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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Maze Arcana - Episode 1

The Maze Arcana site is here.
Check out the Maze Arcana Youtube channel here.

Today I decided to watch the first episode of a new D&D show airing on Twitch called Maze Arcana. This campaign is actually set in Eberron, which is pretty cool. It looks like everybody went out of their way to make characters related to the setting - warforged, shifters, etc.

From what I understand, the show will have a guest star each week. Our guest today is Taliesin Jaffe from Critical Role.

This show also features Zak Smith who made Maze of the Blue Medusa, but he wasn't on the show until the end for some reason. Maybe I missed something.

They said that they will be airing these episodes in slices on youtube. It looks like each show is going to be 5 hours long, which is way too long for me. I guess I could see people getting into the habit of watching one hour each weekday.

The DM is Ruty Rutenborg, who seems like a nice guy.

The Party

(Satine Phoenix) Azure - Kalashtar Psion
(Taliesin Jaffe) Bandore Mercury - Half-Elf Bard
(Kyle Vogt) Lucky - Warforged Artificer
(Milynn Sarley) Tabbris - Shifter Divine Herald (a homebrewed rogue class)

It is always a double-edged sword when it comes to reviewing these first episodes. The debut installment of most D&D shows have a lot of glitches/technical problems and it takes a few sessions for all that stuff to get smoothed out. Dice, Camera, Action had that problem in the beginning and now they are a well-oiled machine.

This show had serious technical difficulties involving audio and video. Large swaths of the episode are fine, but there are a few times where they had to stop the show to make a fix. My heart kind of goes out to them because they are doing this all by themselves. Satine did the art (which is awesome) and she's handling the tech stuff! That's the kind of player I'd want in my group. On top of that, they take donations for charity.

So right off the bat, I would recommend that you wait until this is posted on youtube with all of the technical stuff edited out.

The DM has cooked up some homebrewed classes for this. He says he might put them on the DMs Guild. Lucky is an 'Arcaneer,' a version of an Artificer that can create constructs like turrets and etc. It's sort of like a clockwork mage from the Sha'ir's handbook. He has a homunculus called "Facet" that he can attach little items to. Apparently it can be used as a light source.

Tabbris is a faith-based rogue, like an arcane trickster but using divine magic.

To start off, Ruty tells us about Eberron. There's airships, lightning rails (trains), etc. The group is level 3. They've played a session or two offline prior to this.

In those previous sessions some things were revealed:
  • Tabbris (who is an assassin for the Church of the Silver Flame) got bit and became a shifter. 
  • Azure is trying to clear her name with the silver flame and is hoping if she helps Tabbris that they will leave her be. 
  • Lucky is an airship pilot hunting for someone. He wants to settle an old debt. 
  • Rav apparently had his kids abducted and the group is looking for them.

We start off in Breland. The group is trying to track down Rav's family. Bandore the bard is performing in a bar called The Flask Half-Empty. He attacks a heckler. Bandore has a musical instrument that he calls a "Lulu Lute." The group gets involved and we get into a big bar fight.

Azure comes in there and unleashes her cerebral pulse. Milynn is new and doesn't know the rules. New players are usually a heck of a lot of fun to play with and for some reason they always roll ridiculously well.

This sprawling battle ends up involving goblins, wolves and a woman in charge of the wolves. Tabbris wants to befriend the wolves... and rolls a natural 20. Boom.

After a long battle, the group defeats the goblins and keeps one alive for questioning. The group thinks that the goblins might have stolen and abducted Rav's children.

Azure is going to "mind meld" with their captured goblin. Bandore amusingly prepares him for this intense psychic sensation. The goblin says he was hired by the Dorm (?) army to find lost supplies and repurpose them to protect from incursions. The goblin's name is Gilly.

Gilly is about to explain why he attacked the heroes, when a guy in armor shows up and wants to question Gilly about Fort Orcbone. We learn that "Bromwahrk" the orc raider took Orcbone from the inside. There are men inside the fort that are being held hostage. A bit confusing.

The heroes really don't like this guy and much prefer their new buddy Gilly. They agree to help try to retake Orcbone and plan to meet him at Orcbone in 3 days. Gilly becomes a hireling.

The group heads out and travels for three days without incident. The four wolves are with them. When they arrive near Orcbone, they make camp. Bandore practices his drumming. Tabbris allows the wolves to go and wander about. Only one wolf comes back from the excursion and it is wounded. The other wolves apparently have been slain.

Tabbris names the lone wolf "Lightning."

The group finds the sewage pipe that is apparently the entrance that the bad guys used to infiltrate Fort Orcbone. The ladies really don't want to go in. The group starts to argue. Bandore pushes everybody into the poop chute.

They're in! We talk a bit about odors. It is determined that warforged smell like old pennies, which I find hilariously accurate.

After some wading through poop (which poor Tabbris really doesn't like at all), they find a secret door that is activated by a sconce. Bandore points out that he is now a "Sconce Pusher," which sounds more lewd than it is.

They hear an orc composing poetry in "moronic pentameter." After some careful creeping, the heroes realize that they've stumbled on three orcs trying to impress an orc lady. She's not exactly thrilled with their efforts so far.

What an awesome encounter. Tabbris wants to kill them but the group stops her. There's so many hilarious things you could do here. Bandore should try to out-woo them.

It looks like that's where we stop. This show really warmed up as it went along.


By the end of the show, they were rolling along quite nicely and the group got comfortable. At that point, it became fun and funny. I love that they're using a published setting as opposed to a homebrew like on most shows. I know most of you are "homebrew bastards," but I really love seeing official stuff used in play.

Needs More Eberron: That said, I wish that this had more Eberron-y stuff in it. This session could have been in any setting - it was just orcs and goblins. At one point the DM said that maybe down the road the group will get an elemental airship. Why wait? Dad joke warning: Let's just get the airship now and get our Eberron... on. I'm so sorry.

The Critical Role Effect: It seems to me that Critical Role is popularizing a certain style of play. A lot of these groups are doing voices and letting players "narrate the kill." Every time it happens, it throws me. It's not bad, it just feels weird to see this new thing become the norm.

You should definitely check this out if you have the time. You might want to monitor it for a few weeks and jump in once they've settled into a groove.

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