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List of Transcripts

Pre-Show[]

MATT: Hello everyone, and welcome to tonight's episode of Critical Role, here, where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons.

TRAVIS: Damn it! Damn it! It was perfect.

MATT: No, I got it right this time. Careful what you wish for. But yeah, so thank you for joining us! Last week was kind of a crazy episode, and this week we continue that theme. However, I do want to go over some quick announcements, so we can get the show on the road, get as much game time as possible. Looks like we are going to be down one Scanlan Shorthalt tonight. Unfortunately, Sam Riegel had scheduling stuff he couldn't get around, but we do have our other fantastic gnome, Ashley Johnson, joining us from New York.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Ashley Johnson. Pike is amazing.

MATT: So yeah, that's cool. This is our 40th episode. 40th episode. That's crazy to me.

MARISHA: Which we could have waited and celebrated 50th episode, but fuck it. 40 it is.

LAURA: Well, we'll celebrate 50th like a motha.

LIAM: We told ourselves 40 and done.

LAURA: So this is the last episode, you guys. Hope you've had fun.

MATT: Hopefully not. I certainly hope not. We'll see how tonight goes. So yeah, that'll be cool and we're gonna have our anniversary coming up in March too, which will be fun, so excited for that. Yeah, so–

LAURA: Oh my gosh, will our 50th time up with our year? We got to figure this math out.

TALIESIN: Four episodes in February.

MATT: Close, we'll see. That would be crazy.

TALIESIN: No. No, it won't, but close.

MATT: No, I don't think so, but anyway, couple of quick announcements, just a reminder we're going to be at Wizard World Portland, February 20th-21st, so if you guys are in the area and want to come say hello, we'll be there for those two days.

TRAVIS: Come out and say hi!

MATT: Yes, do it. We'll be doing signings. We'll have panels Saturday and Sunday, so it should be a fun time and hopefully we'll see you there. Me and Marisha will be in Denver for Colorado Anime Fest the weekend before that, for Valentine's day weekend in Denver, Colorado. So if you guys are in that area, you can come and visit us, also for fun panels and insanity that shall ensue. So look forward to that. Also, me and Marisha will be in Ireland, we can now announce, at the beginning of March. For Kaizoku Con. In Ireland so–

LIAM: That's as Irish as it can gets.

MATT: Yeah, Kaizoku? I know, isn't it? It's an old Gaelic term.

(laughter)

MATT: But we've never been. We're excited to come out and see that side of the UK and that part of Europe real fast. It's going to be really cool. So we look forward to seeing you guys out there hopefully.

TALIESIN: I've got one, too. I've got one too. I'm going to be, the weekend before that as well, the Valentine's Day weekend, at Amazing Arizona Comic Con. Amazing Arizona Comic Con. It's going to be amazing. In Arizona. With comics.

MARISHA: Are you going to be raising Arizona?

TALIESIN: Wow. You're fired. You're razing Arizona with fire.

TRAVIS: Get those out of the way now.

MATT: 2d6 damage.

(laughter)

MATT: Anybody else have any other events coming up they want to mention, if anything, anyone? No? If one pops up, you're welcome to jump in. Let's see, we also have a few projects that recently came out. Liam, since you are partly at helm of both of these projects.

LIAM: Oh, I voice directed on two games. They're the exact same game, basically. One is called 'The Witness.' Mastermind Jonathan Blow has created a very, very unique game. There's no shooting people in the face or any of that, but it looks to be one of the best gaming experiences of the year.

TRAVIS: It's getting amazing reviews.

LIAM: And then I also directed the voices for– And Ashley Johnson is in The Witness. And I also got to direct most of the voiceover for, what's it called? Lego Marvel Avengers, which everybody–

LAURA: Oh, what's the name of that? Oh yeah, Lego Marvel Avengers.

LIAM: You've heard of it. Show of hands, who's doing a voice in the game? Aww. Well, next one.

TALIESIN: That's okay. I'm down to play it. I don't want anything spoiled, and casting for Ms. Marvel.

LIAM: She was the first and last person I thought of.

ASHLEY: Wait! Who did they cast as Ms. Marvel?

MATT: Ashly Burch.

ASHLEY: (gasps) Really?

MATT: Yeah. First canonical voice for the new Ms. Marvel.

TALIESIN: Isn't that hardcore?

LIAM: Also unique fun fact: Ashley is playing the character she played in the Avengers movie, so her Lego figure looks like her.

LAURA: What? That's amazing.

ASHLEY: Forgot about that.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: We did it a little bit ago and I think I completely forgot. Very excited.

(laughter)

MATT: You know you've made it when. Well, cool. So congrats! Yeah, go play them, guys. Let's see. Also, a reminder for Wyrmwood Gaming, who makes awesome wooden game stuff. They're still supporting our special code to get free shipping when you order from them.

LIAM: That code is 'critrole'. Critrole. You get free shipping if you type in 'critrole', but you got to do it on their website, not other websites.

MATT: Yeah, doesn't work well if you go to like Bed, Bath and Beyond. We don't have a relationship with them. Yet.

TALIESIN: We should register at very least, at this point.

MATT: We're working on it. We're working on it. We think there is a lot of great crossover, like the Venn diagram between Bed, Bath and Beyond enthuasiasts and Critters. So, do we have any other announcements anyone wants to make or shall we dive on in?

MARISHA: We haven't plugged them in a while. Our wonderful charity that we support: 826LA. Go check them out. There's still a huge portion of our proceeds that go to 826LA every week and– Well, they tutor children through the ages of kindergarten and 18, because kindergarten is an age, and help in creative writing and storytelling, and they also have cool store fronts all the way across the country. There's one in like San Fran. I know there's one in New York.

TALIESIN: There's a pirate store. There's a superhero store.

MARISHA: I think there's one in Seattle.

TRAVIS: Plus you are handing out D&D to young kids, getting them started and hooked at a young age.

MARISHA: Yes. Yeah, if you have an 826 in your area, you should go there and tutor, and you should be like 'Hey.'

LAURA: You should go to there.

MARISHA: You should go to there and you should tutor to there and you should introduce D&D to them.

TALIESIN: Run a D&D game for kids.

MARISHA: Run a D&D game for kids. It's very fulfilling.

MATT: That's cool.

ASHLEY: Oh, I want to give a shoutout.

MATT: Yeah, Ashley, go for it.

ASHLEY: There's this place that pretty close to where I live called The Brooklyn Strategist. Yeah, and when Laura and Travis came to visit– It's basically a gaming shop and you can play D&D there on Wednesday nights and Saturdays. And play board games. It's also a coffee shop. It's rad.

LIAM: Brooklyn?

TRAVIS: They got like cookies and a little coffee thing.

LAURA: I bought a Millennium Falcon cookie when I was there.

TRAVIS: It was pretty dope.

ASHLEY: It was delicious.

MARISHA: What was it called again, Ashley?

ASHLEY: The Brooklyn Strategist. Check it out if you're in New York or Brooklyn.

MATT: There you go. Do it.

TRAVIS: What else can we do to put off dying by four ancient dragons?

LAURA: I know.

LIAM: What else can we talk about for the next four hours?

TALIESIN: Look at all that–

MATT: Nothing. We're going to jump right into it.

Part I[]

MATT: All right, guys, so welcome to tonight's episode of Critical Role. So to get you up to speed real fast: the group Vox Machina, after finishing their foray in Whitestone, finding a member of the council, Riskel Daxio, was a cult member for this entity called Vecna, bringing him to justice and executing him in the throne room of the palace of Emon, they discovered during the search the traveling troupe of Dr. Dranzel's performance troupe, which Scanlan used to be a part of. During this time, they hatched a plan to have Vox Machina seek this house that had fallen into disarray, and the owner disappeared for a while, that may contain some goods. The party went and investigated. They had previously been in the house and were curious as to where it stands at this point in time, especially if more people are disappearing into it. Upon going into what was once General Krieg's house where they once fought a blue dragon, they discovered the corpse of Krieg, long-buried from the collapse of the cavern and picked apart by some other large clawed creature. And immediately got into some sort of a fight with a purple worm and a frost worm that were essentially battling over whatever it was that was moving in that tunnel that seemed to be nice and tasty. These adolescent worm creatures, not even fully grown, proved a nice little challenge, but the party managed to succeed in escaping after killing them, before the mother showed up. They returned to Emon, managed to help Scanlan's now-discovered daughter, Kaylie, out of a little pinch in getting imprisoned after she'd gotten into a major bar brawl. And the party returned to their keep, where they were notified that Uriel, the Sovereign of Tal'Dorei and the city state of Emon, had an announcement to make in the Cloudtop District. So gathered Gilmore, gathered the rest of the party, and everyone went to the Cloudtop District around noon at the presentational stage– not at noon, at dusk. Sorry, the other one. So, at which point Uriel announced that he felt he was no longer a worthy leader or ruler of this entire realm he has under his watch and is deciding to step down. During this announcement, however, a number of strange entities came through the clouds in the sky as a series of chromatic ancient dragons swooped in and began to destroy the city of Emon. Many of the townsfolk gathered at that square were immediately killed. The party as well as a few straggling survivors ran away as both the large, gargantuan black and green dragon begin to chase you down. Right before they honed in to pick you off, an even larger ancient red dragon shoved them off to head east to continue their plot after slamming down into the center of Emon and claiming it as his own domain. The party escaped via the druid's Transport Via Plants spell and just stepped through the tree to land in the center of their keep of Greyskull. So now we pick up where that left off. So as you all come rushing through the other side of the transport spell, each one of you comes stumbling out into the center of the temple to Sarenrae that's constructed on the base floor of your keep. The sheer intensity and force that pushes you all through one after another, some of you end up tripping and catching yourself, but nevertheless you all make it through safe and sound before the large tree trunk behind you, the portal, snaps shut, the magic exhausted. The adrenaline still pumping in your head, you're all still thinking over and processing what exactly had just happened and what it means.

TRAVIS: Are we all here?

LAURA: All those people.

TALIESIN: Yes? Yes?

TRAVIS: Is anyone hurt?

TALIESIN: That's a good question.

MARISHA: Can we see anything from here?

MATT: Looking around right now, you have the stained glass of the complex. The keep seems to be in order. From this perspective, you don't see anything because the city is on the opposite side of the keep. This portion of the temple is actually facing southward.

TALIESIN: I suppose I'd like to get a vantage point, to see what we can see. Is there any way to– I think we all took damage. I think we're all hurt.

TRAVIS: We're all hurt a little bit.

LIAM: Pike, heal?

ASHLEY: Yeah, let me do some healing.

MATT: Pike, be aware, as part–

ASHLEY: I don't know where I'm at.

MATT: Yeah, I'll let you know where you are at. You cast, let's see, you cast Heal once, which I believe was your 6th-level spell, and then you cast Mass Cure Wounds, so a 5th-level spell. So you've cast a 6th and a 5th.

ASHLEY: One 6th and one 5th?

MATT: Correct.

ASHLEY: Okay. All right, and then healthwise, where am I at? Went down 66?

MATT: Healthwise, you were down 66 and then you healed up, I don't remember the exact number. It was like 24. We'll go with 24. It's fine.

ASHLEY: Okay guys, let's do a Mass Cure Wounds then at fourth level.

MATT: Okay. Which one is this? Are you casting Cure Wounds?

ASHLEY: Yeah.

MATT: On who?

ASHLEY: A Mass Cure Wounds, sorry.

MATT: Mass Cure Wounds is a 5th-level spell.

ASHLEY: How low is everybody?

TRAVIS: I'm all right.

LIAM: I'm all right.

LAURA: 43, but if we can take a short rest, we can roll some dice.

MARISHA: I'm at 32, so same thing.

TALIESIN: 57.

TRAVIS: Short rest?

ASHLEY: Short rest.

MARISHA: We should get inside, anyways.

TALIESIN: Let's get inside. I want to see if I can get a vantage from the top.

LIAM: I think in the short term, we need to take care of two things: one, get a vantage point and see how the keep is and what we can see from above. We also need to get the staff out of here, we need to send them away immediately.

TALIESIN: Do we send them away or do we send them down below? Like for shelter?

LAURA: We don't need them running out.

TALIESIN: It's safer than running around outside, that's where I want to end up.

LAURA: Send them below.

LIAM: Out of the city, though, into the wild?

LAURA: If we need to, we can bring them through the portal into Whitestone.

MARISHA: We don't know what all is safe right now.

LIAM: I'm all right, so I'm going to go find the staff and herd them down below and tell them what has happened.

TALIESIN: You can put them in my workshop. Actually–

MARISHA: Why don't we all head down there?

TALIESIN: Yes, let's head down to my workshop because I have to unlock it anyway.

MATT: Pike, are you not casting Cure Mass Wounds? You have one more 5th-level spell, so you could do if you wanted.

ASHLEY: Yeah, let me go ahead and do it.

MATT: Okay. So I believe that's 3d8 plus five, unless I'm mistaken.

LIAM: This one's on everyone?

MATT: This was on, this would be on up to six creatures, so 3d8 plus five. Well, everybody but one.

LAURA: Everybody but Scanlan.

MATT: Sure, everybody but Scanlan, we'll put it there.

ASHLEY: 18.

MATT: Plus five?

ASHLEY: That's plus five.

MATT: Okay, so everyone heals 18 hit points.

ASHLEY: Rolled a little low.

MATT: That's all right. Okay, you're heading off–

LIAM: I'm going to start moving through the entire place, I'm going to start at the front gate and see if anybody's outside.

MATT: As you head into the foyer, the first thing you see is Laina currently panicking about, running around with Erwin falling behind, trying to calm her down and going, “Laina, it's all right “calm down.” And Laina is like, “I don't know what to do, I, I–” She turns around and sees you, “Oh, Master, Master Vax.”

LIAM: It's actually not all right, we need to gather everyone right now, quickly, I'll explain after we've gotten everyone in the keep. We need to go to Percival's workshop, can you help me with that?

MATT: “We can do that, we have a problem–” She points out. The front of the keep is currently opened, the doors and the gate's there and you can hear what sounds like a cluster of very loud voices, shouting and screaming and yelling over each other.

TRAVIS: Outside of the keep?

LIAM: But I'm on my own, right?

MATT: You are, yeah.

MARISHA: What are the voices speaking?

MATT: Are you following him to the foyer? Currently only Vax is.

LIAM: Go to Percival's workshop, go, I will handle it.

MARISHA: I figured we'd all be moving outside, at least.

MATT: All right, as you guys move into the foyer to follow, you see Vax having this conversation with Laina. She and Erwin go head back down, to head down to the workshop. What are you doing?

LIAM: I'm going to go stealth toward the door to see what the hell is going on out there.

MATT: Okay. Roll stealth check.

LIAM: Yeah, it's a 29.

MATT: All right, good to know. All right, so as you go to the door and look out, you can see, along the top wall there are three figures. Takes you a moment to focus, and you realize that it is Kendrick, who's one of your general guards you keep around, as well as Cordell and Shayne. All three of them have crossbows ready, and they're yelling to each other and aiming them over the wall towards the front. However, what you can hear from this point is a chorus of 20, 30 or more voices muffled from the other side of the wall.

LIAM: I'm going to start running up towards them. I'm going to join them on the wall.

MATT: Okay, so there is a ladder at the side, and you climb up the ladder, and as you get closer, you hear people shouting, different voices going, “Let us in, let us in or we'll die!” Voices going, “What are you doing, you going to leave us out here?!” Other people are screaming, you hear crying children, you hear people shrieking.

LIAM: How many people am I seeing down there?

MATT: Well, as you get up to the top and crest over, you can see the three guards are all yelling at each other and yelling over, “We can't, we can't do anything right now, we're waiting for "th–” They look over and see you come over the edge, and you can see there's probably close to 50 or so people that are all pressed up against the gates to the inside of your keep, that are all shouting to be let in.

LIAM: If I look past, do I see anyone else coming towards the keep? Is it just a cluster and that's it, or–

MATT: You can see people that are fleeing from the town in little bits, two or three at a time, trails of individuals that are just now managing to make it outside of the city of Emon itself. Some of them are heading out into the distance, getting far away as possible. A few more are heading towards the keep, and you gather that this crowd has been gathering here for the last few minutes, at the very least.

LIAM: All right, slapping my hand on Kendrick's shoulder. We are going to let these people in. The city has come under attack, everything is fucked beyond belief. There are at least four large, old dragons attacking the city, and these people need to come inside. I don't know what we're going to do with them, but we're going to bring them in now. And you and I are going to wait by the gate for those stragglers to come in. The rest of you, take them inside, join the others.

MATT: They all look at each other. Cordell gives you a nod, “Right, sir, we'll open the gate, hold on.” And you guys all, are you heading out to the courtyard as well? Or are you staying inside the keep?

LAURA: Yeah, yeah, we see them.

MATT: So you come out and see this happening and hear them shouting at the top of the wall.

MARISHA: Keyleth stands in the middle of the foyer, unable to move.

TALIESIN: Keep them out of my workshop, but put them into the spare rooms and anywhere we have room.

LAURA: Maybe the cathedral?

TALIESIN: The cathedral is a great idea.

MATT: At this point, you hear this strange high-pitched whine sound. Vax, as you look up, you can see there are these columns of smoke that are billowing out of the city in the distance as mass areas are burning and smoldering. You see coming out of one of the clouds something spinning slowly towards you, and you look up and see it's one of the skyships from the Cloudtop District, one half of it currently in flames.

LAURA: Inside, now!

LIAM: I scream out, get the gates open now!

MATT: At which point, you can see now Shayne and Cordell are pulling on the ratchets, pulling the chains up as fast as they can while putting their eyes up and seeing this as it careens in your direction.

TALIESIN: I'm running up to the tower as quickly as I can.

LIAM: And I'm fireman's pole down the ladder, down one side of the ladder to get to the gate.

MATT: Okay. The gate opens a little bit, enough to get one or two people through, and begins to push through, and you can see now people are yelling in pain as they're being crushed, as the whole mass of them are pushing through the small opening.

LIAM: I scream out: if you rush, you will die!

MATT: It doesn't seem to be affecting anybody, unfortunately. There's this inlaid fear, this animalistic need to survive.

LAURA: I start to grab people arms and pulling them through and helping people get through safely.

MATT: At this point, the skyship has passed overhead, missing the top of the keep and the highest walls by about 40 or so feet. For a few seconds of silence, and you hear impact, shaking the ground for a few seconds. Not far from here, you can see another blast of red fire and a couple of sparks of arcane energy that arc out, as another column of smoke south of you begins to pour up into the sky.

MARISHA: Feeling that, I snap out of it and run to the south exit of the castle to look for the explosion.

MATT: Okay. As you start rushing in that direction, to the south side of the castle, looking back to where the skyship came through, you can see the smoke parts once more, and you see unfurling from within two large white wings bearing down, and you can see as it swoops down, there are groups of people that are rushing 100, 200, 300 feet away, that are pulling themselves out of the ravine that sits between the south walls of Emon and the north walls of your keep. As they're pouring through the mud and the stream there, it's about four or five feet deep, it swoops down and unleashes a blast of freezing cold energy that freezes that whole section of the river solid and every person in that vicinity as well. Locked in place.

MARISHA: Does Keyleth see all of this?

MATT: You don't see this because you're inside the wall. You see it come down and swoop by. You see it circle around. You, however, have a good view of this, right as you're about to go down the wall on the ladder.

TALIESIN: Vex, I need you on the roof.

LAURA: All right. I run up.

MATT: As you go running up, you guys see now it circles back around and its wings tilt to one side as it begins to make its way towards the keep for a second sweep. I would like everyone to roll initiative.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we got to get down.

MARISHA: Natural 20.

TRAVIS: You want to go first?

MATT: Put you there. Percy and Vex, you guys are up on the wall, technically, right?

TALIESIN: Up here, so we can get down real quick.

MATT: Okay, yeah, so the ladder is there.

TALIESIN: Well, shouldn't there be a door that leads to that anyway?

MATT: The way this is designed is it's a ladder getting up and down.

TALIESIN: Okay. That'll do.

MATT: Did you still go down the ladder, or are you staying up top here?

LIAM: No, I already said I went down.

MATT: Okay, so as soon as you see it swoop overhead, you come back down to the bottom there. Scanlan is currently inside for the sake of this, and may come out here in a moment, he's figuring out what's going on. Grog, where are you?

TRAVIS: I guess I was out in the courtyard, trying to help the cattle come in.

MATT: All right, so let's go ahead and place some cattle.

LAURA: Jesus.

TRAVIS: The door to get back inside is located where?

LAURA: Yeah, where's the cathedral at? Is that what the other entry is?

MATT: This is the entrance to your actual keep, there. Essentially, these two sections here are the doors that lead through to the interior. People are pouring through at this point, trying to get through as fast as possible. Whole cluster of them.

TALIESIN: Got to get that thing finished.

LAURA: There's more on the outside there? Is that what you're putting there?

MATT: Pike, you are where?

ASHLEY: Yeah. Somewhere around there.

MATT: In the center, keeping watch there, all right, and Trinket is with you– or Trinket can't make it up the ladder, so Trinket is staying in the courtyard, probably keeping close to Pike right there. All righty, so. Initiative. 25 to 20.

LIAM: 24.

MARISHA: 22.

TALIESIN: 27. 26, 26.

MATT: What did you get, Keyleth?

MARISHA: 22.

MATT: All right. Who got 20 to 15?

LAURA: 15.

MATT: 15. Pike, what did you get?

ASHLEY: Three!

MATT: Three. Grog?

TRAVIS: Nine.

ASHLEY: I can do some cleanup.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Three!

ASHLEY: Matt, real quick.

TRAVIS: He said 'yeah', you can go ahead.

ASHLEY: Oh, I think I do have a sixth level because I think that sixth level was used for Liam with the worm, and then we came back to the keep to rest.

MATT: That's right, that's correct, you do have a sixth level spell, still. Yes, thank you for the reminder. Good on you. All right, and so here we have Cordell, we have Shayne, and we have Kendrick right there on the top, as well. Top, currently the dragon is about, I'd say, 120 feet off this direction. You're up first, Percy.

TALIESIN: Does it seem like the dragon has noticed us?

MATT: The dragon at the moment is currently seeing the keep. It doesn't notice anyone in particular, it just sees a swarm of people trying to get inside, and it's circling around to try and do another dive attack.

TALIESIN: How dumb am I?

MATT: That's up to you, buddy.

TALIESIN: Okay, cool.

LAURA: Don't be real dumb because I'm standing next to you.

TALIESIN: All right. I'm going to pull out Bad News, and I'm going to make a targeted shot at its wings and try to put a hole into its wings.

MATT: Okay, go for it, go ahead and take the shot.

TRAVIS: What the fuck. Come on, golden snitch.

TALIESIN: Natural 20.

(cheering)

TRAVIS: Get the hell out of here.

TALIESIN: I'm back, baby.

MATT: Go ahead and roll some damage on that.

LIAM: A little, tiny ray of sunshine.

MATT: 4d12 for the hit on that, and then what's the save, to see if it can maintain height?

TALIESIN: It's a constitution saving throw.

MATT: All right– (laughs) It rolled a four.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MATT: It is plus 14 to its constitution saving throw, so it's 18. What's the DC on that?

TALIESIN: Eight plus my proficiency mod plus my dexterity mod– So, I don't know– six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 18.

MATT: So it just makes the save.

TALIESIN: Hold on, is that right? It's proficiency bonus.

MATT: Proficiency bonus plus four.

TALIESIN: Plus dexterity, which is six.

MATT: Six, which is 18, and it just makes the save.

TALIESIN: Stupid dragon.

MATT: Just makes its save, but still does damage, go ahead and roll that.

TRAVIS: At least you hit it, you got to bleed it a bit. Longshot.

TALIESIN: 27 points of damage. Let's see, one more, yeah, one more shot at the wings just to see if I can take it down. Make it.

MATT: Okay, the second attack is reload, third attack. Another grit point to try and take it down, go for it. Roll for the attack.

TALIESIN: 25.

MATT: 25 hits. It rolled a three, that is 17.

TALIESIN: (laughs) Drop, fucker!

MATT: Terrible, terrible– All right, so that will effectively reduce its speed, or its height, by what?

TALIESIN: Height by 20 feet? And I imagine that would throw it a bit.

MATT: It might.

LIAM: Now it's angry.

TALIESIN: And let's do some damage. And damage is 20 points of damage.

MATT: 20, nice. All right. 27 points of damage on the round.

TALIESIN: I'm going to hold my movement until it's so close that I want– I'm going to hold my movement until–

MATT: You can hold an action, you can't really hold movement.

TALIESIN: Okay, then I'm going to use my bonus action to turn to Vex and: fight or flight? All right, you can answer next turn, yeah.

MATT: However, as the first bullet hits, you see it takes the hit in the wing, but it hits the muscle on the edge. As it goes into its glide to head down, you fire into the other wing, this time blowing a hole through the leather flap, and you can see it lose about 20 feet and is actually now skidding towards the roof of the keep.

LAURA: Oh jeez.

TALIESIN: That was a good plan?

MATT: Okay, that ends your turn. Vax, you're up.

LIAM: I'm going to dive by that tree.

MATT: Right here?

LIAM: Yeah, I'm going to use my bonus action to hide.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: And I'm going to hold my attack until it is on the ground or low to the ground.

MATT: All right, got it. So you're holding your attack if you can. All right, cool. Keyleth.

MARISHA: Where am I in regards to everyone else?

MATT: You are right here, because you were heading to the south wall when all this went down.

MARISHA: Oh, okay.

MATT: This is the north direction this way. It came this way, swooped past, circled around, and now it's coming back from this direction.

MARISHA: Okay. I want to use my movement to get under that tree.

MATT: Under this tree or that tree?

MARISHA: Yeah, let me– No, towards the entrance– heading for cover.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Here.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: Okay, so you're behind the tree.

MARISHA: And now I'm going to cast Fog Cloud at fourth level, which makes it a radius of 80 feet.

MATT: 80-foot radius?

MARISHA: If you cast it at higher levels, it goes up by 20 feet for each level higher you cast it. So I'm casting it at fourth level. Okay, so I go all Storm for a second, get all misty-eyed, and I want to create a nice low-level fog. Across the whole castle.

MATT: Okay. Okay, so heavily obscured. Heavily obscured will give everyone a ¾ cover bonus– Let me see what heavily obscured would actually do specifically, to be sure real fast, pardon me.

TRAVIS: I don't even know what ¾ cover bonus is.

MATT: It's when you're blocked by something, it gives you a bonus to–

TRAVIS: Never happens to me. I'm usually a ¾ cover bonus.

MATT: All right. It blocks vision entirely, creatures suffer from the blinded condition. So everyone in the entire Keep is now blinded.

MARISHA: Well, I want to make it like a fog cloud over top, so we're blinded by–

MATT: So it's above you guys, is what you're saying?

MARISHA: Yeah, so we're blocked from the dragon as we flee. I hope you guys weren't wanting to shoot at it, by the way.

TALIESIN: Well, we're above it, the cloud would be between–

MATT: The cloud now is– encompasses this whole area here. Which means the only people that are affected by it are the people at the top of this tower right now. Got it. Was that your turn? Your movement?

MARISHA: That's it.

MATT: Cool, stay there?

MARISHA: Well, I moved.

MATT: Right, you moved there. Are you done with your turn? Okay. So now it is the white dragon's turn. The white dragon, as it comes down, you don't see it anymore because the fog cloud obscures it, but you suddenly hear the sound of a heavy object slamming into stone, and the cracking and breaking of stone against the surface, as the dragon has now, due to the fall of height, slammed into the top of the Keep and is tearing its underside against the roof. Who knows the state that the roof of the Keep is going to be in right now, but because of that, I'm going to ahead and–

LAURA: We'll just have Riskel fix it– Oh, wait.

MATT: Well, he was the overseer. He actually had somebody else build the actual thing by hand.

LAURA: Oh, okay. Well, good.

MATT: So it suffers 14 points of damage–

LAURA: That's it?

MATT: Yeah. It's dragonhide, man.

TRAVIS: What about all the spires that are up there, that have anti-dragon poison?

MATT: Yeah. That was a dream, unfortunately. However, it does somewhat emerge– you can see its form somewhat as it comes down in this direction, ending its movement here.

TRAVIS: Oh no.

MARISHA: Wait, it skids to a halt right there?

MATT: It's just the fog cloud. As it slams into the keep and tumbles off the top of it and catches itself in the air (wingbeats).

TRAVIS: How high above us is it?

MATT: It is currently 20 feet above you guys. For its turn, it is going to pick a random direction to try and blast its cold breath at. So let me go ahead and roll the direction on this.

LAURA: Because it's all covered in fog?

MATT: Yeah, it can't see right now. Currently it's obscured. Oh, hold on! But it has blindsight 60 feet, so it has no effect on him, unfortunately. So as it stops in the air, it still manages to use its sense of smell and the general atmospheric ability to sense what's around it. It seem to move its head and search–

LIAM: Can I attack right now? I was holding my attack.

MATT: You can. Now, what's the range on your daggers?

LIAM: 60, because I'm Sharpshooter.

MATT: 30, 40, 50, 60– it's just at the cusp. Like just barely cusp, but yeah, you can get your attack.

LIAM: So I'm going before him, and it's a surprise attack because I'm hidden and I'm going first–

MATT: Yes, you're essentially interrupting his attack because the moment he came into range–

LIAM: So it's an advantage and it is an automatic crit?

MATT: It's not a automatic crit, it's not surprised.

LIAM: It's not surprised?

MATT: No, it know you guys are there.

LIAM: Even hiding behind a tree? All right.

MATT: A surprise generally means that it has absolutely no idea that you are there or there's any sort of threat from you.

LIAM: 24.

MATT: 24 hits.

LIAM: All right. And then the second dagger I throw– I can only throw a second one– is also a 24.

MATT: Both hit.

LIAM: So the first one is double dice, so eight plus– 14, 15, 18, 23, 25. Double dice is 50 plus seven is– Yeah, 57 for the first.

MATT: Ooh, nice.

LIAM: And the second one goes bink. That is a ten.

MATT: Ten, all right. 57 points of damage, that's– Is that straight-up dice rolls? That's crazy.

LIAM: That's Sneak Attack, I've gone up a level to 13–

MATT: Right, so it's a d6 or 7d6.

LIAM: 7d6– Oh, wait.

MATT: It's not doubled, though.

LIAM: Sorry, sorry, sorry. 25 plus seven is 32. Sorry, 32.

MATT: 32, there you go, I was like, that's really high for a non-crit.

LIAM: The second one was ten. 32, ten.

MATT: So 42 points of damage. Still not shabby by any means. Gotcha, as you chuck both daggers in the direction where you can see as it's now at the very bottom of the fog cloud. You have enough visual to strike towards it without missing and both daggers sink into the bottom of the creature. One of them you know was a nice, impactful wounding for any other creature, but it doesn't seem to have taken much issue with the impact of the blade. Appear at your side again. That ends your reaction. Now Vorugal is going to go. Looking at the area of most density–

LIAM: What was his name again?

MATT: Ah, you will know that shortly. The white dragon. The white dragon rears up in the fog cloud and dips down a little bit, (exhales) outside of the fog cloud, hitting everyone in this vicinity here. That's going to be Grog, Trinket, and everyone here over. I would like all of you to make a constitution saving throw. Well, I'm not going to roll that many dice, I'm going to use my dice roller.

ASHLEY: Come on, guys.

MARISHA: “I'm not going to roll that many dice.” Always a good sign.

LIAM: Grog's about to lose ten percent of his hit points.

MATT: I don't have enough d6s, it's 16d6. Or sorry, 16d8, my apologies. All right, so that comes to– Grog, what's your–

TRAVIS: 25.

MATT: 25, that's a success. What's Trinket's?

LAURA: 15.

MATT: 15? All right, that is 63 points of cold damage to Trinket.

LAURA: Trinket is unconscious.

MATT: All right. Trinket actually freezes in place. Now you can see the armor itself has about an inch-thick layer of ice as currently the eyes go dull as unconsciousness takes the bear, but unable to show or reveal that. Grog, you take half that, so you are at– you take 32 points of cold damage. Let me roll some saves here. Average saves– Okay, so these four here survive, the rest of these are all entirely wiped out. And you can see now, the people that were rushing in are now rushing away from the keep. The rest are getting the fuck out of Dodge. So yeah, that's going to be the end of the white dragon's turn. That brings us to Vex. You're up in the fog cloud right now, so you have no visual range on the creature. You hear all these screams and hear the blast.

LAURA: I can't see it?

MATT: No, unfortunately, the fog cloud is just high enough where it covers this area for you guys. However, you could jump off if you wanted to, make an acrobatics roll and then maybe do your attack afterwards. If you wanted to try that, your call.

LAURA: Wouldn't I still be in the fog cloud if I was on the ground?

MATT: No, the fog cloud is elevated up here. It starts here and then goes upward. Keyleth created it in the air. You guys are at the base of it right now.

LAURA: So I can use my movement to jump down?

MATT: Yes, if you want to.

LAURA: All right, I'm going to fucking Hunter's Mark him.

MATT: You can't see him right now, unfortunately.

LAURA: I'm going to jump fucking down on the ground.

MATT: So you jump. Go ahead and make an acrobatics check. As you leap off the highest part of the wall of your Keep, all of a sudden the fog dissipates and you see the ground rushing up towards you.

LAURA: 14.

MATT: 14. You manage to catch yourself. You aren't knocked prone, but you do suffer five points of damage from the fall. But you catch yourself (grunts), get up, and now you can see at the very, very base of the fog cloud, the head peeking though and the wings occasionally (wingbeats) from out underneath, and you have visual on the dragon.

LAURA: Okay, I'm going to Hunter's Mark him. And I'm going to shoot him through the Sky Sentinel.

MATT: You already used the Sky Sentinel if I recall against the green dragon, didn't you?

LAURA: On the worm.

MATT: Was it the worm? Okay.

LAURA: And I multiclassed today, so I'm a rogue, so I get Sneak Attack on this.

MATT: It currently does not have–

LAURA: Does it know that– does it see me?

MATT: You haven't tried to stealth, so technically yes. As soon as you jumped off and land, and hurt yourself and your ankle, you look up and it sees you.

LAURA: Never fucking mind. Balls, all kind of balls around here right now. The first attack is 25.

MATT: 25 hits.

LAURA: The second attack is 24.

MATT: Both hit.

LAURA: The third attack is 16.

MATT: 16 misses.

LAURA: Okay, so. Let me double-check. An extra d6 for those two. 15 plus seven is what?

LIAM: 15 plus seven is 22.

LAURA: 22 on the first arrow. 15 plus four is 19 on the second arrow. I'm a little upset right now. And then I'm going to shoot the third arrow through the Blazing Bowstring. I mean my second attack.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: And that doesn't hit him, so. Good times.

MATT: So as you land, you get up, pull out your arrow, and as you pull back and release it, you can see it bursts into arcane energy and splits into three different arrows, two slamming into the fog cloud and hitting the sides of the dragon, and it's knocked around for a second. It looks around and its eyes peer at you– You did the additional Hunter's Mark damage on it, right?

LAURA: I did.

MATT: Cool. You see now it's looking around, choosing what its next round is going to be about, and you seem like a tasty morsel, though not entirely drawn to its attention at the moment. You still have a little bit of movement if you wanted to move.

LAURA: Can I– No.

TALIESIN: Just for clarification: which door is back into the keep? That one. Okay.

LAURA: Is it possible to get inside the door?

MATT: Inside of–

LAURA: The door that I'm right there– If I backed up into the door?

MATT: Yeah, I'd say you could. We'll say you're inside right now. You hide inside the best you can to keep out of view.

LAURA: Yeah, I want to be ducked around a wall, if I can, on the inside of the door.

MATT: Okay. That ends your turn?

LAURA: Yes.

MATT: All right, so, at that point now, your guards over here don't have– they can't see at all, but they saw you jump off the side. Kendrick is going to go ahead and take the ladder down, and it's going to be his movement to land there. They're both going to jump and make your– using your example. Cordell, not bad, and Shayne– actually, both rolled pretty well. Both managed to prevent any fall damage, catching themselves on the ground with their heavy crossbows ready. They rush up and fire both at the dragon. Five and a one, god damn– That hits, and a 19. All right, so Cordell and Shayne both manage to get one shot that hits the dragon on both sides. So both bolts hit, so that's seven damage and ten damage, so 17 damage total from them, as they fire the heavy crossbow, try and reload it and get off a second shot. That ends their turn, now. That brings us to Grog's turn.

TRAVIS: I would like to rage.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: And run at Trinket.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: He's covered in how much ice?

MATT: About an inch, inch and a half of ice, and the rest of the entities, all the rest of the people that died, they all got frozen in place and some of them shattered in the impact and there's chunks of them frozen on the ground.

LIAM: Is that a medicine check at this point? If Trinket is frozen in ice? You can't say–

MATT: You have no idea.

LIAM: Thanks. Could I pee on him and thaw him out, quickly?

MATT: Over time, yeah. You'll have to drink a lot beforehand and wait a little while, jog in place. What you got, Grog?

TRAVIS: I would like to run to the side that is closest to you, on Trinket. I would like to start pushing him along the lawn, towards the entrance to the Keep, like a giant ice block.

MATT: Okay, so this side there. Go ahead and make a strength check.

TRAVIS: Okay.

MATT: Because you are raging, you have advantage on strength checks.

TRAVIS: Yes, thank god. 18.

MATT: 18, okay. You did suffer damage this turn, but you started raging this turn, so if you don't suffer damage until the beginning of next turn, your rage ends and you'll have to rage again. Just a heads up. But with that roll, though, you managed to push him, we'll say 15 feet that direction. (grunts) Pushing a giant frozen bear and he's sliding against the grass in the front of the courtyard. Sweat's beginning to pop on your brow as your teeth are gritted, and looking over your shoulder, you can still hear the snapping and the– The air itself of the entire courtyard has dropped about 20 degrees, and you can begin to see your breath in the vicinity of this creature. That ends your turn, Grog?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: Scanlan now steps out from the inside of the Keep, because Sam is texting me what he wants to do. He rushes out at this point. Seeing all of this from the inside, he whips out his Wand of Fireballs and aims it up at the bottom of the dragon that is now visible underneath. As you see now, the edge of the wand flickers red for a second, before a little bead of light streaks forward and (explosion) detonates beneath it. The dragon would fail its saving throw, but it's going to use its Legendary Resistance once to auto-save, so it takes half damage. He is going to use– What did he tell me, how many slots he wanted to do? Okay, so he's going to use three of its charges to do this one, that will put it at–

LAURA: What is he doing?

LIAM: He's trying to resist. Scanlan sent a Fireball at it and it's fucking with it.

MATT: 36 damage halved from him, so that still puts it at 17 points of fire damage to it, not too shabby. As it blasts out from the opposite side of it through the bottom of the cloud, keeping everyone else outside of the collateral damage radius of the Fireball because of its height, so that's good. Scanlan then, realizing the circumstances, uses the rest of his movement to get back into the very corner of the Keep and defend himself against the wall. That's going to end Scanlan's turn. Pike, you're up.

ASHLEY: All right, I'm– Can I run over to where Trinket is? Okay. I'm going to Cure Wounds on him.

MATT: Okay. So you move over to Trinket. All right, go ahead and cast Cure Wounds.

ASHLEY: Okay, I'm going to cast it at 4th-level.

MATT: 4th-level, okay. 4d8 plus five.

TRAVIS: On the floor.

ASHLEY: Dang! 30.

MATT: 30. Trinket heals up– As Pike reaches out, grasping her symbol in one hand, a look of desperation in her face, her hand goes out and touches the ice and as her hand touches, her fingers melt through the ice with divine energy in her fingertips, and manages to touch Trinket's fur beneath. As the divine energy filters through her body, Trinket's form glows from the inside and the ice begins to crack before it all shatters off of Trinket's body and Trinket catches himself (bear grunts) and shakes off what little bit of remaining ice and moisture is on the coat.

LAURA: Thank you guys.

ASHLEY: I want to scratch behind his ears.

MATT: Okay. Trinket goes (bear noises) Trinket nudges you and licks your face before looking up and growling very angrily at the dragon.

LAURA: I don't think Vex even saw any of that, like Vex doesn't even know he was unconscious.

LIAM: Got to go Revenant on that bear!

MATT: That is an angry bear, and those who have seen the movie know how scary an angry bear is. Great. Pike, you still have a little bit of movement, if you want to move. You have like 15 more feet, if you wanted to use that, your call.

ASHLEY: Okay, you guys are my eyes, so I can't really see it from here. But I guess anywhere there's cover. Is that a tree?

MATT: You can start moving towards the tree or the front of the keep, tree is closer but currently has two other people hiding there.

LIAM: Or behind the goliath.

ASHLEY: What was that?

LIAM: Behind the goliath.

ASHLEY: Yeah!

MATT: All right, you move over here and use Grog as cover, we'll say, and leap over there. Classic Pike-Grog technique.

(laughter)

MATT: Cool. Ends your turn. The rest of these survivors on this side of the wall are going to start fleeing in this direction, using their turn to get the hell out. These guys here are going to do a full-round dash to get inside the keep, and they manage to make it inside. These guys here are moving back. Actually, no, these guys now that are inside the keep are going to run, they get almost all the way to the keep. There we go. The dwarf gets about that far, this guy almost makes it in. They're all right at the cusp of getting into the keep, screaming and running past you, moving between the different frozen bodies, not even paying attention to any of you, as the look of sheer terror on their faces has taken over. That brings us to the top of the round. Percy, you're up.

TALIESIN: All right, I'm going to drop down– Like a boss.

MATT: Are you going to leap or climb down?

TALIESIN: I'm going to leap.

MATT: All right, and roll.

TALIESIN: 29.

MATT: 29, success and managed to avoid one of your guards who was right below you. You weren't aware and managed to dodge off to the side this way and use the edge of the wall to kick off to change the trajectory, as you land, carrying Bad News in one hand, three-point landing in the other.

LAURA: Sick, Percy.

LIAM: Hold that gun up from the ground.

MATT: Yep. Just making sure it doesn't damage itself.

TALIESIN: Okay, the next thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to concentrate really hard and I'm going to try and conjure Hex to see if it works.

MATT: Okay. So as you focus and look up, you can see now some of the fog cloud that surrounds it congeals into a darker color and clings to the dragon's form as it is now Hexed by you.

TALIESIN: It still works.

MATT: Is seems that as long as the shadow entity has been within you, though it is no longer bound to your weapon and yourself, it did leave some dark scars on your soul.

LIAM: Left a taint upon you.

(laughter)

TALIESIN: So, just to remind you, that means that he has disadvantage on all agility checks.

MATT: Are you choosing dexterity? Because you choose which one of the–

TALIESIN: Oh, on which checks? Constitution.

MATT: Constitution, all right. So I'll put that down.

LAURA: I like it, I like it.

MATT: I'm not sure that's how it works here. Someone will yell it later.

TALIESIN: Ability check, on any ability checks.

MATT: On ability checks, yes. Good to know.

TALIESIN: I'm going to spend a grit point. I'm going to take another shot to try and drop him.

MATT: Even further?

TALIESIN: Yeah. Just for fun.

MATT: Because saving throws are– I don't–

TALIESIN: Are they not? Because I'll use that Grit point for something else, if–

MATT: I don't believe saves are ability checks, unfortunately, so that wouldn't affect that. Yeah, it is its own circumstance.

TALIESIN: It's its own circumstance? In that case, I'm going to spend my point for Deadeye.

MATT: Okay. Advantage on the shot.

TALIESIN: Advantage on the shot.

MATT: Go for it.

TALIESIN: And do I want to go nuts? I'm going to go nuts. I'm going to add Sharpshooter to that, might as well.

MATT: You cannot overlap the shots. No, only one shot effect on an attack at a time, sorry.

TALIESIN: That's fine, here we go.

TRAVIS: Come on, go nuts.

TALIESIN: Both– 25.

MATT: 25 hits.

TALIESIN: 2d12.

MATT: And add your 1d6 damage as well.

TALIESIN: Oh, thank you for reminding me– 17 points of damage plus four points of necrotic damage.

MATT: Nice. 21 damage total.

TALIESIN: I'm going to use the rest of my movement to duck in there. I want to try and spin all the way back so I'm completely out of sight. Is that door open?

MATT: There's a little space there, I mean.

TALIESIN: Open the door.

MARISHA: Does that lead to our keep?

TALIESIN: No, it's the other door that leads to our keep. So we're both going to get in and dual-wall it.

LAURA: Yeah!

TALIESIN: And then I'm going to use my bonus action to take one of my few remaining potions. The medium one.

LAURA: Does the door actually open on it?

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: Heh, that's so cool.

TALIESIN: What does the mid-range potion do? I should really start writing this down. Is it one–

TRAVIS: Mid-range potion?

TALIESIN: The second-level potion.

MATT: Of healing, you mean? That is–

LIAM: 10d10.

MATT: Not so much. Second level, greater healing is 4d4 plus four.

TALIESIN: 4d4 plus four.

MATT: You got it. All right, cool. That ends Percy's turn, Vax, you're up.

LIAM: I want to double check, the boots of speed that I wear, it's ten rounds each day, the haste effect's duration need not be consecutive rounds. So it was one or two back in Emon, and I've had one round here.

MATT: That's the old Pathfinder rules.

LIAM: So what is it, ten minutes now? I think it remember the ten-minute thing–

MATT: No. Haste lasts for a minute, you get to use the spell on you once. Yeah. In this ruleset, it's a little too much.

LIAM: All right, so, I'm going to dash towards the tree in that corner and get away from this clump of my friends.

MATT: Over this way?

LIAM: Towards the wall, yeah. I should be able to get behind that tree, I think, if I dash?

MATT: If you dash, yeah. Yeah, you can get over there, behind that way.

LIAM: So then I'm going to throw a dagger, it's all I can do. Can I use an action to hide? Or it's a bonus action only?

MATT: As you throw it, the arc just misses the bottom, what's the maximum range on the dagger, right?

LIAM: Whoa, I'm asking if instead of throwing a dagger, can I hide instead?

MATT: You could, yeah.

LIAM: Yeah, I'm going to do that. I'm going to do that.

MATT: Yeah, because right now, it's at 60 feet away, but it's at an upward angle from you, which adds a little more distance, your dagger would miss it at this range, and you would know that.

LIAM: So I'm running balls-out to that tree, and I'm going to go right up against the tree. And fucking wait and that's it.

MATT: Cool. All right, did you roll stealth?

LIAM: Oh, sure. I'm going to use Luck, I still have a little Luck today, good, that's better. 31.

MATT: 31. Good, good, good– Okay, that ends your turn. Keyleth, you're up.

MARISHA: Oh god. Okay, I'm afraid of everything– I'm afraid if I throw up a Wall of Stone or anything like that, he'll be able to be like, oh, I'm a fucking dragon, so I'll go to the other side of the wall. Here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start running towards the keep. Start running towards the keep. I'm going to go ahead and cast Conjure Woodland Beings. And I'm going to summon a giant eagle.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MARISHA: This is dropping my Fog Cloud, since that was real fucking useful.

MATT: So, where are you conjuring it?

MARISHA: I'm gonna conjure it right on the other side of him where it's– I can then have it do an attack, correct? In the same turn?

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: I command it to go for its eyeballs.

LIAM: Eagle to the fucking face.

TALIESIN: Eagle to the eye!

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Oh, that's inauspicious.

MATT: All right, so as the eagle goes up. Do you have stats for the eagle?

LAURA: That eagle is weally weally close to that dwagon.

MARISHA: Oh right, he's attacking, right, right. He has talons.

MATT: You've got to roll for damage on that.

MARISHA: That was more of a distraction.

MATT: Which spell is this? Conjure–

MARISHA: Conjure Woodland Beings.

MATT: Conjure Woodland Beings.

MARISHA: It's a 4th-level spell.

MATT: 4th-level spell, thank you. All right, great.

MARISHA: It was a 19– Oh wait, plus five is 21.

MATT: I have to roll initiative for it separately as part of the spell. It rolled a 20.

MARISHA: It rolled a 20?

MATT: All right, so I'll say given that case I'll let it go ahead and go immediately, but next turn it starts at 20.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: That is pretty close to what you got.

MARISHA: It rolled a 21 on its attack.

MATT: 21? Hits! Actually.

(cheering)

MARISHA: Go, eagle, go! Right in the eyes.

TRAVIS: Just barely hits or hits?

MATT: It's close to barely hitting him.

MARISHA: Yeah! 2d– So that's 11 plus three– 14 points of damage.

MATT: 14 points of damage. As the eagle starts clawing at it, you can see the dragon rears back, unexpected to see the sudden giant eagle appear out of the middle of the air and go clawing at its face. You can see it rears back as it does so, moving its head out of the way. Gets a couple of scratches in, but still an ancient dragon. It's more spooked than really hurting from the impact, but it caught it off guard.

MARISHA: It's supposed to be a distraction, all right– And then I use a bonus action to be like: everyone inside!

MATT: All right, that's your turn? Now it is the white dragon's turn. Let's see if its breath weapon returns. Nope, it rolled a one. So instead, it's going to ignore the eagle.

MARISHA: Great.

MATT: As instead it lands right about there.

TRAVIS: It lands?

MATT: It lands (impact). As it impacts, the whole ground shakes around you. As you were pushing Trinket, you look over your shoulders, the shadow encompasses the area, and as you look over, you see it land with a heavy impact. Giant frozen gnashing teeth as mist emanates from the side of its jaws. It's going to use its multiattack, including its Frightful Presence. I need everybody, everybody to roll a wisdom saving throw.

TALIESIN: Including us inside?

MATT: Yep. As it rears back and gives off a horrible roar that shakes the stones of the actual keep.

MARISHA: 23.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: 18.

TRAVIS: 18.

TALIESIN: Seven.

LAURA: Eight for me.

MATT: Oh, Scanlan rolled a 19.

LAURA: And 19 for Trinket.

TALIESIN: Actually, I'm going to spend my resolve and reroll that.

MATT: Okay, go for it.

TALIESIN: Ten.

MATT: Okay, everyone who rolled an 18 or lower, it shakes you to your core. You suddenly really realize what you are dealing with here and the fear causes you to fight with the fight or flight impulse in your body. You are considered frightened.

LIAM: Too late for Luck? (laughs) I got one more charge.

TRAVIS: I can't be charmed or frightened.

MATT: Yeah, you're still raging so it doesn't affect you.

LIAM: Nope, nope.

MATT: Nope. Okay. While you are frightened, you have disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while it's in your line of sight.

LAURA: Man, I wish we would've a Fancy Feast.

MATT: And you cannot move closer to it willingly. You can only move away from it.

LIAM: So attack rolls and what was the other?

MATT: Ability checks. While you can see it. You're so scared of this thing.

LAURA: What is it really called?

MARISHA: Heroes' Feast.

LAURA: Fancy Feast is way better.

MATT: Lower level, but helpful.

LIAM: (singing) I like chicken, I like liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix, please deliver.

TRAVIS: In the middle of white death.

MATT: It's going to make a bite attack against Pike and two claw attacks against Grog, who are right there. So Pike, you look up as its jaws come down at you from above. That's a natural 20.

TRAVIS: Oh fuck, shit.

MATT: Against you, Grog, two claw attacks, that is 23.

TRAVIS: Come on, taint-smear.

MATT: And 22.

TRAVIS: Tickles, both of them.

MATT: Okay, so against you, Grog, you take–

LAURA: Wait, that was against Grog?

MATT: The bite was against Pike. Two claws against you. So Grog, you take 15 points of slashing damage, reduced to half because you are raging. So, eight. And the other claw, that's a little higher, that is going to be 18 points of slashing damage. So down to nine.

LAURA: So wait, so Pike was the one that took those huge hits?

MATT: The critical bite.

LAURA: (gasps) Are you okay, Pike?

ASHLEY: I don't know. (singing) Critical bite!

LIAM: What's Pike's AC? What's Pike's AC?

MATT: 20, but it rolled a critical hit. So that's–

LIAM: Ooh, what's that face?

TALIESIN: Don't do that!

MATT: So 17 times two. 34 plus eight. 42 points of piercing damage.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay.

MATT: However, you then also suffer, as the freezing jaws clench around you and the cold surrounds you, you suffer an additional, that was 42 right?

LIAM: I think you just said 'two', you just said 'two.'

MATT: Nah. Nine plus– 13 points of cold damage. So 55 points of damage total.

TRAVIS: Where you at, Pike?

LAURA: Are you okay?

ASHLEY: I am at, hold on–

LIAM: Carry the one. Carry the three.

ASHLEY: Hold on, one second.

MATT: Doing math here.

LAURA: “One second, let me check.”

ASHLEY: Okay, I'm at 25. Could be worse, could be worse.

MATT: That ends its turn.

TRAVIS: Are we really fighting this thing or are we running?

MARISHA: That what I was about to ask. Are we fighting or are we running?

TRAVIS: We are getting our fucking asses handed to us.

LAURA: Is it ancient?

TRAVIS: He keeps saying ancient. So it's ancient.

MATT: That brings us to Vex's turn.

LAURA: My turn? I'm feared.

MATT: Yeah, so you can attack it but you can't move closer to it and have disadvantage on all your attacks.

TALIESIN: What can we do to unfear?

MATT: You repeat the saving throw at the end of each of your turns. Or it lasts for a minute.

LAURA: Okay, then I'm going to use my bonus round to hide. Stealth.

MATT: Okay, so go ahead and roll a stealth check.

LAURA: 23. We're stuck where we are because we can't run closer to it.

TRAVIS: You can run away from it.

MATT: You have disadvantage on the stealth check, by the way.

LAURA: I did, and it was 23.

MATT: 23, gotcha.

MARISHA: Who's not feared?

LAURA: Oh! It's disadvantage, but I had advantage.

MATT: So it's just a straight roll.

LAURA: Even. I don't remember what the first–

LIAM: I wasn't paying attention.

LAURA: Should I reroll it?

MATT: We'll take the 23, it's fine. Okay. You're inside and you know it's outside and you heard the roar and shaking and so you can peek around the corner but you cannot move out of the building. You can basically strafe to the side to get a look out as you want to, if you want to fire on it.

LAURA: Okay, I guess I'll try to shoot it, then.

MATT: Okay, go for it. So disadvantage on both your attacks.

LAURA: Okay.

MATT: Trinket shrugged it off, Trinket is like, “Whatever, I got this.”

LAURA: Oh okay so– That was good, that was good, 26. With disadvantage. Okay, so I'll do the first one right now.

MARISHA: If we're running, I don't want to bust out my good shit.

TRAVIS: We've got to run, right? I think it's stupid if we stay.

LIAM: But where do we go? If we're outdoors, we're dead.

MARISHA: We can go down– inside, anyways.

LIAM: And go where?

TRAVIS: I don't know where, can he get inside the keep?

LIAM: Sure, he can dig–

LAURA: 22.

MATT: 22 hits.

LAURA: Because I got Sneak Attack, right, because I'm hiding?

MATT: Yes, because you are technically hiding and it didn't roll high enough perception.

LAURA: Okay, so 23 was the damage on the first arrow.

MATT: All right, was that including the sneak attack d6?

LIAM: I don't know where to go. We can't go above ground because we're dead.

LAURA: Now, the second one I don't think hits, it was like an 18.

MATT: Nope, that misses. So the first one, you fire and it manages to hit the creature because it does not see you. It hits to the side of its neck and looks over. It goes–

LAURA: I duck back behind the wall.

MATT: Okay, behind the wall. You do reveal yourself as part of the strike, and it does see you duck inside and growls.

LAURA: Okay, and I want to send Trinket into the keep, if he can make it.

MATT: Trinket is going to rush this way.

LAURA: Is that, should I send Trinket into the keep?

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MATT: It gets an attack of opportunity against Trinket.

LAURA: Balls, what? Really?

TALIESIN: But it's holding Pike, so it has no bite.

MATT: Well, no, it didn't grapple her, it just bit her and released. She managed to get her way out of its mouth. That's going to be a 26 to hit.

LAURA: Ah Jesus, it hits, come on.

MATT: All right, so Trinket takes 14 points of slashing damage.

LAURA: All right.

TRAVIS: Is he good?

LAURA: He's fine. Bear-ly.

MATT: Oh, what! I see what you did. Does that end your turn?

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Did you do a saving throw?

MATT: Do your saving throw, to see if you shrug off the frightened ability.

LAURA: Okay, so is it wisdom?

MATT: It's wisdom-based, yeah.

LAURA: Ooh, 17, 18, 19!

MATT: 19 is just what you need, you managed to shake off the fright from this. Seeing Trinket rush off, you're like, “Okay, I can do this.” At the end of your turn, the white dragon is going to use–

LAURA: I'm not afraid anymore, you hear that?

MATT: It's going to go ahead and use two of its actions to do a wing attack.

LIAM: Shit.

MATT: So every creature within 15 feet of it, as it's sitting there, beats its wings around it and kicks up all this cold wind and air that blasts out, threatening to knock you off your feet. This is going to affect Grog, Pike, and Shayne. So I need you guys to make a dexterity saving throw.

LAURA: Pike, get out of there!

MATT: Dexterity saving throw.

ASHLEY: I'm trying, I'm trying.

TRAVIS: I have advantage on those. Because of Danger Sense.

ASHLEY: Ah! Natural 20.

TRAVIS: Natural 20!

(cheering)

ASHLEY: I don't have any dexterity modifier.

MATT: Cool. So– All right, so yeah. I'll see if Shayne– Shayne does not make it with a two, so Shayne takes 15 points of bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. As she is rushing up, she's dropped her heavy crossbow and she's pulling a weapon out, and she rushes up, yelling, her red hair blown back from the wind as it's beating towards her. She gets bludgeoned with the sheer force of the wind from under the wings and knocked flat on her back. At the end of that attack, it now gets to move half its movement and so it– There we go, a fly speed of 80, it's going to move 40 feet. So that will put it at 20 up this way as it starts backing away. And it's going to move 20 feet in this direction.

TRAVIS: I get an attack of opportunity on it, right?

MATT: As it pulls away from you, yes you do.

LAURA: Pike gets one, too.

MATT: No, actually, neither of you– no, Grog is the only that does, because Pike, you're too far away, and it has reach on its attacks, so it doesn't have to be right up against you to hit you. But you still have to be up against it to get an attack.

TRAVIS: 22. Does that hit?

MATT: That hits, yeah.

TRAVIS: Okay. This is with Craven Edge, five, six.

LAURA: Kill him. Kill him with Craven Edge!

TRAVIS: 19 points of damage.

MATT: 19 points of damage, got it. All right, and has to make its constitution save

LAURA: Disadvantage.

MATT: Not on saving throws. 24. Resist it? All right, cool.

TRAVIS: You fucking piece of shit.

MATT: (laughs) So that ends Vex's turn, the guards now. Shayne will get up and she's now going to regret dropping her crossbow and go over and pick it up again; she's not going to have time to fire it. The other two, down here, are going to be– Cordell is going to turn around and fire off a shot, as well as Kendrick. That's a natural one. That does hit, that does not, and that does not. One hit gets through, rolling ones like crap. That's five points of piercing damage, not great on that round, guards. Then they're going to start rushing towards the keep here, using the rest of their movement. Cordell is going to start moving to the side and start ushering everybody inside. “Go in, go in, go in.” Shayne is going to move up next to you, Grog, and essentially begin to hold the flank with you. Shoulder to shoulder, she, as opposed to the crossbow at this point, and seeing the two of you can work together in this regard, she pulls out a broadsword. That's going to end the guards' turn, Grog, you're up.

TRAVIS: Fuck this dragon. As much as I would love to protect this house, we've got to get the fuck out of here. Is Pike right behind me?

MATT: Pike is, yes.

TRAVIS: Can I grab her and run inside the keep?

MATT: If Pike will allow it. Are you going to let Grog do that or are you going to fight him on it?

ASHLEY: No, no, no.

TRAVIS: No, no, no, I can't do it?

ASHLEY: No, no, no, grab me and let's go.

MATT: You reach over and grab Pike, lift her up, and the two of you go bolting towards the keep.

ASHLEY: Grog!

MATT: That'll get you right here in the crowd.

LAURA: Oh jeez, don't attack the crowd.

TRAVIS: 50 feet?

MATT: 50 feet, but you're also having to push through people, so you're getting up, we'll say–

TRAVIS: Little meat sticks, it's not a problem.

MATT: We'll say as you're pushing through here, you get up to the door. You guys are right up there with the full movement.

TRAVIS: I'll even damage them, I don't give a shit.

MATT: There you go, that's your turn. The action was to pick her up. Okay.

TRAVIS: Get out of the way, giant beast coming through.

MATT: Scanlan, at the back, seeing you guys rushing in, and he's happy to see Pike coming into safety at this point. He pulls out his wand again and aims once more with the Fireball.

TRAVIS: The dragon giggles.

MARISHA: Tickles.

TALIESIN: Technically, fire damage should be good.

MATT: Fire damage doesn't do anything additional to it.

TRAVIS: Don't say it smug like that. Jeez. It's our lives!

MATT: 29 damage, makes the save, so 15 points of fire damage to it as it blasts from underneath, singes the edge of one of the trees, but the white dragon appears to still be not really visibly hurting yet.

TRAVIS: Yep, got to go. Got to go. Got to go.

MATT: Scanlan backs up into the keep, at this realization. At that point, nothing is right in range. So yeah, so the white dragon is not going to do anything. At this point in time–

TRAVIS: Nope.

MATT: You guys hear a voice come ringing out from the north side, towards where Emon is. A familiar voice that you've heard before that shouts out, “Enough! You are not to linger, follow the others.” At which point, you see the white dragon glances over the shoulder, and you hear the voice again say, “Vorugal!” And a streak of smoke and red. The red dragon you saw that had perched itself in the center of the city grapples onto the back of Vorugal and throws the dragon off the edge of the wall. And goes tumbling to the south of the keep. Out from the perspective.

LAURA: So how much bigger is Vorugal, like is he–?

MATT: Yeah, he's roughly double the size of the white dragon.

LAURA: Holy crap!

MARISHA: Is this Umbrasyl? Does he refer himself as Umbrasyl?

MATT: No, you haven't heard the name of this one, until that point. Well, I mentioned it earlier.

MARISHA: No, the red dragon.

MATT: The red dragon you haven't heard the name of yet. Umbrasyl is the black dragon. Raishan was the green dragon. So as you hear the impact, you hear the dragon screeching out in anger and no one has any visual at this point, you just hear the sounds over the side. You hear it skid to a halt, but the red dragon is still flying and grabs it, throws it, makes it hit the ground, almost like a show of dominance. And as it arcs back around, it ignores the keep and heads back towards Emon. You see Vorugal now lifting back up into the sky, staring back at the red dragon as it heads back, and you can see in its general demeanor, it's frustrated and angry and it begrudgingly begins to fly towards the east, where you saw the other two dragons continue. As the red dragon returns towards the city, its voice is ringing out at a volume that, even at this distance, is being enhanced by some sort of arcane means, whether it means– it wants to be heard. And as you can see now, as it hits over the far south walls of Emon, it shouts out once more, “Hear me, insects! You that live do so out of mercy. Fight or flee and you forfeit that mercy. Know that your pitiful guardians brought this upon you. That blood is on their hands! Vengeance has been swift, and in its wake, a new age is upon you.” Making its way towards the center of the city. “Be thankful, for until now your lives had no purpose. No meaning. Abandon your gods, your paltry convictions, for now you have a new purpose: to serve me!” And with that, you hear the clattering impact once more of the Cloudtop District, as a half-dozen buildings collapse under its weight as it slams into the center of what probably still stood tall in the middle of the city of Emon. You hear the crumbling wreckage echoing in the distance as it slides to a halt. And a couple of distant slamming sounds as it makes its way into the central borough where the palace once was. Quiet now takes the air, as all the people are still standing frozen in fright of what they just saw, and slowly begin making their way into the keep, whispering, shaking, crying under their breaths, the survivors that are not frozen in the center of Greyskull Keep's courtyard. What do you want to do?

TRAVIS: Pee.

(laughter)

MATT: That is entirely viable.

LIAM: Everyone, we need to go inside.

TALIESIN: Yes.

MARISHA: Is this because of us?

LAURA: Can we heal the frozen people? Is it possible?

MATT: You guys make you way out towards the people currently frozen in the courtyard– What? Did you want to use Cure Wounds?

LAURA: Yeah, sure.

MATT: Okay. You use what level?

LAURA: Two.

MATT: Two, all right.

LIAM: How many people are frozen?

MATT: Currently, I'd say about 14 people are frozen in the courtyard.

LIAM: Can we all do medicine checks on them?

MATT: Six of them are partially shattered, like as part of the impact their bodies (shattering ice) and part of the torso busted, arms missing, upper body's missing. As you cast your 2nd-level Cure Wounds spell and reach out and touch the person to heal them, a crack forms where your hand touched the body and (shattering ice) before the upper part of their torso, head, and leg breaks into ice, and you get the feeling looking around that these individuals are beyond saving at this point.

MARISHA: It's too long, it's too late.

LIAM: Inside, everyone inside now.

TRAVIS: Yeah, we all go inside.

LIAM: Come along.

MATT: All right, so. You guys make your way inside the keep. People are looking about, some people are running through rooms trying to find a place to keep safe. You can see already in the armory there's like a family in there that are huddling, crouched in the corner. Some people have moved on towards the kitchen, people are shouting trying to see if anybody they lost eye contact with is inside, you hear a couple of people shouting names. “Shawn! Shawn!” “Kayla!” Different names being shouted as if they're hoping that someone they got separated from may have made it in. Couple do, a few seem to continue to shout fruitlessly. But the inside energy of the keep is one of tension, fear, and mounting sadness.

LAURA: Can I find Erwen?

MATT: You can, you told the people within the keep to go downstairs

LAURA: Yeah, I go and find him and tell him to start setting up as many beds as he can, as many in the cathedral that we have to– In the chapel. To maybe give some of these people places to stay for the time being.

MATT: All right, so.

ASHLEY: Can I go into the temple?

MATT: You can. As you head downstairs too, you can see Jarett is still there, sitting with his crossbow on his lap, and he's been doing his last duty, which was to watch over your workshop. And as you come down the stairs, he goes, “What's going on, I heard noises upstairs, is everyone all right?”

TALIESIN: No.

LAURA: Everything's gone.

MATT: “May I be excused to aid Erwen in his duty?”

LAURA: Please do.

MATT: “All right.” He gets up and puts his crossbow away, heads upstairs, finds Erwen and Laina's still shaking, she goes, “If we're having guests, should I make food? I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do.”

LAURA: Simple food. Fruit, anything.

MATT: “Okay, I'll go ahead and start preparing it.”

TRAVIS: Percy. Can I have a word with you, please?

TALIESIN: I step inside my workshop.

TRAVIS: May I come in?

TALIESIN: Yes, of course.

TRAVIS: Can you shut the door?

TALIESIN: Is there anywhere private in this place at this point?

LAURA: Nobody is in the workshop yet.

MATT: Nobody is in the basement or workshop area. Everyone is seemingly scattered on the base floor of the keep.

TALIESIN: All right.

TRAVIS: Can you lock it?

TALIESIN: All right?

TRAVIS: Listen, the skull we took out of the house. I haven't told you, but it grants a wish and only those that dark things have touched can use it. That's you and that's me, as far as I know. It said it wanted you, but I wasn't going to let him have you. It grants a wish. We can change all of this. I feel like it was there in case the dragons came out of that portal. It was facing the inside of the room, it moves, and there's something in there. I feel like it's a weapon. What the fuck else are we going to do? We go for more help, it'll get killed coming into this city. We're not strong enough to take four of these fucks.

TALIESIN: We have an opportunity here, but we're going to have to be careful.

TRAVIS: I'm listening.

TALIESIN: All right. We're going to need more than just you, we are going to need a few of the others, just in case.

TRAVIS: They have to be touched.

TALIESIN: This is how it's going to work. I'm going to take it out, I'm going to have you go, I'm going to remove it from its hiding place while you go get the rest of them from upstairs.

TRAVIS: But who?

TALIESIN: At the very least, Vax, Keyleth at the very least.

TRAVIS: Keyleth, she's bleached whiter than Whitestone.

TALIESIN: Exactly, we need good people and I'm going to try and talk to it. To try and discern what it is and how it works and what it wants, and if for some strange reason things go wrong, I need people who would be more than willing to at the very least knock me out. So I'm going to be needing you and at least one other, preferably a magic user ready to deal with me if something goes weird.

TRAVIS: I step closer to Percy. I think you only need me.

TALIESIN: I need one other, just in case.

TRAVIS: Name one other.

TALIESIN: Keyleth– Or Vax, pick– Your choice, honestly. Whoever is less busy upstairs.

TRAVIS: All right. I leave.

TALIESIN: I'm going to take the skull out of the hiding place so he doesn't see where I'm removing it from.

MATT: Okay. While this is happening, Pike, Keyleth, Vax, Vex, Scanlan, all of you guys begin helping the guards take beds out of your rooms and bring them downstairs into the main foyer area, basically turning this into a makeshift living space for refugees. Heading towards and moving them into the temple of Sarenrae, as you go into the temple of Sarenrae, you get a bit of a feel of the damage that was sustained from the impact of the dragon upon the top of the keep.

MARISHA: I follow Pike into the temple.

MATT: A large portion of the stained glass on the roof and on the outside has been shattered from rocks and boulders that were– chunks of the top of the keep that were knocked off, and looking up you can see the roof of the keep itself sustained a fair amount of damage. Not enough to really be a serious issue, but it is in a bit of disrepair visually. As you guys are taking the beds from the upstairs to the downstairs, you do notice that a portion of the roof has caved in on the second floor. The guest room has been ruined and the southmost room, which I'll have to check to see who's supposed to be living there, is partially collapsed inwards and you can see the ceiling– the sky from underneath. There is a fair amount of damage to the top of the keep from the impact.

MARISHA: I back into a corner in the temple and collapse into a corner.

MATT: Okay.

ASHLEY: I would like to go over to a quiet spot in the temple and start saying a prayer. And I'd like to cast Planar Ally. You beseech an otherworldly entity for aid. So I would like to call on Sarenrae.

MATT: All right, let me pull this up. What level is this?

ASHLEY: It's a 6th-level.

MATT: All right. Let's see here–

ASHLEY: You have to ask the creature to perform a service in exchange for payment.

MATT: Mm-hm. Yeah, what would you like to do?

ASHLEY: Well I think if I say– Sarenrae, I've been rebuilding your temple for months, so please help us in battle and help rebuild our city, if that's service enough.

MATT: Okay. So as you reach out, you feel Sarenrae's warmth come to you, wordless. Attempting to comfort, but even then there is a trepidation in Sarenrae who is, you gather yourself, still taking in the circumstances that have happened. You feel that warmth begin to coalesce into a specific form, and everyone who has come into the temple with you gasps aloud as over these central worship platforms in the center of the temple, a glowing orb begin to form that then slowly takes the form of a humanoid with wings, similar to the ones you've worn in your celestial form. As the light fades, you can see, levitating roughly a foot off the ground, a human. White eyes and pale blue skin, hairless with a simple breastplate that's silver with gold lining on it, a single sword sheathed on the side, and beautiful white angel wings sprouting from its back. The entity stands there and looks down towards you. “I have been sent to your aid. Are you, Pike Trickfoot, to give me a task?” The voice itself seems otherworldly, and understanding the basis of the spell, you need a specific task in mind for it, and it is expensive to maintain in materials, the longer the task requires.

ASHLEY: Okay. We need your help. As you can see, our city has fallen to pieces by these dragons that are attacking us. And we ask that you aid us in battle somehow.

MATT: “Lead me to a battle if you wish. I haven't much time on your plane. If you have a task that I can complete at this moment.” And you know that to maintain this spell cost about 100 gold per minute.

ASHLEY: Okay. Ah, shit. Okay.

MATT: Or 1,000 gold per hour depending on the– Or 10,000 gold per day. Yeah, it depends on the task it required. It needs to be a little more specific than just aid us in battle,” because if there isn't a immediate battle happening, because the longer it's out, the more expensive it will be. You asked it to rebuild and it looks to you and says, “If you require my aid in rebuilding…” She looks with her head around the temple. “This I can help with quite a bit of haste, as it is within the realm of our patron lady.”

ASHLEY: Okay, well, yes. Rebuild our keep.

MATT: “It will be done, within the hour.” So you can mark off 1,000 gold worth of materials, and at this point, the Planar Ally's wings unfurl and begin to float up, and as it does it lift its hands and all the shattered stained glass begins to lift off the ground with it. And you watch as they all begin to reform.

LAURA: That's pretty sick.

MATT: And begin to, through pure divine energy, rebuild the entirely of the temple around within a matter of minutes. While everyone else is looking in awe, you can begin to see around you, many people who had been shaken to the core of their being, who had lost all hope, even this visual representation of the power of Sarenrae and the faith you put into her, you can see people are now bowing in deep prayer at the center of the temple as it's being rebuilt. This has been a very impactful moment for the survivors you've taken under your wing.

MARISHA: I wander over to Pike and just I grab her hand as I watch.

MATT: All right.

LAURA: I'm busying myself trying to bandage any of the survivors that seem injured.

MATT: Okay. There are injuries, many sustained from rubble falling or trying to get out as fast as possible, slamming themselves into ruins or fallen rock and flaming or whatever else happened. So you tend to the wounds, so you guys are helping out with those who are hurt.

LIAM: I'm helping and as we do so I say: I don't know what's going to happen in the following hours. Do not go far from me. If we are out of earshot, you are too far from me. Do not go far from me.

LAURA: Do you think this is what– Do you think this is what Mother saw before she died?

LIAM: Do not go far from me.

LAURA: I won't, I swear.

MATT: Percy and Grog, you find your way back up to the foyer.

TALIESIN: The second he leaves the keep, I rush to pull the skull out, shut the door, put it on the table, sit down in front of it, and say, okay, talk. You have my attention.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: Okay, I got a minute before he comes back.

MATT: You do, you do.

LAURA: He's a dick.

LIAM: He's just a sociopath, that's all.

[no audio]

TRAVIS: Fire and ice sale.

LAURA: Hey, check out those Critical Role shirts on Geekandsundry.com. They sure are lovely.

MARISHA: Donate to 826LA.

MARISHA: Oh god, I feel like I should scootch over.

LAURA: I know, can't hear it?

LIAM: That is a long talk.

TALIESIN: (softly) At what price?

LAURA: Ugh, what is he saying? Oh my god.

MATT: All right, sorry.

TALIESIN: I then take the velvet cloth and put it back over it and put it over and set it up as if I haven't talked to it.

MATT: Okay, all right, so. And once again reminding you, the skull itself, it's humanoid but it's elongated, it's not a human skull. Its jaw itself is– you would say almost elvish, but the features are too sunken, the teeth are too long, and the skull itself is a little more oblong to the back. Yeah, you're unfamiliar what species or race this may have been when it was alive.

TRAVIS: As I was leaving, can I notice anything about the back of his door? Like is– a lock or is it flat, plain?

MATT: I'm gonna go ahead and have you make an investigation check.

TRAVIS: 13. Minus two, you asshole.

(laughter)

MATT: As you start walking out, you turn and look at the door and take a moment to inspect it. I mean, Grog, doors are doors, you know how to deal with doors. This is a weird door. You don't know how this door works.

TALIESIN: My door is unlocked.

MATT: Right, but he doesn't understand the mechanism of what–

TALIESIN: Oh, no. I built with you in mind.

TRAVIS: I bet I can figure the lock from the inside. And I open the door and it opens because it's unlocked.

MATT: Okay, right, as soon as you throw the velvet over, the door opens up.

TRAVIS: I go up and I try and find Vax.

MATT: Okay, you go up and you see the two of them helping people along, making eye contact. You can see the drying tears across their faces as they are trying to stay strong for those that are currently in a less emotionally stable position right now.

TRAVIS: Sorry to break up an awkward moment, Vax, do you have a moment?

LIAM: What do you need?

TRAVIS: May I speak to you alone? No offense, Vex.

LAURA: None taken. I go and help other people and call to Trinket to carry over some bandages for me.

MATT: Okay.

TRAVIS: You and I may have had some friction recently, and we have our differences, but we're on the same side. Percy needs you downstairs. Will you come with me?

LIAM: I look at my sister. What is it? What does he need?

TRAVIS: I would tell you, but I don't want to frighten anyone in this room. It's about the– (quieter) It's about the skull and I can only bring one. Percy's request.

LIAM: Wait here.

TRAVIS: I have to come with you.

LIAM: Just wait a second. I walk over to my sister. I'm going downstairs. If I'm not back here in five minutes, I want you to come down, do you understand? And I say that because I need you, you are stronger than me and I will need you. Tend to the wounded, five minutes. I follow Grog.

MATT: All right.

TRAVIS: I go back downstairs.

LAURA: I Hunter's Mark Grog as he walks away.

TRAVIS: What? Why?

LAURA: I don't know. I just do.

MATT: Okay. I'm going ahead and say make a sleight of hand check and make a perception check.

TRAVIS: I'm sure this is going to go dandy.

19! (laughs)

LAURA: Fucking A!

TRAVIS: I don't know why I'm so excited right now. Everything's dead.

LAURA: 15.

MATT: As you're walking away, you feel this strange pulse of tingling energy. Almost like a soft–

LAURA: Aw, you know what?

MATT: What?

LAURA: I haven't chosen my fucking rogue ability yet, my rogue proficiency.

LIAM: Rogue proficiency bump.

LAURA: Too late now.

MATT: You feel this magical essence creep up on you. You are not familiar with it, but you feel like something just attached to you.

TRAVIS: From any direction? Or just attached?

MATT: You aren't entirely sure.

TRAVIS: I look about. Is there anything looking at me? Anybody throw anything at me? Pour anything on me?

MATT: Make a stealth check, Vex.

LAURA: I'm choosing my dice. Okay, okay, okay. I get advantage on all stealth checks?

LIAM: Yes. Because the cloak, yes

LAURA: 24.

MATT: You look about, and in the chaos of the people, you have no idea what the source of this weird tingling was.

TRAVIS: This keep is fucking drafty. I go downstairs.

MATT: Okay. As you walk downstairs, you find your way to Percy's workshop, we're going to take a break.

(cheering)

LAURA: Jeez Louise.

LIAM: Thank goodness.

MATT: All right, make this one quick guys, get back into it while we still have the tension in the story going. So we'll see you guys here in a few minutes.

TRAVIS: Five minutes, five minutes.

LIAM: Five minutes. Pizza and five minutes.

MATT: You good?

LAURA: Is the food here?

MATT: It should be, I hope so.

Break[]

[break]

MATT: Hi, my name is Matthew Mercer, I'm a voice actor and the dungeon master for Geek and Sundry's Critical Role, and welcome to my short video series for my tips on how to dungeon master or game master your own roleplaying games.

So today, our first topic is going to be Encounter Building. So when you are creating an encounter, a combat encounter specifically for your party of adventurers or space marines or whatever else you are running, you want to consider what kind of terrain or region is this going to have. That's going to go ahead and help you guide what creatures are going to be there, what type of challenges might be in that way. So consider, is it a icy tundra, is it a frozen mountaintop or is it like a hot, muggy swampland, is it a underground cave network? There are actually a lot of these resource books that you can find for these RPGs that will have listings of creatures and monsters and dangers by topography, and by weather, and that's a really cool way to see what indigenous creatures might live there, and that's a good resource to pull from if you're not having any creative juices helping you decide what to put in front of them.

Secondly, you want to consider how challenging you want the encounter or encounters to be. Do you want it to be a really quick scuffle, do you want it to be a series of small battles, as to opposed to fighting in a long hallway, in a spaceship? Do you want it to be one giant climatic multi-leveled boss confrontation? Once you've made that decision, that'll help you figure out how dangerous, how extensive, and how powerful the villains may be for this encounter. There's a lot of great resource manuals for every RPG system out there that have breakdowns about what creatures are good for which player levels as far as power or challenge and danger is concerned. Like, for instance, the dungeon master's guide and monster manual have a challenge rating system. A creature of a certain challenge rating is a decent challenge for a group of four players of that level, and you can slide the scale from there. Also, the DMG, or the Dungeon Master's Guide, has a experience threshold table in there as well that helps you build encounters based on the total experience points the creatures are fighting. So those are really cool resources, if you're new to the system and you're still trying to figure out how to balance that properly. Over time, eventually you'll just get a feel for it. Experience helps you get a little more comfortable with balancing the battle, and you want to make sure you don't kill all your players way too quickly in the game, either. There's also a really good website called Kobold Fight Club, for those who are running Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaigns, that helps them build an entire encounter with the experience table stuff that helps you get an idea of what could and could not be considered too powerful.

And don't forget, if you can't find a creature or monster in these realms or any sort of villain that suits your need for the storyline or this particular battle, you can create one. Make one up or take something that's there and customize it and alter it, make it more powerful, make it weaker, you know? If you really, really want to run a game that has a bunch of kobolds as the main villain, but all your players are level ten? Go ahead and make yourself some more powerful kobolds. You can customize 'em all you want. Everything in there is just a baseline suggestion of what they think, or they created initially to be, but you can always scale them, you can make them more powerful, you can add additional hit points, make them do more damage per attack. Increase their defenses, give it some hidden resistances or vulnerabilities. You can even create whole new abilities, I customize creatures all the time for my game. I think it, one, makes it more interesting and more customized to the specific encounter and world. Secondly, for players who have been playing for a long time and pretty much memorized the monster manual, it keeps them on their toes because they'll be encountering monsters that they have yet to memorize everything about. Also, make sure, though, if you do use these creatures and you want them to have interesting defenses and vulnerabilities and the like, make sure you highlight them or note them, it's very easy to rush into combat and forget some of these cool things. So I always use a highlighter and highlight the various notes and elements of these creatures or these combat scenarios that I want to make sure that I remember and recall in the heat of battle.

The next note I want to bring up is battlefields. First and foremost, not every game needs a battlefield. In fact, I kind of prefer RPGs that don't have a battle map with miniatures, it's just a way to play. I prefer to keep things in my imagination, but that's generally more wieldy with smaller groups, if you have three, maybe four players. Larger than that, it gets a little unwieldy, and me running six to eight players, it has become very necessary for everyone to keep track of their spatial awareness. When you create a map, things to consider, creative terrain. You know, think of where it's are happening, but ways to make it different on occasion, too. You can have straight forward battles with just, here's an area where they fight, here's some hallways, here's some rooms, and that's cool, too, but if you're in an urban setting, have furniture they can use to their advantage, whether it be for height or for setting up blockades. Also, consider what other challenges and confrontations they might have with the terrain during the battlefield. Is there a giant chasm they have to get across to actually get to the villain while they're attacking them from a distance? Is there some sort of arcane field that's locked off a portion of the battlefield and they have to figure out some sort of puzzle during the battle to lock it down? Is invulnerable to all damage until they can find some sort of hidden aspect of their soul locked within a nearby battlefield, or is there a bunch of innocents in there as well that are in danger of being killed from the collateral damage? Find cool and unique ways to make it an interesting battle outside of a slug fest of HP being knocked away and whoever falls first. Mind you, those can be fun, too, on occasion, but you want to make sure to keep things interesting.

For those who want to create battlefields, what I use for my battlefields, because it has been requested a few times. You can use easel pad paper, one-inch grid easel pad paper that you can find online, and that's a real cool way to draw on that using markers and create your own battlefields that way. There are great tutorials online too that show you how to make cool battles and interesting-looking terrain with simple hatch-mark shading and minor colors, so I highly recommend that.

Also, when you're using intelligent creatures, especially monsters or individuals or villains that are understanding their own mortality, they may flee. When they hit about half or a quarter hit points, they maybe want to get the heck out of Dodge. So don't be afraid to let your villains or enemies do that on occasion. One, it ups the stakes immediately in a battle from a slog fest to, oh crap he's getting away, and the dynamic shifts to try and prevent them from doing so. And secondly, if they do manage to get away, you may have a juicy villain who can recur later on down the story with a need for vengeance. Vengeance!

Another cool note, not all battles are meant to be won, either. Sometimes you want to introduce a really powerful enemy as a foreshadowing aspect, a creature that they can in no way, shape or form defeat, and they are meant to flee from, so that they can build towards down the road, maybe coming back and finally killing it as a means of vengeance. Just make sure you try and insinuate to the players that they shouldn't stick around for the whole fight or you might have a TPK on your hands, so be careful with that one. It's a fun tool, but be careful. No, seriously, be careful. Plus, it also leaves a cool story like, “Man, you remember that one time we almost got killed by that thing?”

Not all fights are meant to end in bloodshed, as well. So don't be afraid to let the players diplomatically resolve an encounter. Sometimes battles happen because of misunderstandings or misinformation or the wrong thing was said and it ticks somebody off. That doesn't mean they have to fight to the bitter end and murder whoever's in front of them. You don't want the whole murderhobo syndrome to be consistent, unless that's the campaign you're running, in which case, fight on, my murderhobos. But let the players use their ocial skills to try and defuse an encounter before anyone gets killed. I've many games where halfway through a battle, they're like, “Wait, they may have information we need,” or, “Maybe we were duped and have the wrong information,” and they decide to diplomatically end it. It doesn't always work, but it's nice to give them that option.

Part II[]

MATT: All righty guys, welcome back. So before jumping in here real fast, we got a couple things. One, we have a winner for our next giveaway, for all you awesome subscribers out there. The winner is Blackshadow773!

(cheering)

MATT: Appropriate place for a shoutout.

LAURA: That's really appropriate.

MATT: We'll send you an awesome package with a bunch of goodies, Critical Role goodies, some signed stuff, some fun things coming your way, so that's fun. Also, I forgot to do it in the announcements earlier, but I have a couple of new music tracks and some things coming forward that I'll be able to incorporate into the game from awesome guys named Battlebards. They did a Kickstarter a while back to create RPG-specific music and sound effects and audio tracks and they were nice enough to give me some of their stuff to use in the show. So if you're running your own game and want some good music and soundscape stuff to work on, Battlebards' got some pretty cool stuff, so thank you guys. All righty, so. Returning as it was, Grog and Vax, you make your way down to the basement of Greyskull Keep. The door's still partially ajar as Grog left it. You enter the room–

TRAVIS: Before we go in, I would like to put my hand on Vax. Just a note, I tried to do this by myself, but the skull asked for Percy. I know he didn't respond well with all that dark shadowy stuff, so be careful. I'm not entirely sure we can trust him with it. I wanted to do it myself, but it was either you or Keyleth, and you're a prick, so I picked you.

LIAM: I don't say anything.

MATT: Okay. You guys enter. Percy is there waiting, hands behind his back. There is the table on one of his workbench areas that has a piece of tapestry that you guys originally had wrapped the skull in, draped over it, it's currently not visible.

LIAM: What's going on, Percival?

TALIESIN: Good. I felt that this was only possible if we had a few more witnesses. We have an artifact.

LIAM: Good.

TALIESIN: A skull. There is something alive inside the skull. There is something evil, or at least not good, inside the skull, and it is offering to grant us any wish we desire if we set it free. Now. Grog is inclined to take this deal. I am, and I imagine this is surprising, having some reservations. I like having the terms spelled out, and I feel that so far the terms have not been spelled out. I'm going to lift the fabric off.

TRAVIS: I go and shut the door.

MATT: Okay, and as you lift the fabric off, and you have a look at it as well, in this controlled environment, still facing you, the skull, which once again has the elongated form, the longer teeth and jaw, it has the one gem that's embedded in the eye socket, and you can see there's a little bit of almost like a spectral swirl to it, like there's something fluid in the actual gem itself.

LIAM: Well, Freddie, I imagine I'm wondering the same thing you are, at least I hope, and that's: what's in it for the skull?

TALIESIN: He wants to be freed. It. How would we free you?

MATT: There's a slight pause before you can see the gem, the swirl coalesces into what looks like a spectral face. You can make out what looks to be eyes, a mouth and a nose. Though the nose itself is less of a pronounced human nose and–

LIAM: I'm looking at the floor, I'm not looking at it.

MATT: Okay. But you see where the nose is, instead there are two nasal passages. And you hear a voice slowly creak out from it and say, “All that I require is for you to destroy this prison. Free my spirit from generations of torment, that is all I ask.”

LIAM: Hey, quick question, who are you? Who were you before you were in this prison?

MATT: “It's been too long, too long have I been here, I do not know who I am.”

LIAM: Ah, well, go fuck yourself. And I put the blanket over it.

MATT: The blanket covers the skull.

LIAM: This seems like a very bad idea to me. Why are we doing this? Didn't we do this already, once before?

TALIESIN: It was an option, and I felt it was worth exploring, and I think now we do have an option, which is we have to take it somewhere and have him identified. We have to know who this is.

TRAVIS: What are you talking about? If it wants to be set free, fuck him, it's a wish. It's like a genie that wants out of a can, you don't grant it its wish, you get your fucking wish first.

TALIESIN: It's not always genies in cans.

LIAM: If we wish to rid Emon of these dragons, then we've got nothing to deal with this fucking thing right here, whatever it is.

TALIESIN: I would like to know before we make any deals, we need a name.

TRAVIS: Hold on, hold on, hold on, look, we have a chance to do good now, right now. People are dying. More people are dying.

TALIESIN: We have a chance to kick the can down the road.

TRAVIS: I don't understand.

LIAM: He's speaking literally, Grog.

TALIESIN: We don't know that whatever is in here could be worse than what's out there.

LIAM: I had a thought–

TALIESIN: But we could find out, and since it's a wish, we'll have plenty of room to fix this. We don't have to do it immediately.

TRAVIS: Are you a betting man, Percival?

TALIESIN: Yes.

TRAVIS: If I told you that four giant ancient fuck-off death dragons were attacking the city and all of us barely managed to break one of its pinky toes, you're saying what's in there is worse than them?

TALIESIN: I don't know. It's in there, isn't it? And how do we know the dragons weren't guarding it as opposed to it being a signal? It could be the thing they're angry about.

LIAM: I think– I have a thought I haven't spoken out loud yet. Every divine being that exists is accessible through Vasselheim. We are not equipped to handle this problem. Maybe this skull will do something, maybe, that's a bit fucking maybe. We're not equipped, and we don't know what dealing with that thing will bring. We will go to Vasselheim tomorrow. We bring all the people in this keep with us, Keyleth sends them through the tree. They stay there, we find help. We cannot handle this on our own. My first instinct was to go back in for Uriel. We don't know what's happened to Uriel! But we can't do it, we are powerless against those things. Against one of them, let alone four. We need help.

TALIESIN: I wave my hand, and the skull drops into a shadow on the table and vanishes.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: Did that blanket just blob down?

TALIESIN: The blanket vanished into the shadow as well, it's now just a shadow. I've put it back in its hiding place.

TRAVIS: What the fuck was that?

TALIESIN: That was a reminder that you should know what you're dealing with before you touch power.

TRAVIS: Can you do magic?

TALIESIN: Yes. I'm not going to pretend I always make the best calls. But I at least would like to know its name.

TRAVIS: (sighs) Fucking pussy. We have a chance to save this city now.

TALIESIN: We have a chance to stop anything worse from happening, or we have a chance to unleash something far worse on it.

LIAM: Grog, know your strengths, it is your strength–

TALIESIN: I am a betting man, and this is a bad bet.

TRAVIS: Can I walk up to the shadow table?

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

TRAVIS: Can I start looking around it? Do I see anything?

MATT: It looks like there's the dark spot on the table, and as you reach your hand out, it's just a solid table.

LIAM: I look at Percival. We need to talk to the girls.

MATT: And as you reach your hand past that into the shadow, because I assume that this is the–

TALIESIN: You know exactly what I did. Is he reaching or is he–

TRAVIS: I did not reach, I'm looking on top of it, on the sides, underneath.

MATT: Yeah, currently it looks like literally where the cloth and skull once were, there is a dark spot and shadow.

TRAVIS: No button, no latches, no holes for quarters?

MATT: Nope.

LAURA: I'm knocking on the door.

TALIESIN: Your plan is good. It just requires a little bit more study. It's a good plan.

TRAVIS: Study.

LAURA: Are you in there?

TALIESIN: Yes, come, please come in.

LAURA: I open the door.

MATT: Unlocked, Vex walks in.

LAURA: Well, what's this big master plan you're all plotting?

TALIESIN: Vex. Vax, do you want to– Well, actually, we might as well get Keyleth down here as well.

LIAM: Pike as well.

TALIESIN: Pike, Keyleth, meet me in my– I'm going to walk and attempt to gently scoop the skull up and put it behind me.

MATT: Okay.

LIAM: To catch things up, I walk out the door and I'm going to get the other two.

LAURA: Did I notice that, I have a really good passive perception?

MATT: You do, you see him scoot go over to the table and move something behind his back.

TRAVIS: Who did?

(laughter)

MATT: You don't know. You head up to the main foyer area where the stairs come up through the armory and lead into to the main hallway that bisects the center of the main floor, just as Keyleth and Pike are coming out of the temple after being summoned.

LIAM: All right, I beeline right up to them and I drop down in front of Pike. Pike. Keyleth. We're working on a plan, and we don't have one yet, but Pike– and I'm down on my knee– you need to guide Grog. He doesn't listen to anyone else, he only listens to you.

MARISHA: Is something wrong?

LIAM: Yes and no. It's better if you just come. Pike, come.

ASHLEY and MARISHA: Okay.

LIAM: And I take Keyleth's hand and pull her after me.

TRAVIS: Who's in the room right now?

MATT: Right now it's just you, Percy, and Vex.

TRAVIS: I shut the door.

MATT: Okay. Grog walks over and closes the door.

TRAVIS: I want that skull. I want it now.

LAURA: This is about the skull, then?

TRAVIS: Yeah. Percy's trying to do some fucked-up shit with the skull.

MARISHA: Wait, did you close the door?

TRAVIS: I did.

MATT: You guys aren't there yet. This hasn't happened yet, you guys are still walking down the stairs.

TALIESIN: He can't lock it.

TRAVIS: No, but I can stand in front of it. I want the skull, right now.

TALIESIN: Let me see your sword.

TRAVIS: No, you don't want to see the sword.

LAURA: Oh shit.

TALIESIN: I point at the table and I say: reach into the shadow and see if you can take the skull.

TRAVIS: No, I don't think so, your water fucked me up last time. You get it out of the table.

LAURA: Can I insight check them to see who is fucking with who–

TALIESIN: Good luck.

LAURA: – and who has better intentions right now?

MATT: Sure.

LAURA: Double insight check? Okay, the gold one is for Percy, and the thorny one is for Grog.

LIAM: Naturally.

LAURA: Whoa! Good for both of them, motherfucker! The gold one is a 27 for Percy and– 15 plus eight, what is 15 plus eight?

LIAM: 15 plus eight is naturally 23.

LAURA: 23 for Grog.

MATT: Okay, I rolled it for both of them. Was one of those a natural 20?

LAURA: No, but one of them is 27 and 23.

MATT: Right, 27 and 23, okay, good. Looking at them both, they're still very guarded and you are unable to really–

LAURA: Both of them? Seriously, Matt?

MATT: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't absolve any of your suspicion by any means, but they're both locked in this intense stare-off and you in the center of it as you dart back and forth to try and see any give, any twitch, anything that would possibly show an ounce of what is going on in their heads. It's the best poker faces you've seen on either of them in a while.

LIAM: Are we at the door yet?

MATT: You guys are now getting to the door.

LIAM: Hey, big man, Trickfoot wants to talk to you.

TALIESIN: I look Grog right in the eye before they come in. I very quietly say: does your friend have an opinion on the skull?

TRAVIS: Which friend?

TALIESIN: Your new friend.

LAURA: What the fuck? What the fuck is going on?! What fucking friend and–

TRAVIS: Vex.

LAURA: I saw you, Percival.

TALIESIN: You did.

MARISHA: I put my ear to the door. Can I hear them a little bit?

MATT: You guys can hear shouting from the other side, but it's too thick.

ASHLEY: Can I try opening it?

MATT: Yeah, it's unlocked, and you open the door and it stops as if there's a door stop directly behind it. You feel the door slamming you in the back, Grog.

TRAVIS: Okay.

TALIESIN: Or pick who you trust. I trust your judgment.

TRAVIS: Trust? Vex, listen to me. What did you see?

LAURA: Who's your friend?

TRAVIS: (sighs) The skull grants a wish. It can only be used by those with dark presence around them. That's Percy, that's me. How has Percy done with dark shit in the past? I went to him for help because I'm trying to free the city of these fucking dragons, but it wanted Percy. I tried to keep it for myself. And now he's up to his shady shit all over again.

LAURA: It specifically wants Percy?

TRAVIS: It wanted Percy.

TALIESIN: And I said 'no.'

TRAVIS: The hell you did.

MARISHA: (yelling) Wait, who wanted who?

ASHLEY: Can we wiggle in?

MATT: You can try to, but Grog, you hold the door shut? The door's not moving.

LIAM: Okay, I'm going to quick, rapid-fire– I was hoping to bring everybody in, but say: listen to me. Percy's got this fucking skull and we– Everything about it. It's a skull, it's talking about granting a wish, it's fucking fucked up just like the fucking smoke demon that was in Percival. I don't understand what's going on yet, but both Grog and Percival are a little fucked up, but Grog is more fucked up, but I don't understand everything. But things are not good.

MARISHA: What?

ASHLEY: What's going on?

MARISHA: Hearing Vax unload that information, if I reach through the crack in the door, can I touch Grog?

MATT: There's just enough of a gap where you could probably get an arm through.

MARISHA: Like my tiny little female hand.

MATT: Pike, what are you doing?

ASHLEY: Can I push the door open? Or at least try?

MATT: Try to. Pike, make a strength check.

ASHLEY: Yeah, go first, go first.

MARISHA: I reach through, and if I can grab Grog, I cast Hold Person on him.

TRAVIS: Cool, I'll stay right where I am.

MARISHA: Well– Then we can push him over, right?

MATT: You can try, yeah. All right, so. Hold Person: does it require–

TRAVIS: I weigh like 600 pounds.

MARISHA: There's three of us, we can push real hard.

LIAM: We can get Jarett.

MATT: All right. So, looking at Hold Person here, hold on just a second.

MARISHA: Oh, wait! Wait, can I redact that? Can I redact that?

TRAVIS: No, you already said it.

MATT: It has to be a humanoid you can see within range. So you couldn't even Hold Person through the door.

MARISHA: Beautiful– Even better.

TALIESIN: You read the spell, didn't you?

LIAM: Scanlan, Scanlan, join us. Please, quickly, please.

MATT: Scanlan goes, “I'm trying to help some folks, but if you insist, all right.”

LIAM: I do, I do insist.

TRAVIS: Vex. If he has the skull, we've got to get it from him now.

LAURA: Percy?

TALIESIN: I have the skull. I'm not going to use it, I don't trust him not to use it, yet.

LAURA: How about you guys give me the skull, I'm not even touched by anything dark.

TRAVIS: That's a great idea.

TALIESIN: That's fair.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Give her the skull.

TALIESIN: All right, I pull it out from behind me and hand it to you. It's in the bag, wrapped in cloth.

LAURA: Oh god. I'm going to get fucking attacked by Grog. I'm going to back up into a corner and hold on to it and look down at it.

MATT: Okay.

LAURA: I'm holding onto it? Jesus.

MATT: You are holding onto it, and it's wrapped in the tapestry that you guys threw over it originally, but you can feel it in your hands, and it's not terribly heavy, it has some heft to it, and just having it there, you're already getting pins and needles on the back of your neck.

LIAM: Now, Shorthalt, now.

MARISHA: Is he trying to bamf in? Scanlan?

MATT: No, no. So, Pike, what are you doing?

ASHLEY: I want to try and push in the door open.

MATT: Okay. Make a strength check. Grog, make a strength check.

ASHLEY: With all my strength.

TALIESIN: I love you, Travis.

(laughter)

MARISHA: While she pushes, can I get up against the crack to see if I can see through while she pushes?

TRAVIS: 17.

ASHLEY: Eight.

MATT: The door lurches, but you hold it solidly in place. You can feel–

ASHLEY: Grog! Let me in!

TRAVIS: Just a fuck– just a minute!

ASHLEY: I've been waiting five minutes!

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Put your pants on, Grog, really.

LIAM: Just another minute, mom.

LAURA: I think this is probably the stupidest thing, why did I decide to hold it?

TRAVIS: Give me the skull, you don't want Percy to have it.

LAURA: I don't want either of you to have it.

TALIESIN: Don't give me the skull, but don't give him the skull either.

TRAVIS: If you want to, you can ask it what it wants, and then you'll know, or you can give it to me and we can be done with this.

MARISHA: Are we trying to hand Grog the evil things?

LAURA: I take the tapestry off it and I ask it, what the fuck do you want? What the fuck are you? What the fuck is this?

MATT: As you look down at the skull, which you guys still can't get through because Grog's holding the door, and you don't have a visual in there because he's holding it pretty close to completely shut. As you look down, you can see now in the gem, formulating in the middle of it, this swirl of a face that comes right up to the front. You can see in the midst of its coloration these energy-based eyes and grin, a toothy grin that goes, “I wish to be freed. That is all. I've been here far too long. I grow tired. I want to finally pass.”

LAURA: Are you Vecna?

MATT: You hear a chuckle. “No. Vecna has been long gone. I am not a being of such power.”

LAURA: Can I insight check the fucking thing in the eyeball?

MATT: Sure, make a insight check.

LAURA: Sure, no problem. Unless it was a natural 20, it doesn't matter, 15, no.

MATT: 15, you don't.

LAURA: No. Way higher than 15, 21.

MATT: Okay. 21, thank you.

LAURA: 22, I can add.

MATT: 22, okay, that's way higher. You take a look at it, but due to the fact that it's mostly hidden, there aren't facial tics and there aren't normal gives to what a person's intent is, and even the tone of voice itself is spectral, ominous and otherworldly. You have a hard time being able to read whether or not it's being honest or lying or anything in between.

LIAM: Scanlan here yet?

LAURA: Why would we free it?

MATT: Scanlan is now behind the door on the other side, and he enters the room with you guys and is like, “What's going on, everything cool?”

LIAM: Wait, the door is open now?

MATT: No, he's with you guys.

LIAM: Ah good, yeah, Bigby that shit.

TRAVIS: I bum rush Vex.

ASHLEY: No, Dimension Door me in, please.

TALIESIN: I think we need a name for the thing.

TRAVIS: I bum rush Vex.

TALIESIN: I'm using quick draw.

MARISHA: What?

MATT: Initiative rolls from both of you guys.

TALIESIN: Yeah!

MARISHA: Does this mean the door flies open?

ASHLEY: Yeah, the door flies open.

MATT: Just a moment.

LIAM: This is all seconds, this is happening in seconds.

TRAVIS: 14.

LAURA: Do I roll anything? Can I do anything?

TALIESIN: 28.

TRAVIS: Ugh, Jesus. 28?!

MATT: I'll say roll with disadvantage, because it catches you entirely off-guard.

LAURA: So this is a surprise attack. Ugh, that's lame. That was just 13.

MATT: Okay, and you had a–?

TRAVIS: 14.

MATT: 14, okay. All right, so, you see Grog lower his head and then go for a burst run across the length of the workshop towards Vex. You instinctually go quick draw, what are you doing?

TALIESIN: I'm shooting a warning shot past his head, diving in, taking the–

LAURA: Are you close enough? I backed into a corner.

TALIESIN: I've got six spaces of movement in my turn.

MATT: Yeah, it's not a big room.

TALIESIN: Diving and grabbing the head and curling back around–

TRAVIS: The head? The skull?

TALIESIN: Grabbing the skull and going–

TRAVIS: She's 50/50 distance between us.

TALIESIN: I'm moving first.

MATT: Okay.

TALIESIN: And I'm happy to spend an action surge if that'll make this work better.

LAURA: Do you think you can just grab it from me?

LIAM: D&D standoff.

TALIESIN: I can make a roll for it.

MATT: So, as you dart, Percy is waiting for someone to also dart, and both of you go rushing across the room. Percy manages to get there a fraction of a second before you do. You hear the blast of his pistol past your ear, and the ringing hits the center of your head, but you still continue pushing forward in the way that Grog does, ignoring all outside interference. However, you've gotten to the skull first. Are you going to attempt to wrestle it from her?

TALIESIN: Gently pull it out of his run. So I'm going pull it–

LAURA: Are you going to try to pull me out of the way or just the fucking skull, you dick?

MATT: She's pretty grappled to it.

TALIESIN: Oh, if she's that grappled to it, then I'm going to try and push her out of the way of Grog.

MATT: Okay, opposed strength checks from both of you.

LAURA: From me?

MATT: Yeah, make a strength check.

TRAVIS: He doesn't seem to care much.

LAURA: He really, really doesn't.

TALIESIN: 15.

LAURA: Ah, that's terrible– nine.

TALIESIN: It's less of a shove and more of a pull out of the way of Grog's rush.

MATT: Right, so, he reaches over and grabs the skull in your arm and pulls you–

TALIESIN: Well, I grab her.

MATT: Right, she– but you haven't pulled it from her grip, you pull her out of the way. Shoves you to the side. You go rushing forward, and as you get there, she is pulled to the side, she is still right there in front of you, but the bum rush didn't get you there before anybody could react. So now it's your turn.

LAURA: It's my turn?

MATT: Yeah. Wait, you rolled a 13?

LAURA: I rolled a 13.

MATT: Oh, never mind, Grog goes next. Grog, so you rush up and you can now see Percy, pistol out, hand on the side of Vex, off the side of her arm. She's holding the skull there and they're both looking at you expectantly. What are you doing to do?

TRAVIS: I want Percy. I'm going to tackle Percy.

MATT: You what?

TRAVIS: I am going to run straight towards Percy and tackle him.

MATT: Tackle him, okay, all right. So, let's get some proper rumble music for this.

MARISHA: There are dragons outside and we're fighting, playing rugby with a fucking skull.

TRAVIS: I'm trying to fix the dragons.

MATT: Okay, so you use the momentum of the rush and you see him do this, you turn out of the way and go for a shoulder shove. I want you to go ahead and make an attack roll. Actually, make an athletics roll versus your acrobatics.

TRAVIS: Why can't that be higher? 19.

TALIESIN: Ah shit, 14.

MATT: 14, I need you to go ahead and make a strength saving throw.

TALIESIN: Oh shit. 17, oh, saving throw. 21.

MATT: 21. You slam into him and you essentially shove him with the shoulder. You manage to knock him prone, but the skull doesn't come loose, he loses his grip on it, and currently Vex is still holding it front of you. You're prone on the ground.

TALIESIN: I'm prone on the ground?

TRAVIS: So Vex still has it?

TALIESIN: But it's Vex's turn.

TRAVIS: But I knocked him off of her. But you've still got the skull.

TALIESIN: I wasn't trying to wrestle it.

MATT: Anything else you want to try and accomplish?

TRAVIS: Yeah, I would like to turn and put my back to Vex, because she has the skull.

MATT: Okay. So you go and plant a protective position in front of her? It's now your turn. Grog, who rushes over and shoulder slams Percy out of the way, and he's fallen to the ground. His gun almost scatters to the floor of the workshop around you. As you're expecting, he turns towards you, instead he steps and his giant frame is now blocking you with the shoulder blades in front, his arms out in a defensive position, facing off with people as they begin to enter the room. What are you going to do?

LAURA: I reach up and I touch his back. And I say: are you yourself?

TRAVIS: Me?

LAURA: Yes, you, fuck!

TRAVIS: Yeah, yes, fuck, it's me.

LAURA: I back up into a corner, and I say: what is all this about? Why do you even need this? Why do we want to set it free? I don't understand.

TRAVIS: We don't, we don't, we just don't want him to have Percy.

MARISHA: The rest of us see this now, right?

MATT: At this point now, the door's burst open, and the rest of you guys rush in and you can see Percy just as he hits the ground. You can see Grog recovering from the shoulder slam, who then steps in front of Vex with this snarl on his face and begins shouting to her over his shoulder, and you hear them talking across the room.

TALIESIN: It doesn't want me, I don't want to use the skull. I want to keep you from using it.

ASHLEY: What is going on in here?!

MARISHA: Keyleth cracks her staff on the floor and does a Gust cantrip and goes (whoosh) to make a big burst of wind in the room.

MATT: Okay. Tools go falling off the wall and clattering to the stone floor of the establishment. All of you who have hair have it blown and wrapped around you. You are pushed back about three inches from the burst of it, and all of you, immediately, your attention goes to Keyleth who stands there with her staff.

TRAVIS: Is it dusty in there now? Or is it just windy?

MATT: It's not dusty, it's covered in layers of soot that have now been kicked up, and the air itself is a temporary fume.

TRAVIS: Do we have an order?

MARISHA: Silence!

MATT: She does that. Pike, what are you doing?

ASHLEY: Can I insight-check Grog?

MATT: Yeah, go for it.

ASHLEY: 21.

MATT: What are you trying to know?

TRAVIS: What are you trying to know?

ASHLEY: I want to know why he wants this skull so bad.

MATT: Okay. If you would like to relay any information, she peered pretty well into your demeanor.

TRAVIS: I want to get rid of the dragons, now.

MATT: So you gather that he's coming from a place that a simple mind is looking for a simple solution to a complex problem.

(laughter)

LAURA: “I'm right here, Matt.”

TALIESIN: Burn, burn!

TRAVIS: Oh, oh, the flames, ah!

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Stop, drop, and roll!

MATT: I'm saying that's the best way she can discern your demeanor right now. Pike, anything else you want to do right now? We have to continue this.

ASHLEY: Yep. Can I walk over and grab Craven Edge?

MATT: Craven Edge is currently sheathed on his back, away from you. So you can attempt to, if you want to.

ASHLEY: Grog, can you give me Craven Edge, please?

MATT: Pike, hands out to you and looking you earnestly in the face.

TRAVIS: Why?

ASHLEY: I just want to look at it.

MARISHA: Pike, you sure about this?

ASHLEY: I just want to see, something's not quite right.

TALIESIN: Can I get up at this point or no?

MATT: We are about to get back to the top of the round. So you do what you're doing, okay. Percy.

TALIESIN: I'm going to stand up and grab a poker off the table. I'm leaving my gun on the floor.

MATT: Not off the table, the wind gust knocked off a lot of these things on the ground. Small pile of tools next to you. So you grab the poker.

TALIESIN: I grab a poker and I take a corner.

MATT: Okay. So now, Percy, you've squared off into a corner, there's Vex in the other corner, Grog's standing in between the two with the back against Vex. The three of you are right there at the front. Pike has stepped up to Grog now and is beseeching him. That's Percy. Grog, you're up.

TRAVIS: I look at Pike. I turn around, I look at Vex. You'll thank me. And I'd like to try and pull the skull out of her hands.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and make a strength check against her.

LAURA: Oh jeez, oh come on. There's no way, even if I roll like a– Unless I get a 20.

TRAVIS: 21.

LAURA: No, that's 14.

MATT: All right. As Grog turns around and gives you almost an apologetic look, his face steels over with intensity as, lightning-fast, his muscular arms rush out in front, grasp the skull. Like tearing a toy from a child's grasp, it is removed from you with barely any sort of resistance.

MARISHA: Can I get a spell off on him?

MATT: Not yet. So Grog, that's your action. You grab and you have now the skull. You left her with the tapestry, like you have just the bare skull in front of you.

TRAVIS: What would I like to do with it?

MATT: You have a bonus action, so depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

TRAVIS: Can I spike it?

MATT: You can, yeah, I'd say yeah.

TALIESIN: That's a bonus action?

MATT: I'd say this would be your movement and bonus, I'll let you do that, the whole thing together.

TRAVIS: I would like to spike the skull.

TALIESIN: Oh Jesus.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and make a strength check.

LAURA: You're just going to–

TRAVIS: What are the fucking chances?!

MATT: A natural one?

LAURA: Yes.

(laughter)

MATT: As you reach up, at the apex of your throw you look down and–

TRAVIS: I don't believe it. I don't fucking believe it.

MATT: Your eyes catch Pike, and during that brief moment of slow-motion as you reach up, you see her face, this look of complete, heartbreaking disappointment. Just like that. It shakes you in a way that you didn't expect, and as you go through the motion you already anticipated, and your brain's already wandered in doing so. You slam it half-heartedly and it bounces and skids across the ground, over by where Keyleth is.

MARISHA: Is it rolling at my feet?

LAURA: I run and jump for it.

MATT: All right, so. It's not your turn, it's the end of your turn. As it goes rolling, you run and dodge, go ahead and make an acrobatics check.

LIAM: Damn it.

LAURA: 23.

MATT: 23, all right. You jump out of the way, tumble, roll, and scoop up it in your arms once more, and you have it.

MARISHA: Can I get a spell off?

MATT: You have to get to your turn. Is that all you're going to do?

LAURA: That was all of it? Can I run out of the room? If I can move. I'm going to run towards the door.

MATT: I'd say, yeah. With the tumble and everything, you have just enough movement to get out of the room. So Vex goes darting out of the workshop, just past the door, leaving the room. That brings us now to–

LIAM: Relay race. Okay, then I take a step in front of her and pull out my daggers and stand in front of my sister.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: What the fuck is happening? Seeing all of this happen, I cast Hold Person.

TRAVIS: Stop trying to protect the skull.

MARISHA: At 4th-level.

MATT: To? Against?

MARISHA: Against Percy, Grog–

LAURA: I'm out of the room, you can't see me.

LIAM: I'm in.

MARISHA: How far away are they? Can I turn around and see–

MATT: I'd say she just got out of the room, you would have visual on her as she's leaving the room, yeah.

MARISHA: What about Vax?

MATT: Yeah, Vax is standing in front of her, you have visual on both, technically.

TRAVIS: Don't do this.

LIAM: This is so metal.

MARISHA: Vex. Vex. Sorry, Vex.

MATT: All right, I need a wisdom saving throw from all three of you.

LIAM: Wait, me too?

LAURA: No, just me. Yeah, you fucks are still mobile.

TRAVIS: Natural 20.

MATT: Boom, Percy?

TALIESIN: 15.

MATT: 15, that's a failure.

LAURA: 21.

MATT: So Percy, your muscles tense up, and as you're holding your poker, you find yourself unable to move. Grog, you feel and look over and see Keyleth as she looks towards you with intensity, and you feel a similar tremor across your head, but you shrug it off.

TRAVIS: These fucking sensations today.

MATT: Yeah, it's weird. Vex, you as well, you glance over your shoulder as you hear Keyleth muttering under her breath, and you can feel that familiar sensation of the magical attempt to grasp your mind. Your half-elven self makes it even easier to shrug off, and you continue darting forth the direction you are with your brother behind you. So you're protecting her?

LIAM: Oh yes, I'm barring the way

LAURA: So we're right up the hallway from our prison cell, right?

MATT: Correct. I haven't got to your turn yet, though. So, does that end your turn? Do you want to move?

MARISHA: Can I say something?

MATT: If you want to, yeah

MARISHA: Everyone, stop, why are we fighting? We just watched our city burn to the ground. What are we fighting over?

TRAVIS: We're not fighting, they're trying to protect the skull.

MARISHA: What does this look like? What does this look like to you?

TRAVIS: A statue garden?

MARISHA: Everyone, get in Percy's workshop and we're going to talk this out.

MATT: Pike, it's your turn.

LAURA: Keyleth, you don't know what's happening.

MARISHA: I would if any of my fucking party would for once tell me something. You all didn't tell me the full fucking story when we went back into General Krieg's house, and now look what happened. Look what happened because you assholes aren't communicating.

TALIESIN: (muffled mumbling)

MARISHA: Shut up, Percy!

(laughter)

MATT: Pike, it's your turn.

MARISHA: This is because of us, and you all know it is. Let's figure this out. Go, Pike.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Grog, did you just say you want to protect the skull?

TRAVIS: No, I want to break the skull. I want to get rid of the dragons

ASHLEY: Okay, what were you trying to do when you brought Percy and Vex up here?

LIAM: Vax.

TRAVIS: It needed someone with a dark touch. But now it's–

ASHLEY: To do what?

TRAVIS: To get the wish, but now it's touching everyone, they're trying to protect the skull, and we don't want that. We want it broken, I think.

ASHLEY: But you want the wish?

TRAVIS: Yeah, we want the wish, we can do whatever we want to with the wish and not take it, but yeah.

ASHLEY: There has to be some type of payment, if we take a wish.

TRAVIS: Well, it didn't say anything about a payment. There are four dragons killing everything.

MATT: At this point, as you guys are having this conversation, and you guys are darting out, Vex, you stop, as coming down the stairs from the main floor is Erwen. Frazzled, but still put together as well as he can.

LAURA: I tuck it behind my back.

MATT: “I'm sorry, Lady Vex'ahlia, it appears you have a few guests, suddenly.”

LAURA: What? What kind of guests?

MATT: “She's been here before. I don't recognize the other; in the dining area.”

LAURA: What does she look like?

MATT: “Blonde hair.”

TRAVIS: Allura.

MATT: “Dwarven individual.”

MARISHA: Oh my god, it's Allura and Kima.

LIAM: This is a little like Clue: the Movie.

LAURA: It kind of is. Yes– Erwen. Bring them down here. It's an emergency

MATT: “Very well, I'll–”

LAURA: As quickly as possible.

MATT: “Yes, yes.” And he turns around and hustles up the stairs.

MARISHA: Can we all please go back in Percy's workshop?

LAURA: Not yet, darling.

MARISHA: Why not?

LIAM: Keyleth, let's just wait until Allura gets here. I feel like she might have a calming effect on this situation, an outside eye.

MARISHA: We are standing in the damn hall, all I am asking is that we move into a quiet room.

MATT: At this point now, at the top of the stairway, two individuals come walking down. First and foremost, you see a dwarven male with short black hair and a beard, trimmed fairly fine, red leathers, carrying some sort of crooked wand on the side. Behind him you see, hair tossed back as she rushes down after him, Arcanist Allura Vysoren.

LIAM: I sheath my daggers.

MATT: Okay. She looks about curiously and the dwarf goes, “Okay, what have we stepped into here?” And Allura puts her hand on his shoulder and goes, “Don't worry. I apologize for my intrusion. I had a– is everything all right?”

LAURA: We could use your help at this moment.

MATT: “Certainly. Sorry, this is a long-time friend of mine, Elementalist Drake Thunderbrand. If you don't mind him accompanying us as well?”

LAURA: Is he good?

MATT: “Oh, he's one of the finest.”

LAURA: A good person?

MATT: “I've put my life in his hands a number of times, yes.”

LIAM: Things are a lot more complicated than you can even imagine. Please come in, we need you.

MATT: “Yes, yes.” And as you guys are having this standoff, you watch as this black-haired, red-leathered dwarf walks in, looking around and inspecting intently. You don't recognize him, you've never seen him before

TRAVIS: What's he wielding?

MATT: No weapons on him. You see him clutching this gnarled, curved wand that almost spirals, like a piece of well-treated but messed up wood.

TRAVIS: A stick.

LAURA: That's a weapon.

MATT: Maybe. And Allura rushes in, muttering under her breath, “I was just in Whitestone and I had a terrible feeling come over me and all my teleportation sigils within the city were suddenly severed. Both my tower and the Lyceum. I had to manually teleport us here as it was the only place I really had enough familiarity with far enough away from the city in case something bad had happened, I hope you don't mind.”

LAURA: Not at all. We're grateful for your help.

LIAM: Could you do us a favor? We had a small accident with Percival.

LAURA: Not yet, not yet.

TRAVIS: Does she know about the– D–?

LIAM: No. So… Emon is in ruins. It's been destroyed by dragons.

LAURA: Four. Ancient. Dragons.

MARISHA: They call themselves the Chroma Conclave.

LIAM: And your tower is–

TRAVIS: Fucked!

LAURA: We're sorry.

MARISHA: I'll go ahead and drop the Hold Person on Percy.

MATT: And her face goes white, the blood runs from her entire complexion, and you can see the dwarf that initially was huffed up and intense in his energy, while not fully understanding what's going on, looks over to Allura and softens and walks up and puts his hand on her shoulder. “You okay, lass?”

LIAM: I'm sorry, my lady. Did you know that Uriel planned to step down?

MATT: “He threatened it–”

LIAM: He did it.

MATT: “– for weeks– what?”

LIAM: He did it, and moments later four old dragons descended upon the city.

MARISHA: The Cloudtop District has been demolished.

MATT: “This cannot be.”

MARISHA: We don't know who all is alive or dead. We can only expect the worst.

MATT: “This cannot be.”

LAURA: Unfortunately, Allura, all of that is the reason for our current impasse. We seem to have discovered something that could potentially reverse the situation. But there's a great price to pay. It could be a small price to pay, we don't know. If you wouldn't mind taking a look at this relic that we discovered.

MATT: And you see, she is still lost in thought and there's something in her mind that's distracting her immensely, but she eventually clarifies and her eyes focus on you once more and she goes, “Of course, please.”

LAURA: I don't give it to her, but I pull the tapestry off of the skull and show it to her.

MATT: She looks at it and leans forward and begins muttering something beneath her breath, and she goes into technical mode, like she distracts herself with work at this moment. And as her brow furrows, she mutters under her breath and completes some sort of flash of arcane energy, and you can see the flash of energy attaches around the skull for a second and glints back at her, and she goes, “Right, all right, that's– That skull is not human, that skull is Githyanki. That is a species that exists primarily on the Astral Plane. They're rowdy, evil, pirating, marauding individuals, and that's one sense. The gem within that skull appears to be a soul gem and contains the soul of, from what I can gather, a Githyanki individual. Very old. I can say at least from my knowledge and learned opinion that no good can come from such an artifact.”

LAURA: Okay. He can grant a wish, he says? Lying, truth? What do you think?

MATT: “It's hard to say. It would take a very powerful individual to do so, however, I would say that wishes granted by entities that do not correspond with your moral outlook for the most part rarely end up in your favor, even when carefully worded.”

LAURA: Right. No, but I remember this, we dealt with this with the demon that killed Pike.

MARISHA: Yes, but we used our wish to wish ourselves out of that contract.

LAURA: And it had to be so carefully worded.

MARISHA: We can destroy more, if we're not careful.

MATT: “There have been powerful individuals, who upon obtaining the ability to make such a wish, even as careful as they were, they reached beyond the means of its magic, and doing so, undid themselves. It's a very, very powerful, very dangerous magic, and if this entity is indeed even capable of doing so, who's to say the chances that it wouldn't wreak more havoc than you intended?”

LIAM: We are in a precarious position. The city is in ruins, already, in a matter of hours.

MATT: “Yes, yes.”

MARISHA: What do we do?

MATT: And at this point, she looks around for a chair. You can see her hands are shaking, and she goes and grabs a chair and pulls it up and sits down for a second, puts her hands on her knees, and quietly, “Describe to me these dragons.”

MARISHA: There was one of each color.

LAURA: A green, a black, a white.

TRAVIS: And a big red piece of shit.

MARISHA: All colors except for blue of the chromatic spectrum. I got a few of their names.

MATT: As you go through each color, she nods, but when you say the big red, her body freezes.

MARISHA: Does this sound familiar to you?

MATT: “The names, you said?”

MARISHA: There's a white dragon that called himself Vorugal. A green dragon, Raishan. Black dragon, Umbrasyl, and the red dragon, we haven't heard his name yet. He seems to be the leader.

MATT: At this point she nods and goes, “I know not the middle two, but Vorugal has been known to wander the wastes north in Othanzia. Some of the offspring have wandered further, in fact I believe the Skysunder that you destroyed naught but two years ago that was sealed in the Frostweald was one of its brethren. Its children. But Vorugal has not been seen wandering this far out. Chromatics do not work together, they are selfish and greedy and territorial.”

LAURA: They're definitely working together.

MATT: “This red you say is the leader?”

LIAM: Yes, most definitely.

MARISHA: He had a message that he belted over the entire city. He said that we who live, he's showing mercy and that we can either fight or flee, and then–

LAURA: He said if we fight or flee, we'll be denied the mercy.

MARISHA: Okay, something along those lines. And then he said that it was the guardians of this city that brought this upon Emon, and that he has control. He called it like a new order.

LAURA: He said our new purpose is to serve him.

MATT: Now for the first time, you have known Allura for quite some time, she's been a very stoic, strong, confident, and powerful person. At this moment, she has withered. She looks genuinely like she's hit a level of fear you have never seen in an individual like this, and it shakes you to see this upon her face, and she puts her hand up and says, “This is not your fault. This burden is mine.” And looks over to the dwarf and says, “It is ours.” And the dwarf, you can now see, he's nodding in understanding. “This dragon… it's been called many names, but the one that it's taken is Thordak, The Cinder King.”

MARISHA: Thordak?

MATT: “Thordak. This terrible beast lorded over half of Marquet for centuries, taking the scalding sands as its domain and its denizens as cattle, and just as the city of Ank'harel was becoming the jewel of the desert, Thordak struck. A battle, however, that it was unable to win. Sent away, mortally wounded, it was thought that the dragon had died soon after, having not been seen for many centuries since. That is, until about 15 years ago. The rumors of a powerful drake, storming the beaches and seas, had been whispered for a long time, while ships would be lost at sea. It had survived and secretly ruled the island of Viscan in the south of the Lucidian Ocean. I suppose after generations, the dragon, now self-crowned as the Cinder King, grew greedier with the island's limited resources and began razing the Mournset countryside south of the Verdant Expanse and the Stormcrest Mountains.” And her eyes get even more distant as she is recalling all this. Reports of a dragon more massive than the records can compare hit Tal'Dorei. At the time, I wasn't part of the council. I traveled with a group of adventurers much like yourselves: Kima, Drake here, and a handful of other brave souls who are no longer with us. We traveled to investigate, but arrived to find this creature destroying everything surrounding the Glade Pools. Port Udall, gone, Byroden a smoldering ruin, and we gathered a small army of mercenaries and hunted it back to its new den in the Stormcrest, where a large number of lizardfolk had formed around him. But we were overpowered by the sheer might of the dragon. Many lives were lost. Knowing that we could not kill it, we turned to other means. I called upon the Arcana Pansophical, a circle of friends, arcane practitioners that agreed to work together across the land to keep them safe. They devised a trap, one that could, we believed, permanently seal Thordak within the elemental plane of fire, preventing him from ever returning to our world. At the sacrifice of many, including our companions Sirus, Dohla, Ghenn, we succeeded.” And as the tears begin to roll down her face, she looks around. “For naught now, it seems, and somehow he has broken our invocation. We bound his essence to the fountains of creation and thought he would stay there forever.” And she goes quiet and looks around for a second. “I'm sorry.”

TALIESIN: This couldn't be because of our journey to the elemental plane, could it?

MATT: “I'm so sorry.”

TALIESIN: We saw him there.

MARISHA: We did, but it sounds like he has been….

TALIESIN: We didn't set him free, you don't think?

TRAVIS: No, it was Keyleth's Ashari thing.

MARISHA: My people– Our job is to guard these realms.

TALIESIN: Is there any way of contacting the Fire Ashari?

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, oh god. Oh god, what if they're– what if they're dead?

MATT: “To bind him, we created an artifact called a soul anchor. It was crafted from the salvaged heart crystal of a primordial fire titan. The anchor could not be removed from the plane, and the Cinder King could not leave without it. I don't know how he's managed to escaped the binding of this.”

MARISHA: Oh my god, this is all my fault.

TALIESIN: No. No. This was a land mine waiting to be stepped on.

MARISHA: But wait. We fought– We fought my elders, we fought the Headmaster.

LAURA: It couldn't have been.

MATT: “That would have no bearing on this. The heart crystal is immense. 15, 20 feet in diameter, it's a gem of pure crystallized ruby and elemental power and energy. Lest you managed to find this and destroy it, which, I mean no offense, is far beyond your capability.”

MARISHA: My people, would they be okay?

MATT: “Depends on where he made his way through. The timing is rather conspicuous, seeing as how Winter's Crest recently passed, in which time the planes are the thinnest barricades.”

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: “Whatever it is, I fear that our ruse will not work twice, especially if Thordak has had all this time to obsess over his failure. I do not know our next course of action.”

MARISHA: What do you know of General Krieg?

MATT: “He's been gone for some time.”

MARISHA: You were on the council with him, do you know anything further?

MATT: “I think it was discussed that he had been killed during the demonic intrusion in the city, or deserted.”

LAURA: Would a dragon seek vengeance against one of their brethren killed?

MATT: “Chromatics are selfish beings, they do not care for each other, and the power of one is enough, but a conclave of dragons is both extraordinary and horrifying, but there is no– There is no sense of vengeance for their kin unless it is against the greater plan. Now, if what you say is true and these other dragons are bound together in the service of Thordak, I imagine they would be the ones who had the power and the resources to find some way to bring him through.”

LAURA: All right.

MATT: At which point, the dwarf steps up and still has his hand rubbing Allura's shoulder and says, WWe knew not what we were doing, other than trying to save it, don't blame yourself.”

MARISHA: Allura.

MATT: “Yes.”

MARISHA: Would you consider us guardians of this city?

MATT: “One of many. I believe the guardians–”

MARISHA: Is this because of us?

MATT: Allura looks at you dead-on and says, “The only guardians that Thordak would know of would be the ones that sent him away to that plane 15 years ago. This is my fault.”

LIAM: That's not true. If we are to solve this situation we cannot hide the truth. I killed Krieg. We killed Krieg. I finished Krieg.

LAURA: Krieg was a dragon, Allura.

MARISHA: A blue dragon.

LIAM: We stumbled upon his lair, reached through his home in Emon, through magical means. We found his lair.

LAURA: He attacked us.

LIAM: And we– I–

MARISHA: I reach out and I grab Vax's hand.

TALIESIN: We survived.

LIAM: When it happened, he had four stones, four orbs in his lair. They saw us.

MARISHA: They spoke out to us.

TALIESIN: They threatened us.

MATT: “When was this? Was this–”

TALIESIN: Many years ago.

MARISHA: Maybe two years ago.

LIAM: Not all that long ago.

LAURA: It was right after we got to Emon.

MATT: “It's been over a year at least. Well, if it's taken them that long at least to free Thordak, it means that this was probably in the works for quite some time. If we do share this responsibility, I assure you it weighs heavier on me than it does you. But right now we need all the allies we can gather. Now, you say Thordak is where right now?”

TRAVIS: Sitting on Emon.

MATT: “Within the city?”

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: Vex, you would know.

LAURA: Oh, I can sense them. Right.

MATT: It's for a six-mile radius, was it?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: On the edge of your senses, you close your eyes and focus and extend your ability to feel the landscape around you. Indeed, The Cinder King still sits in the center of the city.

LAURA: He's here.

MATT: “What of the others?”

LAURA: Do I sense any others?

MATT: Nope.

LAURA: They're gone for the time being.

TRAVIS: It's weird, they do what he says.

TALIESIN: Barely.

LIAM: And on top of all that, we have this fucking skull.

MARISHA: I need to check in with my people. I need to check in with the Air Ashari.

MATT: “Where's the rest? Where's the council? Who do we know survived?”

LAURA: We don't know anything. Everyone was dying around us, we made it to the keep.

TRAVIS: It happened very quickly.

LIAM: We don't know what happened to Uriel, we didn't see.

MATT: “We need to take stock of who we can consider friends that are still around. We need all allies right now. That should be our first order of business, if anything.” And her face drops again. “I just lost my connection with Westruun.”

TRAVIS: Oh fuck. The whole world.

MARISHA: Yeah, this is an annihilation.

MATT: “This isn't an annihilation, if this was an extermination there wouldn't be any survivors, you wouldn't be here. The fact that they've only taken what they can of the city– what use is a city to a dragon if it doesn't have worshippers? They're vain beings.”

MARISHA: Think, Allura, what do all these cities have in common? And what would be the benefits of taking over these cities?

MATT: “Resources, their gold, their people.”

MARISHA: Do you think they just want domination over people? Over us? They called us ants!

MATT: “Yes.”

LAURA: They want to be gods.

MATT: “What good is a creature that sees itself as superior if there aren't those around it to tell them as such and confirm the belief, and if anyone refuses to bend to their will through fear and power. That is the nature of the chromatic dragons.”

MARISHA: There has to be something more that they want.

MATT: “Perhaps, but for now, the fact that he's even shouted mercy at this time as opposed to completely destroying everything in his wake, means that vanity can be used to our advantage. I don't know how soon, but that's something. Now–”

TRAVIS: Allies. Vasselheim has warriors, armories.

TALIESIN: Whitestone as well.

LAURA: We can bring them here.

MARISHA: I need to reach out to the Ashari and see if they're– I leave, I want to go– Well, actually; Allura, will you help me in a scrying spell?

MATT: “Yes, yes, the best I can, yes.”

MARISHA: I want to scry and first check in on the Fire Ashari.

MATT: Okay. All right, at this point she pulls out her crystal ball from a little tiny satchel, which is in itself a smaller Bag of Holding. Pulls out a small mirror, takes some water and pours it on the mirror, places the sphere above it, and it floats for a second. And there's a makeshift scrying ritual site here before you. You guys take about ten minutes to concentrate, and if you guys want to do anything in that ten-minute period, you're welcome to, or if you just want to watch and wait, you can.

TALIESIN: I'm going to just sit, it's been a long, long day.

MATT: Okay. The spell completes.

TRAVIS: Can I roll hit dice?

MATT: Yeah, you guys can begin to take a short rest, if you want to heal up.

LIAM: I go over to my sister in that time. I want– I want to kill that dragon. Or I want to die trying.

LAURA: We will.

MARISHA: Do I see Cerkonos?

MATT: So you take Allura's hand and you put your focus into the crystal sphere, your vision lifts out of the keep with extreme speed. You find your visual surroundings thrust across the Ozmit Sea. You find yourself swooping across the shores of Othanzia, over the forests, eventually coming upon the blackened clouds that perpetually hang above the charred mountain range that contains the home of the Fire Ashari and the entrance to the elemental plane of fire. Your vision crests the mountain and steps into the valley of broken, blackened shale to the ever-burning forest. As you come upon it, you recall where the Fire Ashari village was and where you were greeted before and given your trials. Where there is now nothing but sundered, broken wood, tents, destroyed bodies burned and charred and curled up in horrible ever-gasping pain. The forest itself is flattened from the inside out, like a blast from the center of it just exploded outward, the trees all bent and snapped at the base, and in the center, where there once was that small pool of molten lava that you created the portal through and stepped into the elemental plane, there is a large, ominous, flickering gash between the planes that is roughly 30 to 40 feet in width and height that is pulsing as fire and magma pours out of it. You can see wandering imps and elementals and various entities slowly peeking out and escaping and wandering throughout the mountain tops. From what you can see, there are no signs of any survivors.

MARISHA: It destroyed everything. They killed everyone.

MATT: Allura at this point, who pulls out of the ritual, reaches out and grabs you by the shoulders.

MARISHA: We failed.

MATT: And she looks you in the eyes, and for a moment you feel like her normally warm and embracing face has gone cold and intense and her voice seems to echo with an undercurrent of arcane focus and volume. She goes–

MARISHA: My people failed, we failed our cause.

MATT: “Keyleth, you failed no one, this is not your doing. This burden is ours as a people to hold, do not let this wash over you or he wins. This is their making, this is not yours. These creatures are evil incarnate, and it is our job, our true calling to end what they have done. Do not let this crush you, you are stronger than that. Pull yourself together. Your people, those that remain, they stand behind you.”

MARISHA: I'm not as strong as you, Allura.

MATT: “But you can be and you will be. Do you trust me? Do you trust me?”

MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: “Good.” Her grasp releases.

MARISHA: That's my people.

MATT: “And mine, and all of ours. There are many secrets in these lands. I'm a firm believer that there's always a way to victory, if we are smart about it and if we're quick about it. Now, I think we should look for survivors. Gather those we know that can rally to our cause, in Emon and beyond. What say you?”

TALIESIN: Aye.

TRAVIS: Yeah.

MARISHA: Aye.

LIAM: We are to stand now or we might as well be dead.

LAURA: So we're definitely not going to wish on this skull then, yeah?

MATT: “I would recommend against it.”

MARISHA: Yeah, I stand.

MATT: “Very well, let us prepare for the fall of the Chroma Conclave. Together.” And that's where we'll end our session for tonight.

LAURA: Fucking A!

MATT: Hey guys, D&D's fun!

(laughter)

MARISHA: D&D will never be fun again; everything's ruined.

LIAM: Hey, we're all cows!

(laughter)

MARISHA: Back when things were so much simpler.

LIAM: Be sure to buy a t-shirt over on geekandsundry.com.

TRAVIS: Wow.

LIAM: In Sam's honor.

LAURA: What in the hell.

TALIESIN: Brought to you by Wyrmwood Gaming. Specifically designed to absorb tears.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Ah yes, thank you. It's so porous.

MATT: So yeah.

ASHLEY: Can we play longer?

TRAVIS: Can we play longer?

MATT: Aww.

MARISHA: What time is it? It's ten o'clock, and we ended on time and–

LAURA: That's the first time we've ever ended on time.

LIAM: Wow, that game felt like 20 hours.

TRAVIS: Yeah. Originally this was supposed to be a three-hour show, but it never quite made it that way.

MATT: I know we tried, we try and mostly fail, but occasionally we get it right. So, I mean, I'd say I'm sorry for the emotional rollercoaster, but no.

TRAVIS: The was fucking awesome.That was awesome, aside from the death.

TALIESIN: I would have kicked your ass, by the way, just throwing that out there. I picked up the poker because I didn't want to hurt you.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: All right, okay.

TALIESIN: Throwing that out there.

LIAM: My plan was to take that skull and run like a fucking football player and fucking go for the goal.

TALIESIN: Flash Gordon.

LIAM: Yeah. I would have been in the heart of Emon. Shoving it up the red dragon's nose.

MATT: Well. Welcome to the new story arc.

LAURA: Oh jeez.

(cheering)

LAURA: Everything changed.

MATT: Yeah. Oh man.

LAURA: Everything.

TALIESIN: When do I level up?

MARISHA: I'm going to find a corner to rock back and forth in.

LIAM: We would have been working in a lich's sugar mine if you'd done that.

TRAVIS: Nah, we all would have been kings and queens, we would be drinking iced mochas.

MARISHA: I was more afraid of us wishing ourselves out of existence. I wish there were no more dragons… and no more people and no more–

TALIESIN: It was such a bad deal, I said no. Like, can you imagine how bad of a deal that must have been?

LIAM: That's a good point.

TALIESIN: I was really looking for a reason to say yes.

MARISHA: And it turns out that it was just a fucking lame-ass pirate. Fuck that, we don't want to be indebted to some shithead pirate.

TALIESIN: Nothing good happens when you let Mxyzptlk out of the goddamn skull.

MATT: It was fun. I set a time for myself when she's gonna arrive, and I was like, “Oh man, what's going to happen before she gets there?” I was like, as you guys kept delaying it, they might actually– she might actually catch them in time.

MARISHA: She would have walked in and we're beating the shit out of each other.

LAURA: It all would have gone to hell if–

MATT: You don't know what would happen. You don't know.

TRAVIS: I would have saved the world, that's what would have happened. Fucking one.

MATT: None of you have heard of a githyanki in your travels.

TRAVIS: I would have been King Grog, I would have gotten a cave, I would had a bunch of harem people taking care of me, giving me sponge baths with their tongues.

LIAM: I was going to carve my name in your nuts.

TRAVIS: I would object to that.

TALIESIN: I was going to gender swap, I wanted– Percy was going to become Percina.

(laughter)

MARISHA: I wish I was a woman.

MARISHA: We still have the dragon problem, but now have the dragon and a pirate.

MATT: There you go– the de Rolo sisters– Glad you could make it, Ashley.

(cheering)

MATT: You should make it every week.

MARISHA: Does this mean I'm the last druid to make the Aramente?

MATT: You don't know.

TALIESIN: There might have been one after you.

LAURA: There's got to be other ones.

MATT: From what you saw, the Fire Ashari were decimated, you saw a number of bodies, you don't know if any escaped, you don't if any were hidden, you don't know what happened. At that location, it is desolation, and you get the sense from that, that is precisely the place where Thordak came through the plane.

MARISHA: I'm wondering about the other locations, though, too.

TALIESIN: I want to know about Whitestone. We have a lot a phone calls to make.

MARISHA: We have a lot of phone calls. Like I–

TRAVIS: They're all dead, everybody's dead.

MARISHA: Theoretically wiped my people off the face of the planet.

MATT: Such an optimist.

MARISHA: If they all busted through–

TALIESIN: Does decimate mean that 1/10 survived? Or that only 10% died? I can never remember which one decimated is. I know it's one of the two.

MATT: Yeah, that term has been largely misused in the current-day vernacular.

TALIESIN: I know. 10% died, that's what it is.

TRAVIS: I love misusing vernacular.

MATT: It's fun. You guys–

TRAVIS: Great fucking story Matt, holy shit. Holy shit, you had trees and stuff.

TALIESIN: Why do you got to be a dick, man?

MATT: As we're discovering the white battlemats don't pick up as well on the camera as the colors, I'm trying to use other options whenever possible.

TRAVIS: It works. The green was amazing.

LAURA: It was really cool with green.

MATT: So I'm going to try and push more on that. A little more work on my end, but it'll be fine.

LIAM: Tell me more, sadist.

LAURA: Thanks for joining us, you guys.

MATT: You guys, thank you for watching, and hope you have a wonderful night, and we'll see you guys next Thursday. Good night!

MARISHA: I need a cigarette, and I don't smoke.

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