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List of Transcripts

Pre-ShowEdit

MATT: Hello, and welcome this evening to Critical Role, everyone. A show where a bunch of us nerdy-ass voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons and have a good time. Guess we can go ahead and– we forgot to do the format this time and start with the intro. We trying to do that going forward because it makes more sense. But for now, let’s go ahead and jump to the intro and we’ll be right back to describe what we have going on.

[dramatic music]

MATT: Welcome back. So first and foremost, we got a couple quick announcements to get into for this week. For every 100 subs we get to the channel this evening we’ll be doing giveaways. The giveaways this week will include a signed photo of the cast of Critical Role, as well as, for the first time offering, a large print poster of one of the classic moments within our campaign drawn by our illustrious Kit Buss, our official artist for Critical Role. I think Zac should be showing you that photo that we’ll be giving away, a really nice, high-quality print of that signed by the cast. And we’ll send that out to whoever wins the wonderful prize for the chat room. I think we’re 50 away from our first giveaway. So, you got to get that climbing so we can give that out shortly. Also, as we’ve previously, the past two weeks, had some great guests joining our first half of the Vox Machina group on their adventure, this week we have two new guests joining us for this and next week. If I can have a big, warm welcome to our players this week: Wil Wheaton and Will Friedle. Thank you guys so much for joining us. Excited to have you.

MARISHA: So awesome.

WILL: Slightly nervous.

WIL: You’re going to be great, don’t worry about it. I want to apologize in advance to Liam for having to share a table with me. I’m sorry for what’s going to happen to your dice on account of how close we are to each other. I hope you’re not too attached to anything with your character at all.

(laughter)

WIL: I know. I’m just telling you, if there’s dice you really love, you might want to put them away.

LIAM: I’ll just kiester this one.

MATT: That’s the most comfortable way to do that. Well, awesome guys. Thank you so much for joining us in this. Before we jump in, let’s see if we have any announcements that anyone wants to make, anything coming up, anything you want to talk about. I’ll start. I’ll say that as of flying out this evening, I should say, I have a flight at 12:15 from LAX. I’ll be flying out to Columbus, Ohio for Matsuricon this weekend. So, any of you guys out there in the Ohio area want to come and visit me for the weekend, I’ll be doing signings, panels, and general hanging out with fans and stuff. So if you’re in the vicinity, come say hi. That’s my announcement. Anyone else have anything they want to mention?

ORION: Yeah. I recently started my own Twitch stream. So you can follow me and watch. I play a lot of video games, guys. It’s horrible addiction that’s amazing. But it’s @orionacaba on Twitch.

MATT: You keep streaming Thursdays at 7:00, which I think is really counterproductive.

ORION: It’s weird.

WIL: When you’ve mastered being in two places at once, it’s silly not to take advantage of it.

ORION: I am actually hosting Geek and Sundry on my channel right now.

MATT: Oh, look at you.

LIAM: Are you simultaneously brewing at home right now?

WIL: I am. And I am also running this game in an alternate universe.

LIAM: Oh. Wow.

WIL: It’s pretty great. Yeah. And Matt rolls so bad in that game. It’s really great. I am having dinner with my wife tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that. We’re probably going to put a whole chicken in the smoker in the afternoon and then I think we’re going to play some games. I’m introducing her to a game that I got at Gen Con called Lanterns.

MARISHA: Lanterns?

WIL: Yeah, really fun Dom Lux game. Really like it a lot.

MARISHA: We’ll have to check that out.

WILL: I, after four lovely years, popped the question last week.

MATT: Yes, you did.

WILL: And I am engaged to be married. Yes.

(cheering)

WILL: Thank you very much.

MATT: I would say Susan’s a very lucky girl, but really, it’s the other way around.

WILL: No, I’m the lucky one. I lucked out. I really was the one who lucked out.

LIAM: Does she know or is this the proposal?

WILL: I was going to propose like this, but we live in the woods and we don’t get this show there. We have no internet whatsoever. No, she knows. She knows. She stupidly said yes, so we’ll see what happens next.

WIL: If you need an entree into the Society of Men Who Married Way Above Their Stations, I can provide you an introduction.

WILL: Thank you. (laughs) That’s awesome. Yes, that is absolutely what happened here, so I will need that.

WIL: Yeah, they’re members-only jackets.

MARISHA: Members-only jackets.

WIL: The sleeves are little too short on all of the jackets, so we remember.

WILL: That’s perfect. I like that.

MATT: A lot of suede.

WILL and WIL: Yeah.

(laughter)

WIL: And a nylon hood zipped into the neck, for some reason.

MATT: Which no one ever uses, and you forget it’s there until you’re like, “What’s that? Oh, right.” Congratulations.

WILL: Thank you. You are the first to know that that’s happened.

MATT: There you go. Exclusive. Critical Role exclusive. Well, fantastic. Let’s go ahead and jump into where we left off.

WIL: I thought I just heard you say you need a pencil.

ORION: Yeah, I do.

WILL: That’s what happens when you’re in multiple places at once. The realities start blending.

WILL: I’ll share, if you’d like.

ORION: Thank you.

MATT: Anyone else need a pencil? Everyone good?

WILL: That was a good throw and catch.

WIL: I have a mechanical pencil that looks like a pencil pencil.

WILL: I think I have the same kind of pencil.

WIL: Yeah, it’s nice.

MARISHA: We do the hand-eye coordination thing.

Part IEdit

MATT: All righty, guys. As it currently stands, Vox Machina throughout its ventures found itself in the city of Vasselheim, as of late. They came to seal away the Horn of Orcus they had tore from the head of the beholder K'Varn deep in the Underdark. Once they had completed this journey, they spent some time in the city trying to figure out what can be done there, preparation for possibly Keyleth making a venture out to one of her Ashari tribes. During which, Grog entered a fight ring and lost. And the party decided to go ahead and–

MARISHA: Never forget.

MATT: I have a feeling Kern and Grog are going to have a round two in the near future, depending on how Grog’s feeling about that. Then the party saw that there was some sort of hydra-like being that had been harrying the walls of the outskirts of the city of Vasselheim. Being the adventurers they are, they took it upon themselves to leap out into the jungles and the forests of the Vesper Timberland. Found and hunted down this hydra, fought it, and upon slaying it, discovered there was another group also hunting this hydra. An actually sanctioned group. And that hunting this hydra is considered illegal in Vasselheim unless you had actually been contracted to do so. So in breaking the laws of Vasselheim, they could have been tried for it, but instead chose to return to the city with this group of hunters and be brought before their guildmaster, the Huntmaster known as Huntmaster Vanessa Cyndrial. Basically, they were given the choice: they could go to trial or they could undergo their own personal trial to join the guild, the Slayer’s Take, which is essentially a guild that takes on contracts to hunt various requested creatures down, harvest elements of their physical bodies to then be sold or returned to these individuals and be paid for it. If they manage to complete these trials, they will be absolved of breaking the law because they will now be within the confines of it and will be members of the guild. So choosing that, they were then also notified that they would be splitting up into two different groups, much to the chagrin of Vex and Vax, our twins.

WILL: Split apart.

LIAM: Separation anxiety is a real thing.

MATT: So this group, the second adventuring group, has gathered itself back to the Bellows’ Respite inn. Vax, you were asked to go the bar, to join your sister, Vex, for a shot of the hardest liquor they had available to deal with the coming separation. You shared a brief breakfast, shared your bitter, spiteful, alcoholic imbibement, and then went your separate ways. The first group went initially, and it’s been about an hour or so of you guys waiting in the tavern for them to, as far as you know, take care of their business before you were to go to the guild yourselves. So, we have Tiberius, Keyleth, and Vax all sitting around the Bellows’ Respite tavern lamenting what’s going to come next.

ORION: Oh, cheer up, Vax. She’ll be back soon. I’ve never seen you quite so down.

MARISHA: I’ve been separated from my parents for a really long time. You get used to it. It’s not too bad.

LIAM: It took you years to do that. I’m two minutes in, so I’ll grieve a little bit longer.

MARISHA: Don’t say the word grieve. That’s strong.

ORION: Yes, it’s implying that someone has died. And no one has. So, you know.

MARISHA: It’s only a few days. It’ll be good. Separation makes the heart grow fonder and all that stuff.

LIAM: It’s fine. I just have a low tolerance for bullshit, and I’d like to get past this little piece of shit that we’re being made to swallow.

ORION: I agree. Stormwinds should not be meddling around with these peasants. Are we in a tavern?

MATT: You are currently in the Bellows’ Respite Tavern.

ORION: Barkeep, bring me your finest ale for my friend here and for the lady. I’ll take a water.

MATT: The relatively jovial, ginger-bearded, rotund human gentleman who runs the establishment comes over to you. Looks like himself is a little bleary-eyed and hasn’t quite adjusted to the morning light itself. “Oh okay. Certainly, I’ll go ahead and retrieve that for you. It’s three? Three is what I’m looking at?”

MARISHA: What time is it?

MATT: Right now, I’d say it’s roughly 9:00 to 10:00 in the morning.

MARISHA: Oh sure. Let’s start early. Why not?

ORION: And I flip him a couple of gold coins.

MATT: He tries to catch it, fumbles. Goes and pick it up.

MARISHA: Don’t throw. That’s rude.

MATT: Five minutes go by. Your food and drink are brought to your table, and you continue to lament about the coming time. Is there anything else you guys wish to take care of before you make your way to the Slayer’s Take Guildhall?

MARISHA: Well, since we’re getting separated, Grog is taking the Bag of Holding.

ORION: I have one; don’t forget that.

MARISHA: Right, but we had a lot of stuff in that Bag of Holding. I kept most of the stuff that I needed on me, but how many healing potions do we have?

LIAM: Not a lot. That’s what I’m concerned about. We lost our meat shield and we don’t have Pike. So I think we probably need to go and get some potions.

MARISHA: I can go ahead and brush up on healing spells, as well. Make sure I come a little bit more well-equipped, just in case.

ORION: I’m good on potions, but we should restock our supply.

LIAM: How many have you got?

ORION: I have, let me see here, three potions of greater healing, and three regular potions of healing.

LIAM: Can I have one?

ORION: I suppose. If we’re just going to buy more, it doesn’t matter. But just in case something happens along the way.

LIAM: Thank you.

MARISHA: I only have one greater healing potion right now.

ORION: Yes, so we’ll go buy more. And then we’ll see what else they have. I would like to see if we can procure a couple of items, like a couple of empty vials. I’ve used a lot of mine. Maybe find some acid or whatnot at these item shops. So let’s look around and get the stuff.

MARISHA: Okay.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and make an investigation check.

MARISHA: Apparently we have the flying carpet?

LIAM: Do we have the flying carpet?

MATT: The flying carpet is, for the most part, kept wrapped up in Grog’s Bag of Holding.

MARISHA: Because I think Grog was checking out. He’s breaking up a little bit. But I feel like he just told me that we took the flying carpet.

LIAM: (imitating Grog) We took the flying carpet. Sorry.

MARISHA: He’s very far away, but I feel it’s reaching its limits.

LIAM: (imitating Grog) I would like to bogart the flying carpet and everything in the fucking Bag.

MARISHA: He apparently left us with the flying carpet?

ORION: He’s saying he left with the flying carpet, Keyleth. He left with it. We don’t have it.

MARISHA: He said, remember, you took the flying carpet. To break RP for a second.

LIAM: (imitating Grog) Am I texting you that right now?

MARISHA: Yeah. I can’t. You’re cutting out. You’re cutting out, Grog.

ORION: I held it for a time, but I only have my Wheel of Mending in mine, as far as I know. Hold on, let me check.

MATT: As you reach into your Bag of Holding–

ORION: I’m thinking really hard.

MATT: Through the luck of the draw, it seems to be that the last resting place of the flying carpet was within your Bag of Holding.

ORION: Hold on. Oh here it is.

MARISHA: Oh, look at that. We have it.

ORION: Shut my mouth. I guess I was wrong.

MARISHA: Found it. We’re good.

LIAM: All right, let’s go to the store. I don’t really want to drag this out any longer than we have to. And I walk out the door and start going.

MATT: Okay. What did you roll for your investigation check, Tiberius?

ORION: 16.

MATT: 16? Okay. As you guys take the next 20 minutes wandering the Quad Roads district of Vasselheim, asking around. A lot of the shops here offer general supplies. There are a few that are focused on the mining supplies as there is a large market mining cobalt out of the center of the mountain the city is built around. You find places that provide clockwork for large grandfather clocks that are starting to be distributed in this part of the city. You also find that there is a large bazaar-type market in the center of the Quad Roads that you passed by when you first came to town. Amongst many of these barkers, you do catch one small tent, Tiberius, that catches your eye because it resembles the same purple color as one tent you guys entered in Emon about a year or so ago, in which you encountered a fortune teller.

MARISHA: Oh shit! It’s the Witch’s Fortune. What are you looking for?

LIAM: Look at those fingers fly.

ORION: I approach.

MARISHA: Do you know her name? Remember her name? I can probably find it. It would take a minute of digging, through. Hang on. I’ve got to go back to my old notes. I’ve got to go back to my old D&D notes. Keep doing stuff.

MATT: So as you enter the tent, you pull the curtains apart. There is one other individual who seems to be just perusing the interior. But the smell that hits you immediately is very heavy sage, ceremonial burning of various spices, giving the area a mystical scent. The light itself is very low, just a few flickering candles and a hooded lantern in the far corner directed outward give a bit of ambiance to the interior of the tent. The series of small ropes and cords made of hemp and silk carry trinkets and bones and various enchanted accoutrements. And in the far back corner, amongst the table there is indeed a very beautiful elven woman dressed in a fine silk gown with a metallic headband, her dirty blonde hair behind her ears. And she looks to be in the middle of shuffling a deck of tarot cards. As you enter, she looks up and gives you a look of surprise and then a curious look of remembrance.

MARISHA: Am I with him?

MATT: You’re behind him and outside of the tent. He entered. Did you guys want to go in with him?

LIAM and MARISHA: Yes.

MATT: All right, you enter and are greeted by this same atmosphere.

MARISHA: (gasps) Trista!

MATT: She gives you a cross look.

MARISHA: It’s been so long! Fancy meeting you here.

MATT: She puts her finger up for a second, turns over to the noblewoman who is currently perusing this small shelf of books and tomes. “I’m terribly sorry. Would you mind just giving us a moment? I’ve some personal business to attend to.” The noble woman is like, “Oh, fine. I didn’t want to purchase anything anyway.” And stomps out of the tent. The door closes behind her. At which point the elven woman immediately turns. “Trista’s my sister.”

MARISHA: You’re Forsythia?

MATT: “It’s good to see you again, young half-elf.” You can see now with the current atmosphere, the light seems to dim the interior of the tent. And the elven woman’s visage shimmers and then fades and there sitting behind the table you see a large, hunched forward, gnarled humanoid. This woman, who is definitively referred to as a hag, is currently lording over the table, long, twisted fingers holding that same deck of cards. Looking up at you with a crooked nose and pointed chin. There’s a grin on her face. And looks to you and, “It has been some time, dragonborn. I can still see there is a fraction of you still missing.”

ORION: Yes. I still don’t know what that means. But I am actually happy to see you, milady.

MATT: Still shuffling her cards. “So was there anything I can help you with?”

ORION: Yes. Yes, there is. You mentioned before, when I asked you last, of the Boros Ring. You revealed that it was in the Fey, the Wild Fen. I am also in search of the item that I did not get to ask you about called the Pale Stone. I wish to know the location of that, as well.

MATT: She gives you a keen look. “I think for the time being, one quest is enough. Return when you’ve procured this ring you so graciously seek, then perhaps the rest of this will be revealed. Grow greedy with fate and I fear the timeline will swallow you up, young dragonblood.” She pulls the cards down and just starts going over her own reading. Each card she slams down with a heavy thud. The room seems to almost cloud, the air growing thicker. And there’s a hint of frustration that she’s currently being bothered and strung out. After she takes a few moments to herself, she looks back you. “Is there business you seek, aside from asking me these questions? Perhaps a bauble or two. I make fine baubles.”

ORION: Since you’re not in the business of information, then we are in the business of procuring some specific items. Potions. I’m looking for a few empty glass vials. Perhaps some acid, if you have it.

MATT: She stands up. And as she stands up, you can now see the hag, which hunched forward, sits at a solid five feet tall. At full height, even with the hunch, she’s now cresting the top of the tent at seven feet. Long, stringy, gray-black hair framing the shoulders. The same nice goldish silk outfit the elf appearance was wearing is there. It looks much more world-tattered and matches the one currently wearing it. She reaches behind her, still staring you intently in the face, and grabs a small case off the wall. Sets it down before her. Pulls back the wooden lid and inside, you can see there are three small glass vials. “These are what I have to offer. Two of them will right your physical form, perhaps take care of some of those wounds someone as foolish and careless as you eventually deal with. The third one is caustic in its nature. Its application is up to you. They are sold as a set, though. 300 gold pieces. Take it or leave.”

ORION: You don’t have to be all nasty about it. I have the money. Here you go.

MATT: She reaches over and as you hold the small bag of coin out, her hand completely engulfs yours. The fingers wrap around, and for a second you feel a tug. And you are awkwardly pulled forward a few inches. You get closer to her face. The breath catches your nostrils, the scent of swamp water and old fish. It’s a moment of intensity where you forget your surroundings for a brief moment. And it’s just you and this entity. And you realize, she’s far older than you ever gave her credit for. She pulls the bag of coin from your hand and withdraws. The light seems to return from the peripheral of your vision. Keyleth and Vax are there at your side. She reaches forward and pushes the box forward toward you on the table. “Be safe, and may fortune smile upon most of you.”

ORION: Yes, I know something bad is going to happen. I show them the box. I take it and pick it up. This is all she had to offer. She’s not taking questions.

MARISHA: You’re not taking any questions right now?

MATT: “Not today.”

MARISHA: Not today?

MATT: “As you know, my dealings with fate take a lot out of me. I’m not quite ready for another round of tellings. You see, this city, as most bits of civilization, are very eager to hear what the future has in store for them. So I’m a bit tapped out at the moment.” And you can see a bit of dried blood around one of her nostrils. And if you recall last time, the process was very physically taxing on her. “Perhaps return in a week or so. And if I’m not here, I’m around.”

LIAM: Old one, are you still willing to trade today?

MATT: “Trade?”

LIAM: I’m wondering if you have any poisons beyond the run-of-the-mill nightshades this afternoon or morning?

MATT: She stands up and reaches over, and there’s a small alchemical glassware set up on the side. And you see it’s cracked and old and it’s been brutalized. And she pulls a very small vial of some dark, black, almost umbra-type liquid where you can’t even see shine in the light. It absorbs all the light. She puts it forward. “This would be very unfortunate to find its way into the bloodstream of an enemy, yes?”

LIAM: What do you want for it?

MATT: “A favor. Not now, but perhaps down the road.”

ORION: She does that, Vax. A lot.

LIAM: Why not?

MATT: She pushes it forward with her long, crooked fingernail, shoves the vial forward. It screeches across the top of the table. She withdraws her hand. “So it is done.” At that moment, there’s a very a cold shiver down the back of your neck that then fades. She just grins with this nasty, toothy grin. “Now, be on your way. I have cards to shuffle.”

LIAM: Yoink.

MARISHA: It was so nice to see a familiar face in such a strange place. She’s lovely.

ORION: Yes. Good day, madam.

MATT: As you step out, she raises her hand in front of her and her form once again shimmers and shifts down to that beautiful elven maiden that greeted you as you entered. The lights tend to blossom a little bit and you close the tent behind you.

LIAM: As we’re leaving, I say, that’s a good look.

MATT: Gives a slight breathy chuckle that starts beautiful. (chuckle turns into a cackle)

ORION: What did we actually get?

MATT: You acquired two potions of greater healing, and a vial of caustic liquid. You are uncertain as to what its properties are.

MARISHA: Caustic liquid.

MATT: You also don’t quite know the properties of yours, but you gather, the assurance from a creature of this power, that she speaks in riddles, but not in untruths.

ORION: I’m going to give you another one of the greater potions. So mark that down.

LIAM: Thank you. We’re right in the middle of the bazaar. Do we want to take a quick jog around? I grab someone passing by and say, you, potions? Where? Here?

MATT: The person looks down at your arm, brushes it off, and the middle-aged gentleman goes, “Sir, you do realize that most of the potion trade is controlled by the clergy?”

MARISHA: They’re all like no magic and stuff here.

LIAM: I did not know that. Thank you. Well, shit.

MARISHA: Wait. Did he say that it was controlled by the clergy?

ORION: So we should go there.

MARISHA: Hang on. Just because it is controlled by the clergy doesn’t mean that it’s legal. Doesn’t mean that if we go knocking on their door requesting potions that they’re going to take kindly to that. Kind of like getting your concealed deadly weapons license in certain places.

LIAM: I grab another weirdo passing by and say, excuse me. There’s probably a temple around here. Can you point us in the right direction?

MATT: The individual looks at you awkwardly and points over. And you can see just past the outskirts of this bazaar, there are a number of buildings that line the outer area of this central portion. You can see where he is pointing, there is a large cathedral made of almost, from this distance, a warbling, warped obsidian, and it is far more ominous and obelisk-like in appearance than the other temples. In a district of the city that you haven’t been to yet. But it is the closest temple.

WIL: Warbling Obsidian is my Black Crowes cover band.

LIAM: I’m getting itchy. Can we just go to the Take please?

MARISHA: I turn and I lean into Tiberius and I say, he’s going to be cranky the entire time we’re on this field trip, isn’t he?

ORION: Yes, and usually I’m the cranky one.

MARISHA: I know.

ORION: So let’s head to the temple. Right? Yes?

MARISHA: I guess.

ORION: Can you turn into a horse?

MARISHA: Yes, but that’s a little forward, don’t you think?

ORION: I’m just asking.

LIAM: Are we going to the temple or the Take?

ORION: Oh, the Take? What would make you feel better?

LIAM: Let’s get on with it, shall we? Jesus, whoever that is.

ORION: That was that one carpenter we met in in Vasselheim.

LIAM: Oh, he was sweet. He had some good herb.

ORION: Yes, he did. He sure knew how to– it was dank.

MATT: “Dank,” which is arcane terms for “thaumaturgical.” Anyway. You make your way to the southern outskirts of this portion of the bazaar, which leads its way into the central building cluster portion of the Quad Roads district to the outside of the Slayer’s Take Guildhall. You walk up to the main doorway which has the inscription in front. And pushing the door open, you enter into the main foyer area, where you see the same cast-iron chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, the dark wood rafters frame the entire internal area. And there sitting at the central desk is Mertin, the scarred-up halfling with the relatively joyful disposition. He looks up from his books. “Okay, it appears to me that we have the other half of this adventuring group to deal with. Let us hope that perhaps you have better luck than your previous friends in what has been chosen for you, eh?”

LIAM: They already headed out?

MATT: “Yes, they left not more than an hour ago, I imagine.”

MARISHA: And what were they contracted with?

MATT: “Oh, nothing. They’re going to kill a dragon. Would you like me to go get the mistress for you?”

LIAM: Excuse me?

MATT: “I’ll take that as a yes. I’ll be right back.” And he gets up from his table and wanders off.

ORION: They’ll be fine. I’m sure of it. Scanlan makes good decisions all the time.

MATT: As you wait a few moments, eventually Mertin returns. But he seems, his head down, a little humbly, and gestures out with his hands. And you hear the familiar footsteps of the Huntmaster, Vanessa Cyndrial. Her tiefling appearance both very striking in her chiseled bone structure in her face, her dark leather armor itself creaking slightly with each footstep. And she has that very commanding yet welcoming appearance, which you know hides a very hard-to-read interior. She steps forward. “Well, are you ready to take on the other half of this mission? Your friends were eager. And they traveled with some of our finer warriors. Are you confident in your capabilities today?”

ORION: Listen, don’t be smug with me. None of us what to be here or cooperate with this stupid event just to abide your laws.

MARISHA: Tiberius, we could be on trial.

ORION: The answer is yes. Let’s get on with it.

MATT: “You see, it is very simple. I like it, direct and to the point. I respect that.”

ORION: Oh. Well, thank you.

MATT: “The angry, flowery part in the middle, not so much a fan of. All right. So,” she reaches behind and pulls out what looks like a small, rolled-up piece of parchment. Looks at it for a second. “Well, you have one other hopeful for this guild that will be joining you for this, and a leader will be assigned to you on this excursion to keep an eye on you and make sure you stay within the rules and not go absconding to some other country and we have to hunt you down.”

LIAM: Fantastic.

ORION: Can we use the word liaison?

MATT: “A liaison, if you will. Mertin, would you get the other hopeful for this?” Mertin says, “Of course, my lady.” He gets up, and walks over, and knocks on a door. As you hear the door knock on the opposite side of the room, opens it up. And the red, tousled hair, halfling. “Kashaw, your group has arrived.”

WILL: Well, it’s about time. I’m sick of waiting. (sighs) He walks out and meets everybody.

MATT: As you guys look, the door opens, and a human male steps out into the light. If you wish to describe yourself.

WILL: I am Kashaw Vesh, an acolyte. Here I am, waiting for you for so long now. Do I have to travel with them the entire time?

MATT: “For the remainder of this contract at least. But once you have joined the Guild, perhaps other groups will be assigned to you.”

MARISHA: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, were we late? We didn’t mean to keep you waiting. Or do you mean like, you’ve been waiting for us for a long time in the destiny, “we’re here and where have you been my whole life” kind of way?

WILL: Is she always like this?

ORION: Yes, she is.

LIAM: Not good at reading emotions.

WILL: This is going to be fun. Yes. No, I meant you’re late.

MARISHA: Wait. Is that what people say about me?

LIAM: I don’t.

MARISHA: We’ll talk later.

WILL: Who are you?

LIAM: Vax'ildan.

ORION: I am Tiberius Stormwind.

WILL: A dragonborn.

LIAM: What’s your thing? What do you do?

WILL: What I do is not really important. What I want to get done, I think, is what matters. What I want to do is start this quest. Is that what you called it? Quest?

MATT: “It is a contract.”

WILL: A contract, a job. Can we just get out there, please, and do what we have to do?

MATT: “Very well.”

LIAM: I agree. Let’s hurry it up, Merkin. Shall we?

WILL: That wasn’t your name, was it?

MATT: “It’s Mertin. Mertin is the name. But it’s okay.”

LIAM: I’m not from these parts. It’s my accent. Sorry.

MATT: “I can hear accent from upbringing. It’s Syngornian use. It’s fine. Mertin. Never mind.” By the way, the human that has walked out, you can see has shoulder-length brown hair, a leather cord that is tied around the center of the forehead. Eyes two different colors. One I believe is a light blue?

WILL: It’s a light blue. One is a bright yellow. And his right arm, all the way up from where you can see where it disappears below the armor is covered in one-inch cuts, with scars all the way up.

ORION: Ah, a religious man.

WILL: Maybe.

MATT: Mertin goes over and knocks on a door, opens it up. This individual is easy to hear from a distance. The heavy footfalls and the grumbling echoes through the hallways before he even appears. Mertin leads you into the light of the main foyer area. “This will be the group of which you will be guiding on this. I appreciate you doing this for us. I know it’s not really usually what you do. But here is your team for this contract.”

WIL: I’m sorry, where is the team?

MATT: “This is your team.” And Vanessa chuckles to herself. “I’m sorry. This is what you’ll be dealing with today.”

MARISHA: Hi.

ORION: Hello, I’m Tiberius Stormwind.

MATT: “Now Thorbir, play nice.”

MARISHA: What was that?

MATT: “Thorbir. Thorbir, play nice.”

WIL: So he’s a dwarf. He’s a really stout dwarf. He’s got really a long, red beard that’s singed off in the lower right corner. The bottom of the top part of his beard is braided and clamped off with all these ornate things. He’s got these big, thick, ropey, white braids that come down on either side of his face and frame his face. And these have these really big Dwarven runes on them. Do any of you speak Dwarven?

ORION: Yes.

MARISHA: No.

WILL: Yes.

WIL: All right, so for those of you who speak Dwarven, this is a really offensive curse word in Dwarven. And this one is an even more offensive curse word in Dwarven. You don’t say these in friendly company. He’s got a scar that runs down across his face. And the eye that it runs through is black. And his other eye is blue. And you can see that he’s got Dwarven script written in tattoos all the way down his right arm.

MATT: “So please, if you would not mind making sure that they see their contract to fruition, taking them on this as you will, showing them the ropes of the guild, and try not get them killed.”

WIL: And for me?

MATT: “Well, you will be rewarded as per the contract. You will have done the guild a great favor, which you know favors can go a very long way in the guild.”

WIL: I certainly do. You don’t have to tell me about repaying favors.

MATT: “Fair enough. Well, perhaps now would be a good time for this jovial lot of adventurers to know what it is they are to hunt down.”

WIL: Is it an actual group?

MATT: “Well, we’ll see how well you can make it into one. Perhaps this is a test for you as well, fair dwarf.”

MARISHA: I think is going to be an excellent bonding experience.

WILL: Seriously, the whole time she is like this?

ORION: Yes, she is. It grows on you, though.

WILL: I’m sure it does. So does the plague.

MARISHA: Everyone has such a problem with optimism.

MATT: She unravels it. Looks at it. “I think this will do well for what is required. We will bind this contract to you now. Feel free to take over. If you wouldn’t mind reading, half-elf.”

MARISHA: You know, public speaking is not really my strong suit. Okay. Ordered and paid in advance by anonymous.

ORION: Oh, they’re a fun group.

MARISHA: This contract, binding in honor and the elements, sets upon the agreed members of the Slayer’s Take Guildhall, and the task of locating and slaying the below-mentioned entity, and the recovery of the below-listed harvested anatomy items. And any anatomy items not recovered or not in functional condition will be deducted from the final payment and refunded to the client. Oh. This contract is good for three days and should the contract not be fulfilled within that time period, all payments are null and void, this contract is null and void, and membership of the Slayer’s Take is revoked– outside of the Huntmaster’s willful forgiveness.

LIAM: Skip to the punchline.

MARISHA: The quarry has been approved for hunting by the Holy Paramours of the Crown of Erathis. The quarry of one rakshasa. What’s a rakshasa?

LIAM: Tiger man.

MARISHA: Tiger man?

LIAM: Essentially.

WILL: How do you know that?

LIAM: Storybooks in Syngorn.

MARISHA: We need two rakshasa eyes, one rakshasa tongue, one rakshasa heart, two rakshasa claws, and two rakshasa canine teeth. So canine.

ORION: Would this be an arcana or this be a history check?

MATT: This would be more of an arcana check.

ORION: I’m going to do an arcana check. 18.

MATT: 18? Rakshasas were entities that originally stemmed from the realm of the Nine Hells. They are devils. They are deceptive, and usually embed themselves in elements of society where they can grasp and take power. They love having servitude beneath them, and they are notoriously difficult and slippery to find, let alone nail down and destroy. Appearance-wise, they look like a normal humanoid man, but have the face of a tiger, and the other curious element is both of their hands are reversed. That’s as much as you can glean from your formal training and understanding.

LIAM: Does this cat have a name?

MATT: “Why does it matter? All we know is we can confirm that there is one within the vicinity, or huntable at the very least. The rest is up to you to find.”

MARISHA: The quarry is where it’s been last located? Oh, okay. Yeah, you double-check it. I might have missed something.

WILL: Why can’t we know who the client is?

MATT: “The client has decided they wish to remain anonymous for this contract.”

ORION: This seems to be bothering you, Kashaw.

WILL: Everything’s been bothering me lately. She’s not helping. Do you want to read this?

ORION: It’s going to say the same thing. Which part?

WILL: Give me this. How far to the quarry?

MATT: “Your quarry is the creature.”

WILL: You said it was in the vicinity. What are we talking “in the vicinity?” Are we talking a day’s hike? We talking an hour from here?

MATT: “Meaning, we’ve been able to confirm that there is one that is within a huntable distance within the three days of the contract. However, part of this trial is to see just how good you are at finding and destroying such creatures, so that information is for you to find, unless you do not feel your skills are up to par for the Slayer’s Take, in which case, you are more than welcome to go for the door, human.”

LIAM: And you have no further information? Are there any grumpkins you want us to find? Do you expect us to go out with no information at all to find a man with a tiger’s head?

MATT: “Well, you seem like a well-traveled unit. You seem to have done well enough to find and destroy great things you spoke of as you walked into these halls. Prove to me that you are more than just sell-swords. Show to me that you have the intellect, that you have the skill sets, that you have the cleverness to find the creature that does not wish to be found.”

LIAM: Is this how things normally go around here?

WIL: Normally, I don’t waste my time with the likes of you. Man with a tiger’s head is going to stand out. No problem finding him. Let’s stand here and talk about this forever, or let’s head out and get this over with.

ORION: Well, dwarf, why don’t you do your title and lead then? And I should warn you, you are walking with a Stormwind. You may not know my name, but I can assure you, I alone am an army, so we are well protected. So, lead us to find this tiger-man, please.

WIL: Dragonborn is a lot of talk.

WILL: If he’s an army, why not just send him out?

MARISHA: That was probably the ballsiest thing you’ve ever said.

WIL: All right, Storm?

ORION: Wind. People call me Tibsy.

WIL: Let’s see how good you are at following. And he heads out.

LIAM: He’s not very good. Oh, he’s gone.

MATT: As the dwarf exits, and you guys follow. Outside of the Slayer’s Take into the center of the main Quad Roads thoroughfare, on the outskirts of the bazaar to seek a rakshasa, wherever one may be found.

MARISHA: I thought this was going to be a fun field trip.

ORION: Well, I mean “rakshasa” does sound fun. Rakshasa!

MARISHA: It does. It is a tiger person, so maybe we can relate.

WILL: I want to switch teams.

ORION: No, it gets better.

LIAM: What’s your name again? I’m sorry.

WILL: I am Kashaw Vesh. Call me Brother Kash. Everyone else does.

LIAM: Kash. Brother Kash, are you new to the Guild, as well?

WILL: I’m not a member of the Guild yet. I had something happen with someone who did something and now I’m here. Why don’t we leave it at that, for now?

LIAM: That’s how we got here.

WILL: Apparently, I only have to be here for another three days, which will be good.

LIAM: All right.

WIL: I’m impatient. Perception 20. Is there anything around that indicates where, which of these four directions is the best direction to go?

MATT: Knowing the city for the while that you’ve been here, you know there are places of open business that have a lot of traffic are also good places to ask for if anyone has seen anything that might match a certain description, or an individual that you are seeking, any strange behavior. And so you know that the center of the Quad Roads where that bazaar is, is a good place to start requesting information as you have currently none at your disposal.

MARISHA: Just to get this clear, a rakshasa’s not a beast?

MATT: It’s like a man.

WILL and ORION: It’s a demon.

MATT: It’s a demon creature that looks like a man.

MARISHA: But it’s not a beast, by definition?

MATT: No.

LIAM: I’m sorry. I’d like to make an insight check on the dwarf, not to see if he is lying, but he could be. Can I get a gut instinct into what his deal is?

MATT: Go ahead and make an insight check.

LIAM: Three, but I’m going to use my Luck to try that again. 18 plus two is 20.

MATT: Would you like to go ahead and roll a 20?

WIL: Yeah, that’s a two. All right.

(laughter)

LIAM: Just reinforce the myth, man.

WIL: That’s one better than I usually roll. I’d say it’s twice as good as I usually do.

MATT: Gruff exterior. There is definitely a toughened past to him. He seems driven. Not necessarily untrustworthy, per se, but definitely a man of little patience and currently does not seem to be too pleased with the fact that he’s essentially babysitting, in his mind.

LIAM: Is there a marshmallow center?

MATT: You may find out in due time. Yet that is too hard to read at this moment.

WILL: If you’re in the bazaar, do I have to be out of the city to cast Locate Creature?

MATT: You can cast that anywhere you want to. Your magic is divine. This is your city.

LIAM: And that’s not just a descriptor, either.

WILL: Thank you. It’s normally fabulous, but not in this city. So then how do I go about casting Locate Creature?

MATT: You can just tell me.

WILL: I’d like to go ahead and cast Locate Creature.

MATT: All right, so as you guys are having this discussion, you’re having this weird stare-off and considering where to go in the bazaar. You stop in the nearby alley two buildings down from where the Slayer’s Take Guildhall is. And you begin just taking a small dagger from your side and carving a circle in the ground. Throw some runes down that are specific to your patron. Take a moment and concentrate on the description of this rakshasa. Looking at the specifics of the spell to make sure that I don’t give you misinformation… Locate Creature. Beautiful.

WILL: You guys have jazz hands.

ORION and WILL: Rakshasa.

MATT: You focus your mind for a second, and your holy symbol begins to drift up from underneath your armor. You instinctively take and slap it down underneath, and then refocus your vision, your eyes closed. And you can see what looks like a pulsing energy, like a very dark flame. Something that itself, you can already smell the sulfur. You can smell the lineage, the devil lineage that this entity is. And there is indeed one not too terribly far from where you currently are. It’s faint, which means that it is on the outskirts. And you know this lasts for a good thousand feet or so. But it does give you a northeastern direction. And the spell fades.

MARISHA: Northeastern direction.

WILL: We should go northeast. It is also unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, closer than we thought.

LIAM: In the walls of the city?

WILL: Not in the walls, but very close to them.

MARISHA: Do we have any type of plan of attack? Does anyone know how to fight these things? Any earthly clue?

WILL: Leader boy?

MARISHA: Leader boy?

WIL: I’m sorry, are you talking to me?

ORION: Thorbir is what they meant to say.

WILL: Listen to Stormfather over here.

MARISHA: I take my social cues from other people. I’m sorry.

WIL: In my experience, there has not been a problem invented that can’t be solved with an axe.

ORION: That’s true. We’ve seen that.

WILL: Wonderfully helpful. Thank you.

WIL: You’re welcome.

LIAM: Follow the axe.

WIL: Now what I want you to do is imagine an hourglass. You got that? Good picture of an hourglass in your heads? See all that sand draining out? Let’s get a move on.

ORION: Okay. What am I doing with this sand?

MARISHA: I agree with that. Are we supposed to do something with the sand?

WIL: Yeah, count it.

MARISHA: Oh, that would take so long. Can we tag-team this?

WIL: She always like this?

ORION: Yes.

WILL: Stormcloud’s counting sand. I don’t know what she’s doing over here. Northeast. How about let’s start walking that way and see what happens? Can we give that a shot?

ORION: I agree. You did the fancy spell.

WILL: It’s not as fancy as you might think.

WIL: I’ve pulled my axe out and I’m sort of holding it like a walking stick. And just very deliberately, very demonstratively walking ahead in that direction.

MATT: With each footfall, you know that what was once, probably hundreds of years ago, a nice cobblestone roadway in the center of the city has been slowly hit with mud, dirt, snow, sleet, and so each step is a slight moisture with each footfall.

ORION: I’m assuming there’s no stables around.

MATT: Not immediately, those are usually to the very outside of the city.

LIAM: Why are you jonesing for a horse?

ORION: So I don’t get all dirty.

MATT: Thorbir, leading forward in the northeastern direction that was given by Brother Kash, eventually brings you around the side of the bazaar. And you can now see why it’s called the Quad Roads, there are two main roads that meet right where the bazaar occurs and then they spread off into the other sections of the city. To the northeastern section, from your guys’ perspective, the district begins to drift into another district that you have not previously visited. This district is, you’ve heard it mentioned before, known as the Duskmeadow. Now, previous sections you’ve been in have been worshipers of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon. There was the Braving Grounds, which worships Kord, the god of strength and warfare and honor. The Quad Roads, which is under Erathis, the deity of civilization and invention. The Duskmeadow falls under the watchful eye of the Raven Queen, the goddess of death. That large obsidian-type structure that you were led to earlier is the temple that resides in the center of this district. And you’ve heard mention before of a few of the things that exist here. That being probably Raven’s Crest, which is the main temple to the Raven Queen. This is also where the Amaranthine Oubliette is located, which is essentially the prison of the entire city of Vasselheim.

MARISHA: The what?

MATT: The Amaranthine Oubliette.

ORION: Hammertime oubliette.

MARISHA: Oh, there it is.

MATT: This is also where most of the dead of the city are interred into a series of catacombs that are built deep beneath this section of the city. Far enough away from the oubliette to the point where isn’t crossover and is enough of an escape, because that apparently has happened in the past history of the city. As you begin pushing towards the edge of where the two districts meet, you can see that there is an area of the town that, for lack of better term, it’s a more jovial than expected area. There are a series of stands put up along the side of the road. There’s a lot of beggars sitting on the side of the street that are currently panhandling to those who walk by. There are a number of taverns. You can hear music coming from various establishments. And it seems almost the closer you get to the death-oriented district on the border of the Quad Roads, the more and more it pushes into a shadier Mardi Gras-type experience. So you make your way towards that dividing line there. What you would like to do?

ORION: What say you, Thorbir?

WIL: Let’s ask around and see if anything has been a little out the ordinary, or maybe, in the ordinary.

ORION: Yes, I like that phrasing.

WILL: Have to imagine anywhere this thing goes, there’s going to be strange deaths associated with it. We might as well look there.

ORION: That’s actually a good idea, as well.

LIAM: And where we’re walking, are there shops and stands, as well, or is it residential?

MATT: There are many that sell jewelry, many that sell very well-made clothing, some of them party attire, there are some that sell exotic fruits that have been imported in various states of ripeness.

MARISHA: Is anyone selling any masks?

MATT: Make a perception check.

MARISHA: Passive or active?

MATT: That would be an active perception check as you’re seeking it.

MARISHA: 21.

MATT: 21. You do glance around and there is one cart that carries costume, party attire supplies. It doesn’t seem to have too many customers right now, but they do have a couple of masks that are on display.

MARISHA: Are there any masks that look like tiger masks?

MATT: Looking at it, there are none that are tiger-specific, no. They seem to be molded leather and some more impish, goblin-y in appearance.

MARISHA: Is there someone working the stand?

MATT: There is, yes. You see a woman in her forties or so, thin, with a big toothy smile. Her hair is pulled back into tight bun. You can see there’s little bit of her blondish hair turning to gray on the sides around her ears, Reed Richard-style.

ORION: Did you say this was the Bahamut part of town, too?

MATT: The Bahamut section is far away. That’s another section of the city. You are now on the line between the Duskmeadow and the Quad Roads, so it’s Erathis and the Raven Queen.

LIAM: I’m pulling a mask off the wall. This is a beautiful piece. Do you make them yourself?

MATT: “I do. I do, I make them myself by hand, hence the price.”

LIAM: They are quite beautiful. We’re travelers here. I’ve never seen a neighborhood like this. Is there a festival going on here, or is this pretty much the basic fare of the day here?

MATT: “This is the localized festival of the city. If you’ve been around Vasselheim long enough you’ve seen there is little interest in celebration depending on some places. But, at least on this line, some people can appreciate the fleetness that is life and grasp it by the roots and make it its own before it’s snuffed out.”

LIAM: Here particularly, there seems to be electricity in the air almost. It’s very bustling. This is the norm around here?

MATT: “Consistently. That’s why I come and bring my business here. I wouldn’t do very well up north, I’ll tell you that. All them dragon types–” Looks to you. “No offense. All them silver dragon lovers have an issue with things as celebratory.”

LIAM: And I pull out ten gold, and I spread them on her desk.

MATT: “How many masks?”

LIAM: Oh, none.

MARISHA: Oh, I would like one.

MATT: “Take your pick.”

LIAM: I slide one coin away from the other nine, and then dragging my finger across those say, is there anything out of the ordinary these days?

MATT: Go ahead and make a persuasion roll.

LIAM: 15.

MATT: 15? She gives you a look like she’s trying to read you, looks about left and right. Glances at you and looks a little ugh. Glances at you and looks really taken aback, and then comes back to you with a escape of comfort.

LIAM: Watching her, I pull out another five and spread them in front of the first nine.

MATT: “Well, I mean, some businesses here are a bit shady, I won’t lie. And there are some long-standing businesses that have quarrels. Usually, they end in small scuffles, or one purchases the other and ousts them from the city. This is one of the few areas in which the more adult pleasures can be found, so there’s a lot of money to be had. But recently, there’s been, at least from what I’ve heard, a series of bodies have turned up. There were a few found, fished out by the Bastions in the water trough on the outskirts of the Duskmeadow.”

LIAM: The Bastions: what are they?

MATT: “Bastions who are the guardians of the city. From what I hear, they had been mauled by some sort of strange beast.”

LIAM: Mauled?

MATT: “Now, beasts on the outside of the city, that I can see. But on the inside, that is the stuff of nightmares. Is it not?”

ORION: Yes, I would agree.

MARISHA: Have you had invaders like this before?

MATT: “I mean, death is not an uncommon occurrence for certain areas of the city.” And she gestures off to the distant temple. “Some people invite it, even. But such violent death like this is usually kept to the outside of the city, at least with some sort of cause. This seems to be a murderous rampage that, me personally, I don’t want to go out at night without protection.”

MARISHA: Is there is any indication of the cause of death on these corpses? How do they find them?

MATT: “I don’t know. I’ve not investigated. Perhaps you have to ask the Bastions yourself that. Or anyone who was in the vicinity.”

LIAM: And can you point us in the right direction?

MATT: She looks around, and points off. And you can see, there isn’t a whole lot of Bastion presence in this portion of the city, especially since the Bastions are more of a voluntary guard. People from the different clergies, the different temples, train to become Bastions, and fit themselves with whatever their deity’s armor is. You do see there are two Bastions armored in a very dark, dark brown leather that carry a symbol of what looks like a silver raven that is embroidered on one shoulder of a cloak that is tossed to one side.

LIAM: These guys are right here, essentially?

MATT: Yeah. Oh. They’re across the road about maybe a block up. “I believe they’re Bastions from the Duskmeadow. Perhaps you could ask them.”

MARISHA: Does she have any masks that look like a raven? A raven mask?

MATT: She does actually have one that looks like a raven.

MARISHA: I want that one.

MATT: “Very well. A good choice. It doesn’t quite match the color of your attire, but perhaps I have an outfit that could match for you?”

MARISHA: Oh!

WILL: Oh my god, we’re going clothes shopping.

MARISHA: Do you have a little cloak as well? A little cape?

MATT: “Cloaks I don’t, but there but there is a cloakery about four blocks that way on your left. They can probably help you there.”

MARISHA: Thank you so much.

MATT: “Of course.”

LIAM: I notice a serpent-shaped mask on the wall. I just pick it up and put it on and say, thank you, madam. Much obliged. And walk off and clap Thorbir on the shoulder and keep walking.

WIL: Thorbir hangs back a little bit and waits for them to get to the door. And he looks at the shop keep and, do you have any masks that might fit a little girl?

MATT: “Yes, of course, friend dwarf.” And she goes and rummages through a small bag and pulls out a mask. This little purple mask that seems to have small fake gems forming the outside, with a couple of ribbons that dangle where it would tie around the head. It’s simple, but it’s pretty. “Unfortunately, not many people bring children to this side of the district. They don’t sell very well. But if you would like one, I would be happy to part with for two gold?”

WIL: One gold.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll.

WIL: 18.

MATT: “One gold. Guess it is better to sell it than not at all. Here you are. I must say, I won’t tell anyone, but purple is a pretty color on you.”

WIL: Yes, it is. He walks out.

MATT: All right. A few moments pass as you wonder where your dwarven leader has vanished to, he steps out through the front of the establishment.

WIL: Let’s go.

ORION: Great. Do you have potions? Are you all potioned up? Are you good on items, Thorbir?

WIL: I’m all right. Are you all right?

ORION: I’m just fine.

LIAM: Well, we’re in a rush, but if it’s easy. How do you come by potions in this town?

WIL: Do I know the answer to that?

MATT: You do. They’re either provided, from some of your experience, by the Slayer’s Take, but those are usually offered at the start of a contract. The fact that they weren’t offered on this means either they don’t have any currently at their disposal, or they felt that this contract probably wouldn’t require it with the construct of this group being set out. Other than that, they are a little hard to come by. A lot of them are controlled by the main temples and are pretty much given straight to the Bastions. There aren’t a lot of individuals that are in need of them within the city, and those that travel out are either members of the Slayer’s Take or members of the Bastion forces. So they are little hard to come by.

WIL: I think that if we’re going to find them anywhere, it might be around here. Might be we can take some through trade. Maybe some might fall off a Bastion or two.

ORION: Well, let’s go talk to one then, shall we?

WILL: Thought that’s what we were doing. Are going to the two Bastions over there or what?

ORION: Yes, Kashaw.

WILL: Good. One other thing you need to know about them: they’re horribly paid, so money talks with these people.

ORION: Very well.

MARISHA: As he goes ahead, I keep up my pace until I trail behind him a little bit.

WILL: Wonderful.

LIAM: My hood goes up, and I’m gone.

MATT: All right. As you guys step across the way. It’s about a block up. One of them is partially inside the alley between two of the buildings. You can see he has one hand up on the wall and the other down. One of them is relieving himself on the side of the building, while the other is keeping watch, arms crossed, looking out across the road. The one that’s immediately present, or before you, you can see is human, a scruffy brown beard around the edge of the chin. The hair itself is cut very short. A little heavier in appearance. A little muscle, a little layer of winter padding, but the black leather armor definitely gives you the appearance of somebody who is a Bastion of the Raven Queen. As you approach, the hooded half-elf, the dwarf walking with the giant axe, and the bumbling dragonborn, the human cleric with a very angry disposition, and the awkward half-elf druid stepping in pace with him. Gives you all a cursory look and immediately puts a hand to his side where you can see that there is a rapier currently sheathed. “Aye, you walk with purpose.”

WIL: We walk for the Guild.

MATT: “Slayer’s Take it is?”

WIL: It is.

MATT: “What business have you on this side of town, then? Aren’t you supposed to be out past the walls killing creatures and such?”

WIL: Our business takes us where our business takes us. Our business brings us here today.

MATT: “All right, then what’s your business?”

WIL: You might be having some trouble?

MATT: “Aye.”

WIL: What’s causing you trouble and what’s going to get us out of here might be the same thing.

MATT: The gentleman to the left of him finishes shaking off the rest of his alleyway journey.

WILL: Any more than twice and you’re just playing with it, pal.

MATT: He turns around and throws his tunic over. “Excuse me, it’s official Bastion business. Anyway.” And he nods over to the bearded gentleman who’s standing there. “There are certain bits of business that are official in this town. I don’t know how honestly right it is to be talking with common folk, or even the Guild who does what it likes.”

WIL: I’m sorry, you’re not talking to common folk.

WILL: He wants money.

WIL: I know what he wants.

WILL: Well, then give to him so we can get out of here.

LIAM: I’m circling around.

MATT: Make a stealth check.

LIAM: 31.

MATT: I’m not even going to roll. I’m going to ask you to go ahead and you can choose if you want persuasion or intimidation on this. You’re riding that line.

WIL: I’m equally bad at both of them. But I think that Thorbir wants to go intimidation. I’ll give that a try. There it is!

ORION: 20?

WIL: What’s the exact opposite of that?

(laughter)

MATT: You know, I’ve heard about it for so long.

WIL: I know, right? You can’t believe that it’s a real thing until you’re actually there.

LIAM: Everybody talks about spontaneous combustion, but I’d never believed it.

WIL: It’s silly. It’s so silly to do this.

MARISHA: Dice shame.

LIAM: Naughty.

MATT: I don’t know what ancient Aztec deity’s temple you defaced when you were a child, but man. All right, so as you lean forward–

WIL: Please, just let me step into a bucket.

(laughter)

MATT: We’ll get to that. As you lean forward, forcing your presence on this Bastion, his hand’s still holding the edge of his rapier. He steps forward into you, to the point where you’re almost forehead to forehead. “Sorry, I have to lean down to reach your level. But if you’re going to go about asking questions and not offering proper compensation for information, well, then. I think we have no business here.”

WIL: If it’s compensation you’re looking for, let’s just speak plain. And I pull out four gold.

LIAM: And while he has their attention, I’m going to check out his pockets.

MATT: Go ahead and make a perception check.

LIAM: Ew, that’s not good. I’m going to use Luck. That’s better. That’s all right. Perception, you said? 28.

MATT: 28? Taking a moment as you sneak up behind the one he’s talking to– the two guys are shoulder to shoulder, squaring off with the rest of this group. The one that had been relieving himself in the alleyway is a little bit closer to you. You can see as he put his tunic right and everything, he jostled around and revealed a couple of small pouches on his side. One of which, you heard a clinking of glass on the inside. Go ahead and make a sleight-of-hand check.

MARISHA: Go rogue, go.

LIAM: Because I’m wearing a Cloak of Elvenkind, which I know affects stealth checks but not–

MATT: Not sleight of hand, no.

LIAM: That’s all right. 20.

MATT: 20. All right. You reach over and find the edge of the leather loop that attaches itself to the side of this Bastion’s belt. You tug ever so gently to the side and the loop releases and you pull it off, seemingly without any noticing. As you pull out the four gold from inside, the Bastion looks out and scoffs and goes, “Clearly, pittance fee for this. What’s to let me think that you aren’t actually part of this murder scheme? You just walk up and try and start asking questions like this. First off, where did you hear about it? Second, you look like the kind that would go ahead and be mauling folks in the street, do you not, sir dwarf? You got the eyes of one who’s probably done a few dark deeds.”

WIL: Oh, I have. More than you can imagine.

MATT: “Then explain to me why we shouldn’t take you in for questioning right now.” And he pulls his rapier out.

ORION: Hold on. Everybody calm down. Hi, I’m Tiberius Stormwind. My friend Thorbir here didn’t mean to offend, of course.

MATT: The blade up toward your face. And he says, “Look, dragon man, I was talking to the dwarf. You, I have no business with at the moment. So. You’ve got ten seconds before we take you in.”

WIL: I reach into my pocket and rattle my coins around a little bit. Maybe I could buy us some time. And I drop ten gold out into my other hand.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll.

WILL: One! No, it isn’t.

MATT: Three.

WIL: That’s funny. I rolled a three on this die. So that’s going to be a six. Guys, I think we’re fighting the Bastions. I feel like maybe it’s going that way.

MARISHA: You rolled a one?

MATT: I rolled one.

MARISHA: You all have really low self-confidence.

MATT: As you push forward the coins, in a semi-awkward forceful manner, the Bastion himself also seems to be caught off-guard, and looks down, and looks about. Realizing that now it looks like you are visibly out in the open, paying money to the Bastions. He looks back. “People don’t stand out in public and do it!” And he pulls you all off into the alleyway to the side of the complex. Out of the middle of the area into the shade between the buildings. He reaches over and takes the coins from your hand and hurries them into a pocket. “All right, look. I’ll tell you what we know. But if you’re going to be messing around with this investigation, I ask that you don’t let anyone know that you spoke with us. This is all on your own. And if you do say anything, we’ll deny it and we’ll make sure to put you in the Oubliette yourself for this. All right?”

ORION: Fair enough.

WIL and WILL: All right.

MATT: “Now, we have found a series of bodies over the past few years, scattered about. A few months at a time between. All with a similar pattern of death to them. We found large portions, the meaty portions of the body had been torn away, some of them apparently eaten. There are marks that are indicative of some sort of beast ravaging the corpses, but no signs of a beast coming or going. And we’ve had many of our finest trackers looking for any sort of sign of a creature that may have found its way into the city. They’ve been in the rooftops, the gutters, perhaps even the sewers. No sign of any such creature traveling amongst any of these scenes. Now, all of the bodies have been found wrapped up and discarded in the canals. A lot of them surrounding the Abundant Terrace.” Looks at the rest of you. “That’s where Melora’s eye is watchful. What’s really got us confused of late is, the most recent murder that we found was a very powerful merchant lord from Ank'harel, one that’s been in this city for no more than a month. He’s well-known in these parts as bringing in a lot of business. His caravans come through via various skyships. And he brings with himself an influx of much-needed mercantile in the city.”

MARISHA: What’s his name?

MATT: “I’m not allowed to say.”

WILL: You’re not allowed to say?

MATT: “The merchant’s name is Tyrell.”

MARISHA: What?

MATT: “Tyrell. Lord Tyrell. If you say any of this to any of our people, I swear I’ll make your life the hardest it’s been in months. And from the looks of you, you’ve had a very hard few months. Lord Tyrell’s body was found, but apparently during the murder. We have one beggar that apparently caught sight of this the murderer. As best as we can tell, it was some sort of lycanthrope. The beggar was babbling, but it seemed there was some sort of wolf-like creature. It was seen bipedal walking a man, but tore this man right through the throat, most of his chest. But when spotted, didn’t run, just vanished. Disappeared. No longer in his sight. No tracks left behind. Just gone. Didn’t know if it was angry poltergeist, ghost. But the last place he was staying is at a recent establishment, only been here a couple of years. Referred to as the Velvet Cabaret. The Velvet Cabaret is a very high-end place.”

WILL: I know it well.

MATT: “You do?” He gives you a look of–

WILL: I’ve heard about it from somewhere else.

ORION: Scanlan? Have you been talking to Scanlan?

WILL: Don’t know who that is, Stormshadow.

ORION: He likes whores. Okay. It’s weird.

MATT: “The fact that that the lord had been staying at the Velvet Cabaret for some time, and we were feeling pretty close to possibly finding the source of these murders. Our bastion force from the Duskmeadow worked with the Quadroads and we actually raided it. Found nothing. Nothing but the patrons, no sign of any sort of foul play. We were forced to leave empty handed. That’s all we’ve got.”

WILL: I have a question about the bodies. Have you seen them?

MATT: “I’ve only seen the most recent. The rest, I’ve just heard of.”

WILL: Anything similar with them? Are they all men? Are they all women? Are they children?

MATT: “No children. Most of them seem to be well off to do folk. Dressed well.”

WILL: Wealthy men and women? And you say you’ve searched everywhere, including the catacombs?

MATT: “Most. Catacombs themselves are sealed off. We’ve asked around, and there’s been no sign of movement in or out. And gods forbid, anyone stays in those places. That’s a nasty place to be staying.”

WILL: It is, indeed.

ORION: Is there a way that the bastions could organize some kind of gathering of sorts? Perhaps a mandatory town meeting, where all would have to gather for maybe an announcement or something official?

MATT: “All the bastions? That’s near impossible. The city’s scattered politically enough as it is. People can be rallying whenever there’s some sort of force coming against the city. But when it comes to nothing for any particular reason, just the investigators take care of it themselves.”

WIL: He serves the Raven Queen, right? He’s got the Raven Queen patch on him?

MATT: Yeah.

WIL: This part of town, death isn’t the worst thing in the world. Lots of planes other than ours, might be you’re a little bit closer than some of the rest of us are; we’re underneath the mountain. You wouldn’t happen to know about anyone performing any rituals or maybe opening up lines of communication that may have been made and disturbed?

MATT: “I certainly hope not. These sort of communion rituals are sanctified and held within the actual temple to the Raven Queen itself. If anyone is doing any sort of business, there is a very watchful eye over the city. Anything that is unsanctioned, I can guarantee we’ll know about it.”

ORION: May we seek audience with this Raven Queen?

MARISHA: I mean, she’s a goddess.

ORION: Oh. She’s not here?

MARISHA: She’s not a queen. She’s a goddess.

MATT: You can see the two the two bastions are looking at each other with expression of "Really?”

ORION: We’re new around here.

MATT: “Listen, we’ve talked long enough. We got to get back to our posts.”

MARISHA: Oh, wait. You mentioned investigators?

MATT: “There are different people assigned to investigate. We were part of the team that was sent as part of the investigation raid on the Velvet Cabaret.”

MARISHA: It’s not a group of people. It’s just, “you’re an investigator today” kind of thing?

MATT: “That’s part of what we do as Bastions, aye.”

MARISHA: Gotcha. Is there anyone else that is part of the investigation team that you think would be good to talk to?

MATT: “They wouldn’t have any more information than we do, no.”

MARISHA: Can I do an insight check on him?

MATT: Yeah, go for it.

MARISHA: 23.

MATT: He seems forthright enough. He seems impatient and a little flustered with the fact that you’ve been pushing these questions to him. But he doesn’t seem to be covering anything necessarily.

WIL: Did he tell us where they found the– I didn’t write this down.

LIAM: And Lord Tyrell factored in how?

WIL: Can you tell us where you found the body of the merchant lord?

MATT: “The body was found in the side alley to the Velvet Cabaret.”

WILL: You said wrapped up? Or just the ones in the river were wrapped up?

MATT: “The ones that were found in the river, they were wrapped up in blankets. Whatever put them aside was not some beast. There was some intelligence to this. And they were placed deliberately, which means, I don’t think there’s just one thing doing this.”

WILL: Were the blankets the same, or were they all different?

MATT: “They seemed to be different. Some were just scattered cloths. Some were tattered sheets. Some were bolts of fine material. Really varied. There was no pattern to it.”

WILL: Was anything missing from Lord Tyrell?

MATT: “Nothing more than his throat, his trachea.”

LIAM: We’ve pumped these guys for all they’ve got.

WIL: You’re all right. Sorry about that.

MATT: “It’s all right, just offer more coin up front next time. Be well. And if you hear anything, find any information, come straight to us. Don’t be getting into official business. You’re sanctified as a Slayer, but don’t make us look bad.” They step around you guys, back out into the main street.

WIL: Velvet Cabaret?

MARISHA: Velvet Cabaret.

WILL: It’s close.

MARISHA: So we know that this guy– while we walk there, I was talking. We know that this guy is a demon from the Nine Hells. So, he seems to be targeting wealthy people. Do you think these are people that tried to get under his control, under his servitude, and it didn’t go his way, so he ended up killing them?

WIL: Folk don’t go into the Velvet Cabaret unless they got a lot of coin. Someone like Lord Tyrell. Do we know anything about him? Does his name ring any bells for us at all?

MATT: Roll a history check.

WIL: Oh boy. (laughs) It happened again!

MATT: This is unprecedented. You are the nega-Percy right now.

WIL: Just telling you. I’m just telling you.

MATT: This is impressive.

WIL: You think it isn’t real. You think it’s a thing I make jokes about.

MATT: You take a moment to conjecture where you may have heard the name. What was the name again?

WIL: Oh, the guy from Battlestar Galactica. Oh, what was his name? Adama?

MATT: You want to roll a history check?

WILL: d20?

MATT: d20 and add your history modifier.

WILL: Add my history. 20. Total of 20.

MATT: Total is 20? All right. You’ve heard of the city of Ank'Harel. It’s a desert city from a long ways away. But you aren’t specifically aware of this individual. You however, Kashaw, you know that Lord Tyrell has come through this city a few times in the past year or so. You’ve only been here a short time yourself, but in the time that you’ve been here, you’ve heard tales of this large caravan that comes through. And it is a parade. He usually brings with him a good 13 different carts that contain all sorts of jewels and materials and tapestries and fine silks, and it’s almost a small party whenever this is this long walking caravan is brought into the city. So you are aware of this individual. You’re surprised that the death has be kept so hush-hush.

WILL: And are there rumors of about him bring in anything else? Anything illicit? Or is it kind of what you see is what you get?”

MATT: As far as you know? No information that has caught your ear per se, but the fact that he’s staying in this district, who knows?

WIL: Folks tend to stay– Let me try that again. Folk tend to stay with their own class. These victims are all wealthy folk. And they seem to have the Velvet Cabaret in common. It’s very likely that we’re dealing with somebody who is rich and powerful.

WILL: What does a demon need money for?

WIL: Who says he’s after money?

MARISHA: Seems to be after power.

LIAM: Tyrell was passing through. I wonder how many people would notice him gone here in Vasselheim.

ORION: I’m sure quite a few.

MARISHA: And it seems like it’s no secret when he comes to town.

WILL: It was a party every time he showed up.

MARISHA: And according to the guards, these murders have been going on for the past few years, so it seems like whatever we’re dealing with might have time to plan ahead. If he’s been aware of the past few times that Tyrell has come through the town and could possibly know the next time he’s coming through.

ORION: And if we could pinpoint when it actually started, we know years, but actually when, then we can actually narrow it down to the establishments and other things that were established then.

WIL: Would there be a place where we could inquire as to some sort of ledger like that when this guy comes in and with the intention of trying to correlate it with when different murders have happened? Actually, I take that back. Thorbir doesn’t think that deeply. That’s not the thing that he wants to do. That sounds like a lot of thinking and not a lot of hitting things.

LIAM: This killer could be hiding in plain sight at the Cabaret. Could be an employee there.

ORION: Or the owner himself.

MARISHA: How long ago did the bastions say that they raided the Velvet Cabaret?

WILL: It was a month ago, wasn’t it?

MATT: It was a few weeks back when the murder occurred, yeah.

MARISHA: So here’s my question: do you think he would stick around after it was raided? Or do you think he’d move on?

LIAM: The thing is vanishing upon sight.

WILL: And gotten away with it for the last two or three years. I don’t think he cares much anymore.

LIAM: My question is: we have three days, Cabaret’s the only lead we have. How do we draw this person, he or she, out?

MARISHA: I believe it is three days.

LIAM: We have three days to collar it.

MATT: You have three days to complete the contract, meaning slaying the entity you’re contracted to.

WILL: I was going to say that you look like a man who knows wealth.

ORION: Yes.

LIAM: I’ve spent time with wealth.

WILL: Well, I never have, so I would think maybe if you were a merchant coming into town, very wealthy, looking for some adult entertainment, might be a way to bring him out the forefront.

ORION: Oh, I agree. I cast Alter Self on myself and turn myself into an elf. You’re half-elf right?

LIAM: Half-elves.

ORION: I’ll turn into a half-elf, akin to a high-born half elf.

MATT: All right, fair enough. Even in comparison to Vax, your attire is very nice.

MARISHA: Does this mean that I should go change clothes?

WILL: You were going to go shopping.

MARISHA: I was.

ORION: You look okay.

MARISHA: Thank you.

LIAM: Let’s go. I jingle what gold I have in a pouch in front of Keyleth’s face and say, let’s go shopping. Come on.

WIL: Shopping montage.

MATT: As you guys go out shopping for better looking, well-to-do attire, we’ll go ahead and take a quick five-minute break and we’ll return here and as you guys continue to the next step of your hunt for the rakshasa.

WIL: Oh, Tyrell! I just remembered.

(laughter)

WIL: What a silly thing to forget.

LIAM: As the rakshasa bears down on your head.

MATT: Last thing engraved on your tombstone. Yeah, quick five-minute break. First off, before we get to that, guys: A big thank you to Negihama once again, our patron saint of ridiculous gifts, who purchased these sconces to put on the wall.

LIAM: They’re legit.

MARISHA: Aren’t the sconces awesome?

MATT: They are amazing.

MARISHA: The LEDs change colors.

MATT: Reminder: every hundred subs we’re giving away a signed picture and signed full-scale poster of Kit’s art. And for the break, the five-minute break we’re going to take real fast, we have an awesome video that was presented to us by some of the Critters that I think you’ll also appreciate as well. So we’ll go ahead roll that and use the potty and we’ll see you guys in a few minutes.

BreakEdit

[break]

Part IIEdit

MATT: Welcome back. I assume we’ll have a Liam here in just a moment.

ORION: He’s just stealthing.

WILL: He’s stealthing. He rolled a 28 and disappeared.

WIL: I was talking Liam’s ear off during the break about how much I love the dynamic among the three of you, and commiserating about how you feel really naked and exposed when your whole party isn’t together. How weird that feels to not have everybody together at the same time. I think I kept him from the bathroom.

MATT: Oh, gotcha. That’s okay. He’ll arrive. When he comes, we’ll all awkwardly stare. Yeah. When he does. When he arrives we’ll all just– But in the meantime, you managed to go back and–

LIAM: Stealth. Disadvantage on my next five attacks.

(laughter)

WILL: I love the awkward stare. It was great.

WIL: He’s actually a very generous DM if he does that. I actually make my players roll damage when they upset me.

MATT: Oh, that’s good to know.

WIL: Yeah, dude, d6 damage if you annoy the GM.

MATT: Wrath of the gods comes down upon you. All right, so you guys taken a few minutes to acquire outfits that seem a little more fitting as to the establishment you’re planning to go and enter.

MARISHA: Guys, we should have aliases. Can we have aliases?

WIL: Yeah, I’ll be Thorbir.

WILL: I like it. It’s easy to remember.

MARISHA: Very easy. Oh, you know what, maybe I could– would it be weird if I’m Vex? That’s weird, isn’t it?

LIAM: That’s really weird.

MARISHA: Okay. What’s a good elven name? What’s something common in Elven? You were around this stuff. All of my people have weird tribal names. What’s good?

LIAM: Elivr is nice. Coralin.

MARISHA: Oh, Coralin. Do I look like a Coralin?

WILL: What does a Coralin look like?

ORION: She does that. Just agree.

LIAM: I will be Scanlan Shorthalt.

MARISHA: (stutters) What, you can be Scanlan, but I couldn’t be Vex?

LIAM: No, you can’t do that. I’m just saying it’s weird.

MARISHA: That’s double standard, Vax. I’m just saying.

ORION: I think it’s maybe because you’re not his sister and it would be weird because that’s his sister’s name.

WILL: You have a sister?

LIAM: I have a twin, yes.

WILL: What does she look like? Oh.

ORION: But she’s a female.

WILL: She sounds lovely.

WIL: Humans, am I right?

MARISHA: She’s very nice.

WILL: That’s what they say about all the ugly girls. “She’s very nice.”

MARISHA: I feel like I’m learning so much from you. Is that what they say?

ORION: Life lessons, yes.

WILL: Velvet Cabaret?

LIAM: To the Cabaret.

WIL: I presume that I’ll play the role of your guard.

LIAM: Bodyguard, yes.

WILL: What does that make me? How about your valet? You’ll need one if you’re wealthy. Would you have a human, though?

LIAM: Of course. Of course I’ll have a human, being elven.

ORION: Are we on our way there now?

LIAM: Yeah, we’re walking and talking. And you’re changed into a gnome.

ORION: Now I change. I change, because it only lasts a certain amount of time.

LIAM: Boy or girl?

ORION: I’m a boy.

WILL: So are you Lord Vax?

LIAM: Lord Scanlan of the Shorthalts.

WILL: Lord Scanlan, okay. Lord Scanlan of the– I’m sorry, of the what?

LIAM: Of the Shorthalts.

WILL: Of the Shorthalts. Okay.

LIAM: We have a cobbling empire. Shoes.

WILL: The Shorthalts. Okay. Lord Scanlan of the Shorthalts.

LIAM: We cater mostly to halflings and gnomes. Everyone, but specifically because they’re so underserved.

WILL: You have a gnome shoe empire?

LIAM: Rolling in it, baby.

WIL: Where’s your empire, human?

WILL: I have no empire. I’m his valet.

LIAM: We’re wonderful partners, dear.

MARISHA: Am I your wife?

LIAM: Do you want to be? Is that weird?

MARISHA: No.

ORION: I say it’s equally– no, it’s fine.

MARISHA: No, it’s fine. Yeah, I can be your wife. I can RP this. I mean I can pretend to be. Yeah. So Coralin Shorthalt.

WIL: Thorbir is pulling on his beard and breathing deeply.

ORION: Now I cast Alter Self.

MATT: All right. Cast and a flash of light. You guys all pick up the very, very heavy smell of breakfast ale emanating from the deeply breathing, angry dwarf.

ORION: Wait, Vax. What was my role in this?

LIAM: You’re an advisor. A financial advisor.

ORION: Financial advisor. Excellent.

MATT: All right. You guys make your way to a little bit further north this of this route, five or six blocks until you get the outskirts of the Velvet Cabaret, which based on the description you’ve gotten from a few individuals you asked around, very easy to find. The fancy house of entertainment. It is a two-story building of dark cherry wood with strips of what looks to be black suede bolted in a pattern along the outside of it. It stands out like a sore thumb against the rest of the architecture, but it looks a night club. It looks very, very gaudy, but in a way that the garishness looks expensive, and so you can’t really fault it for looking the way it does.

WIL: It looks like cruise ship goth club.

MATT: I like that. I’ll take that.

WILL: Cruise ship goth club.

WIL: That’s a thing that exists.

WILL: Really?!

MATT: When are we going to this?

WIL: Every year on the Jonathan Coulton Cruise, we gather in the cruise ship goth club.

WILL: Wow.

MATT: JoCo Cruise.

WILL: Too many jokes.

MATT: I know. As you approach the front, you can see that there are two bouncers established at the very front. To the left, you see a meaty male dragonborn, bronze scale with painted face scars. He has a very, very intense look about him. He’s thicker. He’s built like a barrel. He sits with his arms crossed, looking angrily out amongst the rest of the folks outside. To the other side, you recognize a burly-looking female with short hair and some facial tattoos. The Siren, who you saw battle in the Cauldron, apparently works as one of the bouncers of the Velvet Cabaret.

ORION: I approach right next to Vax, as we move up. Scanlan. In Draconic I go, greetings and salutations, friend.

MATT: He gives you a look of confusion for a second and leans forward and the dragonborn looks very intently at you and says back in Draconic, “Are you a member?”

ORION: Not yet. We are new to this place. My master here is seeking audience with his kind. We were guided to this place. This establishment has a high reputation. We wish to inquire how to get inside.

MATT: Looks over to the Siren. Siren glances back and, “What’s he saying?” And the dragonborn glances over. And he says out loud in Common now, at this point, “He’s saying that they’re looking to come in here and talk to other elvish guys, I guess.”

ORION: Oh, not elvish, but more people of high society. High society here.

MATT: Make a persuasion check.

ORION: 21.

MATT: 21. He gives a glance over. “Well, if you’re not a member, you can acquire membership, but it has to approved first by the owner.”

ORION: May we seek audience with him to ask or apply, or however that goes about.

MATT: “Let me get his assistant. Hold on just a second. Siren.” She gives a look. “I’ll be right back.” She rolls up her sleeves and steps inside as the door opens.

MARISHA: As I see her, I turn and face outward.

WILL: You know her?

MARISHA: No.

WILL: Okay.

MATT: As the door opens, you can already hear what sounds like soft harp music coming from the interior. And it’s hard to actually look inside because as you can see there are silks draped crossed over and in front of the entryway, as soon as you step in. A few moments pass, eventually the Siren returns and you are greeted at the doorway by a dwarf with very well-groomed facial hair. A beard that comes to a fine point, has a little gold ring at the very bottom that kinks it at the bottom, this little poof. With makeup on. Very rosy cheeks, and you can see there is eyeliner around his eyes. Smile to his face. Wearing these long white robes, lots of jewelry. And the rest of his dark brown hair is pulled into a dual ponytail that runs down to the middle of the back. Comes to door and immediately says, “Gracious welcome to all of you. I’ve been told that you’re seeking possible membership to our establishment.”

ORION: In Dwarvish I say, that’s correct.

MATT: “Well, fantastic, then. Don’t leave possible patrons outside.” And looks off to the two bouncers and they grumble and step off to the side. “Come in. Come in. Follow me.” And he steps inside. As you guys walk in behind him, immediately you’re hit with the strong smell of exotic incense and the cooking of meat mingling with that. It has this smell of everything good you’ve ever smelled mixed into one location.

WILL: Love the smell of these places.

MATT: The interior is fairly low-lit with what looks like a series of faerie-fire lamps dangling in small lattice cages. So it has this light purplish-pink glow to the general interior. There are no stools or chairs. There are tables that low set and the floor is nearly covered with very, very expensive looking pillows. All the patrons are currently sitting cross-legged or laying around the tables. And you can see the clientele is very well dressed and very wealthy. There is laughter and conversation. There’s definitely has a very, very different air. It’s like stepping into a whole different world from what you’re used to seeing in Vasselheim. And you get the feeling that whoever created this establishment definitely created it to provide a very different experience for most people who work here, which means one, it probably makes a really good killing to the small number of clientele, number two, it probably isn’t very well liked by the people who have been living here most their life. As you look around, too, there are dice games being played, there are many gold pieces being stacked up on tables. It appears that there’s definitely a lively– what’s the word I’m looking for? My brain isn’t working– gambling arrangement in this place. You notice that all the guards in the inside, the bouncers, are common sell-swords. There’s no unification to their adornments or any of their armor and stuff. There are a few folks that are looking around, keeping the peace, arms crossed. They all definitely have weapons visible. And they’re just sitting there, guarding just like the bouncers were at front of the place.

WILL: How many dwarves?

MATT: Just the one that let you inside.

MARISHA: I reach over and I grab Vax’s hand.

LIAM: I fold her arm in and walk forward.

MATT: All right.

WILL: I think, as they move forward, I would like to pull Thorbir aside and say, maybe since we’re trying to get membership here, you should cover your runes.

WIL: Noted.

WILL: Thank you.

WIL: I’d like to make a perception check to size up the guards around. Ten.

MATT: Well, that’s a step in the right direction.

WIL: I rolled four times as good as I usually roll.

MATT: Looking about, they look armored. It’s hard to tell their skill level, based on the low light in here. They seem definitely keeping an eye out, but you can tell they’ve been working here a while and they’ve grown comfortable. What you do notice, though, is a lot of the servers that are walking around are young men and women dressed in very fine silk robes or gowns. All have these iron bands around their neck, collars, that aren’t chained to anything. But it immediately gives you this mental image of slavery or some sort of servitude. It does not appear that they are actually in some sort of servitude, but the adornment they wear is almost trying to get across that atmosphere, as if that’s part of what you’re paying for. It sickens you a little.

WIL: I’m going to carry myself and I’m going to do what I can to give off that I’m keeping an eye on this guy, that I’m the guy. That’s how I’m trying to carry myself.

MATT: Okay. As you guys you have walked to the center of this room now, the dwarf individual who let you in turns around and with a bit of a bow. “I would to introduce myself. My name is Hosin. I am the manager of this fine establishment, the Velvet Cabaret. I’d like to welcome you…”

LIAM: Scanlan of the Shorthalts.

MATT: “Scanlan of the Shorthalts? Where do you hail from? I’ve not heard of them.”

LIAM: We come from Emon. I sell shoes. We sell shoes.

MARISHA: Yes, Coralin Shorthalt.

MATT: “Coralin Shorthalt.”

MARISHA: Yes, pleasure.

MATT: “Very well. Well, you have interest in membership you say?”

LIAM: We do. We’re hoping to sample the atmosphere here. Is there entertainment? We heard there was great entertainment.

MATT: “Oh yes, quite entertainment here at certain hours, if you like. For now, we have more an atmospheric presentation.” And he looks over, and you can you see that there is small stage off to the corner. There sits a very beautiful elven woman, dressed in a gold gown that is sleeveless and hugs to her form very well. You can see that it shimmers and little bit of purple fairy light that is hanging above her. And she just this gorgeous-looking silver harp in front of her. She’s just plucking away. Her eyes are closed, like she’s just caught in the moment. And there’s group of people that are sitting around her chatting softly, not to be overbearing to the music, but to just be around that atmosphere.

ORION: Your wonderful employees mentioned membership. We’d like to acquire that as well, I assume, as well.

MATT: You’re saying this to Hosin?

LIAM: This is Thorlaxalux, my financial advisor.

ORION: Thorlaxalux, at your service. I bow gracefully.

MATT: Make a persuasion roll. No, deception roll. Deception roll.

ORION: What is that? 16?

MATT: 16? All right. “The pleasure is mine. And it’s not often that come across elves that have taken the time to learn the tongue of my folk.”

ORION: I know many languages.

MARISHA: He’s very well traveled. Very well cultured. That’s part why we hired him.

ORION: I was a bit of a shut-in as a child. All I had were books on languages to read and whatnot, and adventures and what have you.

MATT: “Well, if you are seeking membership, you should probably speak with our patron, the owner of this establishment. He’s currently in a meeting, I believe, but step with me for a moment.” And he leads you to go to the other side of the room. And you know, all these draped orange and gold silks that are constantly getting in your way as you push through. Leads you into a doorway that is covered in these silks. You push into the hallway to the right and left. There’s a door across the way, and two doors down the left. And the door at the very end is a really ornate-looking door with a series of locks that currently unlocked. Hosin walks up to it and knocks gently onto it, takes a listen. “Ah, it appears that he will be available in just a moment, if you’d like to sit tight, and you’re more than welcome to speak.”

MARISHA: Question, Hosin. While we wait, do you happen to have any wine or ale? Just while we wait. It’s been such a long travel.

MATT: “But of course.”

MARISHA: Thank you. You’re so kind.

MATT: He claps his hands, and you can see one of the servants that you saw walking with a small tray enters from the side of the hallway. “Yes?” Hosin turns. “The finest wine we have available for the elven lass right here.” The servant immediately darts off, averting the eyes. A moment passes. Returns with three glasses of wine, looking over you two. Hands one to each of you. And the servant, still averting his gaze from the guests, smiles, gives a little curtsy, and then darts back into the main room.

MARISHA: Cheers. Cling.

LIAM: I cling and hand my glass to Thorbir.

MARISHA: I take a sip of mine. It’s very good.

WIL: All right. I’m sipping to keep up the charade, but I’m not happy about it.

MATT: It’s definitely an elvish blend, which is generally too sweet for your tastes, but for what you were expecting, it’s not too bad. Its serviceable. Nowhere near strong enough to really do anything, but it’s not water.

WIL: So as I hand it back to you, I sort of mutter, wine.

(laughter)

WIL: Giant dwarven air quotes.

MATT: The doorway at the end of the hallway opens up suddenly, and as it does, a servant walks out holding a tray that contains a bunch of partially-eaten fruits and what looks the outer gristle of some sort of cooked meat, and looks at you all awkwardly and steps past and disappears into the other room. You hear a voice come down the hallway. “Enter! I ask you all to enter. You are to meet me. Please, come, sit, be comfortable. Welcome to the Velvet Cabaret.”

LIAM: Look to Thorbir and then look in the room.

WIL: I step into the room.

MATT: As you enter, Hosin lowers his head and offers his arms at the rest of you to acquiesce. Stepping into the room, you see– once again, a room that has a square or rectangular table in the center that has a series of small platters on it with bits of previously devoured meal, and there are three small cushions on the ground that you see would act as some sort of sitting arrangement. The opposite side of the room has three large purple cushions on which there are two women, also servants, that are just lying back comfortably, just resting, and in the center, you see a man, very dark complexion, ratty looking, crimped dark hair, very well-trimmed beard and mustache ensemble, and long black and gold robes. Very, very long sleeves and jewelry adorning every ounce of his hands, his fingers, you can barely see the actual skin beneath, there is just so much jewelry adorning him. He looks up smiling with his elbows near the edge of the table. “Have a seat. We are to talk, yes? Introduce yourselves. Guests are always welcome, but I wish to know who it is that I am guesting for.”

LIAM: I seat Coralin and have a seat myself. And pretending to check out the women in the room, I make a perception check. And that is a 16.

MATT: All right, what are trying to see?

LIAM: Oh, if anything sets off my alarm bells.

MATT: They seem to be lounging. And there isn’t like fear in their eyes or that they are being mistreated per se. Almost like they’re here for atmosphere.

LIAM: And the room itself?

MATT: The room itself– Most of the walls have like a velvety texture to them. All the wood has been covered with some sort of material that has a comfortable almost– Everything feels like it’s a lounging bedroom. And that’s the aesthetic of a lot of the interior of this location. You cannot quite see the source of the light in the room. It almost feels like there’s an indirect lighting accoutrement across the ceiling. Whatever the source of lighting is, it’s being spread across the top. It gives this sort of dark intimate feel to this current room at least. As he gestures out to the rest of you to sit. “I fear there are only three seats, but I assume that your accompaniment are accustomed to standing, anyway. So do not worry. Very good. Now you say you come for membership. Membership does not come cheap. Membership does not come to anyone. We have a certain level of clientele we wish to keep, because in keeping this it is easy enough for us to consider it very– how do I say?– exquisite.”

MARISHA: I’m sorry, before we go on, what was your name? I don’t believe I caught it.

MATT: “I did not catch your name either.”

MARISHA: Oh, I’m sorry, I am Coralin. Coralin Shorthalt.

MATT: “Coralin Shorthalt.”

MARISHA: Of the Emon Shorthalts.

MATT: Takes your hand and leans forward, and gives you this ginger kiss to edge of your fingers. Yeah, there is a slimy-ish presence, but not too aggressive. Just a very well-trained type of dealing with guests.

MARISHA: I subversively wipe it on my robes.

MATT: “My name is Vince Cyinnor. And I am the owner of this house of joy and pleasure.”

LIAM: I’m the lucky man who married her. My name is Scanlan of the Shorthalts. We’re in from Emon, and reputation of this establishment is well known within all parts of the walls. We’re looking to possibly become members here. We hear the entertainment is top-notch, and we hear that business happens within these walls. But I’m not convinced. I’m hoping to stay for an hour to see what you have to offer. When I find I like a place, I stay for a long time and leave a lot of money. I’d just like a little taste.

MATT: Make a deception check.

LIAM: Using my last Luck of the day. That’s better. 15.

MATT: 15. “Hosin, if you don’t mind.” And the door closes behind you guys. “Well, Scanlan Shorthalt. What, may I ask, business do you run that gives you the liquid assets to think that you can walk and rub shoulders among such astute clientele? You are well-dressed, I see, and well-versed in conversation. But have not heard of you before and I have very acute ears for people of such heritage in this city.”

LIAM: We hail from Emon. We’re not very flashy. We certainly don’t do much in public in Emon. I prefer to make my money and enjoy my money and I don’t believe in ostentation.

MATT: “Why have you come to this establishment? I am made of ostentation, for I do not fear what people judge or think here. Do what you like.”

LIAM: Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the form of a beautiful woman as much as the next man.

MATT: “Why limit yourself?”

LIAM: Who said I do?

MATT: “Even this one here, while his appearance may be rough, I’m certain that under certain circumstances he could be persuaded to prove his weight in more than gold and weaponry.”

MARISHA: Mr. Cyinnor, I think it is best that you do not make presumptions on our relationship and dealings.

LIAM: My wife and I are businessmen. And what we hear is that this is where business happens.

MATT: “Business does happen here, yes. Quite a bit of interesting business.”

MARISHA: And we are very interested in all of those interesting businesses.

MATT: “From what I hear, as my assistant has told me, your business is shoes. Tell me, why would the business of shoes require such an ostentatious location for business?”

LIAM: The shoes are the public face, but the well runs deep.

MATT: “We get to the meat of the matter, eh? So, shoes is but an appearance. What is your business aside from cobbling, Mr. Shorthalt?”

LIAM: I know my way around poison, and I hear you have the rarest of breeds here. I have come to spend some money to satisfy my clients.

MATT: Make a deception check.

LIAM: 15 again.

MATT: What was it?

LIAM: 15 again.

MATT: “Poisons? So you supply to what? King-killers? Supply to sell-swords? You apply them to your own weapons? You realize this city is very, very tight-knit when it comes to these sorts of industries. Although I know you would think possibly to find it here, I guarantee you what we deal with here has nothing to do with slitting of throats.”

LIAM: I’m not looking to sell. I’m looking to buy.

MATT: “I will tell you one thing that I am interested in buying. I’m interested in buying information. I’m interested in buying loyalty. I’m interested in buying trust. Since you’ve walked into this room, there has been an air of something not right about you. And through this conversation, I have come to believe that perhaps you’re not telling me the truth. Now, I will ask of you this moment, whoever you may be, Shorthalt or not, but this entire facility is very well paid to make sure that should you try anything funny, you won’t get but two steps before the heads leave your shoulders. So let’s be frank here. Who are you? Why are you here?”

MARISHA: Mr. Vince, let’s not play coy. I am sure you have dealt with many a powerful client in your day. And I am sure that it is not unfamiliar to you that many powerful clients have many deep secrets.

ORION: As she finishes that, I dispel Alter Self.

MATT: Okay. As your actual dragonborn appearance restores itself, he sits back.

ORION: My apologies. I am Tiberius Stormwind– yes, wind.

WILL: I can never get it right.

ORION: I merely dispelled this to show you that earning your trust is in our best interests. I do not wish to deceive.

MATT: “Then perhaps you should have walked in this form when you first arrived.”

ORION: Many people don’t take kindly to a red dragonborn by the way. I just thought it was best. We’re in a new town and it was standard protocol whenever we visit a new town. My apologies.

MATT: “Well, one person has come clean. What about this one? What is your business here?”

WILL: My business here is the same as theirs. We’re here, in the long run, to help you.

MATT: “What is to help me? You have not told me what your business is.”

LIAM: We’re here to stop a murderer.

MATT: “Explain.”

LIAM: Bodies have been showing up outside this building. Multiple bodies. We’re not going to get into the details, but we’ve been sent here to stop that from happening any further.

ORION: We’re fairly sure you know of this.

LIAM: Look at this guy. Does he look like he’s fucking around?

WIL: He winks at him.

MATT: The force of the wink itself is intense enough to the point where he physically shudders and leans back a few inches.

LIAM: Now, you must be aware of this problem. Can’t be a surprise to you. People are starting to take notice in this city. This was inevitable.

WILL: Do you still have Lord Tyrell’s possessions?

MATT: “This is about Lord Tyrell? We do have his possessions. They have been investigated. Our establishment has already been investigated. The Bastions were very thorough, and we have been found absolved of any sort of involvement.”

MARISHA: We are not Bastions. And we are not here to accuse. And we are not here to investigate your establishment.

MATT: “Interesting. You come in here and lie. It seems to me exactly what you’re doing. Now, are you coming to ask questions? To see what involvement we have? Answers? We’ve already told everything to anyone else. We have no involvement. I don’t know what you’re talking about. This is ridiculous. And I may have to ask you to leave.”

MARISHA: He’s shutting down. Someone do something quick.

LIAM: Insight check, insight check. Balls.

WIL: I will also make an insight check.

MARISHA: Can I do that, as well?

(laughter)

MATT: What did you get?

MARISHA: We’re all going to die.

LIAM: That makes my ten look titanic.

WIL: I’m trying to make you look good. It’s what Thorbir does.

MARISHA: 19.

WIL: I rolled a two.

WILL: You’re going up.

MATT: It’s not impressive. That’s mythic.

WIL: Statistically unlikely.

WILL: That’s the thing. You’re beating math.

WIL: I’ve been beating math for 20 years. I’m very good.

MATT: Yeah. You’re the singularity that ruins the universe.

WIL: Somewhere in the world there’s a person who never rolls under 17. And I was placed on this planet to balance the math to save you all. To prevent the center of the planet from collapsing and taking us all with it. You’re welcome.

LIAM: She’s in New Zealand. The other side of the Earth.

MATT: All right. So, as you’re all taking this moment to yourself. It’s hard to read. It seems like he’s very thorough and offended by this circumstance. You glean that there is a nervousness, and there are droplets of sweat across his brow. And his brusqueness does show a bit of fear in his eyes.

MARISHA: About this time, I go (fwoosh) and I cast my wind spell. And I slam the doors behind us. And I slam the shutters. And turn out all the lights. Did you say there was candlelight? Or did you say there was weird indirect lighting.

MATT: Yeah, indirect lighting. You don’t quite know where the source is coming from. The door was already closed behind you. Hosin closed it. But as the wind comes out, all the silks blow against the wall. Pillows are lobbed to the sides. Both of the women in there (yelps) and pull back against walls, trying to keep out of the circumstance. And you can see Vince has begun to stand up and his hair blown back. “What is the meaning of this?”

MARISHA: Now. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I sometimes get a little out of control. But remain calm! All right?! Jesus! Remain calm!

ORION: You calm down.

MARISHA: I’m sorry! I’m trying to remain calm, too!

WILL: Doing a great job.

MARISHA: Thank you! Okay.

MATT: Persuasion check.

MARISHA: Damn it.

LIAM: Who’s in this room? It’s the women–

MATT: It’s the women and Vince. Hosin closed the door and left in the hallway.

LIAM: Vince is the–

MATT: Owner.

LIAM: But is he human?

MATT: He’s human.

ORION: I’m going to approach him and I’m going to cast Mage Hand. I’m going to have it float right up in front of me. I’m like, now, you better start cooperating, because it seems to me that you’re getting very nervous. And we don’t want to do anything. Nor do we want to leave. All we want is information. I guess we want to know what you want to know, too. We want a lot of information. So start talking and stop acting like a fool.

MATT: Make an intimidation check.

LIAM: He’s sometimes hard to follow, but you don’t want to fuck with him.

ORION: 15.

MATT: 15? As you do this, between you standing, he’s in the process of standing up, and he was reaching for something under one of the cushions. As you do that, he glances about the room, looks over to you specifically, and back to the dragonborn, the dwarf.

MARISHA: And I say, and whatever weapon you were about to brandish, you’d best wise to leave it be.

MATT: “You realize, you may have just alerted pretty much the entirety of my guard to this establishment. They’ll be descending on this room soon.”

MARISHA: And you realize that this is only because of your doing?

MATT: He sits down on the cushion again.

WIL: And Thorbir looks at him and goes, okay. And pulls his greataxe out and leans on his greataxe.

ORION: I disperse the magic hand.

MARISHA: I say, now. Our quarrel is not with you. We are not with the guard. We are not with the Bastions.

ORION: More calm.

WILL: Yes, still doing a great job with the calm, there.

MARISHA: I’m trying. I’m sorry. I get emotional. I’m trying to remain calm, here. Okay?

MATT: “What do you wish to know?”

WILL: Once again, do you still have Lord Tyrell’s possessions?

MATT: “His possessions are not under my keeping, no.”

ORION: There we go. Thank you. Where are they?

MATT: “I have no idea.”

WILL: I want to do a perception check.

MATT: This would be insight, yeah.

WILL: Insight check. Nice, where are we? Ooh, wow. 26.

MATT: 26.

WIL: What’s that like?

WILL: That’s 29 of your rolls, strangely enough.

(laughter)

MATT: Looking at you tense. He’s fumbling lie after lie right now.

WILL: It’s just, you could easily tell.

MATT: Yeah. For you especially, all the signs are there, the quivering to his voice, his eyes darting from person to person. He’s still covering.

WILL: Okay, you’re sitting in a room now with a whole bunch of people that want to hurt you. So it’s obvious that you’re lying. What do you know, or this guy and this guy are going to dragon and axe you.

MATT: “Look, what happened was unfortunate. There are things beyond your understanding or control involved here.”

WIL: Oh, I don’t know, we can understand a lot.

ORION: We fought a beholder before.

MARISHA: Do not take us for fools who just walked in here without a clue.

LIAM: I walk forward, I pull out Dagger of Venom and I drop a little bead of black down the blade and I hold it just about a centimeter under his neck. I’ve all run out of patience, friend. We’re here to help this city and you’re going to help us. Talk.

MATT: Make an intimidation check with advantage because of this whole setup here.

MARISHA: Dear god, so many. Come on.

LIAM: 20.

MATT: “They’ll kill me if I say anything.”

WILL: We’re going to kill you now.

LIAM: Now or later, friend.

ORION: And we could protect you from them. Or it.

MATT: “This establishment. I am not the owner. I am a figurehead. Something else currently pulls the strings from behind.”

MARISHA: Something else?

ORION: As we said, it.

MATT: And he looks off, past you, just over your shoulder.

LIAM: Perception check.

MARISHA: Oh, son of a bitch.

LIAM: 23.

MATT: You glance over your shoulder briefly and at this point you can see the door is partially ajar, and you can see in what little light there is a dwarven face staring through the passage that then slams the door shut quickly and you hear footsteps.

MARISHA and WILL: Was that Hosin?

MATT: That was Hosin, yeah.

MARISHA: Fucking Hosin.

WILL: Thanks a lot, hoser!

MATT: He’s shaking his head now, the blade there, as you hear the feet running off now.

MARISHA: I’m going– something tiny and fast. What’s tiny and fast?

LIAM: Mouse, rat.

MARISHA: I’m going rat, and I’m going after Hosin.

MATT: All right. You guys watch as Keyleth all of a sudden grasps the side of her armor and then her form shrinks down to a tiny rat, then darts underneath.

LIAM: I’m going to bap this guy in the head. I’m going to just flip the blade and strike him across the forehead.

ORION: As I see her do this, I open the scroll of Polymorph. I do Polymorph on myself, and I turn myself into a gadfly. And follow.

MATT: Okay. The scroll is consumed and gone. You turn into a fly and follow, as well. Two of your party members just shrunk and vanished and went off as creatures. You, go ahead and roll for an attack.

LIAM: Okay, so on a surprise, it’s advantage. So 19’s pretty good. I’ll take the 19 over the two. So that’s 19 plus– 30.

MATT: That hits, go ahead and roll sneak attack damage on that.

LIAM: Okay, sneak attack damage. Is this a surprise because he didn’t know it was coming?

MATT: Yes, it is.

LIAM: It is? So because of my assassinate feat, then this is a critical hit. So just the sneak attack damage? Okay, four, eight, ten, 12, 15, 21, 42.

MATT: With 42? Yeah, you (whack). He’s out like a light. Lights off, face on a pillow. The two women squeal in reaction. You guys, as you rush under the door, what are you guys doing?

WIL: I’ve been leaning over to see what he was reaching for.

MATT: As you glance over you can see what appears to be a small jeweled blade that is hidden underneath one of the cushions there. It’s a curved dagger that comes to a gradual point.

WIL: I’m going to take that.

MATT: Okay. So mark down jeweled dagger in your equipment.

WILL: I want to search him. I want to see if he has anything on him, in his pockets, anything.

MATT: Okay. As you are beginning to go through his body, you guys have rushed beneath, and as you can see, the dwarf, Hosin, is walking down the hallway really quickly with his robes open.

ORION: As a gadfly, can I really quickly buzz in front of him?

MATT: You pull underneath, because you had to go underneath the door to make it into the hallway. You see him, he’s about 15 feet away, and as he’s walking, he’s looking about very nervously. He’s seen one of the guards is approaching, and he looks back over and sees the rat scurrying down the hallway.

ORION: How far away is he from me?

MATT: He’s about 20 feet.

ORION: How far away is the guard in front of him?

MATT: You know what, let me go ahead and pull this up. It’ll give a good indicator of the circumstance here.

MARISHA: He does what?

ORION: Oh god, we have a map.

LIAM: Gentlemen, we need to move.

ORION: Okay, so he’s right there.

LIAM: Mama Cass, what have you found?

MATT: All right, you guys are currently inspecting him at the moment, as you guys are rushing through.

ORION: Oh! So I’m within 20 feet of him, whatever?

MATT: Actually no, he’d be back here. He’s just rushing past. So he’s 20 to 25 feet from you.

ORION: Okay. Ah. I’m going to dispel Polymorph, and I’m going to cast Silence in front of him. I’m going to silence him.

MATT: Okay. All right, so you’re using him as the source?

ORION: Yes.

MATT: Okay. So as you un-Polymorph, he looks over his shoulder and sees you take this form, you go ahead and cast Silence, which has an opposition. What level spell is that? 2nd-level?

ORION: Yes. I believe so.

MATT: Okay, cool. So that creates a sphere of a 20-foot radius of silence here. So he goes and he does like a hand motion. Nothing happens. Frustrated, he continues to run. I’m going to have you guys roll initiative.

MARISHA: Fucking shit. 17.

MATT: 17?

ORION: Sorry. What is that? 17.

MATT: 17 and 17. All right. So you guys will both be going first, but before we finish that, as you guys are searching the body you hear all of a sudden the sound of some sort of scuffle, a flash of some sort of energy in the hallway that’s muffled between the doorway, and footsteps also happening. As you’re just starting to get through his pockets you start hearing some sort of a scuffle outside of the room.

WIL: I’m gone.

WILL: Me, too.

MATT: So I’ll have you guys roll initiative, as well.

WIL: Four.

MATT: All right.

LIAM: Not great. Nine.

WILL: 11.

WIL: There’s 20 faces on this. So. I mean, look right? It can happen. I know that it’s possible. I’ve done it in my life.

MATT: All right, so as you guys are turning, we’ll get to your turn in a moment. Tiberius and Keyleth, you’re up first.

MARISHA: Are we at the same time? I guess I’ll go ahead and cast out of my beast shape as well and cast Hold Person on him as he’s running away.

MATT: Okay. Cool. Just staying where you are? Are you going to stay there or are you going to move?

MARISHA: Well, he’s right there, right?

MATT: Right there, yeah.

MARISHA: So I’m just going to try and hold him.

MATT: Okay, so you go ahead and cast Hold Person. As the spell releases, you can see the mystical shimmering cage that seems to encapsulate, seems to shrug it off.

MARISHA: Because he’s not a person! He’s not a person. I should’ve fucking done Grasping Vine. Goddamn it. All right.

MATT: Do you want to move or are you staying where you are?

MARISHA: Yeah, I’ll follow after his ass.

MATT: All right, you can get up to pretty much right adjacent to him if you want. All right. Tiberius?

ORION: I’m going to cast Telekinesis and grab him that way.

MATT: Okay. So from where you are you go ahead and you create your telekinetic force, you rush out, and the telekinetic force seems to have no effect on the dwarf’s form.

ORION: It’s the rakshasa! That’s him!

MATT: Do you move?

ORION: No. I yell at you, don’t chase him!

MARISHA: And I go, what?

MATT: Which you don’t hear, because she goes [no audio].

MARISHA: Yeah, I’m in the silent bubble.

MATT: Yeah, there is currently no sound coming from the center of that area.

ORION: But she can hear me.

MATT: She can hear you.

ORION: And I’m not that far. You heard me, the other way! The other way! And I move in the room with these guys.

MATT: Okay. As you guys turn, you see Tiberius come rushing into the room.

ORION: The rakshasa! Nothing works on him! And I think that’s not normal!

LIAM: You’re speaking Draconian!

ORION: Yes, sorry! Rakshasa. I believe the dwarf is the rakshasa. I cast many things, and Keyleth is in there, nothing hit him.

LIAM: You left her with him? I shove past him and go straight through the door.

WIL: You ran away from the target? Ugh. I stomp past him in my dwarfy stomps.

MATT: Hosin gets just out of the sphere of silence and then angrily does a motion with a hand and then–

(shouting)

MARISHA: I knew it was going to happen!

MATT: That’ll bring us next to Brother Kash. Kashaw. What do you want to do?

WILL: I want to go back eight moves and catch the thing. I think what we’re going to have to do now is find out where he is. Let’s Locate Creature again, if we can.

MATT: Okay, this is during your turn. Is there anything you want to do?

WILL: Can we locate creature, see how close he is?

MATT: How long does it take to cast Locate Creature?

WILL: I believe it is one action.

MATT: Okay, so you can do that, so you mark that off as another casting of that spell.

WILL: Okay.

MATT: As you rush out into the hallway and see that it’s vanishing, you cast the spell for a second, you can see the direction of the creature is roughly ahead of you and you also see a door on the opposite side, this right-hand door open and close.

MARISHA: He goes invisible? He’s not teleporting, he’s just invisible. That’s a big thing.

WILL: Yeah, he’s here. He’s still here. We can’t see him.

MATT: You still have 15 feet of movement, if you want to move forward.

WILL: Yeah, I would like to move forward.

MATT: Okay. So you’ll get up to that point with your turn. And you gather that that’s the direction of him, and that you know that’s where it’s going.

WILL: I know where it’s going, okay. So we saw the door shut. That’s where he is, let’s go.

LIAM: Don’t run blindly in there, hold on.

MATT: Vax, you’re up.

LIAM: I’m going to run just up past Keyleth, I’m going to look at her as I pass. Not bad. Keep going, stop there, and now I’m going to try to sense traps.

MATT: At this point, there? Okay, so you can get up to here if you’re going to use an action as well to dash.

LIAM: If I use, that’s fine, yeah.

MATT: Okay, as you go to talk to her no words come out.

ORION: Can I see what’s going on?

MATT: No, you’re in the other room, still. Everyone darted out and you’re making your way out. So go ahead and make a perception check.

LIAM: Okay. 21.

MATT: 21. Glancing about the room, there doesn’t appear to be anything that catches you as a trap. This hallway is fairly often-traversed by the clientele of this establishment, and nothing seems dangerous. That would be difficult to put in the middle of a place and still run a business.

LIAM: Okay. I look at Kash and Keyleth and say– Are we out of initiative? We’re still in initiative.

MATT: We’re still in initiative. Currently, for the moment, just for the sake of the pacing on this.

WIL: I’m going as far as I can down the hall toward the direction of the bad guy.

MATT: Okay. That gets you to about there. Cool, that ends that turn, at which point three of the bouncers then start pushing through the silks. One of them pushes his way here, this one pushes aside, and they come out, weapons drawn, seeing all of you there, and one of them goes [no audio]. That’s their turn, but it looks like they’re ready to jump into some sort of combat circumstance. That brings us to the top of the round, Tiberius, you’re up.

ORION: Where’d you say the guards came from?

MATT: They came from the main room, where the silks are that separate the hallway from the main area. And you start hearing people shouting and some slight yelps and screams from the other room.People who seem freaked out by the sudden rise in energy.

ORION: What was that guy’s name? Lohan?

WIL: Hosin?

ORION: Hosin?

WIL: The dwarf is Hosin. The other guy is Vince.

ORION: I just disperse Silence, and before I go out, I turn into Hosin. Alter Self.

MATT: Okay, so you use your action to cast Alter Self. You take Hosin’s form, step out, closing the door behind you.

ORION: How did he sound, again?

MATT: How did he sound?

ORION: I don’t remember.

MARISHA: He’s a dwarf.

WILL: He was Scottish, but fancy Scottish.

LIAM: He’s glam rock. Glam rock.

ORION: Oh, right, right. What’s all this noise out here?

What are you bothering my friends for? Guards!

MATT: The guards look over confused and, “We heard there was a–”

ORION: Everything’s fine. These are friends. Get on with your business. Get back on patrol. Make sure nothing happens or I’ll have your heads.

MATT: Make a deception check.

MARISHA: Oh, come on, Tiberius.

ORION: 28.

MATT: The guards look at each other. “All right, but if anything happens again, there’s a problem, let us know. We’ll be at the ready.” They sheathe their weapons and look untrustingly to the rest of your group with your weapons currently drawn and step back–

ORION: Go on, get out.

MATT: They disappear back into the main room and they start calming down some of the other patrons who are starting to peek around them, trying to see what’s going on, the action. Some look smiling and curious to see what’s happening, and they’re, “Go back to your tables. It’s fine; there’s no problem.” And they disperse the energy.

LIAM: Not bad, Tiberius.

MARISHA: With that, I continue with the charade and loop my arm around Vax and say, shall we go into that room?

LIAM: Just a moment, dear. Pull out the same poisoned blade and start walking down that hall a little further, and I want to see if I sense any traps further ahead.

MATT: Okay, to about there? Make a perception check.

LIAM: Natural 20.

WIL: And balance was restored to the universe. Oh god, don’t do that! Come on!

MATT: Put it away. Watch as the dice just like turns to dust.

WIL: It’s the end of Raiders.

MATT: Exactly. You glance about the room as you’re walking forward carefully, looking at the floorboards, looking at the tapestries on the walls, looking for anything that would be out of sorts, and your eyes very keen to find anything out of the ordinary. The room thankfully does not appear to have anything specifically trapped. It seems fairly safe.

LIAM: Oh. Okay. And those are doors up there?

MATT: Yeah. Door to the right, door to the left.

LIAM: Would that check include the doors themselves?

MATT: I would say with a natural 20, yes. The doors both also seem to be functional doors, not designed with any sort of trap attached.

LIAM: All right. Pressing my ear to the door on my left.

MATT: Okay. Listen to it. Perception roll.

LIAM: So many. Six.

MATT: Seems fairly quiet.

ORION: If we’ve stopped pursuing, does that take us out of initiative?

MATT: You guys are not, you guys are not currently in initiative because you’re not in the thick of battle. You managed to disperse the conflict.

LIAM: I want to do it at the other door as well.

MATT: All right, you step to the other door. You guys want to do anything else while you’re waiting on him?

WIL: I’m just going to come, I want to get as close to him as I can and I’m ready for a fight.

MARISHA: Yeah, I follow.

ORION: Thorbir. Do you have an extra sword or arm on you? Perhaps a shortsword?

WIL: I give him the jeweled dagger.

LIAM: That one’s a 19.

MATT: 19? Listening, you hear what sounds like a slight (creak) sound, some sort of a scooting of wood on wood, and then silence.

LIAM: Kick in the door. Hard as I can.

MATT: Okay. Make a strength roll. This would be straight strength.

LIAM: Wait, that’s the wrong guy. 12. 14.

ORION: As he’s doing that, I’m going to drink a potion of frost giant strength.

MATT: Okay. You slam your foot into the door. Oh, that was the foot that you just got healed. Oh, that’s going to bruise. That’s really going to bruise.

LIAM: Keyleth– Coralin, darling, could you come up here please?

MARISHA: Yes? Did you stub your toe, darling?

LIAM: Yeah. I think I want to get this door open quickly, please.

WIL: I’m going to hit the door with my axe.

MATT: Okay. Go for it and roll. What did you roll?

LIAM: A one!

MARISHA: No way! It’s a lie. If it wasn’t live, no one would believe it.

WIL: I rolled a one. Because it is what I do.

MATT: I’m going to test this theory. I’m going to trade you, for now, and I’m going to leave you with that dice and see if it has any impact whatsoever.

LIAM: You have to throw it into the fire, Mr. Frodo!

WIL: The curse doesn’t care about which die is rolled.

MATT: Which is very possible, but there needs to be–

LIAM: This is like science class.

MARISHA: Maybe it’s because that dice was in the vicinity of Matt’s hair, you’ll be good.

MATT: All right.

WIL: So how much damage do I take for some reason?

MATT: So as you pull back the axe, you actually swing wildly backward, nearly hitting Vax in the process. You have to dodge out of the way as the axe embeds itself into the wood behind you.

WIL: Ugh. Again.

MATT: Axe is stuck.

LIAM: I slap myself on the forehead and go ugh. Pull out thieves’ pick and start on the lock.

MATT: Okay, you unclasp. As you do, you feel your throat seize suddenly as the cold liquid tends to freeze up what is normally a very warm and very fire-breeding interior to your throat. And it thaws slowly, and as you exhale you can see the mist, and suddenly your muscles pulse with energy and you feel like your physical form is embodied strength far more than you’ve ever felt in your body before.

ORION: With his jeweled dagger, I take out my dagger. I feel great.

LIAM: The freshmaker.

MATT: There’s now the angriest dwarf right now clutching two daggers as you get down with your thieves’ tools.

LIAM: Yeah, let’s try to leave the room. That’s better. That’s a 24.

MATT: All right. The door swings open without issue. It’s one of the easier jobs you’ve had.

LIAM: I should’ve done that in the first place.

MARISHA: Yeah! Should’ve beat it down and then.

MATT: You push open the door and find your way into what looks like a very well-adorned bedroom. There is a small table on the side where there are some books stacked up. There’s a dresser on the far end that’s closed. There is a canopy bed set up. There is a small end-table on the side. And the rest of the room has a nice circular rug that’s thrown across the center, and there are no windows currently to this room.

LIAM: I turn my head to everyone and just mouth the words– and perception check the room.

MARISHA: Can I perception check, as well?

LIAM: 24.

MARISHA: Can I just look to see, I want to just meditate and– what did you just roll? 24?

LIAM: 24.

MARISHA: I want to see if I see any movements or brushes of cloth or anything like that.

MATT: Okay.

MARISHA: 19. Not as good as Vax.

MATT: All right.

WIL: How long does it take me to pull the axe out of the wall, and how far into Yakety Sax does the soundtrack get while I’m up there and with the foot and then I’m jumping on it and trying to pull it down.

MATT: We’re currently hitting the one minute 15 second mark. Haven’t quite pulled it out of the wood yet.

WIL: Okay, good. And my little legs are kicking underneath me while I pull it down, cursing in Dwarven.

LIAM: They call me Benny. Benny Hill.

MATT: Do you wish to enter the room?

WILL: I don’t, actually. Because of all the sound, I wish to turn my back to the room and guard the hallway while everybody else is inside checking out the room.

MATT: Okay, you’re keeping an eye out, and you do see that there’s one of the guards just to the side who’s just keeping an eye looking over carefully. You guys make a perception check, looking around the room, you see there is no movement, there are no curtains on the walls. There is the rug, and most everything else in here seems to be perfectly still. You catch what looks like a little bit of movement of the canopy bed, the material that’s on top. There’s a slight sway to it that comes to stillness you just barely catch with your keen half-elven eye.

LIAM: I would like to run up the bed and stab up. Both hands. Clicking the Boots of Haste.

MATT: Okay. (bam) Click the Boots of Haste, you run and charge up into the bed and stab upward into the canopy. The material is torn asunder, this very fine, probably imported silk is carved into three separate ribbons and falls gently onto the cushion of the bed proper, revealing the hardwood ceiling above you.

LIAM: I’m going to check the ceiling. There’s a lot of perception. I’m all out of Luck. That’s no good. That’s a 14.

MATT: 14, looking about, it’s solid wood, you can move your fingers along and you’re standing on the bed, you can just get it within reach, and feeling along the board, it’s all pretty solid.

MARISHA: I want to make myself soccer field goalie this stuff with the door, in the door frame, just really trying to see if I can see any brush of dust or movement.

MATT: Okay. Keeping an eye out. You pull your axe free. Into the hallway door in front of you. Not a lot of strength. You pull it out and try the best you can to save some grace.

WILL: Well done. Yeah, that was graceful.

LIAM: I motion Tiberius over.

ORION: Should I do a perception on that? Nope.

MATT: That ceiling looks pretty solid.

WILL: Can I turn, saving my back to the door, I turn over. I do a perception check.

MATT: Go for it. You step over, you glance past Keyleth.

WILL: Oh my god, one.

WIL: Stop trying to steal my thing, you guys.

MATT: You glance over and you’re more distracted by the fact that Keyleth is doing this awkward field goal thing in the door to you for no reason, and you forget what you were in the middle of doing.

MARISHA: I’m trying to make myself big.

MATT: There appears to be no exit from the ceiling.

WIL: Can I enter the room?

MATT: You may. You push past the confused cleric.

WIL: Okay, so I look around. I look at the rug. I sigh heavily. And I pull the rug.

MATT: You pull the rug, revealing a wooden floor. Plain slats.

MARISHA: You thought that was going to be good!

WILL: With a point, too!

MATT: You were never a fan of elves or half-elves before, but this one’s really starting to dig into you a little.

WIL: I’ll make a perception check because we could total up all my rolls and I’d have five.

LIAM: Come on. Hey!

WIL: Look at that. That’s actually better. 20.

MATT: 20. You pull the rug back. There’s nothing there, and you look about at the rest of the folks with a heavy sigh. But the rug was on the right track. Everyone was keeping high. Looking beneath the bed, you can see what looks to be, in the shadow, some little bit of elevated wood that catches your attention.

WIL: I just, under the bed!

ORION: Oh! I’ll motion over there.

LIAM: We’re not silenced, right? So I’m yanking off any fancy clothes I have on and I’m pulling my Cloak of Elvenkind out. I’m putting it over. And I spider under the bed and check it for traps.

MARISHA: I pick up his clothes and I put them in the Bag of Holding.

WILL: Oh my god, she’s folding the clothes. We’re in the middle of this, and she’s folding the clothes.

MARISHA: They might come in handy later.

LIAM: 25 for looking for traps.

MATT: Okay. Well, it’s a good thing you rolled high enough perception, because as you spider underneath, your first hand goes underneath and you nearly tumble and you catch yourself. There is a five-foot-wide hole in the ground right beneath this bed. And as you catch yourself, you can feel a little bit of wind slowly drifting up from underneath. There’s some sort of airflow coming up from underneath this bed where this hole is, and you feel over and you can see that little bit of wood that you saw looking forward is the top of a makeshift ladder that is currently fastened to the side of this tunnel that disappears beneath the room.

LIAM: Is there dim light down there?

MATT: It is pitch black. You can see with the dim light from your low-light vision a little ways into it, about 20 or so feet from the angle you’re at, because you’re not looking directly in. And even just glancing over the side it continues down for quite a while.

WILL: And it’s big enough to fit all of us if we wanted to go.

MATT: Independently, yes. One person would go down. It would be single file, of course, because it’s a tight tunnel.

WILL: Only one way to go, right?

LIAM: You can see in pitch black, right?

WIL: I have darkvision, 60 feet.

LIAM: Is that dim or dark?

WIL: Dark.

MATT: Darkvision, you can see within a short distance of pitch black and then a larger distance at low light, so yeah.

WIL: I’ll go.

MATT: All right. So we’ll put in order here, who’s going down next? All right. And after Vax?

MARISHA: I’ll follow my husband.

MATT: Keyleth. That’s weird. Tiberius?

ORION: Before we go down, I’m going to take off my outer– no, I can’t take off anything because that’s all my gear. Never mind. I don’t do that, but before we go down I cast Stoneskin on myself. I cast that right now.

MATT: Okay. As your form shimmers for a second and you see– you notice this too, Kashaw– his scales almost seem to protrude into earthy spikes and then form and solidify, almost like his body becomes its own suit of armor.

WILL: Okay, that’s cool.

ORION: Even though I’m still a dwarf, though.

WILL: I’m going to go, but I’m going to cast Freedom of Movement on myself before I go down there.

MATT: Okay. As you do, even with the encumbrance of the armor you’re wearing, you feel like your form is a little more agile and you’re ready for anything that might try and stop your passage. You guys begin making your way down, with Thorbir leading the way. You descend for a good three to four minutes, you gather probably a hundred feet or more down, rung by rung, and there are a few that you reach that are a little rickety. About a hundred feet down, one hits your foot and snaps, but you manage to catch yourself on it, but you get the feeling this ladder is probably not meant to hold someone of your heavy physical form.

WIL: Largesse?

MATT: Largesse, you could use, yes. One by one, you make your way down until eventually you’re, you begin to see towards the edge of your darkvision, floor finally begins to appear and rise towards you. You step off the ladder into what appears to be a small circular area that leads into another ten-foot-by-ten-foot tunnel, ten by 15 foot up, and continues forward. This is very natural carved earth, it’s not smoothed stone, it just looks like a tunnel that was mined out of the floor.

WILL: Is it still dark?

MATT: It is still dark, there is no light source currently. And you all eventually make your way down.

WILL: Is there anything loose down there that I can grab a hold of?

MATT: You can’t see anything. Mr. Human, you are in pitch-black darkness.

WILL: Well, that’s why I’m wondering if I feel around underneath me to try to find some kind– do I find a loose stone? Do I find a pebble? Can I find anything to grab?

MATT: Reach down, yeah, you manage to find a couple of small stones.

ORION: As he’s milling about, Light.

WILL: That’s what I was going to do, but he beat me to it. Thank you.

MATT: So you reach down and you find a stone, you pick it up, you begrudgingly grab your holy symbol, and as you begin to recite your cantrip incantation, a flash of white light comes gleaming off the top of the dragonborn sorcerer’s staff.

ORION: Dagger. Because I have two daggers in my hands.

MATT: That’s true. One of the daggers is now glowing. The jeweled one, twice as pretty when it’s emanating torchlight.

WILL: Nice. Thanks for the warning, by the way.

ORION: Sorry, I usually just do it when it’s dark.

WIL: This tunnel goes in just one direction?

MATT: One direction.

WIL: I’m walking down the tunnel.

MATT: Okay. So we’ll say for the sake of marching order, who all is going in after Thorbir? In what order?

WILL: I’ll go next.

MATT: All right. Following Thorbir.

LIAM: I’ll go behind Kash.

WILL: I don’t need this at all, but I just wanted to play with it. That’s me right there.

ORION: I’ll follow. I’ll keep on Thorbir’s six.

MATT: Okay.

ORION: I’ll stay 15 feet behind him.

MATT: 15 feet behind? All right. And Keyleth, you continue up that way. All right, so that’ll be the marching order.

WIL: So I’ve got my axe out. And may I make a perception check to see what I see? To just see if I can pick up footprints or motion or whatever?

MATT: This would be more tracking, if you’re looking for footprints, so that’d be wisdom.

WIL: Okay. Just a straight wisdom?

MATT: Survival.

WIL: Survival, hang on. Not my system. Eight.

MATT: Eight? Okay. It’s hard to tell. It looks like this area is not heavily traversed, and what little sign of footprints there are scattered enough that it’s hard to make out a specific print. But I mean, they have been traveled before.

LIAM: I’m looking over Thorbir’s head and looking for traps as he walks from behind. 22.

MATT: 22? All right. As you guys are walking forward and going through this, you get about 40 feet forward before you catch that there is a slight divot, a small drop in the dirt, and one looks like a section of intentionally placed plate of some kind.

LIAM: Wait a tick. I’m going to go up to the edge of it and try to inspect it and see if I can find a trigger or see how it works. Six. And that is, what is that, perception?

MATT: Are you checking to see how it works?

LIAM: I want to see if I can disarm.

MATT: To disarm it. Okay, that would be with your thieves’ tools. So this would be a dexterity plus your thieves’ tools, so plus seven.

LIAM: That’s a 19.

MATT: 19? Okay. As you go to the plate, you stop and look up at the walls to the side, and to each side of the wall you can see these tiny little holes, these little quarter-sized, gold-piece-sized tunnels bored multiple places on both sides of this wall. And you take the plate, you realize this is a pressure plate-based trap, and taking one dagger, you slightly lift it. The second one, you eventually find beneath where the trigger apparatus is, and you gingerly cut each part of these spring-loaded triggers until eventually the plate rises more and more and more and you remove the last bit, the plate tips over, and the trap itself is disarmed.

WILL: Nice work.

ORION: I mean, well done, rogue.

WIL: So I keep going down. I want to hit a thing.

MATT: All righty.

WIL: That’s not a wall.

MATT: There is that. All right. Pushing forward, continuing for another 30-40 feet, do you want to check traps again?

LIAM: Again. 12.

MATT: 12? Okay. Pushing forward for a period of time, there doesn’t appear to be any change. There are no more divots. You’re keeping a very close eye for the traps. And as you’re walking forward with your axe. As you’re stepping forward you get this weird tickle across your nose, like a spider web of some kind that catches you, and you instinctively reach up and brush it away from your nose. As your finger presses against it, it’s much sturdier than a spider web. It’s a metallic wire, and as you push away (tink). You hear that slight noise. Tiberius, behind you, you hear a grinding of stone, and a loud slam sounds, like something extremely heavy just dropped behind you.

MARISHA: Run!

MATT: You guys glance over your shoulder and you see what looks to be a fairly rounded boulder–

ORION: I dispel Alter Self immediately so I have longer-ass legs.

MATT: Well, Alter Self is gone if you’re casting Stoneskin, because that’s a concentration spell. Oh, that. But that only carries it for a few rounds. It’s been a longer time than that.

ORION: It’s been 15 minutes. Time has passed. Never mind. I don’t do shit.

MATT: But yeah, don’t worry about that. But the stone boulder just–

MARISHA: Indiana Jones, motherfuckers!

MATT: Picking up speed with the slow decline of this room. All of you guys, what are you doing?

ALL: Run!

MATT: You’re bolting forward.

ORION: I cast Fly on myself and fly.

MATT: You cast Fly, pushing forward, and you guys get a little speed, but you’ve noticed the boulder’s started to gather steam as it continues down, and the pathway you guys are running is going at a heavier and heavier decline as you push forward.

ORION: Oh! As I’m flying, I turn around with my ring and I cast Slow on the boulder.

MATT: Okay. Go ahead and make a– actually, no. This is interesting. Let me see if Slow would have a direct effect on this boulder. That’s something that happens right now that I didn’t consider. I love when that happens. Unfortunately, it is not a creature and actually it affects the physical metabolism and muscle use of an individual. This is just a solid structured object. As you release the spell, you see the air around it poof, and drift a little slower, and the boulder seems to stutter for a moment, but continues to push forward. That was your action.

ORION: Damn it.

LIAM: I would like to cast all of my spells in succession for the next ten minutes.

MATT: I assume you’re going full sprint? Okay, so pushing forward, you all push forward, Tiberius who has stopped to turn around and cast the spell is not at a full dash, so he trails behind. The boulder is currently gaining on Tiberius.

ORION: I Gandalf it.

MATT: So you turn around. You’re continuing to fly forward. So you guys just turn to push forward. Tiberius, the boulder is nearly upon you now. What are you going to do?

ORION: Oh! Awesome. Is it at least ten to 15 feet away from me?

MATT: It is about ten to five feet away from you, you can see it cresting–

ORION: Sweet. As I’m now frustrated, I cast a 5th-level spell, and I will cast my Obelisk of Iron, three in a row behind me.

MATT: Okay. All right. You burned that spell. All of a sudden, the room behind you, out of the stone, pockets of iron ore or whatever material is beneath the earth behind you is brought together into a liquid mass and then shoots up in the center of the hallway behind you. With each one of these pillars slamming into the wall, you guys hear these three multiple explosions behind you, and for a brief second you fear the worst for Tiberius’ current status. Immediately following that, you hear the impact of stone against iron, and you see the obelisks bend with this horrible creaking sound.

MARISHA: Keep running!

ORION: That should stop it right there.

MARISHA: I don’t know.

MATT: The sound of the rolling has stopped.

MARISHA: I still don’t trust it. Let’s just all get out of this hole.

ORION: I keep Gandalfing.

MARISHA: It could give way at any moment.

LIAM: Let’s walk. Shall we walk? I think we should walk.

WIL: I like to walk.

MATT: Okay. You guys continue moving forward, the decline getting a little more difficult to traverse as your feel yourselves now having to feel your arms across the wall or use it for balance to make sure you don’t just fall. Also, the moisture in the air begins to grow more and more thick. Some source of liquid some point down in the future has permeated what was originally dusty, dry air with liquid of some kind, and the air itself grows more and more rancid in scent. It smells like refuse or rot. It’s hard to describe, and it’s old. It’s musky, it’s terrible, and it grows stronger the farther you go. As you continue pushing forward, you also feel that the dusty ground is becoming more and more mud-like.

WIL: Is it making my hair poof out and look stupid?

MATT: A little bit, yeah. You spent all morning treating it and it’s undoing everything you did.

WIL: This is why I lived in the mountains.

WILL: Is there any light? Any light source? There’s no natural light? We’re not walking towards any type of light?

MATT: It’s just a tunnel into darkness right now.

MARISHA: Does there appear to be any type of plant life?

MATT: From what you can tell, there is no plant life at all whatsoever. The moisture gathered on the walls you can now see are dripping. The condensation has given this tunnel more of a mineral-pocketed look, and the ground is getting more sludgy with each step.

WIL: I want to make a– I’m sorry, you’re not done.

MARISHA: I was just going to ask: are the walls stone or chiseled-out rock?

MATT: It feels like it’s chiseled-out, hard earth that has been packed and supported with either small wooden things that are inset to make sure it doesn’t collapse at some point, a lot of that has either fallen through.

WILL: So it could collapse at any time.

MATT: Well, if you do any severe damage to its structure. It would probably be a bad idea.

MARISHA: Right, like drop a boulder down it.

MATT: It’s not a mine shaft.

MARISHA: What were you going to say?

WIL: I would like to make a– you tell me what check it is. What I want to do is to look down into this thick mud stuff. What I’m looking for are tracks, and if I do well enough, I want to see if I can get a sense of how fast the thing was going. Has it slowed down because it’s comfortable, or is it still running?

MATT: Okay, make another survival check.

WIL: So I’m underground.

MATT: Actually, as a dwarf I’ll give you advantage on that, so roll again. That makes sense, this is your place.

LIAM: Well, the higher one was four. The lower one was a one.

WILL: The higher one was a four?

WIL: Remember what I told you about the Wheaton dice curse? I’m sorry. Because no one will believe me. No one ever believes me.

MARISHA: He’s been taking pictures of all his fails so everyone believes it.

WILL: At this point, I’d be amazed that he hasn’t helped us in any way, shape, or form, and cast a perception check of my own.

MATT: Sure.

WILL: There we go. So let’s see, we are at 21.

MATT: 21, okay.

WILL: You are useless. For the love of god.

MATT: As a pre-existing member of the Slayer’s Take and the man who was currently set to be the leader of your group, you’re beginning to wonder if this guild is the kind of thing you really want to be joining, at this point.

WIL: I haven’t been in a fight yet.

MATT: True. But looking down you can see there are no tracks, actually. This line has not been traversed in quite some time, and the smoothness of it says that whatever came through here did not leave any footprints.

WILL: At all?

MATT: No. Also, as you guys continue, you reach a point where, especially with your heavy armor– go ahead and make a dexterity saving throw.

MARISHA: Oh no.

LIAM: You got this.

WILL: Ten. So wait. 13.

MATT: 13? Okay. You’re stepping forward, keeping an eye out, and you look back at the group and take a step and your foot slips out from under you. (smack) You hit the slime and begin to slide down the tunnel as part of the decline. You guys watch as your cleric Goonies-style slide vanishes into the darkness.

WILL: It’s our time. It’s our time down here.

WIL: Hey, you guys!

MATT: Kashaw has vanished into the darkness and you hear, (screams).

WILL: (screams)

ORION: As I see this happening, I run over and go like, this looks like a lot of fun!

MATT: As you lunge through the air, because you’re flying, still.

ORION: Oh. Has ten minutes passed? I thought ten minutes? It only lasts for like ten minutes.

MATT: Oh, then yeah, it’s faded. So you just slide after?

ORION: Yeah, I go, this looks like a lot of fun. And I go and I slide.

MATT: Tiberius slides after, body first across the slime.

MARISHA: And then I see Tiberius go and I go, (whoops). And I go, too.

MATT: All right. Three of your party have just vanished into the darkness, hoping that fate will take them to some place of pillows and feathers.

LIAM: I think I’d rather walk as long as I can.

WIL: I think I’m with you.

MATT: All right. You guys both make dexterity saving throws.

WIL: 16.

LIAM: 16.

MATT: Wow. You manage to slowly make your way down this tunnel, almost– what’s that?

ORION: My dex was 18, by the way.

MATT: It doesn’t matter; you jumped into this. You intentionally fell.

LIAM: We can’t even hear you anymore. You’re miles away.

MATT: Yeah. You guys slowly begin to make your way down the tunnel, as you can’t even hear them anymore. You guys, one after another, sliding down the slide and grime going past you. You smell in the air what smells like vegetable matter that’s been long, long falling in compost, along with what smells like rancid feces mixed with mold. It’s this terrible continuously growing scent.

ORION: I put up my nose scales.

MATT: Until eventually, out of the darkness, because you’re ahead of everyone, you’re outside of the range of his Light spell, the slime stops and there’s just air.

LIAM: Hey, you guys!

MATT: And a few moments of this air rushing past you as you’re immediately stopped with a wet sound as you impact hard into some sort of heavy spongy matter. Thankfully, because it’s spongy, you only suffer four points of damage, so you can mark that somewhere on the sheet. Mainly just from the way you landed and your armor sticks into where the plates are and just the impact was bad for your body. But you’re now in darkness, looking up, sitting on what feels like you’re on some sort of strange compost heap. Looking up, you see in the darkness this small light begin to appear, and you see this dragonborn–

ORION: I’m laughing, by the way.

WILL: Can I try to move, since I hear him laughing, can I try to move out of the way?

MATT: You roll out of the way as the two of you scream down. With the light that now shines you can see this is a cylindrical cistern of some kind. It is a tunnel that is very tall, and you both impact into the same heap.

LIAM: Shitter’s full!

ORION: As we land, I look around. Oh, that was a lot of fun. I cast Prestidigitation three times in a row and clean us all up.

MATT: You try and clean what you can, but you guys are like knee to nearly waist deep as you get up and move around–

ORION: Or at least our faces.

MATT: Your faces are clean.

WILL: What a wonderful smell you’ve discovered.

MATT: And it’s a terrible smell. This room is quite honestly a mixture of long-rotting food, of dried vegetation that has been discarded here for whatever reason, a lot of it’s hay and thatch that has been just rotting and molding for god knows how many years, and quite honestly, feces from some indeterminate entity.

MARISHA: I use my Druidcraft to take out some of my sage and light it and spread some of my sage around.

ORION: You’re making it worse. Now it’s smoky and smells. Prestidigitate it out of my face.

MATT: As you guys are doing this, you guys are making your way down the tunnel. And you have a ways to catch up to them, you do hear (squeaking). You hear this, and as you look around with the light you can see little bits of movement leaping through this heap.

LIAM: Rat horde.

WILL: Rats are going to be wonderful.

MATT: Then suddenly, thrusting out of some of this heap, you see a large arm or tendril, brownish-tan in color just slams onto the side of it.

ORION: Oh shit. I go invisible.

WILL: You’ve got to help– where the hell did he go?

MATT: At which point you now see emerging from it two of these giant tendrils, which at the end are covered in these long, teeth-like spines, grasping the sides of this stone cylinder, pulling itself out of the refuse, shaking as it pulls itself forward. You now see the body that contains it with one third central tendril that rises up, what looks like creepy eyes or nose-holes that are looking around and glancing at both of you, and you see emerging beneath that the body, this large, eight- to ten-foot-thick, wide, covered-in-slime body that is this gargantuan toothy maw that opens up with a tongue that lolls out. And that’s where we’re going to go ahead and end today’s session. We’ll pick it up next week right where we left off. You guys slowly making your way down the tunnel. We’ll pick up with that next time.

WILL: Toothy maw is where we end it!

MATT: Yep. Toothy maw.

MARISHA: Tentacley, brown, twitchy eyeball, toothy maw. That’s all we know?

MATT: That’s all you know. And some sort of strange sound and other small things moving.

WIL: Do you give out prizes for the most ones rolled in a night, because I’m pretty sure I won that.

MATT: I do, and for that prize I give you a fancy yellow d20.

WIL: Oh! Thank you. That’s great. Does it have all ones on it?

MATT: Shit. Yeah. How did that happen?

MARISHA: Oh, that’s been your problem the whole time.

LIAM: Congratulations, you’ve won imploding self-esteem.

WIL: That stacks, right? I already have that. I mean, it would be silly if I couldn’t– is that an ongoing? Because that’s a feat I took when I started.

MATT: Yeah, yeah, I tried to tell you not to take that but, you know, character flavor is important.

WIL: Listen, it’s a class feature. It’s an actor’s class feature.

LIAM: After enough time, you can suck people into it.

MATT: Well, guys, thank you so much!

WIL: Thanks, Matt. That was amazing.

MATT: That was a fun first round. Got one more session with you guys.

MARISHA: Yes, and what did you think of your first game?

WILL: It was incredible, nothing should be this fun. Seriously, it was so much fun. Yeah. Awesome.

MATT: Well guys, thank you, I’m so glad you could join us and I’m excited for next week. And thank you guys for tuning in, hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are. We can’t stay too long, unfortunately, I have a flight to catch very soon to fly out to a convention in Columbus, Ohio. Zac, I think, is around here with whatever we got in business we’ve got to get down to with all you awesome people. Thank-yous.

ZAC: We’ll save gifts for next week.

MATT: We’ll have to save gifts for next week when we’re not quite in such a huge rush, so for those of you who sent stuff, we’ll get into those next week. Thank you so much. So for people who donated, by the way, once again donated to 826LA, which is our charity, which is a fantastic charity that takes young children and young adults and teaches them creative writing and writing skills and they do wonderful work. And you guys have been fantastic and donations go to help that charity. Let’s see, we got here–

ZAC: Start 813.

MATT: 813, all right. Lonsolo, donated $25, thank you so much, Lon. Descendfromgrace donated $25, thank you so much Descend. Gelatinousdude, oh. Makes me happy. Donated $20. Thank you so much, that’s amazing. Undim1 donated $31, thank you so much Undim. Wheelyfactoids donated $50. That’s amazing, Wheelie. Once again, good to see you. That’s amazing that you keep donating, I really appreciate that. Dafeedthedargenzeen–

ZAC: There might be more there.

MATT: Dot-dot-dot-dot-dot, take the ellipses, it makes it sound cool. Donated $100, thank you so much, that’s an incredible donation. Escherbacon donated $25, thank you so much Escherbacon. Bacon. Moonsol37 donated $20. Thank you, Moonsol. That’s incredible. Norkelad donated $75. Thank you, Norkelad. Markinthepark donated $50. Thank you, Mark. That’s amazing. Freelander20 donated $15. That’s incredible. JDI35 donated $25. You’re amazing! Missbeezus donated $25. Missbeezus, that’s amazing. Heart goes out to you. Shepardson donated $20. Shepardson, thank you so much, Shepardson. Turdle, 1337turdle, donated $50. It’s got leet-speech, threes. Thank you so much. T-threefrulthree. Williantw, t-w, donated $25. Thank you Willian. Salazarjack donated $82.60, keeping with the 826 theme. That’s awesome. Clever. Nightraver01 donated $100. Thank you, Nightraver. Keep raving. NZV5005 donated $20. Thank you so much, NZV5005. That’s incredible. Okay. Got a flight to catch. Wakedonorpg donated $43.21. Descending numbers, I like it. Thank you so much. Nausicaa451 donated $10. Thank you so much for that. Killerpenguin donated $25. Thank you, Killerpenguin. Damienopyro donated $30. Thank you, Pyro. Bryancantlogintotwitch– I’m sorry, Bryan, that’s pretty rough– donated $30. That’s fantastic. Gatorcane donated $100. Thank you, Gatorcane. It’s got a nice texture to that cane. Magnusrogar donated $40. Kill things, Tiberius. Get it done. Foxyforce has donated $60.39. Thank you, Foxy. Atherrex donated $50. Thank you so much, Atherrex. Monos20 donated $20. Thank you so much. UncleAni donated $15. It’s appreciated. Gargantran1– eyes aren’t working, but that’s your new name– donated $50. Thank you so much. PFWscott donated $12. Thank you. Jarmund donated $100. That’s incredible. Joker396 donated $55.55. Thank you so much for all your donations.

ORION: Yeah, all this and again, thank you for doing this because portions of this goes to an amazing charity and we love all the people at 826.

MARISHA: We’re going to be doing a video very soon going to 826 and telling you guys all about it. But yes, they’re a great charity, so yes.

MATT: Give to them the hefty amount that you guys have contributed over this time towards their charity. It’s fascinating.

WILL: You guys have incredible fans. This whole week leading up to this on Twitter and everything, you guys have amazing fans.

MARISHA: Now you guys get the fanart!

WILL: Sorry about what?

MATT: Sorry about the DDOS attack. That’s how we say hi.

WILL: No, seriously, it’s amazing.

ZAC: Don’t even mention things like that. Don’t mention those things.

WIL: It’s more of a hug.

ZAC: Thank you everybody for helping us get to 6k. They’ve already started a stupid e-mail chain talking about what musical songs they’re going to sing.

MARISHA: That’s amazing. Oh, and guys, Mary Elizabeth came back to visit and watch. So she did return.

MARY: Hi!

MARISHA: She’s back!

MARY: And a special guest.

STEVE: I’m just going to troll. Hi.

MARISHA: Steven Blum, everybody.

WILL: Starscream himself is here.

MARISHA: Yes, he is.

MATT: Thank you so much for coming to watch, I hope you enjoyed yourselves. Yeah, it’s an incredible time, looking forward to the session next week. Are there any other closing comments you guys want to bust out tonight?

MARISHA: I don’t want to wait a week.

WIL: Really fun and really weird to be on this side of that screen. So odd for me, and just to play a character who’s so different from the characters I used to play before I DMed all the time. It’s weird to be a guy who just doesn’t think about stuff and like is not particularly charismatic and anyway, people who have thought about playing or want to play RPGs, when we were rolling up this guy, I was so excited when I got– what did I roll for him? Anyway he’s got a minus one. I rolled an eight for his charisma, and I was so excited because I was like, well now I know exactly who this guy is. I know exactly who he is and it’s going to be really fun to be him. It was really great, it was really fun to come and I found out about your game because Liam directed me in a voice session. I want to be on your show so much.

MATT: Well, now it is done. Dreams do come true. Then we smash them.

WILL: Now roll a one and get us out of here.

WIL: I’ll try, but since it’s not going to count, I don’t know.

LIAM: It’ll be a 20. 19.

(laughter)

MATT: Thanks so much. We’ll see you next week, 7PM on the Twitch stream. Have a wonderful week.

MARISHA: Bye!

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