sell. With a really low saving throw roll, a player could have been compelled to lose a round to inspect, but it wouldn't have been like "Yeah, sure!" and then dove in.

WILL: Man, that was fun.

TRAVIS: That was really great.

MATT: Also, don't forget to check your casting times, as well. I don't know what the Geas casting time is.

WILL: Casting time's one minute.

MATT: Yeah, that would not be a combat spell. Every round in combat is six seconds, so that would have been a spell you could do outside of combat.

MARISHA: What spell?

MATT: Geas.

MARISHA: Oh, right.

TRAVIS: Nicely done, Matt. Nicely done, Kashaw!

(applause)

WILL: I'm just a healer!

TRAVIS: I guess you can put one more notch on that arm now.

WILL: Hitting the deck, though. My god. Mittens.

TRAVIS: El gato es diablo.

MATT: Cool. So yeah, depending on if some point down the road, we have the opportunity, like the break after a major story arc when we run another one of these games, but with the entire Vox Machina party, which would be fun. That would be a ways off, but you saw this was fun to do. We'll try that sometime.

WILL: I'd like to think as reigning champion I'd be allowed to come back to defend my title.

MARY: You can think that as long as you'd like.

TRAVIS: We'll free up our own Summer Slam.

(laughter)

WILL: Oh, that's awesome.

MATT: And a great example of the power of warlocks being nasty, the survivability of barbarians being ridiculous, although it was you versus three magic casters, which was not a good fight, but even so--

TRAVIS: I was getting blasted.

MATT: And even so, it came down to quite literally one roll, because if that hadn't taken you out, that last spear hit, if you would have survived that saving throw, you would have had three attacks on him next round, and with great weapon master, two of them would have taken him down.

WILL: Crazy powerful stuff. Running away is really helpful at times. Sometimes, concession is the better part of valor.

TRAVIS: Black tentacles.

WILL: Holding him there.

MARY: My suggestion to Travis was two of you both jump into the pit, and then I lose my saving throw and nobody wins!

(laughter)

WILL: It's just that voice going, "Guys?"

MATT: That's amazing. Guys, thank you so much for coming.

MARY: Feel better, Laura and Liam.

MATT: Yeah, seriously. There will be no actual session here. Me and Marisha will be out of town; we're going to be at Kazuku Con in Cork, Ireland. See you guys there. There will be no show. There'll be stuff going on. They'll have content here that they're going to decide on who to show here, so keep an eye on the social media platform to tell you what to look forward to in our slot next week, and we will return for the next session of Vox Machina's adventures on March 9th.

MARISHA: Do we have any giveaways that we need to announce? Giveaway winners?

MARY: We have so much stuff to give away.

MARISHA: I know, there was so much stuff to give away.

RYAN: Yeah, let's do a giveaway.

MARISHA: Yeah, sure. Giveaway.

WILL: You've got the Brandon Sanderson books.

MARISHA: Brandon Sanderson books and nail wraps.

RYAN: We were so enthralled with this that we forgot to do our jobs.

(laughter)

WILL: That's when you know it's a good game! That was really cool.

MARISHA: What was the book called, again?

TRAVIS: Two nuclear clouds. (explosion) Oh, that sucked. Shit! (explosion)

WILL: It wasn't until the last move that I was like, "Oh, right. I'm carrying a spear."

MARISHA: I feel like it was that scene in Sleepy Hollow in the end, where the lighthouse is on fire, then Grog walks out of it. That's what I envision.

WILL: The last one was awesome.

MATT: All right, so you guys jump in there to see if we have a winner here momentarily. I can see you guys being active in there, which is awesome.

MARISHA: Be active! Check out The Bands of Mourning. And Espionage Cosmetics! They have nerdy makeup. Nerd makeup. It's a thing.

MATT, MARISHA, and MARY: You guys.

MARY: I really wanted to make Keyleth my willing zombie slave.

MARISHA: That would have been really cool.

MARY: If I'd killed her with Finger of Death, she would've come back as my zombie slave.

TRAVIS: You're dark, sister. I like it.

MARISHA: That took me down half my hit points.

MARY: Also what?

WILL: She also knits!

MARY and TRAVIS: Crochet!

MARY: Yes, lots of crochet.

WILL: Man, that was fun. When's the last time you played as a player?

MATT: D&D?

WILL: Yeah.

MATT: A friend of mine, Matt Colville, who's the writer for Evolve at Turtle Rock Studios, he had me and Marisha and Liam and our friend Frieda down to play a one-shot down at his studio back in September.

WILL: Was that fun to not have to worry--

MATT: It was great! I missed that.

MARY: What were you?

MATT: I was a tiefling paladin. Oath of Vengeance, named Marduun. It was fun.

TRAVIS: Oath of Vengeance named Marduun?

MATT: Paladins choose oaths as their variations, and I was Oath of Vengeance. It was fun. That was the last time, the only time I've played a player character in D&D in years.

WILL: That must be fun.

MARISHA: Do we have a winner?

TRAVIS: Do we have a name? What?

MARY: I have no idea. Corbin? Corbin? Ow! It hurts!

WILL: It's always something! A bomb, or something! I mean it.

(laughter)

WILL: Corbin. Corbin!

MARY: I quit smoking. I have no fire!

MARISHA: This is pretty great fan art that came out recently.

MARY: Is it Mittens?

MARISHA: It's all of us as the characters sitting around a table.

MARY: Oh my god, that's amazing! Wendy, you're in this.

WENDY: Oh my god!

MARISHA: I'll show it to Travis.

MARY: Who drew it?

MARISHA: It was--

WILL and MARY: It was the dukes!

MARISHA: @blupervillain. Diepod Travers.

MARY: Well, hey, @blupervillain. Thank you.

MATT: @blupervillain made an awesome art piece of our table arrangement in here. You guys should check it out. It's awesome. Well done. All right!

MARISHA: Do we have a winner of the Brandon Sanderson book?

RYAN: Almost.

TRAVIS: Almost? Stretch. You've got to go, right?

MARY: I've got to go.

WILL: Check out the shirt! Now taste Mittens.

RYAN: A-K-A-Y-E-S.

MATT: Akayes. A-K-Y? A-K-A-Y-E-S. You are the winner of the giveaway at the end of the show tonight. Congratulations.

MARISHA: Critical Hit and book and maybe a few other things. I don't know. There's always a hodgepodge in the giveaways.

RYAN: We'll do the next one a big Critical Role giveaway. We've got the book and Espionage nailpacks and other stuff.

MARISHA: Cool. I'll bring it back.

WILL: When I'm done reading it.

MATT: All right, guys. Thank you so much for coming and watching. We'll see you in two weeks. Tune in next week to see what they have to fill the slot for us. It should be a lot of fun. Yeah.

MARISHA: Yeah!

MARY: Yay!

MARISHA: Bye, guys!

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