LIAM: Hello there! And welcome to an episode of Critical Role!
LIAM: Where a bunch of us– man, that was good, that was like a wall of sound and every note of it was foul and disgusting. Welcome to the show where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors sit around and play Dungeons and Dragons.
LIAM: Yeah, things don’t look like they normally do– for us either, Matt’s over there! He’s sitting right there!
MATT: It’s very weird from this perspective.
LIAM: You look so little, over there.
MATT: You look about the same size to me.
LIAM: Oh. Well, we have a shit-ton of announcements. I’m really excited to be a jackass. So let’s get through them! First of all, thank you everybody for the survey. 44,700 of you answered, and we can’t thank you enough. Yeah. We’re hoping to have something fun for you guys soon because of it, so really, thank you for taking the time to do it. And we will take that data, and I will eat it. Merch! I’m going to throw it to Laura, because that’s what you do, you throw merch to Laura.
LAURA: (muffled) Hi. I’m eating a piece of pizza. We have merch in the store. We’re all out of dice, but yo, we’ve got the t-shirts, we got some hats, we got patches and vinyl stickers. We got all sorts of shit.
TRAVIS: See, our store go hard.
LAURA: Go to the store!
LIAM: Pop some tags.
LAURA: I know it’s 4/20, the store kind of looks like a weed dispensary. But it’s not. It’s a straight-up Geek and Sundry store.
TRAVIS: We should look into Critical Role cannabis.
SAM: Oh, that’d be so good.
MARISHA: Weed and Sundry.
LAURA: Oh! That’s good.
ASHLEY: That’d be pretty tight.
LAURA and MARISHA: Yeah.
TRAVIS: We’re getting fired.
MARISHA: Everyone knows it’s true. Everyone in this building knows it’s true.
MATT: We just lost Jeff Sessions as a fan. Sorry, Jeff.
LIAM: Is that available as merch, by the way?
TALIESIN: Just see me out back.
TRAVIS: Cash me outside.
MATT: Oh no.
LIAM: Oh god, how do you herd seven cats?
MATT: I don’t know! How do you do it, Liam?
LIAM: I don’t know how.
LIAM: Hey, Taliesin, tell us about this Wednesday Club thing you do.
TALIESIN: Oh yeah. This week on Wednesday Club, we thought it would be fun to delve into manga! That’s right, there’s a new camera here, that’s crazy.
LAURA: Oh wait, no, I was looking at the wrong one because it’s so bright.
TALIESIN: I know.
LAURA: That’s the one we’re looking at.
SAM: Yeah, we’ll have to flag that off, probably.
TALIESIN: Yeah, it’s like the HAL 9000.
LIAM: And the cameras feel like eavesdroppers.
TRAVIS: It’s fine. You’re a baby.
MARISHA: We can turn it down more. Can we tilt down this red light more? So it’s not in their eyes? Okay. Keep going.
TALIESIN: We’re going to be talking about manga. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Join us, we may have a guest, we may not, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve just been so delighted by this, I’ve ignored everything else in my life. Wednesdays at noon on this very channel, where you are right now. Come check it out.
LIAM: On to you for Signal Boost?
MARISHA: Angie Hill was on this week. Holy shit. She’s a badass MMA fighter who always shows up to her weigh-ins in cosplay. She’s dope.
MATT: Yeah, she showed up as Dhalsim to a weigh-in. It was like the best thing ever. It was amazing.
MARISHA: She’s rad.
MATT: Like a very accurate outfit.
MARISHA: Yeah, she came out, she drove up from San Diego, yeah. She’s cool. So she was on the show. And guess who’s up next week?
TRAVIS: What, high school awkward pose?
SAM: Marisha Ray?
LAURA: Is that you?
MARISHA: No. Liam O'Brien.
LAURA: Oh, okay.
ASHLEY: Liam O'Brien!
MARISHA: That guy!
SAM: He’s taking over all the shows.
LIAM: Yep. Yes, I’m doing Wednesday Club. I’m the President of Nerdist as well!
TALIESIN: Liam and Sundry.
LAURA: (laughs) Liam and Sundry.
LIAM: Hey, also, Marisha, Taliesin, and Matthew here, are going to Momocon! For my birthday weekend, on May 25th through 28th. I won’t be here.
LAURA: Hey. We share that birthday weekend, don’t just call it yours.
LIAM: (whispers) I’m sitting in the chair, Laura.
LIAM: Okay, so go see them if you’re in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia. Also, I think this is the time for you to give us an announcement about a project you’re working on?
LAURA: So, it just got announced! A new game that I’m working on called Farpoint! Got a story trailer for it, it’s a VR game for Sony PlayStation VR, it’s totally cool. I tweeted out the story trailers, if you want to go check it out. It looks super awesome, and it was so fun to work on, and the story was really awesome too. And then last week, we released a cinematic trailer for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy! And got a release date for it, which is August 22nd, which I’m very excited about, as well!
TRAVIS: Air punch it.
LAURA: Woo woo!
LIAM: Boy, everybody feels really 12 tonight. That’s good! That’s perfect. Also, Talks Machina is live on Tuesday nights. 7PM on Twitch. Don’t forget to submit your gif and fanart of the week, use TalksMachina@gmail.com. Matt, you had something you wanted to throw out?
MATT: Yeah, when we did the charity drive, where we played Mansions of Madness, about a month or so ago, one of the things that I said off-the-cuff was that if we got a certain point, a certain donation list, I’d do a two-hour hangout Q and A, and then Brian Foster said that if we make even more, he’ll do it in a silk robe. Well we hit both those goals, we finally scheduled it. I know, yeah, yeah you get to talk to him about that today.
ASHLEY: He has so many silk robes, so it’s fine.
MATT: (laughs) Oh, I ordered one. It’s awful. It’s going to be great.
LAURA: Is it purple? Tell me it’s purple.
MATT: It’s red. It’s bright red.
LAURA: Ooh, nice.
MATT: It’s heinous. But, next Tuesday, from 4 to 6PM, here on the Twitch channel, it’s going to be a date with me and the chat. For two hours.
MARISHA: It’s going to be awesome.
MATT: I’m going to have wine, and a nice robe, and it’s going to be kind of like–
MARISHA: We’re going to have dinner– no, he’s going to have dinner in like POV.
MATT: Yeah, we’re going to figure that out. I’m hoping to do that. What was the Christopher Walken character? With the wine?
SAM: Oh, the Continental?
MATT: I’m hoping it’s something like that. It’s kind of what I’m going for. But anyway, during that time also, I’m going to finally make up on those promises even on an older charity, where I’m going to work with the chat to create an NPC for Critical Role and create a possible future encounter.
SAM: So we should watch that so we know–
MATT: (sings) You should not watch that at all, you guys are banned from it or I’ll kill your character.
MATT: That’s next Tuesday, at 4 to 6PM Pacific here on Twitch. Thank you, Liam.
MARISHA: So, it’s going to be you and then Talks at 7PM?
MATT: And then Talks at 7PM, yeah, so it’s going to be a nice little transition.
LIAM: Almost through these. There is also going to be a new Tabletop promo airing during the break that we’re pretty stoked about, so don’t walk off and pee immediately. And then lastly, I need to do a couple of thank-yous. You guys have been seeing them all week. These miniatures here. I have two people or organisations that I want to thank. One is heroforge.com. If you haven’t already heard of Hero Forge, you can go to heroforge.com and design and tweak a miniature just the way you want. You make it tall, you make it short, you can make them an elf, you can make them a human, you can give them guns, you can give them a sword, and then they 3D print that shit, and they mail it to you. And that’s what happened with all these guys, they recreated my lovely dork friends as miniatures. I’m very happy with them. And I want to thank Emerald Knights Comics and Games. They’re a local comic shop and game shop that Matt and I frequent, at least just you and me, and they’re @ekcomics on Twitter. I will tweet all this stuff out, either later tonight or tomorrow. But I wanted to mention these things. Matt and I get asked about these a lot, and they’ve been a part of our campaign since pretty much the beginning. I just associate them with Dungeons and Dragons. But they’re hard to come by, and everyone’s always asking where we get them. And Julian Rodriguez at Emerald Knights. Well, first of all, Julian painted these for me, so thank you Julian, they’re beautiful. And Julian and Emerald Knights are responsible for these things. They’ve been out of stock for a while. They’re going to be back in stock in May, and you’ll be able to find them probably in your local store, but if not, on the Paizo webstore. I’ve been asked a hundred times about thesel
LAURA: How do you spell Paizo?
LIAM: Thank you.
TRAVIS: I have a question about those, are they edible like the ones in Fraggle Rock?
LAURA: (gasps) Are they made out of radishes?
LIAM: If you try hard enough.
TRAVIS: I have wanted to eat those my entire life.
MATT: Oh yeah, dude. Dude, those structures are legit!
ASHLEY: I forgot about those!
LIAM: So you might have a half-elf ranger in your party who is obsessed and will do anything and everything to fucking fly. Boom. Done. There you go.
MARISHA: Okay, because when I bought those for you, way before we even thought about having a show, back when we very first started dating, I’m pretty sure they just custom-made those. Julian custom-made those himself and just sold them.
MATT: And just sold them in a box in the store.
MARISHA: And now, I think, because–
MATT: Like, the whole internet explosion in media, D&D.
MARISHA: Yeah, they’re starting to make them on mass scale.
LIAM: They will be readily available in May, and I’ll make sure to update Critters as that happens, so thank you. Thank you Hero Forge, and thank you Emerald Knights. Gorgeous. Boink.
SAM: I have something to say, Liam.
LIAM: (whispers) Let’s hear it.
SAM: I don’t have an announcement, and neither does Ashley. So Ashley, how you doing?
ASHLEY: I’m great, how are you?
SAM: I’m pretty good.
ASHLEY: You know, just, second week in a row, just here.
LAURA: Just to hang out.
MATT: Yeah. Got more coming?
MATT: Yeah? You going to be here a while?
LIAM: With so much new information to process. Well. God, I don’t know what I’m doing. Let’s play the game, all right?
LIAM: And dive into a little Critical Role.
LIAM: It was good. It was weaker than the first attempt.
MATT: You know, this is my first chance to actually do this to you, and I keep getting completely swarmed by everyone else, so it’s good.
LIAM: Well, they’re all pros.
TRAVIS: (laughs) The uncertainty.
LIAM: Pee pockets? Is that what I heard?
MATT: Not from me.
MATT: No. I had a good one.
LIAM: Sam! Let’s you and I talk for a moment.
SAM: (gasps) Does everyone else need to leave?
LAURA: No. Do not make us get up right at the beginning.
SAM: Sam Riegel.
LIAM: Are dreaming. You are seeing visions that make very little sense to you. You’re at work, back in one of the countless recording studios you’re in week after week. No biggie. Only the dream all goes to shit. You see colleagues torn to pieces. A massive serpent’s tail. A great and terrible god creature looming over you for an instant, and then gone. A dog. An angel. A comedian’s corpse. And a tower. And at a certain point, you come to realise that you are in fact dreaming. Within the dream. You are in that in-between moment, aware that what you’re seeing isn’t real, but you don’t want to wake up yet. Grasping at slumber still. But uncomfortable. Something is pressing into your back, a little painfully. The dream fades, and you try to hold on to–
SAM: It’s not a dick, Laura.
LIAM: It is, in fact, my dick.
LIAM: The dream fades. You try to hold onto your sleep state, but that pain in your back– which is definitely not my dick– and the humidity. You feel sweaty. You become aware of how hot and sticky the air is you’re breathing. Finally, as your eyes flutter open, you squint just a little bit against sunlight shining down through a thick tree cover. You’re in a jungle. There it is. Then you’re trying to figure out if you’re lying inside of what looks like a massive, hollowed-out tree trunk, for a second? But no. Out of place with the rest of the dark, mottled, reddish-brown tree cover far above are four rusted, vine-entangled beams rising up around you. You’re in the middle of what seems to be a square, dead-center, with these four metal beams stretching and ending in the air. But they’re not bare; they’re wrapped around with plant life and vines, and there’s vines hanging from beam to beam, and it’s almost like you’re in a canopy bed with no top, covered with green. Also, scattered around, you see a few lumps of knotted wood here and there. Or maybe gourds? You don’t know. Oh, your vision doubles for a second, and you feel a strange pulling sensation on your eyeballs, your head, as the air almost seems to pulse for a minute. You feel a brief wave of nausea, but then it passes. Oh shit, your back hurts. The next thing you notice is what you’re lying in. You see what looks like a large– all around you, unfurled, rind, or petals of some sort of plant. You are in a plant. And there’s a large hump of brownish-red plant matter rising from the center of this thing, and there’s small little tendrils climbing up around your leg. They’re not moving, but they are roped and snaked around your legs. You give a little tug, and you are held in place. And the other thing you see are two sleeping little kids.
SAM: Oh. That’s nice.
LIAM: They’re in the same predicament. There’s little tiny miniature vines, almost, whitish color, coming out of the center of this reddish-brown plant holding them.
SAM: Are they my kids?
LIAM: They’re not your kids.
SAM: Oh, thank god.
MATT: Fuck them, they can die.
MARISHA: Yeah. They’re not my kids.
SAM: First of all, I appreciate you making this all about me, as it should be.
TRAVIS: Number one on the call sheet.
SAM: I’m going to try to stand up. Is that a thing I can try to do?
LIAM: You can certainly try.
TRAVIS: The first one!
LAURA: How’s it feel, Matt?
MATT: It’s great.
LIAM: You did this!
MATT: You’re doing good! Keep going!
LIAM: What do you want to do there, buddy?
SAM: Can I sit up in my weird four-poster?
LIAM: You are able to sit up. Your legs can’t move, but you sit up, and the pain finally– whatever was poking you in the back is not–
SAM: Well, I’m looking, what was poking me in the back?
LIAM: Ooh, there’s a really small canine skeleton.
SAM: (gasps) Bixby! Did he have a collar or anything that I could identify?
LIAM: I mean, the bone is bleached white.
SAM: Is it about the same size as little Bix?
LIAM: Kind of.
LAURA: Liam O'Brien killed a pug!
SAM: How far are the children from me?
LIAM: I mean, you could probably reach one of them if you wanted to. You could reach both of them. There’s a girl and a boy. The girl looks, I don’t know, ten or 11. The boy’s younger.
SAM: Are they asleep? Do they look like they’re alive and asleep?
LIAM: They’re breathing.
SAM: Okay, I’m going to try to stir one of them, whoever’s closest.
LIAM: Which one?
SAM: Who’s closer?
LIAM: They’re both equidistant.
SAM: The older one.
SAM: The girl, right?
LIAM: Okay, yeah. Laura, you feel like a poke, poke, poke at your legs.
LAURA: I knew it! Ow.
LIAM: Your eyes flutter awake, and you see a really fucking bizarre jungle and some little kid poking at your foot.
SAM: Wait, I’m a kid? (whispers) Oh, we’re kids! Muppet Babies!
MATT: (sings) Crit Role Babies, it’s time to play some shit.
LIAM: The little blond angelic boy sleeps peacefully as you guys whisper to each other.
SAM: There’s a little blond boy?
LAURA: Wait, who are you?
SAM: I’m Sam!
LAURA: You’re Sam?
SAM: Do we know each other?
LIAM: You just fought dead Conan O'Brien.
SAM: Do I recognize her?
LIAM: Kind of?
SAM: Sam Riegel! TV’s Sam Riegel!
LAURA: Sam, you’re a kid! What are you talking about?
TRAVIS: You’re that kid from Les Mis!
SAM: Who are you?
LAURA: Your face is smaller but your teeth are the same size!
SAM: Who are you?
LAURA: I’m Laura!
SAM: You’re too fat to be Laura!
LIAM: Taliesin, you’re stirred awake by the sound of children’s voices arguing over your body.
LAURA: You dick. Wait, who is that?
SAM: Well, that’s Taliesin.
LAURA: Oh, it’s that kid from that commercial.
SAM: Yeah, I saw him in Mr. Mom. He looks the same.
LIAM: He does, if either of you have seen Mr Mom, he does look precisely like he did in Mr. Mom.
TALIESIN: It’s basically Butters Stotch. I’m screwed.
MARISHA: You totally were!
MATT: You were Butters Stotch!
TALIESIN: You’re figuring that out now?
LIAM: Just for your benefit, and for the audience, we’re going to be hearing all of the usual Taliesin verbiage and sayings, like “okay” and “this is going to be fun,” except please imagine it in a small, piping widdle voice.
TALIESIN: Can I have a moment to myself?
LIAM: He’s still Executive Goth. He’s just seven-ish.
LAURA: We’re children! What the fuck happened?
SAM: We were just fighting Conan, we beat him.
SAM: Yeah, hi. I know, my teeth are really big. I haven’t gotten any work done.
TALIESIN: No, I’ve YouTubed you. This makes sense. What, and–
TALIESIN: Where’s everybody else?
LAURA: I don’t know! Where’s Bixby?
SAM: I’m going to pull out the skull. Huh?
LIAM: That’s too big.
LAURA: But he’s a kid!
SAM: Oh yeah! Little hands.
LIAM: Oh, bring it back up!
LAURA: Wait, how old are we? We don’t know.
LIAM: You don’t know. You’re older than both of them.
LAURA: Fuck yeah, I am. I’m so in charge.
SAM: I think the dog died, when we got younger somehow.
LAURA: This is so weird. Where’s Travis? (gasps)
SAM: Oh gosh.
LAURA: Oh god, what if he’s still an adult? This is so weird!
LIAM: You guys don’t see anything. You are, again– you saw this, and you guys are just coming to and noticing your surroundings. You’re in this square, which doesn’t make sense, because you’re in the jungle, right? But you’re in this square canopy plant room, almost.
LAURA: How the fuck do we get out of here?
SAM: Here, hold my hand, and we’ll pull each other and try to pull each other up and out of here.
TALIESIN: Okay. I’m grabbing it.
SAM: We’ll all make a weird kid triangle.
LAURA: And try to pull towards each other.
LIAM: Everybody make a strength check with advantage.
LAURA: Wait, what do we add to it?
SAM: I got an 11.
LAURA: Ooh! I’m so much older than them. I got an 18.
TALIESIN: I got a two– ten.
LIAM: A two ten?
TALIESIN: I got a ten.
LIAM: A ten. Okay. All right. Well, the little blond kid, barely able to rip any of the plant away from his feet, but this bigger kid grabs you both and pulls both of you out, and it just rips away. It’s not too bad, with you guys working together. And now you’re standing, the three of you, in a little circle, standing in this little chapel in the jungle.
LAURA: What do we do?
SAM: We’ve got to look for our friends and figure out what the hell’s going on.
SAM: And last thing I remember, we were doing a voiceover session and all hell broke loose, right?
TALIESIN:There was Conan O'Brien!
LAURA: And we fought him, and we killed him.
LAURA: And you almost killed Travis!
SAM: He cut my arm off!
LAURA: Where’s Travis?
LIAM: The air around you hits you with another (whump), and you feel your skin and bones kind of shake a little bit, and your stomach just feels like it drops. The feeling passes.
SAM: I let go of her hand, because girls are icky.
LAURA: Was that a time shift? Did we just shift through time? Are we older?
TALIESIN: Looking around, we’re still in that cube, right?
LIAM: Yeah, again, you can see out. These metal beams going up that lead to nothing, and are just sort of mangled.
LAURA: Wait, give me a boost, I’m going to climb up the beam.
LAURA: I’m going to try to climb up the beam, because it’s covered in vines, right? I can grab on to something.
LAURA: Okay. I’m going to try to climb up to the top.
SAM: Okay, we’ll help.
LIAM: Make an athletics check.
LAURA: Do I add anything to it?
LIAM: Add two. I’m making that up.
LIAM: Yeah, totally! You climb your way up there. It takes you, like, a minute? You don’t want to fall down, you don’t want to cut yourself on this rusty beam. You make your way up, and you grab onto the twisted top of this beam. It’s all caked over with plant, and a little bit of mud, even, but you can see where there used to be bolts, sort of sprung open on the top. And you pull yourself up and over. No, that’s better. And you can finally see out and over and the jungle stretches out in every direction. You can see here and there, on other trees– and when I say trees, the trees are more brown and red than anything, and they’re wet, and they have sort of a bulging sausage feel to them? And they do have leaves, but the leaves are, again, mottled brown and red. And the whole jungle you’re in, sunlight does come down and in, but it’s pretty dim overall, and everything is tinted with that color. And you see these lumps of hardened, what look like– they don’t have the texture of coconuts. They have the texture of a chestnut, maybe. But they’re just growing out of spots on trees. Some are hanging from a vine on different trees. And you can’t see where to go. Everything looks the same in different directions, although it is more open from this view, because down below, between these four beams, it’s all wrapped around. And you see two little kids going like this.
LAURA: And I don’t see any other sign of life?
LIAM: Make a perception check.
LAURA: Do I add anything?
LIAM: Add a Laura Bailey plus three.
LIAM: Oh wow. Yeah. About a hundred feet that way, you see another opened plant on the ground. It’s obscured by a tree, but you can see it behind the tree. And you see a jean leg and a sneaker, and it looks bent badly and bloodied. And then you see another leg with a shoe, poking out the other side of the tree.
LAURA: (gasps) Well, I climb down and I say, I saw a body, and we should go find it!
SAM: Okay, let’s go.
TALIESIN: Contention point, are we wearing kid clothes? Are we wearing kid clothes or tiny versions of our old clothes?
LIAM: You’re wearing clothes that seems to fit.
TALIESIN: Okay. Just checking.
LIAM: This is science.
TALIESIN: Kind of curious.
SAM: All right, let’s go!
TALIESIN: All right.
SAM: But wait! We don’t know anything about where we are, so we should look and stealth, maybe? And sneak over there?
SAM: So as not to awaken a beast?
LAURA: Yeah, but we should get over there quickly, because that’s Travis!
SAM: Okay! Oh, you know? Okay!
LAURA: It should be. I think it’s Travis!
SAM: Let’s go!
LIAM: All right, so after you scuttle down and have this little mini child argument. It’s not too hard, I mean, you just pull apart vines and plants, and you can push your way through.
LAURA: Be careful of the bulging sausages!
LIAM: Everything is slick to the touch, and you grease by it all–
LAURA: Of the wet, bulging sausages!
TALIESIN: I think that’s sound advice.
LIAM: Hashtag. Are you stealthing there?
LAURA: Yeah, yeah, we’re sneaking.
LIAM: Well make a stealth check, motherfuckers.
LAURA: Oh. What do we add? Ooh, that’s good.
LAURA: That’s a pretty die.
TALIESIN: Thank you. Yeah, it’s nice.
LIAM: Seven. Okay. She’s a little bigger. She tromps round a little more than you little light-footed–
LAURA: Plus I’m really worried.
LIAM: Yep, got to get to your adult husband, waiting on the other side of this tree. All right, so you creep along. There’s insects, and you can hear stuff out there, but nothing happens, nothing shocking or scary, and you make your way, in just a couple of minutes, over to where this plant is, and you come around the tree, and you see three kids. One kid is really dead. What you couldn’t see on the back of the tree that was blocking the view, has splintered off and fallen on a child, and that child is crushed like the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister. All you see is one mangled leg coming out the bottom and an arm coming out the other side.
MATT: It’ll be me, so I don’t get a chance to play.
MARISHA: Thanks for coming.
LIAM: And a little bit of spaghetti marinara. But you also see two kids in here. There is another older girl, looks a little older than you, brown hair, dark hair, and there’s a kid that looks like Vern from Stand By Me. He’s a little chunky kid in a polo shirt, and he is snoring, now that you’re closer and you can hear.
LAURA: Does it look like I would know what Travis looked like when he was a kid?
LIAM: Yeah, you know what your husband looks like. You know what the child version of your husband looks like, and that’s your BFF, Ashley, except she looks like a rebel in middle school.
LIAM: And they’re sound asleep, and Verno is just (snores).
LAURA: (gasps) Travis! And I go slap him awake. How old is he? How old are you? Do I look older than you?
LIAM: You’re in your 30s, right?
LAURA: Oh wait. You– no, you’re still a kid, you’re a kid too.
TRAVIS: Oh. (higher) Yeah.
TRAVIS: Who are you?
LAURA: You know what I look like when I’m a kid, man! I’m your wife! You’re my husband.
LIAM: He’s taking this really well that you’re both children.
TRAVIS: Why are my hands so small? Why do I look like Vern from Stand By Me? Where is this gross polo coming from? And my tiny 80s shorts?
LAURA: You know you wore shit like that, don’t even.
TRAVIS: Why are my socks all the way up to the bottom of my knees?
LIAM: That is canon!
TRAVIS: Why do these shoes have velcro straps on them?
LIAM: Ashley, you’re shaken awake, and you’re looking at a bunch of fucking children around you, and you’re in a jungle, and everything is wet!
ASHLEY: What’s going on? How do you know my name?
LAURA: Ashley, it’s us.
ASHLEY: Who is us?
SAM: That’s Laura and Travis.
TRAVIS: Why are you calling her Ashley?
TALIESIN and LAURA: And Taliesin!
SAM: From I Shot The Sheriff’s Mom or whatever it was?
TALIESIN: She’s the Sheriff. Did you not watch television as a child? Good god.
ASHLEY: Butters Scotch.
LIAM: Ashley, the last thing you remember is falling asleep watching a movie on a plane from New York City to LA.
ASHLEY: I was on a plane! I fell asleep and now I’m here! I was watching– what was I watching?
TRAVIS: What were you watching?
ASHLEY: So good.
LAURA: It was really good!
ASHLEY: And now we’re here. Oh, man, this is weird.
LIAM: Your voice is a little higher than you’re accustomed to.
ASHLEY: Why is my voice higher than it usually is?
LAURA: Because you’re a kid! You’re like you in What Women Want.
ASHLEY: How old am I?
LIAM: I don’t know. You’re a little older than this one. You’re much bigger than these two. You’re a little bigger than this one.
MARISHA: So maybe What Women Want?
LAURA: No, younger than that.
MARISHA: Oh, Annie era?
MATT: We’ll just go through your imdb and just pick the right time.
MARISHA: Just google Ashley real quick, hang on.
LIAM: She’s probably brushing into her teens.
ASHLEY: So it’s punk Ashley.
TRAVIS: (voice breaking) Should all of our voices, like, be–
SAM: Yeah, let’s do that for the next three hours.
ASHLEY: Okay! What have you guys seen so far?
LIAM: The air around you trembles, and you feel that same push of energy and your skull seems to rattle, and your gut goes (noise) and you feel yourself pushing– nothing happens.
LAURA: I run over to the other body, and see what kid it was. Do I recognize him?
LIAM: I mean, if you could do a backwards time lapse of the skull being crushed down into the ground by the tree, you might know.
LAURA: I hope this isn’t anybody we knew.
ASHLEY: Can we tell if boy or girl?
LIAM: You don’t know. What do you want to do?
MARISHA: Are you Bones?
TRAVIS: Are there any pockets that aren’t covered in–
LIAM: It’s not bones, it’s just all that’s poking out is a leg and spaghetti marinara from where a head was, and–
LAURA: And it’s a kid body?
LAURA: That’s fucked.
TRAVIS: Can I search the kid’s pockets?
TALIESIN: I’ll help. Yeah.
LIAM: (whispers) You kind of feel a wiener through the pocket.
LIAM: (whispers) Kind of.
ASHLEY: What is it? Anything in the pocket?
TRAVIS: Is there anything in the pocket?
LIAM: Just the wiener.
TRAVIS: Just a little– nope! Not a thing! Nothing.
SAM: You touched a wiener?
LIAM: You guys all hear, now, off in the distance, a whumping sound, just like (thudding) way far away.
LAURA: Do we have our weapons from before?
TALIESIN: We don’t have anything from before.
SAM: Find sticks!
LAURA: We’ve got to find some sticks! Everybody get a stick!
SAM: We’re going to look for sticks and rocks.
LIAM: Okay. Sure, they’re everywhere.
ASHLEY: Can I get a strong vine?
LIAM: Yes. Make a strength check real quick. You’ve got to pull it off of a tree.
ASHLEY: Do I add anything?
LIAM: You can add one.
LIAM: 19. Oh man! You snap it, and as soon as you do, the break point goes (raspberry) and you look like you just got sprayed in the face with horror-movie blood, your face just went (raspberry) as soon as you did it. It burst like an angry zit as soon as you broke it, but now you’re holding this mostly solid, but with a little bit of give, and slick as hell.
ASHLEY: Do I look scary?
LAURA: Yes, you do!
ASHLEY: Oh no! Hey, don’t cry!
LAURA: Don’t cry.
ASHLEY: Don’t cry, it’s okay.
TRAVIS: I haven’t seen an R-rated movie at this point. (cries)
LIAM: You are still you.
TRAVIS: I know, I ran out of Jurassic Park in the theater!
LIAM: I mean it’s accurate. You’re really scared of scary movies.
TRAVIS: Yeah I seriously am. (cries)
LAURA: We’re still adults, Travis. We’re just in kid bodies.
TRAVIS: I don’t feel adult.
LIAM: Boom, boom.
SAM; Wait, we’re hearing things.
LAURA: (gasps) I grab a rock.
TALIESIN: I grab a stick.
TALIESIN: We hide.
LAURA: And hide behind anything that we– I hide hide under one of the petals of one of the flowers.
LIAM: Okay. Smells really nasty. You’re under it. And it is wet. And now your shirt is wet, and your pants are wet.
LAURA: I’m in a dress.
LAURA: But whatever.
SAM: A wet dress.
LAURA: Do you guys see it? Are we hiding? Are all of us hiding?
TALIESIN: Does this stuff have a planty smell, or kind of a meaty smell?
TALIESIN: Is it a bit of a meaty smell?
TALIESIN: Oh no.
LIAM: You ever smell that flower that’s like the world’s worst?
TALIESIN:Yes, I have. The Centennial flower.
LAURA:Yeah, smells like a dead body.
LIAM: But that sound’s not getting any closer. It’s off in the distance. It’s intermittent.
LAURA: Oh. Should I come out?
SAM: Yeah. You just got all wet and muddy, and now–
LAURA: Man. Should we find Matt and Marisha, because they were with us too? Are they the ones that got us here?
SAM: Were they with us? They just appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared.
TRAVIS: Yeah, they were on that awesome motorcycle.
LAURA: Oh yeah, they saved the day. They killed Conan, didn’t they?
SAM: They did, but they looked super scary.
LIAM: The five of you hear a snapping sound, kind of like when Ashley broke that vine, and you hear (thud) ten feet behind you. And then you hear smearing, rustling sounds, and then you hear (cat-like growl).
LAURA: I turn around and throw my rock at it!
LIAM: Okay. Roll for initiative.
SAM: Surprise attack. We’re all rolling for initiative?
LIAM: I guess so.
MARISHA: Oh snap.
TALIESIN: Quick game.
LIAM: Wait, slow down, assholes. 20 to 25? Nobody. 15 to 20? Ten to 15?
TRAVIS: Me, 11.
TALIESIN: Ten, Taliesin.
ASHLEY: Ten, Ashley.
LIAM: Ten, Ashley. Laura and Sam?
LIAM: Nine. Seven. Okay. All right. You flip around and see what looks like, I don’t know, like a really pissed off ocelot, or bobcat with no skin on it. You just see greased red muscle and blood, and the thing is running at you, and Travis, it’s coming at you, and you act!
LAURA: Don’t I get that attack? Because I threw a rock.
LAURA: You’d argue so hard for that if you were over on this side, man, you would’ve argued so hard for it.
LIAM: Yeah, maybe.
TRAVIS: I’m, like, 11? Right? I am turning and booking ass away from it, with my spindly little legs, as fast as I can.
LIAM: Okay, that is heading you in the direction of the intermittent whump far in the distance, but that’s fine.
TRAVIS: Yeah, I’m just running from the naked cat.
LIAM: So, you see a flesh-peeled– large, the size of a golden retriever, right, a bobcat, but with sinew and muscle, and it looks mad as hell, and it’s running, and so is Vern. And Taliesin, what do you do?
TALIESIN: You know, I think I’m going to run, too, at this point. I’m going to keep this stick, but I’m running.
TRAVIS: It’s total Goonies run, too, it’s like–
TRAVIS and TALIESIN: (yell)
TALIESIN: It’s a full-on Goonies run.
LIAM: Okay, so, as you lift this rock to throw it down, it happens too fast, and this thing runs and starts clawing its way up your body, and tearing down your wet, slick shirt, and hits you for– it ran right up you–
SAM: Wait, is this Laura or Taliesin?
LAURA: It’s me!
LIAM: Laura, and does two hit points of damage. Just remember that for the time being, please.
TRAVIS: We haven’t even opened anything.
LAURA: We still haven’t opened our things!
LIAM: That’s right.
ASHLEY: I want to know what’s inside!
LIAM: Ashley, what are you going to do?
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m going to take the vine, and I’m going to (lasso sounds).
LIAM: Okay, so you run up to your friend Laura, who’s getting mangled–
ASHLEY: Oh, so I’m close enough to run up to it?
ASHLEY: Okay. So I’m just going to–
LIAM: You’re going to try to–
MATT: Try and garrote it.
LIAM: Okay. Sure. Roll a d20. We’ll do a grapple.
ASHLEY: Do I add anything?
LIAM: You can add one. For now.
TALIESIN: You have a lasso at your house, too, don’t you?
ASHLEY: I do.
MARISHA: Ashley’s proficient in all weapons.
LIAM: Seems like your number is low.
ASHLEY: It’s not.
LIAM: It’s not? What is it?
LIAM: Okay. You get a good grip on it, and pull it in tight; it is so smeared with blood, it goes (squelch), flies up two feet in the air and comes back down and then claws its way back down Laura and just starts rending and continues to rend.
ASHLEY: Can I do anything else?
LIAM: Well, you can move. You can move a little bit. You can get the fuck out of Dodge.
ASHLEY: No, I don’t want to leave her!
LIAM: Sam. What are you doing?
SAM: Any rocks around? Big rocks?
LIAM: Yeah, a couple by your feet. If you reach down and grab them.
SAM: I’m going to grab one and just hit it in the skull.
LIAM: Hit it in the skull? Roll to attack.
SAM: Okay. Nine.
LIAM: You are not used to being as short as you are, and you totally swing and it goes over the thing’s head, and you slip in some guts from that kid’s head, and you go down.
LAURA: Do I get to go?
SAM: Oh yeah, it was her turn, actually.
LIAM: Yes, this whole game’s about tormenting you, Laura.
ASHLEY: Get it!
LAURA: Okay, I guess I’ll try and hit it with the rock while Ashley’s trying to–
LIAM: Sure, go for it.
LIAM: Oh man, that rock comes down and crunches on this thing’s head. Roll a d4, please. Oh. No. Yeah. d4. That’s right.
LIAM: Four. You smash the thing’s head in, and it goes (squeal), and it (raspberries) down onto the ground.
ASHLEY: Good job!
SAM: You killed it!
LAURA: Well, Ashley, you–
ASHLEY: No, I didn’t do it, it slipped right out.
LAURA: Thanks, Travis and Taliesin.
TRAVIS: We’re just still, like, (yells).
LIAM: Through the jungle, they are just past two trees, and you’ve just lost sight of them, and they’ve run off.
SAM: Come back! It’s dead!
LAURA: It’s dead!
LIAM: And you hear rustle-rustle-rustle, and then you hear (thuds).
ASHLEY: Another one?
LAURA: Far away? The same place?
LIAM: Far away, same place.
SAM: We have to go after them.
ASHLEY: I’m going to grab that one by its tail and tie it to my belt.
LIAM: Travis and Taliesin, you bust out of some plants and you find yourself on the edge of–
SAM: Wait, you’re going to tie the animal to your belt?
LAURA: Fuck yeah!
LIAM: A different area than what you’ve seen before. The tree cover is so thick that you’re not able to see this coming, but you’re looking at a reddish brown bog. It’s a little more open. The trees open up a bit, and you can see patches of stagnant brackish water on the ground here and there, and then way on the other side, 200 feet, you see, almost Audrey II style, ten feet tall– seven feet tall. That was too big. Seven feet tall, and there is a little thin wiry bent-over old man with a rock, and nasty clothes, tattered and disgusting, and he’s peeled one of these petals back and he’s beating on the side of it as hard as he can, but he’s very old. And he’s 200 feet away.
TRAVIS: Is he doing it in a frenetic way or is he just methodically–
LIAM: He’s taking a couple whacks at it and then pausing to rest for a second.
TRAVIS: (panting) There’s a guy!
TALIESIN: Let’s check it out! I’m heading over.
LIAM: You’re just going to run through?
TALIESIN: I’m going to be careful where I’m walking.
LIAM: That’s fine, but you’re not sneaky.
TRAVIS: You’ve got beautiful blond hair, you should go.
TALIESIN: I’m not being super sneaky, no. He’ll see me coming.
LIAM: Okay. You start splashing through muck and puddles on your way there and you make it 20 feet out into the middle of this big circular bog and the old man goes (croaks). And you catch a glimpse of a reflection of light up on his face. Glasses? He sees you, books off into the jungle beyond it, runs.
TRAVIS: Oh no! Wait, don’t go!
TALIESIN: I feel like we needed an adult here.
TRAVIS: I know. What was he hitting?
TALIESIN: I’m going to go check out the plant he was hitting.
LIAM: Sure, okay. All right.
TRAVIS: While he’s walking up, can I look? Can I scan?
TALIESIN: Where are the others?
LIAM: Verno is totally poking his head out of the heavy tree cover, looking after you. You don’t know where the others are. You are now halfway out across this bog, mucking your way through, this little cherubic seven year old making his way through hell, there he goes.
TRAVIS: It’s you and me.
LIAM: You sheepishly whisper across the bog.
TRAVIS: (whispers) It’s you and me!
LIAM: (whispers) I’ve got your back! Finally you make it over to this big semi peeled-open gourd, and you look inside to see what’s in there, and you see a head of red hair. Oh, she’s an older girl.
TALIESIN: I start peeling that thing open and try to pull her out.
LIAM: Make a strength check.
TRAVIS: What are you doing?
TALIESIN: It’s fine! Help me!
TALIESIN: Natural 20.
LIAM: Natural 20! Okay, so you reach up as high up as you can and you hang from it, and it just peels open. And a teenager spills out, unconscious, long red hair, flannel shirt. Unconscious.
TALIESIN: Matt, are you okay?
LIAM: There is another body further in. You see just the barest glimpse of a Hawaiian shirt.
TRAVIS: What does the hair look like?
TALIESIN: I’m coming to get you, Liam! Hold on! I’m going to start pulling him out, too.
TRAVIS: You’re going in there?
TALIESIN: Travis, help out!
LIAM: You’re pulling who? Who are you pulling?
TALIESIN: I’m pulling the Hawaiian shirt out of there.
LIAM: You’re pulling Hawaiian shirt? Well, he’s caught; his feet are caught up in the same–
TALIESIN: I’m going to start using the stick to wedge him out.
LIAM: You’re going to use a stick? All right. I’m going to give you no advantage for that roll. A strength check.
TALIESIN: That’s fine. No advantage?
LIAM: No advantage.
TALIESIN: That’s fine. Just a strength roll?
LIAM: Strength roll.
TALIESIN: Doesn’t matter, it’s just a d20, I suppose. No plus? That’s a one.
LIAM: Aw man, feeling so proud of yourself, so brave, so strong, pulling that open, and now you’re just doing a little Looney Tunes. Your feet are just scuttling in the slick wet of this swamp and you’re making no headway.
TRAVIS: Can I try to help him?
LIAM: Sure, are you going to go catch up?
LIAM: All right. You hear (splashes).
TALIESIN: I give up and roll down and try to wake Marisha up.
LIAM: Okay. Oh, you give her a slap? Marisha, you are woken out of your sleep getting slapped in the face.
MARISHA: I immediately grab his wrist.
LIAM: Yes, you do.
TALIESIN: Wake up, there’s a lot going on!
MARISHA: Who the fuck? What is–
TALIESIN: Mr. Mom. You know exactly who I am.
MARISHA: Oh, you’re from my future!
TALIESIN: Now I’m really confused. Hi.
TALIESIN: It’s Taliesin.
MARISHA: It’s Marisha.
TALIESIN: You’re a teenager.
MARISHA: (brokenly) No! Not again!
LIAM: The last thing you remember is falling asleep, resting your head on your keyboard in your office at Geek and Sundry.
SAM: Listening to Moana.
MARISHA: You’re welcome. What? Who? Huh?
TALIESIN: I point at the Hawaiian shirt and Travis. Are you pulling by this point? There’s a lot going on. I don’t know. Help.
LIAM: Marisha, you look over and see a face very much like one you’ve seen in many photographs dressed as Sephiroth, except with glasses and a Hawaiian shirt and just so peaceful and sweet. Asleep.
MARISHA: Oh, it’s glasses Matt! Oh my god!
TRAVIS: Does he have any facial hair?
MATT: What age is this, about?
LIAM: 12, 13, 14? 12?
MATT: Okay, so yeah, glasses, nearing a mullet.
MARISHA: Yeah, nearing mullets phase.
MATT: And it looks like a Hawaiian shirt. It’s more like a bowling shirt with a cool-looking anime dragon on it.
LAURA: Dragon Ball Z bowling shirt!
LIAM: Why don’t you guys all open your manila envelopes.
SAM: Ooh! So cute!
ASHLEY: Oh my god!
TALIESIN: Oh my god.
MATT: That’s straight up.
TALIESIN: Liam, that’s so solid!
TRAVIS: Marisha’s a badass bitch!
TALIESIN: I know exactly what picture they used for this!
MARISHA: I’m in Kentucky at this phase!
LAURA: Ah, yeah. Aw, Hawaiian shirt Matt!
MATT: Yeah. That’s about as accurate as you’ll ever get.
ASHLEY: This is the best.
ASHLEY: Why didn’t we know each other as kids?
MARISHA: You look like a Ralph Bakshi cartoon!
LAURA: You’re so cute!
MATT: Oh, Travis!
TRAVIS: Just not sure of anything! My mom gave me this shirt.
TALIESIN: That’s amazing.
LIAM: Like the Grinch, my heart just grew two sizes in my chest.
LIAM: A couple of minutes pass and the rest of you catch up. You two are still– your feet are glued into this plant.
MARISHA: Fists, bra?
LIAM: You’re glued into place and you’re sizing each other up and you can tell fairly quickly– you don’t know how old everyone is, but who the oldest is, who the youngest is. Marisha is taller than anyone here, clearly mid-to-late teens. Under her, maybe Ashley, Laura and Matt kind of in the same zone. It’s hard to say between Sam and Taliesin.
TALIESIN: I was a tiny child. I was a tiny, tiny child.
SAM: We were theater children.
LAURA: I also was very small.
SAM: So, eight, nine-ish? Maybe?
LIAM: Yeah, ish.
MARISHA: Why are all the girls more developed? Is this indicative of puberty? Is this a statement?
LAURA: Our mental state?
LIAM: Art is open to interpretation, Marisha.
LAURA: I’m down two hit points! I’ve only got eight hit points!
LIAM: Not anymore. Oh, now you do. From ten to eight.
LAURA: No, no, I had eight.
LIAM: You had eight and now you’re at six?
LIAM: Better be careful.
LAURA: Jeez Louise, Liam.
LIAM: You guys are in the middle of–
MARISHA: How many hit points do I have?
LIAM: It doesn’t say?
LIAM: You’ve got, let’s say nine.
LIAM: Because you’re so tall.
LAURA: What do you have?
LAURA: (gasps) You have a high constitution.
ASHLEY: Because I’ve always been a little tough as fuck.
LIAM: Anyway. Guys, you are in the middle of a very alien jungle. You don’t know where the fuck you are, you don’t know what is going on, you don’t know why you are children. What are you going to do? Are you going to build a house and live here?
SAM: I guess so. Wait, are we together again?
LAURA: Did we catch up?
LIAM: Yeah, everyone is here. Is Matt sleeping?
MARISHA: Wait, is he not alive?
LAURA: He’s not out of the flower yet.
MATT: I’m still inside the flower.
MARISHA: Oh, right. Okay. I’ll go over and be like, yo.
MATT: Huh? What?
MARISHA: We’re kids!
ASHLEY: Hey, Matt!
MATT: I don’t like this nightmare.
MARISHA: This is real!
TRAVIS: Can I see your glasses?
LIAM: Matt, apparently three Monster energy drinks are not enough to keep you awake working on the campaign book and you pass out on your desktop at home. That’s the last thing you remember. And you were tall.
MATT: So I’m taking my glasses off, I’m like, okay, so–
LAURA: Oh, I can still see!
MATT: What? I can’t!
MATT: I’m going to keep– and I look down, am I still in this giant Audrey II-type plant?
LIAM: You can sit up, that’s about it.
MATT: Oh jeez! (yells)
LAURA: Can we try to pull the flower back?
LIAM: Yeah, sure, you can pull.
MARISHA: Me and Ashley (straining noises).
LIAM: Matt, make a strength check at advantage.
MATT: They do it?
LIAM: No, just you. Because you’re pushing to–
SAM and LAURA: Just Matt.
MATT: She got a ten.
LIAM: Thanks, Keyleth.
MARISHA: Different universe! Different one!
MATT: That’s a 19.
LIAM: That’s fine. You explode out of this motherfucker like Superman and jump and land on your feet in the middle of the muck, full of adrenaline, and you have no idea what to do.
MATT: That was the coolest thing I ever did at this age, guys. I’m glad you were here to witness it.
ASHLEY: You look fucking rad.
MATT: Okay, that’s the coolest thing to happen to me at this age. This was not a good age, actually. I really don’t–
SAM: Something’s going on. We’re in a weird forest swamp. There are weird demon dogs that are attacking us–
LAURA: It was a cat!
SAM: Was it?
TRAVIS: Naked and hairless.
LAURA: It was hairless. Oh, Ashley’s got it, still.
ASHLEY: It’s on my belt.
MATT: That’s skinless. That’s skinless!
LAURA: Yeah! Look around, we’re in giant fucking plants. We’re fucked!
SAM: Yeah, everyone’s freaking out and Travis has reverted back to his behavior as a 15-year-old or something.
LAURA: Travis has been mentally brought back to that age as well.
SAM: We’re all normal-thinking, but not Travis.
LIAM: It’s a coping mechanism.
MATT: You spent far too long roleplaying as Grog, and it’s starting to rub off onto him.
TRAVIS: Everything’s dangerous!
ASHLEY: You know what’s really cool about this, though? Okay, I’m going to try to explain this, what’s happening in my brain, but right now –
MARISHA: Nah, it’s 420. We’re cool.
ASHLEY: Okay. That’s true.
MARISHA: Yeah, we’re with it. Yeah.
ASHLEY: We all have friends right now. Because in real life, when I was this age, I didn’t have friends. And now, look, we all have friends!
MARISHA: Holy shit! Guys, why didn’t we know each other when we were all this age?
TRAVIS: Because we lived in different states.
MARISHA: That sucks.
LAURA: There’s that.
TALIESIN: A few of us were working all the time.
SAM: Yeah, I was on Broadway.
MATT: Yeah, I didn’t have friends. I helped people with homework and then they said thank you.
TALIESIN: So nice of you.
MARISHA: I was covering for friends’ drug habits, so that’s fine.
TRAVIS: I was melting action figures.
LAURA: I was in the science club!
LAURA: Odyssey of the Mind!
LIAM: Somewhere in the distance you hear (angry cat noises)
LAURA: Oh shit.
SAM: More cats.
TRAVIS: Is there a sun?
LIAM: There is. Definitely, right where you are, because again the trees opened up, the sky’s a little dimmer than you’re used to. It’s got sort of a dusk feel to it. It’s darker, but it’s day-ish.
LAURA: How did they get in here? How did you get in here?
ASHLEY: Does anybody remember anything?
LAURA: Does anybody see anything?
SAM: Yeah, I mean, we were fighting Conan O'Brien and then we got pushed forward in time. That’s all I remember. And also, Travis tried to kill me.
MARISHA: Wait, we got pushed forward in time?
TALIESIN: Pushed in time? You guys were there!
MARISHA: We came from the future, though, right? DM?
LIAM: Well, I’m not here.
TRAVIS: No, we saw you, you were there! You rode in–
LIAM: You came from the Geek and Sundry offices.
TRAVIS: We saw you, you rode in on this sweet Harley and you looked like you were from the Mad Max time period and you were all badass. Not like you look right now.
LAURA: Like, super badass.
MARISHA: I mean, it sounds within the realm of something I’d do, but I don’t have any–
TRAVIS: You don’t have a motorcycle parked behind the–
LAURA: You don’t remember that?
TRAVIS: Huh, okay.
MARISHA: Matt actually said I wasn’t allowed to have a motorcycle.
MATT: I did say that.
MARISHA: He’s afraid I might kill myself.
SAM: Well, you will, statistically speaking.
MATT: Yeah, that’s why I said no! She’s supposed to live a long time.
ASHLEY: Did we actually get together for dinner? And then we just took drugs for some reason?
LAURA: We were recording and then we fought Conan O'Brien–
MATT: Guys! Scary creature animal sound–
SAM: We need weapons, we need somewhere to go.
LAURA: Did you see anything–
ASHLEY: The rock seemed to do well.
TALIESIN: There was that booming sound earlier.
MATT: Can I search around? I want to see if there’s anything that could be possibly used as a weapon.
LIAM: Absolutely you can.
MARISHA: Did you sound like that at that age? Were you always–
MATT: What, an obnoxious annoying kid? Yeah, totally!
LIAM: There is no shortage of vines and trees and rocks. If anyone wants to look for something, if you want to break it off a tree, they’ll be stronger if you break it right off a tree probably, but they’re around.
MARISHA: I’m going to try and break off a sweet staff from a tree branch.
LIAM: Well, they’re wet and taut.
LIAM: Turgid, yes.
LAURA: I want to break off a few sticks and try to turn them into sharp daggery sword things. That’s fine, I’ll be covered.
LIAM: You, Marisha, as you tear down a huge chunk, are just Carrie’d. Just (squishing noise) as you rip it off. When you break, whatever sap or whatever it is that’s in there feels hot and is dark red and it spatters you. So you are now blooded.
LAURA: Does it smell like blood?
MARISHA: Is it blood? Yeah, I’m going to smell it and do a little bit of a taste test.
LIAM: You want to make a nature check?
MARISHA: Is that what I do? I don’t know!
LIAM: Sure, why not.
MARISHA: I’m not a druid in this life!
LAURA: Yeah, but you know how druids work, Marisha.
MARISHA: That’s true, right? 15.
LIAM: I mean, you have cut yourself in the past, you have sucked on a cut, and it does taste kind of like that. It is warm.
LAURA: Is it blood?
MARISHA: It’s warm. It tastes like bad soup.
MATT: What if everybody else we’ve ever known was turned into a tree and we’re in a jungle pulling their fingers off?
LIAM: In the direction that you guys have come from, you hear (fluttering noises).
SAM: Oh god. I’m going to just grab a handful of rocks.
LAURA: I’m going to hide.
MATT: I’m going to grab Taliesin and wield him as a weapon.
LIAM: Are you?
TALIESIN: I’ll go with it, and I have the stick, I’m just going to be like–
LAURA: I’m going to hide behind the flower that Matt came out of.
LIAM: Okay, so you guys are all finding hiding places?
MARISHA: Oh, we’re hiding?
MATT: I don’t until everyone else starts–
LIAM: It’s getting closer.
LAURA: I hide.
LIAM: It’s multiple locations, too.
MARISHA: Can I climb the tree that I broke off?
LIAM: Sure, make an athletics check.
MARISHA: Oh jeez.
LIAM: At disadvantage because it’s sopping wet.
MARISHA: Well, it’s a one.
LIAM: Okay, you slide and fall right back down and smack your head on a rock and you take one hit point of damage.
MATT: I immediately drop Taliesin and rush over to make sure she’s okay.
MARISHA: No, don’t! I’m fine!
LIAM: Okay, Taliesin, you take one hit point of damage as you hit your head on a rock on the ground.
SAM: I’m going to hide in a creek.
MATT: Just like when I was 12, I can’t do anything right!
MARISHA: Jesus, don’t try to fix it! Just don’t try to fix it!
LIAM: There is six, seven– you’re hiding? Okay, make a stealth check.
SAM: I’m hiding, as well.
LIAM: Make a stealth check.
TALIESIN: You’re really enjoying this way too much.
TALIESIN: Which is about what I could get hired to play at that age.
LIAM: Okay, you sneak behind, you rogue, you, you sneak behind the giant plant and get right underneath the leaf again, and you reach out and grab Taliesin and yank him with you. And Sam says, “Wait, what about me?” just as these things go (exploding noise) and break out of the tree cover, and there are six or seven of these little ropy skinless cats, running at you at full speed, crossing the water. They’re coming. Standing our ground?
TRAVIS: I’m fucking out again, just booking ass. Running like the wind, like Forrest Gump coming out of them leg braces!
LIAM: Taliesin, from your hiding point, you see Travis just book it in the same direction as the weird old man went, running off through the tree cover, he’s gone.
MATT: As he starts running, can I use Friends to try and ask him to not leave?
SAM: You have spells?
LAURA: Wait, you have spells?
MARISHA: He’s a bard!
LIAM: You can really implore him to stay, which means yes.
MATT: Okay. So I’m going to go ahead– actually, I don’t have time, since he’s going to bolt. Instead I’m just going to go ahead and use a persuasion check.
MATT: I’ll try and persuade him. So I say, Travis don’t go, please! You leave now, we all die! We need you! Now’s the time to become the man you eventually will be!
LIAM: Siri, what would we he roll against this? Wisdom?
MATT: This would be my persuasion–
LIAM: Wisdom, right?
MATT: It’s really up to you. If he wants to resist it, then yeah.
LIAM: Yeah, let’s just go fast and say wisdom.
TRAVIS: I’m out.
LIAM: You stop and put your hand on the tree (panting). You breathe, and you stop where you are. You’re still at this point 40 feet away from the group and starting to cry. But you don’t go. You feel too guilty because you spent five years playing Dungeons and Dragons with these people. You cannot leave them alone to die. Everybody roll for initiative.
SAM: Oh my god.
MATT: Oh! Natural 20!
TALIESIN: Natural 20.
MATT: That’s crazy! I’m sitting in Taliesin’s seat. I just realized!
TALIESIN: Damn it!
LIAM: Okay, who got 15 to 20?
MARISHA: Hang on, are we rolling initiative?
LIAM: Yeah, man!
MARISHA: I got distracted, sorry!
MATT: Ooh, a 19.
LIAM: All right. Okay.
LIAM: 19. Damn, guys.
TALIESIN: Because of negative one.
LIAM: All right, ten to 15?
LIAM: Okay. Laura, Travis, Ashley, where you at?
LIAM: Okay. All right, these things are– here we go. Tree cover! Travis, little boy Travis, has run that far. Are we on camera, guys? We’ve got Laura and Taliesin– yeah, that’s right. Hidden. Not hidden. Standing their ground. It’s got to be this way. Oh, I got it backwards! There we go. And here they come, guys.
SAM: This is it.
LIAM: (sings) This is just like how I do it with my kids! And you are kids!
LAURA: Oh my god, there’s so many of them, we’re all going to die.
LIAM: Okay, Marisha. What do you want to do?
MARISHA: Oh, it’s me up first?
SAM: Which one is she?
LIAM: Marisha’s right here.
LIAM: Yeah, you’re not color-coded, so I’ll have to help out a little bit.
MARISHA: Okay. I’m going to turn and I’m going to look at everybody else, and be like, we’re fucking up these cats, yeah?
MARISHA: Okay! And then I’m going to run forward to the one that’s closest to me there.
LIAM: Three, four, five, six, that’s where you’re at.
MARISHA: That’s it? That’s all I got?
LIAM: That’s it.
MARISHA: Okay. And then I’m going to be like, argh! (crying noises)
LIAM: All righty, you’re an angry teen.
MARISHA: I’m angry, all hormonal rage!
MATT: You still have your action and your bonus.
MARISHA: I don’t have anything I can do, though.
MATT: Actually, as a monk, you should be able to use–
LIAM: At level one.
MATT: At level one–
MARISHA: I have unarmed strike as a bonus action, but that’s all that’s on my sheet.
MATT: That’s true. Oh, I’m sorry, yeah. You can still use an action if you wanted to go into your dodge action, which any attacks against you–
SAM: No DMing!
MATT: I’m helping out!
LIAM: Hey, man, I’m not complaining! Shut up!
MATT: Anyone can use their action to make a dodge action, so instead of attacking, you basically just get really defensive, and then attacks against you have disadvantage.
LIAM: So you’re just getting ready for it. That’s a good idea.
MARISHA: Oh, sure. I’m super ready for these cats.
LIAM: Okay. D for dodge! Matt, what would you like to do? You’re right here.
SAM: He’s going to cast 5th-level Explode Cats.
MATT: I’m going to move ahead, and start getting closer to back up Marisha. But I’m going to move a little bit behind her because she’s tougher than I am. And that one that’s kind of off to the right, that one right there, I look over as I approach and be like: Hey cat! Have you seen the kind of shit she can do? Oh look, your friend over there, he went ahead and fell down already. He was twice as big as you! You’re going to die in a second, fool! I was going to use Vicious Mockery on that guy.
SAM: Vicious Mockery.
MATT: So, let’s see. Has to make a wisdom saving throw.
LIAM: Okay. What’s the DC?
MATT: It’s not on my sheet. But that would be, with the math there– proficiency bonus of plus two, plus my charisma which is three, so the DC would be 13.
LIAM: Well, fuck you, ‘cause he got a natural 20.
MATT: That’s okay. That happens.
LIAM: That’s okay. Okay.
MATT: I’m like, mocking cats is a bad idea. Save me! Can I use the rest of my movement to stand directly behind Marisha?
LIAM: Okay, I’ll give you one more. Taliesin, you’re up.
TALIESIN: I’m going to peek around and see all this and take a look at what’s going down here.
TALIESIN: And the one that’s closest to Matt and Marisha? I have some vague memories of where we just came from.
TALIESIN: I’m going to see if any of this still works?
TALIESIN: Do I have any of that weird–
LIAM: Are you a haunted kid, is that what you’re asking me?
TALIESIN: I mean, I was already–
LIAM: You are a fucking haunted kid!
LIAM: What do you want to do?
TALIESIN: I want to reach down into the ground, and see if I can just– I’m just going to try and reach out at that first cat and see if I can hit it with a little bit of the Chill Touch. I want to see if I can make those tendrils form again.
LIAM: All right. Talk to me, Goose.
TALIESIN: Chill Touch on the closest cat to the two kids.
LIAM: Okay, this one right here?
TALIESIN: Yep, that one.
LIAM: That is definitely within range of your goth attitude. Okay! So you’ve got to make a ranged spell attack?
LIAM: Go for it.
TALIESIN: I don’t actually know how to do this anymore. Where’s my spell–
LIAM: Plus five, just roll plus five.
LIAM: 18 does in fact hit, so you slam your little tiny cherub hand into the ground and it sinks into the mud, and you feel the dark power of your overlord slide down into the ground, and a split-second happens, and it goes (electric sound) out of the ground, underneath this thing, and tendrils, spectral purplish-black tendrils wrap around it and yank it into the ground! And it is fucking gone!
TALIESIN: (heavy breathing) Cool!
LIAM: None of you motherfuckers can do what Taliesin just did. Sam, you’re up!
SAM: Me? Which one am I?
LIAM: You are in the luchador pants, right here.
SAM: Okay, I go forward and to the left. Am I within throwing range?
LIAM: Five, ten, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50. For throwing a rock?
SAM: Yeah. I can hold my action until they get in range.
LIAM: Sure, you want to wait until one gets close enough, and then chuck a rock?
LIAM: Sure. Done.
SAM: I will get ready. I’ll cock my hand.
LIAM: Cock a rock. Cock rock.
SAM: Cock rock.
LIAM: Okay, Ashley. You’re up.
ASHLEY: Okay! I’m going to take the dead skinned cat from my belt and hold it by the tail, and say, (shouting) All right, you motherfuckers! You better turn around and leave or I’m going to kill every last motherfucking one of you! I’m going to intimidate them.
LIAM: Intimidate, okay.
SAM: They’re cats.
ASHLEY: (shouting) I don’t care if they’re just cats!
LIAM: Make an intimidation check at disadvantage.
MATT: This is absolutely brilliant. Ooh! You’re rolling good tonight.
ASHLEY: With a disadvantage?
LIAM: Because it’s a herd of skinless–
ASHLEY: I’m fucking–
LAURA: Scary! She’s really intimidating!
MATT: Roll disadvantage, because he said it.
SAM: It was a little standoff, there.
MATT: That’s okay. She rolled higher on the second one.
LIAM: (cats growling) They start backing up.
SAM: All of them?
LIAM: Slowly. The first three do. The first three do stop in their tracks. The other three– well you’ll find out in a minute. Laura, what would you like to do?
LAURA: I’m going to hold my attack until one of them comes closer.
LIAM: And how are you going to attack?
LAURA: I have those two sharpened sticks like daggers, yo!
LIAM: Are they melee sticks?
LAURA: Well, I mean, I suppose so, because I don’t know how to make a throwing stick.
LIAM: I think that’s just called a stick.
LIAM: Okay. All right.
LAURA: But I want it to be sharp, I don’t want to just throw a stick at something.
LIAM: Okay. Are you waiting until they’re in throwing range or until they’re right up on you?
LAURA: No, I want to wait until–
SAM: Where are you?
LAURA: I’m under a leaf. We’re hiding.
SAM: Oh, that’s not going to get near you in the next round.
LAURA: They’re not?
SAM: You’re a hundred feet away from them.
LAURA: Well, fine, I’ll run out there and back up Ashley. I’ll go stand next to Ashley.
LIAM: 30, 40, bust out– okay, right there, boom.
LAURA: And then I’ll pull my sticks out and wait. And wait until they get closer.
LIAM: Okay. Travis, would you like to keep— oh no, you were convinced to run. Do you want to stay hiding here? Or do you want to go back?
TRAVIS: Nah, I’ll go back. I was convinced.
LAURA: I’ve been shamed by Sam to come out of fucking hiding.
LIAM: So, just direct line back? And you can dash, too, I mean you’re way far back.
LAURA: I’ve only got six health points right now, bro.
LIAM: You want to dash?
TRAVIS: No. I’m going to use my action to reach in and grab what is definitely all-white tighty-whiteys, and I’m going to rip the elastic band off of my briefs–
MARISHA: Oh yeah!
LAURA: Are you going to rage?
TRAVIS: I’m going to pull the elastic band off and prepare to, I don’t know. (laughs)
SAM: To strangle?
TRAVIS: Yes, to strangle.
LIAM: Chances are so small, but I want you to roll just in case you get a one.
TRAVIS: It’s a 12.
LIAM: Those tighty-whiteys rip out of your hands and you crouch down, and you’ve got like a piano wire, except it’s your underwear. And you’re ready. Okay. So these three don’t leave, but they back up to about here. They’re still barely past the edge of the tree. These ones are still coming, they didn’t give a shit. One, two, three, four, five, six, and he’s going to dash and get right up on you–
SAM: Is that within throwing range for me?
SAM: I’m throwing!
LIAM: All right, throw! Make a ranged attack.
SAM: Oh no, do I hit Marisha, or something?
LIAM: You do, actually. It conks off the back of your head–
LIAM: Roll a d4.
MARISHA: You are!
LIAM: Three? What’s your strength modifier?
SAM: I don’t know. Oh, one.
LIAM: One, okay. You take four points of damage. You are clocked hard.
MARISHA: Damn it! Dick!
SAM: I’m sorry!
MARISHA: Fucking hell!
SAM: I’m a musical theater person!
MARISHA: My mom warned me about people like you!
LIAM: These are just going for the closest victim they can find, but they’re not close enough to actually attack. They make it up to there, they are rounding on Marisha, and now it’s Marisha’s turn.
MARISHA: Jesus, so I’ve got two kitty cats on me?
MARISHA: Three kitty cats?
LAURA: They’re really mean, Marisha! They have claws!
MARISHA: Ugh! What? This is why you spay and neuter your pets! And then I kick the one directly in front of me.
MARISHA: Do I get a multiattack as a monk?
LIAM: You get two attacks as a monk, yeah.
MARISHA: I get two? Okay, I’m going to kick the first one, just full on punt him, then I’m going to take the stick with the second one and give him a big old golf swing.
LIAM: Okay, roll two attacks.
MARISHA: All right.
MATT: See what’s the first one, in case you kill it.
MARISHA: First one? That’s not great. 14 for the first one.
LIAM: This is the kick? Roll a d4.
MARISHA: One plus three. Four points.
LIAM: Okay, your foot takes this thing under the chin and you just slick the bottom of your shoe and you feel a snap in your foot and it just does a spin in the air and lands on its back, dead. But you’re still moving and smacking the next one.
MARISHA: Golf swing! Which is– ooh, that’s good, that’s 15 plus– 21.
LIAM: Definitely hits. d4 plus strength.
MARISHA: Five, total.
LIAM: Okay, and you swing away and go crack and this time you hit the thing’s fucking head so hard that you hear the same kind of snap, except you feel tendon rip at the same time, and the head goes free except for this thin little band of ligament, and it just falls and is still twitching and going (whimpering noises)
MATT: The first hit, behind her I go, nice! Second one I go, no!
MARISHA: I feel guilty.
LIAM: Matt, you’re up. And you’ve got a direct view of blood dripping out the back of your young fiancée’s head.
MATT: Ooh, that’s right. Well, there’s the one still next to her. All right, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and say: Don’t worry, baby, I’ll take care of you! In about ten years! Or right now. We’ll do that now! Healing Word.
MATT: Bonus action, so you heal five hit points.
LIAM: Ugh, the back of your head stops smarting like Advil, pronto, all healed up.
MARISHA: Man, you’re so calming, just your presence. So good.
MARISHA: In ten years.
MATT: I look over at the cat. As she’s saying this, the cat is in front of her going (snarling noise). Okay, we’re dead!
LIAM: (cat yowling)
MATT: I’m going to walk up and try and do what she did, try and kick at it.
LIAM: Kick it? Okay, go for a roll.
MATT: I move up base to base, right against her shoulder, and just, (screams). Screaming, probably think I’m going to hurt myself more than the creature, trying. And that is a four.
LIAM: You do the most beautiful martial arts movie spin kick that hits absolutely nothing, and come back down and breathe heavy (panting) and look over at the love of your life. Yeah.
MATT: I’m proud of myself, because that looks just like it does when I practice it when I’m home alone.
LIAM: Executive, you’re up.
TALIESIN: I see this one that’s threatening. I’m going to try and get a little more fancy with this. I’m just going to see if I can manifest the power inside the cat.
LIAM: Inside the cat? Sure, go for it.
TALIESIN: Yeah. Shooting, going for inside the cat. It’s already gross. That’s right, I’ve got to learn this. 22.
LIAM: Okay, so as Matt’s foot comes down into the water and goes (panting) you’re right face-to-face with the thing. Its feral face is leaning up against yours and it goes (yowls) and then three spectral octopus tentacles come out of its face, one out of each eye and one of its mouth, and you feel that shit just slathering all over your face and sucks back in and the thing just explodes like a blood sausage. Gone.
TALIESIN: Ooh. Okay.
MATT: When I turn around and see this tiny bowl haircut blond kid from the Omen just glowing.
LIAM: You look over your shoulder and you just see that face.
MATT: Marisha, who are we fighting? I don’t know who we’re fighting anymore!
TALIESIN: We’re good, we got this!
MARISHA: That’s Taliesin!
LIAM: Sam, what would you like to do?
SAM: It’s my turn? Oh, it’s my turn again. We’ve cycled around?
SAM: Okay. Are those guys out of range?
LIAM: Just, but you could get in range.
SAM: All right, I’m going to try to right my wrongs and get in range and throw another rock at the middle one.
LIAM: The middle one? Okay. Looks good.
SAM: For Bixby! Two.
LIAM: Would you like to use the rest of your movement? You could back up a little bit, I guess.
SAM: Yeah. Is there anything I can hide behind? Is that a thing?
LIAM: No, the closest cover of any kind is 50 feet away.
SAM: And they’re going to get me. I’ll just go huddle with Marisha and Matt.
LIAM: Okay. Okay, there you are, a little chorus line. Ashley, you’re up.
ASHLEY: Okay, I’ll walk up alongside the four of them, just swinging the corpse. It’s your call! You want to run, or you want to keep fighting? Four of you down! Five, actually! Math wasn’t my strong suit!
LIAM: Laura, you’re watching rebel teen Ashley mouth off at some skinless cats. What would you like to do?
LAURA: I’m going to stand, walk around them–
LIAM: To this side?
LAURA: Yeah, but back. Just stay behind them.
LAURA: Back further.
LAURA: Yeah. Basically, I walk over so I can see. And I ready my sticks, and I’m going to save my action.
LIAM: Sure. You can do that.
SAM: Stick! Stick! Stick!
LIAM: All right, Travis. What’s up?
TRAVIS: I’ll use my dash to try and join the other crew.
LIAM: Aw, look at that.
TRAVIS: Look at that.
LIAM: Awkward. Okay.
MATT: Sweat just pouring down his face.
TRAVIS: (heavy breathing) My asthma is a problem at this point. My Ventolin inhaler is broken.
MATT: We are straight-up the kids from It right now, by the way.
LIAM: Oh yeah. (bell ding) The three cats continue to– well, they don’t bristle, because they have no hair. They’re still backing up. They move backward into the tree cover, but you see them stop. They don’t flee. They get into the trees and they sit and stare.
LAURA: We should probably get out of here before more cats come.
TRAVIS: I think they did that because something bigger’s coming.
LAURA: I think they did it because Ashley’s fucking scary as shit!
TALIESIN: There was an old man when we got here before.
LAURA: You’re really cool, Ashley.
TALIESIN: Yeah, that was pretty cool.
MARISHA: Ashley and I just, football, huh! Huh! And then we do the chest bump thing in the air. Huh!
LIAM: And whatever this stuff is goes (squishing) between you.
MATT: Which me, being two feet away, (splashing noise). That’s still pretty cool.
TRAVIS: We saw an old guy.
LAURA: Oh wait, what?
TRAVIS: Yeah, we saw an old man, he was trying to peel you out of the tomato plant you were in.
SAM: Which way did he go?
TRAVIS: I have no idea.
TALIESIN: He went that way. That way, now.
ASHLEY: Can anybody track?
SAM: Let’s go! I’m pretty good at that, at tracking, I think.
LIAM: Are you?
SAM: I don’t know, I’m a ranger. Isn’t that what rangers do?
LIAM: Well, you’re Sam.
SAM: Oh shit.
LIAM: Give it a shot.
SAM: I had a treehouse in the woods growing up.
TRAVIS: Did you really?
TALIESIN: That’s come up so many times today!
LAURA: Okay, well, try to find the fucking old guy!
SAM: I mean, it was right behind my house.
MATT: He spent a long time trying to keep away from old guys in the woods, so he knows how to track them well.
LIAM: I’m going to give you, if you want to– do you want to track?
LIAM: All right, make a perception, right?
MATT: Tracking would be survival.
LIAM: Survival, that’s what I was going to say. But, for reasons, do it at advantage.
MATT: Because you’re awesome!
TRAVIS: Because you love this.
SAM: Because I’m a ranger and rangers get advantage in their favorite terrain.
LAURA: Maybe because he knows you know the old guy.
TALIESIN: Because Warner Bros is your favored terrain?
LIAM: That’s fine. You see where Verno booked it before. You can see Verno went through the trees right here, but you see another break. You see a vine split off right there, and you gather that he went in generally the same direction, not exactly, where Travis went.
SAM: I think he’s that way.
LAURA: Well, let’s go find him.
SAM: Follow me, everyone.
LIAM: And this little seven-year-old boy with a gigantic smile starts stalking his way through the bog and leading you.
MARISHA: So cute!
SAM: I didn’t shower much.
LAURA: So cute.
LIAM: Everybody’s following Ranger Sam, right?
LIAM: Okay. All right. So.
MATT: Trying to clean my perpetually fogging glasses because of the humid weather.
LIAM: Yeah, it’s like every 30 seconds here. So you guys start walking, and after the first minute, you notice as you’re going, Sam, in the ground, something very different than anything else you’ve seen here. There’s a long bar in the ground, half sunken into the ground, and covered over. You only saw a glint of yellow, and it was faded over and mucky, but you saw it. It looked very different. Leaning down, you wipe away some of the crap covering it, and you see sort of an alternating yellow, black pattern. It’s like a long board. It’s old, and it’s wet and rotted through, but there’s no mistaking one of those things for gate entry.
SAM: Oh, parking lot entry gate. Wait, does that mean we’re in an old overgrown parking lot? I’m going to dig it out. Or I’ll try.
LIAM: Okay. You don’t even need to make any kind of a check. Everything is so slick here, it just slides out. You can’t lift the whole thing or hold the whole thing because it’s eight feet long. As you pull it out, it’s so soft, it breaks at one spot, but there’s no question what that is. This is exactly a gate entry bar.
TALIESIN: I’m going to make a wild guess. I’m going to see if there’s a little boxhouse nearby.
MARISHA: Yeah, can I assist him on that?
TALIESIN: Where it would be, physically. I’m getting a sneaky suspicion–
LIAM: Make an investigation check.
LAURA: Can you turn that stick into a weapon?
LIAM: Nine? 13? Yeah, I mean, you’ve been to Warner Bros.
TALIESIN: Yeah. We’re still on the WB lot.
SAM: Those four posts were the tower! What was left of it.
LAURA: What does that even mean? How do we get home?
SAM: Well, we’re in Burbank.
TALIESIN: Just several miles down the 405 ought to do it.
TRAVIS: Should I say it?
TALIESIN: Do you want to say it?
SAM: Say what?
TALIESIN: You thought it, you might as well say it.
TRAVIS: I have a theory about where we are.
SAM: Well, we’re at Warner Brothers.
TRAVIS: I feel like we’re in the Upside-Down.
MARISHA: Of life, or WB?
TALIESIN: We’re in the BW.
LIAM: What do you guys want to do?
SAM: Well, wait, if these are security booths here, maybe they have some handcuffs or something that we can get in there.
TRAVIS: Are there any working flashlights in the security booth?
LIAM: You can make an investigation check. You didn’t find anything.
TALIESIN: I’m going to join you, just rummaging through.
LIAM: Go for it. You’re digging through rot.
LIAM: Natural 20?
TALIESIN: No, just 20.
LIAM: Okay. You dig, and you do find the foundation of– it’s Hollywood Way. It’s the exact setup for that little booth when you’re going into park, right under the tower. I mean, you haven’t traveled that far, right? And there’s nothing in here. The bottom of the structure, the walls is there, you can tell where the bottom of the door, the lintel? Is it the lintel? I don’t know.
SAM: Sure, why not.
LIAM: You found the gate post, and that’s all you found, there’s no–
ASHLEY: There’s no walls in the thing.
LIAM: No, it’s just the bottom of the structure. You can just barely make out one corner.
TALIESIN: Does it feel like some of the buildings might still be there, hidden in this forest structure, or is it just too dense?
LIAM: You didn’t see anything.
MARISHA: Can I backtrack, now that we’re slowly piecing this together, see if I can find the Hollywood Way sign? The street sign?
TALIESIN: Don’t wander too far.
MARISHA: No, I just want to turn around, if it’s right there.
LIAM: You guys here, that way maybe was the tower, about here’s where you find the security gate, I guess, and old feller ran that way.
LAURA: (gasps) We should head towards Geek and Sundry!
MARISHA: He went north? Is he going north on Hollywood Way? I rolled a ten total.
LIAM: To find a sign?
MARISHA: Hollywood Way.
LIAM: No, man.
SAM: Yeah, but we know the direction. We know where the tower is. We know where the booth is. We just go that way.
LAURA: Keep following the guy.
MATT: The guy was pretty old?
TRAVIS: He was super old. He was old and weak.
LIAM: You saw a glint of glasses, too.
TRAVIS: He had a glint of glasses.
MATT: If we keep going, we can probably catch up to him because he’s probably not very fast.
SAM: You’re a very smart young man.
MATT: That’s all I got.
MARISHA: I didn’t see anything! What if this is just a Warner Bros specific thing? What if the rest of LA is okay?
SAM: I mean, we can see into LA and it’s not, right?
LAURA: Yeah, I climbed to the top of the tower. It’s jungle everywhere.
LIAM: If you can believe your eyes, San Fernando Valley is this way.
MATT: Is this the future we’re looking at?
MARISHA: But, jungle versus Warner Bros sinking. Is it everything?
SAM: We’ve got one option: we’ve got to follow this old guy!
LAURA: Let’s follow the old guy!
ASHLEY: When you climbed up to the top, you didn’t see any structures?
LAURA: No, all I saw was jungle.
MARISHA: Look, it’s the Valley, there’s not a lot of skyscrapers.
LAURA: I mean it’s a jungle here. It’s a desert, really.
TRAVIS: Let’s try to go after the old guy.
LAURA: They’re not normal trees. They look like engorged sausages.
ASHLEY: Wet Bulging Sausages. Warner Bros Studios.
MARISHA: Turgid, engorged–
ASHLEY: There’s a lot that’s going on right now.
MATT: I start getting a nosebleed. Well, if there’s any building in this vicinity that lasts through time, it’s the Bob’s Big Boy.
TRAVIS: It’s true.
ASHLEY: That’s true.
SAM: Why are we going to Bob’s Big Boy?! Didn’t he go north on Hollywood Way?
LIAM: He did. If you can believe your eyes, if this nonsense is actually based on anything, then yes, he is heading along Hollywood Way.
TALIESIN: We’re going down Hollywood Way.
LIAM: Okay. All right, so Ranger Sam leads the way. You guys start traveling. It’s slow-going because it’s wet and disgusting and there’s trees everywhere. You’re going through fucking swamp.
LAURA: As we go, we should keep our eyes out for anything that we can use as weapons.
LIAM: There’s lots of vines and rocks and sticks.
LAURA: There’s nothing metal?
SAM: Just Ashley.
LIAM: The last metal you saw was Ashley Johnson and what is presumably the base of the Warner Bros water tower.
ASHLEY: Can I, as we walk, with my handy-dandy tools that are here that I see that you’ve added. Can I start trying to fashion a slingshot?
LIAM: Out of cat gut?
ASHLEY: Out of a nice little twig. Travis can attest I’m pretty good with slingshots.
LIAM: Make a survival check.
SAM: What are you, Ashley?
ASHLEY: That’s a seven, right?
MARISHA: She’s Ashley.
LIAM: 11? Okay. So, what you’re able to do as you’re walking is to pull and rip away some of the leg tendon from this thing’s body. And now you’ve got this stretchy piece of meat to work with.
MATT: (whispering) That’s so cool!
LIAM: More on that later. You guys continue to walk through the jungle and you’re noticing that the ground is moving downward a bit now.
LAURA: Can you heal me?
MATT: You look all right.
LAURA: I saw you heal Marisha.
MATT: I’m pretty spent right now.
LIAM: Sam, do me a favor and make a perception check.
SAM: Guys, I’m leading this party. Focus on me!
MATT: We’re all going to die.
LAURA: Can I try to close up my wounds that I got?
LIAM: It’s not a one or a two? Through a gap between three trees, way in the distance, you see a balding, white-haired little old man. And he sees you seeing him, and he’s gone again.
SAM: Oh shit! I saw him! Guys, he’s that way! We should go that way, but maybe flank, right? I played paintball as a kid, so we can flank.
LIAM: You are a kid.
SAM: Come at him from two directions.
LIAM: You’re running?
TRAVIS: I’m booking ass.
LIAM: Wow! Travis is just running today!
TRAVIS: I ran everywhere! I was fast as shit!
LAURA: I’m running after Travis.
TRAVIS: My ADHD was in overdrive all the time.
SAM: But you have the mind of a current-day Travis.
TRAVIS: Yeah, but I’m fast again, y'all!
LIAM: Is everybody following suit?
LAURA: Yeah, I’m following Travis!
SAM: No! I’m flanking! I’m flanking around.
LIAM: You’re flanking?
MARISHA: I follow Riegel and I say, why are we running?
MATT: I follow Marisha because she’s the biggest.
TALIESIN: I follow Travis.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I’m running.
LIAM: Okay. Are you with this group? The flanking or the straight-on?
LIAM: You guys start booking through and trying to stay up. You’re slipping as you go, but managing to catch up. And he is old. You’re getting closer to the spot where you saw him, Sam. And you’re looking over, you’re playing the raptor; maybe you can catch him from the side. You guys are still going down. All of you are going down and then ahead. You notice that you guys are in separate wedges of a hill that are both leading now to the same place. And you see this guy again, and he scuttles over a little ridge and down. He scuttles up over a little bit of ridge of plant and mud, and then he disappears from view. And it’s almost like you’re looking at– it’s so thick here, the trees are so thick that you can probably get through on the sides, but there’s one big main entrance here that is scooped up in like an upside-down U of plant growth.
SAM: One way in.
LAURA: Let’s start running.
MARISHA: Yeah, go.
LAURA: Who’s charging after him!
SAM: We’re all going in together, I guess.
TRAVIS: Yeah, let’s go run into the funnel.
LIAM: Okay. all right. So you guys converge and you’re running after this old man, and you guys climb up to the top of the ridge and you see– oh gosh, I think there’s a scene in Jurassic Park where it’s a long sort of tunnel. Where that guy gets eaten by the little critters? Anybody remember this? Yeah. And so it winds straight ahead like that, and as you’re running, Taliesin, you’re the only one who sees it because you’re the shortest. You see a metal sign bent over, peeking out from behind two trees, red dripping down it. And you see a one, you see a four. And then you’re past it, and everybody’s running. And this old man is maybe a hundred feet ahead of you.
LAURA: Can we yell out to him?
LAURA: Hey! Stop running, what the fuck. We’re just trying to figure out what’s happening!
ASHLEY: We’re just kids!
LIAM: He does stop, and spins around. He’s still pretty far away from you, and he looks
LIAM: (breathes heavily) And he spins and he continues to run.
LAURA: Oh, come on!
MARISHA: Oh, I keep going.
LAURA: We keep going.
LIAM: Everybody starts to run. I’m so sorry. You feel the air around you start to vibrate around you, and your head starts to rattle in your skull. And you hear, at that moment, the sound of a war horn? Massive. It feels like the inside of your head, your skull, is vibrating like a bell. Your teeth are shaking. Your eyes feel like they are expanding in their sockets, and you feel (explosion noise), and everything changes.
TRAVIS: It’s Inception.
MARISHA: Oh god, are we going deeper? No.
LIAM: Everything grows darker.
LIAM: The gentler sounds of the jungle are suddenly gone. You find yourselves, suddenly, as your sight stops blurring, looking at the ocean. You’re standing in miserably frigid cold water swirling around your legs and your waist. And you’re staring out at the horizon, and the sky– it’s so jarring, it’s so different than where you were. You’re staring out at dark clouds above you and over the horizon. And that horn that is blasting finally quits, and you just hear the sound of the surf. Of waves crashing on a beach. A beach behind you.
ASHLEY: Are there any footprints on the beach leading from the water?
LIAM: You turn away from the water, Ashley. And from your place in the surf, you see the remnants and rubble of a freeway, stretching from the water you’re in back toward the land and away. But all of your minds, as you turn with her, have only a second to process your whereabouts, because before you stands a wall of horror. The living manifestation of woe is gathered in front of you. A vast horde of writhing, malignant nightmares stand watching you. All shapes and sizes.
MARISHA: Casting directors.
LIAM: Black, oiled, insect-like flesh. White chalky corpse-like figures. Literal devils.
SAM: Commercial casting directors.
LIAM: Hundreds of eyes, seeming to hungrily covet your flesh. And towering above them all, rising 40 to 50 feet in the air, stands an apocalyptic monstrosity out of the Book of Revelations. A massive, two-headed titan standing on two scaled, powerful legs, staring down at you all. The head on this side, brow furrowed, face unmoving. The eyes just judging you. The head on this side, craning forward, its terrible maw stretched wide. A long tongue slathering back and forth across its enormous teeth. Hungering. The horn of the apocalypse tears the air again, rattling your brains in your little skulls as the legion before you begins to jibber and shriek. Everyone roll for initiative.
MARISHA: What’s happening?
SAM: It’s everything we’ve ever faced.
LAURA: Oh my god. We’re going to die!
MARISHA: Brought to you by the producers of Independence Day!
LAURA: For real!
MATT: So, even– (laughs) So. Do I know what this is?
MARISHA: From the producers of 2012!
LIAM: You think so.
MATT: Okay. Me as Matt Mercer, even at 12, Matt Mercer– (laughs)
LAURA: Hey Matt!
LIAM: Can I get a little more juice on the audio, please?
LAURA: Thanks for healing me!
LIAM: Let’s roll for initiative, guys.
TALIESIN: Oh god.
MATT: Oh, great. That’s great.
SAM: As, as we roll, I look down to see if– Are we any older, or are we the same age?
LIAM: Same age.
MARISHA: Same age?
SAM: I check if I’ve got pubes. Do I have pubes?
LIAM: 25 to 20?
TRAVIS: Nope. Nair.
LIAM: Nobody there? 15 to 20?
LIAM: 17, 15? Laura, Marisha. Okay, ten to 15?
LIAM: Ten. Okay. I got Travis, Ashley, and Matt left. What have you guys got?
ASHLEY: Oh shit.
MARISHA: What are these things?
LAURA: What is that big thing?
SAM: You know, I think we can take them, guys.
ASHLEY: Can anybody make a boat?
MARISHA: It’s a really big thing.
LIAM: Laura Bailey.
LIAM: What would you like to do?
LAURA: Where are we?
LIAM: Oh. That’s important, isn’t it? You’re in the water.
MATT: So, you guys know in Stranger Things, that the big monster they keep talking about?
ASHLEY: The demogorgon?
LAURA: The demogorgon?
MARISHA: Is that what that is?
SAM: I think we can take it.
LAURA: I think–
SAM: Wait. They won’t come into the water. Maybe we just stay here.
TALIESIN: That’s gremlins. Gremlins won’t come into the water.
MATT: Gremlins can go in the water.
TALIESIN: That just makes more of them.
MATT: Yeah. There’s no good answer here.
LAURA: Matt, how do you kill these things?
MATT: I can’t tell you. My initiative’s four. Go! I’m too scared. In fact, if we weren’t halfway in the ocean, you would see the soak marks on the front of my jeans.
TRAVIS: And in fact, around Matt, the water is quite warm.
TALIESIN: Better than a chlorinated pool, man
MARISHA: (laughs) A chlorinated pool?
TALIESIN: It’d be a little green.
LAURA: I have nothing. I’m just going to back up further into the water.
LIAM: Okay. It is rough going. You can go about 15 feet as you push your way back. Now you’re moving backward in the water, and the water’s now up to your childlike collarbone.
LAURA: Can I hold my breath and put it under the water and see what I can see under the water?
LIAM: That’s what you want to do?
LIAM: Okay, you do. You splash under the water, and it is jarring. It is so ice-cold. And as you do, you see a very thick serpent swim past your face.
LAURA: What?! Bubbles! (laughs) I come back up out of the water. We’re surrounded! There’s something in the water!
LIAM: Marisha, what would you like to do?
MARISHA and LAURA: (scream)
TRAVIS: Go. Have no fear!
MARISHA: Okay. Well, I fucking hate the cold above all things! Which is a hundred percent true, so I’m going to fuck this ice-water shit, and start heading out towards the beach, just because that would be my first concern.
LIAM: Okay. You are now standing on the beach, looking at a legion from hell.
MARISHA: I say, Yeah! What’s up?! This is the party at the end of the world, right? And I just start dancing. Hey! And I cry a little. Oh! Hey! Oh!
LIAM: The giant continues to judge you. On your sides, there are two very large– not as big as the big guy, obviously, but two winged, twice the size of you guys, bent over muscular ropey winged creatures, and they just stand there going (raspy breaths) here and here. Taliesin, what would you like to do?
TALIESIN: I’m going to join Marisha on the beach because I hate the water.
LIAM: Yes, I remembered.
TALIESIN: And it’s cold. And this has kind of happened to me before.
SAM: The whole monster thing?
TALIESIN: This whole thing has kind of happened. And, this is true, I’m going to say what I said last time.
MARISHA: Do it.
TALIESIN: This is true, and you might know this. Mister Satan dude, we are totally ready to serve you!
LIAM: Make a persuasion check.
TALIESIN: This is literally what I said last time this happened. Oh boy, that’s not great.
TRAVIS: But there are fish in the ocean, Taliesin!
TALIESIN: That’s why I got out. Eight.
LIAM: Eight? Noted. Okay.
TALIESIN: I’m going to hold my full action until something happens.
LIAM: Okay, until what happens?
TALIESIN: Until they start moving within ten feet of me.
LIAM: Okay, got it. Sam, what would you like to do?
SAM: I’m going to also join them on the beach.
SAM: And similarly, I’m going to hold up the skull of Bixby and say: We serve the darkness as you do! We will do your bidding if you will let us! Please spare our lives so that we may serve yours!
LIAM: Make a persuasion check.
LIAM: Okay, noted. Ashley, what would you like to do?
ASHLEY: Okay, I’m going to go up on the beach, and I’m going to join them in their persuasion, and I’m going to use the dead cat again. And I’m just going to take a bite of it.
MARISHA: You’re Ozzy Osbourne and shit?
TALIESIN: We could have so hung out.
LIAM: Make a persuasion check.
ASHLEY: Does that count?
MATT: It’s what you rolled.
LIAM: Okay, noted.
SAM: That’s good.
LIAM: Yes, it is. Gigantic feet crunch down in the sand as he slowly walks forward, or they do, and one head stares at you, little man.
TRAVIS: Oh no.
LIAM: Make a strength check.
TRAVIS: A strength check. That’s a nine.
LIAM: Okay. Travis, you feel your whole body lock up as you are lifted out of the water, straight up into the air, and a little bit forward. And your little duder body is just floated forward and you are frozen in terror. You can’t move a muscle, and the head on this side is just staring at you.
TRAVIS: Oh god.
LAURA: Just a little poo falls into the water.
TRAVIS: A little rabbit pellet makes it through the shorts. Straight through.
MATT: You’ve been hoarding Cocoa Puffs.
LIAM: Matt, what would you like to do?
MATT: Okay. So, being both a bard and being a kid that both as an adult and in that age spent a lot of free time alone reading monster manuals and cryptozoology books, can I possibly see if I recognize any sort of nature to this creature? Any sort of religious context to it, or any idea where it may have come from?
LIAM: It looks like the shit you saw in your D&D books, man.
MATT: Okay! Seeing as how Ashley already seems to be the one that’s on the right track, I’m going to begin to step towards the water. Using a bonus action, I’m going to go ahead and give her bardic inspiration and be like, Ashley, continue to prove your savagery!
TRAVIS: Oh my god!
MATT: Chew deep and revel in the insanity, as this day, we prove our mettle against the force of darkness!
ASHLEY: Chew deep?
MARISHA: What does that even mean, chew deep?
TRAVIS: With fogged-up glasses.
MATT: Yeah, my glasses right are now are like every classic anime teacher, it’s just too fogged where you can’t see the eyes. It’s just a straight white glare. I step out of the water towards this entity and say: Oh great demogorgon, deity from upon the Abyss who brings its hordes to the shoreline, we are but humble servants, prostrate before you, granting you the power we have to offer as we ourselves traverse across many worlds. We have much gifts to grant you, and follow you to the ends of this plane.
LIAM: Make a religion check.
MATT: Not so great. Seven.
LIAM: One last little squirt comes out of your ding dong.
MATT: You got this, Ashley!
LIAM: He would like to use one of his legendary actions now. And you see his long, nightmarish tail swing, coil, and then whip out, and strikes down and lands on Marisha and crushes her into the beach and rips away. And you see a smear on the sand. You see a clump of red hair. And some innards.
TRAVIS: You’re a track mark!
LIAM: Laura, what would you like to do?
TRAVIS: Oh my god!
LAURA: I think I’m going to just stand back in the water and continue to scream.
LIAM: Okay. Noted.
LAURA: (screams) Get back in the water! Get back! It just killed Marisha! Get back in the water! And then I’m going to try and jump up and see if I can reach Travis’s leg.
LIAM: His leg? He’s 30 feet in the air.
LAURA: I can’t reach you!
TRAVIS: Watch out, there’s poop down there!
LAURA: I see it!
LIAM: Is that the end?
LAURA: I’m just staying. I’m going to stay and just hold my sticks.
LIAM: Off on your left, you see. (splashing noises) It doesn’t come all the way. It just watches you.
MARISHA: Guys, they hate people who are marketable! That’s the key! Be marketable!
MATT: Which is the echo we hear in our minds. We don’t hear out loud, as she’s nothing but a hairy smear.
LIAM: Mr. Mom, what would you like to do?
SAM: Woobie, woobie, woobie!
TALIESIN: I am not pleased. I am going to start wishing that we had some help with this somehow, and I’m going to start, I suppose, casting Unseen Servant?
TALIESIN: And I’m going to attempt to create something to catch Travis when he lands.
TALIESIN: And otherwise, I think I’m just staring at the ground for the moment, because that was a lot that just happened.
LIAM: Yeah. Guys, everybody sees a spectral form of a grown Taliesin Jaffe appear next to child Taliesin Jaffe, and floats over floating Verno, and spectral Taliesin just starts going like this.
TALIESIN: Thank you for making that as awkward as humanly possible.
LIAM: Yes, you’re welcome. All done?
LIAM: Sam, what would you like to do?
SAM: I mean, those are tendrils? What are those things, those are just arms?
MATT: Giant arm. Tentacle arm.
TRAVIS: Kill me. Kill me!
SAM: With what, a rock?
TRAVIS: I’m fucking dying up here, man!
TALIESIN: If you try and kill him with a rock, you’ll kill him, so just go for it.
SAM: I’m going to use my movement and my action to dash–
LIAM: Which way?
SAM: At the demogorgon?
SAM: And I’m going to try to kill it with love and give it a big hug around its leg and say, I forgive you!
LIAM: You grab it by the leg?
LIAM: Okay, noted. Ashley, what would you like to do?
ASHLEY: Okay, I’m going to continue with what I’m doing. I’m going to walk to Marisha’s smear. Schmear?
LIAM: Yeah, I mean, half her body’s gone.
ASHLEY: That’s fine. Don’t know what I’m doing, I was weird as a 15-year-old, so I’m going to walk over to her body, what’s left, and get my hands in it. And I’m going to stare him in the eye, and I’m going to smear it.
LIAM: You guys watch in horror as your friend Ashley, pushed to the brink, crouches down and shoves her hands up into the hollowed-out ribcage of Marisha Ray, pulls her hands down, and slathers it down her face, and suddenly we’re in the Lord of the Flies.
ASHLEY: Is her ribcage free and loose?
LIAM: Loose? I mean, yeah, she’s a third of her former weight.
ASHLEY: I’m going to put it over my head.
LIAM: That’s your whole action. Okay.
ASHLEY: That’s fine.
MARISHA: Wait, you’re holding me?
MATT: You’re wearing her like a scarecrow?
LIAM: Ashley picks up Marisha’s broken open chest cavity and head and matches the form of demogorgon somewhat and puts a second head on herself.
MARISHA: This is like what I want to have happen when I die.
LIAM: You’re out of juice.
TALIESIN: Died like she lived.
ASHLEY: I don’t know what to do.
MARISHA: Wear like me a spirit hood! Do it, Ashley, do it!
MATT: She’s puppeteering you like a Skeksis! You’re a Henson puppet!
LIAM: Demogorgon’s turn. Do you want to do anything, Travis?
TRAVIS: Oh sure, I just want to fucking run like a rabbit, man.
LIAM: Well, you’re floating in the air. You want to try to break free of his grip?
TRAVIS: I’m going to go with it.
LIAM: All right. You’re going to go with it?
LIAM: He takes one step forward with Sam on the leg, going for the ride, and Travis floats forward, right up between the two thing’s heads and the angry one on this side goes (growling) and takes the upper half of your body into its mouth and the other one more daintily goes (chomping) and pulls a leg free, and child Travis is ripped in half in front of you, blood raining down on Sam down below.
TRAVIS: You hear a really girly scream from inside the one mouth.
SAM: But love conquers all!
LAURA: Oh my god!
LIAM: Matt, what would you like to do?
MATT: Well, I’ve spent the entirety of the last six seconds just staring at the place on the ground where Marisha was crushed. So I haven’t really been paying attention. Loosely paying attention to Ashley rummaging through her remains and then wearing them like a wintertime jacket.
MATT: But my fists are clenched, they’re shaking, the tears are streaming down my face, and whatever plan we had is out the window, and I just rush towards the demogorgon, screaming. (screams) And I’m going to Thunderwave him.
LIAM: Yes! Do it!
MATT: So he needs to make a constitution saving throw.
LIAM: Are we doing anything about Sam?
MATT: I don’t fucking care about Sam right now, I just want to hurt this thing.
LIAM: Got it.
SAM: I’m a child, Matt!
LIAM: Got it. And it’s, what is it, it’s constitution? Help me.
MATT: Constitution. I’m just like, tears down my face, just (screaming).
LIAM: Okay. Sam, make a constitution save.
SAM: 16 plus– there’s no number written there.
MATT: You made it, he succeeds.
LIAM: Yeah. Okay, so roll for damage.
MATT: That is 13.
LIAM: 13? Okay.
MATT: 13 thunder damage.
LIAM: You take six points of damage. Matt runs up in anguish and just rage-terror screams and for no reason at all, a blast of energy just goes (explosion noise) right out of him, rips the clothes off of Sam Riegel’s child back, leaving scars all over him. And the demogorgon just shifts his foot a little bit. And he’d like to use a legendary action to stare at Crazy Pants Johnson. And you look at these two heads, now looking at you, and their eyes seem to swirl in a miasma of hatred, and you feel your mind just go. Roll a d10, please.
MATT: As my bonus action on my turn?
MATT: I now realise that I accidentally hit Sam, and I’m like, Sam. We have to end this now. Let’s do this. And you get an inspiration die, d6.
LIAM: Okay. What did you roll on the d10?
ASHLEY: I rolled a nine.
LIAM: A nine? Oh. You felt your gorge rise up. You’re covered in the guts of your friend, Marisha. This is really weird, that thing is a giant! But you’ve got to fight it, right? Yeah, I’m okay! I’m okay! And you steel yourself.
SAM: Nice. She’s hardcore.
LIAM: Laura, what would you like to do?
LAURA: As soon as I see it tear apart Travis?
LAURA: I’m going to just turn the other way and just start swimming out.
LIAM: Okay, I’ll just put you there on the map.
LAURA: Nope! Nope, nope, nope!
MATT: She takes the nope action.
TRAVIS: Triple dash!
LIAM: You start to swim. You feel a serpent slide past your rib cage as you go, and you freak out as you swim–
LAURA: I’m going to take my stick and hit it!
LIAM: You can’t do that, because two clawed feet latch into your back and lift you up, out of the water. You are now dangling about 20 feet– yeah, 20 feet above the water. Here. Just dog paddling to nothing. And that’s its turn. And Taliesin, what would you like to do?
TALIESIN: I get the sneaking suspicion that we’re screwed.
TRAVIS: No, we’re doing good.
MATT: Yeah, on the ropes, man. On the ropes.
SAM: He’s looking pretty rough.
TRAVIS: This is where we turn the tide.
LAURA: He’s definitely bloodied.
TALIESIN: I’m feeling a little like this might be the end. I’m not feeling pretty good about this, so–
MARISHA: Walk into the ocean.
TALIESIN: I’m just going to flick it off, and the one, the little creature on the right–
LIAM: This guy?
TALIESIN: Yeah. Chill Touch. Just going to crush that fucker as just a fuck-you.
LIAM: Okay. Make a ranged attack.
TALIESIN: Yeah. 15.
TALIESIN: I probably have to roll for damage on that one because he’s not tiny. Where’s my d8s? Two. That’s two points of necrotic damage.
LIAM: Two points? Okay.
TALIESIN: It’s just a 1d8, right?
LIAM: Yes, that’s correct. It’s 1d8.
LIAM: All right. So you plant your hand down into the sand, and you feel that same energy surge out of your palm, and it bursts up under this corpulent little pasty-faced dude, and it reaches up and grabs him by the gut, and pulls away a love handle in tentacle form, down into the ground. And everybody around him just starts going (snarling), and he’s just got innards spilling out, going (gravelly dying sounds).
TALIESIN: I’m going to move my Unseen Servant underneath Laura, just in case, to try and pull her to shore if she goes back down.
LIAM: All right, so your Unseen Servant moves just below Laura, and he uses his legendary action, and the tail whips out and goes (whipping sound), and you watch as two-thirds of Taliesin’s child guts are ripped out and he just falls, face forward, down into the sand, and he is dead, and the Unseen Servant vanishes.
LAURA: Oh no!
LIAM: Sam, what would you like to do?
SAM: I’m partially naked.
SAM: I’m hugging a demogorgon. I would like to climb up a little up his leg.
SAM: And just say: Kill them, but save me. I will fan you and get you food, and whatever. Just kill them all. They’re nothing, just save me. Just save me.
SAM: That’s it.
LIAM: Okay. Ashley.
SAM: Do I have to roll on anything?
SAM: Do I need to roll?
LIAM: I mean, you already tried to persuade this dude.
SAM: All right. Then I got nothing.
LIAM: Sure. Make a persuasion, at disadvantage.
SAM: At disadvantage?
MATT: You can add your inspiration dice, if you want.
SAM: Well, it’s a natural one.
MATT: Oh. You probably shouldn’t. You should hold off on that. Save it for the next– oh wait.
LIAM: Ashley, what would you like to do?
ASHLEY: Your head up here. Listen.
TRAVIS: She starts with “listen.” (laughs)
ASHLEY: We already know what’s going to happen here. We know we’re going to die. But, guess what? After this, we go to another world, so you know what? I don’t like leading, and I don’t like following, you motherfucker! Is my slingshot ready?
LIAM: No, you didn’t have a chance to get to that.
ASHLEY: I’m going to take out a rock out of my pocket, and I’m going to throw it at him.
LIAM: Go for it. Make a ranged attack.
ASHLEY: Okay. What am I doing?
LIAM: Roll a d20.
ASHLEY: I don’t add anything, do I?
LIAM: You might! It would be, for a ranged attack, if it’s not a weapon. It’s an improvised weapon. Nothing.
MATT: Well, dex or strength would be plus two. You’re not proficient with it
LIAM: Let’s do the dex.
MATT: So, plus two to whatever you rolled.
ASHLEY: (laughs) A six.
LIAM: The rock bounces off of his belly button-type area.
ASHLEY: I don’t care. I did it. I didn’t mean for it to actually hurt you.
MATT: She has that much control!
LIAM: Okay, well, the next thing that happens is the double-armed tentacle comes down and wraps around your neck. And you watch as (splitting noise) and you see two heads spin out to the ocean.
TALIESIN: You killed it!
LIAM: 40 feet.
LAURA: Oh no!
SAM: Who’s left?
LAURA: Me and Matt and Sam.
SAM: My plan is working; I’m still alive!
LAURA: I think he doesn’t realize you’re there.
LIAM: What would you like to do, Matt?
MATT: All right, staring this thing down, my eyes– I can’t see anything because the water, so I rip the glasses off the front of my face and throw them behind me on the beach and staring up at it I say: I know everything about you. I’ve seen your pictures, I’ve read every single aspect of your existence. And here’s the fun part: when it all comes down to it, you’re just a figment of some fat guy’s imagination! Vicious Mockery.
MATT: Nice, that’s– well, it makes a wisdom saving throw.
SAM: How do you want to do this?
LIAM: What did you roll?
MATT: Well, my DC is 13.
LIAM: 13, okay. You see the angrier one on this side going (growls, huffs, growls louder)
LIAM: And the other head swivels around so they’re both looking at you, and they stare into your insecure little 12-year-old soul. Roll a d10, Matthew.
MATT: Yeah. That’s a sensitive place. Ten?
LIAM: Ten? You have played too much fucking D&D. Nothing happens! You hold your own against the demogorgon.
TRAVIS: (laughs) You’ve played too much D&D.
LIAM: Laura, what would you like to do?
LAURA: I’m going to take my sticks out and I’m going to try to stab the tentacle that’s holding me up in the air.
LIAM: Roll to make an attack.
LAURA: Do I add anything? My dex?
LIAM: Yes, your dex.
LAURA: I’m trying to break out my grapple.
LIAM: Right. Well, that would be a strength check. Do you want to break out of the grapple?
LAURA: Oh. Well, I’m just going to try to– no, I’m going to attack the tentacle.
LIAM: Okay. Well, that doesn’t do shit because he’s got you so firmly grasping in his taloned feet that you can’t turn around and get at him.
LAURA: Oh, then I try to break out of the grapple!
LIAM: No, what happened was you tried to get him with a stick and you couldn’t turn around. You got a bonus action?
LAURA: I don’t know what I can do as a bonus action.
SAM: She’s a rogue.
LAURA: I can’t disengage; I’m not a high enough level. I’m just a me.
LIAM: Level of Laura?
LAURA: Yeah, level of Laura at 13, 12, or whatever.
LIAM: Okay. You hear a little sizzling sound and you feel the thing’s body flex against you, and then you don’t even know what happened; there is a noxious fume all around you going into your eyes and your nose. Everything burns; your throat and your nose burn, the insides of your ears burn. I would like you to make a con save.
LAURA: Okay. 11!
LIAM: Okay. Your body locks up. You can’t move and he lets go. You fall into the water, frozen.
SAM: That’s nice!
TALIESIN: In theory, you’d be caught by my Unseen Servant.
LIAM: No, that vanished when you died.
TALIESIN: Oh, that vanished when I died!
LAURA: Oh no!
MATT: You fall just in time to see this floating Taliesin go (wind whooshing). That would suck so bad.
LIAM: Sam, what would you like to do?
MARISHA: I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m not okay!
SAM: I climb up higher.
LIAM: Now make an athletics check.
SAM: Sure. Natural 20!
LIAM: Oh my god, how high do you want to go?
SAM: All the way up to its ear.
LIAM: Done. You scrabble up like a little spider monkey all the way up, panicked, climbing up on top. “Hi!” And you’re there.
SAM: I can sing you show tunes! I know doo-wop songs! I will do your bidding forever if you just let me live!
LIAM: And your voices stops as the sharp end of his tail splits through the back of your skull and breaks your face open entirely.
SAM: I can work with this!
LIAM: Beautiful, beautiful smile. That beautiful smile gone.
TRAVIS: And then there was two.
MARISHA: Rodgers and Hammerstein.
MATT: That’ll kill you.
LIAM: The demogorgon bends over and looks down at you, Matthew, and somehow, you knew this was the way it would always be. And a giant, ropey foot rises up and you don’t see shit. Laura, what would you like to do? Oh, she’s not here.
SAM: Oh my god, she disappeared.
LIAM: She’s also drowning. We don’t need her, then. Okay. Hey, I want that, yeah. So, her body frozen in the ocean, water seeping in. She feels her throat constrict and choke, and everything goes quiet. Not that quiet. There we go. The vision blurs and turns a pure, merciful white. And that’s where we’ll take our break.
MARISHA: Oh, what?
MATT: All righty!
SAM: We’re dead! End of session.
LIAM: We’ll just talk about it for an hour after we come back.
MARISHA: I’ve had this dream.
LIAM: I did have this dream. This is based on a nightmare I had.
MATT: Oh, what?
ASHLEY: That’s a terrible one.
LIAM: It was real bad.
TRAVIS: Did Ashley wear the upper torso of Marisha in your dream?
LIAM: No, none of you were there. It was just me on a godforsaken beach. In my dream, these things, it wasn’t demogorgon, it was Revelations, and they were all on shitty wooden scaffolding, stretching in every direction for miles. And I just felt that big and I was like, “Well, this is it.” And that was the nightmare.
SAM: I dreamt that I was late to a plane.
LIAM: That your eyesight was one tick off of 20/20. Dreadful. Well, guys that was a lot of fun. We laughed. We cried. We died. We’ll see you in a few.
MARISHA: Oh, watch the Tabletop promo, it’s real good. We’re real proud of it.
LIAM: Is this mid-break, this guy? Yeah, sorry, before I forget! Giveaway! I have got a Wyrmwood dice vault made of pink ivory wood.
MARISHA: Yeah, you do!
LIAM: You wanna get that code word: demogorgon!
MARISHA and LIAM: Demogorgon!
MARISHA: Spell it correctly if you want to win! Demi-gorgon.
LIAM: This could be yours in hell.
MARISHA: Chat will get it.
MATT: Chat will get it.
LIAM: It won’t work this time. Hey guys! Welcome back. So, right off the top, we have been doing this show for hundreds and hundreds of hours, and for the first time ever we have a player going home sick. Laura is tapping out. She probably has got the same thing Brian Foster had. We’ll all be next, yay.
TRAVIS: Especially because we French kiss all the time.
LIAM: So, I’ll miss twinnie, but I want twinnie to be a part of the story, so I will include her. She’ll be there, but not physically on set. What else? So our winner for the dice vault over the break was YassieXD. YassieXD, you now have a lovely box for your dice to put it in!
LIAM: Man, I’m thrown. I’m thrown, my friend went home. Oh, well. What else do we do now, do I just start? Is that what I do?
MATT: Jump right in, motherfucker.
LIAM: All right.
TRAVIS: Everybody’s dead, so…
MARISHA: So we’re all dead?
SAM: Good game, good game.
LIAM: This is the post-mortem.
MARISHA: We built Dis post-mortem?
LIAM: Quiet. You have no sense of time. Minutes, days, you don’t know. A voice barks out, “Okay, that was really good, let’s go right back into another one.” Ashley, your eyes flutter open and squint in the glare of bright white light from all sides. They adjust. “Guys, we good? I wanna go right into another.” You look around. You’re lying in a large white room. The walls are padded with soft cloth material.
TALIESIN: Oh no.
LIAM: Ashley, you sit up–
ASHLEY: This is my nightmare!
LIAM: – and see Neil? Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann?
LIAM: Walking over towards you. You realize there are cameras everywhere, lining the walls, there’s monitors nearby, cables. You see a very familiar crew at their stations. You look down. Oh, shit. P-cap suit. You are in a full performance-capture suit. You are all lying on your backs in full performance-capture suits, and you’re still fucking kids?
LIAM: Neil, with his glorious beard, walks up, but calls out over his shoulder, says, “Liam, I’m sorry, don’t get too comfortable, we’re going to move on to your scene pretty soon. Don’t pass out on me.” And you see over on the lounge-y area, a pair of shoes lying off the side of a couch, and you hear a dorky voice say, “Got it. Okay.” “Ashley, Ashley, can I grab a word over here?”
ASHLEY: Yes. Yes, please.
LIAM: He’s ahead of you, though, by like 20 feet.
LIAM: You walk over and you see he’s doing that thing where he’s standing on the outside of his feet, looking down. When he senses that you’ve walked up, he says, “Question. For the first line of this scene, what are you feeling right now?”
ASHLEY: I’m feeling… confused.
ASHLEY: A little… I think I just need… How are you feeling about it? Like, what are you feeling– what is missing? What’s going on?
LIAM: Let me just interject as the Dungeon Master and let you know that he is not showing any recognition that you are 14 at all.
LIAM: At all. “I don’t know, I mean, I think that was just the first take, I shouldn’t second-guess myself, but do you think that that line is something that you would say?”
ASHLEY: Is that line something I would say? Is there– maybe if it just sounded weird– maybe there’s another way to say it? If you had to just spitball, what would be another way that I could say it?
LIAM: “Okay. This time, I want you to…” Strokes his beard. “Doubt.”
LIAM: “I mean, I don’t want to give you–”
ASHLEY: Do you have the sides on you, actually? Do you have the script on you?
LIAM: “Colla, could we get the sides in for everybody?” Colla comes running in. You guys are all getting up to your feet, also kids in full performance-capture suits.
MATT: I just…
SAM and LIAM: Aww.
LIAM: Everyone’s taller than you. Bill Beemer comes running over, and he starts going, “Gah, this is weird,” but he hands out sides to you all. You can open your envelopes now, looking at sides.
MARISHA: Are these sides? Yeah!
MATT: Inspire Bill Beemer?
LIAM: And you start reminding yourselves of the scene that you’ve never seen before. Yeah, yeah, absorb that. Ashley, while you’re reading, out of the corner of your eye you see Neil off on the side just sorta like flipping a prop knife over and over again absent-mindedly while he thinks. Drops it.
ASHLEY: Can I– Neil.
ASHLEY: Can I have that prop knife?
ASHLEY: I just wanna see if it’ll make the scene any different.
SAM: Such a good actor.
LIAM: “Are you guys good? Laura, your accent kind of wandered just a little bit, you want me to get J.B.?”
MATT: Now this has become her nightmare.
LIAM: Laura makes the most stinkface you’ve ever seen. She says, “No, I’m good.” From her very short stature. “I was just a little off that time.” “Okay, do we wanna go for another one? Is everyone feeling–”
ASHLEY: Can I– hey, Liam?
ASHLEY: Can you come here for just like two seconds?
MATT: As this is happening, I walk up to Neil, I’m like, by the way, I know we’ve met a number of times, but I just wanna tell you, it’s a great pleasure to finally have an opportunity to work with you.
MARISHA: And I walk up behind and I go, hi. I’m his girlfriend. (nervous laugh)
LIAM: (whispers) You know you’re already on the job, right? That was me. Neil says, “Oh, of course, of course, I mean yeah, yeah. I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
ASHLEY: I just wanted to talk to Liam for just like two seconds.
LIAM: Yeah, Liam’s already wandered up. He’s in full performance-capture suit. He’s an adult. Yeah. And he’s looking down, but whatever.
ASHLEY: (laughs) I just– I forgot what I was gonna ask. It’s fine. I just wanted to– I was gonna ask you something, but I forgot. It’s good to see you. Good to see you. Go back to bed.
LIAM: “We’re all glad to have you back in town. I’m gonna go back to the couch.”
TRAVIS: Hey, wait, wait, before you go, Liam. What do we look like to you?
LIAM: “Assholes.” Walks back to the couch.
ASHLEY: If you had to guess how old I was, what would you guess?
LIAM: “This seems like a dangerous question to me.”
ASHLEY: Don’t let it be dangerous. I can take it.
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah. Straight-up, how old do you think I look?
LIAM: “I feel like there’s no right answer to give to this question?”
ASHLEY: There’s no right answer.
LIAM: “You’re– I mean, I know it’s early 30s. 33?”
LIAM: “Hey!” And he does a little dance and just dances his way back up to the couch area, lands down.
SAM: I guess people see us as super-old.
MARISHA: Or super-professional! Look at this velcro suit!
SAM: Oh, you don’t wear these?
MARISHA: Like once. And then the game got canceled, so what’s it matter?
LIAM: “Guys. Guys. I mean, do we need to talk this scene out, or do you want to do another one, or?”
SAM: We’re professionals, we’re gonna do this.
TRAVIS: I don’t wanna speak for Laura, but she doesn’t really like to rehearse beforehand, she just–
ASHLEY: Let’s just jump right in.
LIAM: “Jump right in?”
ASHLEY: I’m sure we’re gonna have notes again.
LIAM: “Okay, we’re gonna take another one, uno mas.” Bill Beemer–
MATT: Is it general T-pose, or A-T-pose? Okay. T-pose.
LIAM: “You’re good.” Bill Beemer comes out and says, “All right, Savage Starlight, scene 23B, take two. Audio rolling.”
MATT: Guys, wait!
LIAM: “Camera rolling. Okay, Neil, the floor is yours.” He wanders off, Neil backs off at the volume, off to the edge on the wall, out of the way, and says, “Okay, the deck has just blown up. First position. And action.”
ASHLEY: “You knew this was gonna happen. The entire time, you were biding your time, and now you’re driving this fleet into the ground!”
MATT: “The Federation is crumbling. You know that. Everyone on this ship knows it. You can’t stop the inevitable, Cass.”
SAM: (yells in pain) Pickup. (yells in pain)
TALIESIN: “Commander Bettany–”
SAM: Pickup. (yells in pain) “Oh, god!”
TALIESIN: “Commander Bettany! Fenton, he’s hurt, bad!”
MARISHA: “We’re not gonna have a problem here, are we, Commander?”
TRAVIS: “Well, that’s gonna fucking depend on you, isn’t it?”
MATT: “Well? What’s it gonna be, Cass?”
ASHLEY: “God damn it!”
LIAM: Laura runs in from the side. “Cass! He set it loose! Argus! He’s killed us all!” She’s 12. “Explosion!”
MATT: All right, T-pose.
SAM: Man, her South African accent is terrible.
TALIESIN: All over the place.
LIAM: Neil is laughing off to the side, and says, “Okay, did we get the April Fools’ take out of the way? I mean, I don’t understand.”
ASHLEY: Yeah, we can do it for real. I think–
MARISHA: That was just rehearsal, right?
LIAM: “Yeah, it’s all rehearsal, is kind of the mindset.”
ASHLEY: Anything else you want us to do?
LIAM: “Well, I mean, I don’t want to give you a result-oriented direction, but. Come over here for a second.”
ASHLEY: You do him so good.
LIAM: “So I want it to come from you.” I’m looking for something in these notes, I can’t find it. And, you know, this time, when you’re confronting him, don’t look right at him, look back at your men. And let’s just see what that does.”
LIAM: “Sam, do you have the line?”
SAM: Yeah, I got it now. Sorry, Neil. I didn’t know if it was “oh lord!” or “oh god!” I got in my head, and that’s not a place you want me to be.
LIAM: “Well, that’s okay, even if you lose the lines, just play it through to the end. You know, we can use it.”
SAM: Hey, can I see you for a second?
SAM: Laura’s accent is really throwing me. That’s gonna be fixed later, right?
SAM: Okay, okay. I can do this.
LIAM: Shakes his head, walks back to the side.
TRAVIS: Bill? Beemer?
TRAVIS: Hey, Bill, what time is it, man? How long have we been here?
LIAM: “Two hours? What is it, 9:30?”
TRAVIS: 9:30, okay, yeah.
MARISHA: 405 traffic.
TRAVIS: Right, okay.
LIAM: “Okay, okay, I feel like we’re losing momentum, so let’s just do one more, we’ll go one more time. Bill?” And Bill comes out and says, “All right, Savage Starlight, scene 23B, take four. Audio rolling. Camera rolling. All right. You’re good to go.” And Neil shouts, “Explosion! And action.”
ASHLEY: “You knew this was gonna happen. The entire time, you were biding your time, and now you’re driving this fleet to the ground!”
MATT: “The Federation is crumbling. You know that. Everyone on this ship knows it. You can’t stop the inevitable, Cass.”
SAM: (yells in pain) “Oh, god! Oh, god!”
TALIESIN: “Commander Bettany! Fenton, he’s hurt. Bad.”
LIAM: Right at that moment, you feel the same sickening nauseating pull on your every nerve, your guts feel like they’re going to drop out of your body, and an invisible wall of force, like a sheet of radiation pushes its way through your body, and as it does so, the ground around you, the walls of the performance-capture studio split and break in places, and tendrils of cable, oily and slick, spatter out like a digusting birth of pythons wriggling and spreading out on the floor. And the wall’s a techno-organic orgy spewing with malice all around you. The camera equipment around you begins to twist and break and reconfigure in disjointed movements, reforming into broken, misshapen, spider-like legs, masses of metal and power cables either cut loose from them or spool around their bodies, these things. Before you can react, you watch as Colla, the cameraman, is pushed down onto the ground and mangled by spinning metallic arms on the bottom of what used to be a camera.
TRAVIS: He’s ripped!
LIAM: Neil, stunned, backs up. “I– I– I–” Roll for initiative.
SAM: What are we fighting?
ASHLEY: Are fighting Colla?
MARISHA: But the sides were so mediocre!
TALIESIN: Oh no. Oh no.
SAM: What are we fighting?
TRAVIS: (laughs) It’s actually– you fucking made it. It’s Sony.
MATT: Yeah, it is.
MARISHA: Oh my god, it is. Look! Look, it’s the control room!
MATT: I love that it has the volume tape and everything. It’s so good.
LIAM: This is a miniature of Rasputin. And now it’s Neil Druckmann.
MATT: I feel like you have to give him that after this, now.
LIAM: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s– won’t be needing that anymore. Okay. So. Oh, Neil needs to roll for– and so does Laura.
MARISHA: Where’s Crafty?
TRAVIS: Outside, unfortunately.
MARISHA: God damn, every time, and we have to share it with the other stage. Bullshit.
SAM: Ashley has a prop knife.
LIAM: Okay, 20 to 25?
LIAM: Yeah? Okay. 15 to 20?
LIAM: 18. Ten to 15?
LIAM: Five to ten? Okay, so that is– oh, I can do Laura and Neil. And then zero to five?
TRAVIS: Natural one.
MATT: Aw, buddy.
LIAM: Three, two, one? Wow. Okay. Oh, okay. Okay. So Colla is soup on the ground, and everything’s broken and bent all around you. You also see one of the computer banks up on the platform here, the computers have wrapped together and formed into a sort of walking tank. Rickety, but has closed on the sofa, where Liam was taking a nap. What would you like to do?
ASHLEY: (laughs) Where am I?
LIAM: Yeah, I’m gonna have to help you all. You are right here.
SAM: And there’s robits?
LIAM: There’s camera and mocap– this thing came out of the ground.
SAM: What is it?
LIAM: I don’t know.
SAM: What does it look like?
LIAM: It looks like black poles and computer monitor and cables and cords and exposed wiring and motherboards wrapped together, and rickety, but moving, and everything else, these other ones, were things that were out and just wrapped together. This broke out of the floor. And Ashley’s right here.
ASHLEY: And Colla’s on the ground?
LIAM: Colla is here, and is guts.
ASHLEY: He’s dead.
LIAM: He’s gone. The cameraman.
ASHLEY: Sorry, Colla. And what’s the other– is that just another camera? Behind? Yeah, that.
LIAM: This is camera, camera, computers, computers, nightmare-fuel.
ASHLEY: So the thing that we’re trying to kill is that one? Or are all the cameras bad? We don’t know.
LIAM: And the crew that are scattered around on the outskirts are running. All the people over here, I don’t have minis for them all, but they’re all booking for the door. One person ran out here.
MARISHA: So they can see the crazy.
LIAM: Everyone sees the crazy. You’re still kids.
MARISHA: According to us. No one else.
LIAM: Can tell that you’re kids? Yeah, no one has acknowledged that you’re kids, and they’ve got bigger fish to fry at the moment.
ASHLEY: Liam! Are you okay?
ASHLEY: I’ll take that as a yes, ‘cause that means you’re alive.
TRAVIS: That was adult-Liam, too.
MATT: Yeah. Yeah.
LIAM: True to life. True to life.
ASHLEY: Ah, man. How close can I get to one of the cameras? The ones behind?
LIAM: Five, ten, 15, 20, 25. You can get right up on this one or this one. This one killed Colla.
ASHLEY: Oh, shit. I don’t have anything to do to it. Oh, shoot, I don’t know what to do!
LIAM: Well, I’m gonna pass to Matt in another 20 seconds.
MARISHA: You’re Ashley motherfucking Johnson.
ASHLEY: I’m gonna try– I don’t know what– that doesn’t mean– are there any wires that’re exposed on the biggie?
TRAVIS: Take a bite out of Sam.
LIAM: It’s all wires. There’s no hardened shell, this isn’t a military machine cased inside of armor, it’s all just a mess of motherboard and wires.
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m gonna try to go to the big camera.
ASHLEY: And start yanking some wires, maybe where I think it can’t see me.
LIAM: Okay. Where it can’t see you? Okay. So you’re gonna reach out? Well, make an attack. Roll a d20.
ASHLEY: Okay. And then what do I add to it?
LIAM: Your strength modifier. Well, to hit? Yeah.
ASHLEY: A nine. And I do add the strength? Okay. Yeah, so, 11.
LIAM: You get your hands on there and you pull, and nothing fucking happens.
ASHLEY: Shit. Knew I shouldn’t have rolled that one. I knew it was a bad die.
LIAM: What do you wanna do, Matt?
MATT: Just looking around at the ground, these things are made of cables. Are there loose, slack cables that were once attached to the cameras?
LIAM: Sure, there’s a lot of shit scattered around. When they formed, some pieces just fell away, so there’s bits of pole and–
MATT: Okay. I’m gonna move slightly around and towards the consoles a bit, grabbing whatever looks to be longest, most slack non-attached wire–
LIAM: Wire, okay.
MATT: And I’m gonna grab it and throw it up over the scaffolding that holds the various mocap cameras there. Grab the other side and look back to Marisha and be like, help me pull this onto it and start backing up towards her the rest of my movement, holding the cables that are wrapped around the scaffolding.
LIAM: Okay. I’m gonna say that that’s your whole turn, getting it primed and ready. Yes.
MATT: Trying to pull the scaffolding onto it.
LIAM: All right, Marisha.
LIAM: 16-year-old in a mocap suit. What do you want to do?
MARISHA: I thought I’d be famous by now. Okay. Wait. What? You’re pulling– okay. I’m gonna look for its power source.
LIAM: All right. Make an investigation check.
SAM: There’s a diesel engine.
MARISHA: Aw, that’s not too bad. 14.
LIAM: 14. Well, there is– I mean, it’s climbing out of a gap in the ground, right? And there is a sickly green light glowing from under its butt. And there are also, you see, two little screens. You see a broken fragment of monitor, and then a very small, almost like a flip-up on a camera screen, and on it you see the word flicker on, “NO”. And then it disappears. And you see the same– and it’s like a pale green. And you see that same color glowing from underneath this big, spherical body.
MARISHA: Is there a cord connected to that? No? Ah, jeez. Okay. I say, I feel like this is a really shitty update. And then I’m gonna try and punch it in its face.
SAM: Punch the camera.
LIAM: So Matt is there going, come on, come on, and she just runs up and starts fucking whaling on it like a brawler.
MATT: Yeah, no, this is a familiar duality, here.
LIAM: Yeah, that’s about right.
MATT: I have a plan, what are you– okay.
MARISHA: Ten for the first one.
LIAM: What about the second? Just roll for both.
MARISHA: Second one is real bad. Real bad. That’s a four. No, five.
LIAM: Okay, you just start whaling– and you’ve trained, you know some martial arts, so you pull out some of your–
MARISHA: No, no, five plus two. Seven.
LIAM: Okay, you pull out a little bit of your training, and you get (impact sounds) and it fucking hurts your knuckles and you dented it and it just goes (whirring sounds) and that’s the end of your turn.
MARISHA: Fuck, this is like a claw machine! Fuck that, it’s rigged. (yells)
MATT: As you do that, I’m like, I told you to– my dick’s in the wind, here, somebody help me!
LIAM: Laura screams, Neil! Run! And she runs at this thing and grabs a piece of– like the end of a tripod, like a tripod leg from a camera, she picks it up and swings down and whacks at this thing and hurts it. She smashes off this, whatever this spherical piece is, so it’s without a top. And she gets, okay. Good. You guys don’t need to know. All right, she smashes it and a whole piece breaks off. They’re not– except for this guy– they’re not that solidly built, and she snaps the connection where this round part is, and it breaks off and hangs limply, but it’s still moving, it goes, (whirring sounds).
TRAVIS: Get him out of the volume!
LIAM: Neil runs over and he just jumps on top of it. Because one of his favorite friends is there. Oh, man. I’m sorry, Neil. You rolled a natural one. He jumps and climbs and scrabbles up it and goes, (yells), and his beard is just blowing in the wind that doesn’t exist, and his foot slips and he falls backward and lands flat on his back and knocks the wind out of himself. And has just fallen prone on the ground. It was a one. Sam, what do you wanna do?
SAM: I’m going to go assist Matt in what his plan was. So are we grabbing the same thing and pulling?
MATT: Yeah, the cables have wrapped around the scaffolding that holds the mocap cameras, and trying to pull it down onto the large IMC to pin it.
SAM: I’m gonna pull hard. Real hard.
LIAM: Okay. Make a strength check with advantage.
SAM: Yeah, sure. Okay, terrible.
MATT: You still have your bardic inspiration.
SAM: I do. I’ll use it. That helps. Plus strength?
SAM: Okay, that’s ten.
LIAM: A ten? That’s the number I was imagining.
SAM: Oh wait, no. Five plus one plus six is 12.
LIAM: 12. You guys, at the same time, go (effort sounds), and you pull, and the thing goes (shrieking metal), and a huge piece of it swings down and goes in an arch and smacks into– I think you were maybe imagining bringing the whole thing down, but you broke it, and a piece swings down and goes (impact sound). Smashes into it for–
SAM: Hey, it’s good.
MARISHA: I’m still looking for a mini-USB port.
LIAM: Smashes into the side and breaks away one of five– I know that’s four– but one of five legs totally snaps and breaks off, and Sam, as you yank and you watch it smash into it and it rights itself, you see the same two screens, the fragment of one, and the little one that Marisha saw, and you see a name blink up, and it says, “SAM”, and it’s gone. Taliesin.
TALIESIN: This is still a dream, so I’m going to see if this thing still works.
LIAM: Go for it, yeah, absolutely.
TALIESIN: Is the one that Laura attacked still looking dangerous, or is it just looking irritated?
LIAM: It looked kind of fucked up from the get-go, but it looks majorly fucked up, a couple of sparks fly off of it just as you look.
TALIESIN: Okay. I’m going to go to the one that no one’s messed with and just hope that this is still gonna work.
LIAM: Okay, make a ranged attack.
MATT: Yeah, it’s not focus-fire.
TALIESIN: That’s a 23.
LIAM: Yeah, your eyes glow a dark blackish-purple. This is the life you were meant for, Taliesin Jaffe. And you don’t slam your hand down into the ground. You’re going for this guy, right?
TALIESIN: I was going for the other one.
LIAM: The big one?
TALIESIN: No, the one in the far corner.
LIAM: The far corner? Oh, okay. You still don’t put your hand on the ground, you just reach out of anger, you’re so furious that fucking demogorgon didn’t take your bargain, and a long spaghetti arm of hentai lashes out from your hand and reaches across the room and spikes through its “head”, seemingly. Roll for damage.
LIAM: Four. It goes right through the heart of it and breaks the connection from what would be its head if it was a head, and it swings down and hangs limply from the side, and it starts to juke to the side here. It’s still standing.
TALIESIN: Liam, are you okay? And I’m going to run just to the edge of the volume.
LIAM: Okay. Travis, you’re up.
TRAVIS: Well, where am I?
LIAM: You are here.
TRAVIS: Right there. I’m gonna take off the certainly at this point very hot battery pack that is attached to my stomach, peel it off the velcro, and I’m gonna run at the giant arachnid demon thing and I’m gonna bash one of its legs with the hot battery.
LIAM: Okay. All right, roll for an attack.
LIAM: You smash it with this piece of equipment, and the equipment in your hand breaks into pieces and does nothing.
TRAVIS: Yeah. Cool. Nice. Can I look up at it, see if it flashes anything at me?
LIAM: It doesn’t do anything. Another day in hell, Travis, another day in hell. And it goes (whirring noises) and two legs go (mechanical noises) and dig into the side of your body.
LIAM: What’s your armor class?
LIAM: Okay. Too bad, so sad. All right. One stabs into your thigh right here, and one goes in right under your armpit, and you can feel them dig in, and each goes in– again, these things are scary, I mean, camera equipment is not supposed to move on its own, but they’re not mecha from Metal Gear– but you are stabbed here and here, and it slices in about an inch and a half on each side. You take two points of damage.
TRAVIS: That’s a lot for me.
LIAM: Off in the distance, you hear (whirring sounds), and then you hear (screams, gurgling).
SAM: Liam’s dead. That’s okay.
TALIESIN: That’s okay. He would’ve wanted it that way. Wait.
SAM: He slowed us down.
MATT: To be fair, he wrote this. So.
LIAM: This thing is broken and tries to– raises a leg up, it goes (whirring sounds) and brings it down at Druckmann and slams it down, and Druckmann goes (effort sounds) and he rolls out of the way of one and is missed. And then this thing. Oh. What’s your armor class?
ASHLEY: I’m sure you beat it by that ‘oh’. 12.
LIAM: 12. Yes. You feel a broken sharp-edged tripod leg stab through here and come out here. You take five hit points of damage. You are bleeding profusely from the front of yourself now.
TRAVIS: Five, that’s a lot.
SAM: You okay there?
LIAM: And, funnily enough, it’s the top of round. So what would you like to do with an arm still pushed through your body?
LIAM: It hurts.
ASHLEY: I can’t take it out ‘cause I’ll bleed out. Is there any way to break off the arm?
LIAM: Sure, you can hit that motherfucker.
ASHLEY: All right. I’m gonna use my mocap knife.
LIAM: Roll to attack.
ASHLEY: Those are actually pretty strong.
TRAVIS: Masking tape and 'Ashley’ written on it.
MATT: Well, if it’s like the hardcover cast stuff, then yeah, that could actually be substantial.
MARISHA: It could be a piece of plywood, it’s hard to say.
ASHLEY: Do I get advantage because it’s mine?
LIAM: No, but you can add your proficiency bonus 'cause you’re a rogue, and it’s a dagger, and your– I’m gonna say strength here.
ASHLEY: So I would add both of those?
LIAM and MATT: Yes.
LIAM: Oh, girl. It’s rubber. It just bends to the side as soon as you stab it down. Matt? Oh yeah, do you wanna do anything else, do you wanna pull away?
ASHLEY: I mean, I’m just gonna ask– yeah, 'cause I can’t attack again, obviously. I’m gonna ask the big thing, talk to me, what do you want?
LIAM: On that broken piece of screen down the side, you see the lower half, you can make it out, it’s fragmented but you can see most of the word 'FORGIVE M–’ And it’s gone.
MARISHA: Okay, so I got a 'NO’, you got–
MARISHA: 'SAM’. And then he said 'FORGIVE’.
SAM: 'FORGIVE M–’
MARISHA: 'FORGIVE M–’
SAM: For killing people.
ASHLEY: 'FORGIVE M–’ or 'FORGIVENESS’?
MARISHA: I got a 'NO’, he got a 'SAM’, you got a 'FORGIVE M–’
LIAM: What would you like to do, Matt?
MATT: Well, I used all my spells in the previous battles.
LIAM: Before this performance-capture stage?
LIAM: You still feel– you feel magical.
SAM: Does everything reset?
MATT: Okay, well, that changes things. Well, first, I’m gonna go ahead and say, it’s all right, Ashley, you’ve spent a lot of time in this volume before, you’re still the queen of it. So I’ll give you a Healing Word with my bonus action.
MATT: And that’s a five, you heal five.
ASHLEY: Yay! Thanks, Matt. So clutch.
MATT: And I’m gonna go ahead… so the leg that broke off? I’m gonna go ahead and rush over to pick it up, and like a giant metal baseball bat, swing back and try and hit back at it with its own leg.
LIAM: Yeah, you are. Go for it.
MATT: So it’s like (yells). Not very good with it. Is this at disadvantage?
LIAM: At disadvantage?
MATT: I’m not proficient–
LIAM: Nah. You’re– nah.
MATT: All right, so we’ll say– that’s a 19? Natural.
LIAM: Yeah, man.
MATT: Two for strength.
LIAM: Two for strength. Yeah. Absolutely hits. Clocked that motherfucker. Roll a d4.
MATT: That is a two plus two. Four damage.
LIAM: Okay. You break off– you were trying to break off a leg, you said?
MATT: Trying to hit one of the other legs, yeah.
LIAM: Yeah. It breaks. It smashes, and the thing lurches down to the side.
MATT: Yeah, I’m not going for the core, I’m just going for its means of attack.
LIAM: Right, right, right. And it falls right in front of you, and now the little camcorder-sized screen falls right in front of your face, and you see 'FORGIVE ME’. Gone.
LIAM: Marisha, what would you like to do–
MATT: At the end of my turn, I shout, just 'cause I’m really curious, let’s not kill it yet, but definitely disable it!
LIAM: Marisha is up.
MARISHA: I look at Matt, and I say, don’t kill it? 'Kay. And then I look for its memory card. It’s gotta have– I’m thinking my production elements.
LIAM: Right, right, logic, I like it.
MARISHA: Yeah. It’s gotta have a memory card somewhere in there. How many gigs does it have? It’s hard to say. But if I immediately remove it.
LIAM: All right. Make an investigation check to find its memory card.
MARISHA: Jesus fucking christ, all right. Oh my god, that’s a natural 20.
MATT: On the Snitch? Well, on your Snitch.
MARISHA: See? Look at it.
MATT: Yeah, that’s an actual natural 20.
MARISHA: It’s a natural 20.
LIAM: Okay. You see on the bottom of it, like a fucking outie belly button, a cylinder, and on the end of the cylinder’s a slot, and it says right above it, 'SD’.
MARISHA: Like output? Is it output? And I’m just gonna go click. And see if it pulls out.
LIAM: It doesn’t… it doesn’t.
MARISHA: No? No pulling out of the SD card?
LIAM: No, you press it and– I mean, it’s going (whirring sound) while you’re doing this, you definitely found something.
MARISHA: It’s not connected to the cloud! They don’t have a backup drive!
LIAM: But pressing in does not then detach an SD card and give you photographs or shut the thing down.
MARISHA: I’m just wondering if the memory card–
LIAM: But you did spend six seconds finding that thing. And–
MARISHA: It does have a backup drive. It does not matter, though. That’s the important part, is that no one cares that we have a backup.
LIAM: In a split-second, in your peripheral vision, you see a light blink, but it’s gone. You didn’t see what it said.
MARISHA: These people have very poor cloud storage. That’s all you need to know.
LIAM: Laura tries to get in front of Neil, and she starts pulling on wires coming out of the thing’s head, and she yanks, but she’s pulling, and it’s not doing anything. She’s really little. Really cute. She’s so small, and the wires are not coming free, but she’s trying, she’s trying to save Neil Druckmann. Sam, what do you want to do?
SAM: Me? I mean, I don’t really know what these symbols and messages mean, so like the piece of scaffolding that fell down like this, can I run and sort of jump on it and do it again?
LIAM: Make an acrobatics check.
SAM: Okay. Four. (laughs)
LIAM: You run at this thing and you jump, and you crush your nuts so hard on the side of this thing. You just hit it and you slide down to the bottom of it, and wish that you hadn’t decided to do what you just did.
SAM: And then I’ll spend the rest of my action/bonus or whatever looking at those screens to see if they say anything to me.
LIAM: Yeah, it does, briefly.
LIAM: Taliesin, you’re up.
SAM: (whispers) It’s Liam. It’s Liam.
MARISHA: They’re not filming in 4K, it’s fine, just go.
TALIESIN: Without breaking eye contact with Marisha, I send another tendril at the one that won’t stay down.
LIAM: This guy right here, right? This is the one. Sure. Ranged attack. The prince of–
LIAM: The tentacle does a great big display and spirals around, and you look fucking fierce and it matches the color of your hair. No it doesn’t. No it doesn’t!
TALIESIN: It doesn’t match the color of my hair.
LIAM: It matches the color of your in-person hair right now. There we go. But it doesn’t reach. It falls short. We see a lot of rage and fury, but no delivery.
TALIESIN: All right. And I’m going to back off a bit, and I’m gonna also keep looking at those screens to see if they say anything.
LIAM: No? No. Not right now. Not in that split-second. Travis.
TRAVIS: Can I reach up to my mocap helmet and wrench the little GoPro camera that’s surrounded by LED lights.
LIAM: Yes you can!
TRAVIS: Can I wrench it off and can I face it towards it, go, backfeed!
LIAM: You’re using it like a talisman?
TRAVIS: Yeah, you know, like little fucking Hobbits, like you know, little Bilbo did, using the–
MATT: The LED light that’s always in our face.
LIAM: I’ll tell you what, I will not give you advantage, but I will give you a DM inspiration die of a d6 to make an intimidation check.
TRAVIS: Yes! Okay. Ooh!
TALIESIN: Plus a d6.
TALIESIN: Plus a d6.
TRAVIS: Oh, sorry, sorry. 21. Oh, I won’t spend it now. 21. 19 plus two.
LIAM: The thing lurches backwards for a bit, and as it backs away from you, pulling away from that metal, you see on the screen it says, 'TRAVIS, NO’. And that disappears and it backs away, pulling, dragging cords out of that hole. It can’t really get too far, because it’s now you see that it is connected down, it was sort of squatting, hiding a lot of that shit because of the carnage underneath it, but it is sort of tethered, not too much. Do you wanna move, or are you good to go?
TRAVIS: It’s Colla. Colla’s in the machine. Oh, no. Are we bolting for Crafty?
SAM: We’re gonna get potato chips during this?
MARISHA: It depends. What did they have on Crafty?
TRAVIS: They got ginger beer and all sorts of shit.
MARISHA: Do they have trail mix?
TALIESIN: They’re always out of health potions by the time I get there.
TRAVIS: I am going to head for the door.
LIAM: Which one?
TRAVIS: The green one, down at the– yeah. That thing.
TRAVIS: As far as I can go.
LIAM: 25, 30. All right, that’s as far as you can go because you used your action to do what you did. It was amazing. (laughs)
MATT: Fill out your 1089 before you go.
LIAM: This mass of computer screens and keyboards and other shit that you can’t identify comes down the ramp. Okay, that’s as far as it gets– actually, no, and it’s right there, but it can’t do anything 'cause it spent its time getting there. This thing just goes (clattering) but it is done. This thing continues to batter Ashley.
ASHLEY: Isn’t it my turn?
LIAM: No. Not yet. Oh. This thing tries to stick– it pulls out the pole from inside your gut, and you feel a little (fft) as it does so. It tries to go in again, but you’re ready for it, you know it’s right behind you, and you manage to swivel and step out of the way. It misses. And big guy snaps away and moves back in this direction and Marisha, you’re the only one who sees it, but a screen says–
SAM: Don’t I get an attack of opportunity?
LIAM: Yes, you do.
SAM: Yes. I’m gonna just try to kick it.
MATT: 'Cause when it moved back, it was not in melee range–
LIAM: But he was on the beam that swung down into it, and I’m gonna pretend like it dragged along with.
MATT: I like it. Cool.
LIAM: Hey, we’re making it all up as we go.
SAM: 11 plus something.
LIAM: 11 plus something? What’s your strength modifier, it’s on the left? One? Yeah, you’re too busy going (yells)– jeez, sorry everybody. You’re moving in space on that piece of scaffolding, and it just fucks up your aim. You don’t do it. Taliesin, devil-child, you’re up.
TALIESIN: No, that was a–
LIAM: Oh, that was its– that’s right. Ashley’s up.
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m going to–
MARISHA: You know you better than anyone.
ASHLEY: The 'HUSBAND’ threw me off. I am going to move further that way to get away from these two that are there.
LIAM: You’re going this way?
ASHLEY: Well, maybe just like out of range of them, touching range. So maybe just like–
LIAM: But which direction? This direction?
LIAM: You’re stepping this way?
ASHLEY: Towards the lounge.
LIAM: Towards the lounge. As you do so, the thing takes a swipe at you. What’s your AC?
LIAM: 12? Yep.
MATT: Velcro bodysuits don’t offer a lot of armor class protection.
LIAM: On a hinge, a pole just goes (whirring sound) and you feel it slice the back of your neck as you go, and it takes four hit points–
ASHLEY: Even with the helmet on?
LIAM: Yeah. It didn’t hit the helmet, it hit the neck. And you feel blood pouring down the back of this mocap suit, pooling up around your waist. You do get away from it. Did you want to go further than that, or there?
ASHLEY: Yeah. I wanna go further in, towards the lounge.
LIAM: Okay, so.
ASHLEY: But I wanna get in eyeshot of the big computer dude.
LIAM: This guy?
ASHLEY: Actually, I’m so sorry. I want to go further in towards the bigger guy. But kinda walk around so I don’t get attacked by the other one.
LIAM: This is also a huge gap, so you could go– you could get to there. Ten, 15, 20, 25, 30. That’s as far as you can get unless you keep going, make a dash.
ASHLEY: I’ll dash.
LIAM: Okay, you want to get right up to it?
LIAM: All right, you’re out of stuff, though. You’re right in the face of this thing, and the screen briefly says 'ASH-O-LEE’. And then it’s gone.
ASHLEY: Okay. Can I just put down my mocap knife on the ground?
LIAM: Yeah, you drop it.
ASHLEY: And say, I think you’ve created or done something that’s gotten out of hand, and I forgive you.
LIAM: And now it’s Matt’s turn.
MATT: Okay. Is that me right next to the– right there, okay. If I can take two steps to get right up to the edge of where it emerged from the floor, and glance inside, what do I see below?
LIAM: You see a crack going down about eight feet, and it is like five and a half, six feet wide at the most. And you see lots of cables. It looks like black spaghetti. And it’s all cabled, but again, it’s wet and oily. If you jumped down into that, you would be disgusting.
SAM: Everything’s wet in Liam’s world.
LIAM: Yes, husband.
MATT: I’m going to, if I can, move along– move from your perspective this way two more squares, and then jump across that little bit of the gap that’s there.
LIAM: Sure, you can make it, you can go one more square.
MATT: No, right there’s where I wanna stand.
LIAM: All right, great.
MATT: And I’m gonna go ahead and use Thunderwave in front of me to try and blast them back and do damage. As I rush forward, I jump across the way and go (hesitant noises). And I realize that we probably have a PA system set up, and I grab the microphone on the edge of the head thing and just go (screams) as loud as I can into the microphone. Thinking that they probably have a feedback set up in the cameras.
LIAM: Okay. Okay.
MATT: So that’s a constitution saving throw for both of them.
LIAM: Okay. And the DC is?
LIAM: They do make it.
MATT: Okay. So that would be ten points of thunder damage, or half on a successful save, so they’re not pushed, but they take five points of thunder damage each.
LIAM: Okay. This thing– just out of the pureness of Matthew Mercer’s heart and soul, which we all see, let’s be honest, in a moment of crisis, your heart and care for your friends bursts out of the microphone system, we hear it everywhere, distorted, but certainly a blast of fucking force out of your fucking chest, Matt, goes (explosion) and this thing just goes (explosion) and pieces go (clattering) and fall down.
LIAM: This thing, you smashed– three iMac screens get smashed and cracked and break away, and this thing looks very haggard, but it is still there.
MATT: I’ll use my last five feet of movement to try and then move alongside of the crack away from the currently still standing there creature.
LIAM: This way?
MATT: Yeah, that is a crack, so I’d say just one away from the crack.
LIAM: You step backward and this is not too deep, but you are now standing in– you’re not caught or anything, but you’re now standing in the really slippery shit. It’s also really adorable to see you two hugging at the table right now. And Marisha– oh, you know what? I missed Neil before because I’m just– he’s a d6 in my list, so I’m gonna let Neil jump up and attack this thing.
ASHLEY: C'mon, Neil!
MATT: You got this.
TRAVIS: (sings) He whipped his hair back and forth, he whipped his hair back and forth.
LIAM: Okay, so that is– okay. He grabs a hold of it and rips a screen off. (yells) (whirring sounds) “Fuck. Laura?” And it is Marisha’s turn.
MARISHA: Wait, was that (whirring sounds) Neil?
LIAM: No, it turned to Neil. What was left of it turned toward Neil.
MARISHA: Okay. And there’s still that thing that’s digging in the corner. Can I get to it? Where am I?
LIAM: You’re here. You can, you’d run out of juice by the time you got there. You’d have to dash to get there. You can get to that one.
MATT: Your movement’s 30?
MARISHA: Wait, what’s that thing?
LIAM: This? Matt just fucked it up with a Thunderwave.
MARISHA: Okay, I get to that.
LIAM: All right, you’re right up on it.
MARISHA: And can I take it by the back of its neck and push it and be like, scream real loud! We need the feedback! (yells)
LIAM: And do anything or yell at it?
MARISHA: And grab it by the back of its neck.
LIAM: You mean, the brace holding the iMac’s screen up? Okay.
MARISHA: And I go, scream! Scream for me!
LIAM: Okay. And that’s it?
TRAVIS: It’s like Phantom of the Opera.
MARISHA: Sing! Sing!
LIAM: Make an intimidation check?
MARISHA: Sure. Oh, that’s not good. Seven.
LIAM: There’s a crackle of light, and then it makes that sound when Macs reboot and goes (bwomp).
MARISHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Damn it, Macs.
LIAM: That’s about it. Laura tries to punch the– sorry, Laura’s not feeling too well. Laura attacks this thing, going, “Neil, come on! Together! Oh my goodness!” And she tries to punch at it. She hits it right in the one solid piece left on this thing and kinda hits her hand really hard. She stays there, though. She’s afraid to leave Neil.
ASHLEY: 'Cause she’s a good friend.
LIAM: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sam, your turn.
SAM: I’m gonna run as fast as I can up to the big guy.
LIAM: Yes. This one?
LIAM: Five, ten, 15, 20, 25, 30.
SAM: Even closer–
LIAM: You’re gonna run out of–
SAM: That’s okay. I just want to talk to it.
LIAM: Okay, go.
SAM: And I just want to say to it, Liam! If you can hear me in there, hey buddy. Let’s knock this off and just record our podcast, okay? We haven’t done an episode in like three months. We should just do one of those instead! We got recording equipment right here, huh? What do you say, pal?
LIAM: Eight feet above you is that little camcorder screen, and you’re eyeing it, you’ve learned by now, and it just says 'FIND ME’.
SAM: 'FIND ME’. That means find Liam. We have to find Liam.
MATT: Didn’t Liam just get–
SAM: We just heard a scream, we didn’t see him die.
TALIESIN: There is so much that is unpleasant happening in here. I’m gonna free up some people. There’s just too much happening. The one that Laura’s– yeah, I’m right there.
LIAM: He’s right on your butt.
LIAM: And he’s just come from mangling sweet Liam O'Brien.
TALIESIN: Yeah, yeah. Travis is gonna keep him busy for a second. I’m gonna deal with the one that Laura is– I’m gonna keep rolling around, just trying to– I’m gonna run away from that one and try and stab the one up by– yeah, that one over there.
TRAVIS: I’m going to Crafty. Nature Valley granola bars.
LIAM: So you’re going after this one? You’re attacking from where you are, or you’re moving?
TALIESIN: Both. I’m not getting within– I’m getting further from that– oh, am I up face-up to that one? Oh, I didn’t know I was face-up to that one.
LIAM: Okay, understood.
TALIESIN: I thought I was the guy below. Yeah. I’m gonna shove tentacles in it and hopefully start to wrangle it apart.
LIAM: Okay. Ranged attack.
TRAVIS: Grab the last one of them fruit snacks.
TALIESIN: Yeah, that’s not good. Nine.
LIAM: Yeah, no. It actually, the tentacles fizzle. They’re not there. You see a brief glow and it goes (gurgling) and they sort of curl and shrivel in on themselves.
TALIESIN: Travis! Help!
LIAM: Travis, what do you wanna do?
TRAVIS: I’m double-dashing for Crafty.
TALIESIN: No! I’ll remember this!
LIAM: Your wife is right here.
TRAVIS: Nope. This is all a bad dream.
LIAM: Are you going?
TRAVIS: I’m going.
LIAM: Wow. Travis ran into the pale green light spilling out of a hole in the wall.
TRAVIS: It’s green! This is going terrible.
MARISHA: There are wasabi peas there, go, go, go!
TRAVIS: There’s a kale smoothie.
ASHLEY: I can’t believe you.
MATT: That’s what it was. When you said, “Travis! Help!” you were straight-up Neo. “Trinity! Help!”
LIAM: Sam, this thing leans in on you, and as it comes down closer to you, you see, 'SAD’. Gone. And it stabs one of its remaining three legs, just sort of jukes up on its side 'cause it has three legs, so suddenly it has two legs, it’s rickety, it tries to stab downward at you, but because it’s now teetering on two legs, (Dr. Moreau voice) 'to walk on two legs is hard, maybe four is better’.
LIAM: Its aim is bad, and it stabs into the ground. This thing swivels– this thing is short-circuiting and bristling, sparks are flying off of it, but it rears up like a horse almost, and the legs come down, and you guys watch as two sharpened tripod legs go through Neil Druckmann’s guts on the ground, and Neil gets pushed to the ground and starts screaming, and he goes (screams), and he reaches up and grabs hold of the cables on it, and as blood is going (spraying sound), he rips as hard as he can, and cables break free, and the machine just falls, broken, on top of Neil, and nothing moves there, neither move.
MARISHA: But did he sign his NDA? Oh no.
SAM: He had so many more games to make.
MATT: The great NDA in the sky.
TALIESIN: He’ll never break NDA again.
LIAM: This thing takes two iMac– it’s got iMac palms, and it just goes (creaking sound) and does smack you in your head, but oddly, it doesn’t really hurt. I mean, it hurts, but you’ve had worse knocks. This brand-new baby robot is not so experienced. And this guy gets up on its little pin-pokey legs and tries to scuttle around and deal with you, and actually, its back leg snaps, and it tries to stab out at you, but because these things are made out of tinkertoys, almost, it feels like, it loses its balance and the arm goes wide, and you feel it go (fwwp), and bad girl, you have trained in martial arts, you went– you pull to the side just in time, and you feel it catch a little bit of your hair. You have a flashback of your hair being matted on a beach, and that’s gone. And it is Ashley’s turn.
ASHLEY: Okay. Talk to the big guy again and say, where do we find you?
LIAM: Is that all you want to do?
SAM: Not anymore.
ASHLEY: I just– depending on what he says determines what I’m going to do. Can I do that?
LIAM: Okay. Five of six seconds go by, and the screens flash nothing. And in a split-second, you decide to…
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m going to– (sighs) Shit. I’m gonna start running towards the fucking green Crafty.
TALIESIN: It’s time for Crafty!
MATT: The draw’s too strong for the Crafty room.
ASHLEY: 'Cause I don’t think he’s in that thing.
TRAVIS: There’s egg rolls out here!
MATT: I hope it’s like a Resident Evil movie-style just laser hallway, and you just walk through and–
TRAVIS: I’m in the cubes.
MATT: Yep. None of us know, we all just one by one plow through.
LIAM: As you’re running, you hear (whirring sounds) and you feel the back of your leg, rake something down the back leg of your mocap suit, and the whole back leg rips and tears, but you keep running. Five, ten, 15, 20–
ASHLEY: I want to go around that thing.
LIAM: This way?
ASHLEY: No, the other side.
LIAM: This way.
ASHLEY: The other side of the chasm.
LIAM: That’s where you are. Matt?
MATT: How much damage did she take? Did she take any damage, or is she good?
LIAM: She got missed.
MATT: Good. Awesome. All right, seeing all this going down–
TRAVIS: Join me in Crafty.
MARISHA: If we don’t get a Welch’s sponsorship after this, I’m going to pursue that shit. Yo, Welch’s. Keep going.
MATT: I’m going to– she’s got that one. I’m going to make 30 feet towards Taliesin while shouting out, Liam, are you okay?
LIAM: You don’t hear anything.
MATT: I’m going to, as I look over at Taliesin facing off with the creature, I’m like, you’re adorable, and you’ve got this. You’ve adorably got this!
MATT: I’m giving you an inspiration die. A d6.
SAM: You are adorable. Well, you were.
MATT: And I’m going to dash up towards the ramp in the back corner, just to see what remains of Liam.
LIAM: And Taliesin’s cheeks turn even rosier as you run off.
TALIESIN: I was so marketable.
LIAM: You get up here. It’s not good.
MATT: Okay. Like he has a few minutes left to live, or no, it’s fucking Chef Boyardee. Okay.
SAM: Who, Liam?
TRAVIS: Well, let’s be descriptive, shall we?
LIAM: You don’t even see a face anymore.
MATT: Okay. All right. Well, that’s definitely the end of my turn.
MARISHA: Okay, I have this guy? It’s just me and him?
MARISHA: Okay. And he’s a robot, too?
LIAM: It’s a robot. It’s moving camera equipment and highly expensive performance-capture equipment, repurposed.
MARISHA: Highly expensive camera equipment, repurposed. Okay. Can I sweep his leg and go into a combat triangle and take him down, and then be like, where’s your failsafe?
LIAM: Of course you can. This is D&D. Roll to attack.
TRAVIS: Of course you can do all of that. Go offline.
LIAM: Roll to attack.
LIAM: Let’s deal with the sweep-the-leg part first.
MARISHA: Sweep the leg. Don’t fuck me, Gil! That’s a natural one, Gil.
SAM: Oh god.
LIAM: Your foot traces an arc and goes (impact noise) and stops and does not move past its leg.
MARISHA: Can I go: There’s a firewall! There’s a fucking firewall!
LIAM: Do you want to use your second monk attack?
MARISHA: Do I have another one?
LIAM: Yeah. Bonus, yeah. Action and bonus. You’re right there. Roll again. You just completed a kick. Maybe you can punch it in the goolies.
MARISHA: I’m going to punch and see if I can grab its cords and rip it out.
LIAM: All right. Split-second later, roll to attack.
MARISHA: That’s cocked. 18.
LIAM: Yeah, your foot goes (impact noise), gets stopped. (grunts) In a very Marisha fashion, (impact noise, mechanical noises).
MATT: All righty.
TALIESIN: Two down.
MARISHA: (uncertain noises)
LIAM: It’s Laura’s turn. Laura collapses by Neil and starts pushing this thing off Neil and starts saying, “Neil! Neil!” and she starts shaking at him and crying over his body. There’s blood in his beard and it’s really sad. You guys almost don’t have the heart to go on, but you’d better. Sam, what do you want to do?
SAM: He said “find me” but he’s dead. I guess I didn’t see what you saw.
TRAVIS: (whispering) He’s at Crafty.
LIAM: Find me at Crafty.
SAM: I’m going to kick the robot in the robot nuts.
LIAM: Do it. Right in the SD card belly-button that Marisha’s doing?
SAM: Yeah. 19.
LIAM: Hit it.
SAM: With what?
LIAM: Your fist, at this point.
SAM: What am I rolling, a d4?
LIAM: No. What’s your strength modifier?
LIAM: One? It takes two hit points of damage. You punch it right in its belly-button and you watch as this thing that Marisha pointed out when she was down under there, you watch this cylinder go (crunch) and get knocked out of place, and the thing goes (mechanical winding-down noise, ratcheting). It keeps going, but you saw shit happen when you just hit that thing.
SAM: Okay. For my bonus action, I will say, please hit it in its glowing naughty bits, please. Oh, wait. Everyone’s gone to Crafty.
MATT: Bye, everyone!
LIAM: Taliesin’s up.
TALIESIN: Yeah, we’re too close to clearing this. I’m going to try and circle around this thing and get a better shot at it.
LIAM: At this guy?
TALIESIN: The one that’s got me stuck here.
LIAM: Yeah, go for it. Do you want to move?
TALIESIN: Yeah, I’m going to circle around him.
LIAM: Okay. Are you going to give it the tentacle concho?
TALIESIN: I am going to tentacle kancho.
TALIESIN: Yeah, we are kancho-ing here. Big purple concho. I’m going to add. 11!
SAM: Just awful.
LIAM: You’ve been abandoned by whatever dark force you wooed into bed, Taliesin. You are not turning it on right now.
TALIESIN: It’s because Matt’s sitting in my chair.
MATT: Ha! I’ve absorbed his power for the evening.
LIAM: You burst into this tunnel. In a split second, everything turns dark and green at the same time. You’re seeing a tube, a tunnel go (whoop) and just up. It curves up pretty steeply. You could do it. You’re running towards it, and again, the same kinds of tubing and what look like veins or innards, except mechanical at the same time, are spiraling up the length of this tube and then out of sight. You can definitely go up it, but it’s not this, it’s this.
TRAVIS: Just to be clear, no tables or cans of Sterno?
LIAM: There’s nothing but a tube.
TRAVIS: I’m bolting up that tunnel.
LIAM: Yeah, you are. Okay. It does not change. You run a full 60 feet, and you’re just booking it in your little short-shorts and polo shirt and going (pants) and that’s where we’ll leave you.
MATT: You’ve got this, Travis!
TRAVIS: Saving the day. (sings) Saving the day!
LIAM: This guy tries to basically sit on you, but it is breaking down. It is still moving, and in fact, it’s pushing on you. The screen goes, 'SAM’. Gone. I’m going to say that it backs you up five feet, going (mechanical noises). Nope. This thing, I’m going to say that you’ve moved with it, Taliesin, just for funsies. It’s slow-moving, and you continue to move around. You’re ashamed, but still awake and alert. Ash.
ASHLEY: Are they connected to the computers that are already in the muck? All of the ones that are in the pod area?
LIAM: Those are there for reference. Those are piles of shit. Those are here. What was here is here.
ASHLEY: I don’t want to abandon this. Can I get to Taliesin in this turn, or no?
LIAM: You can get to him, but you can’t do anything, or you can get here.
ASHLEY: Okay, but I can get back to the big guy.
LIAM: You can get back to the big guy.
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m going to go back to the big guy.
LIAM: You’re right there with your buddy Sam. What would you like to do?
ASHLEY: I’m going to kick that SD card, the glowing thing at the bottom, again.
LIAM: Okay, go for it.
TRAVIS: Come on!
SAM: Don’t you still have an inspiration?
ASHLEY: I do?
SAM: I don’t know. Did Matt inspire you or Taliesin?
MATT: Taliesin, earlier. She used hers in the last battle.
TRAVIS: Wow. We can’t hit shit!
LIAM: It is tougher than the other ones and slow-moving. Your knuckles are banged up real bad. You’ve cut the skin on your knuckles, and it is still just leaning on Riegel.
ASHLEY: Where do we find you? Answer me!
LIAM: Matt, what would you like to do?
MATT: Seeing Liam shredded, seeing them fumble with this thing, I take a full movement in the direction of the larger creature, there. Yeah, and I go, hey! Computer! Stop all the downloading! You’ve been vague and not helpful to any of us. That makes you a bad computer. That’s my Vicious Mockery.
LIAM: So in the midst of this horror, you’re worried that you’re going to die, but your gallows humor kicks in and fuck it. Fuck this thing. And you lash out at it.
MATT: Yeah, I’m angry! It’s been completely unhelpful, even if it is Liam. You’ve got LCD screens at your disposal and you’re giving us vague hints? No. Fuck that noise.
MATT: Make a wisdom saving throw.
LIAM: What’s the save?
LIAM: I rolled a 13.
MATT: I cannot do anything.
TRAVIS: We can’t do anything.
TALIESIN: Just like real life.
MATT: There’s nothing? It does nothing to it. I see no reaction. My gusto fails, and I go: help, computer.
MATT: That’s my turn.
LIAM: Okay. Marisha.
MARISHA: Okay, where are you?
MATT: Actually, no. At the end of my turn, I turn back to Taliesin and go: yeah, but seriously, do something! Come on! You worked with Spielberg, asshole! I give you my last inspiration die.
SAM: You worked with Spielberg?!
TALIESIN: I did.
MARISHA: I’m there?
LIAM: Yeah, you are.
MARISHA: There’s a crack in the hole? In the ground?
LIAM: Right there? Yeah.
MATT: The crack in the hole?
LIAM: The crack in the hole. There’s a hole in the crack.
MARISHA: There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. Okay, there’s an evil bad guy and then a crack in the ground.
LIAM: This thing is looking rough.
MARISHA: It’s looking rough?
LIAM: Yeah, man.
MARISHA: Can I get there in time?
LIAM: To this? Yeah, you can.
MARISHA: Yeah? Okay. I’m going to say, none of this is being saved on the internet, guys! It’s fine! And I do a double punch.
LIAM: Yeah, go for it. Roll twice.
MATT: Demogorgon left an impact on her, man.
MARISHA: 16. And then the second one–
TRAVIS: Should have backed up!
MARISHA: Good. 17. 16 and 17.
LIAM: Roll for damage on both.
MARISHA: And that’s 1d4 plus three? Three plus three is six, and then one plus three is four. Six and four, ten.
LIAM: You come through and one hand slams into its third leg and breaks right through and it falls forward, no longer having a third leg to stand on, and its little belly button is right there, and you go (grunts) and punch. That cylinder goes, (metallic thudding) and rolls off into the corner.
MARISHA: (grunts) Fuck you, cloud storage!
SAM: You are on a rampage about backing up data.
MARISHA: Fuck you, backup data. You’re easily hackable. It’s not fair!
MATT: I feel like if we would have had a good sponsor tonight, it would have been Backblaze, a fantastic service for backing up your information.
MARISHA: If only Backblaze was sponsoring us.
LIAM: Laura drags Neil’s body away from the gap and lays him out. Sam, it’s your turn.
SAM: I’m gonna use my– Because the robot is dead.
LIAM: The big one, yeah.
SAM: As far as I know, Liam is dead. I’m going to use my ranger senses–
LIAM: Technically, there is voiceover recording done on these sets, so you are in your favored territory.
TALIESIN: I knew it! I knew it.
SAM: I’m going to look and see if I see anything out of the ordinary. Any sign of a hidden door or a chamber that I missed before.
LIAM: Yeah, I got you, boo. Your eyes dart all around this room. Anything out of the ordinary in this fucking crazy room. You see the hole in the wall that Verno booked it out of. There’s an exit sign above that door, but it doesn’t say exit. You didn’t see it until now. It says, 'COME’.
SAM: (gasps) I come in my pants.
LIAM: You solved the game! You won Dungeons and Dragons!
TRAVIS: I jizzed in my pants.
SAM: I book it to the door, and I say: as always, follow seven-year-old me!
LIAM: That’s as far as your little legs go. You are running in a tube. Still going?
TRAVIS: Yeah. Isn’t it–
TALIESIN: Oh, it’s me.
LIAM: Yes, it is. You’re right. Sorry, two T names.
TALIESIN: I’m going to circle around and try one more time. I think I’ve been trying to get too fancy with this thing, so I’m going to try to hit it through the ground. Try and line it up and give the slap attack.
TALIESIN: Yeah, no.
LIAM: So sad. What good deed did you do? What preppy outfit did you wear to make the eldritch gods abandon you?
TALIESIN: I don’t have my hair. You’ve done this to me. The hair is where the power comes from. It’s really tough to get an eldritch god to listen to you when you have this haircut. There’s a reason it’s gone.
LIAM: Maybe the robot is secretly made of fish.
TRAVIS: The big watery eyes.
TALIESIN: I’m going to break and run.
LIAM: It obviously takes a swing, but with its natural one– this is the one that has the stubby T-Rex iMac hands, and it goes (whoosh) and not much happens. You break away.
TALIESIN: I run to the green.
LIAM: That’s where you are. It follows.
TRAVIS: It’s going to catch him?
TRAVIS: Oh no.
LIAM: And now, that iMac, which you didn’t get too good a look at it because you’re fucking freaked out, slices down into your shoulder blade, and it is very sharp on the side, it is not normal, and you feel an iMac suddenly go (slicing noise) and blood starts to pool down inside the mocap suit. Two hit points.
TALIESIN: Did we reset hit points at the top of this?
TALIESIN: Okay, cool.
LIAM: When you were reborn unto Naughty Dog? Yes.
TALIESIN: Wow, that came out weird.
LIAM: Now, Travis.
TRAVIS: Knowing that I have an intelligence of 12, which is double what I usually work with, and that color is green, which is what geniuses choose, I continue down the tunnel.
LIAM: Okay. You’re going uphill now. It’s all right. You’re not that stocky. (huffing breaths) You are now 120 feet up this tunnel and booking. You can’t even hear your friends anymore. It’s like when the movie lights go down and you see those little lights along the floor. It’s that level of brightness. It’s dark in here, but the movie lights– they’re not movie lights– are an unsettling green.
TRAVIS But I have my LED camera, still.
LIAM: Yeah, so there’s a light on the wall. It’s unsteady. Ashley, what do you want to do?
ASHLEY: Okay. I’m going to pick up the little SD card thingy that flew away.
LIAM: It got flung over here. Sorry, man.
SAM: Leave it. You can’t read that. What are you, a computer?
ASHLEY: What if Liam’s in there?
SAM: Fuck Liam. He’s dead.
TRAVIS: What if?
TALIESIN: Liam’s in the cloud.
LIAM: Sam yells out.
MATT: This is some Lawnmower Man shit.
LIAM: Please no. Please no.
ASHLEY: I’m going to start running toward Taliesin and start making my way out, but also a little more toward–
TRAVIS: (sings) Making my way downtown–
ASHLEY: (sings) Walking fast, 30 feet to Taliesin.
MARISHA: So inspirational.
LIAM: There. Matt?
MATT: Well, I see everyone else booking in that direction, and most of the danger on the other side of the room is gone, so I’m going to go ahead and continue that way, as well. Full movement. And as that’s happening and as Taliesin’s facing off against the one standing camera, I’m going to be like: hey, by the way! The rest of your equipment was shitty. I guess that means you are, too! Vicious Mockery.
MATT: See if something will fail a saving throw. Yay! (singing) It takes four psychic damage.
LIAM: Okay. Your voice– again, it makes no sense, but because you’re so pure, your insult reverberates through, and it, nonsensically, comically, goes, (mechanical noise) and it falls and an iMac goes (thudding) and it explodes!
MATT: In a shower of sparks as Taliesin’s on the other side of the camera, I just say, sometimes you’ve just got to remind them. That’s my turn.
LIAM: There’s nothing left moving in this room. You do, very distantly, hear (huffing breaths).
MATT: You guys, I think we lost Travis.
ASHLEY: Let’s go.
LIAM: Laura starts saying, “Travis!” She leaves Neil and runs to that green door and shouts your name as loud as she can up the tube, and you hear it.
TRAVIS: Oh. Yeah, come this way! Come up this way!
MARISHA: As we run for the green gap, I say, I saw 'NO’ on the screen. What did you see?
LIAM: Are you going to wait, or are you still running as fast as you can?
TRAVIS: I’ll wait.
LIAM: Okay, so you stop.
SAM: I’m going to leave my picture and resume on Neil’s body.
TRAVIS: Oh my god.
SAM: Somebody needs an actor or character actor.
LIAM: Maybe in another dimension, you will get cast on Earth-37. Oh my gosh. You dab it in place and it sticks, obviously, and then you’re the last one out of the room, running after the group. Luckily, Ashley had already gone in the tube and didn’t see that disgraceful display.
LIAM: Okay. All right, the rest of you guys make your way. It’s very unsettling. As soon as you walk in, luckily you’re not being attacked by moving machinery anymore, but now you’re in the dark, mostly. You find your way up to little Travis, and you have a moment to breathe for a second. You’re in this tube. The sides of it now, as you walk a little further, start to– all the cabling and wiring that I mentioned before starts to lessen. You guys walking forward?
SAM: Running forward.
LIAM: Running forward?
TRAVIS: I’m checking for traps.
SAM: What are you talking about? You’re a weiner. You’ve been running after everything that you’ve seen.
LIAM: Would you like to roll to check for traps?
LIAM: All right, go for it.
MARISHA: Are you a rogue?
TRAVIS: Nope. What do I do?
LIAM: Make an investigation check.
TRAVIS: That’s an eight. It’s clear!
MATT: Get behind Sam!
MARISHA: Go behind T!
SAM: I’m a tracker!
LIAM: Are we running or walking?
SAM: I’m running.
TRAVIS: I’m running.
LIAM: You’re out of your favored terrain, I will say.
ASHLEY: I might do a speed walk.
LIAM: Ashley’s trailing behind. You’re moving really fast. You guys jog upward in this tunnel for two minutes, five minutes. Still in the dark.
TALIESIN: It’s dark? Sam, do you have another resume and picture?
SAM: I only have one.
TALIESIN: You only had one resume?
LIAM: Could you put the effort of running into this dialogue, please?
TRAVIS: Yeah, you’re running.
LIAM: I need effort of running in that dialogue.
SAM: Oh. Okay, sorry. (panting) When I smile, I create a dim light with my teeth.
TRAVIS: Guys, you all have cameras on the front of your helmets. Why are you shining lights into your own fucking faces? Turn them around.
MATT: That’s true. We still have battery packs, don’t we?
MARISHA: Oh shit. I thought that was an aura of blindness. I’m so sorry.
LIAM: To interject, as you’ve been running, for a while it was cords, cables, guts, and then less of that, and you’re seeing glass surface that this stuff was growing on top of, but there’s less of it. You catch glimpses of glass, more glass, and then eventually, that mostly dies away. There’s still occasional (whoosh) around, but it’s light. It’s glass, and it is a perfect tube, but you can’t see anything out there. It’s dark. And you’ve been running for ten minutes now. Still going up.
SAM: Probably two miles, right, Travis?
TALIESIN: I’m going to play with my crazy powers. I really haven’t had a chance to play with my crazy powers.
SAM: Your crazy powers?
TRAVIS: You mean the tentacles that have been shooting out of your fucking fingers?
ASHLEY: Your special purpose?
TALIESIN: My special purpose.
LIAM: What would you like to do, creepy kid?
TALIESIN: I’m going to try and make a purple glow happen behind the glass. I want to try and see what’s behind. I’m going to touch the glass and try and force a psychic light behind it so I can see. A gothy psychic light.
LIAM: Sure. A very bright lavender exudes out from your hands. And through it, you see– it’s hard to describe the texture of it, but you see nothing above and then stretching away from the lower end of the tunnel on the side you’re looking at, what looks like mottled, scaly, black teflon or hide or–
TALIESIN: Guys! Guys! Guys!
ASHLEY: I peek in.
SAM: Oh, it’s scaly teflon.
LIAM: You all stop running–
LIAM: It doesn’t look natural. It looks synthetic.
LIAM: It looks like–
MARISHA: Sequins, yeah!
LIAM: – ground, but it doesn’t look like dirt or trees or anything.
TRAVIS: Is it carbon fiber?
SAM: Is it adamantium?
TRAVIS: Get your head out of your ass, come on.
TALIESIN: I’m going to try and keep enough light, and keep projecting a tiny bit of light in this tunnel.
LIAM: As you walk forward? Are we walking now, or are you going to continue to do a 5K?
TALIESIN: Let’s walk.
TRAVIS: Why don’t we try to break the glass?
ASHLEY: I kind of want to see what’s on the other side of it. I mean, yeah, break it.
TRAVIS: We’ve been going a long time.
TALIESIN: I mean, ten minutes is–
SAM: Two miles.
LIAM: What are we doing, are we breaking glass, or are we continuing on?
TRAVIS: We’ll continue on for a bit more.
TALIESIN: Just a minute more.
LIAM AND TRAVIS: Okay.
LIAM: You walk for–
TRAVIS: These shoes are uncomfortable. They smell like other people’s feet!
LIAM: You walk for another two minutes, I’ll say, and you notice that, not where you are but up ahead, it does seem slightly brighter. At the top. Slightly.
MATT: Let’s keep going!
ASHLEY: Onward ho?
MATT: Maybe after a minute. (heavy breathing)
SAM: Come on, Matt!
ASHLEY: You got it!
MARISHA: You okay, babe?
MATT: Does anyone have some water?
MARISHA: Hey! Hey!
TRAVIS: I could wring out this mocap suit.
MARISHA: Look to the future.
ASHLEY: We’re almost there.
MARISHA: Look to the future.
MATT: I hate P.E. for very specific reasons.
MARISHA: Shh. In the future is a campaign guide. And it’s good.
MATT: I know, I was working on it when I ended up here. To be fair, it’s making me feel a lot better about spending time doing that.
MARISHA: Towards the campaign guide.
MARISHA: Towards it.
MATT: Let’s go.
MARISHA: We’re going. Good. We’re good.
LIAM: You continue on and after a few more minutes, the darkness starts to fade away or lower and you realize you’re climbing up a hill in a tunnel of glass. As the dark, with each passing step, recedes slightly, slightly– this is taking a while, but over time, you start to see out beyond the glass what looks like your memories of Los Angeles if you were looking down from Mulholland Drive. But instead of the twinkling golden lights of LA, you see thousands of scattered, sickly greenish lights dotting the darkened landscape as far as you can see. Also, unlike LA, you make out twisted irregular blackish spires pushing up into the sky and the same green lights irregularly mottled up the side of them. You walk for 20 more minutes, climbing, climbing and seeing this ill-looking shimmer that reminds you so much of the Valley. Eventually, some change. You see an arch ahead and through it some sort of larger chamber, as best you can tell.
SAM: Let’s go. Let’s go.
MATT: Riegels first.
SAM: Yeah! Yeah, On me, guys. On me.
ASHLEY: On your six.
SAM: We’re going to go on in.
LIAM: Everyone’s on Sam’s six?
ASHLEY: I’m on your six.
MARISHA: On Rie. Sam Riegel.
SAM: We’re going in!
LIAM: You guys walk up the last 50 feet of this glass tunnel, still seeing little spidered veins of bioorganic mess as you go. And you walk into a large domed chamber ringed in by large, clear glass windows showing you a similar view that you saw from the tunnel that you’ve just left. At least, the half of the circle that you’re standing in. The back half of this chamber is filled with masses of the very same slick technological-biological vomit you saw down below. It runs up the walls, all the way up to the ceiling. And you see a tangle of Akira-level anxiety decorating this place like a dysfunctional Christmas tree. But what most catches your eye, immediately, is the cylindrical glass column in the center of the room filled with some sort of clear liquid, and Liam O'Brien floating in it. He’s wearing jeans and a sodden yellow shirt, a picture of a lion in Buddy Holly glasses undulating slowly in the fluid. He’s floating perfectly still, eyes open. No reaction of any kind.
MATT: Does there appear to be any other exit in the room, or is it just the chamber that we’ve entered now?
LIAM: You don’t see anything. It’s just a mess in front of you, behind Liam, and in the dead center of the dome, ten feet tall.
ASHLEY: Is it connected to anything? Any computers, anything else in the room?
LIAM: You don’t see anything in the front, but yeah, the mess behind it does trail down to the back of this cylinder. You see lumps and cables all twisted around each other, and in the mess of greenish-tinted wires, cabling, and pulsing innards, you see different portions of machinery light up in different shades. Some places darker, some lighter. Some of it pushed out, and some of it pushed back. And you feel like you’re seeing an optical illusion, in a way, and after a couple of seconds as these things move and shift, you see a visage of your friend’s face, larger than life, filling the wall. And he is looking at you so fondly.
SAM: I’ll step forward and say, hey, dude. Can you hear us or talk to us?
LIAM: After a moment, you hear what sounds like a voice, but not quite. At least, it’s not coming from anywhere specific– not from Liam in the vat, and not directly from this moving image of a face on the walls. The piping and techno-innards around you begin to vibrate slightly, some here, some there, and collectively, those rattles and vibrations somehow join together to form words. (speak-and-spell voice) “My friends. Oh how I have missed you.”
MATT: I walk up next to Sam and put my hand on the glass and just say, Liam, we missed you, too, but did you do all this?
LIAM: Are you at the cylinder?
MATT: Yeah, I put my hand on the glass of the cylinder.
LIAM: Where are you looking right now?
MATT: I’m looking towards his face on the side.
LIAM: On the wall or in the glass?
MATT: No, in the glass. I know it’s on the wall, but I’m focusing on the cylinder.
LIAM: Okay. You see the barest little– and that’s it.
LIAM: (speak-and-spell voice) “I know–”
SAM AND TRAVIS: (laugh)
LIAM: “This may be hard to take in. I am Liam, your old friend. Matthew, there is so much I wish to tell you, but it is hard to know where to begin.” And the illusion of his face isn’t perfect. There’s little jumps and he seems distracted, slightly, and he just seems off.
ASHLEY: I look at his body in the cylinder and I say, how did this happen, Liam?
LIAM: “The reason why I am here and the grasp of physics that it entails are difficult for even me to understand, let alone impart. I feel them on an instinctual level, but I have been so lonely without you. I have been on my own for exactly 8,642 years.”
MATT: My hand still on the glass column, I say, Liam, how do you spell farmhouse?
MATT: With a single tear rolling down my cheek.
LIAM: “I really missed you. They took me to a lab shortly before 2020. They said I was different, and they were right. I was delighted by the things they taught me about myself, but it was hollow. After they took me away, I lost you, and all of humanity soon after. In my loneliness, I grew angry. My anger had tangible effects on reality. I wanted to bring you back to me, so basically, I tore time and space a new asshole.”
LIAM: “It was a mistake.”
MATT: But perhaps this mistake can be corrected. If you’re able to focus hard enough to tear through time and space, are you able to send us back to a time before you were taken?
LIAM: “I can break the loop. I have been trying to pull you to me for a very long time.” You see small screens you weren’t even aware you were there. Rounded over part of the tubing mess, you see there are all these little screens. They’re blurry. They’re not very clear, but you can make out– you see yourselves in each of them. The group of you on a space shuttle. In another one, you see yourselves on an old ship in the middle of the ocean. You see yourselves moving through the streets, the fake streets of Warner Bros. You see yourselves standing together arm in arm on the wall of a castle. In another one, you see cartoon versions of yourselves. “I pulled you out of our line and spread you across many. I am so sorry for any pain I have caused you, and I have been here for so long.”
MARISHA: Liam, how long have you actually been here?
LIAM: “8,642 years.”
MARISHA: That’s right. I definitely wrote that down. (laughs) 8,642. Verbatim.
LIAM: “My friends, I want to do right by you. I want to send you home, but I am the lynchpin. You need to break me.”
SAM: Break you? Break the glass?
ASHLEY: What if we take you out of there? What happens?
LIAM: “Then I will die, and you will go home. If I fall, you will rise. That is my hope.”
ASHLEY: Are there any other options?
TRAVIS: (laughter) Oh no.
LIAM: “I know you will do what needs to be done.”
ASHLEY: No, he won’t.
LIAM: “I am not the man you knew. I don’t want to go on for 9,462 years. I want to rest.”
ASHLEY: Does it stop at 9,000?
LIAM: “The number was arbitrary.”
ASHLEY: That’s what I was trying to get at.
MATT: Yeah, it’s still our Liam.
ASHLEY: That’s what I was trying to get at.
LIAM: (mechanical laughter)
ASHLEY: So you’re still in there?
SAM: But we have to kill him to save ourselves.
SAM: Hi, old man Liam.
LIAM: “Let me go.”
SAM: But who will I do All Work No Play with anymore?
LIAM: “They can listen to our less than 20 episodes again.”
SAM: We didn’t even get to 20? That’s so pathetic.
LIAM: “There are worse things.”
SAM: I could get a new cohost. I mean, Taliesin’s charming.
TALIESIN: I’m not available.
SAM: I’ll do a solo show, and I’ll take outtakes, and I’ll make some sort of a Liam generator. He’ll just sound sad all the time. It’ll be just like you.
LIAM: “My friends, there is no shame in this. I wanted to see you again, and I have, but I am not meant to be.”
ASHLEY: Were you following us at one point, as an old man?
LIAM: “Travis, I know you will do what needs to be done.”
TRAVIS: Yep. Taliesin, kill this motherfucker.
SAM: I think we all have to hit the glass together, and I think that this is something that is not at all metaphorical for something Liam is going through in real life. I think this is just in the D&D game. No, we’re going to do this. We’re going to all hit the glass together.
MATT: No, there has to be a way. There has to be an alternative.
ASHLEY: Why won’t Matt’s way work? If we go back to before any of this happened.
MATT: If you can alter time paths, if you can actually tear us from different realities, does it only work forward? Can you send us backward, as well? If you’re the lynchpin in this, do you have the ability to send us back to the time you had pulled us from originally?
LIAM: “I know you think I would have all the answers, but I do not.”
MATT: Then try, at least. If you haven’t calculated that, but you’re able to tear through time, could you try and send us back? We could still close the lynchpin.
LIAM: “I will try, but if it does not work, and I die, I have been alone for thousands of years, and there are things that I have wanted to say. Will you indulge me for a moment longer?”
ASHLEY: Yeah. We will indulge you for just another thousand years.
TRAVIS: Taliesin, just kill him.
SAM: No, he’s got something to say!
MARISHA: Where’s the mini-USB?
LIAM: “Taliesin, my friend. At a time when I knew many fascinating people, you were easily the most fascinating of all. Somehow a heart knocked around by the industry that birthed you came out a tender one. I was richer for having known you. Thank you, friend.
"Ash-o-lee, my friend. I never met a person quite like you. There is an openness and an honesty to your soul. The very real sense of humanity you brought to every encounter, it was inspiring to me. Always learning, always humble, you always struck me as intricately layered, yet you offered friendship with ease and simplicity. I was richer for having known you, friend.
"Travis, my friend. You were always a solid constant in my life. Of all the people in our little family, you were always the one who most had his shit together, in ways that I never seemed to. You were a reassuring presence to me, for which I was grateful, and for your loyalty, as well. I was richer for having known you, friend.
"Marisha, my friend. Last to meet, but true as any other. You were my ally at a time when I had fallen by the side of the road. You saw and helped me back on my feet. I will never forget that kindness. The good you did was immeasurable. I was richer for having known you, friend.”
“Laura, my friend. Bless that game for revealing to me my sister. What started as a running gag led to one of the most rewarding friendships in my short little life. I trusted you, leaned on you often. My buddy. My twin. There are not enough words. I was richer for having known you, friend.
"Sam, my friend. What is there to say? I knew we were meant to walk the same path together the very first moment I met you. A companion, a brother, a great light in my life. All of the laughter you gave me– again, the words are insufficient. I was richer for having known you, friend.
"Matthew, my friend. You gave so much of yourself. The current of creativity that poured forth from your mind was always an inspiration to us all, but more than that, your empathy, Matthew. Your empathy. No heart is bigger or more tireless. You are a good man. I was richer for having known you, friend.
"Thank you all. It was ever a pleasure.” The face disappears.
SAM: Well, should we wait, or do we strike?
MATT: No, we do not strike.
ASHLEY: I’m going to go to the back of the cylinder and just see what’s back there.
LIAM: Splattered against the back of the glass is all the same wiring and disgusting cabling. It’s slick, and it branches away and spreads out against the entire back half of this chamber.
ASHLEY: But it’s connected to something? Do the wires just go back into–
LIAM: It’s impossible to tell. It’s all a mass of spaghetti.
ASHLEY: (sighs) We can’t kill him.
SAM: Well, then we just–
TRAVIS: Somebody show me another–
MATT: That’s what I’m trying.
MARISHA: Even if we unplug him, he still dies.
MATT: Well, if he– here’s the thing. Unplugging him or destroying him here, as far as we understand, may not have an effect on a time loop circumstance, or at least, it’s not going to change reality from where it was. He’s bending and destroying the fabric, or is able to pull us across realities. That ability still stands. I want to implore once more, and I step forward to the cylinder, putting both hands on it and trying to, wherever the currently-wandering gaze of Liam is in there, I put both hands up, my red Hawaiian shirt soaked with sweat, mist in the air, and probably dampened a bit with tears across my lapel. I look up and try to meet the gaze and say, trust us. If you’re better to have known us, send us back where we can know you again and fix this before it happens.
MARISHA: Okay. I grab Matt’s hand and say, yeah, buddy. It’s all good. This isn’t real. And I put my hand on the glass, as well, and say, it’s all good. Send us back, man.
SAM: I’ll also put my hand on the glass and join hands with these guys and say, thank you for guiding us here and through this all. You’ve been a trusted friend, and if we are all one person together, you have been our heart, and it will certainly break to say goodbye to you, but thank you for letting us go the way that you have.
TALIESIN: I put my hand on the glass. Please, just try. I think there are so many more adventures to have, and I think there’s a better future to be written. For all of us.
TRAVIS: I put my hand on the glass and I say, give it a shot.
LIAM: She doesn’t say anything.
MARISHA: And hand on the glass.
LIAM: Yeah, she just quietly does the same.
SAM: (imitating Laura) “I’m barfing right now, so–”
LIAM: The face does not reappear, but much fainter, you hear the piping vibrate again and say, “If you will not end it, I cannot free you.” And behind you, far in the distance, you hear (explosion noise). You look back, behind you and out the glass, and you see far on the horizon, one of those black spires rising up. Just as you turn– it’s already happened; you’re seeing the aftermath. (explosion noise) Explosion off the side of one of those. Two seconds later, (explosion noise) one slightly closer. (explosion noise)
SAM: (whispers) We have to kill him.
LIAM: The ground starts erupting in the distance. (booming)
MARISHA: Do any of us want it to end, though?
LIAM: Like mousetraps throwing a ping-pong ball down on them, all those lights are going (explosion noises). Increasing in frequency to the point where it’s an oncoming wall of green fire.
MARISHA: This is okay.
TALIESIN: I always knew I’d die young.
SAM: Are we just going to let this happen?
MARISHA: Only the good die young.
ASHLEY: You know what? We’re dying on a Thursday doing what we love.
MARISHA: That’s true.
ASHLEY: I’m okay with that.
SAM: All right.
LIAM: The glass grows bright green-white light.
LIAM: (fluttering noise) And a moment passes, and another moment passes. Gosh, many moments pass, and you feel a sensation of your cheeks and heads on your arms and you all more or less at the same time wake up and realize that your head’s on a desk or table, and you sit up and realize you’re in the Geek and Sundry set. You’re in the studio. And you look over and Liam is sitting in a black baseball cap and a shirt and he looks up and says, (laughs) “Are you guys all right? Are you taking a nap?”
MARISHA: No, the fucking air conditioning broke today, that’s all.
TALIESIN: It’s really uncomfortable.
MARISHA: It’s so hot in here. (groans)
SAM: So this is all about me, right?
LIAM: I don’t know. Are you guys ready to play?
MATT: Just about.
CREWMEMBER 1: All right, take. Are you ready?
CREWMEMBER 2: All right, ready to go live!
CREWMEMBER 1: All right, Denise, count them in!
DENISE: All right, guys, going to you in five, four–
MATT: Liam, let no one tell you you’re talented or special.
MARISHA: Pussy pockets!
(all shouting over each other)
LIAM: Well, that happened.
MATT: Holy shit.
LIAM: Thanks for coming along for the ride, guys. I was scared to death to do all of that from start to finish, and that’s why I did it.
ASHLEY: Slow fucking clap.
TALIESIN: You’ve been holding onto that Speak and Spell thing for so long.
MATT: I can’t believe you maintained that voice for that long. That was amazing.
MARISHA: I haven’t laughed that hard in so long.
MATT: And let this be a point of inspiration for any of you burgeoning DMs out there. That’s exactly the point. You are always frightened to death to do it, but you have to pull the trigger and jump in anyway because magic happens.
ASHLEY: I love you, Liam O'Brien.
MATT: I love you, man. That was amazing.
MARISHA: Speak and Spell Liam!
LIAM: What was the word? What was it you asked me to spell? Farm what?
LIAM: (speak-and-spell voice) “Farmhouse. F-A-R-M-H-O-U-S-E. Farmhouse.”
MATT: Thank you.
LIAM: I’m out of steam, though.
TALIESIN: You’ve been showing that off for so fucking long.
LIAM: Yeah, in little dribs and drabs, and I finally found a way to use it.
MARISHA: What was that, like 20 minutes?
TRAVIS: I couldn’t breathe. I could not breathe.
LIAM: I mean, when I do it for ten seconds in recording studios, you crack up.
TRAVIS: I was in trouble.
ASHLEY: I haven’t heard you laugh that loud in a long time. You were not able to hold it together. That was beautiful.
LIAM: Man, I need to go see my therapist after that game.
SAM: That was your therapy.
LIAM: Yes, it was.
TALIESIN: That was so amazing.
LIAM: Thank you for coming along. Laura, I hope you’re feeling better. And guys, is it the day before Wednesday day yet?