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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 73 - Tomb of Annihilation

Episode 73: Tortle Recall

This episode is very different from the others. Mostly, it's about the relationships between the characters.

If you are into the action/adventure side of D&D, you might not like this. If you are into roleplaying or are interested in the characters, I think you'll love this.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard

(Mark Hulmes) Guest DM

The group is in the jungle and hungry. They meet an old tortle fellow. He's humming to himself. There's no sense of death or decay around him.

The tortle's name is Xopa, an old, friendly fellow. He says that he's not long for this world. He's hoping to travel to a  few far-off regions on Faerun.

Xopa asks the group to help him cook a big meal. The group introduces themselves. Paultin claims to be Strahd von Zarovich, who will not be reduced to chopping vegetables.

As they cook. Xopa wants to hear their stories.

How Diath Met Strix: Diath talks about his time in Waterdeep. They were in Waterdeep. Diath was having lunch on a rooftop. In the crowd below, and he saw a "black mass" moving among them. It was Strix, who was living on the streets. He noticed that and the crowd was either avoiding or ignoring her.

He could see that she was hungry, so over the next few days. He started leaving her food anonymously for a while When he first tried to engage her, she cast a firebolt at him.

Strix and Diath traveled together for a few years. They were having small adventures to fund their meager lifestyle. I had no idea they knew each other for so long!

Mark's old man voice is really great.

How the Group Met: One day, Diath and Strix decided to stay at an inn (I believe it is called "The Rusty Pommel"). Evelyn was there.

As a paladin, Evelyn loved to listen to music. She had discovered Paultin playing in filthy bars, and attended all of his shows. She never said anything to him. Paultin played at a number of venues, because he'd get into trouble with whatever bar owner he was working for.

Evelyn was listening to Paultin's music when Diath and Strix entered.
The "jackhole" bartender/owner accused Diath of stealing his coin pouch. Paultin was very drunk and was barely playing coherently. Diath hadn't stolen it. The guy started insulting Strix. As a tiefling, most people in Waterdeep assumed she was evil.

Evelyn saw the commotion and came over. She stuck up for Diath and Strix. She punched the bartender! Evelyn tells Strix and Diath that she didn't want to see their romantic dinner ruined. Cracked me up! Strix is quick to point out that it wasn't romantic.

Things escalated and a barfight broke out. People were throwing food. Strix grabbed the morsels off the floor and kept them.

Paultin was sick from all the booze. He needed to get out of there... he's the one who stole the coin pouch! Nice. Evelyn asked Paultin to come along and he decided to join them.

From that point on, they adventured together.

Paultin & Evelyn: Evelyn and Paultin go into the jungle to find some mushrooms.

Evelyn wants to apologize to Pailtin. When she was almost pulled into the Soulmonger, she thought it was because she was found unworthy to pass into Lathander's Court. She thought Paultin was thwarting Lathander's plan for her. She didn't realize that Lathander was working through Paultin.

Paultin says he saved her because he saw that somebody he cared about was in trouble. It wasn't because of Lathander. Somewhere in here, Evelyn amusingly reveals that she's jealous of Esher (the dude Paultin was almost forced to marry in Barovia).

Diath & Strix: Strix is wondering why the Skizzixes are after Diath.
Diath tells Strix that he actually saw the Skizzixes when the group went to Sigil a few sessions back (episode 69). Strix is dismayed to hear this. They keep wondering what the "Skizzix Kazrum" is.

In the jungle, Paultin says he had noticed Evelyn in the crowd way back when. People in the chat are screaming KISS HER, but no dice. They return to the camp.

Diath's Early Years: Before Diath met Strix, he was all by himself. One day, he was in a tavern where a bunch of adventurers were throwing money around and bragging about their recent exploits. They saved Phlan, and more recently, they killed a bunch of gnolls.

Diath left and decided to check out the lair, looking to scavenge stuff they missed. He found a pouch. In it was an amethyst. It was only worth a couple of gold, but he considers it his most precious treasure. Diath had discovered a new path in life that could help him survive.

Paultin & Strix: Paultin and Strix go into the jungle to get some bark. She starts drinking Paultin's wine and she advises him to stop drinking so much. She tells him to work on showing emotion, because he's tearing the group apart.

Paultin admits that he keeps everyone at arm's length because he is sure that they will die or leave him. Strix does not accept this. Strix says she was alone for 50 years and she's not losing anybody else. She runs back to camp, crying.

Gifts From Strix: Evelyn comforts her. During her 50 years alone in Barovia, she had made creepy little dolls of the waffle crew. She talked to them. Strix takes out the dolls and gives each character their puppet. It looks like Holly actually made them and mailed them to the players.

Yep! Wow. The dolls are awesome/creepy.

She also wrote each of them a note: 
  • Evelyn: "I will always be your friend."
  • Paultin: "I will find you more wine."
  • Diath: "I promise I won't run away."
Paultin gives Strix a drunken hug. It transforms into a group hug.

Diath says that if Strix makes another doll, he'll trade his for it.

Diath tells the group that he shouldn't be their leader. Strix says he has to, if not, they'll die. Diath pulls Evelyn aside.

He tells her this little story about how he looks to the stars every night and that she is the brightest of them all (this speech is transcribed here).. He tells her not to give up on Paultin.

Evelyn asks Paultin when he knew he loved Strix. He says: "The first time I saw her eyes not clouded with fear." Jeez.. ProJared is killing it. Diath goes back to camp.

This episode is heavy! 

Xopa dies and fades away.


Great show! I think a lot of people would say this was one of the best.

I don't think I've ever seen a group more invested in their characters. A lot of thought went into this and it was very well-done. I think very few groups could pull this off, but the waffles did it.

Mark Hulmes did a fantastic job of handling the structure and pacing. That dude is a great DM!


Silver Hood said...

After that summary, I need to see this. I saw Anna's tweet with the note from Strix and was wondering what that was about.

There's something about actually making gifts for the other players that just tears at your heart strings. These last three episodes have been legendary.

I hope to be in a campaign someday that can even come close to competing with the bond those players with each other.

Pierce said...