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Critical Role Wiki
Critical Role Wiki

List of Transcripts


TRAVIS: Right, listen up! If you have ale, then you have a friend in Grog Strongjaw! A goliath of towering height and size, this barbarian has an appetite for the two great loves in his life: combat, women, and ale! [record scratch] Wait. Easily the brains of the group, Grog is often consulted for his vast knowledge of shapes, colors, and shiny things! Also ale. In his early years, armed with his two-handed greataxe, Grog often enjoyed proving his might amongst the ranks of his family's wandering herd. But after coming upon an unsuspecting elderly gnome in the woods, he objected to the killing of such an innocent life. A creature of impulse, Grog felt only pity for this– well, this terrified little thing. And his disobedience cost him dearly. Beaten bloody, and banished by the herd leader, his Uncle Kevdak, Grog was abandoned and left to die. Exiled from his herd, it was then that the relative of the very gnome he fought to save, saved him. It was the kindness of a gnome cleric named Pike that healed Grog, bringing him back from death's edge. And they have remained close friends ever since. Most nights, Grog can be found challenging entire taverns to wrestling matches! Or accompanying Scanlan to the nearest house where you pay for lady favors. Also ale!

MARISHA: A first impression of Keyleth would leave you with little information on the half-elven druid. You might even think that her social awkwardness due to her sheltered upbringing is kind of sweet. Of course, it would be unwise underestimate her based on first impressions. (thunder crack) Under that un-intimidating petite frame is a vicious beast waiting to be unleashed, whose natural powers have made even the fiercest of champions pee their pants, literally! Born to the Air Tribe of the Ashari people, Keyleth was raised with a deep love of nature and the elemental magics. It is her people's inherent duty to protect the delicate areas in Tal'Dorei where the four elemental planes begin to bleed with this realm. Since she was a little girl, she had quite a knack for air manipulation and beast shaping abilities. Well, if you consider kittens and flying squirrels to be little beasts...which, I do. Anyways, it wasn't long before the headmaster of the tribe, her father, Korrin, realized her true prodigious abilities and she was inveterated to succeed him as the next headmaster. Just like that, her jovial childhood was stripped and replaced with endless spell memorization, teachings from ancient traditions, and exceedingly high expectations. Every druid leader-to-be must embark on a journey to seek out the sister tribes in order to introduce and establish respect amongst the fellow headmasters. They call this the Aramente, or Noble Odyssey. When her father felt she was ready, he set her on the path to truly discovering herself, not knowing when, or if, she will ever return. As she hiked down the mountain towards Stilben, she meditated on the task ahead. Part of the Aramente is proving yourself a strong warrior, a valiant protector, and a wise and compassionate leader. With this knowledge, one thought plays in repeat in her mind: Is she even worthy?

TALIESIN: Percy was the third child of seven children, born to a noble family who lived far to the north in the ancient castle of Whitestone. With so many siblings to share the burdens of lordship, Percy turned his attention to the sciences, engineering, and naturalism. One day, a mysterious couple, named Lord and Lady Briarwood, came to court. During a feast held in their honor, the Briarwoods violently took control of the castle, killing or imprisoning everyone who would stand in their way. Percy awoke chained in the dungeon, only to be freed by his younger sister. Together they fled, chased by the Briarwoods' men. As they ran, Percy's sister took several arrows to the chest and fell. Percy kept running, eventually jumping into a freezing river and floating unconscious to freedom. He did not remember waking up on a fishing boat. He barely remembered the next two years, as he slowly made his way as far south as possible. Then one night, Percy had a dream: a roaring cloud of smoke offered him vengeance against those who destroyed his family. When he awoke, Percy began to design his first gun.

ASHLEY: Pike grew up on the outskirts of town, near the Bramblewood. Her ancestors were a family of Deep Gnomes with quite an unfavorable reputation. Thievery, destruction, and trickery left them with the curse of the last name Trickfoot. Sarenrae, the goddess of healing and redemption, had other plans for Pike's great- great grandfather Wilhand, who left his family at a young age after a dream. A dream that changed the course of the Trickfoot family. Wilhand devoted his life to Sarenrae and pledged from then on that him and his family would live a life of service and devotion. As a child, Pike seemed to have an affinity to heal, whether it was animals, people, or even flowers. She felt she had a purpose in making things whole that had once been broken. She studied and learned the ways to heal through divine magic. She lived a peaceful life, quiet and simple, until one day Wilhand was captured and almost killed by a group of goliath barbarians. One of the goliaths took a stand against the murder of the innocent gnome, and he himself was beaten, bloodied, and left for dead, abandoned by his herd. Wilhand went to Pike for help. She prayed and healed this barbarian as best she could, bringing him back to life. When he awoke, she discovered his name was Grog Strongjaw. After that, they were the best of friends, a rather unlikely pair. Little did she know that in a few years' time Grog would soon return the favor and bring her back from the clutches of death. (roar, crunch) After being killed in battle, Pike felt angry. She wanted to be stronger so that it would never happen again. She spent four months at sea, training with the men and women aboard a ship called the Broken Howl. Gripping her holy symbol in one hand and her morningstar in the other, this time, Pike is ready.

SAM: Oh, you haven't heard of Scanlan Shorthalt? Well, gird your loins, ladies, because he has his eye on you. A talented musician, master of disguise, and dashingly handsome in his own mind, Scanlan sings songs almost as much as he sings his own praises. Born a poor gnome, Scanlan used his endless charm and soaring tenor voice to croon for coin and support his single mother. One day, he was discovered by a half-orc promoter, and joined Dr. Dranzel's Spectacular Traveling Troupe where he learned the ways of the world, and honed his skills as a bard extraordinaire. A loner much of his life, Scanlan has never quite come to terms with the violent death of his mother at the hands of a goblin invasion. While his years on the road provided many, shall we say, educational experiences with the opposite sex, deep down Scanlan yearns for the one thing he's never known: the true love of a fellow gnome. Still, Scanlan considers himself a lover first, performer second, and fighter distant third. On the battlefield, he'll support his allies, but rarely draws blood, unless it's to protect fellow gnome, Pike. Count on Scanlan for a hearty laugh, a rollicking song, and a twinkle in his eye that melts hearts and makes the females swoon.

ORION: Greetings and salutations, I am Tiberius Stormwind. I hail from a town called Tyriex, located in the heart of Draconia. Born from a politically respected family, at the age of 15, I succeeded in passing the Sorcerer's Rite, showing prodigy-like control of my magic. The judges and the Draconian high council were amazed at how powerful my spells were for how long I had been training. At 20 years old, I was the youngest appointed member of the magic guild in Draconian history. For the next few years, I almost went mad from the malaise of being a guild member, as it's rather boring. However, one day I happened upon a chamber, unused for quite some time. In the room were stacks of books and maps of the surrounding cities and areas around the known world. For months, I would frequent the chamber, and learned of artifacts from legend. After a long period of research, I made a list of artifacts that caught my eye. I brought these findings to the high council and was told that all of the information in the chamber I had stumbled upon was either believed to be fiction, or unsolvable mysteries, and hence were lost forever. I found those answers to be unacceptable. A year later, I devised a ruse and managed to convince the city council to lend support in me leaving Draconia on a mission of peace and diplomacy for the surrounding kingdoms. Going from town to town and making friends and allies in and for the name of Draconia. Being a red dragonborn, I had quite the task on my hands in that respect, but it was exactly what I needed so I could explore the world and find these artifacts, as I felt the truth was out there. Some may describe me as buffoonish, but I say poppycock to all that. I am much sharper than most give me credit for. I just don't pay attention to things sometimes. I've also been known to be rather cunning, loyal, happy-go-lucky, and well, dangerous. I can't help but show my true scales every now and then. But overall, I think I'm quite friendly for a dragonborn.

LIAM: Never entirely welcome in the company of elves or men, Vax'ildan learned at a young age to skip past formality, preferring instead to invite himself in your door. Along with twin sister, Vex'ahlia, Vax was born by a chance encounter between elven royalty and human peasantry. Raised by their mother in their early years, the twins were eventually sent off to their father in the elven capital of Syngorn. But their cool reception among the elves there never warmed, and their time in the capital didn't last. The siblings stole away one autumn night and set out on the open road. After a few years of wandering, they eventually decided to return to their mother, and journeyed back to the lands of their youth. But instead of finding their childhood home, they returned to a pile of rubble. Their mother was gone, their home burned to ash. Pressing the townspeople for answers, they learned of the day the dragon came. With their ties all severed, Vax'ildan and his sister set out to find their fortune together in Tal'Dorei. An outsider since birth, Vax quickly learned to solve life's challenges in his own particular way, often by sidestepping them entirely. And when his knack for circumventing adversity isn't enough, the way of blades the elves schooled him in more than makes up the difference.

LAURA: Like so many half-elves, Vex'ahlia has spent most of her life suffering the cool reception of a people who don't fully accept her. Born of a human mother, and an elven father who only later in life took an interest in their existence, Vex'ahlia and her twin brother, Vax'ildan, quickly realized the only people they could truly rely on in this world were each other. It was at the age of ten when the two were taken from their mother, and brought to live in Syngorn, the isolated elven city for which their father was an ambassador. He quietly took them in, but always kept an icy distance, and after too many years of disdainful looks, the pair decided to leave his indifference behind, and set out on their own. Vax took to the cities, stealing small trinkets and learning the ways of the thief, while Vex kept to the woods. She preferred the isolation. Always the keen observer, she learned to hunt and to track, to spy and to shoot. Through a series of fateful events, earned herself a companion in the form of a bear– her own stolen Trinket – to fight alongside her and protect her fiercely. Also, he is adorable, and gives expert massages.

Part I[]

MATT: Hello, everyone! Sorry for the delay; we had a few folks that were in transit, but we're all good. We're all here now, and welcome to a very special episode of Critical Role. We have a number of members of our party that are on vacation this week, so as opposed to continuing a climactic endpoint of a long 11-12 week story arc, we're going to hold off a week and have them return next week to pick up where we left off, just after the battle with the big bad beholder, K'Varn the Mad. However, this week, what we're going to be doing is, essentially, a little workshop. A class, if you will, on Dungeons & Dragons and roleplaying games in general. For those of you out there that have never played before, for those of you who have played and want to pick up some new skills or ideas, and for many who are out there who have either had a hard time dungeon mastering or have been too scared to try being a dungeon master or game master, depending on your roleplaying game of choice, we're going to try to dispel some of that and give some tips and tricks along the way. So, first and foremost, let's go around the table and say hello to everyone who is here. We have Marisha Ray, who plays Keyleth in our usual campaign.


MATT: We have Taliesin, who plays Percy in our campaign.

TALIESIN: Greetings. Hello.

MATT: We have Orion, who plays Tiberius in our campaign.

ORION: Good evening, everyone.

MATT: And the birthday boy, Liam O'Brien.

LIAM: Oh, hi!


MARISHA: May birthdays for the win.

MATT: So we have the support team here from Critical Role to offer suggestions, answer questions, and help these other guys here I'm going to introduce in a second with their character creation for the end of the evening. I'm going to completely improvise on the spot a short game for these fellows, and we'll see how that pans out. For some of them, their first game of D&D. We shall see how that goes. So let's go ahead and introduce on this side of the table. We have Dan Casey.

DAN: Hello!

MARISHA: Dan Casey!

DAN: How are you doing?

MARISHA: Dan Casey, everybody. Dan Casey in the house!

TALIESIN: There we go. Dan Casey.

MARISHA: Yeah, Dan Casey.

MATT: Right over yonder.

MARISHA: Hollywood Squares.


DAN: Circle takes the square! What's up, guys?

MATT: What's your experience with roleplaying games?

DAN: I am sort of a lapsed D&D player. I played a lot of 3.5. I played some AD&D back in the day, when I had no idea what the term THAC0 meant, at all. I still don't.

MATT: Nobody still, to this day, knows.

DAN: It's an eldritch mystery not meant to be known by the likes of men.

MATT: Yes, completely agree. Thankfully, that's gone now.

DAN: Exactly! Yeah. So I've been playing a little bit recently. I just started a Pathfinder campaign with some friends, so I have a working knowledge, but I'm a little rusty, I would say.

MATT: Okay. No worries. We'll try and get you up to speed on that. We have in the middle here, dressed so eloquently, our fantastic overlord, Zac Eubank.

ZAC: I am the Snugglelord! There have been none before me and there will be none after. I am the Snugglelord.

MATT: It has been decreed, here and now.

LIAM: You killed and skinned a unicorn.

ZAC: You can stop.

ERIKA: Okay.


MATT: Our third party member of the newcomers tonight is in transit, as well, and should be here shortly. Should we introduce them or wait until they get here? What do you think?

ZAC: How are you doing, Ify? How's it going, man? Oh, good.

DAN: Cloak of Invisibility.

ORION: It's called “Giant Penis Jokes.”

MATT: There you go. We'll have Ify here shortly. Ify, as I know, plays D&D and knows it pretty well, so we're not losing any speed by continuing without him. To begin now, before we go, we have a few gifts here that came in.

MARISHA: We have more gifts?

MATT: I've got here an inflatable Cthulu beard for the dungeon master, so when I feel like going full eldritch horror on you guys, I'll have a nice visual tool to help– I'm wondering if you can eat through it.

MARISHA: I kind of think that the idea was so that you can be Clarota.

MATT: Right! I'm totally doing that next game.

MARISHA: I kind of think that's what they were going for.

MATT: That's true. I should do that now.

TALIESIN: But can you eat through it?

MARISHA: But can you eat?

MATT: I can strain food through it, is what it looks like.

MARISHA: Can we blow it up? Can we try it out?

MATT: Go for it. Yeah. There are tiny mouth holes that are all segmented, so it'd have to be a fine paste or a liquid bakery item I could push through.

DAN: Just pull it forward slightly and pour soup in.

MATT: (laughs) Perfect. This will work out well.

TALIESIN: It will keep the bay leaf out. That's very useful.

MATT: Also, somebody presented this fantastic glittery dragon dungeon master mug that I'm enjoying my delicious beverage out of. So this is delightful, and it's getting all over my hands, so don't question it later. It's the mug. I haven't been out late with strippers.

MARISHA: Uh-huh. Dragon strippers.

MATT: Dragon strippers. Those are the most expensive.

TALIESIN: They work for scale.


TALIESIN: There you are.

MATT: Also, this awesome crocheted beholder bag.


MATT: As representation of our fantastic boss battle with K'Varn last week. I'm going to find many cool things to put inside of this. Or just wear it when I'm alone at home. And nothing else. It'll be great.

ORION: And nothing else?

MATT: Yeah. Just this. (laughs) It's got the right texture. No. This is awesome. Thank you guys so much. These are amazing. We had a few more gifts come in as well, but they're party-centric, to the whole group, and I want to wait until we have everyone here before we distribute those, so for those of you who have sent those gifts, you know who you are, next week we'll be unveiling those when everyone is present because I think they deserve it. Also, there was a letter that because our boss battle ran long last week, I didn't get a chance to read on air, but I'd like to read it for you guys right now. From one of our fans.

MARISHA: That's hot, right?

MATT: We'll talk later. (clicks tongue) (laughs) “Dear amazing, talented, giving, friendly, sociable cast of Critical Role: With all those adjectives in the salutation, it might be hard to write a letter, but I will do my best. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you for giving us so much of your time each week. I mention it frequently that your performances call back to the golden age of radio and the large-cast performance dramas of the '20s and '40s.” Those were awesome times! We're all aware how busy you are, with work as well as family, yet you're able to visit us each week. On the rare instances your obligations prevent you from entertaining us, you've frequently joined us in chat, and Liam has stopped in a couple of times during other shows, as well. Your frequent drops in during the week are always a welcome surprise. The amount of involvement by you and the community is surprising, considering how busy you are, although not unexpected when you make it so abundantly clear that you care about us and enjoy your interactions with us.” Aw. You make me all touched, here. “There is a more collective statement about the entire community that is Team Hooman, but I really lose myself in a sense of awe at this community and how much we give and how supportive we are.” Which is very, very true. You guys are incredible. “Thank you so very much for being part of it and contributing to it. You are all proving to be amazing examples of hoomanity and are inspiring us to ever-greater things. I'm writing this letter the night of your Q&A,” which we did a couple weeks ago, “when we crossed the 1,000-shirt threshold and your generosity with your time and your honesty really creates a welcoming atmosphere. Your reactions when we, in our own small ways, contribute to the stream or the charity or the fandom, are enough to melt the coldest heart; and really, it only encourages us to do more. Watching you create this world, pulling out your character voices and hearing the amazing shit that comes out of Matt's mouth.” That's a phrase. It's amazing shit.


IFY: Hey!

MATT: There we go! In quotes, “Seriously, what the hell was that screech tonight?” Yeah, sorry about that. R.I.P. ears, I know. “Show everyone what D&D can be. Not everyone is a professional voice actor, but you don't have to be a voice actor. You can make yourself more grandiose and gesture more. Your body language embodies the characters just as much as your voice does, even if you don't realize it. I also have to thank you again for being generous enough to agree to sign the shirt for charity. I'm planning on cutting a loop of highlights to have running for people who might not be aware of Critical Role, but there are so many. Jolene is ecstatic that this will be a part of their auction and I can't tell you how rewarding that single reaction has been for me. I can't wait to see what they're able to raise for charity with it.” So happy we could help with that. “I would ramble on about you guys for a while, but it would merely be the disjointed ramblings of an overtired fan.” That's okay, we're– most of our talk is disjointed ramblings of overtired performers. “Keep doing what you're doing. It is clear that you're all amazing people and are more than welcome to join the Team Hooman Facebook group. Ryon, Felicia, Zac and most of the Twitch hosts are already there and it's generally a cool place to hang out and be supporting of everyone.” We'll check it out. We'll jump on that.

ORION: I've joined it already. Team Hooman.

MATT: “Thank you again for being such great examples of humanity and ambassadors of geekdom. It is a pleasure to be able to interact with you on the internets and occasionally via the Straw Poll.” (laughs) Engineering TPKs, well done. “Most sincerely, Scott Graupner, Useless Rogue.” Thank you so much, Scott, that's a wonderful letter.

MARISHA: Thanks, Useless Rogue!

MATT: It's amazing. Thank you so much.

MARISHA: Thanks, Scott.

MATT: This is sincerely, like, and I'm gonna take a moment here just to say, the community that has sprung forth for this entire Twitch stream, let alone from Critical Role, has been some of the most amazing and most invigorating examples of humanity I've experienced, not just on the Internet, but in life in general. And, in a world which is consistently beating down your faith in humanity, this is one of those bastions of light I think that lifts me up every day I wake up. So, thank you, guys, for being as amazing you are, for tuning in and for enduring us in a week in which we're not playing games, but talking about them. So, uh–

ZAC: Cool. I'm gonna poop-caboose that.

MATT: Do it!

ZAC: And be like: Hey, guys, don't forget to subscribe. We're like seven or eight subscribers away from giving away a signed photo of the Critical Role cast and a signed Player's Handbook, because that gets us at 3,150. Another 50 after that and we'll do the giveaway all over again. So get that Sub Train going.

IFY: I love that since you found a name for it you call it out.


IFY: How's it going, Orion? Yo, I'm about to coop-wibba-coop-wib…coop poop. Coop-caboose.

ZAC: Nope. Nope.


ZAC: Nope! Nope!

MATT: (Bill Cosby voice) Y'see, have the poop in da caboose and then it's overdone, y'see.

LIAM: Too soon, too soon.

TALIESIN: Way too soon. That just conjured up some bad–

MATT: I know. I know, I'm sorry. Hey-oh. So, introduce yourself! Ify, what you got?

IFY: Hey hey, I'm Ify Nwadiwe. You guys know me from Mulligan. Also, do stand-up comedy, acting and, y'know, kissing Zac's hands.

ZAC: You don't have– They didn't see that; they didn't know, and–

DAN: Nature's moisturizer.

MATT: You can recreate it, though. (laughs)

IFY: All right, see, I grabbed– I was like, “Hey, Zac.” Thought it was a regular handshake. (kiss) Surprise! It's a kiss among brothers.

LIAM: Well-roleplayed, well-roleplayed.

DAN: That's alarming.

MATT: That is a gift that will haunt you for the rest of your days, Zac.

ZAC: I didn't realize that by putting on this costume I was going to be inviting such behavior.

ORION: What, the Snugglelord?

ZAC: Yeah.

ORION: You didn't think that would…

ZAC: I didn't think it through, obviously.

MATT: Obviously.

TALIESIN: You get to make a wish if you touch the horn.

LIAM: Brings out your eyes.

MARISHA: I was gonna make a, “He was asking for it,” joke, but I feel like–

MATT: Yeah, no.

ZAC: Maybe, y'know– Maybe just– I mean, you kinda did.


DAN: Just took the long way around.

MARISHA: Took the long way around.

MATT: It is also the birthday of our fantastic half-elven ranger, Laura Bailey, who plays Vex in the show. The reason that their characters are twins is because they actually share a birthday and they created it that way, so that was kind of a cool little point there. But she's off with her husband in Greece having great vacation times or whatever. Pfft.

LIAM: Boring.

ORION: Wait. Oh, they went to the country, Greece.

TALIESIN: I thought they went to the show.

LIAM: They are seeing Greece. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. North Hollywood.

MARISHA: No, I don't think anyone does that anymore. Like, goes, y'know–

ORION: Well, I don't know. They might have interests I'm not aware of. Just saying.

MATT: That's very open-minded of you, Orion. Well done. All right, cool. So let's get this started.

ZAC: Let's learn!

MATT: So, we're gonna start here with a little overview of character creation. So, for most RPGs, especially those in the fantasy realm, this will be a very familiar aspect where there are many different game types that run different things, but usually the point goes you choose a race and you choose a class. The race defines your physical background, your family bloodline and what attributes that adds to you. A class is essentially the job or the way you've lived your life going forward and what skills you've acquired because of it. So, throughout the Player's Handbook– you can go ahead and turn through the first few pages; first couple sections. You'll see there are certain races like the dwarf, whom I love. Dwarves are awesome. Underrepresented.

MARISHA: If everyone can turn to page 62 in the Player's Handbook.

MATT: Exactly. It's in the Player's Handbook, my good man

ZAC: Technically, page 18. Page 18.

MATT: Dwarves are cool. They're sturdy. They're strong. They're a little brash. They're, y'know– If that's something you guys are thinking about as you're coming up with your character ideas, dwarves are fun for that reason. I'm gonna breeze through these 'cause we don't want you to spend 30 minutes on races. We have elves. Elves, you know elves. Lord of the Rings. Elves are cool. They have high elves which are a little more haughty and well-learned. We have the forest elves, or whatever it is they're called. Or are they just the basic– All right! We have wood elf, there we go. Which are more of the Legolas-style, you know, in the woods, hunting, being stealthy. And then you have the dark elves, which are the drow, that are from actually the Underdark, where you guys have been fighting through, though you have not encountered any drow in the Underdark.

MARISHA: We haven't!

TALIESIN: We had half a drow.

MATT: Stitch monster was elven, not drow.

TALIESIN: Oh, I thought it was a drow.

LIAM: They're mostly bad. Most are bad.

MATT: Yeah. So, there are also halflings, which, you could say hobbit, but I think the Dungeons & Dragons version of halflings are a little more awesome, butt-kicking, a little less, “I just want to stay home and make little farm animals.”

ZAC: We found what Lucas is. Short.


MATT: We got humans, which are cool and well-rounded, all across the board. You got dragonborn, which have dragon bloodlines, like Tiberius over here. Get like a breath weapon. Get really strong, charismatic. You have gnomes, which we have two gnomes in our campaign. They're the smallest of all the races. They're also probably the most nimble and the most naturally resistant against magic types, so they can–

LIAM: Are they the shortest?

MATT: They are the shortest. Yes. Shorter than dwarves and halflings. You also have half-elves, which we have quite a few in our campaign.

MARISHA: Represent!

MATT: Happened through some drunken evening between a human and an elf.

DAN: Sick.

MATT: Get a little bit of both sides. Then you have the half-orc, which is half-human, half-orc. Generally a much larger, stronger, quicker to anger, ready for battle type. And then you have the tieflings, who are humanoid but have somewhere in their previous bloodline some contact with demonic forces that left them with some essence of the Hells in their bloodlines. Like horns, tails, yellow eyes– Think Nightcrawler from X-Men, that's kind of what a tiefling would look like. Possibly with horns. So those are the races! So if you have some ideas, keep that in the back of your mind, and write down on your sheet what you think would be a cool race.

ORION: I think a new one is the djinn. Like there's like a djinn race, like there's an air, a water, and a fire and earth elemental– Like a half human and yeah–

DAN: Whoa, like an evil genie?

MATT: That's cool.

ORION: I think the new expansion, like djinns, however you say it.

MATT: And of course, we also have the goliaths, which are half-giants. We're not going to be working with that tonight, 'cause those were in the new Elemental Evil edition. That's what Grog is. They're big, strong guys. So keep in mind the race you want to play, which is cool. Classes we got! So, we got barbarian. Grog is a great example of a barbarian. Big, hearty, warrior types that shun armor for just pure aggression and anger. They use rage as a means of destroying their foes, upping their abilities in combat and preventing mental effects magically affecting them. We have bards. Bards are vastly skilled across the board. They have skills of all types, even things they don't know very well; they know a little bit of everything, kind of a jack of all trades. They have some minor spellcasting. They also can inspire other people with songs, speech and help them out with certain skill checks. Bards are pretty cool. We got clerics. Your healers. But you say healer, you're like, “I don't want to be a healer.” Clerics also have access to really powerful divine magic, so while people may be, “Oh, Clerics are dumb, you heal the party,” they can also call down divine judgment, which is great.

MARISHA: Also, having a healer is really nice. Yeah. Nice being able to have a healer.

TALIESIN: The hell, dude? Yeah, we should've just worn the same shirt.

MATT: But don't feel like you have to. This is a one-shot. You guys can pick whatever you want. We got druids, which do–

DAN: (laughs) Yeah. Total party wipe.

MATT: Exact– Oh, it could happen. I won't feel guilty about this one.


ZAC: Thanks, man. C'mon.

MATT: Hey. First time in the game! Done.

DAN: I take the physical challenge.


MATT: Physical challenge, physical challenge. Druids also have some healing capabilities. They also have more nature-based magics. They're cool and they control nature. And can turn into beasts, and creatures like that. Keyleth is a druid.

TALIESIN: Giant scorpions.

MATT: Indeed. We have fighters! Fighters are just straight-up fighters. Imagine what a fighter is. That's a fighter. They can use all armor and all weapons. They can generally get more attacks than other classes. They're generally like the marshal, the generals, the warriors, the pit fighters. They're just more rough and tumble, let's just damage each other. We've got monks! Monks. Crazy fast. Punch and do awesome damage with their bare fists. They can avoid things; they can do multiple hits per round; they can use ki points to inflict different types of attacks. Monks are basically: if you wanna be Ip Man in the middle of a D&D campaign, pick a monk.

ORION: And I believe like the monk and sorcerer are the only ones that have like the point system?

MATT: Yeah. We have paladins. Bastion of good and right in the world, paladins stand for law and wonder, and if anyone proves themselves evil they will be destroyed and smited by the divine energies of their god. So, they're generally pretty pious; they fight for good; they fight for the underdog; they can– like a fight–

MARISHA: Just saw Zac perk up there.

ZAC: Yeah.

MATT: They have good fighting abilities. They can wear and use most armor and weapons, but they also get a little bit of divine cleric-based magic and they can heal with a touch.

LIAM: Total boy scouts.

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: Total boy scouts.

MATT: We got rangers, which is what Laura's character, Vex'ahlia, is. They have good either two-weapon or ranged combat. They can pick a companion animal if they want to, that's how Trinket came about. Y'know, definitely the Legolas of Lord of the Rings type. Arrow, arrow, arrow, everything's getting arrows. Arrow'd! And they got rogues, which is what Liam plays in our game. Rogues are all about stealth, stabbing in the back, finding weak points of their enemies and doing serious damage with precision strikes by distracting their enemies and finding where their weak points are. They generally don't have a lot of hit points or defenses, but if they can get in there sneakily, they'll do some serious damage. Then we got sorcerer, which Tiberius is, which is a magical caster, arcane-based. Whereas a wizard is more of like the classic wizard you see with giant spell books– learning and, y'know, Harry Potter-style classes and that kind of learned magical ability– sorcerers have it innately in their blood from their bloodlines somehow. And their casting ability is kind of like an improvised thing they just learned and are good at, so imagine more of a less-learned, less-controlled wizard that mostly understands some magic naturally. Whereas the wizard is the, y'know, the well-learned spell book type; more studious; have a larger breadth of spells to pick from. But the sorcerer's a little more improvised and can use points to instill power with it. Last but not least, we got a warlock. Warlocks are magical practitioners who draw their magic from making a pact with some otherworldly entity. It can be like demons or the Nine Hells and they draw more hellfire and infernal-type magics. They can make a pact with dark fey, which are basically like creepy Oberon-style, y'know, fairy elf people from A Midsummer Night's Dream; or the Great Old Ones, like Cthulhu. Hi, Cthulhu, give me magic. What could possibly go wrong? Those are warlocks. So those are primarily your classes you get to pick. You choose a race and you choose a class. You guys have some ideas yet of what you might want to play tonight?

ZAC: Oh, most definitely. Yeah.

IFY: Oh yeah.

DAN: Oh, a hundred percent.

MATT: Well, what do you want to play? Let's start with Dan. Dan, what do you want to play?

DAN: I'm going to be a dwarven rogue. Yeah. Rogue tumbler. Not the block.

MATT: All right, fantastic. How about you, Zac?

ZAC: I am the Snugglelord. I am a warlock tiefling. And I derive my powers from all holy overlord of Geek and Sundry. The evil overlord.

MATT: Okay. That would fall under Infernal. Okay.

MARISHA: This is feeling really meta.

ZAC: No.

MATT: Yeah, I'm gonna say that that most definitively falls under the Fiend Pact. Yup. So you're in a fiend pact. And then, what do you got, Ify?

IFY: Ha! I'mma be Ulfgar Fireforge. Fighter. Dwarf. Two-handed swordsman. Cut your face off. Take your money.


IFY: a.k.a. True Neutral.

MATT: All right.


MARISHA: True Neutral! Do it!

MATT: This is gonna be a very fun, short game.


ZAC: We got this! What are you talking about?

DAN: Never made it out of that first tavern.


MATT: Aw, man, you guys–

ZAC: I set the place on fire.


MATT: Wait, we're not there yet! We're not there yet! Hold it– Hold it back, hold it back! Cool. So, for each of you guys, let's go ahead and roll up some stats for you. So what you do to decide what your attributes are for your characters, that basically says how strong they are; how hearty their physicality is; how fast they are. And you have strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma. Those are the six stats. So, for you guys, if you want to go ahead and take– There are different ways of rolling stats. Some people do a point-buy system where you start with a certain base stat and you can buy based on points. For this, we're gonna use my favorite system to do, which is you roll 4d6–

IFY: Oh, my favorite, too.

MATT: Drop the lowest. Arrange as desired. So I guess for those of you who haven't seen how the dice work, there are different dice values in the game. You have a d4, which is a four-sider dice. So it's the little caltrop. Painful to step on. You got a d6, your typical six-sided dice; d8, which is a little more pointy, that's an eight-sider. You got a ten-sider, which comes in two varieties: regular or additional numbers– this is if you're doing percentage rolls, you know what the percentile dice numbers are. Pardon me. A d12, which is only really used if you're a barbarian, apparently. It's the saddest and the red-headed stepchild of D&D.

TALIESIN: I use a d12.

MATT: Oh yeah, that's right, you use it, too! It's great. I'm happy. It needs more love, it needs more love. d12 needs more love. And the d20, which is the most-used dice in the game. Most all decisions are based on a 20-sided dice. We'll get into that in a little bit. So, for the statistics, I need you guys to go ahead and take 4d6– so four six-sided dice. We'll start– whoever wants to start, go ahead and you–

MARISHA: I have the four– those four right up front.

ZAC: Right up front?

MARISHA: There you are.

MATT: You roll them, drop the lowest number–

DAN: Yahtzee.

MATT: Starting with a seven! Awesome.

DAN: Yeah! Big sev'!


MATT: So, you can decide where you want to put your seven, in any of those stats.

MARISHA: If your stats are super crappy, we'll roll again.

MATT: No, we won't.

MARISHA: No, we won't. Not tonight. Never mind. But normally if your stats are super crappy–

DAN: It's not that kind of campaign! No, play it where it lies.

MATT: You can put it wherever you want to. Ten is an average score. An average person has a ten.

DAN: So C-.

MARISHA: What we generally do is roll all six and then write them down, and then decide where you want them. Okay.

MATT: What you got over there?

ZAC: I have 15 on my first one.

IFY: Eight!

MATT: Ooh! Nice. 15 and eight. What you got, Dan?

IFY: Oh. Sorry, that counts as a six.

DAN: Oh, there we go! Big 13. Big 13 in the house.

IFY: So that was– I'm sorry. Correction: 14, was that.

MATT: All righty.

IFY: Apparently, this was from a wild western and they have a bull's head as a six instead of a–

MATT: There you go. All righty. And we'll say for the purposes of this we'll give you guys each, if you want to– Roll five times, not six.

ZAC: Five times, okay.

DAN: (laughing) All right, 12.

MATT: Okay, so roll five times, and then everyone, for the purposes of this game–

DAN: Oh, finally. 17.

MATT: There you go.

ZAC: All right, and then we choose where they go.

MATT: So, you rolled five times, you have five numbers, then take a 16.

DAN: Ooh!

MATT: You can put it anywhere you want.

ZAC: Why, thank you, good sir.

MATT: I figure for this, that way if anyone just rolls crappy, then they're not doing too bad.

DAN: Get that seven, for a bit of character.

MATT: Dude. Lower stats are some of my favorites. Like, honestly, having something lower than ten, at least one, is great. That's how Grog got his intelligence to six, Tiberius's wisdom of four. Like, those are great defining characteristics of a character, so–

MARISHA: Yeah. I generally have a charisma of eight, but I have that circlet which is boosting me.

MATT: Boosts you to average. From below. (laughs)

MARISHA: Which just makes me average. Right.

LIAM: Everyone's gonna play this game the way they want to, but I think if you're playing it for like the numbers and maxing out your numbers, and the like, “How can I deal the most damage,” when you're picking your skills, it's less fun, Like, choose the things that draw you to it as a character or personality or– Be really weak with powerful magic or be totally musclebound like Grog with a– and be a, y'know, an idiot.

ORION: That's why Tiberius is so bumbly sometimes and really doesn't know shit. It's his first time out in the world–

DAN: Unless you're super into math, which I'm not.

MATT: But go math.

DAN: Yeah, if that's your bag, do it.

MATT: Cool. So, once you have your stats arranged, from that point you can start going to your characters. And we're gonna go ahead and just make level two characters. Relatively simple. For this first game. If you look to where your classes are it'll have a hit point value, as well, and we're gonna roll how many hit points you have. Everyone starts with, at level one, max hit point value. And I think, let's see, for the rogue, we have a d8. So you start at eight hit points.

DAN: Oh, boy, I'm gonna roll again?

MATT: And you roll 1d8 to add to that for level two.

DAN: Two!

MATT: Two, all right.

DAN: A hot ten. Double digits. Don't like to brag.


MATT: Now, what's your constitution?

DAN: Oh, that will– I haven't assigned them yet.

MATT: Okay.

DAN: But– 'Cause I wanted to– I know as a dwarf, I get plus two to my constitution. Correct?

MATT: True. Exactly. Yup.

DAN: Okay.

MARISHA: Yeah, you get certain racial stat bonuses depending on what race you choose.

MATT: Yeah. Yeah, what we'll do is we'll do a couple of choosing things and then I'll have you guys go over and help them with actually building the minutia of the characters while I go over the Dungeon Master section of this.


LIAM: You had to bring race into it.

MATT: I do. I know. Cool, so to just get the hit point roll out of the way, too, for you, Zac.

ZAC: Cool, so it's a d8?

MATT: As a warlock, you are– (sings) you are rolling! A d8, as well. So you start with eight and then add this to it.

ZAC: Eight.

MATT: Cool. 16.

IFY: Nice. Good roll.

MATT: And you got a d10.

IFY: Ten. Ten, and then imma add five.

MATT: 15 on you. The warlock has the most hit points.


MATT: We'll see where everyone's constitution lies in a bit. So, stats? Ten is average, and then every two above a ten creates a modifier. So, like a 12? That stat, it has a plus one modifier. At 14, it's a plus two. At 16, it's a plus three. 18, a plus, and so on. And what that modifier is, is it's the bonus you get to any ability or attempt you make towards something that falls under that stat's category. Like, if you're trying to break through a door, you'd roll a d20 and add your strength. Y'know? Or if you're trying to, like a lot of the– The reflex saving– or the dexterity saving throws, it's based off your dexterity, you'd roll a d20 and then add what your modifier would be for your dexterity. So those modifiers based on your stat are what affect your d20 rolls for most everything you do in the game. Let's see. So those are the stats. We'll get to skills here in a moment. Well, you guys will go over the specifics of that with them. But everyone should be at a proficiency bonus of plus two. You should see at the top left of your sheet, it says proficiency bonus. Above your stats. Put a plus two in there. Now under each class, in your section, it'll have a section for skills. It'll say which skills you're proficient in. Under proficiencies. And it'll have you choose a few. What you do is, in the character sheet you have these nice little bubbles here that you get to fill in next to those skills. Those mark which ones you're proficient in. So you can go ahead and choose those, and fill 'em in. Let's see. I think for now, if you guys want to go over and help them get their classes a little underway of getting the minutia of that building process, I'm gonna jump into the next section of this.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, let's do this.

MATT: All right, so you guys, feel free to go over there and help them.

LIAM: Okay. You're gonna chat, while we–?

MATT: Yup.

LIAM: Great.

MATT: Keep it a little quiet. We're gonna turn those mics down over there. We're gonna keep on mine and I'm gonna go ahead and go over more of the actual Dungeon Mastering–

MARISHA: Who wants to pick who for their coach?

ZAC: I need all the help in the world.

MARISHA: Do we have like individual coaches?

ZAC: Who wants to be really disappointed at the end of the night?

LIAM: Me, me, me!

ZAC: Okay, help me!

ORION: Which one of you is a caster? What are you, Ify?

IFY: I'm a fighter, so–

MATT: All righty. So! Let's move on to the next section here. Welcome to the role of a Dungeon Master, or Game Master of this. So, there are a number of things that you're required to be when it comes to Dungeon Mastering. Largely, your goal is to be a fair judge. You take all the actions and the activities and the intent and the phrases that the players do, and you judge whether or not it was a good attempt or a bad attempt, and modify a difficulty based on it. Basically, for most things that are actively a challenge in the game, you as the Dungeon Master decide how difficult it is given the circumstance. If it's a really, really weak door someone's trying to kick through, like the door's been dilapidated and rotting, you might say it's pretty easy, so you give it like a score of seven to ten as the difficulty. And then whoever's trying to break it has to roll equal to or higher than that number. If it's an iron-reinforced door, that's gonna be a much higher number. So a lot of what you're doing is you're judging how difficult a challenge currently is versus what a player is trying to do. The player rolls and adds their modifiers, you decide how difficult it is in the back of your head– you can tell them if you want to or you can keep it in your head– and then roll off and see if it succeeds or not. And then based on if it succeeds or not, you tell the players what the consequences are of the circumstance. Really low rolls can make for some hilarious botches; really awesome rolls can make for some great heroic moments. So you wanna judge that aspect a lot; it's a lot of what your job is as a Dungeon Master.

You're also to rationalize the world around them. So– If we can keep the volume down just a little bit, guys. It's all good, it's all good. It's all good. So, rationalizing the world around them. Now, what I say about that is, when they encounter NPCs– which is a non-player character, anyone that's not controlled by the players– and they have a conversation or they do something in front of them, that non-player character's gonna have a reaction. So you as the Dungeon Master, or Game Master, you decide based on what they've done or what they've said, the personality of the character that you're playing, how they would react to that circumstance. Favorably, unfavorably. And so a lot of your experience as Dungeon Master is rationalizing that relationship back and forth. If they're a really charismatic character that comes, reads the NPC well and kinda sees that maybe– “They dress well, maybe they like a lot of money,” and so they open the conversation about money and how they can be paid. That's gonna be a very favorable reaction, so if they're trying to convince the NPC to do something, you might consider a relatively low difficulty. If it's a progressive conversation and the player keeps bungling their words or rolling poorly throughout the conversation, that difficulty might get higher and higher by the end of the conversation for them to finally convince them to do something. So, you're constantly gauging how well they're doing in a social encounter versus how easy it is for the NPC to believe what they're saying.

Also, you'll find challenges that are conflicting or versus, where the player rolls versus an NPC. An example of that would be someone trying to deceive somebody, to lie to somebody, versus their insight. And so what you'd do is the player, if they're trying to lie to an NPC, they'd go ahead and roll, add their deception skill and then me as the Dungeon Master, or you as the Dungeon Master, would roll a d20, add that NPC's insight skill– and if you haven't decided one, you can make one up on the spot based on how insightful that kinda NPC might be– and compare the two. If they lose, they'd probably believe the player. If they win, they don't and it's your decision whether or not they wanna show that card or go along with it, secretly knowing that they were lying and then have that bite them in the ass later on. So you wanna be a fair judge, and rationalize the world around them and how NPCs react to what they're doing.

One of the biggest aspects of being a Game Master, or Dungeon Master, in my opinion, is understanding that you're here to tell a story and you're here to allow the players to be heroes. The reason you play this game is you want that heroic journey. And there are many people that enjoy games that are very versus, very conflicting, and very, like, Dungeon Master versus players, trying to kill them, they're trying to survive; and that's totally fine, too, just make sure up front that you and the players discuss what kind of game you want to play. Nothing's worse than having a player sign on-board, make characters, get a few sessions in and realize that they're now locked into a campaign that is very aggressive and very fight-and-survive, versus what they wanted was a very plain, happy, y'know, fantasy experience, so make sure that you're very open with your players in the get-go what kind of campaign you want to run. In my opinion, it's the most fulfilling if it's a collaborative experience, where you provide challenges, you provide difficulty, you provide high stakes and there is that threat of death, but you never want the players to feel like you're working against them. You want to be a, kind of, an impartial judge and be firm but fair, which is why it's so scary sometimes when they get close to a TPK, because I set it up a certain way, they play it a certain way and you let the dice fall as it does. Or in some cases it works in their favor, like a long-standing boss fight you prepared a lot that they happened to roll really well on and kill your beholder. Totally fine. (laughs) Good for them. 'Cause who knows what's coming next? So, present challenges, present difficulty, but never really with the intent to make the players feel like they're unfairly being beaten down and you're just trying to kill them off in some power-hungry spree, 'cause it just generally ends negatively and badly.

Also, in that same vein, you want to reward good thinking, guile, and good in-character actions and roleplaying, and punish reckless, against-character behavior. A good example was Pike, as a cleric, early in the game she was, y'know, beginning to be a little cruel and, y'know, while she is a war cleric, and combat and battle is not unfamiliar to her, cruelty was, and unnecessary cruelty began to fall into a negative point of favor with her deity, Sarenrae, causing the holy symbol to begin to crack and we're kinda seeing where that's gonna play out down the road. Conversely, if someone does something really cool in-character or something that really kind of changes the dynamic or has everyone else at the table going like, “Whoa,” that's really great and maybe you want to reward them with an inspiration dice, which is– if you guys have seen the inspiration mechanics– you can lend inspiration dice to players, which allows them to give a bonus to one of the rolls they make. Our bard, Scanlan, can give those out as an ability, but you as the DM can also give those out if somebody does something really cool. And if someone does something really risky, but really crazy dynamic, even if it seems near-impossible, let them try, let the players try things that are crazy. They might have a really low chance of working and they'll fail spectacularly, and those will still make for great stories and great memories in that game. So, y'know, let the players be heroes, present them with challenges, reward them for good in-character decisions, and try and detract them from making out-of-character decisions that take and rob the fun from the other players, as well. I mean, everyone can play as they want to. If you're running an evil campaign or you have an evil character in a game that's, like, starting to undermine the rest of the party, that can be interesting as long as all the players understand and are down with that type of experience. Once again, that's the conversation you have at the beginning about what everyone's trying to get out of the game.

Then, another job of the DM, and one of the other larger jobs, is you build the world. You build the world, you help the players tell the story and you work together to find where the story's going from there. I'll get into more detail with that shortly, but you– This is your tale. You can either buy an existing module which has a pre-built world and you can customize it however you feel; you can play it stringently as to how the module's built; you can expand upon it; or you can do what I do with this and just build everything from scratch and see where it goes. It's a lot of work and the DM does have a lot more time they have to put into the game, but it's, in my opinion, one of the more fulfilling experiences you can have as a gamer, because you get to watch all these people play in your sandbox and build their own sand castles and it's kind of exciting to watch them flourish in your own creative space and play off of you. So I, y'know, while I do complain on occasion I don't get a chance to play too often, the experience I have watching other people, y'know, find these moments, they– Y'know, it's– To me, it's fascinating and very rewarding, so– I know it's a lot of front-loading on this, but (laughs) just trying to explain to you the gist of this.

So as a Dungeon Master, you want to be a fair judge; you want to rationalize the world around them; you want to try and make sure the players have the opportunity to be heroes and have those heroic moments; reward them for doing good, cool things; try and detract them from ruining other people's fun or doing things that are out of character; and build a world for them to play in. So, in these books, and in any RPG book, there are many rules about how to do combat, how to do social interactions, and you can read up on that. You can take a look at what's in there and, understand, you can play these by the book, completely as they are inside, and it's a great rule system, it works really well. But everything in here, in all these books, are guidelines. Anything can be changed, anything can be altered, anything can be customized to how you want it to be. If you don't like how movement or actions work in the game, you can change it however you see fit– and just notify the players that's the case, of course, otherwise they might feel a little, y'know, taken advantage of if they don't understand the changes you've made– but, you can change and alter anything you want in the game. It's just guidelines for you to play off of. I know I've homebrewed a few things and occasionally aspects of being used to Pathfinder bleed over as well, but you just take it as it comes.

The bottom line is, as a Dungeon Master or as a Game Master, it's your world and you can– your word is law. People can't really argue with you unless it's a rules question that you didn't clarify before, in which case you kinda have to go in the favor of the player if it's something you didn't clarify, but for the most part you play the part of the overall god of this world and the players also have to respect that what you say goes. That's kinda that weird dynamic between the players and the DM, it's kinda– it's a respect mechanic, you don't want the players to lose respect for you because then they stop– well, partially enjoying it, but also they start feeling that antagonistic relationship which can be a little stressful for both points. So, customize the rules as you see fit. We homebrewed Percy's gunslinger class over from Pathfinder, because we just– when we converted over, there was no equivalent and so we made something up, and we're trying it out, it's a work-in-progress, it's by no means perfect but it seems to be doing okay and it keeps it fun for him without completely changing the dynamic of the character he already created. I know they'll probably release a gunslinger equivalent in the future or something and it might be vastly different from what he has, but we're gonna stick with this because it's what he's used to and it's what he's built his character's personality and combat around. So yeah, just keep that in mind.

The next bit, and this is kind of a big suggestion point for a lot of you guys. A large part of the DM's time is spent worldbuilding. I say worldbuilding, it's creating all the little details and the aspects of the world you want the players to play in. There are parts that, like, creating a society, building towns and villages, designing dungeons and encounters, all that crazy stuff all comes together into that world that you're creating. Shh shh shh shh shh shh shh. Thank you. We have to keep everything down a little bit. But you want to start somewhere and it seems very daunting as a Dungeon Master, especially a new one, to say, “How do I– How do I create all this– How do I– Where do I start?” And that's a difficult question. Sometimes, for your first couple games, it doesn't hurt to look at a module, go out and pick up one of the existing Dungeons & Dragons adventure books that outlines for you how a city would be built, how NPCs would be built, and how they would play out and respond to certain circumstances. It's a good way to train yourself to see how that process would look when it's finished, so if you decide to create your own campaign or customize aspects you know where to build off of.

If you're building your own world, I'd recommend starting with a small society, a small village or a small town. And you're like, “Okay, I'm gonna build a small town. Where's this town gonna be? What's the topography?” You're like, “Okay, it can be like in a middle of a forest village,” that'd be more natural-based, kind of farmer society. Or it could be your archetypical urban environment with a very thriving trade society, a mercantile-run, y'know, people. It could be a port town, it sees a lot of trade but also has that kind of travel aspect, it's a mixing pot of cultures. Or it could be just a small farm town that's constantly under siege. But you want to start with some bastion of civilization, some place where the players can meet other characters, find adventure, find quests and find conflict. So you decide, “Okay, where do you want this small town to be?” As an example, we'll say this is– y'know, we'll use the first town they started in the campaign: Stillben. Stillben I built as a swamp town. It is a port town, but it's built in this clutch center portion of a large swamp to the far east of that continent, so you're like, “Okay, it's a swamp town. How big is it?” You think about it. You're like, “How many people do you think live there? Let's say, maybe– maybe 600 people.” It's not a huge town. It's not very happy living conditions 'cause it's very humid there. The swamp air itself is not very enjoyable to be around, so it doesn't have a huge population, but those that do live there, consistently, they make a good living 'cause they can live through this whole horrible-living swamp experience and can make use of the trade that comes through. So you're like, “All right, about 600 people or so.”

Then you start breaking down into what factions there might be in that city. “Is there a thieves' guild or an element of shadow in the town? Is there a merchant guild? Is there a builders' guild? Is there a sailors' guild?” Think of what type of work would be available in this town and you start building factions based on that. When you have a faction, then you can start fleshing out NPCs, or non-player characters, that fit in that faction. “Is there a thieves' guild? How many people in the thieves' guild? Would it have a leader?” You don't have to worry about fleshing out every single member of the thieves' guild, but consider like two or three main NPCs that might be part of that thieves' guild. So you can say, “All right, one of them will be, we'll say, a female tiefling who's good with longswords.” She's trained into longswords. You're like, “All right, cool.” So you can just write up her name. Come up with a random name– you can look up online for random NPC name generators– and write down her name. We'll say, for this, she's taken her “virtue” name of Edge. We'll call her Edge. So, Edge is a female tiefling leader of the thieves' guild. Now Edge, what about her, aside from being good with longswords, is a dynamic aspect of her personality. Well, is she ornery? Is she very sly and charismatic? Is she the kinda person that lets everyone else do the dirty work and just stays in the shadows or does she like to be kind of the face-man of the thieves' guild? Kinda just decide some sort of a personality aspect to her of those or many other types. You can go ahead and say, “All right, we'll say she's charismatic as some tieflings get a bonus in charisma.” So she likes to be kind of the speaking mouth of the thieves' guild. So you'll say, “She's charismatic; she's well-spoken; and she does well in social environments.” A few quick notes about her personality just to remind you later on, if she pops up, how she would play out. “She's charismatic.” Then you think, and this is one thing that I think every NPC you should write down some aspect of, “What do they want? And what do they fear?” You can make a shit-ton of really simple NPCs with just the information of their name, what race and class they are, what they want and what they fear; and that's all you really need to branch out any conversation or encounter they go through. So for Edge, what does Edge want? Edge wants respect and money. As Edge– respect and money, 'cause as the head of a thieves' guild those are the two things that guide her. Yes?

ORION: Are you gonna do the backgrounds for them?

MATT: We'll get to that when you finish all the rest of the stuff.

MARISHA: We're doing backgrounds now.

MATT: Well, you can do your backgrounds on your way, then. We'll go through it. It's fine.

MARISHA: Yeah, but do it. Do the background–

MATT: It's fine. So! So she wants respect and money. What does she fear? She fears being exposed to the masses for her demonic blood, knowing that this is a suspicious town. You can go that route. Or you could say she fears being discovered by her long-estranged, demonic father. Or you could say that she fears– she fears being alone, and she surrounds herself by thieves and folk that fear her because it allows herself to feel like she's in control of an aspect of her life. These are all different possible fears you can go with. I'm gonna say she fears being found by her demonic father. And so, those notes there say she's a female tiefling, she's a rogue with longswords, she seeks money and respect, she fears being discovered by her demonic father. These are all you need to now play that character and you just need to put those notes aside. And if the players ever find their way in that town asking around and discovering where a thieves' guild might be or if they're finding where, like, they can find a fence to sell stolen goods to or to find information about the seedy underbelly of the nearby town of Stillben in the swamp, they might find different people willing to give that information depending on how their social rolls are.

If they're persuading well or, if persuasion doesn't work, you can intimidate the information out of somebody in which they scare someone enough to eventually give up a name, and they'll say, “Edge. Edge is the one you want to talk to.” When they ask around and start finding more information about Edge, they could decide to infiltrate the thieves' guild and find her personally. That might be a little aggressive and you consider, “If a person breaks into a thieves' guild, the thieves' guild will take that as a sign of aggression and will probably meet them with battle.” If they instead try and find a member of the thieves' guild and parley with them, they could persuade them to speak to Edge on their behalf, in which case they might actually have the opportunity of speaking with her one-to-one in a not-quite-as-aggressive circumstance. It can go any which way and that's kind of the– The interesting part of being a Dungeon Master is you never know what the players are gonna do. You set up these characters, you set up this world and you kinda let them play, and all you're doing is reacting to everything they do, rationalizing how the world would react to what they're doing.

So, let's say the players are like, okay, they asked around, they found somebody who did some work with the thieves' guild, they intimidated some information out of them about Edge; you then find somebody you think may be associated with the thieves' guild and you pay them a lot of money and persuade them to go ahead and speak to Edge on their behalf, asking that she would meet with you at this inn at this time. Your party then goes to that inn room and waits for a while. Over a short period of time, it seems like she's not gonna show up, based on how you think she would react to that experience. I'd say she's curious enough that someone sought her out that she would want to hear what they have to say, 'cause there might be money in it. Let's say the party has gained some renown in the local village, perhaps she wants to align herself with these upcoming adventurers, there's always money to be gained there. So you have her knock on the door. As the party enters the door, there's nobody there, but at that same moment they hear the sliding of glass, turn around, notice that she slipped in through the back window and is now leaning against the back wall with her arms crossed, waiting expectantly for them to start the conversation since they so openly sought her existence.

So now they're in a conversation with Edge. You can decide how to play their personality. If you want her to be as charismatic as you said before, she would bow deeply; you could say that she was happy to introduce herself and, while hearing some things about the party, she's eager to understand what it is they might have to do with her. Let the party explain now what it is that they want from her. Then you decide: does it fall within the respect and money she wants? She could tell them, “I'll help you with this circumstance, as long as you pay me this much.” Or, conversely, “I'll help you with this, as long as you can talk to so-and-so in the town and get them to drop this bounty on my head.” Y'know? You think of what things would fall into her wants and needs the party could do for her and in turn could help them. However, if they've talked around the town, they may notice that she has demonic lineage, and they might bring it up in conversation and see her reaction. She might be very good at hiding that aspect. She might be able to, y'know, to say, “Well, yes, I'm a tiefling indeed, but, y'know, that is not of my own doing.” The players could then go, “Huh. She seems uncomfortable. I'm gonna roll an insight check on this,” then roll an insight check– they roll a d20, adding their insight skill. The DM then, you, privately would go ahead and roll a deception roll, or a persuasion roll depending on what you thought was the circumstance for that, versus their roll and let them know what they read off of her awkwardness. If they roll really low, you'd be like, “She just seems put off by the fact that you've never seen a tiefling.” If they roll really well, you could tell them that at the notion of tiefling and demonic blood, she fidgets and looks over her shoulder, seemingly like she's afraid something's following her. Then the party can press her in that regard, and begin to say things like, “Well, if you aren't gonna help us, we have a warlock friend who does dealings with the infernal and we know your name now. If there's someone chasing you, y'know, we could call them on you unless you help us.” Now it becomes– as opposed to a persuasion, it becomes an intimidation-based experience; and if they can manage to convince her to help out of sheer intimidation and fearing for what she doesn't want to happen, she becomes an ally, although a much more tenuous relationship.

So that's an NPC that I just made up right now and fleshed out. But really, the basis you need for an NPC, to build off any of those circumstances, is: a name, a race and class, what they want, what they fear. Those are some of the biggest things you need to– everything else can be improvised on the spot. Like I said, it's all reactionary as a DM, which is great, because once you set the world, the players drive the story, and you just react off what they're doing and rationalize how the world would react to it. I understand this is a lot of information up front, but I'm trying to get as much information into this talk as I can 'cause we have a limited time and I've had a lot of questions today I'm trying to get through for you guys. So I hope this has been helpful. We'll get to questions in a second so I can answer things specifically to you.

So that's an NPC you can create. You can create the same way for like a local cleric, a barkeep. You could be like, his race, he could be a dwarven barkeep. He's not even a fighter; or maybe he once was a fighter, but he gave up the life, used his winnings in some sort of a brawling ring when he was younger to buy this tavern, and that's all he really does, but he's well-connected and has information. What are his wants? He wants money, but he also wants to possibly purchase a tavern across the town that is failing that he thinks could expand his business. What does he fear? Being closed down, or possibly getting arrested because of maybe some things he did in his past that are a little shady that he hoped nobody would remember. So now, when someone talks to that innkeep, there are many different ways they could take that conversation, and many different little ideas you might have as gives as to what they're seeking and what they're afraid of. And those are just cool little notes you make to yourself down the road that if they ever decide to enter that tavern and talk to that NPC, you look down and you immediately know where they stand, what they want, what they don't want and how they can help or hinder the NPC– or the players based on what they do.

So that's building a very small town and a small NPC. You flesh out a couple and then you build off from there. And it takes some time, y'know? You can crank out a few NPCs; and you can railroad it as much as you want to. If you don't want to spend a lot of time building a big sandbox game for all your players, you can play a pretty standard, straightforward story. You can decide the players are gonna go to this tavern; the players are gonna go to this, y'know, this home here; they're gonna go to this one mercantile– this kind of textile warehouse where they're gonna find a hidden underground passage that leads to an altar to some forgotten god. In which case you can decide, no matter what happens, you can send the players– let them wander a bit and have fun, but let them know very early in, “You hear that there is some shaky business going on in this town. People in the tavern are whispering about these murders that have been happening in the village. You're like, 'Huh?'” They'll start asking about the murders and that's when you can point them towards, “Well, we've only heard, y'know, that these people have been being killed when passing around this part of town; and they arrested one man last week, but he was let go from the suspicions and he lives at this house.” Now the players will be like, “Oh, well we have to go talk to the guy at that house.” You lead them to that house. They go talk to the guy. The guy might be like, “I don't know what you're talking about.” You press him for information, you find out that he used to work for this textile business and he– Eventually you can either drive that he helped with these murders or that he knows who is and they work with this mercantile. Then, now you send them straight to this warehouse that contains all this, y'know, cloth and textile woodwork-type materials. They might break inside, search the place, find nothing, but if they roll well enough they'll find the trapdoor that leads down into the altar.

So, that was an example of a very thorough line to a story that you could drive them towards and let them play within that zone. If you have a lot of free time, you could build that; you could build one storyline that deals with one of the local lords that is in danger of having his home completely taken by him because of debt; or you could do another side-story at the same time that has something to do with a local inn, that their basement has recently had a sinkhole collapse underneath the bottom of it that opened up a cavern of a bunch of strange, mutated, y'know, rats that are coming out of some terrible-smelling cavern. And all of these can be just aspects that are in the town at all given points in time the players may find. And you let them discover that. It still takes a little more time to prepare that, but that's up to you as a DM as to how much your free time is and how much you can prepare for. Y'know, don't be afraid to, if you don't have a lot of time, to railroad the players a little bit, as long as you make them feel like they're– (laughs) they're in control of it; and they are in control of it, too. And I've had a lot of games where I've prepared a bunch and the players decided to go this way, and completely get around everything I prepared and it turns into this big improvisation experience. And that can be very uncomfortable for a lot of people that aren't experienced in a lot of improv, and that's where preparation comes in and kind of your comfort as a DM. I recommend, if you're playing and DMing or GMing a game for the first time, maybe run them through a story that's a little more linear, a little more direct, so you just get more comfortable with the experience, both combat with the players, more experience with how NPCs interact with them and being prepared for those circumstances. Then, as you have more experience as a GM or DM, you can begin to be a little more freeform with your storytelling setup and letting the players kind of play in that sandbox that is the world you've created.

So those are some guidelines for like a small village. The factions are fun to create, because you can have factions that are allied, factions that are enemies, and that automatically leads in a really cool idea for some story hooks where you have maybe a thieves' guild has a huge rivalry with the mages' academy. One believes that, you know, shadows is a real way to get business done in the local politics whereas the mages feel that it's more arcane understanding that both socio-political aspects can be controlled by the arcane. Maybe you have one played against the others. The players can choose a faction to align with and there's a whole quest line that way. But now they've made enemies with the opposite faction and now they're having to steer clear of their side. Or they can try and double-agent for both but if that ends up going horribly awry they have now earned the anger of both sides and might have to flee the town and never return. So these are all different cool ways that you can set up faction versus faction or factions working together to give the players story and investment in the world that you are creating.

Now, from that small town, you can build an even larger city. Meaning all those same elements I discussed you just expand upon. You build more NPCs. You build an entire district that is shops and stores, maybe in a giant bazaar. You can create a whole district that is just about worship of different gods and deities, and you have different temples assigned to each god and you can find, you can use the gods that are in the book. You can create your own gods that have their own backgrounds and specialties and guiding principles and religions around that. It's up to you. But as you build a larger city, you have to consider how many different people and cultures it's now having to house and facilitate. So it's a little more of a time investment to build a city that much larger, but it's a really cool experience to then have the players wander through that, to continue to discover. Like, the main city of Emon, which you guys have heard about a little bit of, but I'm sure we'll come back to soon in the campaign, you guys will have the opportunity to see it in person, is a vast city. Much like the classic Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter, it's the central capital city of this entire region and they've only maybe experienced a fifth of it after a whole almost entire year of exploring it, so there are a lot of examples of that urban expansion that they can go through. And to be perfectly honest I've detailed and fleshed out maybe about a third of the village with loose notes for all the rest. So if suddenly one of the players veered right again and decided to go all the way to the far northern slums, which I have nothing really specifically planned for, I can look through my notes and find out a handful of NPCs and some loose story elements that I made notes of about those northern slums and I can kind of improvise based on those notes and where they want to go in the story to still make it a fleshed out story, and if it's a really heavy story thread that they're following I can just find a way to tie it back into the original thread I was trying to tell, and not necessarily guide them back on the path, but have it still fold into the same story they've been discovering. You never quite know where they're gonna take you.

Sometimes the players take you on a ride and you just kinda have to go with it. You don't want to deny the players too much, because you're all in this for that storytelling experience, and they want to feel like they're guiding their own path. If you force them too hard against their wishes in the game, then it feels more like the DM is playing the game than the players are, and that becomes a very tenuous relationship going forward in a campaign. The cool note is, the players never know whether or not you're bullshitting or you had it all planned, so even if you go off the rails, as long as you have some notes or are at least acting like you know what you're talking about, for the most part you'll be fine. I've had whole games that have gone by, I've run by the seat of my pants improvising and I just, I don't know what's going to happen and it works out in a really crazy way and finds a whole new story path and you just don't tell the players that that happened. (laughs) That's a fun little aspect there.

So we talked about urban environments. We've talked about cities a bit, you know, which, in those cities you want to also be mindful of what ruling class there is. Is it an oligarchy? Is it a lordship? Is it a kingdom? Is there an elected official? Is it a township? And that political structure will also be a very, very good way to build those factions below it as well. So the larger your city is, the more elements of that social structure you have to consider and how many layers there are beneath it. Is it a very wealthy city universally? Is there a very, very, you know, high disparity between the upper class and the lower class? These are all really cool ways to flesh it out and give you ideas on where NPCs can be and where tension is in that society. Also remember, just because you're in a city doesn't mean there aren't dungeons. Castles and keeps have dungeons. Some cities are built on the ruins of older, older cities that may have underground cavern networks that have been long forgotten or tombs that haven't been touched in years since a strange wave of necromantic energy began to rise things from the grave and they just seal it off. But who knows what lurks beneath there. Or, like earlier at that tavern I told you about that had a strange sinkhole, that's a really cool story arc to lead into an underground cavern network to something that may have caused the sinkhole. Something long forgotten beneath that inn that now threatens the inn or possibly the town its entire self. You know, don't be afraid to have players in a city environment still find creepy, interesting, weird terrain within that city environment.

In Emon the players managed to fall through a cistern into a deep, dark underground cavern network that led them through an ancient ruined city, finding a hag that managed to make a proposition with them, whereas for information leading them out she took a bit of Tiberius' luck– he still doesn't know what that means and it still floats above his head. I think he's forgotten about it, but a portion of his fortune has been stolen by this hag, it still resides in that realm. So, urban environments can be urban but don't be afraid to explore avenues above and below. How you doing? How we doing?

MARISHA: Pretty good.

MATT: Cool bit. I'm gonna finish up here real fast with some other ideas. So those are cities. Those are towns. What makes them so special is, in the D&D world, and in a lot of RPG worlds, outside of those bastions of civilization is a very dangerous world. And you can change that up however you see fit, but I find that it definitely makes for a better environment if the players understand that in the wild you find things that are wild. There are creatures that roam free. There are monsters and beasts that call these places home and need to eat and survive. There are intelligent entities that are building their own civilizations in the darkest depths of the mountains or in the shadowed patches of the local forests and going outside of a town, most traveling caravans need to have muscled support hired to come along the way. If you travel alone there is always the possibility of bandits ransacking you on the road or some sort of large hulking beast comes tumbling out of a nearby cavern structure and attacking the, you know, the people. There's so many different ways that you can incorporate a dangerous, wild world around these bastions of society, these little points of light, that makes the game feel more dangerous. It heightens the stakes for the players whenever they have to travel, and it makes returning to a town that much more of a breath of fresh air.

Then, consider villains. Villains are NPCs that inherently have very selfish goals that are detrimental to society at large and/or the players. K'Varn being the Big Bad of the recent arc. He is definitively one of the main villains if not the main villain of this arc. You can create villains that are kind of one-offs like this. They eventually found K'Varn and they killed him. You can create villains that are long-standing and recurring. Like earlier in the campaign, the Dread Emperor was always present, but they didn't even manage to find him until the very end. That was a recurring theme throughout, kind of built that tension about that villain. And not all villains get killed. Some villains, when they're damaged, they get the heck out of Dodge and return later even more prepared and more ready, you know. But sometimes the players can be clever and keep them in there– and don't deny the players if they're really smart and prevent your villain from escaping when he tries to. 'Cause you don't want– you want to reward the players for being really smart. Remember, good villains are also very smart and usually have a pretty strong exit strategy if everything goes to shit. So villains are a really cool thing to flesh out their persona and their personality.

You look at a lot of great literary archetypes that can expand on that for you. You consider like, you know, the Chaotic Evil-type villain, which is the Joker from Batman. Someone who just like loves the idea of violence and destruction and ruining the world around them for their own personal enjoyment and personal gain. You have the Lawful Evil villain– more of the Darth Vader types– that work in a structure of law but use it to their advantage. They twist people's ideals of honor and society and relationships to put them in a position of power in which no one can really contradict, what they say goes. And through that, they maintain power and they maintain control over people around them. Then you have just general evil. You have all sorts of different types of evil archetypes you can play with in there, but have fun fleshing out a villain and having them be as sadistic or as controlling or as charismatic and enjoyable for the players to encounter, as much as they hate them, you know, you can have a vast variety from there. But recurring villains are a fun theme and generally up the experience more than just having a Big Bad every session that they go in and kill, get the loot and leave, you know, it's fun to have that recurring element.

I'm gonna cruise through a couple of points here for you guys, so we can start getting to these guys to playing here. Or any questions they have for the story. Story hooks. Story hooks are essentially what gets the players to start seeking the story, and there's a lot of great examples in the Dungeon Master's Guide here, if you guys pick up a copy, that explains a lot of different ideals of how you can get the players invested in your story. Let's see if I can find it real fast back here, but essentially a story hook could be when they enter a tavern they notice that someone in the corner is hunched over and eventually falls forward off their stool. The party goes and inspects and finds out that they've been stabbed and are bleeding out, and in their dying words they reach up to the player. They whisper a name, like, oh shit, what is that name? What does that mean? And someone in the room is like, that name, that's the name of the leader of this one temple of Pelor, the God of the Sun, the God of Light. Okay, well, the players now have the idea that someone got murdered and their last words were the name of this person. Let's go find out what their relationship was. That's a story hook. Someone got murdered mysteriously and you only have a name to go off of. That's an example of a cool story hook that the players might be interested in pursuing.

Some players might be, “Ah, fucker died. Whatever.” and that story hook goes away. But that's up to the players and that's going to put them in the territory of being a little more neutral to evil than good players. So if they make good characters and they do stuff like that, repeatedly, they might start pushing into the evil territory and maybe drawing the ire of other NPCs nearby that are good. The captain of the guard rushes in and inspects, “What happened to this man?” and you're like “I don't know, he died.” He's like, “Grrr, I don't like the look of these people who don't care about the lives of others.” Maybe going forward, whenever they encounter the captain of the guard, he immediately mistrusts the party, and they've already established that relationship negatively.

So let's see, what's some other good examples of story hooks they have here in the book? (sings) 71 and 72. We'll see if they've got that up. All right, bear with me as I pan through. And like, there's a lot of great breakdowns for villains and NPCs and stuff in the Players' Handbook, guys, so if you're planning to Dungeon Master a game I highly recommend you read through. It's a really, really great resource. Ah, all right, 71. All righty. So there are a bunch of cool dungeon goals and wilderness goals, like “foil a villain's evil "scheme”, “destroy a magical threat inside a dungeon”, “acquire a treasure”, “rescue a captive” – these are cool dungeon goals. They have it broken down into wilderness goals as well, like “establish trade with a distant town”, “map a new land”, “find a natural resource”, “escape the reign of a tyrant”. And you have other cool ideas for goals. “Defending a location from attackers”, “retrieving an object from a caravan”, “infiltrate a fortified location”, “successfully travel through an obstacle course to gain recognition or reward”. These are all very loose, very simple story hooks and goals that you can then weave a story around based on how you've built your town and you've built your NPCs. So don't be afraid to go ahead and grab a copy of these, this can kinda be used as an example if you're feeling a little lost through their story.

You can actually just roll randomly on these players and be like, “All right, what are they doing today? Oh well, ah, looks like they're infiltrating a fortified location. Let me come up with some bullshit that, you know, justifies what they're doing.” So you can, technically, DM a game randomly by just rolling off these and improvising from that point forward. That's a little more of an advanced Dungeon Master technique if you really feel like just winging it from there. But that's a really cool resource to have at your disposal.

Another question, another thing I wanted to bring up with you guys was encounters. So when you do get into battle or when players encounter creatures or monsters or villain characters and they want to fight, you then go into an encounter, and you want to consider when you prepare for encounters, you think, where are they? Are they fighting in a dungeon or are they fighting in forest or are they fighting in a swamp? Are they fighting in an open plain? And you go through a book like the Dungeon Master's, or sorry the Monster Manual, and find creatures that you think would live in that type of topography. So if they're in an open field, you can think of more wild beasts or, you know, clans of roaming orcs. If they're in deep, deep mountains you can find creatures that burrow and naturally live in more earthy-based terrain, and you build encounters around that.

There are some really great websites online that have encounter calculators where you can basically tell how difficult an encounter is based on how many players are in the party, what level they are, and you can build the encounter based on that. That way you don't end up accidentally making something that's too difficult or too easy for the party. And you don't want to make everything too hard. Some battles can be fun and easy and really kind of have the players enjoy being badass and rushing into combat and just killing things really easily and being, 'Ha-ha! I ruined everything! That's great! I am powerful!“ And you can have some battles that are pretty, "Phew, that was close. That was a good fight.” And then occasionally you want to throw them a curveball and have something they really have to struggle through, so when they finish that battle they really have to take a rest and realize, “We almost lost one or more people in that fight,” and that makes the stakes that much higher at that point, but you don't want to constantly be hitting them with super-hard battles. You don't want to be making things consistently too easy because it isn't a fun challenge for them.

And consider terrain for combat, too. Not every battle is just you versus monsters. Sometimes there's a big cliff involved and the battle could be at a distance. Sometimes there's pits of lava in the middle and that becomes a danger or a tool depending on how you look at it during the battle. Sometimes, especially in urban combat, you have rooftops and alleyways in which you can use that to your advantage to avoid things, or push guys off a roof to fall and get hurt. Or fall onto things, you know. There can be traps involved that you know are there that you can then push guys into. There's a really cool way of building encounters that are beyond just hitting things and doing damage. Which is fine, too, don't get me wrong.

Also, if there's a monster in the Monster Manual that you like– like, this is a really cool monster, but it's too easy, like the players are all level ten and this is a level three monster, you can customize the monster. You can make the monster more powerful. Add more hit points. Raise the stats a little more. Give it a couple of unique attacks that you think would be fitting for it. If you don't like the fact that the bulette only has like a bite and stomp attack, maybe you decide that this bulette actually grew up or was raised around some sort of arcane, natural arcane relic that infused it with a resistance to magic and a capability that it has like electrical charges around it, and now when everyone, whenever anyone starts their turn next to it, they get shocked. It's an electric bulette! That's kinda cool. Why not? You can customize and alter any aspect of any creature in the book. Once again, all guidelines. You can go with the basis here, and it's a lot easier if you don't have a lot of time, but don't be afraid to customize and alter things to fit certain aspects of your world or your story as you see fit. It's great. I had the players in this campaign fight a proto-lich when they were level three or four. Liches will wipe the floor with pretty much anything, but I considered it would be cool to introduce that powerful undead aspect if it was like just barely cresting out of its initial ritual to become a lich, in which case it was in a very weakened state. So if they had waited a day or two, that lich would have ruined them. It was still a tough battle, but they caught it when it was still essentially birthing, which made it a very, very weak lich. That's not in the books. I just took what was there and scaled it way back. That made for a really fun encounter.

So, all guidelines. You can customize as you see fit, and there are great communities online of people that create creatures or beasts and have suggestions or feedback for anything you create. Don't be afraid to reach out there. Once again, I apologize, because this is a lot of information up front for trying to squeeze this in for you. Also, maps! You see in Critical Role we do combat with maps that we draw up of terrain and we have everyone has individual models and the creatures have models. That is not necessary. I have found it's very helpful for our campaign because we have eight players, which makes it very difficult for everyone to keep in mind spatial awareness during the battle, who is who and what they're doing and how close monsters are. I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and other RPGs without maps or models at all. It was all theater of the mind, all in the brain, which is a lot of fun, but when you get a certain critical mass of players it becomes unwieldy, so the models became necessary for us, but what we're doing tonight when we play our game, there's going to be no battlefield, no models. It's all going to be just keeping it in your head and me letting you know what's happening and where you guys are, so don't feel like it's absolutely necessary to do that. I just find it makes it easier when you have more players. And it's fun to draw maps. Sometimes it's a lot of fun to do that.

Another question that has come up a lot. Experience points. So, monsters that are killed or defeated in battle give you experience points. They don't necessarily have to be killed to get that experience points. If the players still win the encounter, meaning they forced them to surrender, or they managed to fight them to the point where they have to retreat. That is still a victory and the players should still get the experience for that encounter. You may give them a bonus if it's a big boss fight and they killed it and then get to reap the rewards of it. That's cool. That's totally up to you as a DM, but, you know, if they still successfully complete an encounter they still get the experience. If they flee from an encounter and the players technically lost the battle, you can still give them a little bit of experience to gain from that, but it would be largely docked by that, and that's totally up to you. That's combat experience. What about role-playing experience? That's arbitrary based on what you want to do as a DM. You can just write down, well that's cool, they get five hundred experience for that social encounter. You can make it up on the spot, and I recommend keeping an eye on what level the players are and what the experience values are for each level, so you know how much they need to get to the next level. That allows you to kind of build a structure.

Now for me, to keep track of roleplaying experience, it's an endeavor with eight players, so what I do is I have what I call a hatch marks system, where whenever anybody does something in the game that's a cool roleplaying experience or they save a circumstance I will give them a hatch mark next to their name. Or multiple hatch marks if it was really, really clutch and really kind of changed the dynamic of the circumstance and saved their bacon. Or if they failed miserably at something but they gave it a really, really good try and it was a cool idea, I might still give them a hatch mark or two, 'cause it was a good shot. And so at the end of each game I have a kind of an equation for myself where I multiply their level by 25, so right now they're all level ten, it would be 250 experience and that's– I give them that many, I multiply it by the number of hatch marks they get. So if somebody gets three hatch marks in a game, right now, they would get an additional 750 experience points at the end of that session based on the roleplaying experience. So that way I don't have to think too much about the math in the game, I just go, “That's cool.” Hatch mark. “That was really cool!” Hatch mark hatch mark hatch mark. And then at the end of each session I'll go ahead and multiply the level by 25 and then multiply that by how many hatch marks I've given them and that's their total roleplaying experience. That's worked well for me. It's not for everyone, but I think it's a good way to quickly add up those moments and make sure players don't feel like you're slowing it down to keep track of who's done cool shit. That's a really condensed overview of Dungeon Mastering. Um.


MARISHA: An hour later. (laughs)

MATT: They've asked me a lot of questions via Twitter and that's kind of what I've built this up for, so I apologize for you guys. Thank you for being patient. We're going to take a couple of questions from the chat room, and then we're going to go ahead and start the game here in about 15, 20 minutes or so. So, as I said, I hope that's a lot of information for you guys, but Dungeon Mastering, it's a lot of fun. It takes some time. You have to kind of set aside some time. I say generally it takes about an hour of gameplay per hour of preparation, so if it's going to be a six-hour session it might take anywhere from three to six hours to set up for that properly, but it doesn't have to be that long, that's just me being super thorough, which I'm obsessive about. But yeah, be open to improvise, be open to let the players play and let them guide you sometimes in an off-direction, and have fun. Let the players be heroes. Let them try anything, just know that if what they're trying is really ridiculous, they have a really, really low chance of succeeding, and most of the time they'll fail and it's a spectacular failure and you'll all laugh about it. If they succeed that roll, that is an epic fucking moment that you're all gonna remember, because that player pulled off that third-act amazing maneuver that completely changed the dynamic of the story and that's really what this game is all about. I still remember and tell stories from our campaign like it was something we all personally did and experienced. It's really weird. It's weird! I love it! But it's weird. So, I love it. Playing the game is great. Learning the rules is great. Dungeon Mastering is a lot of fun. It's scary at first, but I guarantee with a little bit of time, it's really rewarding and it's really, really not that hard at all. So yes. Let's answer a few questions in the chat room, guys, let's see if you can chime in on this. We'll take about ten minutes of this and then we'll jump into the game with you folks. And once again thank you for– Thank you for your patience.

MARISHA: I'm pretty stoked for the characters

MATT: I am excited.

MARISHA: We've got some good stuff going. We've got some good stuff going.

MATT: Actually, as a note to remind you guys, too, one of the cool things about Fifth Edition, two things they did, they got rid of a lot of the floating modifiers that previous editions had, like you know Pathfinder was one, was a great system but I found in battles, especially with a lot of players, you'd be like, “All right, so I get plus one to hit damage from the Bless spell, and the bard gives everyone plus two to hit and damage, oh no it's just hit, no it's to hit damage, okay, and you're going to plus one from that ability, but only within ten feet of them–”

MARISHA: Don't forget Enhance Ability!

MATT: “Right, Enhance Ability, all right, is that a plus two from–”

MARISHA: Hey don't forget, hey!

MATT: “– so it's plus seven to hit plus nine to damage on that?”

MARISHA: The Hunter's Mark. Hunter's Mark! Don't forget Hunter's Mark!

MATT: Well, we still have that problem, but that's Laura.


MATT: But that became an issue with a lot of big battles, I found, especially with eight players, so they simplified that in this edition. Most modifiers to hit and damage are pretty consistent. You don't have a lot of crazy things. What they do have is advantage and disadvantage. If an experience or a circumstance in the game puts you in an advantageous position, you get to roll two d20s and drop the lowest, so you get the higher of the two rolls. If you have disadvantage, you have to roll 2d20 and drop the highest, which is rough. So that's a really simplified way of kind of playing spells to give you the advantage or get enemies disadvantage in that circumstance, which is great.

Another big thing to consider for Fifth Edition is, and you guys went over it a little bit, backgrounds. Not necessary. Players that are new to the game might find it very interesting, but when you ask about your character's background and what they've done, where they come from, and how that builds them as a character, you can completely come up with whatever you want to. You can say they came from this background, they did these things, and this is all in my head in how I plan the character. Some people either are having a little bit of writer's block with their character or they don't know where to start or they just don't have a lot of experience, there's a great section in the new Player's Handbook about backgrounds, which you get to choose where your character comes from, where they grew up. They could be a folk hero, they can be a charlatan, they can be an acolyte, they can be a soldier from a war long past. They can be an entertainer, and that gives them bonus proficiencies in their skills that pertain to their background, and it gives you examples of certain personality traits that you can choose or randomly roll from. For example, go to the background section of the Player's Handbook over here, you can find– where is it?

MARISHA: Actually, Dan made his character with his background this way.

DAN: It's true.

MARISHA: So we can just hear about his background as an example.

MATT: Right, so let's go ahead and hear about your background, Dan.

DAN: All right. (clears throat)

MARISHA: But he did roll a dice to randomly generate it.

DAN: I did. I generated it randomly. Flip the appropriate page. (Scottish accent) So I'm Salty Pete, the first mate of the Obsidian Helen. A sailor by trade. A scoundrel by nature.


DAN: The captain gambled with the ship, so I fed him to a long-beaked squid with razor-sharp teeth. Spent times on pontoon cigarette boats, skiffs, whoring, snoring and deploring across the land. I'm married to the sea but me best friend is a hermit crab named Terrence.


DAN: The only left-over I have from the Helen is her flag, which I wear like a cape. I've met many friends over a buttery glass of chardonnay, sailor's choice.


DAN: But I've lost many more. If you step to me, you best come correct. I'm on a quest to regain the Helen. I play for pink slips. Looking for clues at the bottom of a glass, oh you bet your arse I did. And now I fell in with a failed warlock named The Snugglelord.


MATT: And all that of was based on randomly generated information in the background section.

MARISHA: He clearly fleshed it out. Which is incredible.

DAN: I added some flesh.

MATT: It gives you a great basis to build off of. Like, I assume you were the sailor.

DAN: Yeah, I went for the sailor archetype. It's super cool because I really liked stuff like that back when I used to do campaigns because it gives you a great basis just for, you know, if you're not sure what you want to do with your character, it gives you good branching-off points and they you can just sort of add meat to that skeleton.

TALIESIN: Well, it's also one of the questions I hear from like people who haven't played the game before, when you first start with character creation is like, well, what are the rules on what I can be, and kind of trying to get them out of that, there are no– Forget about the rules. What do you want to be? This is like, this gives them a little set of rules that they can kind of grasp onto desperately for like their first game.

LIAM: We'll never–

MARISHA: Some of my favorite– oh go ahead.

LIAM: But we'll never forget– oh and I'm eating chicken. You go ahead, I'm eating chicken.

MARISHA: I'll go first. Some of my favorite characters that I've played with have all been people who decided what they wanted to be first and then picked a race and a class around what they wanted to be, so our good friend Paradox really wanted to be, like a roadie who–


MARISHA: He wanted to be a roadie, essentially like a traveling circus, who was like the curtain guy for all these bands and so he made a monk who had these ropes and he had a whip and all of his abilities he would grapple people and tie people up with his ropes, and that was like what he based, he had an idea first and then built a character around. So, 'cause the system is so flexible, you can– it'll allow you to be pretty much anything you want to be.

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: So, one of the things I like, in Pathfinder there's like, you can make a geisha dancer who did damage with fans, so you can pretty much be whatever and then figure it out from there.

MATT: If it's not in the books, you can create it. You can build it. We made the gunslinger off Pathfinder here for that, so like, it's totally open and the backgrounds are a great way. They have a whole section for personality traits and you can roll for a personality trait, or multiple, and ideals. So things that really drive your character in their life. Bonds: things that really hold them, you know, via loyalty or to an ideal beyond that. And then flaws, which I love. Like right here I rolled a two as a sailor. “I'd say anything to avoid having to do extra work.” That's a great flaw for a sailor. Probably not great for his work ethic, but you know. But those are really useful things, the backgrounds is a really cool addition for those who want a jumping point for building their characters' personality.

Q & A[]

MATT: Ah, let's answer a few questions in the chat while we're going about this.

CREW: Manoose asked: “How do you handle magical items?”

MATT: How do you handle magical items?


MATT: The Dungeon Master Guide actually has a really good breakdown about, in the magical items section, about the cost and rarity of magical items. I'm just going to pull it up here real fast. There's common. Common magical items cost between 50 to 100 gold pieces. And it says “character level: first or higher”. Uncommon, also first or higher, but around 100 to 500 gold pieces. Rare magical items are from fifth level or higher, around 500 to 5,000 gold pieces. Then very rare, and then legendary which get higher and higher from there. Legendary being 50,000 gold pieces and more. And so that helps you kinda gauge how easy or hard it is for players to find something of that level, and each one of the magical items in the book tells you if it's rare, uncommon, any of those type of circumstances. However, it gives you a range, so you as the GM or DM, you decide based on how powerful the item is, how much it's worth if the players wanted to sell it or buy it, and generally you consider if players are selling magical items, they're selling lower than they would buy it from, like any sort of pawn shop-type thing, they might get a quarter of what it's worth at a store, but if they're really charismatic and they're really good with their persuasion rolls they might be able to get more money than that, or conversely lower the price of items they want to buy. So, you wanna make sure you don't want to give too out too many items throughout the campaign quickly because then the players either get too powerful, and then any items you give them down the road seem not as interesting or flippant. I like to run a campaign that has, you know, occasional upgrades, just a little slow trickle with bursts of good item use, that way when you, they do find something truly magical, it's a, “Aw, nice!” as opposed to, “Oh, it's another boots, who wants the boots? That's– I've already got like three, here, you have that.” You know. It becomes less interesting and less special to me, so I like to trickle them out and keeping tabs on what players have, what they're missing, and then eventually kind of incorporate aspects of what they can upgrade their characters with down the road. Or they can create them for themselves. There are rules for creating magical items if they have an arcane practice to their class.

TALIESIN: We're sponsored by a store in-game, too.

MATT: You are sponsored by Gilmore's Glorious Goods. Those of you, though you have not been there yet, so–

MARISHA: Oh my God, I forgot we're sponsored by them.

TALIESIN: We are sponsored by Gilmore.

LIAM: Eventually, you will all have the pleasure to meet Gilmore.

ORION: Gilmore is fantastic!

MARISHA: I love Gilmore.

ORION: Fantastic fellow.

LIAM: He's a little sweet on me.

MATT: Gilmore is a fan of Vax.

MARISHA: A little thing for Vax.

CREW: NSFThermont asks, “To what degree do you allow/encourage the players to contribute to the world's lore?”

MATT: All right, so, how much do I allow the players to contribute to lore? For their character backgrounds, I like them to contribute a lot about where they come from and what their stories are. Everyone's backgrounds you see in the opening videos, they wrote themselves, and then I take those and I incorporate that into the world that I'm creating. And occasionally they'll cross paths with aspects of their personal history and in the future will as well. Some of them will just be breezing through encounters, some of them will actually find moments in the story that will directly be part of their personal goals, that will, we shall see. I like the players to incorporate aspects of their history, but beyond that, I don't want them to flesh out too much of their current or future aspects of the world because to them that takes out some of the mystery. What I think is great as a player is knowing where you came from and not knowing where you're going. So, like, for instance, Tiberius--

ORION: Yeah, lot of you asked about my Mending Wheel, 'cause I've used that a bunch. And the Mending Wheel is part of something that Tiberius' personal quest is about, that I wrote and gave to Matthew. It's like this is–

MATT: Like two years ago.

ORION: Yeah, it's like over two years now. Wow, it's been a while. But I said, “Here, this is what his goals are, this is why he's traveling with this group of people.” And that is like, when I found that thing, he doesn't make it, you know, very difficult, but he doesn't make it easy either. Like when we came across it, there was this NPC witch, right?

MATT: It was a hag. You heard me mention her earlier.

ORION: And we had this interaction where he– it was about something else, our main quest that we were doing and he said, he was describing her place and he said something-something wheel. Just, and was listing things, and I was like, “Wait a minute, that's one of my things I think I wrote about!” And I then as Tiberius inquired about it, then that became a conversation between me and the NPC and I had to– does that apply now? Is that gone?

TALIESIN: No, that's not gone.

ORION: (quietly) Oh, no.

MARISHA: That piece of fortune you handed over?

ORION: I had to negotiate some of my fortune which, I still don't know what that means.

MARISHA: No, that's gonna fuck us so hard one of these days.

TALIESIN: Oh, one of these days, it's just gonna hurt.

ORION: But I had to give that to the witch NPC in exchange for the Wheel of Mending, which is the very important thing in my quest. So–

TALIESIN: And it's been helpful for everybody.

ORION: It's great.

MARISHA: It's been very helpful.

ORION: It's been great.

MARISHA: One of these days though, you're gonna like, get a–

ORION: Really horrible–

MARISHA: You're going to roll a 20 and something terrible is going to happen.

ORION: But the cool thing is, I didn't describe what the wheel did. I named what they were and Matthew then decided if it, a) if it was existed, b) what it did and, you know, how it worked and all that stuff. So, that's– it's cool.

TALIESIN: You know, having details but having the DM– giving the DM discretion to decide how it plays out is really awesome.


ORION: Because then I'm surprised and I'm the one expecting to see it. I'm still surprised, and it's great.

MATT: Well, like, well, for instance, the city you came from: Draconia. The society– you've given me a lot of information about how you grew up there and kind of how you saw this society and then you sent me that outline and now I'm taking what you had come up with and I'm fleshing it out and building it into the world and then running with that essentially, so, Tiberius's memory serves right to what his experience was in Draconia, we'll see how that continues going forward when he eventually returns to his people. So–

MARISHA: And I did something similar with like, my four tribes of the Ashari. You know, I've got, I've got the fire tribe and the earth tribe and the air tribe and the water tribe, but from Keyleth's perspective, I'm from the air tribe, I don't really know a whole lot about the other ones. They're there, so I gave him the idea of the tribes and the backstory that they exist and now he's fleshing it out for me.

TALIESIN: Yeah, and like, I don't know what the people who came to my parents' castle wanted. They were looking for something and like, I gave him details on what they were doing, but not necessarily what it was all about because I don't know, but he knows, because he gets to figure that out.

MATT: Yeah. It's fun.

LIAM: Laura and I spent three hours in a diner fleshing out our family history.

MARISHA: That's so cool.

LIAM: It was great. It was great.

MATT: Then you ran into your estranged father and his new family. (laughs)

TALIESIN: Oh, that was so great.

ORION: Yeah, that was like, their father was a big part of one of our main quests. It was insane.

LIAM: It was very frosty.

MARISHA: It was very frosty, yeah.

CREW: Skyfalls1 asks a specific about Trinket. I'm just gonna generalize the question. How do you handle player-controlled allies and their level progression? Are they part of the character who controls that ally, such as Trinket being the bear, a familiar or something. Or do they have their own independent leveling guide?

MATT: For this system, and it's different from system to system, in this system, that companion Trinket is part of the ranger class, the beastmaster that Laura went into, and Trinket's progression is tied towards her progression. As her level gets higher, Trinket will have more hit points, Trinket will gain better bonuses to his attacks as her proficiency bonus gets higher. So Trinket will advance pretty much alongside Vax– or Vex. You're not wearing your shirt. Shh.


ORION: You need to always just wear that shirt.

MARISHA: See, I'm not the only one.

TALIESIN: Gonna get a tattoo.

MATT: I'm usually very good about that. It's been a long week. I always say that. But yeah, so player-controlled PCs like that– those are tied to the class. As far as NPCs that I control that aren't part of the party, those I keep tabs on separately entirely, so. We can get a few more questions in here.

MARISHA: Don't saw off Ify's arm. Don't– nope.

MATT: He needs that.

DAN: Just some real chill LARPing.

MARISHA: Put it down.

LIAM: How will he make himself happy at night?

MARISHA: Drop it. Drop it.

LIAM: That's the good hand.

ORION: While we're waiting, I'd like to address a couple things that I've been tweeted at about roleplay, and what I think about roleplay, and how I'm super hardcore about it. I always tell people who's kinda like wanted– my friends who are like, “I have no idea what that is,” and I was like, the best I can explain how I roleplay is as soon as I sit down, and as soon as he says the narration and then we get into it, I immediately just pretend I'm like 12 years old again. And I'm this guy, I'm this kid and I have my– or ten or 11– however, I don't know age anymore– ten.


LIAM: 11 and a half.


ORION: Where imagination is the strongest. Where I put on my sheet, and wrap it around and that's my cape, and I have my flashlight and that's my lightsaber or whatever the hell and I go outside and play 'til my mom comes to go have dinner or whatever, and I'm dirty as hell when I come back inside. Everybody's done that, we've all been kids.

MARISHA: Well, that was like two weeks ago for you.

ORION: I'm just saying. Also, when I play D&D.

TALIESIN: I'm wearing my underoos right now.

ORION: That's where I go. It's just– when everybody's not thinking about any kind of thing other than having fun, that's my best advice. To just kinda roleplay. Just have fun.

TALIESIN: And I'll say something that actually came out. I was very, very proud of this that this came up recently in some conversations, as we were talking about the nature of playing a game like this and about risk. And as a player, wanting to be adventurous and wanting to do things you wouldn't do in real life. And one of the essential things that a good DM, that you get to learn with a good DM, is the DM is not there to kill you. The DM is there to turn you into a hero.

ORION: Um, by the way, I have been playing this wrong all the time.

TALIESIN: I'm just kidding!


TALIESIN: You play awesome, shut up!

ORION: Because– no, 'cause we had this conversation yesterday.

TALIESIN: Just like, we were gonna die and he doesn't want to kill us. (laughs)

ORION: And I was like, “I don't understand! Mercer's trying to kill us all the time!” And he's like, “You're wrong! He wants to make you a hero,” and I'm like, “What?”


ORION: But that means everything– I've been such a dick!

TALIESIN: He's hilarious.

MATT: Some DMs do want to kill you


MATT: Which is fine, as long as the DMs and players agree upon that at the beginning. And they're like, “This is the relationship. I'm trying to kill you guys. Good luck surviving.” Like Tomb of Horrors. It's a perfect example of Gygax going “Fuck all y'all! You're gonna die.” That's where that stems from, and for some people that's a lot of fun. But for this game, death is very real, challenge is there, and I present circumstances that, depending on what you guys do, may or may not end in success or death. But I'm not trying to outwardly kill you. Usually.

MARISHA: He's not trying to outwardly kill you.

ZAC: Spiritually kill you. Obviously it's had some effect on you.

TALIESIN: He's God, it's scary!

MARISHA: He is scary.

ORION: It's just like an armored, fucking enchanted horned beholder motherfucker. Yeah sure, he's not totally trying to kill us.

MARISHA: We say “fear the wrath of god” for a reason.

TALIESIN: If a giant god appeared tomorrow, and like just pulled out a d20 and rolled it and looked at you, you'd freak out. That's a really scary thing to happen.

ORION: But it is a good point, like, I should've been more– I shouldn't have been so fearful as I was.

TALIESIN: It's just a different way at looking at the situation.

ORION: I'm literally thinking, “He's–”

TALIESIN: I know, because he gets that look.

MATT: It's part of the fun.

TALIESIN: His smile is so terrifying.

LIAM: I think I play– I court death on purpose.


LIAM: The way I look at this is, either this month or next year, my character's going to die, I know that's going to happen, and I would never grab a rope and jump off the side of a flying device to save my actual sister. Yes I would.

MATT: Yeah you would.

LIAM: Yes I would. That's a terrible statement. Yes I would.


LIAM: But I don't think that I would leap off of things to my detriment constantly, and like, that's the whole reason we're doing this, is 'cause we're 12 and we get to pretend we're the heroes, so I'm constantly trying– I fully expect you to kill me someday.

MATT: It may happen and I'm gonna feel horrible.

MARISHA: D&D has a lot of life lessons in it. We're all gonna die someday. YOLO.

TALIESIN: Three ranks in YOLO.

MATT: You can be as careful as you want in a game, but you get to a certain point where you have to have those hero moments where you take that high-risk, high-reward–

MARISHA: It sounds like you're being a little bit racist right now.

LIAM: Hold on, hold on, hey, shush. Say that again.

MATT: Being careful is great and working your way through a situation carefully is fantastic, but you reach a certain point in a game where you have to let yourself jump into those high-risk high-reward circumstances, because not only is that what you don't get to do in your day-to-day life, but those make the best stories, success or failure. There might be serious ramifications for failure, but god damn if you won't be talking about it for the next two or three, ten years, for the one time that you did this and it failed and your character got smashed in this horrible way, and two years after, your party would clamor to the gods your lost character's name whenever they charged into battle against a great foe. Like, that's the kind of storytelling you don't get unless someone takes a risk like that.

MARISHA: By the way, when one of us dies, we're all gonna fucking bawl our eyes out.

ORION: I know.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah.

MARISHA: It's sad.

TALIESIN: But Scanlan and the stained-glass window will live with me forever.

ZAC: I'm gonna feel really bad laughing from the back of the room when that happens. Haha, this is great.

LIAM: You're wearing a unicorn suit!

CREW: So I'm gonna do two more.

MATT: Two more questions, okay.

CREW: First one, I can't remember who's asking it, but I've seen it a couple times. They're asking about DM player characters. Your opinion on DM PCs.

MATT: DM PCs, if they're a very good DM, can be fine. I, honestly, the main reason I became a DM was because my first DM had a PC who then somehow got all the best loot, and was a paladin in Second Edition but also somehow had the samurai kit, which I don't know if that can be a paladin, so he was dual-wielding magical katanas, and whenever an upgrade came up that he randomly rolled on the table, he went, “Oh, cool, I'm taking that.” Dude, I don't even have a magical weapon. He's like, “I'll fight you for it.” I'm like, oh, good paladin, fuck this shit, I'll make my own game. Sorry, Ray, I love you, but that was a terrible game.


MATT: But I think if it's a good DM you can, but the problem is, as a Dungeon Master, you know behind the scenes, you know where it's going, you know what's coming, you know what you're gonna fight, you know what to prepare for, you know what's gonna drop, you know so much that having a player character almost defeats the purpose.

LIAM: Almost? Completely. Completely defeats the purpose.

MATT: There are circumstances where it might work with certain creative types, but I think it robs you of the fun of actually being a player in the game if you're also the DM. Conversely, it also–

MARISHA: Well, you also, I mean, you have this handy screen deliberately so we don't see what you're doing.

MATT: Conversely, the other players feel removed, then, because they have this strange magical god-entity that also is fighting alongside them that has the benefit of knowing what's coming.

DAN: Sort of a tangent to that question. How do you feel about another player playing someone else's character by proxy when that other player's not there?

MATT: I think that's totally fine if the players agree upon it. I tend to just NPC players if they're not there, or try to find a story reason as to why they can't be available so it doesn't rob them of the experience, but that is totally a viable thing, as long as the players agree to it. Or if the person was a real ass last game and they're not there, like, you know what, fine, you control the character.


MATT: See how they like that. But for the most part, if players are okay with that, and there's somebody at the table that they trust to understand what the character would do to play them properly, then fuck yeah, go for it. Great.

ORION: Matthew, that's why I'm going to be showing up next week.

MATT: Okay.

ORION: I will be. I'll be here.

CREW: So, for the last question, “I want players at my table to be more–” This is CometCalvin, by the way. “I want my table to be more immersed in the story, like instead of saying to me, 'So I tell them to go west.' Are there any tips on stimulating people?“ To rephrase it, how do you encourage people to roleplay more and get into character rather than simply just direct commands at each other?

MATT: Right, right. So to get people to roleplay, for one thing I wanna mention, it's not necessary. If you want that in a game, that's different.

MARISHA: Bullshit.

LIAM: There it is.

MARISHA: It's a roleplaying game. It's in the title. Come on.

MATT: Let me clarify.

MARISHA: Go ahead.

MATT: Some people don't have the comfort level or have the social confidence to be able to jump straight into character. And so for them, it's more comfortable to play it that way, where they can remove themselves from the character and control them almost like a video game and say what they're doing as opposed to actually performing and acting it out. And there's nothing wrong with that. If anything, that's almost a baby-step version of them eventually becoming comfortable with fully immersing themselves in the character. So I don't think that you should be down on somebody who plays that way necessarily. If you want to immerse them more as a DM, it's an invitation. You mention to the players, guys, going forward, I would love for us to be a little more into the circumstance. If you're feeling comfortable, please feel free to speak in character, or sometimes, if they're down for it but they have a hard time committing, put the law down. Anything you say in this game is in character if it's conversational. To where if they turn to somebody on the side and be like, "I can't believe you stabbed them in the back,” be like, “I'm sorry, what did you say?” And then you start treating everything as character conversation, then they are put into a circumstance where they have to treat it like that. It may not be comfortable at first, but just like getting into the very, very cold water in a pool, at first it sucks, but over time they get used to it and they don't realize that they're there anymore after a while, you know, it just becomes natural. But for you as a Dungeon Master, you really have to, it's an invitation, a comfortable invitation, please come with me on this, I'd love to have you be more involved in this, and it's your job as the Dungeon Master to also bring your NPCs to life in the way you want them to roleplay, and when you ask them a question, don't ask it out to the whole group, pick somebody in the group that NPC's looking to and go, “You! What are you doing in my tavern?”

LIAM: I was just passing by, I thought I could have a drink.

MATT: “Yet your eyes seem to belie some sort of strange negative connotation. You carry a blade out of its scabbard. What is it you want with my belongings?”

LIAM: Nothing, my father gave it to me, I was just thirsty and passing through– okay!

MATT: “Your father.”

LIAM: My father's name was Arthis. He was a potter and he asked me to come to you and ask you for your allegiance to our clan.

MATT: “That's all you had to say. Come have a seat, we'll discuss this clan's allegiance.”

LIAM: You're a very nice fellow. Could I also have a drink?

MATT: “For a gold piece you can.”

LIAM: Here's two, here's two, I'm rich.


MATT: “I see you speak tavern well.” So like, that's a circumstance where you've kind of put them on the spot and they have to react to it, and like I said, it might be weird at first, but they'll eventually get into the deal. That's my suggestion. It might not always work, some people just aren't comfortable with that, and you have to be okay with it.

TALIESIN: You do setting really well, too. Like, when we would play, the lights go down, the candles come out, the music turns on.

MATT: That's one thing I do miss about this situation is, it's hard to adjust the lighting based on circumstances.

ZAC: We're working on it, man, all right? We're working on it! We're getting there!

MATT: It's all good.

LIAM: In a dark fantastical cave–

ZAC: We're working on it.

LIAM: – also known as Travis's dining room.


ORION: But we put a nice tablecloth on the table.

LIAM: Can't you also use, I'm DMing for my eight-year-old son and these kids, I haven't done this yet, but the DM book talks about rewarding them with inspiration dice, so can't you like, as a carrot, just start, anytime anyone shows even just the barest glimpse of roleplaying like that, go boom, inspiration dice to you.

MATT: Yep, yes. I mentioned that a little earlier, and I'll expand upon that. On top of making sure people get bonuses and little bumps for cool experience moments, if someone does something really cool in character, you as the DM can reward them a d6 as an inspiration dice. An inspiration dice– and they can only carry one at any given time– but at some point later in the game, if they have to make a d20 roll, like an attack or a saving throw or a skill check, they can add the d6 to their final number to give them that extra little hero push towards succeeding at something. So it's another cool kind of carrot-on-a-stick bait to step a little harder into their character and really play out that role. Good point, Liam. We may have time for one more quick one, since there were a lot of questions coming through, and then we'll jump into the game.

MARISHA: I will say, while you're looking for a question–

CREW: When's there gonna be another shirt? Are you guys planning on doing another–

MATT: We're planning to do more shirts. Geek and Sundry's putting up their actual store soon, and so we're going to be–

ZAC: I would like to take this time to say that we do have shirts for sale right now that support Geek and Sundry's overall Twitch channel, if you'd like to purchase some. They are the HR emote human resources stapler for whenever you say something inappropriate like 'penis'. There you go. You have a shirt for that.

ORION: That's inappropriate? Penis?

ZAC: Well, I mean.

DAN: In this context? Yeah.


LIAM: We're playing a board game.

ZAC: Depending on where you put it.

ORION: Oh, sure.

MARISHA: Yeah, just like real life. Anyway.

MATT: I saw one good question I wanted to address. Someone asked, suggestions on running a complex system for a bunch of new players? Which is a challenge, even sometimes in our game still. But it's one of those circumstances where you have to be patient. And honestly, you can simplify the rules. When I say you can customize anything in this book, you can leave out a lot of the rules and just keep it very simple. If you don't want to have, if you think a movement, an action, and a bonus action's too much? Get rid of the bonus action and just consider things, find another way to work it in. Or if you want to keep it a little more free-form and just keep it open to– it puts a little more work on you as the DM to do so, so you have to rationalize what they're doing so it doesn't seem so broken, but you can just minimize a lot of the rules, you can cut out half the skills if you don't think they're necessary. You can get rid of feats, you can get rid of backgrounds. You can halve the spell lists, if you want. If you want to narrow it down, you can go through and trim and trim and trim until you think you have a nice, simpler system for everyone to start with, and then you can start rolling out the more expanded aspects of the system. So don't feel like you have to verbatim hand everyone this book and be, read it all, let's go! You can go ahead and pick the few rules you think are important to play the game, teach them to your group and just start with those, and then slowly as time goes on let them research and discover more as they go on.

LIAM: And learn together.

MATT: Yeah.

ORION: To what you're saying, too, what Matthew, I don't how to say this. What Matthew allows me to do is, for all you casters out there, if the spell isn't in the book, ask your DM if you can craft them. I've– Matthew has– if it doesn't exist, he's let me make spells. That's what Glacial Blast is, it doesn't exist here but I was like, hey, I wanna do this thing that doesn't quite, isn't described in here, so you can ask your DM and he can figure it out with you. I of course always give him way-too-OP stuff, he's like no, and then he gives me an actual spell. It works.

TALIESIN: Everything I build is literally just me handing him a slip of paper going eh? Eh?

MATT: And the players, as they submit custom things, they have to understand that you do your best to balance it, and if they try it out a few times and it's still kind of overbalanced, it might be scaled back a bit, 'cause you're still trying to find what works and you can't really tell how balanced something is until you try it. But that's kind of the relationship you establish with your DM if you want to customize and create things on your own, is like, can I do this? Sure, but make it like this. Okay, let's try that. Play a few games. Yeah, it's a little powerful, we're gonna scale this back a little bit, and don't be like, come on! You said it was okay! Be like, okay, okay, cool.

DAN: Also, earlier, talking about customizing monsters for the encounter. It's either in the DM guide or the Monster Manual, there is an algorithm in there to properly scale a monster up and down to fit the needs of the dungeon. I don't know where it is in there, so that's a tool that they do allow you to have.

MATT: It's in the book, it's nice.

DAN: It is in the Monster Manual?

MATT: I think so, yeah.

DAN: I think so. I was trying to– I remember flipping through it, I knew it was one of those. I just wanted to mention that.

LIAM: It's in the Facebook terms of service.

DAN: Page 94, section A-3.

MATT: All righty. So let's go ahead and–

MARISHA: Should we trade places so that some of us are sitting next to them–

LIAM: We're not us, aren't we just spectator?

TALIESIN: We're just spectators.

MATT: You guys are spectating for this.

MARISHA: But I didn't know if we wanted to help them.

TALIESIN: Phone a friend.


MATT: All right. So. Let's go ahead and begin, and I'm going to preface this, letting you guys know that I have nothing prepared. This is an entirely improvised session. I'm curious to see where it goes. This is a perfect example of flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dungeon mastering.

LIAM: (whispers) It's going just like how you rehearsed.

ORION: Whose line is it anyway, Matt?

MATT: This is a prop-based skit. Carrot Top's Dungeons and Dragons, ladies and gentlemen.

LIAM: Oh god.

MATT: I know. All right, so, Dan, we saw your wonderful character, your sailor dwarf.

DAN: Salty Pete.

MATT: Yes, correct.

MARISHA: Salty Pete.

MATT: Zac?

ZAC: I'm gonna let him go first, actually.

MATT: Ify, what you got?

IFY: Yo, this is Ulfgar Fireforge, I'm a sellsword, ex-pit fighter, I'm slow to trust and quick to kill. Money talks, bullshit walks. Just so y'all know, I'm in it for the money and I play a mean flute. It's sharpened at the end, so if you get too close I might stab you in the neck. But just know I'll do anything for a buck. Anything.

DAN: Anything.

IFY: Anything.

MATT: What was your guy's name again?

LIAM: I can't wait for Zac's monologue.

DAN: Salty Pete.

ZAC: I am the great Snugglelord. A charismatic charlatan from, as a warlock tiefling individual, hailing from the land of Sippletint. I became bored with my homeland after impregnating all of the impregnable and decided to pledge my loyalty to the overlord of a faraway land and set off to do his evil bidding. I'm not really evil, though, the overlord himself asked me to do a lot of very evil things. At least, that's what the voices tell me. Along the way, I learned that I was more of a lover, not a fighter. So I lied to these two assholes about the pleasures that await them at the Overlord's chat room. They're dumdums and fell for it, and now act as my personal bodyguards. Basically, in short, I convince everyone with intimidation and my great charisma, but I'm very broken and weak physically on the inside.


ZAC: Actually, I'm hearing some voices from Overlord right now. I believe we're at 3,162 subscribers, and the chat, I told you the chat room was real. And if the chat room could respond with the keyword 'Snugglelord'–

CREW: It's not working.

ZAC: I heard from one of Overlord's minions that the giveaway is not working.

LIAM: (creepy voice) The giveaway is not working.

ZAC: And there's nothing that he can do about it in his current situation. So we're going to ask that the great fellow lad Nightbot pull the winner for us for the giveaway.

IFY: I don't know what the hell this dude's talking about, but he paid me, so.

ZAC: I brought a lot of money. Lot of money with me on this trip. That's all.

MATT: Great. So you promised them, what awaits them at the Snugglelord's, or the Overlord's–

ZAC: Basically the seven virgins of the chatroom.

MATT: Okay. Got you. All right. And so we'll, okay, all right. So. Here's how we'll start.

LIAM: The gears are turning.

MATT: Upon your chance meeting one evening in a darkened, drunken tavern in a darkened, drunken state, upon spinning tales of your backgrounds, your ears perked up at the promise of not only great riches, but great soulful, gratifying angelic entities promised to you from the realm beyond, this Overlord, this Overlord that keeps a very, very carefully hidden temple of worship not too far from this city, no more than two and a half days' travel on horseback. You mention to them that there is a place, a grand place where this temple could be found, and deep within resided the secret of contacting and being taken into the riches, the eternal vault of what is the Overlord. Upon this agreement, a small bit of change was exchanged, you managed to finagle the local stable out of a couple horses and found your way traveling before daybreak. You ride and ride and ride for the next two days. An awkward series of camping circumstances allow you to find you don't have a lot in common based on conversation, other than the love of money, and the love of this promise they give you. And the further you travel, the more and more the baneful eye of mistrust begins to fall upon one Snugglelord. As the beads of sweat drip down your face, but you know the city is mounting soon, there will be a time where you can prove to them that, in some way, shape, or form, they have helped you find what it is you're seeking and you can possibly kill them before they have the chance to take you out. Nevertheless. As the second sunrise hits, you crest over the last of a large, hilly landscape, the high grass brushing past your boots as you push through these grasslands, and you see upon the fabled city of Rockmarr. Rockmarr, not really that fabled, it's a small farming village, he seems to be talking it up as this grand city. So there's a moment of disappointment as you look over and see what may be anywhere from 60 to 70 houses to hovels to a slightly dilapidated farmland. Bit of confusion hits you and you look over to Snugglelord as he puts his hands up.

ZAC: Yeah, it was– the voices– I mistranslate them sometimes.

DAN: You mistranslate. It's 60 fucking hovels!

ZAC: 600, 60, like one–

DAN: You dropped the zero.

ZAC: Well. It's an accident.

DAN: Great.

ZAC: It won't happen again. Look, you're a great dude, I like you, dude, I get along, you're great, you're great.

DAN: Hands off the keg. You'll smudge it.

ZAC: You got my back, though.

IFY: You pay me? I'll kill him right now. Hey, you pay me right now, he's dead.

DAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

IFY: I'll kill you right now, I told you. You pay me more, I'll kill him. I'll kill anybody for some money.

DAN: I'll put in my pink slip, this is a bit I'm willing to take.

IFY: Yo, how much money you got right there?

DAN: Let's find this Overlord's stash.

ZAC: Did I really have to pick the two dumbest assholes to be in my group? I mean, really.

DAN: I'm getting so tired of this outer monologue. Let's find this, it's gotta be one of these 60 hovels, let's find it.

IFY: All right, let's do it.

ZAC: What are we looking for again?

DAN: You're the one who's supposed to know! We're looking for your mythical chat room, whatever that means. As far as I know, it said something about virgins, about riches, about ladies–

IFY: See, that's all I care about.

DAN: Right, I'm looking for Helen. Who's a ship. It's more of a metaphorical lady. But I'll take any port in a storm.


IFY: You give me that boat, I'll kill him right now.


IFY: You give me that boat, I'll kill him right now.

DAN: Oh, we'll talk.

IFY: All right. I like boats, man. Shit.

MATT: As the tides of your relationships quickly seem to turn, as you head towards the town, you notice– and you've traveled here once before and (laughs) while you understand that secretly, beneath where this hidden chat room is, is a cache of money that your previous employer hid amongst other riches, and probably murdered most of your allies before you managed to escape from his clutches, and probably the only person of your band of roving thieves and miscreants to not fall to the Shadowed Blade, you know that his riches are held there, you know that there are a number of traps set within this dark underpassing, and you know that once you can just get there, safely, you can probably make it out alone. So just hold tight to your position and you should be fine. As you ride up to the outskirts of town, you can't help but notice that, strangely, what was once a bustling farming town seems fairly empty. The nearby grass seems to have turned from a brightish healthy green to a dull, crackled brown-grey. The farms themselves, the lands have turned dark and cracked. The landscape appears to have been untended-to for many a month, and aside from a couple of scratching sounds and a distant cawing of crows overhead as they flutter off into the distance, there doesn't seem to be much of a sign of life in this village.

LIAM: (whispers) Psst, the music changed.

ZAC: (whispers) I heard it.

LIAM: (whispers) Be careful.

ZAC: (whispers) Yeah.

MARISHA: (whispers) It's a clue.

MATT: As you begin to step into the village proper, there is a small thoroughfare that leads from the main area towards the center part of town. As you ride in slowly, the clomping of your horses hitting against the rock, and dried dirt beneath your feet, you catch what looks to be a handful of individuals gathered towards the center of town. Maybe no more than 150 feet away, you see four figures, all different heights, dressed in ragged rags and clothes that seem to have been met with some sort of hardship and long, long nights without any sort of cleaning agent. They gather around in a circle over what looks to be a well.

DAN: Hello, there! What are you looking at in that there well?

MATT: As soon as you say that loudly, the heads suddenly spin to you.

DAN: Creepy.

MATT: Look amongst themselves. And they all begin to scatter away from the well.

ZAC: Can I make– can I give him some money to go check and see what's in that well?

MATT: Okay.

IFY: You can give me money to do anything.

ZAC: Here's some shillings, there, dude.

DAN: It's a local currency!

IFY: Okay, man, you just wasted your money, 'cause I was just going to check to see if there's money in this well anyway, so. A little more would be go, though.

DAN: For wishes.

IFY: I'm gonna look down and see what's in here right now.

MATT: So, as you approach, the figures have scattered off into what looks like two different alleyways on the opposite side of this small thoroughfare, you glance over the edge, and the first thing that catches you is this very, very acidic smell, this pungence that hits your nostrils, it's like long-long-rotting citrus coombined with almost an iron-like scent. You glance over, and currently you can only see a few feet into the darkened well, and it's too dark for you to see anything beneath. However, you are, as you are a dwarf, you have dark vision, and in the low-light circumstance from the noonday sun, you are able to look down and see that the brackish liquid, what would be a normal watery well, instead is very thick and viscous in the way it slowly moves. And from what you can gather, the water is disturbed. Recently has been disturbed.

IFY: Huh, that's good. Are there any shiny trinkets there, like there might be some coins in the bottom?

DAN: Anything glittering through the thickness?

MATT: Make a perception check.

ZAC: I think there might be coins in there if you want to jump in and see what's at the bottom!

MATT: So go ahead and roll a d20, add your perception skill.

IFY: So, my perception, get plus two. 19.

MATT: 19.

IFY: Nice.

MATT: You take a moment and you curl your fingers along the outside of the stone well. You place your head down, and while the scent is not pleasant, the need for gold is stronger. And what little bit of light trickles through, you can see what looks to be a semblance of a step or something within the well that catches your eye, and indeed you see a handful of gold coins. You're not sure how long they've been there, tossed in either as a wishing well or something more, but there are apparently some coins within the liquid.

IFY: All right. I learned a few years ago you just can't stick your hand in any kind of water, you know. Your hand might get bitten up. Maybe I might throw a piece of rope in there, see if it disintegrates. If not, that gold's mine, I saw it first. You will die if you touch it.

DAN: Ah, the old rope test. Classic. Nature's litmus.

IFY: My man Sam over here knows about that rope test. Yeah, I'll throw a rope in there.

ZAC: Who's Sam?

IFY: My man Money Sam over there.

DAN: It's Salty Pete, but Sam's me nickname.


MATT: So, as you go through your pouch, you pull out a small wrapping of hemp rope, begin to lower it into the liquid. As it hits the surface, there's no hissing sound or immediate reaction. It seems, you just kinda lower the rope a few feet in, let it sit for a second, and as you pull it up, you notice the rope itself has a very black color to it, and as you pull it up, you can see there is a very, very slight dissolving reaction on the rope itself.

IFY: Can't get my money.

ZAC: You might be able to jump in, get a handful, and we'll pull you up and you could survive that, maybe.

DAN: I mean, it's hemp rope, your hand is stronger.

ZAC: Yeah, I mean, you're a big dude.

IFY: See, usually when two people are trying to convince me to do something and they're not trying to do it, that means I shouldn't do it. So. We're gonna sit here and we're gonna talk about this water, how we're gonna get inside it and get that money.

ZAC: All right. Well, you're the seafarer, what water, what do you do with that?

DAN: I know a brackish liquid when I see it. This is nothing I've seen before, not molasses, not swamp water, this is nothing the like I've seen before. But I never back down from a challenge. I thrust my hand in to grab the coins.

MATT: All right. They're about seven or so feet below from the top of the well.

DAN: Oh, shit.

MATT: So as a dwarf, you're on your knees like


ZAC: You need a little help there, buddy?

DAN: It's all right, I'm highly acrobatic.

IFY: Yo, man, you better find my money, man, you got me excited thinking you were about to grab that money. You got nowhere near my money!

DAN: I forgot me stumpy arms.

MATT: With the aid of someone else, you could probably get in there if you want–

DAN: Would you be so kind as to dangle me?

IFY: Oh yeah, you know I'll dangle you.

DAN: It's a dwarf thing.

MATT: So (laughs) as Ulfgar grabs you by the ankles and slams you over the front of the well, you dangle down, your fingers just reaching in towards the liquid. You grab at the coins. It's very, very cold, the liquid, but it warms quickly as a strange tingling sensation begins to rapidly encase your hand as the feeling begins to go numb. Your hand gathers a handful of coin, and I want you to go ahead and make an athletics check.

IFY: All right.

DAN: Don't fuck this up.

IFY: It hit the pencil.

DAN: He fucked it up.

IFY: The pencil messed it up. 14.

MATT: 14, okay. So you feel the sweat beginning to pour down the side of your head, your muscles are tense, but as soon as you see that gold vanish from beneath the liquid, you know it's in the proper hands, you pull him up out of the well without much issue. You come up to the surface, hand clutching the gold, and as you open your fingers you look and see, indeed, the coins are as clean as the day they were, almost like just being in that well took any sort of tarnishing material off of the coin itself. Also looking down, you notice that your hand has gone from numb to burning.

DAN: Oh no!

IFY: Get my money first! I take the money out of his hand and put it in my sack. He's on the ground. Throw some dirt on him! I throw some dirt on your hand.

MATT: You take two points of acid damage as the corrosive liquid eventually subsides the horrible corroding of your hand, but not without its impact.

IFY: Thank you for helping me out. I throw you a gold piece.

DAN: Oh, thanks for the tip.

IFY: Yeah, you know.

ZAC: I'm sitting on my horse laughing my ass off. This is hilarious. I'm just so glad now that I teamed up with these dumdums because this is gonna provide me with so much entertainment on my trip.

IFY: You know we can hear you, right? You say it out loud, we know what you're saying.

DAN: We speak Common.


IFY: What would it take to pick up the Snugglelord and dip his head, just the tip of his head–

DAN: Oh, what about the gold piece you just gave me?

IFY: Yeah, just dip his head in, just a little bit.

DAN: Listen, I want to find this chat room. Let's find where those scampering scabs got off to.

IFY: All right. But after this, I'm dipping your head in the juice, man.

MATT: All right, so. Glancing over, I want all three of you to go ahead and make a perception check.

ZAC: Okay, so what do I roll?

MATT: Roll a d20, which is the most round of the dice, and add your perception skill to the number you roll.

DAN: 14.

IFY: 15.

ZAC: 16.

DAN: We are not clever.

MATT: 14, 15, and 16. All right, so. You, being at sea for a long time, the salty air seems to have taken its toll and your eyes are still a bit fuzzy. As you take to rubbing them to try and get a proper view, the two of you immediately see that, in one of the nearby buildings, a door is slightly ajar, and the moment that your heads turn toward it, the door shuts almost reactively.

ZAC: Weird.

IFY: I say we go check that out.

DAN: Did you see something?

IFY: Yeah, yeah, a door shut. It smelled like money.

DAN: Oh, great. Let's find it.

MATT: As you approach the door, you go ahead and reach for the knob. As you give it a turn and a tense push, the door is not opening. It looks like the knob itself is either locked or being held, and the door is held in place.

IFY: Well, it looks like somebody might be trapped in, let's bust down this door, man!

DAN: I can pick the lock.

IFY: All right.

DAN: Your choice. Don't want to take this experience from you.

IFY: I think I'm gonna try to bust down this door first.

DAN: Have at it. Leading with your shoulder.

IFY: All right.

MATT: Go ahead and make a strength check, so just roll a d20 and add your strength modifier.

DAN: Did you pull something?

IFY: Eight.

MATT: You get a nice running start. Foot goes right into the door, and it solidly hits you and sends you falling right back onto your ass, nearly knocking the wind out of you.

IFY: (out of breath) No, go ahead and get that lock first.


DAN: This must be a powerful door.

MATT: Strong, reinforced wood and iron.

DAN: All right. We'll let Mrs. Buttersworth and the lefty try this one. I'm gonna take my thieves' tools out and try to pick the lock.

MATT: All right, roll a d20 and add your dexterity plus thieves' tools.

DAN: Okay. One.


MATT: As you stepped over–

MARISHA: This door is gonna be the worst boss in the entire game.

MATT: Pushing your dwarven ally aside, you pull back your sleeves, pull out your fine masterwork thieves' tools, and jostle for a moment, and you hear that wonderful sound, that click, which displays the unlocking mechanism. As you pull back, you realize that wasn't the mechanism, that was the end of your lockpick breaking in the lock.

DAN: Oh, Christ.

ZAC: How're you dumdums doing down there?

DAN: Uh. Great. It's a powerful portal.

IFY: Oh man.

DAN: I dinnae think it can be traversed. We should go around to the back, find a window.

IFY: Oh no, I'm gonna deal with this house real quick. Let me just deal with this house.

DAN: Can I grant you a synergy bonus, whatever that is?

IFY: I'm gonna see if there's something in my dungeoneering pack that can light this house on fire.

DAN: Classic. We'll smoke 'em out.

ZAC: I actually think that's a really good idea. Let's burn it.

IFY: All right. I'll just check it out. Wait 'til I look in my dungeoneer pack, see what's up here.

MATT: As he's looking through his pack, you, Snugglelord, know that you as a fiend-pact warlock, have the ability to use a cantrip called Thaumaturgy.

ZAC: That's what I was looking for.

MATT: That allows you do all kinds of slight things, especially, you can create fire pretty much within torchlight or a small handful of fire, on command. So as he's looking through his pack–

ZAC: I'm gonna let him keep looking for a little bit longer, because it humors me.

MATT: Fair enough.

ZAC: Did you find anything there, little buddy?

IFY: Yeah, I got a tinderbox in here. Uh.

ZAC: Before he can finish his sentence, I cast the fire onto the house. I don't know.

DAN: Are you serious? You could do that all along?

ZAC: All while sitting on my horse and smirking smugly.

MATT: With a flick of his wrist, a spark emerges from his fingertips, and a burst of flame collides with the upper echelon, the upper portion of the rooftop. The thatched, dried-out roof begins to immediately burn brighter and wider and wider until about half the roof itself has caught flame. Part of the wood surrounding the upper beams of the front panel where is the door is, also begin to catch, and you start hearing some subtle coughing on the interior of the building.

DAN: Gotcha.

IFY: All right. Yeah, so now I'm gonna go punch his horse in the face, and then we'll wait by there.

DAN: Classic dwarven maneuver.

IFY: Right in the face as he laughs.

MATT: Roll a d20, add your attack bonus.

IFY: Goodness gracious.

MATT: Your strength and your proficiency.

IFY: That'll be 11.

MATT: 11. Horse is pretty easy to hit at that point. Go ahead and roll a d4 and add your strength modifier.

IFY: All right, d4.

DAN: Instantly decapitated.

IFY: Four plus, what is it, my strength?

MATT: Your strength modifier, yeah.

IFY: So that's seven.

MATT: Seven. Wham! Socks your horse across the face as you're laughing, mid-laugh, the laugh is pulled from you as you go, “Hahaha– whoa!” as your horse falls immediately over onto his side–

ZAC: Son of a bitch bastard!

MATT: – sending you tumbling from the horse, five feet from it, on your side, face in the dirt, coughing for a moment as your dwarven friend wipes his hands. Ulfgar kind of chuckles over you.

MARISHA: That poor horse!

ZAC: Has the fire weakened the structure enough for us to basically jump into the building?

DAN: Into the inferno?

ZAC: I have a fire resistance spell.

MATT: That's true. So looking at it, you can see the flames are starting to get– and you notice the door is trying to be opened, but whatever lock mechanism has been jammed.

DAN: Sorry! That's on me!

MATT: You hear (banging).

MARISHA: I'm pretty sure this is about to be manslaughter.

MATT: From the opposite side of the door.

IFY: I go over to try and help this dude out, because I still think I'm the hero in this.

ZAC: Yeah, thanks for punching my horse, dickhead!

DAN: It's all about perspective.

ZAC: I had a plan!

DAN: Oh, you should've seen your face. He's gonna punch me, oh it's my horse!

IFY: Yeah! Look at your horse, laying there like a sack of–

ZAC: You punched a horse, what is wrong with you?

IFY: Nothing. Not a damn thing is wrong with me, now let me help this dude out of this house that I lit on fire–

ZAC: I lit on fire, you couldn't do shit!

IFY: Whatever, I'm gonna help him out this house real quick.

DAN: It's a strong door.

MATT: Make a strength check again.

LIAM: Oh, burn the people in their homes, classic dwarf move.

IFY: Six.


MATT: As you go charging, headfirst this time, towards the door to headbutt through, a second time you land on your back. However, whatever the impact, you managed to jostle free whatever part of your lockpick was stuck in the door, which suddenly swings open, smoke billows out into the midday sun, and you see a cloaked individual, probably about a little shorter than you in height, comes rushing out, coughing outward, just trying to get a breath of fresh air.

DAN: I saved you.

IFY: Who set your house on fire, man? Ah, shit! Yo, your house got set on fire, dude!

DAN: Is that door made of mithral?

ZAC: You look really weird, why couldn't you just say hello, you looked weird, and we tried to get in, we couldn't, you look weird.

MATT: Make a deception check.

MARISHA: Deception check?

IFY: Oh, of course, now I do good. I rolled a 19.

MATT: A 19. Okay. The individual pulls back the hood, and what you can see, it was a ragged gray, essentially a cloak that was placed over with them. You see their pants are kind of torn, and when the face is revealed, it's an extremely malnourished female halfling. She looks like she's seen some rough, rough days, she could probably pass for mid-twenties or so, but due to her current state of health she looks much, much older.

ZAC: I feel like a real dickhead.

MATT: She finishes coughing, she goes, “Thank you. Thank you for saving me. I appreciate the assist.”

ZAC: Well, to be fair, I mean, he did fall on his ass twice. And he punched a horse.

IFY: Yeah, well, that horse was just collateral damage.

DAN: This is pure conjecture and hearsay.

IFY: The horse, actually, I'm gonna give you the full story, the horse was blocking my way to help get you out of this house, this ugly-ass horse, all in my way, anyway.

ZAC: Is there a way to convince her that I'm the only person here she should trust?

MATT: Yeah, tell her.

ZAC: I'm like, look here, little girl, these guys are idiots, you don't wanna talk to them, just talk to me, like look me in the eyes, talk to me, let's talk this through, like what's going on with you, what's up with you–

IFY: Yeah, trust the guy who looks like Lord Hades himself.

MATT: Roll a persuasion check.

ZAC: What's that?

MATT: Persuasion roll.

IFY: Look at this guy over here.

MATT: d20, add persuasion.

LIAM: C'mon, tiefling.

ZAC: Okay, now, how do I add these numbers together?

IFY: What is it, persuasion?

DAN: Yeah, persuasion.

DAN and IFY: So plus four.

LIAM: It's high, it's high.

DAN: So 21.

ZAC: 21.

MATT: Okay, she glances at the other two dwarves, who are both kinda like, (growls), just general stature and nature two rather ragged-looking swarthy gentlemen. Looks to you with your immediately dangerous-looking tiefling face, but there's something about your voice and the way you spoke to her that is strangely welcoming, especially in the chaos of this house nearly burning down around her. She reaches out and touches your hand gently and goes, “Thank you. Certainly. We've been lost in this region for over a month now. We're looking for food. We're not from here, but when we came to this village it was empty. Everyone was gone. No bodies, no one killed, just missing. Just vanished. But it seems the further we get from this place, there's something that draws us back to it. We get thirsty. We get hungry. Like there's a curse to it that won't let us leave.”

IFY: Oh, well, honey, that's just you, that was the rapture from the lord Bahamut just raising up all his dragonling followers and all that such and things.

ZAC: Again, he is not to be trusted, he is an idiot.

DAN: Where are you drawn back to, specifically?

MATT: “It's hard to say, we're continuously brought towards the center of this village. There's a large platform, where it looks like there used to be more of a presentory stage where small events or at least the township would discuss, but right now there's something that keeps calling us back to that place. We've set up tents there to survive in the meantime. We don't trust the buildings about. I can show you.”

ZAC: That would be great. I'll pretend to be your friend until we get there.

DAN: Why would you say 'pretend'?

IFY: Why would you say that out loud?

DAN: Are you fucking serious? Show some discretion.

ZAC: You really want a friend, don't you?

MATT: “I do.”

DAN: How does this work every time?

IFY: I don't know, man, I think it's the demon horns using demon powers and stuff, you know? I need to go to church on Sunday.

MATT: “Follow me.” And she turns around and kind of puts her hood up and she darts down the alleyway to the right of the burning building, keeping away from the flames that are now beginning to completely envelop the structure.

IFY: Oh, excuse me.

ZAC: Sorry about that, by the way. That was an accident.

IFY: We don't know, yeah, who'd do that?

DAN: An accident by nature. Nature's accident.

IFY: Why do you keep bringing this up when nothing happened, man?

DAN: Yeah, it just caught fire.

IFY: Anyway, do you have any gold in that house? Is there any money in that house?

ZAC: We're moving on to bigger and better things, don't worry about the house.

DAN: Yeah, take us to these tents, they sound great.

IFY: If there's gold in the house, y'all can keep walking, I'm gonna go get that hot gold, man.

ZAC: Keep your eye on the prize, man.

IFY: Yeah, we gotta look at this juice, anyway. Tell her to take us to the juice.

ZAC: We're going to the tents.

IFY: Oh, all right.

DAN: Juice is a common dwarven term for tents. It's slang.

MATT: As you keep walking along, she's darting ahead, keeping an eye out, she turns around and goes, “By the way, Lily.”

ZAC: Oh, you have a name!

DAN: Or a favorite flower.

ZAC: One or the other. Name?

MATT: “That's my name.”

IFY: So I'm Ulfgar, you know, I'm a sellsword

ex-pit fighter, put your money where your mouth

is, slow to trust, quick to kill. Money talks,

bullshit walks. (laughs) And I extend my hand out

for some dwarf dap.

MATT: She reaches out and pats the top.

DAN: Classic halfling. They always mess it up.

IFY: It's all good, it's all good.

DAN: I'm Salty Pete, but some call me Sam.

MATT: “All right, Sam.”

DAN: You can call me Salty.

MATT: “Salty it is, all right.”

ZAC: I get the idea that you probably are without a father figure. From the look in your– you can call me Dad if you want.

IFY: Yo, you're getting creepy, man!

MATT: “We'll get home and meet my father.”

ZAC: Oh, that's, I'm Snugglelord, that's fine, I'm sure he's a great guy.

DAN: Close one.

MATT: As she continues now with an awkward side glance–

ZAC: I can't bear children, you know this!

DAN: So sorry.

ZAC: I got it all out. There's nothing left.

MATT: As the alley opens up into this central, essentially a small square to this village, you can see what she was talking about. There's an elevated wood platform, although it's partially collapsed in the center, it looks like either something heavy was laid on top of it and it eventually gave way, or something heavy smashed it from up top. And around the outskirts of this, you see what look to be about six or seven tents that are kind of a very small ramshackle tent city. They appear to be made from scraps of cloth that seem to have been salvaged from nearby houses or storage facilities, but as you approach, she gives out a voice and says, “Stoic! Serling, we have guests, please!” At which point one of the tents opens up and you see what looks like an elderly woman, human-ish from what you can see at this distance. Looks out and goes, “Oh, is that right? Are they here to help?” And she says, “I think so, I think so,” and she rushes out and helps the old woman out of her tent.

ZAC: Yes, yes, we're here to help.

MATT: At which point a secondary tent opens next to that and a large burly halfling steps out, older, looks to be the one temporarily in command of this small group of people, steps out. “So you're here to help, you say.”

ZAC: (high-pitched) Yeah.

DAN: Aye, messir. We're here to help.

IFY: Yeah, if you got the money to pay us–

ZAC: God.

IFY: Big money. Hey, so, I'm gonna let you know, I'm a sellsword and ex-pit fighter, slow to trust, quick to kill. Money talks, bullshit walks. Let's kill somebody.

DAN: We've got to get you a fucking business card.

LIAM: Love that dwarven dialect.

MATT: The gentleman kind of steps forward and looks at the three of you–

DAN: Don't leave him hanging.

MATT: (laughs) He sort of just stares at you. As you're waiting, the (laughs) the young halfling girl, Lily, comes up and pats you on the hand again, kind of alleviating the tension.

DAN: Oh, too slow.

MATT: The man takes a step forward. This time, you can see definitely posturing a presence of masculinity and control of the situation. Looks about the three of you and goes, “All right. So if you're here to help, show me what weapons you've got.”

IFY: Oh, my favorite part.

DAN: Show me mine, I'll show you yours. Or vice-versa. Sorry, the salt has addled my brain.

ZAC: Idiots.

IFY: All right, so I pull out my two longswords, so, I got two longswords, I use 'em at the same time. I like to call this one Regina and this one Lindy, you get it, right, left, haha, I'm hilarious. And then I got this crossbow right here. I use it with one hand, it'll bust somebody in the face. Any questions?

ZAC: No, I have no questions, that's very nice.

DAN: I didn't know their names, that's beautiful, that's great.

IFY: Yeah yeah yeah.

ZAC: Just after right and left, no–

IFY: You know, I like making jokes up, it's good to pass the time when you're cleaning your weapons.

DAN: I've got several blades, a shortbow, and me trusty cape, which can come in handy in case of emergency.

ZAC: I merely have this little axe, it's no big deal, it's not really a big deal, and a crossbow. I'm not really that good in a fight.

MATT: “All right.”

ZAC: These guys, though, they're great, you can use them for whatever you want.

MATT: “And you're the leader.”

ZAC: Yes.


DAN: He's the employer.

MATT: “Right.”

ZAC: Same difference.

MATT: “Here's what you need to know. We've been stuck in this place for at least two weeks now. We're withering away out here, little to eat, no aid's coming. Whatever darkness has taken root in this small town, I've come to believe, has infiltrated the water, has infiltrated the ground beneath us, the very earth itself. As far as I can tell, each night when we sleep, the dreams, the nightmares get worse. And worse. I daresay if this continues for long, I'm liable to lose my own sanity, and I want to keep my daughter safe from me. So. All the cash I have, not more than a simple 120 gold, will be to you to distribute as you see fit.”

(background noise)

MATT: “Turn that down.”

MARISHA: I made it silent.

MATT: As the elderly woman goes, “I'm sorry,” and she puts her small violin away that she was playing as her mind slips.

ZAC: I was really enjoying the music, it's quite fine.

IFY: Yeah, you're speaking my language right now, and I'm ready to do anything for you right now.

DAN: I'd say you're right about the water.

IFY: Yeah, yeah.

ZAC: Let's– the water is strange.

IFY: First off, it's the juice, obviously. They're drinking the juice, they ain't got no other kind of water, the juice making you crazy. So we need to go up there and maybe you can use some arcana to look at that juice in there and see what's up with it. And we could get this money.

DAN: I think we should check the area around the stage and see if there's an opening or somewhere that we could get beneath.

ZAC: Yeah, let's try that.

IFY: Yeah, but if you–

ZAC: I'm also a little concerned about your hand.

DAN: It's fine.

ZAC: You're not, you're not like–

DAN: Listen, I'm sorry I don't exfoliate like you tieflings do.

ZAC: I'm just, you know, like no weird things going on up there?

DAN: No, just the thought of getting my ship back and my shit together.

ZAC: All right, all right, okay. No, we're cool, we're cool.

IFY: No so, do you want your ship back or your shit back, that accent funny as fuck.


DAN: Oh yeah. My accent. Dwarves, am I right?

IFY: You ever come up to the mountain with us mountain dwarves.

DAN: We hillfolk are a different breed.

IFY: Yeah, yeah, man, this is the mountain dwarves, we keep it real.

ZAC: I'm terribly sorry, I swear their muscle goes a lot further than their brains do, though.

MATT: “Best be, for the coin I'm paying for this. But we'll see. Prove your worth. Follow me.” He leads you over towards the central stage in the middle of this open area. You can see now, the stage– Upon closer inspection, it hasn't collapsed, it hasn't been smashed, it looks like the central area beneath it has been pulled down, there is an actual what looks almost like the top of an anthill, like it's slowly sinking into what appears to be some sort of a funnel that disappears beneath the surface of the earth.

DAN: Well. That looks unsettling at best.

ZAC: A little scary. Just throw your other hand down there and see what happens to it.

DAN: I'm gonna try a different tactic. I'd like to gaze into the abyss with my Darkvision.

MATT: All right. So you have to step underneath the large wooden platform, move through the broken portion of it. You can see where elements of it are jammed into this gravelly sand texture that formulates this small funnel. It's roughly about 12 to 15 feet across, and part of it does spill out into the opposite side of this open area. As you glance towards the edge, you feel the sand give a little bit under your foot.

DAN: Uh-oh.

MATT: Go ahead and make a dexterity check. Dexterity saving throw.

DAN: So that would just be–

MATT: Saving throw, which should be at the top.

DAN: Gotcha. A hot nine.

MATT: As you look over and step, you find the sand begins to slip from underneath you. You reach up to try and grab one of the wooden platforms to keep yourself stable, however, your other foot that you had your weight on also slips as the sand and dirt seems to give out under you entirely. As you hit your side, you feel it actually beginning to cave inward and pull you deeper and deeper into this small recess in the ground. You're now up to your waist, being pulled underneath the surface. You guys watch him being sucked in–

DAN: A little help!

ZAC: Grab him, grab him! Get in there, get in there.

IFY: Damn! Oh my god! Damn! He's in there, that's deep!

ZAC: Jump, just jump, I'll grab you–

IFY: How much are we gonna get paid for this? I'm gonna jump inside, I'm gonna jump inside!

ZAC: I don't know, just jump!

IFY: I'm jumping inside, come on, follow me!

ZAC: All right!

MATT: As you leap, which at this point you're just past your face and nose under the sand, you leap onto and grabbing onto the sides of his head just as it passes his eyes, as you grab it, you now plant your feet to pull. What you're used to, you know, when you get a nice firm foothold and pull, there's no firm foothold. Your feet go into the sand and you just continue going underneath with him, until eventually you yourself are completely submerged and disappear beneath the surface of this, now leaving you alone, staring at this now slowly stopping funnel of cascading sand.

MARISHA: Oh, shit! What you gonna do?

ZAC: Well. Fuck it, I'm going to jump in after them. Oh, this is stupid! This is stupid stupid stupid. Yeah, I'm gonna jump in after them.

MATT: All right. You run and you leap, and with an impact sound, your tiefling self dips and immediately disappears beneath the surface. There's a few moments of very scary breathlessness as all of a sudden suffocation hits each of you. The darkness, you're unable to see, you're unable to move and there's just this constraint of earth pressing around you, and for a good five to ten seconds you begin to come to terms with your mortality as if this is your final moment on this plane.

ZAC: Well, this sucks so far.

MATT: Then you feel this strange lightening sensation in your feet, almost like the pressure's beginning to alleviate, and with that, you now fall. You're falling in darkness.

IFY and DAN: (yell)

DAN: God no, I'm gonna die without seeing my Helen again! Oh no!

ZAC: I use my Darkvision to kind of see what's below me.

IFY: Where's my money? Where's my money?

MATT: Unfortunately, there's no light source down here at all, so you don't even have dim light to work off of, it's pure darkness. However, I want you all to make an acrobatics check with disadvantage.

DAN: How do I echolocate?

MATT: So roll 2d20 and drop the highest.

IFY: Whoa, what? Roll–

LIAM: Roll twice and use the lowest one.

ZAC: Oh, well.

DAN: Rolled a two and a three.

ZAC: Also two.

DAN: I got an 11.

MATT: Okay.

IFY: I rolled a–

ZAC: Wait, so what do I add that to?

DAN: Acrobatics, that'd be plus one.

ZAC: (laughs)

IFY: I rolled a 17.

MATT: 17.

ZAC: Three.

DAN: 11.

MATT: Three. All right. So you both impact on soft sand and in the immediate point of impact you just instinctively have, learning how to fall and tumble, you manage to go with the momentum and step out of the way of an impact, minimizing the damage. You each take– actually, you take two points of damage, you take one point of damage. You, however, go face-first into the top, taking a significant amount of impact to your spine, your neck, and your shoulders. You take four points of damage from the fall and are now head buried like an ostrich in the top of the sandpile with your legs and arms dangling going like (muffled yelling).

ZAC: (muffled) Get me up, get me up you son of a bitch! Get me outta the ground!

DAN: Oh, I got sand-burn on me bairn.

IFY: Oh my god, that shit, I know. Oh, look here, look at it, let's not help him, just look at it.

ZAC: (muffled) Damn dwarves! I hate dwarves!

DAN: I'm gonna try and pull him out.

MATT: It's not very hard, you yank him out at this point. It is nearly pitch-black in this area, you can barely see a couple feet in front of you. But you can hear immediately, there is this distant sound almost like the ringing of very very gentle bells. It seems very out of place and perpetual, and the tone shifts and overlaps.

IFY: Yo, y'all hear that?

DAN: Yeah, someone's playing crystal bells.

IFY: Nah, that's some money clinking right there.

ZAC: That's not– I don't think that's money.

IFY: You ever clink some money together? And hear that clinkling sound? Money be clinking.

ZAC: No, I think this is a great idea, run straight towards it, why don't you? Just see, go, run right to it.

IFY: Nah.

ZAC: It's probably money, it's probably money.

IFY: Last time we did something like that, we ended up in a hole, and your head was upside-down.

DAN: That was a great moment. I loved that.

IFY: See, it's moments like this that make memories, you know what I'm saying?

DAN: I'm gonna see that when I go to sleep later.

IFY: Yeah.

DAN: So the room we're in, it's mostly sand. Does it seem like there's–

MATT: You can only see a few feet in front of you.

DAN: Okay.

MATT: Anyone have a torch or any sort of light source?

IFY: Yeah, I have a torch. (sings) Got a torch in my dungeoneer's pack.


DAN: I love your theme songs.

MATT: You light up a torch. As the light source breathes out into the room, you can see there's a large dome of sand that is slowly caved in from the top surface of this small cave-in. However, about 30 feet down it comes to rest in what looks like some sort of a slightly toppled stone structure that has been breached on this side, almost like there was something deep under the ground that has crumbled inward and the sand has slowly poured into it. Also seems to be the source of this strange ringing sound, this faint ringing.

DAN: I'd like to investigate the stone object and use Stone Cunning to go ahead and see if I can find its origin.

MATT: Okay.

IFY: Use that Stone Cunning?

DAN: You know I know my stones.

IFY: Yeah, yeah, yo, and I give him dwarven dap, because that's some dwarven stuff right there.

DAN: Dap it up proper.

IFY: That's that D shit right there.

DAN: Oh, look at me, I'm a halfling, like get real.

IFY: I know, yeah.

ZAC: Regardless of what you are, you are quite useful in these situations.

IFY: Hey, my man Snuggle, look at the rock. You can't tell me shit 'cause you're not a dwarf! (laughs) You can't, man, you can't tell me shit about rocks.

DAN: 'Cause you've been burnt.

ZAC: Oh yeah, your hand's looking really good right now.

DAN: Yeah, like your self-confidence. Now let me look at the stone.

IFY: I know.

MATT: (laughs) Go ahead and roll an investigation check.

DAN: 15. Do I add anything for Stone Cunning?

MATT: I would say I'll give you advantage on the roll, so you can roll a second time. Sure.

DAN: Okay. All right, I'm sticking with the 15.

MATT: All right. So as you step up to what looks like the little bit of this stone outcropping that's slowly peering out of the earth, it looks like this is the upper corner of a stone chamber that has crumbled in a little bit, and you're now peering into it from an elevated position outside of the chamber. Looking at the structure of the stone, the way it's built and carved and wedged together to form the almost brick-like pattern of its making, it's definitely not dwarven in make, but it looks very old, and it looks like the material itself is almost like a sandstone, and a lot of civilizations that long existed before proper stonecutting could be used, where stone could be moved from nearby mountains or even the dwarven stonecutting techniques were spread across this land, this was a very primitive way of building subterranean structures. You gather this interior is probably very, very old, well over a thousand years. And as you peer down into it using the torchlight, you can see down within the chamber, it's rectangular in shape, there appears to be a trough with some sort of liquid that is in an ovoid shape around a raised platform in the center, and in the center of this platform, on top of it, you can see a very, very dull blue glow from this crystalline spherical orb that is resting on it and is giving off this very, very faint blue light. And the further you walk towards it as you inspect the interior from the top of the hole in this stone structure, you hear that musical ringing sound get louder and louder as you step towards it.

DAN: Got you. How big does the crystal look, roughly in size, shape, and weight?

MATT: I'd say roughly baseball size, it's about that big around. It's about 25 feet from you currently.

ZAC: Can I check the room for traps?

MATT: You're welcome to, if you want to step up to the corner.

IFY: You'd better do that quick, because that's a big-ass crystal–

DAN: Oh yeah!

IFY: – and that looks like it's worth a lot of money.

DAN: I was just gonna say.

IFY: Yeah, you know.

ZAC: I really wanna check for traps before this guy–

DAN: And I'm a rogue.

MATT: Make a perception check.

IFY: Yo, just hurry up and check it, man, 'cause I'm about to run in there.

DAN: Plus perception. That's plus three. Yeah. Perception.

ZAC: Okay. 22.

MATT: 22. As you step towards the edge of the corner, you can see the sand that has spilled into the room allows you a small decline to step into the room if you'd like to. As you get to the edge of the sand, you glance at the nearby panels and you can see, there are small language runes that are carved into portions of the floor, many of which seem to be just situationally part of a hieroglyphic storytelling aspect, like the whole room, but a language you don't understand. What languages do you guys speak?

DAN: Common and Dwarven.

IFY: Yeah, Common and Dwarven.

ZAC: I have no idea.

MATT: We're gonna say you don't know it, 'cause it keeps mystery abound. But you do notice that there are a handful of runes across the floor, primarily at the North-South-East-West-type portions of the stone flooring surrounding the crystal, and where that small water trough surrounds it. On the outskirts of that water, on those positions, those four corners, the runes are deeper-carved into the stone and seem to almost have a quartz-like texture to them, almost like there was something quartz set into the stone floor.

ZAC: Hm. Hm. Totally clear, you should run down in there and see what it's all about. Yeah.

DAN: Sounds great. I've got an idea. Does any of you have something similar to the size of that there gem?

ZAC: That's a good i–

IFY: Yo!

DAN: I'm gonna get a running start, I am going to throw–

IFY: You sound like you're taking ideas from some type of lore that may not exist on this plane, and it sounds like a dumb-ass idea.

DAN: No, no. It's gonna be great. Trust me.

ZAC: I'm pretty sure I've heard this tale many, many years ago, and I don't think it works out too well.

DAN: This is anything but derivative. I don't know what you're talking about.

ZAC: You've read the tale too, right?

IFY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ZAC: Yeah, there will be a giant boulder that will come rolling down towards your face. I don't think it will work.

IFY: Yo, how about this: rope test 2.0, okay? So we're gonna get a rope, we're gonna throw it on the floor. We're gonna throw the rope on the floor and then, if anything happens, we know it's a trap. If not, I'm gonna get my new gem.

ZAC: As long as you throw the rope, I'm okay with this plan.

IFY: Swerve. All right, I'm gonna throw some rope–

DAN: (laughs) More classic slang. Love it.

LIAM: It works for anything. (Scottish accent) Oh, kitten masturbation. Classic dwarven slang.

DAN: You have to see it to believe it. Sounds like these bells.

MARISHA: (Scottish accent) Vehicular manslaughter. Classic dwarf.

MATT: All right, so as you step down into the room, you take a little bit of the rope, you cut if off with one of your swords, you take it, and you toss it towards one of the small quartz-like runes on the ground. It hits and comes to rest over the small central quartz-type rune. A few moments pass. No reaction. Then the room shudders for a second, you feel the entire structure shake with a sudden impact.

ZAC: Well, not good.

MATT: A little bit of the sand comes down and settles to rest for a moment before you start seeing certain blocks on the opposite sides of the room begin to glow.

IFY: Fuck.

DAN: Great.

MATT: As they glow, they begin to drift out of the walls, almost suspended in the air, and begin to lock together in different places, until eventually it forms a haphazard humanoid figure in a matter of seconds.

IFY: Oh, what is that? Damn! Whoa!

DAN: Oh, wow.

IFY: This is some, like, weird, some, like… what?

DAN: You took the words out of my mouth.

IFY: Oh, damn.

MATT: At which point, this hulking humanoid form, probably standing at close to eight and a half, nine feet tall, made of these sandstone blocks that've been pulled from the wall, hands in place, unmoving, the crystal on the side of the room flashes with a vibrant blue light. As it does, in the center of this chamber where the eyes and the mouth of this humanoid would be, a similar blue light suddenly flicks on, like it's been given sudden sentience, at which point this large sandstone golem-type entity begins to charge towards you. Roll initiative.


ZAC: Okay, so what number's this?

MATT: So you roll a d20 and add your initiative modifier.

DAN: Roll and add initiative modifier, it's gonna be plus one.

MARISHA: We fought some golems before.

ZAC: That's all I add?

DAN: Yeah.

MATT: All right, so.

DAN: 20.

MATT: 20.

ZAC: 16.

IFY: Six.

MATT: (laughs) Nice.

IFY: I like to call that the ringer, baby.

DAN: Clean up.

MATT: All right. So we're gonna say at the top of the round, Salty, you got first up.

DAN: Oh, great.

MATT: You're still on the outskirts of the room now, the only person who's really stepped in at this point are the two of them, you're kind of still in the back corner. So you see it charging more towards these two, but you have the top of the round, so.

DAN: I'd like to slink off to the right, draw my shortbow, and try to shoot an arrow at the crystal.

MATT: Okay, cool. So as you kind of slide down the sand decline, you come around the edge, pull out your shortbow, let it fly, go ahead and roll for an attack.

MARISHA: San-de-cline? Eh? Sandy cline?

LIAM: He's showing his legitimate D&D roots.

DAN: 11.

MATT: 11. As you release the arrow, the shuddering of each footstep of the golem itself is very upsetting and in the chaos you let go of the arrow, missing by a mere inch as it disappears into the darkness.

DAN: Ah, so close.

MATT: You hear it richochet–

IFY: You ain't no elf, man, you ain't no elf. Shooting arrows.

DAN: I wake up every day ashamed.

IFY: Where's your weapon?


MATT: So that takes you to rest inside the chamber, kind of off to the right of where the rest of the party is. Next up, we have Snugglelord.

ZAC: Okay, so.

MATT: It's coming towards you.

ZAC: It's running towards me really fast, I look around me and I freak out and I go, “Oh shit!” And I cast that Thauma–

DAN: Thaumaturgy?

MATT: Thaumaturgy?

ZAC: Thaumaturgy and make myself appear to be a massive giant-like individual with a booming voice and I intimidate him and go, “You are beneath me, you foul creature!”

IFY: Yeah, make him punch you first.

MATT: So, for a moment this frightened, shaking tiefling individual grounds himself, and this kind of greenish energy begins to build around his body. As it does, his physical form seems to almost rise two to three feet, his shoulders broaden, his face grows dark, his eyes begin to spark with a fiery red light. The voice booms out throughout the hallway, and the entirety of this room's structure, catching you off-guard. Go ahead and roll an intimidation check.

MARISHA: Oh, shit!

ZAC: Oh, fuck.

DAN: (laughs) Well, it could be okay.

ZAC: Eight.

MATT: Eight?

ZAC: Yeah.


ZAC: That's with a plus six.

MATT: Neither the speed, gait, or power of the golem seem to have slowed, it continues to barrel towards you.

ZAC: This was a bad idea, you guys. (panicked yelling)

IFY: You just made him bigger. You just made him bigger, man!

DAN: Oh no!

ZAC: Go go go, I'll pay you more money, I swear.

IFY: Ah, that's the magic.

ZAC: All of my earnings from this, like, that dude, that dad, that bad father obviously, I'll give you all of it, just take care of this for me.

MATT: As you're saying this, the golem reaches forward before you finish your sentence and goes to grab you. What's your armor class?

ZAC: Studded leather, and 13 armor class?

MATT: Okay. You take five points of crushing damage as the hand reaches, crushes down on your shoulders and body, and lifts you off your feet. You are now considered grappled.

ZAC: Motherfucker, this hurts! This hurts, get him off of me! (high-pitched yelling)

DAN: He picked him up. He just grabbed him.

ZAC: Do something, you stupid dwarves! Do something!

IFY: So if I'm swinging with two weapons, do I roll twice?

MATT: You do use your bonus action for a second attack, you just don't add your strength modifier to the second attack.

IFY: So that's going to be 18.

MATT: 18, okay, and roll the second attack.

IFY: All right. Oh, and because I have the two-weapon fighter, I still get to add the strength modifier.

MATT: Oh, you do, awesome, so you can do both, nice.

IFY: Oh, that one is going to be 12.

MATT: 12. 12 misses, unfortunately, but the first attack does ring true. Go ahead and roll damage.

IFY: All right. Where are you, Mr. Eight? You are not Mr. Eight. There it is. I swing for– plus strength, 11.

MATT: 11 points of damage, nice. So after it grabs and picks up the tiefling, you can see the fingers actually crushing as he's screaming, you pull the weapons out, swing one that manages to pass under its arm. The second one goes straight into its torso and carves out a portion of the stone. Even though the sandstone is a very hard surface, you manage to find a portion between the bricks that jammed together and actually carves a chunk of brick out of the side of its torso. You can see the structure kind of shifts a little bit on one side and now it's kind of standing a little off-kilter, but is still solid in its current physical form. But well done, you carved a sizeable part out of it. Brings us–

DAN: Break it!

ZAC: I'm still being crushed, you dumbass, do something!

IFY: Got some extra money.

MATT: Top of the round, Salty.

DAN: I'd like to reload my bow and take another shot.

MARISHA: Reload that bow.

MATT: Go ahead and fire again.

MARISHA: Dat bow though.

ZAC: Is he trying the same thing? I can't see anything, there's a giant hand covering my face!

DAN: You bet your ass. 13.

MATT: 13?

DAN: Mm-hm.

MATT: As you swing and release, this does hit the crystal, but at a certain angle that causes it to just glance off–

DAN: Oh, come on! It hit the rim.

MATT: It did. It is a spherical object, unfortunately it deflects coming piercing very well. That close, but not quite enough to get to it.

DAN: Rats.

MATT: Do you want to move, or are you gonna stay where you are?

DAN: I'm going to, yeah, I'm gonna move back, I'm gonna move closer by ten feet to the crystal.

MATT: Okay, so you shift up. You're now at the outskirts of that liquid that's surrounding it.

DAN: Yeah.

MATT: Okay. It's only about five feet wide, so you can leap over it easily. But you stop there? That ends your turn. You're up, Snugs.

ZAC: Okay. Can I use the Hellish Rebuke on him?

MATT: You can.

ZAC: Am I allowed to do that?

MATT: You can. That's the Hellish Rebuke, as the ability here– pull it up real fast, because I don't have any tieflings. Here we go. Hellish Rebuke. That's a reaction you can make in response. So you actually could've done that as he's crushing you, which we'll say you do right now. So as he's crushing you, you do that as a reaction immediately. You point your finger and– So as you're being crushed you're like ahh, you point your finger at its arm.

ZAC: Eee!

DAN: The wet willy.

MATT: As you awkwardly finger the sandstone golem's brick structure, it fails its saving throw so it takes 2d10 fire damage.

DAN: What's on that finger?

MATT: Go ahead and roll. So ten-sider twice.

ZAC: Ten-sider. Okay.

MARISHA: Had some habanero sauce recently?

DAN: Yeah, it's a spicy fingerblast.

ZAC: Two and four.

MATT: Two and four? So six points of fire damage. As your finger enters the portion between the bricks, there's a burst of flame and it looks like an impact of some sort of internal arcane explosion, causing the sutures between all the different bricks to shake for a second. You see dust and sand settle between the portions of its torso that are holding its limbs to it. A pretty sizeable impact from an unexpected position. So that was your reaction. Now what do you wanna do for your turn?

ZAC: Okay, great. So the cantrips can be used–

MATT: As many times as you want.

ZAC: – as many times as I want.

IFY: Yeah, do some more of that fire stuff, it's working, man!

DAN: Cast a spell, it'll be great! Do more of that finger stuff!

ZAC: I'm gonna use the Poison Spray on him.

MATT: Okay, okay.

ZAC: See if that does anything.

IFY: Yo, you trying to poison some magic stuff?

DAN: Sandstone's greatest weakness. Poison.

MATT: (laughs) All right, so. You bring your hand out towards the creature, you release this sudden burst of poisonous gas–

ZAC: I'm panicking, assholes, I'm freaking held up by the top of my head, this is really excruciating pain, I may have made a poor decision, I don't know, I'm just doing something!

MATT: As the cloud swarms around the entity, it does not seem to be affected by the presence of poison, as its physical form does not fall under the category of a natural living entity. However, you can use your movement to try and break free of the grapple.

ZAC: So I try to run away–

MATT: Okay, so you try and break out. Go ahead and you can make either an athletics or an acrobatics roll, your choice.

ZAC: Well–

DAN: You should acrobatics. (laughs)

ZAC: Acrobatics.

MATT: All right, go ahead and roll acrobatics.

ZAC: Okay, that's 12.

MATT: 12? All right! You manage to just squeeze out of its grip, land on your feet, and get back about five feet. It's still right in front of you, but you're no longer in its grasp.

DAN: Slippery bastard!

MATT: Okay, so as its turn it's going to do Frenzied Punches, it's gonna do an attack on both of you. Just giant fists, it clenches its fingers together into two giant hammers of sandstone.

ZAC: Ah, dammit, no, I can't take this kind of punishment! You're supposed to take these!

MATT: That's going to be a 16 against you.

IFY: My armor class is 16.

MATT: It just manages to impact. So as one fist goes, bang, hitting you right in the breadbasket, you can feel the armor absorbs a lot of the blow, but it still nearly knocks the wind out of you.

DAN: Not the basket.

MATT: You take seven points of bludgeoning damage.

IFY: God damn!

MATT: From the sheer impact and force of the blow. As it pulls its fist back, it backhands towards you.

ZAC: Of course, yeah, it gives me the backhand.

MATT: That's gonna be an eight. What's your armor class?

ZAC: 13.

MATT: 13. You duck beneath the arc, and it swings wildly, missing you entirely.

IFY: All our luck's been wasted on you, man. That hurt.

MATT: Ulfgar, it's your turn now, as you recover from the blow.

ZAC: You got this, you got this!

IFY: Oh, nobody punches me in the chest and lives to tell the tale. So I'm gonna go ahead and slice-and-dice. All right, Regina! I swing for–

DAN: His right-hand sword.

IFY: – 21.

MATT: 21 hits. Roll the second attack.

ZAC: You announce it. “His right-hand sword!”

DAN: I just love color commentary.

IFY: And Linda! And with Linda I swing for 19.

MATT: Both hit. Go ahead and roll damage on both strikes.

IFY: Oh yeah! (laughs) So, um. Regina smacks for five.

MATT: Five damage.

IFY: Linda smacks for 11.

MATT: Nice! So you bring both swings down simultaneously, streaking an X-mark strike across its back. As you do, you carve a sizeable rock from the side of its back. As the stones tumble off of its torso, and its shoulder area, it hits the ground and they just turn to dust upon impact with the ground. You can see now, within the sandstone in the center, there is kind of a crackling arcane energy, almost like a spider-like electricity that is holding its form together that is the same color as the stone in the center of the room. Do you want to move at all, or are you going to stay where you are?

IFY: I think I'm gonna stay there and actually use an Action Surge to swing at the innards of this beast.

MATT: Okay, go ahead and roll another attack.

MARISHA: Oh, snap!

DAN: Like the Magic School Bus, going inside.

IFY: That is going to be 14.

MARISHA: I knew I should've stayed home today.

MATT: 14. With this action-surge strike you go, and you bring your sword down. As your sword gets within a few inches of the back, a bit of that blue energy arcs out and hits the blade, causing your hand to recoil instinctively. You drop the weapon for a second from the sheer shock of it, realize what you've done, and reach down and pick it up again. It manages to knock your attack out of use, unfortunately.

IFY: Oh. Go for the crystal! I think the blue stuff might work!

DAN: Yeah, you think?

MATT: That brings us up to the top. Salty, you're up.

DAN: All right–

ZAC: Do it again, I know I said it was stupid last time, but go for it!

DAN: I'm gonna believe in myself. I'm gonna sprint towards the crystal, leap through the air, doing a flip, grabbing it, and taking it out of its hold.

IFY: Is the flip just natural? You just had to add the flip?

MATT: All right.

DAN: Go for broke.

MATT: Go ahead and make an acrobatics roll.

DAN: I got a one.


DAN: This die is terrible. This is hot garbage.

MARISHA: Another die!

MATT: You back up, pushing off the back wall of the room. You go into a ninja sprint, leap through the air, over the moat of brackish liquid around the orb. You reach out and realize you're about a foot and a half too high. You reach down for it, pass through your fingers, you tumble over and land back-first into the other side of the moat. (splash) Splashing liquid all over your back and torso, you tumble off, slide across to the side of the room, slam!, hitting the opposite side of the wall on your back, your feet, ass-up, ass-over-teakettle.

DAN: Never believe in yourself.


MATT: You are considered prone and you take three points of acid damage from splashing into the liquid.

DAN: Oh, god.

MATT: Snugglelord, you're up.

MARISHA: Believing in yourself is a lie. Once again, D&D teaches real life lessons.

ZAC: It's coming for me!

DAN: I almost got it!

ZAC: I know! Man. It's a–

DAN: Are you casting a spell called Friends?

ZAC: Oh, no I can't, no I can't. I can't do it because he's hostile towards me. I cast fire into the weak spot on the back to see if fire does anything to disrupt the energy that's inside it.

MATT: What spell are you using for that?

ZAC: Thauma–

MATT: Thaumaturgy?

ZAC: Thaumaturgy.

MATT: Okay, as you focus for a second, you raise your hand up in the air, using your demonic heritage to call forth some infernal fire that bursts for a second in the center of where that electricity is. It sparks up and then is snuffed, no seeming effect.

ZAC: Am I allowed to move after that?

MATT: You can move after that, yeah.

ZAC: I move a couple steps back, like, whoa, shit shit shit shit shit.

MATT: Okay, so you carefully step away. It takes a swing at you as you step out of its range. That is gonna be–

DAN: Attack of opportunity.

MATT: – 11. Which I believe misses you.

ZAC: Yes.

MATT: So as you step out of the way, it comes down with a giant fist hammer-blow style, as you sidestep out of the way, as it cracks some of the stone on the ground.

ZAC: Can we all take a second to laugh at how great what Salty just did was, because that was amazing!

DAN: It was pretty great.

MATT: Ulfgar, you're up.

DAN: I'm in so much pain.

IFY: All right. Am I close enough to the crystal to run towards it?

MATT: You can, you'd probably take an attack from the creature, but–

IFY: All right. Yeah, I run towards it, safely, not trying to do any fancy flips or anything.

MATT: Okay, so as you rush past, it swings out at you. That's gonna be a 14. I think you said your AC's 16?

IFY: Yeah.

MATT: So you just, it glances off your shoulder, you take the blow but keep pushing forward with the sheer force of your dwarven physical self.

IFY: Woo!

MATT: As you leap just over the liquid, I'm just gonna make you, have you do a quick athletics roll.

IFY: All right. I rolled 24.

MATT: 24.

DAN: Oh, come on.

MATT: You leap across, three-point landing.

IFY: Kobe!

MATT: You stand up, the orb's there in front of you. You wanted to grab the orb, you said? You wanna grab the orb, you said?

IFY: Yes.

MATT: Okay. You grab the orb, you pull it off the pedestal. Make a constitution saving throw.

DAN: (laughs) Classic slang.


IFY: I, so, constitution. I roll a god damn 24.

MATT: 24. As you clutch the orb, you can feel for a moment the electrical energy surging through your forearms and into your body, and for a second your muscles tense and you feel like your physical form is being slowed down, but you shrug it off for a second as you're clutching it in your hands right now. You're looking at it, you've pulled it off of the pedestal. As you pull it off the pedestal, it leaves a couple trails of sparks off the top that stretch out between the pedestal and where you're pulling the orb off. You look back and the entity currently is looking like it's slowing in its physical ability to move around when it's in your grasp, but it's still turning around towards you, kind of looking, noticing that you've now grabbed something that is inherently connected to its physicality.

IFY: All right. Then I break it and say, “I own you!”

MATT: Make an attack.


DAN: Great breath control.

IFY: 14.

MATT: 14? All right. You take the orb, you spike it on the ground, and you see it crack upon the impact. It doesn't break, but a big solid crack suddenly spiders through the entire interior of the orb, as it rolls off and into the liquid on the outskirts. You can see the electrical center in the center of the sandstone golem flicker and flash with light, and you see one of its arms hits the ground behind it and scatters into dust and sand. It's still keeping its form together, and it's kind of lurching towards you with its other arm rearing back for some sort of an attack, but it looks like it's having a really hard time holding itself together. That's gonna end your turn. Salty, you're up.

IFY: Salty, you gotta put your hand in the juice again! You gotta put your hand in that juice, get that orb.

DAN: You can't be serious.

MARISHA: Believe! Believe, Salty!

DAN: No, it never works.

IFY: Just put your hand in the juice!

DAN: I'm going to– so if I'm not mistaken, I can expend a hit die to regain some health, is that true?

MATT: You can during a rest, not in the middle of combat, unfortunately.

IFY: (laughs) You got this, baby!

DAN: All right. I've got, I think I have three hit points left, maybe? Five or three. Somewhere, I think I'm at five. So, sorry, the orb is in–

MATT: It's currently– he slammed it into the ground, it cracked, and it rolled into the moat on the– to you it would be on the right side of the building right now.

DAN: Oh, come on. All right. I'm going to take my cape, wrap it around my arm, and just run and scoop it.

MATT: Okay. So you use half your movement to get up, and you rush towards, you can get just to the outside of it, 'cause you can see a little bit of the blue interior. You reach down inside, you pull it up. I want you to go ahead and make a constitution saving throw.

IFY: You got this, Salty!

DAN: Not using that die again.

ZAC: I kind of believe in you!

DAN: Oh, you shouldn't have done that. That'll be a seven.

MARISHA: Oh no, Salty.

MATT: So as you pick up the orb, you grab it triumphantly in your hand, you can see the liquid, it's not touching your skin for once. However, there is a surge of electrical energy into your body, and as you grasp it you can feel the muscles in your arm and shoulder and back all tense up. You find yourself held in place, unable to move.

DAN: Guys, little help?

MATT: That ends your turn. That brings us to Snugglelord, what you got?

ZAC: Shit!

IFY: It's the orb, break that orb, man! It's the orb.

ZAC: I pull out my crossbow.

IFY: Oh no, no! Anything but that!

DAN: I always knew it would end like this. That's what the gypsy woman said.

MATT: You have other spells.

ZAC: Not really, I picked terrible spells for this.

MATT: Your first-level spells, you have three you should have.

LIAM: Wait, what's your melee weapon?

ORION: Eldritch Blast, Eldritch Blast!

ZAC: I have a handaxe.

MATT: Do you have Eldritch Blast?

MARISHA: Do you have Eldritch Blast?

LIAM: No, he doesn't have Eldritch Blast.

ZAC: No, all the spells that I picked are all based on me lying to people. I am worthless in a battle.

LIAM: Smash it!

ZAC: Okay, I'm gonna smash it, I'm gonna run up and smash it in his hand.

DAN: Please, no!

IFY: Don't worry, don't worry, Salty, I'll drink to your name!

ZAC: I'm honestly not worried about his hand, he's already lost a lot of use of it, the skin is gone, like, he'll be, it doesn't matter, you're not gonna masturbate with that thing anyway anymore.

DAN: I never did.

MATT: So Snugglelord's tiefling form darts in and in the shaded interior of the room runs across. Go ahead and just make an acrobatics check real fast as you cross the moat.

LIAM: Oh, sever his wanking hand, classic dwarven move!

DAN: Classic tiefling betrayal!

ZAC: Okay, all right. 19.

MATT: 19. You leap over without an issue, you actually tumble and roll on the ground. As you come up, you use the inertia to swing your axe in a wide arc down towards his hand. Roll an attack.

IFY: I'll drink to your name, man, 'cause you're about to be dead!

ZAC: Okay, what do I add on these?

DAN: 15? You beat a 14 armor class, you hit.

LIAM: Dan Casey, still in character, holding up the orb.

MATT: Okay, so go ahead and roll damage for the axe.

DAN: Oh, this is gonna suck.

ZAC: What do I do for damage dice?

IFY: 1d6.

MATT: 1d6 and add your strength modifier to it.

ZAC: Well, that's nothing.

IFY: Zero.

ZAC: One.


ORION: That's for the attack.

MATT: One's all you needed.

MARISHA: One's all he needed?

MATT: The crystal is already heavily damaged. You bring the axe down.

DAN: Ah, god!

MATT: It shatters the crystal into a hundred pieces across the room. I want you to go ahead and roll another damage attack on his hand.

DAN: Fucking great.

MARISHA: How many hit points did you have left?

DAN: Five on a good day. Three more realistically.

ZAC: Low roll, low roll, low roll.

IFY: Five.

ZAC: Five.


DAN: That's a whammy!

MATT: So as the crystal shatters, you can see the golem form, which is coming up behind you with a giant piston-like hand, suddenly just vanishes into dust and sparks as it scatters across the ground. The axe swings through, and you're extremely excited at the impact as you look up and see what is a fingerless half-hand now bleeding profusely.

ZAC: Haha, you look better now!

DAN: Oh, everybody's a fucking comedian.

MATT: Which is the last words you say before you fall unconscious on the ground from the severe shock and blood loss.

ZAC: We did it!

IFY: Aw man, I really liked that dude, man.

ZAC: He's fine, he just lost some fingers.

MATT: So as he's now unconscious on the ground, bleeding out, does anyone wanna try and help him?

IFY: Yeah, I'm gonna try and resurrect him in some way.

MATT: All right. Go ahead and make a medicine check. Do you have a medicine kit or anything like that?

ZAC: I don't have one.

ORION: Yes, say yes, Thaumaturgy.

IFY: I just have the dungeoneer's kit.

MATT: All right, make a medicine check.

DAN: Cauterize the wound.

MARISHA: Are you trying to say stop the bleeding with Thaumaturgy? Is that what you're trying to say?

DAN: Yeah, cauterize my stump.

MARISHA: By screaming at it?

LIAM: He could stick a dagger into the end of that, he'll be fine.

ZAC: Or that spicy fingerblast.

IFY: I rolled 17 for medicine.

MATT: 17. Okay. We'll say between the two of you working together to bring out some material, you rip off part of a cloth you had stored in your bag, you use Thaumaturgy to go ahead and cauterize the wound, eventually you stop the bleeding, you wrap it up, you wait a few moments and he comes to slow consciousness, sore, worse for wear, but alive nevertheless.

ZAC: You did good.

IFY: Hey, man.

DAN: I beat the golem. I did it.

ZAC: You did all of it, it was all you.

DAN: I'm going to cough blood.

MATT: And he does.

IFY: Just want to get you guys invoiced, that gem that you guys destroyed was probably worth like 500 gold, so y'all both are in debt–

ZAC: You're still getting paid, you're still getting paid.

DAN: Classic dwarven accounting.

ZAC: We'll just go back to the bad father, he'll give you your money.

IFY: Yeah, yeah, you totally gave up your share, so it's between me and Salty.

ZAC: I remember that.

MATT: You do notice as you're on the ground, looking around, suddenly the brackish liquid that's surrounded it seems to have lost a lot of its darker viscous aspect and now it's kind of clear, smooth, pure water.

DAN: I am gonna plunge my mangled paw into that clear-ass water.

MATT: It is cold and slightly helpful in soothing the pain, and you are glad for once since you arrived here to see some water that is not absolutely terrifying.

DAN: Thank god for that.

IFY: Yeah, man, we did it.

DAN: It's good, it's good.

IFY: So do you want me to pick up your fingers, or?

DAN: Yeah, that'd be fucking great.

IFY: All right, so I put his fingers in my pack.

DAN: I'm a little shorthanded.

MATT: Go ahead and make a perception check.

MARISHA: Finger-scouting mission.

LIAM: One, two– where are the other three?

IFY: Perception– ten.

MATT: You find two fingers. God knows where, the rest are buried either somewhere in the remains of the sand creature or somewhere else in the room, but after a good five minutes of scouting you manage to find two of the digits.

LIAM: He can still rock on, though.

ORION: That's all you need.

DAN: It's all I have. Surf's up.

MATT: As you guys slowly find your way back up to the top of the pile of sand that led you into this chamber, you look up and you can see there's a small bit of light, and you hear a voice echoing through going, “Hello? Hello?”

ZAC: Yeah, we are down here and all the trouble seems to be gone.

MATT: You're alive?

ZAC: Yeah, well–

DAN: You could say that.

ZAC: We're kind of okay.

MATT: “Okay, hold on!” And eventually over a few minutes you see a small rope being let down.

IFY: Oh, that's what I like to see.

MATT: One by one they pull you up.

ZAC: You know, I do like those ropes.

MATT: One by one they pull you back up through the surface. You find yourselves at the center of the town, and everyone's gathered around with what seems to be a slightly more positive demeanor to them. As you guys all get up there, Lily runs up and gives you all an immediate hug and says, “Thank you. I felt it lift. I felt the darkness in my mind disappear. Whatever you did, it worked, you've lifted the curse.”

ZAC: Please, please, please, don't shower us with all of your riches and food and foul women–

IFY: This guy's delirious, we're fighting on gold–

ZAC: If you must, if you must throw all of those things at us as some sort of reward for the good deed we have just done, that would be wonderful and great.

MATT: All of them kind of look at each other, and you can see there are a few people now stepped out of the tents, some of them almost lepers in the way that they're bandaged, just going, uh, and the old woman goes, “We haven't much in the way of food, but we've pooled our resources.” And she looks to the halfling male, apparently the father figure to Lily, who says, “A promise is a promise.” And he reaches back and he pulls out a pouch. You can see it's hefty, full of coins. And looks to who to plop it to immediately.

IFY: It's over here. He gave it away in the battle.

ZAC: He's not gonna catch it. He's not gonna catch it.

DAN: Oh yeah, great, make fun of the cripple.

IFY: Yeah, all right. You know, Lily, I just wanna say, I really liked these moments we shared together. I think that we make a good team, and I'd love for you to continue on this adventure with us so we can get to know each other.

DAN: The sandstones on this one.

IFY: You know, it's like, you know, it's like an adventure date.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll against her father.

IFY: Nine.

MATT: She looks at you at you with a smile, looks at her father who goes–

IFY: No, man, I saved your town.

MATT: “And you've been paid for it.”

IFY: All right, all right.

DAN: What about this? We want the crone with the violin.

MATT: She looks ecstatic at the prospect that somebody even noticed her playing, goes, “Can I? Can I?” Looks back at her and goes, “Certainly.” “Great, I'll get my stuff!”

ZAC: Are you sure?

DAN: I love music. Play something baroque.

MATT: She grabs in her tent and pulls out a small sack, throws it over her shoulder. With the other hand she pulls out this tiny, crappy-ass violin that looks like it's seen better days on the road, and begins to play against the side of her shoulder this withering 'eeeeeee'.

ZAC: Great, we now have the saddest fucking traveling group of misfits I've ever seen in my life.

IFY: Hey, let the dude with the nubs have his, you know–

ZAC: Yeah, you got all the money, you handle the money.

DAN: Classic dwarf dabs.

ZAC: He's without fingers, I've got nothing out of this.

DAN: I've got seven. Lucky number.

MATT: And with that, the legend of these journeymen continues forward into the annals of history. Well-played, guys.


MATT: So what is the name of your party? What is the title of your traveling band?

MARISHA: What is it? Party title, party title.

ZAC: Nub 'n' butters.

DAN: Nub 'n' butters?

ZAC: It seems like something this guy would say.

IFY: The good, the rad, and the nubbly.

ZAC AND DAN: The good, the rad, and the nubbly.

MATT: The good, the rad, and the nubbly? I like that.

MARISHA: All about that.

MATT: All right, you've seen and enjoyed the adventure of the good, the bad– the good, the rad, and the nubbly. Completely improvised roleplaying experience.

ZAC: I'm the good.

MATT: Well done, guys, that was awesome, that was fun to watch.

ZAC: Thank you, Matt, that was a lot of fun. This was my first roleplaying experience ever.

TALIESIN: It was so good!

ZAC: Never done one before.

MARISHA: You looked so happy.

ZAC: This is fun. It's a lot of fun. I didn't have friends growing up, so I never got to play this.

IFY: Should've went to those–

ZAC: No, there weren't enough people, I lived in the woods.

IFY: No, see, what I did is I went to the Gaia forums, if you went to the Go Gaia forums–

DAN: Gaia? That little anime avatar? Super sick.

ZAC: We didn't have internet. I didn't know these things existed.

MARISHA: I was the same way, I feel your pain.

LIAM: Classic tale of childhood innovation.

DAN: That's so sad.

ORION: That's gonna have to be integrated somehow.

ZAC: All I hope is that the fans of Critical Role got some enjoyment out of that and that we get even an inkling of the fanart that you guys get when you do your show.

MATT: Oh, I'm sure.

LIAM: Please, please, something!

MARISHA: I really wanna see Salty Pete with his cape.

ZAC: Yeah, we didn't really get a good description of what you look like.

IFY: Oh, basically, you know, I look like a dark iron orc, which is like a grayish stone skin, I've got a Kimbo Slice beard going on.

DAN: Hell yes!

IFY: I have an iron chain around my neck at all times over my chainmail and I got a stein with brass knuckles as the handle.


IFY: And I always wear my gold sack just out.

DAN: Flaunt it.

IFY: So people know how much money I'm rocking with.

ZAC: I basically look exactly like a tiefling wearing a unicorn onesie for no apparent reason whatsoever. I did cut a nice little tail-slot out the back, though.

MATT: Good. That wasn't confusing at all for the horse you've been riding this whole time.

ZAC: Well, that horse has seen better days now.

MATT: Yeah.

MARISHA: What do you look like, Salty Pete?

DAN: Well, Salty Pete strikes an imposing figure, he cuts a mean swath. Basically he's wearing a battered leather jerkin, some rich woolen pants to get him through those salty nights on the open seas. He also has a velvet doublet because you've gotta treat yourself right every now and then, and of course he's never seen without his signature black cape, which was once upon a time the flag flying high above the masts on the Obsidian Helen, the ship that he lusted after. He also has a grizzled gray beard, not Kimbo Slice-esque, more like Ser Davos Seaworthean in stature and size.


MATT: Fantastic.

ZAC: We basically look like the most hilarious gay bar troupe you could ever see.


ZAC: Straight out of central San Francisco.

MATT: I would party so hard with you guys.

ZAC: I've got these two on metal chains.

DAN: Well, I'm a polar bear.

MARISHA: (laughs) Metal chains. I've seen that at anime conventions.

MATT: Get on it, artists.

ZAC: I'm pretty sure in West Hollywood I've seen somebody walking down the street in this exact getup.

MARISHA: I'm pretty sure I have. So here's my question. 'Cause was this your first time playing D&D too, Dan?

DAN: No.

LIAM: No, hell no, you can tell.

MARISHA: But this was your first time.

ZAC: I've never done this, this was great.

MARISHA: Did you feel like it was intimidating, the roleplaying aspect of it at first, and how– did you feel any awkwardness easing into it?

ZAC: Well, we are on the internet in front of a lot of people that are silently judging me. There is that small factor. Also, there's usually the people sitting here that are fucking professionals, so there is a slight bar that's really, really high, like, a little intimidation there. The roleplaying part's really fun. What I'm intimidated by is just, this is a lot of stuff, this is a lot of information and it's a lot to learn, I'm excited to learn, and I want to know what all this stuff is, because I don't want to feel like a dumdum, and I feel kinda like a dumdum. But this is great, this is so much fun. But yeah, a little intimidated by how vast the knowledge is that's incorporated into this.

MATT: Yeah, it's a lot to throw you at once. You did really good with what was thrown at you.

TALIESIN: It does start to feel smaller. It does eventually start to feel, it's like learning how to juggle, you're like, ahh, and then suddenly it's like, okay.

DAN: Once you learn the basic math, it's basically just applying that to every situation, and once you get that down, it's just a matter of getting into the minutiae. And that's something that took me a while, 'cause math was not my strong suit–

ZAC: Oh no.

DAN: Unless it's the number one, which I'll roll all day everyday.

ZAC: Yeah, you were throwing number ones, man.

DAN: I thought it was golf. No, once you learn that basic system, it's really cool, because you can extrapolate from that and apply it to every situation.

ZAC: Nah.

IFY: What?

DAN: I mean, that's literally how it works.

ZAC: I was gonna say we could elaborate on Ify's D&D experiences, but I'd prefer to not travel down that trail.

IFY: Nah, I've been in a few groups. I'm currently in a UCB group, and I usually tend to play, I'm the guy who starts the fights all the time.

MATT: I had a feeling.

ZAC: Hector was in your group, and you guys killed him off, right?

IFY: That was actually Dale, it wasn't Darren, he's our only cleric and the one fight, the DM told me that, like, the fight initiated, monster went for Hector, critical hit, dead one shot, at the beginning of the encounter.

DAN: Brutal, brutal.

IFY: And so the guys that I play with decided, because Hector missed a few, so, we'll just resurrect him when he comes back. And so we were playing last Sunday, and I was like, oh, what about Hector? And he goes, yeah, how long until we have to resurrect him? He goes, oh, it's about ten days. And I was like, how long has it been? He's like, in the game, it's been about a month. So his corpse is rotting.

MATT: Should've put that in my iCalendar. Oh well.

MARISHA: Oh, we missed that resurrection appointment. Reschedule.

ZAC: Can I take one small moment to say, I saw we were at 3,170 subs, 30 more, we'll do another giveaway of a book and a picture. It will take us a little bit to get the books, though, guys, because I'm pretty sure you guys had something to do with this, but in the last two weeks, all the D&D handbooks on Amazon have been out of stock. And they weren't a month ago. We keep trying to add them to our wishlist to get more, and they're just out of stock. So we're working on getting some more so we can do them for giveaways and stuff, but when we get to 3,200, we'll give away some more. So sub if you can, it supports all of us.

MATT: Thank you guys so much for watching. Any last comments you want to make before we sign off?

ZAC: Thank you, coaches.

LIAM: I would love it if, what was your name again?

DAN: Who, me?

LIAM: No, the group, the group.

MATT, DAN, AND IFY: The good, the rad, and the nubbly.

LIAM: The good, the bad, and the nubbly.

ZAC: The good, the rad, and the nubbly.

LIAM: The good, the rad, and the nubbly could come back somehow and intersect with us.

DAN: A multiverse.

ZAC: If we cross your path, run away, just run the fuck away, all right?

MARISHA: Oh shit, it's the good, the rad, and the nubbly. Run! Run! They're the fuckups of Emon.

ZAC: You'll see us coming from a hill a long way away, the guy on the horse with the two dwarves on chains and leather behind him.

MARISHA: You're just that adventuring party where whenever you roll into town we're just like, (sighs heavily)

TALIESIN: It's like the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold of the Critical Role–

DAN: Classic skates.

TALIESIN: Thank you, thank you.

ORION: And I'd like to say to everybody who's watching that had those questions about how do you roleplay, how do you have fun, you just saw three dudes with different levels of experience having all an amazing time. And we loved every second of watching it, so.

TALIESIN: Doing something totally different than what we do.

ORION: No game has to be the same, you play it how you want, and that's a good time.

MARISHA: I actually had someone tweeting at me being like, you know, talking about us mentioning how you shouldn't be intimidated by roleplaying, they said yes, but, conversely, not everyone's an actor. And I just want to address that, like, roleplaying has nothing to do with acting.

ZAC: I am not an actor. Not an actor.

MARISHA: Roleplaying isn't about acting, it's about playing pretend. It's about make-believe. With emphasis on “playing”. So just play. It's not about coming up with a character and a motivation and any of that. It's just about playing.

ORION: Or that money.

MARISHA: Or that money.

IFY: It's about the damn money, baby.

ZAC: Sometimes motivations are easy to come by, just tap that different part of yourself–

IFY: Throw them gold pieces on the table. Throw them gold pieces on the table.

ZAC: There's a character inside each of you guys, just tap into that inner Ify and just put it out on the table.

MARISHA: As sarcastic as Zac is being, it's totally true.

ORION: It's true, it is.

MARISHA: It's totally true, like, if you guys notice, they made their characters while Matt was talking about DMing, and then they had fully fleshed-out characters by the time they started playing, and mainly that's because they just had a few solid ideas, and then their characters built as the story unfolded. And that was great. That was awesome.

MATT: And like I said earlier, if you are still intimidated, don't worry, you don't have to come out of the gate being completely open to it. Just find your way in, play as comfortable as you are, and work towards getting to that point where you're able to talk as that character, and just notify the rest of the party and your DM that you're working on it. And let them be respectful, and eventually you'll find your way comfortable to talk like it, if that's what you want. Some games just wanna be, you know, Diablo-style dungeon-crawlers, kill shit, get loot, and that's totally fine too.

MARISHA: And seriously, if anyone judges you because of your roleplaying, fuck them, they shouldn't be in your game anymore.

DAN: Sneak attack. They won't expect it.

ZAC: Sneaky Pete 'em!

MATT: 5d6!

ZAC: Sneaky Pete 'em right in the face.

LIAM: Just be willing to be stupid, because that's half the fun.

DAN: Friendly fire is on.

IFY: I'm a big proponent of friendly fire.

DAN: Oh, Zac, do you like friendly fire?

IFY: Basically, quick story, last Sunday in our group we kidnapped a guy 'cause we were questioning him, and he just never was intimidated by me because early in the game I tried to bluff check to try and get him to give me 200 gold for no reason, and rolled a one, and so we had him, and so Dead Strongjaw is a barbarian, huge barbarian, like I rolled hot that night, I had 21 strength, so I tried to punch him to knock him out 'cause he started screaming for help, we ran inside his apartment, and I broke his jaw and we dragged him into a nearby cave and–

MARISHA: Where is this going?

IFY: – so the whole time–

DAN: That man was Kanye West, through the wire.

IFY: So through that, our, we had this warlock or wizard who summoned this infernal mastiff to ride, and he was talking all this shit, so I rolled and punched his mastiff, and since it was a spell, I punched it out of existence, and that's when the archivist came to, and he was like, he just sees me punch it, and I kept saying we are good people, because I realized that I'm neutral good, so I didn't want to torture him. And then that's when the DM was like, just so you know, he came to, you punched a devilish mastiff out of existence, and yelled, “We're good people!” over and over to him.

MATT: That's a way to get it across. That's the kind of shit that happens, yeah. Well guys, thank you so much for watching. I hope it's been semi-informative, at the very least fun to watch. We'll definitely be up next week for the continuation of the Critical Role storyline, picking up where K'Varn was defeated in the depths of the Temple of Yug'voril, the Illithid city deep beneath Kraghammer and see where the party goes from there.

ZAC: Yay, I'm excited!


MATT: A big round of applause for our coaches and hanging out here tonight, big round of applause–

ZAC: Happy birthday, Liam!

ALL: Happy birthday, Liam!

ORION: Where's your cake?

MARISHA: Where is your cake?

LIAM: I dunno.

ZAC: We had a cake for Liam. We gotta sing happy birthday. We have to sing happy birthday with the cake!

MARISHA: The non-licensed happy birthday, at least.

ZAC: Oh, fuck it, we're gonna sing the licensed one, what are they gonna do?

MARISHA: Yeah, fuck you, Twitch!

ZAC: Do you really think that we're so on key that–

DAN: Winston Birthday is gonna sue us. Please.

MARISHA: (laughs) Winston Birthday.

ZAC: Oh my gosh. We also have shirts for sale, guys! It's so hard.

DAN: That was an amazing segue.

ORION: That was very Paul Blart, dude.


ZAC: My brain never stops thinking about how in the world we're gonna make this thing survive forever. Gotta get those subs and sell those shirts. By the way, guys, omgsteve from Team Hooman came by today, here's here now, he's been watching, hope you had a good time. You wanna wave hi to everybody?

MATT: Yeah, come on, say hello!

ZAC: Come around back and say hello. Omgsteve is a great member of our community for Team Hooman, we have the best community–


ZAC: He brought Liam cake and tasty treats, like, thank you so much.

ORION: Oh, you're responsible for the potato balls! Yes!

TALIESIN: Oh, thank, oh it was amazing.

MATT: You saved my ass. I didn't have enough time to get lunch today, and I came in and you'd brought all that, I was like, ahh, thank you.

TALIESIN: We were waiting in line for potato balls and–

MARISHA: And we had to leave.

TALIESIN: – and then we got here and there were potato balls.

MARISHA: I locked my keys in the car.

ALL: (sing) Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Liam… and Laura, happy birthday to you! (cheering)

MARISHA: Cake attack.

LIAM: That's mine right there.

TALIESIN: Classic birthday.

MARISHA: Classic birthday.

DAN: Classic pastry slicer.


MATT: Thank you guys so much.

MARISHA: Huzzah!

LIAM: Goodnight!

MATT: Have a wonderful evening, we'll see you next week.

ALL: Bye!