31 August 2015 @ 09:49 pm


We return to the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, where the DM is equipped with a learning module and the group is on its caravanly adventure. The DM recaps for the group – they had defended the broken wagon by slaying the hobgoblin menace with a crapton of AOEs after sneaking up on them despite their armor penalties. But they are still in the Fields of the Dead.

DM: After your performance, as the caravan travels on you note that many of the members are regarding you with more respect. The story of your tale is increasingly exaggerated as time passes—
Eben: ‘The point is they’re dead, and the Matrix died with them.’
Krixix: Sorry guys, that was Krixix, apparently we killed 1000 hobgoblins.
DM: In one round.

Thalynmar has perhaps gained the most out of this – his caravan master has stopped complaining about his expense. The group inexplicably hails the Dragon Reborn.

DM: As the caravan settles down for the night, a half-elf approaches you clutching several mugs.
Eben: Not that half-elf—
DM: Not that half-elf.
Thalynmar: “Ohhhhhh!”
DM: He quickly passes each of you one of the mugs. The scent of a fine ale wafts from it.
Krixix: They come in a pint size?
Lualyrr: Hey!

Silence.

Maldrake: “Appreciate it.”

Silence.

Thalynmar: Go away now.
Eben: But the ale was poison!
DM: “Oh, it’s on the house! I’ve heard tales, and seems that if I hadn’t, everyone would be eager to buy you one.”
Krixix: “That’s okay, people can still buy us a drink anyways!”
DM: “I have no doubt they will, when we reach more… charitable climes.”
Eben: When yours is empty, I’ll pass you mine, since I… no longer drink.

The NPC commends them for doing the right thing over the prudent thing, and also stumps up a little business for his ale-selling when they’re out of the Fields of the Dead before heading back to his own caravan.

DM: Although just then, a fearsome screech splits the night air. At once the entire caravan is on alert. Swords are drawn, shields are brought to bear. The caravan master—
Thalynmar: Raaaaawr!
DM: Hurriedly goes ‘rawr!’, apparently.
Maldrake: Checking the dwarf to see if the Decanter was used. It was not.
Raven: Where’d it come from?
DM: You’re not certain. The gargoyle at the wagon that Raven and Maldrake guard is at the very end of its leash, straining, and you can see the wagon shift slightly on its moorings.
Maldrake: “What do you see?”
DM: It does not answer you, as it has never done when you’ve spoken to it, although speaking to it as a being worth courtesy and respect has never done you any HARM. It still strains at the end of its rope.

Maldrake proposes to let it go and see where it goes, but the owner cautions that it will never return and begins to soothe it instead. Perception checks ensue, but no one sees anything. Nor does anything happen for several minutes, and the camp begins to settle down. The owner blames the mysteries of the Fields of the Dead. Naturally, the PCs are still suspicious as hell.

DM: Krixix, roll a Perception check.
Krixix: 16.
Eben: You notice the thing just as it clamps its jaws shut, dragging you into the darkness.
DM: You stand there peering into the darkness, trying to figure out what on earth the gargoyle could have been going for. Suddenly something clamps on your shoulder, and a horrible noises screeches in your ear! “Rrrraaaghghaaaagh!”
Krixix: “ATTACK! DEATH! GETITOFFGETITOFFGETITOFF—“
Lualyrr: Do we see this?
DM: Yes, another halfling has crept up behind Krixix for the sole purposes of having sport at his offense. As Krixix freaks out, the other halfling bends over in double with laughter.
Krixix: I’m gonna throw a dagger at him.
Maldrake: Throw a rock at him.
Krixix: Throwing a rock at him.
Thalynmar: I roll a 17 to hit him with the haft of my axe.
Krixix: A 23 to hit him with a rock.
DM: You wing the rock off his shoulder, and he lets out a yelp. Skips back a few steps. “I suppose I deserve that, but the look on your face!”
Krixix: “Ahahahaha – asshole.”
DM: “You were so worked up! One little screech out here in the Fields of the Dead is nothing, nothing at all to worry about. One time when I was traveling this path, I saw a bird whose wingspan was bigger than this caravan from the very front to the very bag when it was all lined up in a row. Swooped over, blotted out the sun practically. Now THAT was a night.”
Eben: I cast Minor Illusion behind him and put some kind of slavering undead creature—
Krixix: You ARE undead.
Thalynmar: Not slavering though.

The halfling blathers on in a long story about meteors that totally keeps him from noticing the illusion behind him. Eben finally adds in a sound with Thaumaturgy, and the halfling promptly notices and freaks out, staggering away to fall on his ass.

Krixix: I’m going defiantly jump in front of him to protect him, draw out my rapier and say, “Who’s the coward now?” Wait, do I know it’s an illusion?
Eben: No!

Eben takes pity on Krixix and telepathically explains it, leading Krixix to try to deceive the NPC into believing the monster will eat him!

Eben: After leaping in front of him to protect him from the foul beast, now you cheer the beast on as it closes in for the kill!
Krixix: “I’ll protect you! I’m just killing, KILL HIM!”

The illusion times out, The halfling is at least a good sport about that, even as he chucklingly vows vengeance. The night passes without incident!

DM: There’s a low muttering as you travel on throughout the day. Seems like many in the caravan have come to blame the mysterious green woman for the source of their troubles, though none of them will speak it in a tone above a whisper or a conspiratorial conversation.
Eben: Green woman? Do any of us –
Thalynmar: Penis, penis. Penis penis penis.
Eben: Recognize this name, via lore or a knowledge check of some kind?
DM: You probably don’t remember but there is, in fact, a woman who is entirely green traveling with you.
Thalynmar: Is anyone here named Kirk, Tiberius?
Eben: Sleep with this woman immediately!

Krixix, ever the social butterfly despite his lack of social stats in any way, decides to approach the woman, while Eben investigates the rumors flying about her and comes up with nothing interesting.

DM: You don’t have any problem approaching her. She even offers you a friendly smile as you step up.
Krixix: “Hi! I was wondering if I could, uh, walk with you for a bit?”
DM: “Come to scout me out, and make sure that I’m not going to bring ruin down on the caravan?”
Krixix: “Yes.”

Thalynmar cracks up, but Krixix surges on ahead with the path of honesty.

DM: “I’ll tell you what I’ve told everyone, I’m traveling north to look for a cure, and this was the most convenient caravan to travel on.:
Krixix: “A cure? A cure only means that somebody is sick, I’m sorry to hear that.”
DM: “Well, call it what you will. A treatment for my condition? A remedy?”
Krixix: “Out of curioisity, exactly what type of condition is it? I’ve never seen anything like this.”
DM: “Greenness.”
Maldrake: Too sexy for her self.
Krixix: “Too sexy for me to continue this conversation normally…”

Krixix tries to lure the truth out of her with regard to what happened, but the woman politely refuses to give him any details despite his probing.

Krixix: “Did this just happen one day, did you just wake up this way?”
DM: “Mmm, yeah, sure.”
Krixix: “Yeah, that doesn’t really answer my question.”
DM: “Well, I wasn’t really trying.”
Krixix: “I like you, you’re just as forthright as I am!”
DM: “The subtly wasn’t working, so I figured I’d try a different approach…”

Krixix, the DM, and Eben have a mild debate over halfling living conditions, leading Krixix to gain the last name “Underrock”. Krixix figures the woman is okay, and cheerfully calls the rest of the caravan ‘sheeple’.

DM: You have a long discussion about how jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. The spelljammers were faked!

The transcriber regrets missing the opportunity to call the Time of Troubles an inside job, but meanwhile the DM and Thalynmar wander off into fond memories of the Spelljammer PC game. A pretzel lays the DM low, so he chokes down more pretzels.

DM: All right, the rest of you are going in there to get your comrade out. “I was simply –“ (brought up short by the pretzel) Why is it still stuck?!
Krixix: Drink something.
DM: I HAVE BEEN!

Somehow it turns out Krixix has been dragging around Maldrake’s body the entire time, despite how much sense this doesn’t make, so the latter sprays acid everywhere for no good reason!

Krixix: “Must be a lonely life. I’d love to be your friend.”
Eben: (unrelatedly) Oh man.
DM: Eben lets out a disbelieving cry!

The woman introduces herself as Imsa, but says everyone calls her Green Imsa. Maldrake discovers how paladin mounts work in 5E (there’s a Summon Mount spell).

DM: Always have your horse. If your horse goes poof, cast it again, poof, you have your horse back.
Thalynmar: He’s gay. He’s a poofta.
DM: Yes. He’s a gay horse. Stud fees are very low. A few days pass. The caravan is at last out of the Fields of the Dead.
Thalynmar: Why did I write ‘crowbar’ twice for my dungeoneering pack?
Krixix: Because I gave you a crowbar.
Thalynmar: I have two crowbars. Yeeessssss….
DM: Two-fisted opening.
Eben: Feed one to the rust monster and kill it with the other.
DM: A cheer goes up.
Thalynmar: “Crowbar!”

The group high-fives and starts the Cult of the Crowbar, while Maldrake remembers the horrific destruction of his throat at the spiny corners of gumdrop sugar crystals with a reverence approaching religion. On the 19th day of travel, the DM addresses Thalynmar …

DM: No sooner do you go to sleep on this night than you have a dream… a god kills you!
Maldrake: A petty, angry god.
DM: What you’re looking at is a great castle in the clouds. You catch only a glimpse of it before you awaken abruptly. Something about this vision rings oddly true. You sense it was no mere dream.

Thalynmar repeatedly attempts to point out the castle in the sky, finally prompting an extended middle finger from the DM.

Krixix: It’s the bird behind the wall.
DM: I have a table right here, Thalynmar, if you keep this up. “Damage By Level and Severity”.

Thalynmar chooses not to wake up his friends in the middle of the night, and instead takes note of this to tell them in the morning. Krixix attempts to buy Thalynmar a mug of ale, but Thalynmar seizes the ale from him too fast.

DM: You drink deeply, then when you lower it you realize a hand is still attached. Krixix, you roll around bleeding!

Lubricated, Thalynmar relates his tale. Maldrake attempts to identify this from the description, then gets furiously bitter when ‘a castle in the clouds’ isn’t enough to go on. A voice calls out to ‘Master Dwarf’!

Thalynmar: “Ye talkin’ to me?”
Eben: Lualyrr!
Lualyrr: Huh?
DM: One of the guards from the other wagons approaches.
Eben: I just like saying it.
DM: You’ve seen her around a couple of times –
Eben: She’s green.
DM: No.
Krixix: Seven feet tall.
DM: No.
Maldrake: She has some enormous—
Eben: She’s Selina Kyle.
Maldrake: No.
Krixix: She has an enormous—
Vivianne: Personality.
DM: “Yes, good master dwarf, I wondered if I might make a proposition towards you.”
Lualyrr: OOOOOOOOOH.
Krixix: “Ma’am, I’m his agent, I’m gonna have to tell you exactly how much—“
Thalynmar: (backhanding motion)
Krixix: “Agh!”
DM: “I notice you have two fine weapons on your back, and while I, right now, am down to zero fine weapons, I’m afraid my sword has taken a deadly notch. Your trident – well, obviously, you wield the greataxe with greater skill than the trident, what would you say to trading it to me for a gold piece?”
Krixix: “Ma’am, this is the same trident he speared six hobgoblins with not a forthnight ago!”
Eben: Is this, like, an opportunity for you to get rid of something and get coin for it?
Thalynmar: I LIKE the trident!
Eben: I like it too!
Thalynmar: I did also pick up a spear.
Maldrake: I think a trident’s worth more than one gold.
Thalynmar: “I wouldn’t want to see someone be weaponless in these times. You never know when someone might need one. Trident, or spear?”
DM: “Oh no, it’s the trident I’m interested in. After all—“ She draws her sword and motions to it. You can quickly catch a glance of a really insignificant cosmetic nick on it before she puts it back in. “Can’t use that any more. It’d take hours to polish out, I don’t have that kind of time when we’re on the road. It’s really your trident I’d like to buy from you.”
Thalynmar: “Well then, here.” I pull my trident off, and hand it to her, and refuse the gold. “I’d rather see ye do well with that.”

Silence.

DM: “Why thank you. That’s uncommonly charitable of you.”
Eben: She’s gonna kill someone, and then be all, “Look, the dwarf’s weapon is protruding from his back!”
Krixix: Krixix is about to start spreading rumors about the generosity of Thalynmar, as he handed over his weapon to this woman without asking anything in return. She is not ABOUT to kill someone and blame it on you! I’m gonna let everyone know about it!
Lualyrr: I’m writing a song about it.

The woman introduces herself and she and Thalynmar have a decent chat while all this is going on – but this attracts the halfling from before, the one they had tormented with illusions.

DM: “How about…” He fans out a few coins between his fingers that glint with the shine of gold, then snaps them back up and tucks them inside his shirt. “Five of these shiny gold coins for your shortnow, good fellow! We could all use a good weapon, and it seems they’re going for cheap! Won’t find a better deal anywhere else in this wagon!”
Krixix: “Yeah, but I like my shortbow!”

The group mocks the money-hungry Lai by implying he’s drifting up, Monterey Jack-style, at the sight of coin.

DM: “Five gold, take it or leave it! Five shiny gold! You know you want the gold!”
Krixix: “I’ll sell you one of my daggers.”
DM: “No no, I want the bow.”
Krixix: “I’ll keep the bow.”
DM: “Five gold!”
Krixix: “That’s good.”
DM: “Five gold!”
Krixix: “Put a 0 behind it.”
DM: “That’s outrageous!”
Krixix: “Then there’s your answer.”
DM: “Well, I’ll be back when you’ve had a chance to think on just how much money you’ve lost on this deal.” Turns around and saunters off.

The caravan begins to roll, but only goes a relatively short way before a cry comes up from the front.

Maldrake: More danger? (making a drawing sound effect and motion)
DM: You draw your flail.
Krixix: I pull out my bow and nock an arrow.
DM: “Five gold for that bow! Won’t find a better deal anywhere in this caravan!”
Maldrake: We go to the next town, it’s like, “No bows allowed in this town. You’ve got to drop your bow off and buy another one at the other edge of town.” Bows are like 50 gold…

Krixix discovers the real price is 25 gold, and congratulates himself for setting his price at double that. On hearing that the trouble at the front of the caravan is identical twin sisters, he decides to reward his instrincts!

Krixix: Ooh, they hot?
DM: Yes!
Krixix: Nice! Krixix is gonna sidle his way on up there.
Eben: ‘Hello, what have we here?’
Krixix: Exactly.

Very inappropriate jokes ensue.

Krixix: Wow, this conversation went downhill REAL fast!
DM: One of the sisters turns a brilliant smile on you as you approach. “Why hello, kind halfling!”

Maldrake fumes that he gets no opportunities to flirt with the ladies. The friendly one chats up Krixix, calling herself Arietta and explaining that the caravan had overtaken the horses. Krixix promptly escorts her back to the merchants so she can try to talk a merchant into letting them join. In the back , her sister rolls her eyes.

DM: “Is he always like that?”
Lualyrr: “Oh yeah.”
Maldrake: “Pretty much.”
Thalynmar: For the love of Christ, take him.
Lualyrr: “Is that a problem?”
Krixix: What is their race?
DM: They look human. To the best of your knowledge.
Krixix: Sexy human.
DM: As a halfling, their breasts are comparable to your head.
Krixix: VERY sexy human.
DM: “Ah, well, let him have his fun. I’m Zillina. I’m the wiser of the sisters.”

Maldrake gets to escort her off, and he and Krixix get in a cockblocking fight, then discuss giving Krixix the Periapt of Health to protect him from disease. (Maldrake, as a paladin, is of course immune.) The girls are welcomed aboard the caravan. Krixix still wants to worm more information out of them, but the group predicts the pair will clam up now that they’re in.

Eben: They head for the gargoyle.
Krixix: Didn’t see that one coming!
DM: You attempt to engage Arietta in conversation to found out more but are interrupted as a figure interposes himself between you. “Five. Gold.”
Krixix: “Fifty.”
DM: “Five. Five. Gold now. All it’s worth, look at that busted up piece of shit, five gold, that’s all it work, I’ll pay you for it, I’ll have the bow and you’ll have the money!”

The group is absolutely baffled at this point, as Krixix obstinately refuses to sell. The sisters reveal that they come from a small village and are heading north to Dragonspear. Krixix lays on the charm as hard as he is capable of, while Maldrake bitterly tries to protect himself from Krixix’s puns.

Krixix: Raven, I need a wingman!
Vivianne: I got you covered.
Krixix: Vivianne, if you swing that way, I’m more than happy to call you over.

The group continues to banter about this odd turn of events, even as Maldrake backs off as he senses all the red flags going up. The group goes to sleep, and then the DM calls for Krixix to make a Perception check.

Eben: There it goes. Your bow is gone.
Krixix: She’s gonna turn into a succubus.
Maldrake: Oh yeah, someone’s stealing your bow. He wants your bow.
DM: You sleep soundly for about an hour, then wake up abruptly, as if something has gone horribly wrong. You look around and realize… something is missing.
Krixix: It better be one of my fucking daggers.
DM: It’s your bow!
Krixix: That son of a bitch stole my bow.
Eben: Does he think that… you’re not gonna notice it’s gone? Like, what’s his plan?
Krixix: I’m trying to decide if I should make a huge ruckus and wake everybody up, or if I should stealth around and steal it back.

Krixix goes to wake up his companions, only to find Arietta whispering to him from the edge of camp. He approaches her and she tells him her sister saw who stole it! Sighing out-of-character, he resigns himself to going with her out of the camp.

DM: “Once she tells you, perhaps we can spend a… moment alone.”
Krixix: “Perhaps we can. Thank god I got this thing!” (miming patting the Periapt of Health)
Maldrake: That’s all we’re gonna use it for.
Eben: Props for staying in character when you’re clearly being led astray.
Maldrake: (muttering something half-audible) …not… actually raped.
DM: What? Who’s raping who?!
Maldrake: These sisters.
Thalynmar: They’re gonna use the halfling as a giant dildo.
Eben: What the hell kind of module is this?!
Maldrake: Just gonna stick a condom over him and ride him. From his head down to his toes.
Krixix: ‘I don’t know if I like this or not!’

Krixix finds the other twin outside of camp by a tiny fire. Zellina beckons Krixix over, and as he leans in to listen what she has to say…

Maldrake: Well, you got just stabbed, so.
Raven: Stabbed is usually a negative condition…
Maldrake: How do you constantly get killed first?! How does this keep happening?!
DM: I’d like to point out, just for the record, this was blatantly targeted at Thalynmar. Till he gave away his trident for free! Blatantly targeted!
Krixix: But then I was the one who was like ‘fuck that, fifty!’

Krixix gets walloped, while Lualyrr – who’d been stalking behind her – sees Arietta change form and attack him!

Krixix: OH COME ON!
Maldrake: A succubus?!
Krixix: I DON’T EVEN WANT THIS THING ANY MORE!
Maldrake: Succubus! Finally!
DM: It isn’t a succubus!
Maldrake: Doesn’t matter! Close enough!
Krixix: This is what happens when I stay in character. I die. Every single time.
Maldrake: I knew it! I knew it. In the back of my mind, I was like, ‘He’s trying to trick me’. Nope. This ain’t Aiden. This ain’t any other character. This is a new one. Ain’t gonna be taken in by a pretty woman.

The DM reveals that these creatures are doppelgangers, prompting the players to rejoice that at last they’d found the doppelganger they’d been told about… seven years ago in the first Birthright campaign. Initiative ensues! Lualyrr, acting first, Thunderwaves Arietta away from Krixix. Zellina also transforms, while the rest of the group scrambles forward to enter the melee. Krixix uses his free Disengage to run the hell behind the approaching melee. Arietta closes with Maldrake and slams him for 10, then misses the second. Lualyrr shoots Arietta, Zellina slaps the crap out of Lualyrr for 15. Vivianne proposes to heal Lualyrr, irritating Krixix!

Maldrake: You’re hurting less than her. You took 13, she took 15.
Thalynmar: Your diving rod got you into this trouble, okay.


The DM awards inspiration to Krixix for his roleplaying.

Krixix: For knowingly walking into a trap, because that was in-character?
DM: (not even trying to sound serious) It might not have been a trap.
Thalynmar: It was very smelling like one.
Krixix: Like you’re gonna let me walk off with two sexy-ass women in the game.
Eben: What did they even want with you?
Maldrake: How has Aiden missed out on all these traps?!

Raven moves forward and promptly swings wide. Maldrake is up!

Maldrake: I’m going in for the attack.
DM: He’s going the distance.
Thalynmar: He’s going… for speed.
DM: She’s all alone—
Maldrake: All alone!
DM: In her time of need.
Eben: (trumpet)

Maldrake casts Divine Smite, then realizes it doesn’t quite work that way. He attacks, hits, and THEN casts Divine Smite to make it a potent blow! Thalynmar, with his short legs, struggles to get into melee before realizing it’s only ten feet to the nearest opponent.

DM: Or you could just attack Krixix.
Krixix: “You’re the one who got us into this!”
Thalynmar: I pick up Krixix and use him as a club.

Thalynmar deals 10 points of damage, which finishes the already-injured doppelganger.

Eben: I’ll try to redeem my previous failure. Eldritch BLAST! (rolling) Worse… There’s a 20.

Lualyrr has wandered off to take a phone call, so the DM relentlessly mocks her and threatens to make her miss a turn till the drow screams angrily from the bathroom. The other doppelganger turns and runs, though Raven biffs his AOO and Lualyrr doesn’t deal enough damage to drop her.

DM: Shrieking curses at the group of you, the doppelganger that was Zellina turns and runs away at top speed!
Eben: (miming a blast) I’m kidding, I’ll miss anyway.
Maldrake: I’m going to throw my spear.
DM: Vivianne is next.
Vivianne: I’MA SHOOT!

The group hurls ranged weapon fire at the fleeing foe, but roll pretty poorly on either attacks or damage – except for Eben, who rolls some damn awesome damage. But the doppelganger has a lot of hit points, and on its last legs, flees into the darkness. Lualyrr attempts to hunt her down with Dancing Lights, but this doesn’t work too well. Krixix angrily searches for his short bow!

Maldrake: The short guy actually stole your bow, they saw it, and used it as an excuse for you to go over there. He still has your bow.
Krixix: Good, I’m gonna go back and whup his ass.
Maldrake: And when he goes and finds he doesn’t have the bow, I’m gonna put him to justice, finally. Maldrake stole the bow the whole time…
Eben: It’ll be hidden in his wagon, he’ll demand proof that it was stolen by him…
Maldrake I’m gonna search the doppelganger.
Eben: You find ‘body of doppelganger’.

A debat erupts over the number of sides a Destiny engram has, as Krixix heads back to camp. Everyone in the camp is awake, thanks to Thunderwave, and if they weren’t Krixix’s screaming about his missing bow would have done it.

DM: As you scream out, almost incoherent with rage, you step back into the lights of the campfires to find several swords and bows leveled at you. When they realize it’s just an angry halfling and not a shrieking demon like they had thought, they quickly set them down and they hurry to ask what was that noise, what had happened out there?
Maldrake: Can’t there be a French inspector here? “Inspector L’Enfant, here to find your stolen bow.”
Krixix: “It was those two big-titted bimbo! FUCKING DOPPELGANGERS!”
DM: A gasp goes up and several people hurry off in the direction you came from to verify the truth of your words with their own eyes.
Thalynmar: Only to run into me, carrying the body!
Maldrake: The most horrible thing happens to them, the doppelganger body turns back into a mutilated human female!
Thalynmar: ‘Huh’.
DM: Yeah, you see “Thalynmar” carrying the “doppelganger” body.
Krixix: “Now! SOMEBODY. STOLE. MY—“
Thalynmar: Fizzy Lifting Drinks!

Maldrake reveals that ‘arrow to the knee’ means getting proposed, while the caravan begins to mutter at Krixix’s accustions. A dwarf calls out that Krixix must have misplaced it, provoking the latter to frothing anger.

Eben: Jeez, if you only had five gold, you’d have a down payment on a new one.

The entire group collapses into laughter, while Maldrake explains how many wooden weapons he could buy with just five gold. Krixix relates his tale, while the dwarf continues to heckle Krixix’s tale.

Krixix: I’m rolling a 24 to hit that guy with a dagger.
Thalynmar: Ooh, no. Why are you doing that?
Maldrake: Can I stop that?
DM: Roll a Dexterity check!
Krixix: I’m actually shooting for his foot or something...
DM: Changing that tone…

Maldrake blocks the shot, but the crowd is still aghast. Thalynmar attempts to give the halfling a Vulcan nerve pinch while he continues to rave and froth.

DM: The really tall guy that you remember walking around steps up. (slow, deep voice) “Calm down. Rage won’t solve anything.”
Maldrake: That’s when the other merchant comes out.
Thalynmar: “ME MONEY!”
Maldrake: “I hear you lost a shortbow. Want to buy a new one? 51 gold…:

The tall guy, Sulesdag, continues to try to calm the crowd down, although his slow voice just appears to be working the players into giggling.

Eben: Lualyrr.
Lualyrr: (to the DM) What?
DM: Don’t look at me!
Krixix: “Sulesdag, I understand what you’re doing and I appreciate that—“
DM: Ooh, you remembered his name! Very good.
Krixix: “But I did not replace my prize weapon.”

Sulesdag tries to slow down Krixix, warning him that an accusation without proof would be a bad idea. Lualyrr goes to check her own tent! Sulesdag picks up a flaming brand to help Krixix search.

Thalynmar: Away! Away!
DM: Casts aside the front, and lifts it up to bring light on it.
Krixix: Oh, I thought he lifted the tent.
DM: He sets your tent ablaze. “Now there will be no evidence,” he says, chuckling, and pulls aside the vest to pat the shortbow within before tucking it back to his body. “Think carefully…”
Krixix: (after a pause) He did not.
DM: No! He didn’t set your tent on fire and gloat about stealing your bow. Although it would have been great.

Lualyrr investigates and finds bootprints, obviously not Krixix’s, whie Vivianne rolls well enough to follow the tracks to a specific cluster of wagons, as well as finding telltale marks on the bootprints. Maldrake begins etching all his equipment with his name for some reason. Vivianne attempts to persuade the entire merchant caravan to show her their boots.

DM: Who are you asking?! You go up to some random guy and go, “SHOW ME YOUR BOOTS!”
Maldrake: Give out free foot massages!

The three suspicious tents belong to the angry bird guy, a wagon of travelers, and a silk merchant. Lualuyrr tries to work the silk merchants, while Krixix heads up to the traveler wagon to find a guy watching him.

DM: “Found something?”
Krixix: “Actually, I lost something.”
DM: “Yes, but you seem like you’ve got an eye for this area. Is one of our fellow travelers a crook?”
Krixix: “It’s possible, but that has yet to be proven.”
DM: “Well, I should tell you, I am a lawyer.”
Krixix: “Ah ha, they’re going to need one!”
DM: “I was more going to offer my services to you. You look like someone who will pay good price to see justice done, especially if that justice is as harsh as the law will allow.”
Krixix: “Ah, see, on the other hand, I was hoping you were more of a defense attorney, because I might kill them.”
DM: “Oh no, no, that’s not a good way to make someone squirm. Death is too quick!”
Krixix: “Who said it was gonna be quick?”
DM: “They won’t let you get away with much on the caravan, you know. Would you really rather your vengeance at the loss of your freedom, or would you rather be free while your enemy twists in the wind? Perhaps literally. I can make that happen for you!”
Krixix: “…do you have a business card?”
Maldrake: He’s like, ‘and it will only cost you…. FIVE GOLD!’
DM: “I don’t think you’ll find me hard to find, I’ll be right here, and by the way – check the silk guy’s!”
Krixix: “Mmmm. Out of curiosity, how did you come by this information?”
DM: (tapping the side of his nose)
Krixix: “Ah, you do cocaine, I see. Now answer my question!
DM: “I haven’t said anything of any value to you whatsoever, I merely offered a piece of advice. There’s nothing wrong with offering advice, I could just be talking out of my ass. It’s certainly nothing you could bring to trial.”
Krixix: He’s a lawyer, right? Does that mean he speaks thief talk?
DM: That’s a good question…
Maldrake: Perhaps if you, I don’t know, grease his hands a bit.
Thalynmar: With actual grease.
DM: Maybe five gold.
Eben: Hunnerd gold.
Maldrake: Maybe apply some gold, his mouth might be looser.
Vivianne: Ooooh.
Maldrake: Okay, seriously? Calm down there, ladies.
DM: Once again, this plot was specifically targeted at Thalynmar, till he decided to be the good guy!
Maldrake: Thalynmar can only be targeted by religious plots. If he wakes up and finds a religious icon in his chest…
Krixix: Meanwhile, I try to murder hecklers.
DM: Are the rest of you guys following this around, by the way?
Thalynmar: Nope.
Eben: Nope.
Lualyrr: I am.
DM: Just decided to give Krixix enough rope to hang himself with?

The rest of the caravan seems unconvinced that Krixix lost his bow, while Maldrake continues to pursue his ‘the gargoyle eats shortbows’ angle. Sulesdag rolls terribly on Insight despite Krixix’s obvious plan to loot through the silk merchant’s wares while his back is turned, and goes off to get said silk merchant.

Krixix: A 25 on my Sneak to get over to the cart without anyone seeing me.
DM: You’re not able to do that, because Maldrake’s looking right at you.
Krixix: Then the same number will be a 25 to my Sleight of Hand to search the cart. “Maldrake, hi! Look over there!”
Maldrake: Let me see if I’m distracted.
DM: You have advantage.
Krixix: Oh come on!
Maldrake: (rolling)
Krixix: OH COME ON, DUDE! He rolls a frickin’ 1 – and a 20!

The group continues to jibe at Krixix for his efforts here, deceiving others and accomplishing nothing. Krixix vows to steal another shortbow, causing the DM to burst into ‘Circle of Life’. Krixix works hard on tricking the paladin, though that wanders into the discussion of what, as an Oath of Retribution paladin, Maldrake should be doing.

DM: Fight the greater evil. Which is the greater evil – his peering through a silk merchant’s cart, or potential theft?
Thalynmar: They’re both kinda bad.
Maldrake: They’re both very bad.
DM: By any means necessary! Your qualms can’t get in the way of your goals!
Maldrake: I muddle over my vows, and I turn around and look at the cart.
Thalynmar: ‘Maybe I should change my vows.’
Maldrake: “Perhaps I didn’t see what you’re about to do.”
Krixix: “Like I said, what’s that over there?”
Maldrake: I’m looking at the cart. I’ve already turned around. Stop throwing rocks at people.
Thalynmar: Stop throwing daggers at people.
DM: That too.

Krixix pops open the silk merchant’s cart and plunges his hand in, only to withdraw it covered in worms! Disgusted, he immediately gives up his rummaging. Maldrake hurriedly quits ripping people’s hearts out of their chest.The group imagines a scenario where the entire caravan has stolen his bow and is passing it around to keep it hidden. The DM attempts to cast suspicion on the Stonecutters .

Eben: You better kill some serious shit with that bow when we get it back.

Maldrake proposes they fall quiet and let the thief grow complacent – they still have the boot tracks to follow, and may be able to identify the person later.

Maldrake: “I’ll do what I can, but I’m not particularly versed in tracking. Perhaps our dwarven friend—“
Thalynmar: Nope.
Krixix: “In the meantime, I’ll—“
Thalynmar: Oh crap, I DO have Survival!
Maldrake: I looked at your sheet earlier, Thalynmar.

The DM calls for Constitution checks for all, and starts assigning Oregon Trail injuries to all those who fail. Maldrake rants angrily about a broken leg leading to death in that game as the caravan settles down for the night. They travel on, finding Krixix’s reputation for being Krixix keeps at least some people from thinking he’s clever enough to fake the theft. The next day is oddly warm, and the caravan spots a herd of deer for the hunting!

Maldrake: Ha ha! Put my javelin-throwing to the test.
Thalynmar: Me venison!
Eben: If only we had a shortbow. Put out the word…

Everyone heads out to hunt the deer, even some of the people who they wouldn’t have expected to go out!

Eben: Such as?
DM: That halfling who wanted his shortbow.
Maldrake: Does he have a shortbow?
DM: He has a crossbow. (beat) It is not your rebuilt shortbow.
Eben: I was just thinking it too! He just turned it this way.
DM: You all can see the reason for the frenzy as you approach. The herd has a magnificent stag amongst its numbers. It shimmers in the light as if its fur was spun from gold and its antlers are plated with platinum. Its pelt would be worth a fortune.
Maldrake: We’re going in for the hunt!
DM: A couple of people, however, are claiming it’s a blessed creature. Killing it would bring misfortune on the caravan. But they’re mostly being ignored.
Eben: Remember that campaign! We weren’t supposed to kill the Great Elk….

Maldrake ponders his Religion skill and comes up with the idea that it may be a blessed elk or an avatar of the ancient forces of nature. But someone shoots, and the stag runs! Maldrake tries to avoid the stag, The stag, however, gives the group an expectant look, leading the group towards it… well, most of them.

Thalynmar: I’m hunting deer.
Eben: Then I too will be hunting deer.

A very long silence.

Thalynmar: Fine. But it HAPPENS to take me towards the direction…

The elk leads them into the forest, but Thalynmar manages to follow with a good Survival roll and a call to his dwarven nature. They arrives at a moss-grown ivy-draped ruin, finding the stag standing in front of it.

Maldrake: He knows where the castle in the sky is!
DM: Where’s that damage by level and severity check…

They stare down the stag for a bit, but finally holster their weapons. As they approach, it calls out in Sylvanm which no speaks.

Maldrake: I know common, Dremonic, and – Draconic—
DM: It calls again, does anyone speak Elvish?
Lualyrr: I do!
DM: It’s calling out a greeting to you all.
Lualyrr: I’ll return it.
Krixix: Konichiwa! ‘I bring you peace!’ ‘He brings us peace, kill it!’
DM: “Heroes.”
Eben: Of Might and Magic.
DM: Yes. Now to the tactics overlay.

The Skype telepresence call abruptly disconnects.

DM: Wow, I did not realize the tactics overlay was controlled by Skype…

They faff about for a minute waiting for the call to come back, before the elk finally continues.

DM: “Your purpose is known to me. You are on the right track. “
Krixix: “And who exactly are you?”
DM: “There are many powers who look upon your task favorably. I am one of them. I can do little, but I can tell you – continue to follow the river of gold until you reach the castle in the sky.”
Thalynmar: (melodramatic gasp)
Maldrake: Flashbacks to the dream!
Thalynmar: “What do ye know of the castle – “ Wait, I can’t understand him.
DM: You’re being translated for.
Thalynmar: Oh. “What do ye know of the castle in the sky?”
DM: “The path to it will be filled with hardship and blood. But I can give you one piece of aid.”
Maldrake: My shield is ready. I’m looking out for any stray javelins or arrows that’ll come spewing out when he’s about to give us the ultimate clue. “And this is what I need to say—“ (miming an arrow)
DM: I’m sorry, this is that horse from Ultima, it will only tell you one game behind what the secret was.

The stag gives them a longbow, then begins to fade away.

Krixix: “Wait! Before you go! … do you know who stole my shortbow?”
Thalynmar: God damn it.
Maldrake: Can I just give him a little tap outside the head?
DM: “Death is not the end…” For the record, the canon statement was, “Not all will survive”, but I couldn’t really work with that now could I? That’s not an ominous foretelling, that’s just a fricking statement of fact by now.

When they gain the ability to identify the bow, they learn it is named ‘The Ancient Oath’, an elven bow that is somehow an important part of their tale, and gifted with minor illusion magic to change its appearance.

Krixix: Make it change into a shortbow so I can use it!
DM: Such alterations don’t change how the item is worn, carried, or wielded.
Thalynmar: He was ready with it…

The grip has a thorn on it, and the bow only has power if fresh blood is applied to this thorn every 24 hours. With the loot identified and the hour late, the game ends here… with Krixix having never found his shortbow…