07 December 2016 @ 03:55 am


The RISE OF TIAMAT! We begin with Maldrake applying his experience to his Star Wars character. Last time, the PCs went hunting the Draachhorn. Maldrake remains irritated that the Council of Waterdeep wouldn’t trust a paladin.

DM: Let’s consider your party here. You’ve got a paladin of vengeance. An undead warlock who serve the Great Old One. A half-drow. Krixxix. And then Thalynmar and Raven.
Lualyrr: I’m not half, I’m full.
Thalynmar: Yeah, we’re kind of the most normal ones.
DM: It’s a 2-to-1 sketchy-vs.-not ratio here.
Krixxix: Krixxix is normal. In his own mind.
Eben: Evil Barack… You know who else used to be a paladin? Mer’dovich!
DM: I can’t name NPCs…
Eben: Now he’s a vampaladin. A vampong—
Thalynmar: Vampongadin.
Eben: A monkadin. A vamponkadin. Hee hee! Hoo hoo!

The group reluctantly allows itself to be drawn back to the adventure, and they seek out Dala Silmerhelve in the outer chambers of the council.

Thalynmar: There she is! Break her legs!
Maldrake: Make sure she doesn’t get away!
DM: …Okay, she draws her holy avenger and her chaotic flaming greatsword plus seven and –
Maldrake: Woohoo! Game over! All right!

The group quits to play Power Grid and Pokemon. Maldrake sets his character binder on fire.

DM: Maldrake, you can’t abandon every game you have just because you get tired of it two sessions in, that’s what we have Lualyrr for.
All: (shocked noises)
Lualyrr: I’m going upstairs, I’m gonna play Final Fantasy, fuck you assholes.
Maldrake: I still have that ranger, Lualyrr…
DM: I still have my warforged artificer…

Thalynmar bemoans his inability to get dwarven plate. The group disparages its appearance in relation to its price for a while. The DM attempts to draw them back to Dala Silmerhelve.

Thalynmar: Hey man, she’s got all this fucking equipment, why is she asking us to do this?
DM: Because she only has that when threatened by PCs, it’s right here in her character description. If she’s fighting anything that’s not a PC, she’s got… a stick.
Thalynmar: At least he’s not as bad as Lord British, who was just invincible.
DM: Till his invincibility was off one day and someone killed him.

The players continue to ramble. Maldrake identifies himself as ‘Dragon Dude’.

DM: Maldrake was brooding in his mansion. He wondered what visage he could take to strike terrors into the hearts of criminals. Then a dragon smashed through his window. “That’s it!”
Thalynmar: “…my fucking house!”
Maldrake: That’s why I don’t have a mansion any more.

The group discovers a mace with multiple faces on it in the DMG.

Krixxix: Dude, that’s like in the Transformers movie. You have different faces—
Thalynmar: INNOCENT.
Maldrake: The Quintesson hammer! We don’t control what it does, you go to swing at somebody, it goes, ‘innocent’, you do no damage.
DM: No, innocent was bad.
Thalynmar: And it spits out Sharkitcons.

Thalynmar disparages Kup, then discovers Brawn did indeed get killed in the film and he’d been repressing the memory all this time. Maldrake foolishly begins speaking of the Bay films. This leads to several minutes of complaining, which the DM doesn’t even try to stop at this point, recognizing they need to get it out of their system.

Eben: Batman vs. Superman tried really high to please everybody.
DM: Especially the lucrative ‘Martha’ demographic.
Maldrake: Michael Bay is a vampire that lives off of crushed dreams.

The actual intelligence of Michael Bay is discussed, although the DM thinks comparing him to Uwe Boll is excessively mean. Somehow this goes to Pacific Rim and the idea of an anti-kaiju wall. At last the PCs wander back on track.

Thalynmar: “All right, where do we start?”
DM: “The Sea of Moving Ice. That was the last—“
Thalynmar: Pew! (mimes taking off)
Maldrake: ‘He does that, keep talking.’
DM: “That was the last known location of the Draachhorn. No one can pinpoint the exact location of it now, or even verify with certainty that it’s still there, but that is where we have to start. There’s one person who would tell us more: a tiefling sorcerer named Maccath the Crimson. No one alive knows more about the Draachhorn than her. The Arcane Brotherhood, of which she’s also a member, hasn’t seen her for three years. She was investigating the Sea of Moving Ice when she disappeared.”
Thalynmar: “Welp. It seems our destinations are one and the same.”
DM: “Exactly.”

Dala lets them know they’ll be outfitted with cold-weather gear and a ship to get them up there. She tells them of the island they’re hunting: Oyaviggaton, the home of the Ice Hunters – and most likely, the lair of Aurathantor, Old White Death, an ally of the Cult and a fierce foe.

Thalynmar: Oh, he may have money!
Eben: Money?! What are we gonna do with that?!
Thalynmar: By dwarven plate, for 50,000!

Krixxix very belatedly pipes up to wonder what they’re getting out of it, leading to a reluctant discussion of heroism. Dala bids them come to the docks on the morrow.

Krixxix: “Make sure you have my money… OW! My shoulder!”
Thalynmar: (who had been doing nothing) Huh.
DM: That was very delayed.
Thalynmar: He thought about the ghost pain before I got to him.
DM: Maybe you can condition him so whenever he does something stupid, he automatically feels your pain in his shoulder.
Thalynmar: He develops a shoulder twitch…

Off to the tavern they go! Well, eventually. Thalynmar wants plate mail.

Maldrake: I love the idea of him rolling a natural 1. As the knife pierces your back, the villain behind you goes, “If you’d been wearing dwarven plate, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

Thalynmar foolishly sells his splint main to Gamestop and gets pennies on the dollar. Krixxix, checking his inventory, discovers he still owns a silver goblet with the von Kisrian emblem on it.

Krixxix: Is he anybody that we need to know? “Hey who’s this guy?!” I’m gonna ask the librarian…
DM: What librarian?! Where the fuck did you find a library?!
Krixxix: At the… uh…

The DM proposes they play a 2nd Edition game someday; Maldrake is vehement in his refusal. Krixxix tries to steal plate mail, which leads to a long discussion of Skyrim thievery. Then he tries to haggle.

Krixxix: What would that be, to haggle?
Thalynmar: It’s called ‘AAAAGH MY GODDAMN SHOULDER!’
Krixxix: That would be Persuasion, wouldn’t it?
DM: Sure, you have a severe penalty due to pain.
Krixxix: Ooh, that’s a 19. I rolled a 25 on my Persuasion to try to get a 10% discount.
DM: You haggle with a concerned-looking figure who’s just as venomous and vitriolic as you. 30 minutes later you realize you’ve been arguing with a mirror.
Krixxix: As I walk out front I say, “That guy was good. That guy was REALLY good.”
DM: You’re pretty sure he threatened you a couple times!
Krixxix: ‘He’s lucky there’s guards around! I was about to pull out my bow and let him have it!’
Maldrake: That’s when he notices. ‘That son of a bitch has my shortbow!’

One good laugh later, carousing ensues. Most of the PCs make excellent money, but Maldrake isn’t interested1

Maldrake: I’m not trying my luck!
DM: Come on!
Maldrake: Nope! No!
DM: Guys, peer pressure, quick!
Maldrake: I will go to jail! You all rolled too well.
DM: You have to roll like 01 to go to jail.
Maldrake: (rolls)

The group collapses in laughter, though a belated check reveals he in fact rolled ‘10’ and not ’10.’ Raven becomes convinced he’s in jail for no clear reason. In fact, he and Maldrake wake up robbed in an alley. Krixxix tries to be the one who robbed them; the DM can’t rule that out.

Maldrake: That’s the first time I did it. I’m never doing it again.

Raven proposes burning his dice, not without cause. The next day arrives, and the people head down to the docks – spotting there a shallow-drafted longship, where Dala Silmerhelve awaits in the company of a man in furs and with a leather hood over his face.

Krixxix: ‘Dad?! No, no, definitely not.’
Thalynmar: (obstinately singing about how dry he is over all the roleplay)
DM: “Allow me to introduce you to your captain. Larusta, of the ship Frostskimr.

Eben explains his vision of an icebreaker, in which a drinking bird who is also Drinky Crow is mounted on the front of a ship and gets them through the ice. No one knows how to take this. The DM does Larusta’s voice by covering his mouth with a hand and half-growling, half-slurring, so imagine everything he says as being VERY difficult to interpret.

DM: “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Krixxix: ‘Why are you speaking with your hand – does your breath smell? Why is your face covered?’
Thalynmar: His face is covered.
DM: ‘This is to symbolize that I have a leather hood drawn over my face. Which the DM in fact does not have.’
Krixxix: ‘Do you have scurvy? I hear pirates have scurvy.’
DM: ‘I’m not a pirate.’
Krixxix: ‘Ow! My shoulder!’
Thalynmar: Eventually, your shoulders are gonna be, one is larger and one is smaller…

The ship has no deck, though crude sailcloth shelters shield them from the wind. They board in amongst 40 crewmembers, packing close.

Thalynmar: So what do we get for provisions? Garlic sausage and baked beans. Aww crap.
DM: Krixxix, you’re the one who discovers the dead gnome…
Eben: Wererats!

Fond-ish memories are relived on the trip up the Sword Coast. As they travel, a dragon wings its way past far overhead, quite the unusual occurrence according to the captain. The captain blithely informs them that the ship’s defenses against dragon attacks are the PCs, to their lack of surprise. The weather grows colder. Thalynmar shows off by parading around in his underwear. On the night of the third day, the captain calls for a halt.

DM: “From here on we prepare to travel by oar power. The Sea of Moving Ice awaits, my comrades.”
Krixxix: He’s Russian! He’s a Communist!
Maldrake: “Do you – do you need our help?”
DM: “I’m letting you know. The dangers up here are great. Though we seek out Oyaviggoton, it may be some time before we find it—“
Maldrake: (huge sigh) “I’m only a LITTLE accustomed to danger. Having faced, a cloud giant, a dragon, a vampire—“
Eben: Humblebrag!
Maldrake: “Some Red Mages, you know, nothing serious there, a half-drake—“ The vampire was there, I didn’t face it, that was a bit of a fib.
Eben: Trying to become Cruroar Part 2? Hashtag humblebrag.
DM: ‘I dub thee Count, by my authority. We captains can do that, you know.’
Maldrake: He’s like, ‘I don’t think you faced a vampire.’ Of all the things!
DM: I’m sorry, Maldrake. It says right here his Insight is +17.
Maldrake: Oh yeah, look at that! This is just two markers I put down.
Krixxix: ‘This is where I got it by the werewolf!’
Thalynmar: ‘Look how fucked up my shoulder is!’
Krixxix: ‘This is where I got in the fight with the frost gno—no…’

The DM once again explains that the Captain is not actually holding a hand over his mouth to muffle his voice and is wearing a mask, then lapses into shrieking insanity. Redacted jokes occur – VERY redacted. Krixxix attempts to offer the captain his own private rum, but it turns out he’s been pilfering potent urine all this time. The captain gives them a choice between staying in the water overnight or pulling up onto a floe, and the group chooses the former. The DM tries to hint that he needs to clean the initiative tracker; the players don’t care for the longest damn time. Fun facts about salmon and a brand new dance are shared among all.

DM: I forgot to erase one of these cards, so you’re fighting Malefax now.
Thalynmar: Hmm.
Maldrake: Huh. Okay. I’m not even sure how bad that is.
DM: Upgrade all of your dice to fight him.
Maldrake: Aww fuck.
DM: Your d20 becomes a d12. That’s what you have to roll on to hit.
Thalynmar: (laughing, than croaking like a Wirluckian)
DM: As night descends over the ocean, you all huddle down in the hull of the ship. Cold winds blow over the outside, and there’s little warmth in the air. Thalynmar menaces Krixxix, daring him to say something, apparently.
Eben: Beneath the folds of my hood, I smile.

Maldrake’s sword of Warning wakes them all u, and the DM calls for initiative! The DM inquires, with very little success, where they are all in the boat.

Thalynmar: I’m curled around the rhythm drum. Helps me sleep. ‘Durazh ardhul, durazh ardhul…’
Eben: Doondoon doondoon doondoon doon doon—
Thalynmar: THAT’S TOO FAST!

The DM rolls randomly for who’s effective, as the players find this whole question ridiculous. Raven is suddenly grappled by tentacles!

DM: You can barely see what’s wrapped around you in the darkness! It could be the fearsome tongue of predators. It could be a horrible tentacle monster, thinking you’re a Japanese schoolgirl!
Thalynmar: I got darkvision, what do I see?
DM: An octopus!

Krixxix inexplicably uses his turn to blow his whistle, which startles most of the crew out of being able to light torches. Good work.

Thalynmar: I just imagine it doesn’t even have a ball in it. You just yell ‘RAPE’ into it. ‘RAAAAPE! RAAAAPE!’
Krixxix: Best rape whistle ever! It tells you what the problem is.

Lualyrr lights up the octopus with Faerie Fire. The DM asks for a non-broken PHB; Thalynmar cheerfully refuses to give him either of the two he possesses. The whip-hold in Castlevania IV is roundly giggled at for no real reason. More tentacles erupt over the opposite side of the boat, going for Lualyrr!

Lualyrr: Oh no.
Thalynmar: Sempaaaaai!
Eben: Sugoi!
Krixxix: I blame the Captain. He said we’d be safe on the water.
DM: He said you’d be safe from creatures that hunt on the ice!
Thalynmar: We were gonna get attacked either way.
Maldrake: I don’t know what was the bigger giveaway – the Captain saying stuff, or him complaining constantly that he couldn’t clean the initiative tracker.

Comparisons to Ultros are made. Eben blasts away at an octopus. Now they have to look up the weird 5E rules on grappling, woohoo, as well as the collective name for octopuses. One doesn’t exist.

Maldrake: We’re giving it ‘murder’. ‘It’s a murder of octopi!’
Raven: That’ll be five physical damage and seven fire damage, and I’m also gonna try to use my shield to push it away as a bonus action.
DM: Okay. I warn you, if you smack it away you’re going with it.
Raven: Oh. Then I’m not gonna do that.

Raven gets dragged into the water, though it remains illuminated with faerie fire. Raven desperately tries to point out his sword floats on water, while Krixxix looks for faces to shoot.

Eben: It’s a flotation device.
Maldrake: That’s right, it IS a flotation device!
Krixxix: Nice. So that means the tentacle can’t get him under.
DM: It’s NOT THAT POWERFUL a flotation device.
Maldrake: It pushes the world down. All the water just separates out.

Krixxixs shoots an octopus for the sum of 19. Lualyrr’s turn!

DM: What will you do?
Thalynmar: (singing) What will you dooooooooo?
Maldrake: (singing poorly) Poop in your steeeeeeeeew!

A sudden debate over the deck status of the longboat erupts. Lualyrr lobs a Shatter behind the octopus, and for the millionth time forgets what it does and refuses to write it down. Maldrake puts his flail away, draws his bow, and plugs the octopus cleanly; the octopus dies! Thalynmar charges across the boat.

DM: Raven bobs to the surface… barely. What armor are you wearing?
Maldrake: He’s got a flotation device!
Eben: He’s got the floaty sword.
Raven: I’ve got the longsword, and I probably don’t have my armor on since I was woken up.

Silence. Then Maldrake bursts into laughter.

Maldrake: I love the pause.
DM: I was like, damn, he has a good point there.

The other octopus flees! They fish Raven out of the water just as the captain prepares to join the fight. He is mocked for this.

DM: “The blood in the water might attract sharks. But they won’t crawl up on deck to assault us.”
Eben: You mean the shrieking eels?
DM: “We’re probably safe for the night. All right, everyone! Bed back down!”
Thalynmar: Bed, Bath, and Beyond?!
Maldrake: They’re like, ‘yes captain!’ and just fall over.

The night passes, and the next morning the captain calls their attention to boats! The Ice Hunters chase seals, and they might have valuable information. They’ll have to board the floe the Hunters are on.

Eben: ‘Number One. Worf. Data. You’re with me.’
Thalynmar: And Ensign Jimmy.
Eben: Yeah, let’s not forget him.
DM: Yeah, we’re gonna have to approach the mysterious ship that’s setting off Maldrake’s evil senses like no one’s business…. Tasha Yar, you’re in the lead.
Eben: Oh, it’s not… actually setting off his evil senses…
DM: …Tasha Yar joke…
Krixxix: Heh heh, she died.

The players team up to kick Bison’s ass so hort future dictators feel it. The players and the captain disembark onto the iceberg. The Hunters begin to back away, to the captain’s surprise.

Eben: “Do you know these men?”
DM: “Not personally. The Hunters… they’re a shy people, but not an unwelcoming one.”
Eben: “Perhaps we shouldn’t have come.” Module.
DM: “I leave it up to you to decide if we should approach them further or not.”
Maldrake: “If we don’t find out now… something’s going on, it’ll bite us in the butt later. Might as well face it head-on now and see what’s going on.”
Thalynmar: “Aye, the shiny copper bastard’s right.”

The Ice Hunters draw their weapons and back towards their ship. The captain again emphasizes how strange this is. The issue of communication arises.

Eben: How far away are they?
DM: 60 feet?
Eben: I’m not gonna --! Eldritch blast them!
Thalynmar: He wants to speak in their heads. ‘Haaaaalt!’
Eben: ‘Come forth and kneel before THE MAD GOD!’

The players envision Eben driving someone mad and exploding their head. The Hunters board their ships quickly to flee.
Eben: They’re afraid of something. Note it for later.
Maldrake: Something must be going on.
Eben: Something like OCTOPI!
DM: “Or dragons.”
Eben: Do we look like dragons? (a split-second pause before he jabs a finger at Maldrake, the dragonborn) YOU!

Paralytic laughter. Maldrake envisions playing a dragonborn who doesn’t know he’s a dragonborn. The captain explains that the Hunters may be in trouble if Aurathator’s behavior has changed… then openly acknowledges how hard said voice is on the poor transcriber.

DM: There’s a very good reason it’s this hard to understand.
Eben: I get it, I do, but I’m struggling to understand him. It’s like having to reshoot Bane’s audio because what the hell were they thinking?
DM: Why don’t you fix his jaw, and then he’ll SPEAK LIKE THIS, AND THOU WILLST BE GRATEFUL THAT THOU CANST UNDERSTAND HIM!
Maldrake: I love that, I remember that guy.
Eben: If his jaw isn’t working right, if it’s something that simple, I WILL eldritch blast the guy, because I can’t do it to you. The whole -- (muffled skeleton voice) -- that was funny.
Thalynmar: THIS is annoying.
DM: I didn’t give you his full name.
Eben: Mush-mouth?
DM: Half-face.
Thalynmar: Is it really.
DM: Yes, really.
Eben: He’s a leper.
Maldrake: I can’t believe that’s still a thing.
Krixxix: You heard about the gigolo with leprosy, right? He was doing great till his business fell off.

The DM tells them to get a regeneration spell for him and he’ll talk normal. The players miss the sarcasm.

Eben: Get to it, cleric. Or uh, paladin. Heal this man, so we don’t have to hear his voice any more.
Maldrake: C-can I fix his jaw—
DM: NO!

The DM assaults them with puns. Krixxix is murdered, as is the DM. The Hunters gather into their boats and set off. Thalynmar fires the cannons on them. Then, lacking cannons, he hurls crewmembers at them.

Eben: Could we just assume that one of us can understand him well, and just have you translate for that person?
DM: But I’m putting so much love and effort into this voice!
Maldrake: We really do appreciate—
DM: (cynical laughter)
Maldrake: How much you are.
Thalynmar: Yeah, so much love and effort into it. “God am I gonna be sorry I did this voice tomorrow.”
DM: Yeah, I usually am. The captain tells you that you can follow them, use their course as a bearing for their own.
Thalynmar: Okay, he WAS saying that…
Eben: Is he leaving us here?
DM: (pausing) …you can come back on the boat, and then they’ll do that.
Eben: Oh. Well, it’s his boat, I wasn’t going to presume…

They put this plan into motion, and after following the hunters, approach their destination: the massive iceberg Oyaviggaton. Boats are pulled up onto an ice shelf; the captain tells them they can lift the Frostskimmr onto that same shelf as well.

DM: In his nearly incomprehensible voice, but you understand him well enough now that you’ve yelled at the skies and the gods for mercy.
Thalynmar: Aw for fuck’s sake.
Eben: Well, if it’s going to hurt you tomorrow, by all means…
Thalynmar: I’M going to go up and play some Final Fantasy XIV if you don’t stop.
Lualyrr: Do you have it?
Thalynmar: I have it, I just don’t have a subscription! That’s $15, I’m in.
DM: The captain advises you that he’d prefer to leave his crew aboard the ship to guard it. After all, if something happens, you’re all fucked.
Eben: There could be scrags, or—
Eben and DM: Polar bears.
DM: Merrows.
Eben: What’s a merrow?
DM: I dunno, what’s a merrow with you?!
Maldrake: (getting up) All right. I’m paying for everyone’s Final Fantasy XIV subscriptions, let’s go.

The captain raises the issue of conversation, but Lualyrr has the Tongues spell. Krixxix also insists he can communicate with them in Thieves’ Cant, but no one pays any attention to him. The DM finally silences him by threatening him with a terrible joke. The way up to the top of the iceberg is by stairs cut into a narrow chasm, and so the players promptly volunteer Raven to go up first. Krixxix shoves forward to sneak his way up.

DM: As you emerge onto the plateau you see TEN FIGURES IN FRONT OF YOU… frozen in a wall of ice. Three warriors, a dwarf, and six Ice Hunters. Who knows how long they’ve been here? But it’s clear they’ve been put up as a warning. Intruders must fear this same fate.
Krixxix: Thalynmar, I found your father!
Eben: …was he looking for him?
Krixxix: Thalynmar, there’s a dwarf up here, do you know him?
Thalynmar: I don’t know every single dwarf!
Krixxix: What, it doesn’t work that way? Like when somebody says, ‘Oh, you’re from Texas, do you know this guy?’
Thalynmar: ‘Krixxix, you’re a racist. Wait till I get my hand on your shoulder.’

A barking rises up, which the players contribute in the worst ways possible. As the rest of the party joins Krixxix, they spot the entire village turning out of the village. And don’t much care.

Maldrake: I sing my dragonborn song. Ahem – “I’m an evil dragon that will kill everyone, kill everyone!”
Krixxix: Don’t you have fire breath, we could melt them out?
Maldrake: No!
Thalynmar: Acid breath.
Krixxix: Can we melt that out?
Maldrake: It doesn’t quite – I don’t really know how acid reacts with water, or ice anyway.

The Ice Hunters approach and throng around them, including among their number three obviously important NPCs. Some go down the stairs. Krixxix starts to be an idiot, feels a horrible shoulder pain, and reconsiders. To no one’s surprise, they do not speak Common. Krixxix attempts the Universal Greeting, but lacking Energon goodies, is thrown off the cliff. Lualyrr translates!

DM: He’s ordering you off this iceberg. “Begone! There is no succor and no safety for you here! And you’ll find neither. Leave this iceberg now! Monsters await you. Fearsome scum.”
Maldrake: “Tell him we come here to slay the monster.”
Lualyrr: “We’ve come here to kill the monster, because we seek someone—“
Krixxix: ‘That’s our GOD!’
DM: “There’s been no one save these fools. This is what awaits all intruders,” he says, pointing at the ice wall. “We give you this chance to escape.”
Krixxix: “So what concern is it of yours what happens to us, then?”
DM: Thank god he doesn’t understand you.
Lualyrr: “Are you trying to chase us off for your own good, or because we endanger you?”
DM: “We don’t like outsiders.”
Krixxix: “I don’t really care what you like…” She’s translating for us, right?
Thalynmar: No.
Lualyrr: No.
Krixxix: Oh.

The DM calls for Perception checks, though Krixxix is trying to seek out stuff to steal and ways to chisel the corpses out of the ice wall. He is immediately menaced by spears and ordered to drop his knife. He sheathes it.

DM: A spear jabs you in the shoulder.
Krixxix: OW that’s the one that’s been crackling!
DM: The chieftain repeats the command.
Thalynmar: “Drop it, please.”
Krixxix: I gotta take it out my sheathe and drop it again?!
Thalynmar: “Put it on the ground.”
DM: One of the warriors promptly scoops it up and puts it in his belt.
Maldrake: Across the same guy’s shoulder is a familiar looking shortbow.
DM: And in a pouch on the other side, a familiar-looking rod.
Krixxix: ‘Is that my mask?!’
DM: (miming removing a mask quickly) ‘No…’ Somehow there’s just nothing but items stolen from Krixxix’s characters.
Thalynmar: ‘Look! Marros’s dignity!’

The chieftain claims the dragon was killed by frost giants, but Lualyrr calls bullshit on this! Angered, the chieftain demands she back up her words in combat with their champion.

Maldrake: Tell him our champion versus their champion.
Krixxix: I would, but I’ve been stabbed in the shoulder!
DM: “You speak big words but are afraid to back them up. Very well. Our champion versus your champion.”
Maldrake: “Okay, champion!” (putting a hand on Thalynmar’s shoulder)
DM: “If you lose you will surrender your steel unto us and leave this island, never to return!”
Krixxix: Oh thank god my bow is not made of steel.
DM: “And that bow!”

Krixxix immediately plots to poison the champion, possibly by blowing glass in his face. They widen the circle, and a tall brute steps forward with a steel-tipped spear. Eben and Thalynmar ponder the warlock’s early intervention with his mental voice and anger, though Thalynmar wants to try the duel. Thalynmar produces his dragon-part glaive, but the hunters are infuriated at this!

DM: The woman lifts one hand and points at the weapon, shrieking words. (turning to tell Lualyrr the translation and discovering she’s gone) Lualyrr has fallen off the cliff, and you do not know what’s being said.
Maldrake: Can I try to interpret based on emotion? Is it clear ?
Thalynmar: Or you could just wait till she gets back…

They’re accusing Thalynmar of using a magic weapon! He puts it away and pulls out his greataxe. They accuse Thalynmar of using a magic weapon! The two fighters posture for a bit, dueling with Intimidation!

Eben: I’ll give you a bonus. You’re face to face with him, right?
Thalynmar: I guess facing off with each other.
Krixxix: Krixxix walks out there and just pushes Thalynmar to the side, stares him down.
Maldrake: No. Stop.
DM: Both of you get right up in each other’s faces, snarling down at each other. But just by the slightest hair, something in his eye makes you back down just the slightest bit. And he uses that moment to seize the initiative.
Eben: In his head: “You will lose.”
Krixxix: ‘I must break you.’
Thalynmar: ‘You… will… lose.’
DM: Roll an Intimidate, you have advantage.

Eben rolls amazingly and gives the champion disadvantage, but Thalynmar gets hit anyway and takes 11 points. He attempts a grapple, fails, and then attacks a third time to Thalynmar’s horror! The DM reminds him about his Heavy Armor Mastery DR, and Thalynmar wades into him with his attacks.

Raven: While they’re fighting I’m going to study him to see if his total class levels is equal, above, or lower than mine, and his armor class.
Maldrake: That’s kinda cool.
Krixxix: You can do that? That’s awesome!
DM: How long do you have to study him for?
Raven: One minute.
DM: Okay, we’ll get back to you in nine more rounds.

The champion shoves Thalynmar, but the dwarf’s dice are hot tonight. They exchange blows and it turns out that the champion can parry an attack with his reaction, so Thalynmar just crits him on his second blow.

DM: Your attack hits him so hard it bowls him back across the ring and into the crowd. The other warriors and the druid quickly support him and push him back in.
Thalynmar: DAAAAH! Action Surge!

Maldrake complains about Pit Fighter for some reason as Thalynmar does low damage and misses a hit on his surge. The champion manages to grapple Thalynmar but still can’t land the shove part of the combo. The DM and Maldrake get into an argument over how this works, but Thalynmar takes a spear jab to the stomach.

DM: “Outsider!” he growls. You don’t understand him because he’s speaking his own tongue.
Thalynmar: I start cursing him out in dwarvish.\
Maldrake: Oh man!
Thalynmar: You understand that, right?
Maldrake: Yes!

The two do a hockey-brawl as Eben again hankers to thunder his voice into the champion’s mind. Thalynmar’s dice continue to dominate in avoiding grapples and shoves!

DM: We know exactly where your luck went from Tyrgol, all those fights ago! You channeled it into the future!
Thalynmar: Ugh. It was high, 1. High, 1. I built this guy to grapple!

Thalynmar delivers on the damage as his armor turns away blows, and the DM swaps dice to some effect. The two duel some more, with Thalynmar expending Second Wind to bring some HP back.

Eben: I shoulda just fucking polymorphed him. Spoken in the chief’s head. “Obey the will of the dark god!”Poof!

Just as a parry and another absorbed blow start to really worry the PCs with how much damage this guy has soaked up so far, the DM… reaches for the critical fumble deck.

Krixxix: He rolled a natural 1. He dropped his weapon.
DM: …that’s a stupid one.
Thalynmar: He dies!
Lualyrr: He pees himself.
DM: He lunges in, howling, and his grip is slightly off. You lift your armor and slam your vambrace into the haft of the spear -- (rolling) -- and knock it free of his grip JESUS CHRIST! It flings clean out over the crowd and lands in the ice wall, quivering.
Maldrake: Causing an avalanche.
Krixxix: If one of those guys wasn’t dead, they surely are now.

Thalynmar, Lawful Good, refuses to take advantage of the conditions, and the champion tries to shield-bash him repeatedly. One last blow takes the champion down, as he drops to a pile on the ground.

Maldrake: “You got it man, you did good. You don’t even need healing!” I heal him. Every pat.
DM: His shield comes up, he throws it at you! DOUBLE KO.
Thalynmar: There must be a thundering silence.
DM: I was just about to say.
Maldrake: (slow-clapping) I give him a good dwarven cheer.
DM: You hand him a stein of ale.

Thalynmar attempts to drink the ale, but it’s frozen; it smashes him in the face and takes him down. Krixxix gleefully imagines his battle consisting of nothing but hiding in the audience. The chieftain bows his head.

DM: “You have earned the right to stay the night.”
Krixxix: The night. Tomorrow at first light—
Maldrake: You have to fight again!
Eben: You’ve earned the right to be breakfast for us.
Krixxix: Tomorrow at first light, GET THE FUCK OFF MY ISLAND.
DM: “We have told you there is nothing for you here. But we will honor our vow of hospitality.”
Thalynmar: “…this is hospitality?!”

They try to get the chief to listen, but he insists on giving them food and shelter. The group contemplates all the horrible possibilities of what food could be. The village proper is iceblock shelters and yurts; the PCs are taken to the storeroom, which is a terrible and miserable shelter. The shaman brings them… a plate of slightly spoiled fish.

Maldrake: It’s like that smell when the asshole from work decides to warm up fish in the microwave. You son of a bitch, we have to use this thing!

The shaman, named Bonecarver, invites them to eat; they look openly skeptical.

Maldrake: You don’t want to… that insults the people. We want to open a form of communication here.
DM: “Our people prefer meat that has gone slightly past its prime. The tanginess adds flavor. Otherwise…. It all tastes like fish.”
Thalynmar: “Well, when in iceberg….”
Maldrake: I try to look as happy eating it as I can. What should I roll?
DM: Performance!
Thalynmar: Then Deception as you try to secretly spit it out!

Most of them eat and try to look happy about it; Krixxix, of course, openly scorns it for his own rations. Maldrake has a thought.

Maldrake: This is fucking poisoned. Son of a bitch. Is this poison? I know where you sleep.
DM: We’ll get to that.
Maldrake: God damn it.
DM: “Your friend insults our hospitality!”
Thalynmar: “He’s an insulting person.”
Maldrake: “He insults us.”
Lualyrr: “He IS an insult.”
Maldrake: Don’t worry, I put a special surprise in his rations.
Lualyrr: Dookie!
Krixxix: ‘It’s a little nutty.’

Sadly, the fish was POISONED! Those who ate must roll saving throws. Raven fails and promptly goes unconscious, though the rest pass. Maldrake immediately proposes that everyone fake unconsciousness.

Thalynmar: Deception? Is that a paladin’s way?
DM: A vengeance paladin’s way!
Thalynmar: Maybe so!
Krixxix: What are you trying to do?
Maldrake: I just want to see what they’re going to do.
Lualyrr: They’re gonna probably try to steal our stuff!

Krixxix proposes pouring poison down Raven’s throat to see if it counteracts the poison already in him. He is fortunately stopped. Maldrake lays on hands to neutralize the poison and awaken Raven. Krixxix hankers to go out and murder the entire village in their sleep.

Raven: By the way, I don’t think I ever got the answer to this question, or I might have just not heard it, but are you guys speaking Abyssal for some reason?
DM: No!
Raven : I have no idea what Abyssal is…

The group dissolves into Lovecraftian histrionics for some reason. Thalynmar peers out the tunnel into the shelter but is defeated by his own poor Perception. Krixxix again hankers to murder all of them. The rest of the group, meanwhile, second-guesses whether that was actual poison or just seasoning or bad fish – but Maldrake actually puts Investigation to use and determines it was deliberate poison.

Raven: Why are they so desperate to poison us? That doesn’t make any sense.
Eben: Cuz they want us… dead? We’ve proven that their strongest person can’t actually take out…
Thalynmar: One of us.
Raven: There must actually be something here.
Thalynmar: They probably do know something about this tiefling girl.
Lualyrr: Or they’re trying to cover up the fact that they killed her.
Thalynmar: Us living is not beneficial to them.
Krixxix: Can Lualyrr cast Tongues on me?
Lualyrr: Yeah.
DM: WILL she?
Krixxix: Will you cast it on me?
Thalynmar: Please don’t let him talk to people.
Krixxix: I want to listen – I want to sneak out—
Lualyrr: He wants to listen.
Thalynmar: But it also gives him the ability to talk to people. And that’s usually not a good thing with Krixxix.

Motion at the entrance presages Bonecarver’s entrance. The party immediately takes affront like 50’s greasers for some reason.

DM: “Stomach not suited to the fish, I take it,” she says to Lualyrr.
Maldrake: I show her. “The fish, though slightly spoiled, wasn’t much of a problem. It’s more so,” I sort of point out what my Investigation noticed, “the SEASONING you used.”
DM: “Not to taste?”
Maldrake: “It just caused our friend grief and us ulcers, let’s say.”
DM: “I’m sorry, after seeing what your mighty dwarf here did, I thought you all could handle it.”
Thalynmar: ‘..I liked it…’
Krixxix: “It was delicious. In fact—“
Eben: “We saved you some!”

Maldrake angrily lectures the woman, demanding to know her circumstances, and the DM calls for a Persuasion check. This… actually seems to sway her! She tells them outright that the dragon will slay them if they don’t remove the outsiders. The Horned Lady they seek is with the dragon as well!

DM: “The dragon took a liking to her. We had to deliver her to him!”
Maldrake: “That makes our job easier.”
DM: “Are you here…. To kill Old White Death?”
Maldrake: “Damn right.”
Eben: Isn’t that what we tried to tell them? We could kill it easier without a bellyful of poison, you fucks!

Bonecarver tells them that the dragon will kill them… but the spirits had promised her heroes, and she ha s no choice but to believe they are the heroes. She promises them a night of rest and the promise of cover to get to the entrance to the dragon’s lair that lies within her hut.

Maldrake: All right. There’s a typo here. I have 20 rope and 60’ of rations.
DM: Mmm, dried Froot By the Foot.
Eben: Where’d you get a dehydrator in a fantasy setting?
Thalynmar: Just left it out. It kinds of smells bad…

On that delicious note, the game comes to an end. Next time: the lair of Old White Death!