BRIAN: What's up, GenCon?!
BRIAN: That's a lot of people. How you guys doing?
BRIAN: Oh my god. Send me the bill for your plane ticket! If you guys think this outfit is ridiculous, you have literally not seen anything yet. Okay. Thank you for waiting. What?
BRIAN: You know what's up, brother. Thank you guys for waiting. I heard, Tico told me that people were out there at 6:00am waiting? You guys! We're about to watch people play Dungeons and Dragons!
BRIAN: What is happening?! We are alive at the best moment in history. Right now, there's a stadium full of people basically watching this live on the internet, and going, "How did Ashley let him wear that?"
BRIAN: Okay, let's start. Let's get started. (laughs) It is I, your host for the evening, Recession-Friendly Ryan Seacrest. This outfit is what happens when you take 'shrooms before creating a Saint's Row character.
BRIAN: All right. You guys already sound a little warmed up.
BRIAN: Yeah. But! Just to make sure, because the live shows are all about the audience participation. We're going to go over a couple of rules for that really fast, but before we do, I get paid to be the hype man, so let me get you guys hyped up.
BRIAN: Okay, wait. Okay. When I say, "Tary," you say "Who?" Tary!
BRIAN: When I say, "Tary," you say, "Who?" Tary!
BRIAN: When I say, "Tary," you say "What!" Tary!
BRAIN: Goddamn. Okay, that's it. Warm-up time over. That was easy. Okay, here's the deal. Sometimes, people in the Twitch chat don't like Critical Role Live because the audience participates. Those people-- (laughs) Those people-- hold on. I just want to say, with all the love and respect in my heart, those people can tune off right now.
BRIAN: Because I don't know about you, but when I'm at home watching Critical Role, and someone gets a "how do you want to do this," I fucking scream!
BRIAN: Okay. Here's what you can do. You can laugh, you can cheer, you can scream, you can cry. You can stand up and blow the roof off this place if something cool happens. You can hug your neighbor, and get drunk after the show if something sad happens. And then someone please tweet me the bar that you're at, and I will join you... with Travis Willingham's American Express. Which is currently in my fanny pack. Please do not shout rules. Please do not shout advice. Please do not shout corrections. Please do not shout ideas. Odds are, your idea is probably better that what some of the stuff they're going to come up with is. However, part of the thing that is so endearing about this show, is watching these nerdy-ass voice actors figure out how to play Dungeons and Dragons.
Isn't it? That's what I love about it. Okay. It's disruptive, and it'll light the community on fire, and we like to keep these live things, but all that being said, please laugh, please cheer. There's going to be so much cool stuff. Oh, I was supposed to throw these out.
BRIAN: (laughs) Okay. All right. Thank you, guys. Who came here from outside the US? Cheer.
BRIAN: Wow! Really? For this? Look at me! Without further ado, I would like to introduce the cast of a little show we like to call Critical Role.
BRIAN: Travis Willingham!
Children, shield your eyes. I present to you: Sam Riegel!
And the man that brought us all together. Ladies and gentlemen, Matthew Mercer!
The cast of Critical Role, ladies and gentlemen!
TRAVIS: All right.
LAURA: All right.
TRAVIS: Fuck! Fucking shit!
MATT: So that's surreal. Oh man. Well, we're all so excited for you guys to join us tonight, both here in person and out there on the internet. How crazy is it that we live in a world where, right now, we have people here live in this fantastic theater to watch Dungeons and Dragons?
MATT: For all the crazy shit going on in the world, it's nice to know that we can carve some good out of it here tonight.
MATT: And in that regard, so we don't keep you too long before we can get to the game which you all came here to watch, let's go through some quick announcements. Very quick. In fact, I think the big announcement, if Liam and Taliesin want to take that?
LIAM: Sure. So Taliesin and I have been working on something for about a year, with around 89 artists from our community. It's been a glimmer in our eye for over a year, and it is almost here. We're going to be releasing, in the fall from the Geek & Sundry store, a Critical Role art book.
SAM: Liam, they're excited about reading. They love books!
TALIESIN: We've only told them about the pictures so far.
LIAM: You guys know what a crucial part of this community the artists have become, and we have selected 89 artists from many more; there wasn't enough-- pages are limited, do I have a page number on here?
TALIESIN: 260 something pages?
BRIAN: 256, Liam!
TALIESIN: 256 pages.
LIAM: We've seen it, and it is beautiful. There's going to be a deluxe edition and a standard edition. It will be available for sale in the Geek & Sundry store in the late fall, published by Hunters Books.
TALIESIN: I'll say, regardless of what version, when you actually get the book, it's going to be treated as an artifact from the Cobalt Reserve, so there's going to be historical texts and writings from various librarians in the Cobalt Reserve, chronicling the adventures of Vox Machina, including a lot of fun Easter eggs. And there will be some fun Easter eggs in there, there may even be some background meta data that doesn't really exist anywhere else.
LIAM: Yeah. This is not your basic, go the CBS store and get a photo book made. A lot of love and care went into this. We've been talking with artists for months and months. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this. We're very grateful to the artists who are involved, some of them are in this audience tonight; thank you.
LIAM: We stood around and looked at a proof of this about a week ago, and I might have gotten a little verklempt. It is really special. So keep your eyes open for it. Oh yeah, one last thing. To keep up to date, I'm sure we'll talk more about it, but you can visit geekandsundry.com/artbook to sign up for email updates and book previews, so do so.
TALIESIN: It should be available for ordering sometime in the late fall.
ALL: Late fall!
MATT: Thank you guys very much.
LAURA: Yeah, thank you guys.
MATT: These two busted their ass on this book.
MATT: The other quick announcement we have: it's a fun little thing that'll be tomorrow for those of us at GenCon, and if it goes over well hopefully at other events in future, but when we released the Tal'Dorei campaign guide. The original design of the cover was from a POV of Scanlan, and there was some dissent in the community that Scanlan wasn't in full display on the cover. So I contacted Aaron Riley, the fantastic artist that worked on our cover, and we got some vinyl decals made so you can put one of two different pictures of Scanlan on your cover of the book or any book or art piece you find.
MATT: We're hoping to have those in tomorrow, for those who can come to the signing, and even if you didn't get a ticket for the signing, come to the event anyway. We will have those available to pass out, hopefully. So you can pick from the two, or grab one of each, it's going to be ridiculous. One of the particular images, I'm excited to see where Scanlan shows up.
LAURA: They're really great.
MATT: It's absurd.
LIAM: Why's this small man on the Sistine Chapel?
MATT: That's why they're vinyl; you can remove them without damaging property. I think. We'll find out. Anyway, without further ado, I think that brings us to the end of our announcements for the evening, and as such, bring us into tonight's episode of Critical Role.
TRAVIS: Let's go!
MATT: All right, let's bring this down.
MARISHA: Holy shit.
LIAM: Vecna's Amish taint.
MATT: A little late, but thank you. I appreciate that. Last we left off, Vox Machina, in their trek to eventually hopefully seal and be rid of the threat of Vecna, the Whispered One, in his recently ascended godhood on the Prime Material Plane, found themselves traversing below the sub-ocean volcano, the Scaldseat, where they managed to water-breathe their way through a jug. They traversed the poisonous air within, and coming upon the Allhammer's Core Anvil, on which many artefacts of the Founding and beyond were forged. There, you fought with the forge guardian, who was left to see who has proven worthy to utilize its components. You defeated it, and in doing so, Percival, with the designs bestowed upon you from Ioun, and Grog, with the bestowed upon knowledge of blacksmithing, took to the blacksmith tools and together managed to forge, barely successfully with a modicum of structural integrity, the three prime trammels, hopefully intended to destroy-- or at least seal off-- Vecna's influence on this plane.
The trammels now complete, each glowing with the runes of each gifted deity power source. We have one that glows yellow across its runic outside, one that is a sky blue, and one that emanates a black shadow from its runes, representing each deity that bequeathed an element of their power unto these trammels. You then decided to have Scanlan drop his magnificent mansion and decide where your next journey was. As you all enter the mansion, preparing for an evening's rest or otherwise, we left off with you, now, away from the heat of the volcano, plotting your next directional path.
So Vox Machina, what do you want to do?
LIAM: That's a great question.
LAURA: Let me see those trammels. Who has the trammels?
TRAVIS: I do. Why?
LAURA: I just want to look at them.
TRAVIS: All of them or just one?
LAURA: All of them.
TRAVIS: Fucking hell, shit. Here you go.
LAURA: That's it. I just want to hold them, really.
TRAVIS: They're real big, right?
LAURA: Yeah, I'm cradling them, Grog.
MATT: Surprisingly, though, due to the platinum's design, they're not as heavy as you expect them, whether it'd be the enchantment or the material that it was made from. They're still heavy for you, Vex, because your strength is pretty shitty.
LAURA: Can I tell which one is which god?
MATT: Yes. The one that glows yellow, you feel a slight bit of kinship with the blessing you received from Pelor, the Dawnfather. The other two, you can differentiate being the sky blue color, probably with Ioun, the Knowing Mistress, and the black probably representing the Raven Queen.
LAURA: All right, cool, I'm going to hold on to the Pelor one. Pass them back.
TRAVIS: I've got the other two?
LAURA: Yeah. I don't know if anybody else wants to hold one.
TRAVIS: Just in case things go sour I also thought a nice way to use these, and I slide one between each of my fingers, and I hold it up. (shink) Okay, back in the Bag of Holding.
LIAM: Are you still embiggened right now?
TRAVIS: No, I haven't been biggened for a while.
LAURA: Yeah, he was only big fighting the bulette.
TRAVIS: Oh, wait. By the way, I believe you said that if I successfully did all of these trammels that you had something for me. Thought I wouldn't remember, did you?
LIAM: I did say that. It's rather personal, though, I hope the rest of you can understand that. I'm not going to be around for much longer, so I wanted to say--
SAM: Do you want us to step out so you can have a moment?
LIAM: No, we'll find a minute.
SAM: What? What does that mean?
LIAM: It's awkward; it's not something I'm comfortable talking with--
LAURA: So you want us to leave?
LIAM: No! We can talk out a plan. Tonight before we go to bed. It could be now; it could be later.
MARISHA: You've said too much about it now.
LIAM: I take Grog by the arm, and I usher him out the door of the mansion.
TRAVIS: This is weird.
LAURA: Outside the mansion? You're out the mansion now?
SAM: You're going outside?
LIAM: Just out the front door.
SAM: Into the inside of the volcano?
LIAM: Is it on fire?
MATT: It's certainly very hot.
LIAM: Fuck it, Grog, let's go downstairs.
TRAVIS: War room!
MARISHA: He has 40 floors!
TRAVIS: We're going down to the war room, which is a sand pit.
LIAM: Yeah, and I ignore all of the cat-calling and all of the sniping and all of the shittiness. These fucking assholes.
LAURA: Have fun, you two!
SAM: Use protection!
LIAM: That's what Grog is for!
MATT: The two of you descend the staircase into the subterranean war room, where there you see before you the giant sand pit that is currently adorned with multiple training dummies with armor and weapons. Strapped to them, magnificently pristine, based on how many times you destroyed and/or restructured the chamber, but there it lies before you.
LIAM: Big man?
TRAVIS: Yeah? That's me.
LIAM: I'm not going to be around much longer, probably, or you're not going to be around much longer; one or the other.
LIAM: Yeah. Boy, I've been holding on to a thing for a while now. Taryon, that scamp, gave me a gift ages ago. He became a fan after I pranked his ass at the beach. He caught the bug, and before we said our goodbyes, he talked to me for a bit and gave me something.
TRAVIS: You pranked his ass, and he caught the bug?
LIAM: Right, I've got to talk simpler; sorry. That's my mistake. Taryon gave me a very unique item, and the purpose of it was to fuck with you.
LIAM: I could say "turducken" and you people would turn it into sexual innuendo!
TRAVIS: I don't know what that is.
LIAM: Anyway, he wanted me to pull a prank on you, and we have a lot of history with that, and I held onto it for a long time, looking for a time that felt right, and it never happened, and sometimes I felt like I didn't want to do that anymore, but I don't want to let his gift go to waste. And truth be told, I did a bit of research on it. It is a love potion, Grog.
(gasping and cheering)
LIAM: Lasts about an hour.
LIAM: Lasts about an hour, and for a while, it was really tempting, and I was looking for a moment because that's you and me, that's history. But then I did some research and it turns out that it wouldn't have worked on you, anyway, because if you want someone to fall in love with you, it has to be on a person who you'd be interested in. And to quote a very handsome dickhead we know, I'm pretty sure you go taco, not hot dog.
LIAM: So I was right to assume then, yeah?
TRAVIS: Yep. Taco.
LIAM: We're not all so limited, but that's your thing; that's fine. I can't even use it on you, but I've got it. And I'm going to miss you. I'll be gone soon. I don't even know if we have time. A lot of us could be dead soon, but I'm not offering you this thing, but I'm offering you an experience.
TRAVIS: I don't know a lot of big words, but I feel like I need a little bit of clarification.
LIAM: I don't know if we have time for this, but maybe, for old time's sake, because I love you and I know you love me and we share this in common. I thought maybe we could prank Scanlan together.
LIAM: Because let's be honest, that guy would fuck a turducken in front of him.
TRAVIS: For the record, I have no doubt about where that conversation was going. None. You have a deal. I don't know how or when we are going to pull this off, but if you don't make time--
LIAM: Yeah. It could be tonight.
TRAVIS: Fuck it. It's tonight.
LIAM: Here's what I don't have. I don't have a plan.
TRAVIS: Nope, me neither. We never have those. So listen, maybe while we're eating some of those shitty salads that this fucking place makes now, you can drizzle it on the top, or does he have to drink it with a drink?
LIAM: I think he needs to down it one way or another. It could be mixed with something else; it could be on its own.
TRAVIS: Who do we make him fall in love with?
LIAM: Well, originally I was thinking maybe we could have a bet and see which one of us he falls in love with.
LIAM: And I know that's a shitty idea, but we have to get up and--
TRAVIS: I fucking love it.
(laughter and cheering)
LIAM: So that means isolating the gnome away from the others, because he could fall in love with literally anything or anyone.
TRAVIS: Yeah, but look. The hunter does not go after its prey in an isolated environment. The hunter finds him in his natural habitat. Let him roam free, I say.
LIAM: I'm not sure I know what that means, but I will carry this baton and follow your lead.
TRAVIS: Well, look. Before the rest of the group starts wondering what we're doing in the war room, let's go back up and whenever your sneaky ass thinks it's appropriate you (drip) in his drink. How about that?
LIAM: We'll call that Plan A. Plan B will be that you grab his ass, and I shove it in.
LIAM: Plan A, Plan B. You know those letters, you know that far.
TRAVIS: I do. I know that part. And we head back to the group.
SAM: Meanwhile, inside. I'm so happy to be back in the group.
SAM: It's been a pretty crazy few days but I feel like you've all accepted me and I'm so happy to be back. And I can't thank you enough, really, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you for fully accepting me back.
LAURA: We're really sorry for everything, Scanlan. You know we love you.
SAM: I love you, too. Not in a weird way.
LAURA: No. I'm married.
SAM: Just friends.
LAURA: That would be awkward.
LIAM: Hey, what are you guys talking about?
SAM: Oh, just how much we love life.
MARISHA: How we're a happy family, you know?
LIAM: We are. We are close.
TRAVIS: Who wants a drink?
SAM: It's a great idea, Grog. Invisible servants, bring us the finest vegan wine.
MATT: As a procession of ghostly entities make their way from the far-off kitchen on the basement floor of Scanlan's magnificent mansion, they procure a number of glass bottles containing wine. It's just wine.
SAM: But no added animal fats.
MATT: You're not wrong. Goblets are placed across the tables. Drinks are poured and you all have within your grasp a fair nightcap, if you will, before you find rest for the evening.
TRAVIS: (clears throat) Scanlan. Man. Great teamwork today. Everyone, really.
LAURA: Yeah, seriously. I'm so amazed with both you and Percy. You really pulled through, and we would be lost without both of you.
LIAM: I start examining my fingernails and moving closer to Scanlan.
MARISHA: I do feel like our teamwork has been getting better, though. We've been doing so good. Synergizing.
LAURA: Yeah, that fight could've gone terribly, and we pulled through as a team.
MARISHA: Oh, a hundred percent.
SAM: You know what, though? I know in the past, Vax, I've had my differences with you. I didn't like you charging after that dragon that one time, and we had some issues, but tonight I feel like we're close and you would never do anything to betray me.
LIAM: Oh, that wine looks really good.
SAM: Let's take a sip. But first, I was thinking about how close we've become, Vax, and I even wrote you a little inspirational song.
LIAM: Here, let me hold your drink.
SAM: Okay, sure. You'll hold my drink while I sing. This is a song to show you how much you mean to me and how close we've become over these years. It's a long one. (rapping) Don't be tired, I'm here to inspire. Before you blow out, let me light your fire. I got no choir, just a gnome and a lyre. So listen up to Burt Reynolds, esquire.
SAM: Oh, that's going to fuck me up. (rapping) You've got those moves like dagger! You're fast as a cat! You can attack five times-- I checked it with Matt! You can't be killed, and one more caveat: You get to sit next to the Poohbah de Doink of All This and That!
So imagine a dark room, lit from above. Folks as far as Czech Republic came to give you their love. Your heart is beating like a goddamn drum. It's singing, "I'm going back to Indiana, Indiana, here I come!" The tension is building, the roof's going to blow. This ain't a rehearsal, it's the motherfucking live show! Mic's rolling, camera's on, dice rolling, Scanlan's song. No more cajoling, this shit is on. This crowd is bigger than my cube-like dong!
SAM: You been down but what's it going to take to give you some sack, man? How about 2400 Critters chanting, "Vax'ildan! Vax'ildan! Vax'ildan!"
MATT: Go ahead and make a sleight of hand check.
LIAM: 29. That was inspiration to me?
MARISHA: He's inspiring you because he thinks you're going to fucking fail.
MATT: Scanlan, why don't you go ahead and make a perception check?
SAM: That's a 12.
LIAM: I instantly dive and grab Keyleth's eyes and cover them, and turn her away.
MARISHA: Stop. Get off of me!
MARISHA: Why? Your hands are a little clammy. Oh god! Why are you sweating? Why are you nervous? You're nervous!
MATT: A very strange display from Vax'ildan. However, your drink is available for you at the table.
LAURA: That was a great song, Scanlan.
SAM: That's good stuff! Man, I feel invigorated!
MATT: All right, so as you finish the drink, you blink your eyes. I'm going to ask you, Scanlan, who do you see first?
SAM: Let's see here, what do we got, six people over here?
MATT: Well, you have two that have dove off to the side.
SAM: Oh, okay. Then I'll roll a d4. One, two-- oh wait, it's just three. It was a fucking four. Two! Okay, Keyleth.
MATT: No, Keyleth is being shielded right now.
SAM: Oh shit! Well, then it's just Vex or Percy? Or wait, are those two, too?
MATT: The other people in the room right now are Percival, Vex, or Grog.
SAM: Okay, well, then it would be Grog. Do I have three choices or four?
LAURA: You have four choices!
SAM: Four choices! All right, and could you raise your hand if you're one of my choices? Okay. One, two, three, four. It's Percy.
MATT: So here's my question, Scanlan. First and foremost, let me pull up. Is there a saving throw?
LIAM: Philter of Love.
LIAM: I can recite it for you, if you like. The next time you see a creature within ten minutes after drinking this philter, you become charmed by the creature for one hour. If the creature is of a species and gender you are normally attracted to-- turducken-- you regard it as your true love while you are charmed. This potion's rose-hued effervescent liquid contains one easy-to-miss bubble shaped like a heart.
MATT: How long does it last?
LIAM: One hour.
MATT: All right. And I guess my question to you, Scanlan, is based on your journeys and travels across the lands of Tal'Dorei and beyond, how adventurous have you been in your various exploits?
SAM: A human man? That was teenage years, baby. I've gone much further than that since then.
MATT: Then as you glance up into the beautiful eyes of the white-haired Master of Whitestone, his white locks gently curling at the tips from an afternoon of sweating amongst the heat of the volcano, his fingers gingerly caressing the outside of the goblet in which he's enjoyed his own wine. You find yourself impossibly attracted to your once ally, now direction of your affection.
SAM: I don't know. I don't know if it's the wine talking, but oh man. I feel something I've never felt before, Percival.
TALIESIN: That sounds like the wine talking.
SAM: I've never seen you in this light before. Your eyebrows. I want to lick them. They seem soft.
LAURA: You want to what?!
SAM: That came out wrong. What I meant was, what are you doing later?
LAURA: I walk up and I palm Scanlan's forehead and slam him to the ground. What the fuck are you doing?
SAM: I'm sorry! It's just, well, you've seen it.
SAM: The way he looks at you and everything stops. The way all sound fades away when he's talking.
MARISHA: No, that's his Silence spell that he got recently.
SAM: The way he *cocks* his gun. (groans) Holds it so firmly. It trembles just a little but then *bang*. (moans) Just a gentle touch is all it takes.
TALIESIN: Would this be an insight check, at this point?
TALIESIN: Oh no.
TRAVIS: No, it's not! Is it really?
LAURA: I'm going to feel his forehead. Does he feel warm?
TALIESIN: How long have you felt this way? This is a bit--
SAM: It feels like forever. (singing) One song, glory. One song to win your heart, glory. Where do I even start?
TALIESIN: I don't know what's happening right now.
SAM: (singing) One song from the pretty boy gnome.
TRAVIS: We fucked up. Oh man.
LAURA: Scanlan, I don't blame you. I don't. This seems to be coming out of nowhere, and he's married to me, and I will cut you!
SAM: Love knoweth no boundaries, and even though there's a significant age difference between us.
LAURA: How much of an age difference?
SAM: I'm not at liberty to say.
SAM: Why does marriage need to be so constricting, man? I mean, can't we be free in this crazy mixed-up world?
TALIESIN: I'm not going to pretend that I'm not extremely flattered by this, and I am, but I don't know.
SAM: I want to see you naked.
MARISHA: Scanlan, are you experiencing a bit of cotton mouth? Maybe?
SAM: (smacking) Yes.
MARISHA: Are your pupils a little dilated?
SAM: The lights.
LAURA: I'm going to look into his eyes. Are his eyes dilated?
MARISHA: I turn to Vax. What did you do?
TALIESIN: Is it that hard to believe that maybe someone finds me attractive?
LIAM: Guys, this is all besides the point. We have a god to kill. What are we going to do about the god?
SAM: Yes. No, we should talk. We should strategize.
(laughter and cheering)
LIAM: I want to step outside the game for a second to say that Sam Riegel gave me a bullet to kill Travis Willingham with, and I have turned the gun back on Sam Riegel.
LIAM: And shortly, it will be my time to die.
MATT: After this unique and unexpected display of overt affection, you find yourself sitting around a table amongst the mansion to discuss over your wine and confusion what plan of action to take next in your journey to take down the Whispered One, the Undying King.
LAURA: I'm going to sit directly between Percy and Scanlan for all of this conversation.
TRAVIS: So we rest and then we go hunting? Or do we try and rally allies?
SAM: I cast Mage Hand to tickle Percy's knee.
LAURA: I have a 23 passive perception, Scanlan.
MATT: Scanlan, make a sleight of hand check.
MATT: Yeah, you see him starting to make his fingers over towards your boy.
LAURA: I grab his fingers and start to bend them backwards. I whisper in his ear: do you want to keep playing your fucking lute or not?
SAM: I'd prefer it if Percy did.
LAURA: Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? How long have you felt this way? Because this is very fucking strange, Scanlan.
SAM: I don't know. It was love at first sight, but now, so not first. I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'll try to keep it together. I'll think of gross things. Victor's ball sack. Ugh.
MATT: "Learn from my mistakes."
SAM: Why are they so singed? All right. Okay, let's focus up. Okay. Go on, strategize.
LIAM: Time! We don't have a lot of time. So what are we going to do with it? Are we going to get allies? Are we going to talk to Allura again? Gilmore?
TRAVIS: Ooh, wait. First things first, do we know where he is? Don't you have the ability to like--
LAURA: Oh yeah. Is he still in the same place?
LIAM: I don't know in here; I need to shove my head out the door for a sec.
LAURA: Well, shove your head out the door.
MATT: All right. As you emerge into the heated air of the sub-ocean volcano, you take a moment and concentrate and you can sense the direction and distance seems to be approximately the same.
LAURA: He hasn't moved at all?
MATT: Make a perception check, I guess.
MATT: 24. You take about five minutes or so to concentrate, and while the distance and direction is relatively the same, there is very faint movement.
LIAM: Am I able to feel gradual coming towards where we are, away, anything like that?
MATT: From where you are currently, which is in the volcano, it seems to be east and south of its previous location.
LAURA: Where would that move him towards?
MARISHA: Towards Vasselheim.
TALIESIN: We should maybe go to Vasselheim in the morning, start to rally.
LAURA: Yeah. Do Allura and Gilmore and Kima and everyone, do they know what's going on? Have we sent word?
TALIESIN: Well, we've sent some word out to the world.
LIAM: We've sent messages to Tary and to who else? There were two messages sent.
MARISHA: Tary, the Ashari.
SAM: Kaylie. I think.
TALIESIN: We activated the beacons.
MARISHA: We activated the Chaos Orbs. Crisis Orbs. I always mess them up.
TRAVIS: So we should rest and head Vasselheim?
TALIESIN: We're not any good to anybody at the moment, so I imagine so.
LIAM: I think we'll all feel better after a night's sleep. Yeah.
TRAVIS: Scanlan, where are you sleeping tonight?
SAM: In my room.
TRAVIS: Do we need to post guards outside?
SAM: I have all the guards I need. Don't worry, I'll be safe.
MARISHA: We're not worried about you.
TALIESIN: It'll be fine.
LAURA: It'll be fine!
TRAVIS: It'll be great.
SAM: So we're going to sleep and then to Vasselheim?
TRAVIS: We rest and then we go.
TALIESIN: That's the plan.
SAM: Okay, let's do it.
MATT: All right. Finishing your wine, you all scatter to your various rooms throughout the mansion, prepare yourselves for an evening's rest. In the morning, journey to the cradle of civilization, Vasselheim.
TALIESIN: I do set a bucket trap at the door just in case. I set a bucket trap.
LIAM: As everybody's trundling up the stairs, I catch Grog alone for a second and say: let this stand as a testament to how much I love you. I'm sorry that I shaved your beard.
TRAVIS: Thank you. I don't have to kill you now.
LIAM: Give him a little pinch on the cheek. Oh, Grog, you couldn't if you tried. Now. Good night, big guy.
MATT: All right. You all find yourselves in your chambers. Anything else you wish to do before the evening comes to a close?
SAM: Yes. Sorry, Matt. I know we're trying to get to other things, but magic compels me to put on my best silk g-string, and it compels me to use the series of tunnels that interconnect all of the rooms.
TALIESIN: Oh shit! No!
SAM: That only I know about. And it compels me to sneak into Percival's room in the dead of night and crawl into bed with him.
LAURA: I'm in the bed, you motherfucker!
SAM: Are you in there?!
LAURA: We're married!
SAM: I thought it was like the 50s, where you had two twin beds.
MATT: Have you seen their gold pile?
SAM: Then I guess I better be extra stealthy.
MATT: Make a stealth check.
SAM: Okay. I think that's going to work. Eight.
MATT: With a slight jostle, Vex'ahlia and Percival, you both pop one eye open and glance over as what you thought at first may be a small child crawling into your bed, scared of a midnight storm, instead find a magnificent, silk-adorned, familiar gnome trying to wedge himself between your bodies, which is impressive, based on the spooning position you're already in.
SAM: Let it happen.
TALIESIN: I reach underneath my pillow. I grab a small copper ball. Manners.
MATT: All right. And that's a strength ability check?
TALIESIN: That's a strength check, I believe.
SAM: Just a check?
MATT: Is it a check or saving throw? That's the distinction now.
TALIESIN: Where is it? It's a check, not a saving throw.
MATT: With a rapid series of clicks, whirrs and grinding of metal, you watch as a metallic exoskeleton unwinds from the sphere, (clicking) wraps itself around your body. You find yourself suddenly bound and held in place, unable to shift, as these cold metal bars wrap around you like an exoskeleton.
LAURA: Scanlan Shorthalt, tell me now why I shouldn't feed you to Trinket.
TALIESIN: I undo the lock so he can talk.
SAM: I'm sorry! I don't know what's happening to me. I know that this is your marital bed. Can I at least watch? I promise I won't look at you, Vex. I won't look at you at all! I'll just be looking at Percy.
LAURA: Would we know that something is wrong?
TALIESIN: I rolled a one. I don't know anything's wrong.
MATT: Make an insight check on this.
LAURA: What am I making? Insight. Okay.
MATT: Now that you're up close and definitely discerning his behavior.
LAURA: Fucking A.
TALIESIN: I rolled a one.
LAURA: It's a 12, but I rolled a three.
MATT: You get the sense that something's off and different, but you think it may be a practical joke or he's trying to fuck with you.
LAURA: All I have is Lesser Restoration. Unless you're fucking with me, I'm going to try Lesser Restoration.
TALIESIN: Or we could go to his room and defile his room. God only knows what's happened there.
LAURA: Here's the thing, darling. If something is wrong with him, and this is so out of character I'm afraid something is wrong with him-- not that you're not completely desirable--
TALIESIN: That's all I needed to hear; go on.
LAURA: But he needs a good night's sleep and I'm afraid he won't get it in this.
TALIESIN: All right.
LAURA: I'm going to try Lesser Restoration on him. I'm not sure if it'll work.
TALIESIN: In case this is magical, I want to leave you with something.
LAURA: In case it's not, don't do that anymore.
MATT: All right. You extend your hand. You complete the incantation under your breath and begrudgingly administer a Lesser Restoration spell onto his body. You watch as his gnomish form suddenly flashes with a brief burst of divine energy, and as it subsides, his eyes blink and stare back to Percival with the same longing lust that he had when he entered the room.
LAURA: Well, fuck. I got nothing. Scanlan! Seriously, this is not acceptable. Go to bed! If we let you out of this cage, will you go to bed?
SAM: (muffled agreement)
LAURA: I'm going to send Trinket to your room with you, and he's going to sleep on top of you so that you will go to sleep.
SAM: (muffled agreement)
LAURA: Yeah, let's do that.
TALIESIN: Manners. (click)
MATT: All right. It unlatches itself and reforms into the iron ball that you carry at your side. Scanlan, as you fall the ground clasping the floor with your hands and knees, breathing heavily, still the warmth subsiding from the slight touch that you received at Percival's fingertips. Based on the time you spent drinking, conversing, scattering to your rooms, getting dressed and making sure you were properly prepared for this endeavor, making your way through the tunnels stealthing in at this moment, it's right about now that the phial wears off.
SAM: Ha ha! Just a birthday prank. Is it your birthday?
LAURA and TALIESIN: No.
SAM: Oh, got the date wrong. (retching) I need to change. I have jizzed in my pants.
SAM: I'm sorry.
TALIESIN: Too much information. Thank you.
SAM: Have a good evening.
TALIESIN: Good evening. Do you walk out the main door?
SAM: The main door.
TALIESIN: Okay, so you do in fact trigger a bucket.
TALIESIN: With a viscous powder that I mixed up. It's basically a flour base. It's going to be a real pain to wash off.
MATT: You're a ghost-white, bucket-headed gnome in a silk g-string.
LAURA: Why? Why did you do it?
SAM: For the lulz?
SAM: I don't know. I'll see you in the morning.
TALIESIN: I'm going to block the secret passage. I'm going to shift some furniture.
LIAM: By the way, when everyone asks me tomorrow on social media why I did it, same answer.
TALIESIN: This was good. Well done, you.
MATT: After some disconcerting conversation between the married couple and a shameful walk back to your own chambers, you eventually find yourself coming to rest for the evening. After a full night's sleep, you find yourself with your spells restored, your hit points restored, half your hit dice restored, and an embarrassing morning breakfast before you. As you all come down to a fine vegan breakfast meal there on the table, you all have conversation, start plotting and planning, and you hear the gentle footsteps of one slowly approaching Scanlan to the breakfast table.
LAURA: Oh, hey.
SAM: (husky) Hey. (clears throat) Didn't sleep a lot. Sorry. Hey, Percy.
MARISHA: What distributor do you get your wine from? Just curious.
SAM: I don't want to talk about it.
MATT: All right, so finishing your meals. What do you guys want to do? You're going to Vasselheim. How are you doing that?
MARISHA: Okay. Do we have a plan before we get there? Before I teleport us into the middle of a city that might possibly be in the middle of a war zone?
LIAM: Why don't I go see how much progress he's made? And I stick my skull out the door again and see how far he's gotten.
MATT: Okay. Make a perception check.
LIAM: Very good. 30.
MATT: Okay. Listening to your senses and focusing on the direction, still traveling. Still relatively slow pace, as far as the general distance, but it's making headway. It's traveled throughout the night a number of miles.
TALIESIN: We should at least prepare Vasselheim, then.
TRAVIS: Yeah. He hasn't obviously gotten there, right?
TALIESIN: If a wrath of a dark god is on its way, they should probably prepare themselves.
MARISHA: Also, I'm assuming he's traveling with an army.
TALIESIN: We would assume. With one eye each.
LAURA: Oh god. What if Vasselheim is a show of power?
TALIESIN: That would be likely.
SAM: Let's hurry.
TRAVIS: Where to in Vasselheim?
MARISHA: How long would it take us to get out? Oh, wait. We chartered that boat; do we care about those people?
MARISHA: Or are we just going to leave them in the middle of the ocean?
LAURA: They were only going to wait for us a couple of days, and then they were going to head back.
LIAM: Yeah, they would assume we drowned.
MARISHA: Okay, fair argument.
MATT: Yeah, you gather that probably when they drove a bunch of yahoos out in the middle of the ocean to dive under a volcano in the ocean that they did not expect you to return.
MARISHA: We did put a 500 gold holding deposit on, an incidental that we will not get back.
LAURA: I think the destruction of the world may be more important than 500 gold.
LAURA: I know.
SAM: Quick, cast Lesser Restoration on yourself!
MARISHA: It would probably take us a while to get up and out to a tree, right? I'm being a little selfish with my upper-level spells.
TALIESIN: No, I feel it.
TRAVIS: Up and out to it. Up the volcano, up the water--
MARISHA: Okay, you know what? Don't worry about it, let's go. Let's just Plane Shift.
MATT: That's an arduous journey back to any possible tree.
TRAVIS: Wanted to talk that one out.
MARISHA: Yeah. I Plane Shift us to Vasselheim.
MATT: All right, so you Plane Shift to Vasselheim. As you guys encircle your hands once more, Keyleth, you focus on whereabouts in Vasselheim?
TRAVIS: The Trial Forge?
LAURA: Or Melora's tree maybe?
(laughter and applause)
SAM: Residual magic.
TRAVIS, SAM, and TALIESIN: Trial Forge?
MARISHA: Where will you not get arrested?
TRAVIS: No one's going to even notice me. Yeah, they were ringing the bells and running around and getting prepared and stuff. Yeah, and if for some reason, somebody's like, "That guy punched me in the face," we'll just punch them.
TALIESIN: I agree with this plan.
MARISHA: Trial Forge.
MATT: All right. With that, you close your eyes. Beneath your breath, you recite the incantation. With that, you feel your body suddenly sucked into a dark void and thrust through the absence of space. And within a moment's time, before you can adjust to the sudden cold and dark vacuous void around you, your feet hit hard ground, your eyes focus again to the light, and you glance around and the center streets, not actually directly at the Trial Forge-- ooh, we got music, finally. In the streets around the Braving Grounds, you can see the smokestacks from the Trial Forge over the distance. You also notice that the sky above you is deep, dark gray clouds. It's as if there is a perpetual eclipse placed upon this ground. You look around in all directions, and you see this roiling gray cloud cluster that encompasses the entirety of the sky above you, which should be mid-morning or midday. It's blotted out by the storm-- rainfall is absent-- and you see flashes of light and occasionally framing strange shapes and clouds. Whether by illusion or by a trick of your mind, you swear you see shifting darkness and forms, images in the clouds: giant faces silently screaming, hundreds of feet across that extend and push out of the clouds and draw back into the sky. Massive hands that push against them, only to slowly recede moments later. You blink and they're gone, leaving you unsettled regardless and uncertain as to whether or not that was just you or if everyone can see this.
As your focus shifts from the sky above, you look around and you can see bastions are stationed all across the perimeter walls of Vasselheim. You see large ballistae mounted and armed as watchers scour the distant horizon on all sides looking for any sign of something in the distance making its way towards the city, based on the warning you previously gave. Unlit beacons sit at every major structure and juncture of the stone walls, awaiting the burning sign that an assault is spotted. Militia and armored guard move with haste to stations across the city quarters. You can feel the air of war permeating the streets.
The streets are far emptier than you recall, the stragglers returning to their homes with carts full of rations, produce, and weapons. Fear grips their face as they pass by. You glance off to your left, and you can see a wiry old man in the corner, his tangled silver and blond hair, bouncing with fervor, as he shouts out, "The reckoning of our opulence has come! The gods are away and the price of our hubris comes to consume us." But no one's paying him mind. His tattered bones jangling, his knees across each other, as he makes his way through the streets, his face a glance of utter despair.
You notice an argument between two bastions and a middle-aged bearded man who is painting a familiar symbol on his front door, not too far from where you stand. A five-year-old girl cries and clings to his leg. What do you do?
TALIESIN: What is the symbol?
MATT: Make a perception check.
TALIESIN: I'll make a perception check. Let's see if you'll roll a one again. No, that's much better. 28.
MATT: Glancing at this distance, you see a familiar and striking shape. It is a haphazardly drawn circle with a dark, reddish purple paint and a small line and a pronged fork of four prongs painted up against this wall.
MARISHA: Oh, hell no.
LAURA: He's painting it on the door? The guy in the city is?
MATT: The father figure.
LIAM: Yeah. It could be to pass over their house.
MARISHA: Pass over?
LAURA: That's the Vecna symbol, right?
MATT: Sensing the distance of Vecna, he's still far to the northwest of here. But what was once a few hundred miles is now, shortly, about two hundred or so, and getting lesser and lesser.
LAURA: Fuck. Should we go up and talk to that guy?
MARISHA: Maybe one of us. Maybe not all of us.
LAURA: You there.
MATT: As you make the shout, you see the soldiers are currently arguing with him. One says, "You welcome this rubbish? Are you one them kook believers?"
And the father is angrily staring in his face and says, "You mind your business. I have no love for this, but if these dreams are true, I must protect my family."
MATT: They turn and look at you as you approach.
LAURA: What dreams?
MATT: The soldiers take a step back with a look of recognition across you as you step forward with your white dragon scale armor. They know not to approach and there is seemingly a sense of knowing who you are, at least from the legends that are told amongst the streets of Vasselheim. The father turns to you and seeing your lordly approach, and strong voice, immediately. "The nightmares I've had, and I'm not the first. This symbol. It scares me, but if something comes like they say it is, I must it let it know that we have no quarrel. To leave my family be."
LAURA: This symbol will not protect you.
MATT: "How do you know this?"
LAURA: Because I know his followers. They won't have mercy. They'll gouge out eyes, remove your hand, and make you one of them.
MATT: Make a persuasion check, please.
LAURA: Okay. Hold on. 17?
MATT: Okay, he looks at you for a moment, his eyes keen with fear, and his face. "You're certain of this, my lady?"
MATT: "Will you protect us, then?"
LAURA: We'll do our best. That's what we're here for.
MATT: He looks past you, the rest of your companions, all looking well-armed and definitely capable. Looks down and rubs the hair of his little girl, her sandy blonde hair curled up and a bit dirtied. Looking down from her gaze, up to you, he says, "Then I trust you." He takes the tattered paintbrush he was using and smears across the symbol, destroying it.
LAURA: Dear god, I hope that works.
MATT: He goes inside with his daughter. Before he closes the door: "Thank you. Please, help." Pulls the rest of the cart in and closes the door behind with a slam.
The two guards awkwardly look at each other and back to you. "Thank you."
MATT: "Be safe." And they both wander off.
LAURA: I don't think they noticed you, Grog.
TRAVIS: Man, I'm fucking slick.
MATT: Knowing the location, you're not that far from the Quadroads juncture between the different areas. You can go further towards the Trial Forge or back towards the center of where the Quadroads meets between that and where the Platinum Sanctuary and Platinum Dragon section is. There is the temple to Sarenrae, where you left Pike previously. What do you wish to do?
MARISHA: Is the crazy zealot still running around?
MATT: Yeah. He seems to be scattered through the streets. He's maybe 60 feet away, still shouting obscenities and weird doom-saying prophecies.
MARISHA: I walk up to him.
MATT: Okay. As he's shouting this time, "He will come! He will destroy us! You! He will destroy you, too! I've seen it! I've seen it."
MARISHA: Yeah. I believe you. I've seen it, too.
MATT: "Good! Then save yourself! Run! Run far!"
MARISHA: Wait. How did he talk to you?
MATT: "In my mind. In my dreams. He comes. He says it's inevitable. The clouds, they come as the first warning. The first seal broken. The sky has already left us. The sun is gone!"
MARISHA: Okay. Yeah, no. Accurate.
MATT: "Beware the Undying King!" And he goes to run off, away.
LAURA: Is he already gone?
MATT: He's running away.
MARISHA: Man, I don't know how to deal with that type of abrasive personality.
LAURA: Maybe it's best to not let people give him power, because the more people believe in him, the stronger of a god he becomes.
MARISHA: But that guy resisted. He knew when others didn't. And he was crazy.
LAURA: Could you maybe make the sun reappear?
MARISHA: I don't know. Can I do a nature check to see if this is above my capabilities?
MATT: It's definitely an unnatural form of weather pattern. You get the sense that this is itself a minor miracle.
MARISHA: A minor miracle?
MATT: Well, yeah. The sky that stretches beyond all sides of the horizon is of similar strange, roiling cloud doom.
LAURA: Is it like Ghostbusters?
MATT: It's very similar, yeah. We're talking top of the tower, curling ink clouds out to each side, traveling with vast speed in almost all directions. You see no plain, single path in which they're traveling. They're emanating.
MARISHA: This seems like a minor miracle.
LAURA: Yeah. Can you miracle more?
MARISHA: I could maybe try to carve out a patch of sunlight above us, but I don't think it would be anything more than a morale boost, at this point.
TALIESIN: If we did it at a temple, perhaps.
LAURA: Maybe above the Sarenrae temple.
LIAM: He's bearing down on us. We need to tell Pike. We need to warn the authorities. We need to tell the Temple of Bahamut, the Slayer's Take.
MARISHA: We have to keep people from defecting to him. The more people that he has, the more of his symbols that get spread around out of fear, the more he'll win.
TRAVIS: Right, but we can only either spread the word that we're going to resist or spread the word that it's about time to fight. We can only do one or the other.
LIAM: He's coming, one way or another.
MARISHA: I turn to one of the guards of Vasselheim.
MATT: One of them's rushing past. He has a cluster of spears under one arm.
MARISHA: If there was a universal sign of Vasselheim, a symbol of Vasselheim, or a sign to fight, what would it be?
MATT: "There is no universal symbol. There are many symbols in Vasselheim. All the various divinities that lie here have their own symbol."
MARISHA: Okay. I didn't know if there was like a rally or cry or something that you all universally believed in. There's got to be something, a symbol of Vasselheim.
MATT: "Vasselheim is a divided and united city as one."
MARISHA: All right, you know what? Never mind! Jeez, your politics.
MATT: He gives a strange glint of a glare towards your larger goliath friend. Right as he begins to squint, you hear a voice on the distance go, "Lieutenant, we need you!"
"Right away." And he rushes off with spears under his arm.
MARISHA: Thanks, lieutenant, for nothing. Okay, maybe some sort of sign will help them.
TALIESIN: If we're going to make a sun appear--
LAURA: Let's do it at the temple of Sarenrae or the temple of Pelor.
MARISHA: All right, we go to the temple of Sarenrae!
MATT: You make your way to the temple. You enter the interior, and you can see most everyone is in silent prayer. They're all either holding hands or clutching close their smaller kin, these renewed worshippers of the Everlight. Glancing around, you don't see Pike currently in the vicinity. All you see if one of the head priests, Coraline, is currently off to the side is tending to a few of the folks from the interior.
LIAM: (shouting) Pike?
MATT: Coraline looks over and sees you guys enter. "Oh!" Rushes up to you. "I'm sorry, she's not here, she went to the Platinum Sanctuary. Apparently, there's a discussion, a meeting of some kind."
MARISHA: Right now?
MATT: "Right now. She left not but an hour ago."
MARISHA: Okay, go!
LIAM: Thank you.
MATT: "Of course."
MATT: Walking up the endless stair along side of the mountain that signifies the northern end of Vasselheim, you see small units of silver and blue armored warriors of the Platinum Dragon descend past you, rushing and giving you a sidelong glance as they do. A nod of recognition as some of them recognize you upon your approach.
Eventually, through an exhausting ascent and seeing the clouds growing darker and darker, you begin to see that there is, from this vantage point, a very slight shift in their direction. They seem to be coming from the northwest.
You eventually reach the base of the massive pillars that mark the stronghold's entrance, where you've been a number of times before. You immediately notice a crowd of mixed attire. You see Scalebearers standing tensely along various bastion members. You see warriors of the Dawn Fist in their gold and red robes. And you see soldiers of brass and sapphire: the Hand of Ord is here, as well. Now, upon approaching the guards. The guards at the front gate see you and expectantly signify for the gates to open with a shifting (thudding). The two large marble doorways open inside, just enough for you to pass within.
You enter the central chambers, the inner sanctum of the Platinum Sanctuary, where the marble halls lead to the familiar circular forum chambers where you last met with the Highbearer Vord, the Silver-Touched, who stands there before you, among his guard, in heated discussion. The room is lively with representatives of each temple clustered behind their highest lord. The red-robed Dawn Fist of Kord flank Earthbreaker Groon. Philosophers gather near Holy Curator Curtis Uleas of the Quadroads of Erathis. The Gladekeepers of the Birthheart stand behind the High Hierophant Ophera, while the dark-veiled maidens of the Raven Queen gather, leaderless, as is their order. Pike stands at the edge of the council, trying to listen in, before seeing you and rushing to your side. (panting) "Hi!"
MATT: She rushes in and gives a few quick hugs. "Did it work? Did you do it?"
TRAVIS: Yeah! (whispering) We got the stuff.
LAURA: (whispering) We made them!
MATT: "Good. Things are a bit tense." And as she turns, you see now at the back of the council, towering over most others and without armed support stands the dark skinned, beautiful J'mon Sa Ord, their simple clothing swathed in a loose hanging robe of gold and sky blue. J'mon's smoldering pupils shift in your direction, and they give you a nod of respect. The discussions halt as you approach, recognition also falling across the room. At which point, the Highbearer Vord turns to you saying "Vox Machina, with a gift of timing. Have you anything to aid in this crisis?"
LAURA: So much.
MATT: "Then please, take the center of the chambers. I believe everyone here could use some form of good news." He steps back, and as the rest of the guards empty, they open the central space of the chamber for you to approach.
TALIESIN: Well, technically we've already been observable, so there's very little that we can say that he doesn't already know.
LAURA: He's listening right now.
LIAM: How much do you know already?
MATT: "We have only taken a bit from what your companion here, Pike of the Everlight, has said. You went off to a volcano?"
MARISHA: And we defeated it!
MATT: "You defeated a volcano?"
MARISHA: Kind of.
LAURA: Look, I'm sure you've realized by this point that Vecna has ascended to godhood.
MATT: As he begins to speak, immediately the High Hierophant Ophera steps forward. "Yes, the dreams have spread. We've seen and spoken with the clerics all across this land, and it seems that a new force has shoved its way amongst the rest of the pantheon, though apparently closer."
LAURA: He's not reached his full power yet. The only way it will happen is if he claims a great use of power.
MARISHA: Yeah, performs a miracle. He needs followers.
LAURA: He's on his way here. The more followers he has the more power he has.
MATT: At that, when you say, "he's on his way here," you watch as Groon steps forward, arms still crossed, "How do you know he's coming?"
MARISHA: (stammers) Just look outside.
TRAVIS: Keyleth, hey, whoa. Take it down.
SAM: We don't need the sass.
MARISHA: But I'm not sassing!
TRAVIS: With respect, there are those among us that can like tell where he is moving.
LIAM: I am the paladin of the Raven Queen.
MATT: At which point two of the maidens behind you say in unison together, "That he is, and the visions we've seen, as well. The pretender god. His words, channeled through prayers, speak of a new terror, a vile tyrant unchecked. Believe him. His words are that of our lady." And both of them step back once more.
MARISHA: Have you met them before?
MATT: They said it in unison.
MARISHA: Are you friends? Are you on the same mailing list?
LIAM: They all look similar.
LAURA: So yeah, he's got this ability.
LIAM: She has granted me knowledge of his whereabouts, and he is coming fast.
MATT: Vord now speaks up from behind. "Good, then let us gather our resources. The esteemed J'mon Sa Ord has agreed to lend aid and resources to our defense."
At which point, J'mon speaks up. "This threat stretches beyond the borders of Issylra. The clouds darken even our desert skies. If this specter of the Age of Arcanum has indeed ascended, as the clerics here are convinced, then it is a threat that we of Ank'Harel cannot ignore."
Vord then turns his head frustratingly to the east and says, "And King Bertrand Dwendal has declined aid, claiming that until this rumored scourge arrives on Dwendalian soil, it is of no interest to the crown of Wildemount. No resources can be spared chasing whispers. We have sent out scouting parties, however. As you've said, this threat seems to be coming from the northwest, last you came through. And wyvern riders are seeking the location of this Thar Amphala."
At which point, there's a flash of blue arcane energy in the back of the room. Everyone turns; the guards have their weapons drawn out ready. And you spin to see a familiar blonde-haired mage with braids on the side--
MATT: A bit out of breath, and in the same flash behind, a golden-armored halfling of sun-kissed skin and long, golden, curling hair. Large weapon dragging behind. Allura then, hand up in resignation, staff to the side. "We are merely here to offer counsel and communication. We mean no harm, nor to bring our arcane knowledge to your quarters, and I apologize, but extenuating circumstances require strange bedfellows, I think you will agree. However, at the first sight of threat upon Tal'Dorei, understand that we will seek your assistance with haste, as well. Emon and the council cannot survive another catastrophe, so we are here to behest and ask only you're ready to return depending on when or where this assault strikes."
There's a bit of muttering amongst the crowd and some grumbling. Highbearer Vord nods. "We are in need of aid and as many friends as we can gather. You are welcome, Arcanist Vysoren."
LAURA: Allura, does the sky look like this in Emon?
MATT: "It, in the past 12 hours or so, has stretched across the Ozmit Sea and now seeks to consume as far as the east coast of Tal'Dorei. If this is what I believe it is, within the next half-to-full day the entirety of Exandria will be under the shaded sky of Vecna."
SAM: Well, maybe the miracle thing is just the change in weather, and we'll be okay.
SAM: Not all miracles have to be deadly.
MATT: "Very well. Will you be there fighting with our armies, in the front line?"
TRAVIS: We will. I guess my only question is: do we wait for him to come to us, or do we try to take the fight to him?
MATT: "I do not wish to fight him where he expects it. As we are a city that has prided itself on its impenetrable defenses, I can guarantee you that this entity has seemingly procured, or cleverly divined, some way of breaching. I gather he would expect less us bringing it to him. We hoped to have information on the whereabouts of this city directly. What else do we have?"
LAURA: We have the knowledge that we can't take him by surprise.
MATT: "What do you mean?"
LAURA: He sees everything.
TALIESIN: He hears everything.
TRAVIS: Yeah, he's been spying on us for quite some time now, little shit.
MARISHA: I wouldn't be surprised if there is a spy in this room.
TALIESIN: Or at least an open ear.
MARISHA: You have citizens of your city that are starting to paint his symbol on their doors out of fear. This is the last thing you want in the middle of this crisis. All time spent with any volunteer hands need to be from any spare clerics who can help calm the minds of the afraid.
MATT: He looks out amongst the rest of the crowd that has gathered here in the center inner sanctum. "Her words speak true. If he's indeed seeking to undermine the worship of this city, and as such break the defenses of our great creators, then we need whatever strength your temples have here, calming the people of Vasselheim and beyond. If you think he sees all--"
TALIESIN: I think he sees this city as a ripe audience.
MATT: At this point, you watch as Vord steps forward, fiddling with one finger. "Long ago, this grand temple nearly fell to the prying minds of terrible mages. This here," and he pulls a ring from his finger, "is call the Band of Shrouds, a powerful implement of the Highbearer to shunt these prying magics aside. I lend it to you for the coming struggle." And he passes it over to Vex'ahlia.
MATT: "Kept close enough to the one who wears this ring, I doubt even his newly-born eyes could pierce it. However, it can only affect those nearby, so if you are to strike, perhaps it's best you do so away from his vision, and we distract."
LAURA: So he can't hear us right now?
MATT: Everyone in the room takes a few steps closer to you.
MATT: "Within this chamber, it seems so, yes."
LAURA: (sighs) It feels so good!
LIAM: I think that would look better on your middle finger, darling.
LAURA: Oh, good call.
MATT: At which point the doors in the back of the chamber burst open once more, and you watch as two armored figures come rushing up out of breath. (panting) You see as these two wyvern riders, recognizing their armor with the horns and the large dragon-like build of their armor and headpiece, looking damaged and splashed with crimson, come charging in. One of them, the helmet is removed and you see a young man shouting through his wounded breaths. "Highbearer! Rider Ephatus, with Rider Marley, returning from beyond Moldire and the Tordusk pass. We found the Dark City."
Everyone immediately begins to mutter beneath their breath. The voices begin to rise as the Highbearer puts his hand out to hush them. "It lies within a valley a few miles into the Zenwick Mountains. Our team attempted to infiltrate, but an unseeable barrier protects the city grounds from all sides. We found ourselves overrun by errant magics and winged beasts of shadow and hunger. Only Marley and myself survived. We were only a scouting regiment!"
At which point, the High Hierophant steps forward. "Zenwick, of all places. Curious indeed."
The Highbearer turns again. "Very well, if this is true, we must mobilize our forces very quickly."
Groon steps forward once more. "We can push our ground troops along the Glasswalk Road, towards the range."
Allura steps forward to join the conversation. "If we can choose some elite select numbers for an onsite assault, I can transport them."
At which point the Curator Curtis, steps in. "You'll do nothing of the kind! It is arcane perversions that enabled this madman, and we will *not* allow--"
Ophera steps forward putting her hand in front of his face now, saying, "We have druids who are familiar with the woods surrounding the base of the Zenwick Mountains. We could transport you to those trees, a number of you, for an initial assault while the rest of our ground forces assemble northward."
At which point, the wounded rider speaks up, loudly. "I am not done! My apologies. Only Marley and myself survived with one of our wyverns. As we fled over the nearest mountaintop as fast as we could, Marley saw--"
And the other one takes her helmet off, and you can see caked with blood, one eye swollen shut and a giant wound across the face. "I saw the city move, part of it. It moved, I swear it. I heard a rumble over the winds, looked past and back over our shoulders, and I saw the city begin to rise."
Silence takes the room. I would like any of you with a fair amount of history to make a history check.
TALIESIN: What's a fair amount?
MATT: If you feel confident in your ability to understand history. I would say putting it this way, those who have researched the lands that would probably be Percival and Scanlan.
MATT: 27? Okay! I'll make part of this a whisper.
LAURA: Wait, you'll make what? I didn't hear it!
SAM: A *live* whisper.
MATT: There are two places in the Zenwick Mountains that would be of any interest, or historical lore-based elements. There is the Crypts of Thomara: it's a subterranean vault city, built around a precious metal vein cluster by the xenophobic dwarven Thomara clan in the early years of the Age of Arcana. It's said a terrible madness fed into their greed, leading to eventual cannibalism and collapse of the society thousands of years ago. It's now considered cursed and is largely avoided. The other location is known as the Silted Veil, a small, cold valley within the mountains that is comprised of ice dusted, mineral rich, mud that was once rumored to carry natural healing properties when applied to wounds and restorative elements to aged skin. However, a large variety of dangerous creatures also discovered these features over time and moved into the valley, taking over and establishing a new violent ecosystem based around the soothing muck. Scanlan.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hey guys, so those t-shirts--
LAURA: Very true. There is Critical Role live Vox Machina t-shirts.
MARISHA: Okay so the Crypts of (stumbles over words) Tholmeer? Crypts of Tholmayer and the Silted Veil.
LAURA: Silted Veil and the Crypts of Tholmura?
MARISHA: Yeah, which are the two places in the Zenwick Mountains?
LAURA: And one is icy valley, the other one is, what, zombie dwarves?
TALIESIN: Cannibal zombie dwarves.
MARISHA: Angry icy terrain or cannibal zombie dwarves.
MATT: At this information, Vord nods. "Well, all forces on high for impending attack here, wyvern riders and air units, we need eyes on the Tordusk Pass, in case the city is indeed moving as they say. The High Hierophant will aid in transporting advanced scouts to the base of the Zenwicks. We would wish you be part of this if you are willing and able. Gathering information and seeking weakness to exploit are the key. Vox Machina, you are our focused stealth strike force into Thar Amphala."
LAURA: Yeah! We're *mostly* really good at that.
MATT: "If you indeed carry the boons that your lady Pike has mentioned, then we need to keep Vecna and his force occupied to grant you entry. And we can do that. I certainly hope with the strength of our numbers that there is no way that he can see them coming.
From the distant end of the central chamber here, a familiar voice echoes throughout the hallway. "Oh, but I do, wyrm groveler."
SAM: But the ring, man! We just got the ring!
MATT: You haven't attuned to it yet.
MATT: And with that, we're going to go ahead and take our break.
LAURA: Come on!
MARISHA: What all did we say?
TALIESIN: What *didn't* we say?
LIAM: What a piece of shit!
MATT: We'll take our break here. We'll return at that moment here in a number of minutes.
SAM: Ten minutes? 15 minutes? What are we doing?
MATT: You'll know when the lights start going. We'll have people out there who'll let you know. It won't be too terribly long, we need to get a bathroom break and stuff. Anyway, be back here in a little bit, guys, we'll see you for the next portion of our journey this evening.
LAURA: Fucked up because it's Trinket. It's a Trinket cape. Yeah, but thank you. It's gorgeous.
TRAVIS: Really? Right now?
MARISHA: I'm rolling with someone's lucky die that I got delivered.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Gets a little hot!
LAURA: Yeah, it's warm. I'm already very warm.
TALIESIN: It's a little cold up here. That's okay.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you guys!
TALIESIN: There they are.
TALIESIN: Oh my god.
TRAVIS: We're missing one.
SAM: Who are we missing? Why? She was just here with a bear.
TRAVIS: She's a moron!
SAM: Guys, thanks for coming to the show.
TALIESIN and MARISHA: Yeah!
MARISHA: Hey, Matt, was there a winner?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Sam!
SAM: I love Percy!
TALIESIN: Yeah, that's not over yet.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Where's Larkin?
TALIESIN: Larkin is in the hearts and minds of children.
MATT: Are we up and running?
TALIESIN: Are we going?
MATT: Are we on the internet?
MARISHA: Who's getting proposed to? All of us?!
LAURA: No, I think it was to Liam.
SAM: We need Brian Foster to come out here and talk for 20 minutes and get the crowd hyped again.
SAM: That'll work; that's fine.
MATT: That'll do! All righty, looking in the back booth are we good. Are we online? Perfect. Welcome back, everyone.
So as the inner sanctum chambers of the Platinum Sanctuary stood silent at the recent arrival of the vision of Vecna, hovering but two feet off the ground in all his lich-like glory. His toothy grin is immense, threatening to crack the sides of his face. As gasps fill the chamber, armored warriors thrust spear and blade towards his illusory body, arrows and spells passing through harmlessly and clattering, and splashing, exploding against distance pillars across the room.
The smoke subsides and he stands there untouched. "Quite the tea party you've gathered here, Vord. I suppose celebration is in order. After all, you missed my re-birthday. I have something to show you that I'm quite excited about. Don't rush the surprise, friends. I'll bring it to you; do not fret. You're all gathered here in one place. It would be a perfect place for an ambush, wouldn't you say? But where's the fun in that, when there are so many less-protected loved ones to send my shadows to?
"Your daughter Desir, Earthbreaker, trains alone at the Bozon Caves. An easy target. Vord of the Platinum Dragon, your family lies behind the double-sealed doors of your estate. I know of your secret cellar entrance. The great protector of Marquet's jewel is away, and your studious concubines are left without their guard. Not to mention all of Whitestone, or Cassandra. Young Velora Vessar now plays with her owlbear doll, all alone in her room."
At this point, Allura shouts at the top of her lungs, "That's enough!" And with a wave of her hand, dispels the illusion with a flash of energy, causing it to fade, leaving only the lingering omnipresent sound of Vecna's chilling chuckle. (chuckles) Then silence takes the room.
LAURA: Vord, does this need to be attuned?
MATT: "It does."
MARISHA: Why would you take it off?!
MATT: "I was gifting it to you, I didn't realize he was going to show up in my sanctum!"
LAURA: It's okay. I'm going to sit down. Keep talking. I'm going to try to attune while that's happening.
MATT: Ophera steps forward. "It's a distraction, a bluff. We're close, and he knows it."
Vord then turns to her and says, "I will not abandon my family. Vecna knows too much, we have no more time. Those who are primed for assault, it begins now. Vox Machina, how do you wish to proceed?"
LAURA: Well, we can't tell you!
TALIESIN: I think we proceed by taking a 15-minute nap, really, at this point.
MARISHA: What? Wait, did you make a decree and then turn to us and say, "What's your plan?"
MATT: "You think I haven't heard tales of your chaotic battle strategies? I can not *attempt* to ascertain the nature of how you've survived the trials you have, so I leave that entirely up to you. The rest *we* can handle, organize and strategize."
LAURA: You do that.
MATT: As you take a moment and rest, the rest of the individuals there begin to talk amongst themselves. The other leaders begin to set their clerics and warriors, sending out orders to the various temples across all of Vasselheim and beyond to prepare themselves, some for the defense of the city, and some to make their way northward to wherever Thar Amphala will be found, head on. While this happens, and you're currently attuning to this ring.
LAURA: I'm un-attuning the Bracers of Archery in order to attune to this ring.
MATT: Okay, you're removing the Bracers of Archery and you're attuning to the ring. That's two less damage to your ranged attacks.
LAURA: Do you have a card that I can see?
MARISHA: She want's that paper!
LAURA: I want that paper!
MATT: The ring card is in my hotel room, but you will have it next week. But essentially what it does, while it's attuned to you and on you, within 60 feet of you at all times, divination magic is inert and cancelled.
LAURA: And what's the name of it, exactly?
MATT: It is called the Band of Shrouds.
MARISHA: Also, the hotel printer was broken.
MATT: Even getting my sheets printed out for this game has been a whole ordeal. Thank you, Dani! As this is happening and you guys are amongst yourselves figuring out what to do, and the rest of the crowd is murmuring, you heal the footfalls, another, another, another, the approach of J'mon Sa Ord. "My warriors defend this city, but my strength also lies in the front lines. If a distraction is what you need to succeed, there are few things as distracting as a shining dragon. I will fly with the wyverns once Vox Machina has been delivered, and the delivery shall be upon the wings I bear, if you'll have me."
MATT: And they give a bow and a nod.
LAURA: Has it been long enough that it's attuned?
MATT: Not yet, no. The rest of the people are gathering about. You guys are, for the moment, focused inward. Pike's there with you. There is a tension being passed around, but right now they're letting you strategize before you bring what you have to the table. Right now, they have nothing until you have a strategy.
SAM: We know of two places to go to up near the something mountains. Zenwick Mountains?
LAURA: I don't want to talk about it for a little more time.
SAM: Sure, we'll definitely stay here, then. Definitely be here the whole time.
MARISHA: You know what? We should go shopping!
TRAVIS: No, fuck that! We are *not shopping!* I'll quit! I'll leave.
MARISHA: No, Grog! No!
LAURA: Maybe we should just give up.
TRAVIS: What is wrong with you?! First shopping, and now we give up. What the fuck?!
LAURA: No, you know what? Vecna's right. I'm really worried about our family. We should all split up and go be with our families right now.
MARISHA: And maybe we should convert. I should just stab myself in the eye right now.
LAURA: Maybe you should! Maybe we will! Let's do it.
MARISHA: Let's do that.
LIAM: Be priests of Vecna.
MARISHA and SAM: Praise Vecna.
TRAVIS: (shouting) What. The. Fuck?!
TRAVIS: Take it back. Now.
LIAM: No, I think that's a good idea. (sizzling) And I start pushing Whisper slowly.
LAURA: No! Okay, seriously, that's too far. It's too far, don't. I don't like it.
SAM: Don't worry, he can't be killed. Just like *all of us* can't be killed.
TRAVIS: J'mon, I'm coming with you. These people have lost their fucking minds.
MATT: "Do not worry, Grog. Be patient. I think there is more to their words than you are-- sit down." For the sake of brevity, as everyone is cautiously waiting for the ring's attunement, eventually you feel the energy click as the ring that has been slipped on for this time. You feel this slight shimmer of cold wash through your body and extend outward. At which point, you know the ring has finally been attuned.
SAM: All right, we can talk freely.
LIAM: Show it to us. How does it look?
LAURA: It looks fucking good.
TALIESIN: It looks quite nice.
LAURA: It looks great, Grog.
TRAVIS: Yeah, quitter.
LAURA: Okay. Fuck Vecna; we're not for Vecna. Yeah. I know! Change of heart. So we have two options, right? What were you saying, Scanlan?
SAM: The Crypts of Fomora or the Silted Bale.
LAURA: The Stilted Bale?
SAM: The Silted Bale.
MATT: Veil. It's a Veil.
MARISHA: Silted Veil and the Crypts of Thromora.
SAM: Sure. We know a general sense of where we're going.
LAURA: So wait, we're going there why?
SAM: Those are the only places that we know within the Zenwick Mountains that have any appeal.
LAURA: Okay, so we choose between those two as our strike place?
SAM: Yes. One of them is filled with crazy dwarf cannibals. And the other one has ice mud that can heal you.
MARISHA: But has turned violent, because nature is angry.
LIAM: The druids are dropping us off at the base of the mountain. We don't really know where either of those things are.
LAURA: Maybe it's best that we don't let anyone else know where we're going.
SAM: All right, including ourselves?
SAM: I like that plan!
LAURA: Yeah, because that way it'll all be a surprise.
MARISHA: Didn't he already hear our two options?
MARISHA and LAURA: Did he?
SAM: We don't know.
TRAVIS: Oh my god.
LAURA: I don't know what he heard. I don't know how often he listens to us, I don't know any of that.
MARISHA: Man, how does it work? Does he have several lines open and he switches back and forth?
LAURA: Does he have to actively listen, or is it a passive thing?
MARISHA: And how bored is this guy?
LAURA: I mean that's the thing, I mean he's building an army and trying to take over the world. I can't imagine he's listening to us all the time.
MARISHA: Yeah, he's just trolling us!
LIAM: In my opinion, the gods are generally bored and looking for things to do.
LAURA: Yeah but him. He's doing things. Like he's got shit to do.
TALIESIN: I'm personally thinking that an undead army of cannibalistic dwarves would be very appealing if I were starting an assault on a city like this, and I would be heading my city in that direction to raise a bunch of undead cannibalistic dwarves. That's my vibe.
LIAM: So you, Percy, want to go burn them up?
TALIESIN: I feel like that's where we're going to find them, and where we'll find them preoccupied.
MARISHA: But we know that's what he would do, then wouldn't he know that we would go to find him at what he would do?
TALIESIN: You're assuming that he's going to do what he would expect us to think he would do in the first place.
LAURA: Do we know what kind of creatures are in the icy veil? Could there be ice giants there? Could Vecna want ice giants?
MARISHA: Undead icy zombies?
MATT: There's an entire ecosystem of very dangerous monstrosities that exist there, which means there are living and dead. An elephant graveyard of various aberrations and terrible creatures
TRAVIS: Well, look, if there are undead cannibal dwarves or whatever in the crypts, don't we need clerics to deal with them?
LIAM: We have a cleric.
SAM: Let's take her.
LAURA: Are you willing to leave the temple now?
MATT: "I'm afraid for my people there, but I feel I can probably send myself with you like I have in the past."
LIAM: It's all or nothing, Pickle.
MATT: "I feel bad abandoning everyone that I've brought to the temple."
LAURA: You aren't abandoning them.
LIAM: You're shielding them.
MARISHA: You could always do like the astral projection thing, right?
MATT: "That's what I was thinking of doing."
LAURA: Well, okay, but if you're astral projecting, aren't you chilling in one room here, not really communicating, anyway?
MATT: Make a persuasion check.
MARISHA: I don't know if it's for Pike or for the DM.
TALIESIN: We have a bit of a roving blind spot here that we could use.
LAURA: Oh no! But this can't be the only thing that determines if she's an astral projection or if she comes with us?
LIAM: My begging has to count, as well!
MARISHA: She destroyed a whole undead army being a laser light beam.
LIAM: Yeah! That's right, she Tron'd those motherfuckers.
LAURA: Will everything work like normal if she's astral projection?
MATT: I'll tell you what, if you're so eager to bring Pike along, and Ashley can't play, do you guys want to jaeger her? Because I don't want to.
LAURA: Yeah, we'll totally jaeger her if she's okay with it.
MARISHA: Remember, we've talked about this. There's also the thing that if she dies while Ashley's not here, we're fucking assholes!
TRAVIS and TALIESIN: Yeah.
LAURA: Okay, that's very true.
MARISHA: She won't die if she's a (bubbling) thing.
LAURA: But if she's an astral projection, can she still use the champion's blessing that she got from Sarenrae and stuff?
MATT: We'll find out.
MARISHA: But we can always easily go get her.
TRAVIS: It's the best we can do.
MATT: The dungeon master will remember that.
TRAVIS: All right, so what, the Crypts or the Silted Veil?
SAM: One thing that I can tell you about the Crypts that you may not know. They're not man-made crypts. They're actually the inside of a fallen titan's body.
LAURA: How do you know that?
SAM: I know things.
SAM: It seems like a pretty godly place to go to make a statement.
LIAM: Are you telling me we're going to have to crawl into another monster's asshole? Is that what you're saying?
SAM: It's Friday.
MARISHA: And now we have two immovable rods!
TALIESIN: That got weird.
SAM: All right.
TRAVIS: So the Crypts?
SAM: To the Crypts, I say. But are we druiding there and then flying on a dragon, or just flying on a dragon?
MATT: Pike's, "Well, I mean I'll come with you if that's okay? If we're going to this, we need to do this together. I trust the city guard. And if it gets real bad, you'll take us back, right, Keyleth?"
MATT: "If it gets real bad, you'll take us back, right?"
MATT: "Then let's do it!" And she puts her hand out towards Grog.
TRAVIS: (shouting) Fuck yeah, buddy!
MATT: It looks like most of the sanctum is now dissipating and heading out towards the front of the temple and going about some sort of structured exit to prepare for this assault.
MATT: As she's standing by, walking with Kima, they're in a heated discussion with the member of the Paramours of the Quadroads. She turns. "Vax'ildan, yes. It's good to see you."
LIAM: It is *so* good to see you. We need advice. We need help. There you go. When we fought Vecna, he threw us around like rag dolls. He held us. He did whatever he wanted. Do you have any way, any *thing*, any suggestion for helping us avoid his grasp again? Because if it went the way it went the last time we are fucked right out of the gate.
MATT: "What do you perceive as the weaknesses you suffered in that previous battle?"
LIAM: What was that?
MATT: "What do you perceive are the weaknesses that you suffered in that previous battle?"
LIAM: He was able to hold us, magically.
MATT: "There are ways to make sure those bindings don't hold you still. There are magics that can prevent that. And if your enemy is as strong a magic user as I know, he will use distance to his advantage. Close that distance and make it your advantage. I know not quite what he's capable of in his new ascended form, and that scares me. But strike quickly, strike true. Everything you've got, work together. Communicate. And anything you can do to allow yourself preparation, and the jump on this fray, do it. That ring that Vord gave you, that'll be a boon enough. If you can catch him off guard, that might mean everything."
LIAM: Thank you.
LAURA: Do you know what kind of magic it is that keeps him from holding us? Just wondering. You said there were kinds, but I want to make sure.
MATT: "Certainly, there are a few in your midst that you can utilize. There's a spell called Freedom of Movement that can prevent being held or paralyzed in that way."
LAURA: That's good. Just making sure. Because I thought that's what it was. I just wanted to double check.
MATT: "Completely understood."
SAM: Well, shall we away then? We have to go now!
MATT: "I'd like to come with you, but currently with everything going on, let's be honest, if I'm not there amongst the council, it's going to tear itself apart. The sky as it is, the people of Emon are threatening all sorts of insanity. I'm sure you've seen shades of it here in a city which *has* faith. I myself am not completely absolved of the dreams that haunt many others. I'll be doing what I can to pay attention, but do note that ring also prevents me from seeing in on you, and I have to look out for Emon. Me and my lady both."
She turns over to Kima, who is currently in the process of getting into an argument with a wyvern rider. You see her going, "Oh, come on. I can ride, too!"
"Have you ever ridden a wyvern?"
"No! But I've never met a wyvern I can't stare down!" Wyvern rider turns around and chuckles and gets tripped immediately onto his face, the crush of metal on the banks and he spins over and she, (harrumphs). Spins around and joins Allura's side and goes, "I never really liked this place. Bunch of pricks. Good to see you guys."
TRAVIS: You as well, that Holy Avenger getting some action lately?
MATT: "Oh, nowhere near enough. That's okay. You come back, and you and me will have a tussle."
TRAVIS: God, I love Kima so much.
MATT: "Don't be all doom and gloom, all right? It's a promise. Stay alive."
TRAVIS, LAURA, and LIAM: (singing) Stay alive.
MATT: She looks up, and Allura looks down at her and rubs the top of her head for a second. Kima pulls away. "Come back safe, okay? I'm going to hold you to that." And you see there's a moment of her (sniffles), and she spins around not wanting to show and weakness or emotion.
Allura looks back and watches her turn away and goes, "You'll make it through this. I've seen you do great things."
SAM: We'll try.
MATT: "And you'll succeed. You have to. You have many at your back. Look." And she puts her hands out and you can see now there's at least over 100 wyvern riders, all scattered amongst the various mountain outcroppings that are all getting on top of their great winged beasts that are fully armored with wyvern barding and armor. They're taking off in clusters and circling. "They're all counting on you. They're going to make sure that you have the opportunity you have, to put those to good use." And she glances off to the side of your pouch, closed as it is. "Come back." She turns around to go and join Kima.
LAURA: Give Gilmore a hug for us, will you?
MATT: She stops and turns. "I'll do that. I owe him a visit, anyway."
LIAM: And if he has any trinkets that lend freedom of movement, we'll place an order.
MATT: "I'll ask."
LIAM: Tell him we say hi.
MATT: "I will, and I'm sure he does as well. Take care. Be safe. Come back." She turns and walks away.
MARISHA: Did you see that?
LAURA: See what?
MARISHA: They think we're going to die!
SAM: They're right!
TALIESIN: Safe bet.
TRAVIS: I feel pretty encouraged.
TRAVIS: I don't know why.
LAURA: Well, I'm glad.
MARISHA: So what exactly is our plan? Is it to try and keep Vecna from gaining more forces, or are we trying to cut off Vecna and his forces?
LAURA: I think they're taking care of the forces. We're taking care of the god.
TALIESIN: They're the distraction.
MARISHA: Then why go through the crypt?
TALIESIN: We think that's where they're headed.
LIAM: But are we trying to take out potential additional forces?
TALIESIN: That'd be my thought. That's where I would go.
MARISHA: Is that not what other people are doing?
TALIESIN: I think that the surprise that he's expecting to bring to the city, possibly, especially with the information you brought, is that he would try and raise this creature and use it against the city.
LAURA: So he's basically wanting to raise a giant zombie titan full of zombie cannibal dwarves, and then they'll poo them out to fight other people.
TALIESIN: Somehow you make that less threatening. I'm not sure how you do that.
LIAM: You know it's like when you take a duck and put it inside a chicken and then you put the chicken inside of a turkey.
SAM: Well, let's get going before he starts raising this thing. Come on!
TALIESIN: Turducken of the Damned.
LAURA: Here's the thing, are we relying on Grog to stab these trammels through Vecna?
LIAM: Or do we each need to deliver the one tied to our gods?
TALIESIN: If we can all three in one swift movement once we've weakened--
LAURA: It takes three separate attacks, I'm assuming, right? Or would it be attack, attack, attack?
TALIESIN: So much sass.
MATT: You gather by the nature of their enchantment and the size of it, you can't cluster them together like darts and jam them into the board at once.
LAURA: Okay, but it would be one of those situations where you'd have to attack and then draw another one, and then attack, right?
MATT: It's possible.
SAM: Or three of us could each have one.
MARISHA: But he mentioned Vecna has to be severely damaged--
LAURA: Already, before we even do that.
MATT: There have to be breaks in the avatar form for them to pierce. There has to be breaks, wounds, visible cracks in the veneer of the avatar for the actual trammels to pierce.
MARISHA: So we're talking about doing this. Hey, DM? Logistical question: how many days does it take me to make a 4th-level scroll? Spell. Spell scroll? 4th-level. How many days?
TRAVIS: Say it a couple more times.
MATT: That's going to be quite a while, that's weeks and weeks and weeks. That's a downtime activity.
SAM: I thought our whole deal was we're about to go do a surprise attack? We have to go *now*.
LAURA: We do. We're saying we don't have time to make a scroll spell, scroll scroll, spell scroll.
MARISHA: Allura also said, yo, plan. Maybe plan a little.
LIAM: Also, DM: did we get told for these trammels, for these harpoons, that they need to be wielded by the person associated to their gods, or can Grog chuck them all?
MATT: From what you understand there was no specification of that. It was more the fusing of the divine energy within the trammels' creation grants it with the power. The means of delivering it doesn't seem to be as important.
LAURA: But it is a melee weapon?
MATT: It's javelin-like; it could be thrown.
TALIESIN: We didn't make them to be aerodynamic, did we?
MATT: They're somewhat aerodynamic by nature. Once again, you can certainly try.
LAURA: I'm going to pass the Pelor trammel back to you.
MARISHA: I have Freedom of Movement. But I have three 4th-level spells. I can start burning into my 5th-level spells, as well, but it lasts for an hour, so I was trying to figure out if there's way--
MATT: Pike says, "I can also do it."
MARISHA: Oh! Yeah!
LAURA: And it's not concentration right, so you can also cast Death Ward?
MATT: "It lasts for an hour."
TALIESIN: We'll wait until we're a little closer.
LAURA: And Death Ward lasts for eight hours?
MATT: "Death Ward? Yes! They're both 4th-level, though."
TRAVIS: These words are all great and everything but it's not going to change that we're going to have to make it up when we get there, so why don't we go ahead and fight this fucking boy.
MATT: As you begin to descend down the stairs on the outskirts of the mountain side, you can see the wyvern riders have now gathered into two large units, and in the distant shrieks of wyvern calls begin to echo through the mountain range. They all begin to swoop towards the Abundant Terrace. You guys follow suit?
MATT: All right, as you make your way to the Abundant Terrace on the outskirts of the Birthheart. There are the orchards, the large clusters of trees that you have travelled to and from before when travelling to and from Vasselheim at Keyleth's behest. And there you can see a number of the high priest druids of Melora have all gathered around the High Hierophant, and they're preparing means of transport for all the troops, wyverns included, to those that are going to make it as part of this initial front-line assault. As you guys approach and watch, you see as other generals and such begin to gather their army units. They begin to discuss orders, and a number of them in the middle of this refer over to you guys. You can see there's definitely direction being given in regards to you guys. Someone wants to stop their alarm?
TALIESIN: Okay, this is going to be weird.
LAURA: Is it yours?
TALIESIN: It's that.
MATT: Oh, there's an actual alarm on the stage.
MARISHA: Oh my god, there is!
SAM: When it turned 12 midnight, the alarm clock went off!
MATT: It's not flashing.
MARISHA: That's hilarious!
MATT: Thank you, Taliesin.
LAURA: He just hit snooze, you guys.
LIAM: Yeah, five more minutes, Raven Mom. Five more minutes.
LAURA: It was all a dream!
MATT: As you approach, Ophera steps up. "It would be my honor to grant you passage to the base of the mountain range. I believe your other companion is approaching soon, as well." And she looks over past your shoulder as you glance and you see J'mon Sa Ord approaching. Within their arms is a small leather chest, a container of some kind. J'mon steps up and places it before you, pulls it back and backs away with a brandishing presentation.
LAURA: What is it?
MATT: "May these potions keep you healthy." Within here, there are eight superior healing potions.
LAURA: Whoa! Okay.
TRAVIS: Well, we're really in for a fucking fight, huh?! When the game gives you eight superiors.
LAURA: So everybody take one superior, right?
SAM: Everybody gets one.
MATT: And there's one extra.
LIAM: They are so fucking badass.
LAURA: Everybody gets one and there's one extra?
MATT: Yeah, because there are eight and you have seven in your party.
LAURA: I'm going to mark down that Pike has one.
TALIESIN: And who's made of the most glass. Who's going to get hit the most?
LIAM: Scanlan is important.
LAURA: Scanlan's super important.
LIAM: Scanlan should have two.
SAM: Guys, I'm fine.
LAURA: I know you're very fine and you're very capable.
LIAM: Also karma is a thing, and I really want to balance the scales.
SAM: Why would *you* feel any pressure that way?
LIAM: We've got a long road of history, you and I.
SAM: We're best buds!
LIAM: Best buds! Best buds, met at Big Apple Anime Fest in New York City all those years ago.
SAM: All right, I'll take two.
LAURA: Yeah. Okay.
SAM: In Marquesian I say, thank you J'mon Sa Ord.
MATT: "Be pleased."
LAURA: We are. Very.
SAM: Also, if you don't like the Meat Man, I can make him go away.
MATT: "Their business has not encroached on the order that we maintain. Yet."
MATT: "You'd know if it did."
LIAM: (whispers) They know!
MATT: The smoldering pupils that they contain within their darkened eyes stare back at you with a curling smile.
SAM: Thank you. Let's go. We've got to get through this druidy thing, right?
MATT: Ophera backs up and putting her staff to one side, makes a large oval shape with her fingers as she mutters beneath her breath. You watch as one of the heavy, thick trunks of the nearest tree begins to tear and crack and pull inward. And there you see in a similar fashion to Keyleth's casting, though a little more visceral, an opening reveals itself and a doorway is opened, and she goes, "Quick! Now!"
MARISHA: I like your technique!
MATT: You all rush through, one after another, flanked at the end by J'mon. And as you all approach the opposite side of this portal, you emerge in a somewhat-crowded forest of pine trees. Immediately, the northern air is colder, and you see drifting bits of snow fall softly coming through bits of the tree line above you. You turn around just in time to see the doorway close, and in the distance you see other doorways opening around you in different trees, and you watch as dozens upon dozens of wyvern riders and armored soldiers begin to emerge, one cluster after the next.
MARISHA: Fucking druids are badass!
TALIESIN: Let's do this.
MATT: You glance up and can briefly see the top northern crest of where the Zenwick Mountain pass is. Just past the canopy of the forest you're in, because you were sent to the very slim base of the Zenwick Mountains. You're within a forest. What do you want to do?
LIAM: What does my Vec-dar tell me?
MATT: Interestingly enough, southeast of where you are.
LAURA: How close?
MATT: I'd say it's probably close to four miles from where you are.
LAURA: Oh shit.
MATT: And slowly moving away.
LIAM: We guessed wrong?
MARISHA: Four miles.
TALIESIN: Did we guess wrong?
LIAM: Well, we don't know where this shit is that we're looking for.
SAM: Do we know where these things are?
MATT: They're both northwest of where you are, in the mountain range.
MARISHA: He's passed them.
LIAM: Passed over.
MATT: He's passed over, it seems.
SAM: What do we do?
MARISHA: If we get a little bit closer, I can do a Commune with Nature spell and try and figure out some stuff. It's all I've got. I can scry!
LAURA: I mean if he's already passed by the crypts, is there any reason to go there? I don't understand.
TRAVIS: What direction is Vasselheim from us now?
MARISHA: The way they're heading.
TRAVIS: Anybody else think we should fucking hop on a big-ass brass dragon and try and catch him before he gets there? What are we going to do here? There's nothing to do here!
LAURA: You want us to go fight Vecna right now?
TRAVIS: Either that, or he goes and sacks the city and we're like, "What does this tree tell me about this area?"
LIAM: Quickly, someone come up with an argument that counteracts that.
TALIESIN: We should scry on the dwarven city if we can, really quickly.
SAM: How? We don't know much about it.
TALIESIN: Do we know enough to scry?
MARISHA: I can scry on Lady Briarwood.
LAURA: Do it. Do it right now.
TALIESIN and MARISHA: Ooh!
MARISHA: Yeah, I bet she's with him.
TALIESIN: Or she's not.
LIAM: We'll learn something.
LAURA: Are you zoning in on the city, are you zoning in on Vecna?
TALIESIN: We know where Vecna is. We just need to see where Lady Briarwood is.
MARISHA: All right, scrying on Briarwood. Oh, she rolls.
MATT: She rolls. To make a saving roll. Spell DC is?
MATT: And that is a 22.
MATT: Sorry. As you try and focus, the incantation completes and as your vision begins to extend it is blocked by darkness and sent back into your form. And you realize the scry has failed, the will is too strong.
LAURA: Can you scry on that death knight guy that was next to her?
MARISHA: Is he still with her, though?
LAURA: We didn't kill him. We did not kill him. We did not hit him! We did not!
MARISHA: Oh, hi Vex. All right. I'll scry on undead douchey.
MATT: As your vision extends from you, it races through the darkness. You see dark clouds ahead. As it fires down you look instantly within the streets of Thar Amphala. You see the cobblestone roads now cracked and broken, you see buildings appear to have sustained structural damage. You see roofs are partially collapsed. And walking down the street, strolling with a number of undead soldiers at its back, the black knight you battled before. As it struts through you watch as the towers and buildings (rumbling) shake. And shake again. And your vision returns.
TALIESIN: Oh shit.
MARISHA: It was shaking-- Oh, is it on the back of some giant turtle or something?
TALIESIN: We should stop that from happening.
TRAVIS: Yeah, we're super lucky and it's just a turtle.
TRAVIS: How lucky for us!
MARISHA: It'd be so cute.
MATT: "Then there is no time to waste." You watch as J'mon Sa Ord's form shifts and giant brass wings extend in a flash of reddish-orange energy. The nearby trees bend and break at the sheer force of the dragon's magnitude, their form expanding to fill the recent vicinity of the forest, and with a large guttural roar, you see before you the brass dragon.
LAURA: Hey, Keyleth? While we're flying through the air, is it possible for you to give us a nice inspiring speech?
MARISHA: Oh! (giggles)
LIAM: It's all right. It's just our small group here. No one's watching. You know us.
MARISHA: Yeah. Man, inspiring speech. So we're on a brass dragon?
MATT: You can do it while you're all climbing on the back. They're waiting patiently for you all to jump onto the back of the dragon form.
SAM: If you need a second to think about it, it's okay. We can start off first and then come back to you.
MARISHA: Wait, what?
SAM: Do you need a second to compose yourself?
MARISHA: You know, Scanlan.
MARISHA: It's funny you should mention that, because I do need a second. I have to think about my words deeply and a long time, and even still, they come out wrong, and you're so witty and quick! And you can come up with things like speeches and songs on the fly in front of thousands of people way quicker than I can. It is not my strength, but I do know my strength, and I know each of your strengths. But not as well of each of you know your strengths as well as you do.
SAM: Sing it, sister.
MARISHA: What I'm saying is, you should believe in yourselves the way that I believe in you, Scanlan. And the way that you believe in everyone else, Scanlan! Because you're all strong and unique. And we're probably going to die.
MARISHA: (stammers) Okay, let's fly! Ahoy!
MATT: With a slow, metallic, crinkling sound of brass dragon scales curling, the large head of J'mon Sa Ord's dragon form spins around to look you dead in the face, Keyleth. The same dark eyes with the smoldering, burning cores for pupils, the mouth opens and you can smell immediately the breath that has a very earthy, singed, burnt-wood scent to it.
MARISHA: Ooh, cedar!
MATT: And the voice goes forth. "Very good, Keyleth. I found that quite inspiring."
MATT: And with that, you guys can all take your 18 temporary hit points.
TRAVIS: How much is it?
TALIESIN: 18 temporary hit points?
MATT: And with that note, with one large push of their strong dragon wings, J'mon Sa Ord raises beyond the tree line up into the sky above, where you can see the clusters of wyvern riders have now also gathered to survey the territory. The first thing you notice, the southward wall, the tall rocky landscape surrounding the fields of ice, dust, and grasses that fill this pass, you can see the mountain range seems to have suffered an immense amount of damage. A gargantuan fresh rockslide nearly a mile wide, now resting at the base of the northern mountain, you can see swallowing and burying some of the forest land.
And as you glance southward into the Tordusk Pass, you can see mammoth holes in the ground, large craters of broken dirt and rock forced into dunes of mud and shale surrounding their outsides. The scars, pockmarks 200 feet across, carved into the terrain. I'd like everyone to make an intelligence check, please.
LAURA: We're making a what, an intelligence check?
MARISHA: Can I do a nature check?
LAURA: Is this an intelligence?
MATT: Yes. This is your intelligence modifier.
MATT: 21, good. Vax?
LIAM: Oh, man. Eight.
MARISHA: I am doing a nature check.
MATT: Right, to find out?
MARISHA: If it looks like a path has been bore through in a straight line, like it looks like it's going through. 24.
MATT: 24? What you can tell from a nature check is that these are not natural formations in the ground. These are blunt trauma to the ground that has caused these large craters.
LAURA: Does it look like a walking path? A very large walking path?
TALIESIN: Natural 20, for 25.
SAM: 19 total.
MATT: Okay. Percival. And Keyleth. And Perc'ahlia. Not you Grog, sorry.
MATT: You do notice, upon immediate view, that these large holes, are patterned, staggered about every 350-400 feet. And they do almost present a gait of a walking creature.
MARISHA: (anguished sounds)
TRAVIS: Hey! You got that big fucking turtle you wanted!
MARISHA: It is a giant turtle!
LIAM: The final miniature is just Matt.
MATT: "It has been foreseen!" I've been working on my costume.
LAURA: Do we see anything in the air, any of those shadow creatures? Or is it just our wyvern riders?
MATT: Make a perception check.
LAURA: Natural 20!
MATT: Okay. As you lift up to survey more territory, you manage to get a brief view over the edge of that mountain range. You do not see any of the gloomstalkers that you had previously faced near Thar Amphala. In the vicinity, there is only the wyvern riders and a few errant birds that normally take to the skies that are keeping wide berth from your sudden emerging army that has joined you in the skies. You glance over this mountain range, and you look about. About two, three miles northward, you can see the same path of destruction has torn through these mountain ranges in a sinkhole, hundreds and hundreds of feet across that disappears into darkness.
LAURA: Is the sinkhole in the direction of the city that's moving right now?
MATT: No, it's in the direction you guys were planning to travel.
SAM: Oh. Maybe that's where they ripped the thing out.
TALIESIN: It's where it came out. How big are these footprints, approximately?
LAURA: (shouting) That's the fucking titan! It's the titan of dwarf bodies! I just realized that!
MARISHA: It totally fucking is, yeah. Yeah.
LIAM: And his name is Larkin.
LAURA: Shit! I thought it was just a really big giant, and then I remembered it was a titan.
MATT: Yes, each one of these craters is roughly 150 feet or so across.
SAM: Oh, his feet are a hundred feet across?!
MATT: 150 to 200 feet across, yeah.
TALIESIN: Keyleth, how big would a creature be if it had footprints approximately 150 to 200 feet across?
SAM: At least a hundred feet big!
MARISHA: Probably bigger?
SAM: Maybe even bigger!
MARISHA: Can I do a nature check to find out how fucking big this guy is?
MARISHA: Yeah! Let's do this lucky one. That's not too bad. 28.
MATT: Based on your experience with various creatures that leave large tracks you've dealt with or hunted in your history with the Ashari, it's *big*. The legs generally are pretty thick for a creature of immense size because it has to support all that weight, but if each footfall, crater here is about 150, 200 feet wide, you can surmise the creature is hundreds of feet tall.
TRAVIS: At least six times.
LAURA: At least 600 feet tall. What did you say?
LIAM: I said we're going to have to Shadow of Colossus this shit.
LAURA: How are we going to fucking fight something that's 600 feet tall?
TRAVIS: If it bleeds, we-- we're going to die.
MARISHA: Hang on, though. Caverns. Undead caverns of dwarves inside the titan.
LIAM: Yeah, maybe we crawl up its butthole and kill the things inside.
MARISHA: Yeah, maybe, or fight it from the inside out?
TALIESIN: That's the most exciting Dwarven Forge thing I'd ever want to see. The Godzilla interior.
LAURA: We got to get inside of it.
TALIESIN: It may be all it takes.
LAURA: Are we on J'mon Sa Ord's back?
MATT: Yes, right now it's like large brass dragon wings (flapping).
TALIESIN: Neverending Storying our way to a terrible death.
TRAVIS: Can you detect if we are making up any ground on your target? I'm talking to you, Vax.
SAM: Liam, are we getting any closer?
LIAM: My brain is on Vecna, not on the city. Is Vecna doing a ride-along? Is he still moving in the same direction?
MATT: Yeah, Vecna's slowly traveling in that southeast direction.
SAM: Follow the tracks, then.
MATT: All right. With that, you hear the booming voice of J'mon once more, "Very well. Let us be off." (whoosh) And goes into a fast-paced dive. You all grab a hold of dragon scale and/or what loose bits of fur there are as it drives into this huge dive, gargantuan dragon.
LAURA: Trinket's in the necklace for this part.
MATT: I assumed as such.
TRAVIS and LIAM: (scared bear noises)
MATT: You see as the wyvern riders immediately take this action and begin to swoop and follow suit, as well, falling behind them. At this point, you are the tip of the spear of this assault at this very moment. You begin to follow this pattern, cross the pass, heading southeast, heading over and through different mountain ranges. The higher you get, the wind gets a little more intense, and the cold begins to get more biting. And J'mon dips down a bit to avoid having to thrust you into this very dangerous stratosphere. The light in this area is very close to near dusk almost, of how much the sunlight is blotted out by the cloud cover that has completely consumed the skyline, from horizon to horizon, on all sides.
MARISHA: I do a bit of a Gust spell ahead of us to clear the path, give us a little more visual line of sight.
MATT: "Thank you," you hear emanate from J'mon as the cloud cover tends to spread a little bit and give a little bit of a good view. You travel on for about 25, 30 or so minutes before Vex, Vax, and Keyleth. You glance around the bend of the pass that you've just begun to curve around, and you see it: an impossibly immense entity, standing hundreds and hundreds of feet tall. A gigantic, bulky mass of jagged rock, slowly walking on two castle-width legs, each footfall sending a cloud-spray of earth into the air around it. (crashing) Quaking the surrounding lands with a terrifying crack and rumble. As the back leg lifts, sifting through the air, you can almost hear the air tear with a high-pitched whine, even at this distance as its sheer mass and speed in which it's cutting through, breaking the atmosphere, slams down for its next step. (crashing) As you get a better view, the closer you get, it resembles the earth elemental form you've seen Keyleth take many times, only proportionally malformed, and terrifying on a scale you have never seen. Four colossal arms swing from its torso, battering rams of shifting stone, each over 150 feet wide. The closer you get, Grog, you sense a faint vibration in the Titanstone Knuckles.
TRAVIS: Oh my fucking god. Just a note. These were made from the heart of a felled titan. I don't think it's that one.
LAURA: It could be! That one's dead!
TRAVIS: That was sarcasm, but yeah.
SAM: Are you going to take him, one on one?
LAURA: Does that mean you can beat him up from the inside?
TRAVIS: Oh yeah, beat him up with his heart!
TRAVIS: (stammering) Do I notice anything?
MATT: Not in particular. You clap, and it sounds booming, as it would. The closer you get, you sense this very faint vibration to them, as if proximity keys you in, and even in your simple mind, Grog, you can gather that these were crafted and made from whatever it is you see storming through that ravine.
LIAM: Do I feel Vecna riding on this guy's shoulder?
MATT: You sense the direction and distance of Vecna directly where this entity lies. I would like you to make a perception check, please.
LAURA: Do a what?
MATT: Perception check. Just him for now as his focus.
MATT: You glance past as your proximity grows closer and closer. One, you notice that there are beehive-type activity around the top where its head would be. There is no massive head protruding, the shoulder shelf where the top of it becomes these four arms, and it's faced away from you, facing the way it's traveling, its arms swinging wildly with each step, slowly. Its size is difficult for you to fathom at this distance. It seems so big and so small. As you get closer, you can see these bee swarm-like clusters, resemble creatures you saw in the Shadowfell not too long ago, and there atop the shelf of its gargantuan torso, you see a city resting atop of this entity. There lies a portion of Thar Amphala, moving with this gargantuan primordial earth titan, risen from below its long-held tomb.
LAURA: I'm going to cast Pass Without a Trace on us. It's not going to make any difference, but I'm going to do it.
TALIESIN: Will that work on the back of a big shiny dragon?
TRAVIS: Another note, to be clear, these were carved from the heart stone from ruined earth primordial. When they're doing their thing, they make me resistant to fire, cold, and lightning damage. So. That's good.
MARISHA: Yeah. Theory time. Maybe. This primordial is marching with Thar Amphala on its back to Vasselheim. If I were a god, wanting to prove that I'm awesome and do a big miracle thing, I would drop a giant city on top of another city.
TRAVIS: Or destroy the city and replace it with that one.
SAM: We can stop this, though. All we have to do is beat the titan. I've got magic missiles that can do 1d6 damage.
MATT: 1d4 plus one.
SAM: We could be in business!
TRAVIS: Listen. I know it seems really dire, right? But the only other option besides attacking it, in my mind, is trying to get its attention. Maybe lead it away from Vasselheim.
TALIESIN: I think, it's also, in theory, necrotic, which means it can be turned.
LAURA: That would be one powerful fucking spell.
TALIESIN: We're going to have to do something.
LAURA: Pike, how strong are you feeling right now?
MATT: You look back at Pike, who's clutching onto the back of J'mon Sa Ord. Seeing this, her face pale white, eyes wide. She's like, "I don't know."
TRAVIS: It's all right, buddy!
LAURA: You got it. You're a monster!
MATT: (weakly) "I'm a monster! It's also a monster!"
SAM: Should we land on the city on its back, or should we try to fuck up the titan?
LAURA: I think we should dive into one of the beehive tunnels and stealth in. I think that *we* should still be stealth mode. J'mon can drop us off. J'mon, you distract all of the city with all of your wyvern riders, as well, and we'll come in from the bottom up, yeah?
MATT: "I think that is a very sound plan. However," and as the dragon's head turns and looks ahead, you can see some of these clusters of gloomstalkers have broken away from the titan, swarming in your direction. You're about, I'd say, a mile and a half away from it and gaining, only because you're pushing at full speed. You're seeing now them breaking off into the clusters and you hear the distant (screeching).
TRAVIS: I know we bamfed out here, but do we have any idea how much time we have? How far away from Vasselheim we are?
SAM: How far have we gone?
MATT: Fom what you can tell, make a--
TRAVIS: Don't make me make it. No, I'm ready. Let's go!
LAURA: I'm going to guess, too, because he's asking out loud.
MARISHA and TALIESIN: It's a good question.
MATT: Make a nature check.
MARISHA: Can I do it, too?
TRAVIS: Negative two!
TRAVIS: My modifier, my *modifier,* so 15. It was 17; I was excited.
MATT: Not too bad! You haven't traversed this area of the north side of Issylra before, but gathering based on where you were, seeing the sinkhole, and the distance that Vax'ildan was giving you earlier, you imagine it's probably about 200 miles or so away from Vasselheim.
TRAVIS: Okay, we've got time. Not a lot.
MATT: It has a very wide gait with each step.
TRAVIS: But it's like Godzilla, right? It's like (groaning, thud).
MATT: Yeah! So you have time, but it's not 200 miles on normal person feet.
TRAVIS: I mean, if he starts skipping, we're fucked.
LAURA: Hey, Keyleth. Do you have any of that Wild Guide-- is that what's it called? That scares away the undead.
MARISHA: I do. Well, I grabbed some, so I can cultivate more of it, yeah.
LAURA: You should probably do that.
LIAM: They're a mile and a half away, and they see us, it looks like.
MATT: Yeah, they're closing in, there's a short time before they reach you. Remember, at this traveling speed, any sort of smoke-based censer material is going to go right behind you like a flare.
LIAM: Can we turn into clouds, Keyleth, and fly off of our dragon ride and poof inside the titan?
MARISHA: Let me see what I packed.
TRAVIS: We'd be in the air, and not all of us are so awesome in the air.
LAURA: We could fall off this dragon's back real fast.
MARISHA: Okay. We could do Wind Walk. It's going to take a minute to transform in and out. I also have Animal Shapes.
SAM: J'mon, can you become invisible, by any chance?
MATT: J'mon, you hear the voice rumble, "I can, but only myself. I could maybe affect a couple of you."
SAM: I could affect a couple of us.
LAURA: How many?
LAURA: That's quite a few of us left. Maybe, J'mon, could you get--
MATT: "I could muster about four."
TRAVIS: That's enough. Three and four.
TRAVIS: I can't add.
SAM: Or! I could make J'mon look like one of those dark flappy things and make us look like undead creatures?
LAURA: They probably have seen us coming, though; they're on their way here.
SAM: Yeah. Invisible, then?
TALIESIN: At least we're a smaller target, at that point.
MARISHA: I could throw out a fog cloud and try and fog us the rest of the way.
SAM: We'll fly through it; it won't work.
MARISHA: We're in clouds!
SAM: If you do the thing, it'll keep going through it.
MARISHA: Oh. Yeah. It's a good point.
TRAVIS: Invisible or change us. One or the other.
LIAM: You could do invisible and I could fly as fast as I fucking can away.
MATT: (screeching) The cloud breaks ahead and you watch as two gloomstalkers come diving down towards the back of J'mon.
SAM: Let's do invisible!
LAURA: I shoot one with an arrow.
TALIESIN: I shoot the other one with a gun.
MATT: Both of you guys, roll attacks.
TALIESIN: It's okay. We're going at a speed that it doesn't matter. Did that just happen?
SAM: Yeah, I just knocked over a wine bottle.
MATT and TRAVIS: A grape juice bottle.
MATT: 28 hits.
TALIESIN: (counting) 25.
MATT: 25 hits, as well.
TALIESIN: I should have said this. I was going to burn a grit to drop.
MATT: Right, I figured that was the case. One of them gets shot with an arrow and as the impact hits, it shrieks but continues its dive. The other one gets shot by-- which weapon was it?
MATT: With Animus. You watch as the detonation of the spray of black from the impact of the bullet hitting. As it shrieks, its wings buckle from underneath and it plummets about 30 or 40 feet or so and falls out of its dive. The other, however, is still diving and it's going to go for the one that shot it with its arrow. Natural two. That's going to be a 13. I'm pretty sure that doesn't hit you.
LAURA: No, it doesn't hit.
MATT: As it attempts to dive past you, you duck out of the way, still nocking a secondary arrow. Its claw hits the back of the dragon scales. You hear the scrape of it going across the back, but having no effect on the hard, armored brass dragon's back. The gloomstalker than shrieks once more and takes back up into the clouds and vanishes.
LIAM: Did I get an attack of opportunity on it with daggers?
MATT: You could definitely attack it with daggers, if you'd like.
LIAM: Yeah, that hits. 29.
MATT: That hits.
LIAM: If my friend the dragon is against it, do I get sneak attack?
MATT: No. Sorry.
LIAM: All right. That is 12 for that.
MATT: 12 damage. How much damage did you do?
MATT: It shrieks and vanishes back into the clouds above. You can see now the wyvern riders around are starting to charge in, as well. You're rushing now. You're maybe three-quarters of a mile from the exterior of this giant earth titan.
MATT: All right. You complete your incantation in time with J'mon, and the entirety of your party turns transparent and is now free from visual perspective.
LIAM: Did we get everybody?
MATT: You did three?
SAM: I can do four if J'mon can't.
MATT: J'mon can do four. Well, Pike and J'mon would be eight.
SAM: Okay, so we'll do four and four.
MATT: And with that, you all manage to disappear and go into a dive. As soon as you all vanish, which is interesting because you disappear, and suddenly your mount disappears, and all your friends disappear. So you're clutching on to what you hope is still dragon scales and fur as you look down and see clouds, ground, mountains, and eventual, plummeting death, were you not holding onto the back of the dragon.
TALIESIN: Wait, if our eyelids are invisible, does that mean we can't even close our eyes?
MATT: You can close your eyes.
TALIESIN: No, it's too much. Too much. Not cool.
MATT: I will say, because the enchantment doesn't make you translucent, just invisible to the visual gaze, the interior of your eyelids would not be affected by it.
TALIESIN: Okay. That's my worst nightmare.
MATT: Much like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. You can still see the inside of the cloak somewhat.
TALIESIN: No, yeah, I was having a Clockwork Orange moment.
MARISHA: You make yourself more nauseous by closing your eyes.
TALIESIN: That's not true.
MATT: As you go into this dive, you can hear the clashing of wyvern against gloomstalker. You hear the yelps and the shrieks of two different bestial cries. You hear shouts of humanoid and elven voices shouting as spears are tossed, arrows are let loose, and this aerial fray begins. With that, you glance forward as the dragon comes out of a dive, J'mon leading you toward this gargantuan entity. You can hear the further volume, the (massive footsteps). Even slower than that, probably, based on the gait it has to walk and the speed it's going. It is like watching a mountain with legs move. As you approach, what do you do?
SAM: Do we see a clearing? A landing pad?
MATT: You can make a perception check, guys. All of you.
MATT: Eight, awesome. All right. Keyleth. You guys, at this distance, it's hard to make out details. But Keyleth, you rolled a 30, which according to 5th Edition is nearly impossible as a DC. So. You glance about and amongst the broken rock exterior of this behemoth entity, you can see towards the base of its right leg, towards the back, a faint trickle of water, like a waterfall of pee, probably. A trickling of a waterfall that's flowing from its back leg area and then dissipating as it plummets into the air.
MARISHA: That's it?
SAM: Is it coming from the city or coming from the titan?
MATT: From the titan.
MARISHA: He's leaking from the back of his calf.
LAURA: Let's go in there, then.
MARISHA: From the back of his hip.
TALIESIN: Let's see if we can land on that burst pimple, then.
MARISHA: I don't think there's any landing. I think there's going to be-- yeah. But you know what? Let's see what happens.
LAURA: Let's fly in close to that waterfall.
MATT: Okay, so you point this out to J'mon? All right. You hear the dragon voice boom up once more. "Hold on!" Goes into an intense dive trying to bring, because previously you were about level, if not a little higher than Thar Amphala on the top of the entity. J'mon goes into a dive towards the hip area that you point out. The wind is pushing past you. You're holding on for dear life because any possible loss of grip not only is going to loose you from the dragon, which is going to be hard to find you, as you're all invisible, depending on the dragon's abilities, I guess. But as you begin to push down into this dive, I want you all to make strength saving throws, please.
LAURA: Oh god, strength? Jeez Louise.
TRAVIS: Natural 20.
TALIESIN: Natural 20!
SAM: I got an 11.
LIAM: I'm using my first luck of the day. Oh, that's worse. That is a nine for me.
LAURA: God. A 22 for me. I know!
MARISHA: This is a group success or failure thing, right?
MATT: In almost a poetic justice way, both Vax and Keyleth begin to lose their grip, and with a sequence of moments, they both get blown off the back of the brass dragon.
LAURA: We wouldn't even know. Were they touching each other? Tell me they were.
MATT: You and Vax are currently now, no grip on any dragon.
MARISHA: Vax! Whisper!
LIAM: I throw my dagger at that sound.
MATT: Roll an attack.
MARISHA: Wait, what?
TRAVIS: That sounds like us.
LIAM: Did you say you were going to come to me? There's the 18!
MATT: With disadvantage, because she is invisible.
LIAM: That's a 20.
MATT: What's your armor class, Keyleth?
MARISHA: He hits.
LAURA: Good, so you can bamf to her.
LIAM: That's right. 12 plus psychic damage, honey.
SAM: You guys have a fucked-up relationship.
MARISHA: Our entire relationship has been psychic damage, baby.
MATT: So you take 14 points of piercing damage. However, as soon as the pain hits you, it's immediately allayed by the impact of Vax's arms wrapping around you for dear life.
LIAM: I'm kissing you already.
MATT: You both are now tumbling and plummeting through the sky.
LIAM: Do you want to fly, or should I?
MARISHA: Hold on! And I go giant eagle form.
MATT: Okay. The giant eagle form takes flight. As her wings extend, you realize you've been clutching on to the under down feathers. As soon as the form takes, you grasp hold and climb back onto the top of the giant eagle. With that, you both (whooshing). Now, here's an interesting question, because invisibility lasts until you do an attack or cast a spell. It's a magical ability, I'm going to say that because it's a natural effect, it will not affect the invisibility, especially because you're at a high enough druid level. Specifically, shape changing is your thing. So I'll say you skirt under what would reveal invisibility. You lose it, however, for attacking her. So now there's a Vax huddled on nothing, full-on Wonder Woman-style invisible jet, riding through the sky. So as you guys coast in, the rest of you hear J'mon go, "It appears we've lost some passengers."
MARISHA: No! Keep going! (cawing) Tell them! Keep going!
LIAM: We're all right. Everything's fine here. Everything's fine. How are you?
SAM: J'mon, they say they're okay. It's okay, we can go.
MATT: "Very well." Continues into the dive. You guys are trailing behind at this point, but making your way down toward the hip region of this entity, following the direction that Keyleth gave at her spotting earlier. As you guys get closer and closer, you can see that there is indeed a trickle of a waterfall that is dissipating, the wind is so strong that gets maybe 25 or 30 feet down before it gets scattered into droplets.
SAM: Is it pee-colored?
MATT: No, it is actually a pretty clear water. You do also glance, as you get closer, it appears to be emerging from some sort of an opening, like a cavern entrance.
LAURA: Yeah, let's head for the opening.
MATT: So as you approach--
LAURA: We have Pass Without a Trace!
MATT: You do, but the flying man does not. So as the rest of you make it up toward the side, and the wind is strong here, you can hear the impact of each footfall, so deafening your eardrums almost shake and are in pain with each impact. The bass of each footfall is immense. But you do see, interestingly enough, there is the waterfall coming out of it. The waterfall is careening down a broken stone staircase. The opening is about fifteen feet across and about ten feet wide. It looks like it was at some point attached, before this creature arose, to another series of tunnels or wherever else this dwarven stronghold, this series of vaults that were carved within this creature's body, extended beyond its torso. This is one of the breaking points. As you glance back, you can see your brother coasting down about a hundred or so feet away. You also watch as one of the large arms swings back.
MARISHA: I dodge it! I try and dodge it!
MATT: I need both of you guys to make dexterity saving throws. Actually, because you're riding Keyleth right now, it's going to be on the giant eagle form, because you're clutching it.
MARISHA: It's on me?
MATT: It's on you. It's hard to avoid a hundred-plus-foot-wide arm.
LIAM: This is a save? Wait. This is a dex save, right? I'm blessing Keyleth.
MATT: As you see it coming? I'll say you have the time because it's so immense.
MARISHA: Add a d4, yeah? Four, yeah! Okay, 24 total!
MATT: It's not enough. You were one away. It's a 25 DC because this is a giant fucking arm! Both you and Vax. I don't have the dice for this, so I'm going to have to use the app. You both suffer 87 points of bludgeoning damage as the force of a mountain slams into the side of your half-elven, eagle form.
MARISHA: You said 87?
MATT: 87 points of bludgeoning damage, yes.
MARISHA: Okay. I immediately drop form and start falling.
MATT: Okay, any carryover damage, make sure to mark that.
LIAM: Does uncanny dodge affect this at all?
MATT: Unfortunately, because you were relying on her eagle maneuverability, no.
LIAM: Okay. Well, then I shoot the wings out immediately.
MATT: Okay. The wings emerge as both of you begin to plummet at this point.
MARISHA: I'm okay.
MATT: Keyleth? As you're plummeting, Vax, I need you to roll a perception check.
SAM: J'mon, they're fine. They told us they're fine! They'll be here any second! Don't worry.
TALIESIN: We did see this happen, right?
MATT: You guys are right now hovering by this and looking back. You watch this occur. You see Vax get smacked, fall, and then his wings shoot out. Vax, roll a perception check. With disadvantage.
TALIESIN: Roll really high, twice.
LIAM: I rolled the same thing, so it's a 24. Reliable talent.
MATT: Strangely, you're able to see a slight shift in wind to give you a brief moment to see where Keyleth's invisible, plummeting body is.
MARISHA: Oh, I'm still invisible as I'm falling.
MATT: Yeah, because you haven't cast a spell or any attacks. So you manage to see this brief shimmer in space where the wind bends around her reverting form.
LIAM: I pick it up, grab it.
MATT: You thrust downward with your wings. You grab her body and manage to carry. You can feel her invisible body below you as you bring it back up.
LIAM: Punch me in the face. Punch me in the face right now!
LIAM: Hey, beautiful.
MARISHA: I'm sorry!
LIAM: Let's get the fuck out of here! Do a barrel roll.
MATT: All right. Another giant arm swings, but swings wide as it attempts to swing in the same place it did before. It does not seem to see the two of you quickly approach the proximity of its torso. You hear this (zooming) passing over you by about 30 or 40 feet.
MARISHA: Oh, trying to go for J'mon?
MATT: No, trying to go where you guys were. You still have a visual point on it, so you direct and tug Vax by the hair and ears in the direction of the path you saw.
MARISHA: By the ponytail.
MATT: Yeah, basically. And there, on the edge, you can see J'mon Sa Ord there, wings flapping, as you guys rocket down and land right on the edge of the footsteps. This is about a five-foot gap where the water isn't rushing past.
MARISHA: Okay. I immediately cast Control Water and suck it inside.
MATT: Okay. The waterfall stops and bends upward and is now being held. You guys have a row of steps ahead of you that are safe enough to land on right now. They're still slick with water, but there isn't a rushing waterfall pouring over them.
LAURA: Can we see where to go to? An opening?
MATT: You can see it ascends upward out of view.
LAURA: Let's go.
TALIESIN: This is what's happening. This is who we are now.
MATT: J'mon, they swoop down and the giant dragon claws (clattering) grapple onto the rock side of this large titan and leans forward, giving each of you the opportunity to jump a very short distance over to these steps. As each of you make this leap, J'mon disengages and flies up and says, "I can only grant you so much, for I have many to watch out here as we distract he who resides above. However, take this." As the dragon head descends, you see the eyes flare with energy as they cast Mass Cure Wounds. Ooh, two sixes and a seven, not bad. All right, 12, 19. That's going to be 28 hit points healed to both of you.
TALIESIN: That helps.
LIAM: Yeah, as we were landing, the gashes all over Vax's face started to heal up a little bit, but not all the way. Then suddenly they went even further.
MATT: "Be safe, and I'll see you on the other side."
LAURA: (fake-crying) See you on the other side of the war.
MATT: As you all stand on the precipice of this opening that falls off into a drop, hundreds of feet to the rocky ground below, you can smell the cold wind blowing through these caverns, emerging from this entrance you've found. As Keyleth holds back the flow of this river, you glance up the dark, rising stairs, deep into the body of the titan amongst the cursed vaults of this dwarven city, long abandoned, and begin your trek to eventually meet your final conflict with the Whispered One. That's where we're going to end tonight's episode.
BRIAN: Keep it up!
MATT: This is a little surreal.
BRIAN: Big time. There's some people that we really want to thank really fast. It's our crew, and it's the people who helped put this on for us. So we want to thank-- I had the list but I left it backstage because I was too involved in what was going on. Okay. Dani, Sax, Courtney, Ryan, Rachel, Ed, Jamie, Danny, Ben, Chris, Fernando, Audrey. You guys. It takes literally six months to put one of these on. The amount of work and heart and love that our crew has put into this has been incredible. You guys are incredible!
BRIAN: Thank you for waiting, thank you for coming, thank you for participating! Don't worry, it's almost Thursday. Good night, GenCon!
SAM: See you guys tomorrow. Get some sleep. Thanks so much; this was a lot of fun!
MATT: So just a reminder, guys, those of you who will be able to come to the signing tomorrow, we'll see you there. If you can come at least to pick up some Scanlan stickers, I think it'll be worth your while. I'm going to post some images of what they look like. I think you'll be happy. It's high time you got out and went the fuck to sleep. Thank you guys so much for joining us.
TALIESIN: What time is the signing? That's actually a real question.
MATT: Sorry, trigger warning on that question. Oh, the signing is at 2:30, looks like, begins at 2:30. Yeah, ticket says 3:00?
BRIAN: Lucas Oil Field Stadium.
MATT: (singing) My schedule is wrong! (speaking) Pay attention to Geek and Sundry Twitter for announcements. Anyway, thank you so much for coming. Hope you had fun. We had a great time.
TALIESIN: No, don't touch that!
MATT: You don't know what you've done.
BRIAN: I hope you brought two gallons of hand sanitizer with you.
MATT: We love you guys. Good night.