34. Labor Party IV

The party works their way down the checklist to Mr. Pickles. It seems ominous… and we’re not lyin’.  Inara is a-maze-ing. Tracey satiates. Johnny is Antoni.


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Cast & Crew

- Dungeon Master: Eric Silver

- TR8c (Tracey): Brandon Grugle

- Inara Harthorn: Amanda McLoughlin

- Johnny B. Goodlight: Michael Fische

- Creative Contributors: Connor McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, Heddy Hunt

- Multitude:multitude.productions


Amanda: Last time, on Join The Party…

Eric: Our friends confront Ze’ol, the god of death, in the heart of Chronopolis. He says he can’t control the strange stuff that’s happening around the city, and he needs help. In return

Ze’ol: I will show you one minute of anyone’s memory.

Eric: The party begrudgingly agrees, and Ze’ol opens a doorway to another part of the city.

Eric: And you turn around and the door is gone. And you are in the middle of a pasture.

Eric: Tracey, Inara, and Johnny have to save a harvest festival! The cows that are used for the annual running of the cows are sick, and it may be poisoning from a hat factory up river. 

Tracey and a local farmer’s daughter make a scene in a fancy hat shop, while Inara and Johnny sneak through the factory. They grab the antidote for the mad cow disease, and everyone hurries back. The townspeople are growing antsy, so Tracey does the first thing he thinks of:

Brandon (as Tracey): I could load some in a capsule in my cannon and fire it into a big puff of smoke vapor cloud.

Eric: The cows are saved! But there’s still a looming list of labors to… oh no, what’s another l word… lick? Let’s get the party started.

[theme music]

[buzzing of air conditioner]

Eric (as Ze'ol): Oh, what is this? Now that you actually have something to do, you come over all the time. It’s like we have a regular BINGO game. I appreciate that!

Eric: You three walk back into the dome, and are greeted by the always-constantly-nagging-a-little-bit voice of the god of time, trickery, and death, Ze’ol.

Amanda: So, is this compass just constantly like sitting on a pedestal? Is there a little mouth that’s moving?

Michael: I cast Dancing Lights to create an image of this god. What would it look like?

Amanda: I feel like two of them would make up an eyebrow each, and all you need is eyebrows, honestly.

Michael: And I’m yielding control as a gift from my god to his for the purposes of this meeting.

Eric (as Ze'ol): I want you to know, my eyebrows... a hundred times bushier.

[Amanda laughs]

Michael: Oh, I believe it.

Eric (as Ze'ol): How was aaaaaaah how waaaaassss the thing you had to do? How did it go? I know, I’m just asking because it’s fun. How did it go?

Brandon: Tracey holds up his cannon arm and it’s jammed.

Amanda (as Inara): Uh, yeah, where are we gonna be staying? I really gotta sleep here.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Uh, my room? I don’t… nobody sleeps here. We’re- I’ll keep everything moving. You’re fine.

Michael (as Johnny): Is it that you don’t know how to make it so that the time thing is fixed?

Eric (as Ze'ol): [sighs] That’s hurtful.

Michael (as Johnny): Oh, I don’t of course mean to be hurtful, I just, you know, kind of need my spell slots.

Eric (as Ze'ol): What do you- what do you think that I don’t have control of time anymore? What is this?

Michael (as Johnny): I would never accuse you of not having control of anything at all. As you sit in a broken stopwatch unable to leave.

Brandon (as Tracey): Bah-bah-bow!

Michael (as Johnny): Bah-bah-bow!

Michael: I cast bah-bah-bow.

[all snickering]

Eric (as Ze'ol): How do I know for sure that you took care of what I needed you to take care of?

Amanda (as Inara): How about this scary pretty cursed hat?

Amanda: And I pull the thinking hat out of my bag.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Ah. Eh it seems like something I would do, okay. Congratulations.

Brandon (as Tracey): [unenthusiastically] Thanks.

Eric (as Ze'ol): I’m so proud.

Brandon (as Tracey): Thaaaaanks.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, again, just want to reiterate, I am a literal teenager. And the only think I love more than doing crimes is sleeping. So… this isn’t gonna work out.

Eric (as Bridge): Bro, I’ve been trying to sleep for like ever. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.

Eric: Bridge gets up and stretches his wings very large.

Eric (as Bridge): I tried sleeping upside down, I slept right-side up, I slept on top of a chair, under a chair, through a chair- that was bad I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry, I will fix that in the future. My bad.

Eric: And the Speaker is sitting very still.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Okay, well I’m sorry I couldn’t pick you up from the airport, but we made it here. How about we do another one? One more game, okay. How’s everybody? Are you good?

[Tracey sighs deeply]

I don’t have any snacks.

Amanda (as Inara): Don’t ask me that question.

Michael (as Johnny): You don’t have any snacks?!

Eric (as Ze'ol): Where am I supposed to get snacks?

[talking over each other]

Michael (as Johnny): [imitating Ze’ol] What am I, like a snack god that’s totally out of snacks?

Eric (as Ze'ol): What is this? Am I the kind of god that’s supposed to have snacks? Am I the pantry?

Michael (as Johnny): Like come on, you gotta have some snacks!

Eric (as Ze'ol): Am I the snack god? Am I the god of snacks?

Michael (as Johnny): Listen, if I give you an apple, you turn it into a snack or something?

Eric (as Ze'ol): What do you want to do next? Any one you want, pick it on the list.

Eric: And you can see a big list like appears in midair, like ethereal list, like the one that you saw on the Book of Things to Come. And the two that you’ve done so far have been crossed off. And the five that you haven’t done still remain.

Brandon (as Tracey): That one looks like it might have snacks. There’s a food stuff in the name.

Amanda (as Inara): Pickles?

Brandon (as Tracey): Pickles.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Ah, Mr. Pickles. Haven’t seen that guy in forever.

Brandon (as Tracey): Is he edible?

Eric (as Ze'ol): Nope.

Brandon (as Tracey): Hmm…

Amanda (as Inara): Does he have snacks?

Michael (as Johnny): How’s his brine? Is it a good brine?

Eric (as Ze'ol): It’s full sour if I’ve ever seen a cat before. No, Mr. Pickles is my cat.

Michael (as Johnny): Oh, a literal cat.

Eric (as Ze'ol): A literal cat.

Brandon (as Tracey): Oh.

Michael (as Johnny): How big is this cat?

Eric (as Bridge): Oh, god, this again?

Eric: And Bridge stands up and says

Eric (as Bridge): You’re talking about like some feline just walking around. Yeah, Mr. Pickles is a lion. A very large, building-sized lion.

Amanda (as Inara): I’m clearly a dog person.

Brandon (as Tracey): I’m very allergic to lions.

Eric (as Bridge): Me too, yeah. There’s a lion that just kind of runs around and like destroys stuff and eats things. That’s yours? That was you?

Eric (as Ze'ol): Ehhhhh…. Details. Details. I need you to find Mr. Pickles, bring him back, groom him, and ahhhhhh maybe you could do two of these labors at once. This will be fine.

Michael (as Johnny): Does Mr. Pickles have a favorite food or something we could acquire to make this a little easier?

Eric (as Ze'ol): Eh, you know… ah…

Eric (as Bridge): It’s people. The answer’s people. He eats people.

Amanda (as Inara): Great.

Eric (as Ze'ol): It’s fine. All you have to do: rub him on the belly. It’s gonna all take care of itself.

Brandon (as Tracey): What’s the second one that we can do at the same time? The stables?

Eric (as Ze'ol): Eh, you know, Mr. Pickles, beautiful fur. Amazing fur. Top of the notch fur. You get some of the fur when you groom him out, you can just bring the fur back as well.

Amanda (as Inara): Uh, so Bridge, you’re gonna come with us, right? With all your knowledge of this big old bitey friend?

Eric (as Bridge): Me? Personally? This guy? With two wings and two thumbs and this face?

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah.

Eric (as Bridge): No, absolutely not.

Brandon (as Tracey): You have thumbs and wings?

Eric (as Bridge): I am extremely dextrous.

Michael (as Johnny): Hey, Bridge, I have a question for you.

Eric (as Bridge): Yeah.

Michael (as Johnny): Do you have any of those friends? Those anime characters that are basically throwaway characters?

Eric (as Bridge): You know what, yes, I do. I do have one of those.

Michael (as Johnny): Could we get like maybe two or three and make sure they’re a little plump, and take them with us. For reasons obviously, I don’t know…

Eric (as Bridge): You know who I could hook you up with?

Michael (as Johnny): Don’t give us names, because then they’re actually important.

[Amanda laughing]

Eric (as Bridge): Okay, I’m not gonna tell you his name, but he has seen the lion many times.

[all laughing]

Alright, Ze’ol why don’t you go- go send them to- wait I’m not supposed to say. I don’t- okay I’m gonna whisper it to you.

Eric: Bridge walks over to the compass and like whispers to the compass.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Oh, that’s a great- that’s a great idea!

Eric: The door on the far side of the dome opens up 

[steel door opening]

And you see a beautiful spring morning.

[birds chirping in the distance]

Michael: Johnny changes clothing from a more cowboy theme to a more safari theme, so he has a kimono that has images of wildlife, and his sunhat is now a lot more safari-hat-ish, but still a sunhat.

Brandon: I’m just picturing Johnny as an operator on the Jungle Cruise now.

Eric: And boom goes the dynamite.

Michael: And Tracey, do you want a reddish cape that has safari-ness on it?

Brandon: I want your hat.

Michael: I also have another hat-

Brandon: No, I want your hat.

[Eric laughing]

Michael: I take my hat, give it to you, and make myself another hat.

Brandon: Good. That’s good.

Eric (as Ze'ol): See you later! Nothing bad will happen to you.

Amanda (as Inara): Oh boy.

Michael: I don’t like these words.

Brandon (as Tracey): Alright, let’s do this.

Brandon: And Tracey takes his axe out and slams it on the ground and drags it as he slowly goes out the door.

[axe slamming and dragging on the ground]

[all laughing]

Eric (as Ze'ol): Please don’t ruin the carpet! I just reupholstered the entire dome.

Brandon (as Tracey): Just turn back time, then.

Brandon: Tracey walks through the door.

Eric (as Ze'ol): Hurtful. You say- respect your elders.

Eric: That’s the last thing you hear as you walk into the spring morning.

Michael: Before I enter the brush, Johnny puts on his sunglasses, his stunner shades, and summons the Arcane Eye to hang out in a corner of the circular room.

Eric: Sure. When you’re on the subway, and you’re watching a video, and you go from one station to another station, you still get like Wi-Fi or data in that station, but then as you cross underground, it just like cuts out.

Michael: Yeah.

Eric: That’s what happens with the Arcane Eye, because you are travelling a very far distance in a very quick amount of time. It’s still buffered a little bit, so you get like a minute or so.

Michael: Yeah, because time’s weird in this place anyway.

Eric: Exactly, so you get like a minute or so, and although you get Bridge like pacing around and trying to get a comfortable spot to try to lay out, the Speaker does not move.

Michael: Aright, I keep the sunglasses on, because it’s a sunny day.

Eric: Sounds good.

As you walk through the door, the temperature lowers a delightful few degrees and it is a lovely spring day. 

[jazzy beat plays with melodic piano]

You are in a residential area, where it’s small starter homes, one next to each other. It is like nine o’clock in the morning, even though you just- when you returned back to the dome, it was nighttime after the festival of the cows.

Amanda: Inara’s gonna put some sunglasses on and just sigh.

Eric: And you are outside of someone’s door. This is 123 Clancy Street. It looks like all the other houses next to it, with a blue door, and green shutters, and white walls, and a white picket fence, and all that other good stuff.

Michael: Johnny’s immediately gonna start painting the house in fabulousness because this suburban nightmare hell looks bad.

Brandon: Is there a doorbell?

Eric: There is a doorbell.

Brandon: I ring the doorbell.

[doorbell plays Big Ben chime]

Eric: You hear a thump as someone falls out of bed.

Eric (as voice from behind door): [groans and coughs] I’m coming. Hold on, I’m coming.

[clanking and crashing]

Eric: And there’s some crashing around inside as someone is stumbling to get out of bed. 

[music stops]

And the door opens, [door unlocking and squeaking open]

And you see a normal looking dude.

Brandon (as Tracey): Hi neighbor! You got a cup of sugar I can borrow?

Amanda (as Inara): Hi, I’m Inara. This is Tracey. We don’t actually live here. What’s up?

Michael: Johnny doesn’t say hello because he is redecorating the house.

[Eric laughs]

Eric (as dude): Um, I don’t think- uh [coughs] I don’t think the co-op board would like it if you painted my house like that.

Michael: Johnny undoes the damage.

Eric (as dude): Thank you. Hello. What? Hello.

Brandon (as Tracey): Sugar? I’m making a cake!

Eric (as dude): What? No…

Amanda: Oatcake’s gonna flop over on this guy’s slipper.

[Brandon laughing]

Eric (as dude): There is so much happening at the moment.

Michael (as Johnny): Have you seen a lion?

Eric (as dude): Yes.

[all laughing]

Okay, this is-

Michael (as Johnny): And you ain’t lion to me?

Eric (as dude): No I am not. You-

Amanda (as Inara): Johnny, that was your one chance. That was your one pun.

Brandon: He really is a Jungle Cruise operator.

Eric (as dude): Before-

Michael (as Johnny): Hi, I’m Johnny.

Eric (as dude): Hi I’m Vince. Hello.

Eric: And Vince shakes all of your hands. He is like five-foot-nine, shaggy black hair. He is wearing a robe with like pajama pants underneath. But as you say, “lion,” as you start making puns, he’s happy to see you.

Eric (as Vince): Oh, yeah, yeah come in. I don’t have any sugar. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in such a long time, but-

Brandon (as Tracey): Is it because of the lion?

Eric (as Vince): [with pause] Yes.

Brandon (as Tracey): Gotcha.

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, the lion. It’s fine. It’s fine.

Michael (as Johnny): And you ain’t lion about not having sugar?

Eric (as Vince): I’m not!

Brandon (as Tracey): You can’t do the same pun twice!

Amanda (as Inara): Now negative one.

Eric (as Vince): This guy- the morning jokes. This is the best way to start waking up.

Brandon (as Tracey): Suburbia, am I right, Inara?

Amanda (as Inara): Mhm.

Brandon (as Tracey): Thresholds are so low here.

Eric (as Vince): Well, come in [coughs] mmm, god, [coughs] Give me a second, I’m so sorry. When I wake up, just lots of- come on in, everybody, just come inside.

[door closes]

[clock ticking, birds chirping outside]

Eric: If the exterior of the houses have anything to say, like the interiors are all exactly the same. There’s like a square kitchen table with four chairs that all look the same, and all of the fixtures are the same stainless steel. And it looks nice, but it’s like someone put it together for him.

Michael: I would like to make everyone some coffee and some cereal and milk.

Eric: Okay, as you look around in his cupboards, you see there is nothing there.

Michael: I quickly counter this by taking out from my bag-

Eric: Apples.

Amanda (as Inara): Infinite apples.

Eric: Infinite apples.

Michael: I take out a lot of apples, and I start boiling some apples. He has water and pots?

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Because I am going to make applesauce.

Eric (as Vince): Thank- thank you. Ugh, I get so hungry in the morning, but I can’t- I have a very particular diet. I can’t eat all of that.

Michael: You have a particular diet of nothing, it seems.

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, I really need to go grocery shopping. It’s- I, yeah. But thank you- no but thank you. That was really sweet. I’m sorry I don’t’ really have anything. I wish I could. Like I know I live in a suburban area where everything is the same, but you know, it’s pretty cheap and I’m happy to do it. Let’s me kind of like pursue my passions.

Amanda (as Inara): What’s that?

Eric (as Vince): I really like animals.

Amanda (as Inara): Oh!

Eric (as Vince): So, when you say “lion,” animal puns are pretty good for me.

Amanda (as Inara): So, how about that house-sized lion then? What’s that all about?

Eric (as Vince): The lion, right, we keep talking about the lion. Yes, I’ve seen the lion. I work for the city guard. I’ve got a little level there, but I have seen the loin before, I’ve chased him off. I think I know where the lion lives, and we can- I’ll take you there if you just give me a little bit of time to like get dressed and stuff.

Brandon (as Tracey): Is it like on the loose or is it in a cage right now?

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, no it’s definitely on the loose, but it always just like disappears whenever anyone tries to find it. Like it wrecks shop, it like runs into a building and destroys it, and eats a bunch of people, and then it’s gone.

Amanda (as Inara): Any idea why we were sent to, uh,  take care of this lion and not, I don’t know, vanish it?

Eric (as Vince): Take care of it? What did- who sent you?


Brandon (as Tracey): Hey, Vince!

Eric (as Vince): Yeah?

Michael: I like this Vince character, but let’s get him out of the robe and dressed and let’s get moving.

Amanda: Yeah let’s get out of here.

Michael: I take a look at his stuff in the living room while he’s upstairs.

Eric: Sure, make an Investigation roll.

[dice rolling]

Michael: That is a 17 + 3 for a non-natural 20.

Amanda: Oh.

Eric: There are none of his personal effects in here. So, the things that you know about Vince, there is nothing within the house to corroborate that.

Michael: I no longer trust him.

Eric: I would also say that he does have like guard standard issue like- he has a sword.

Michael: Okay.

Amanda: Inara’s gonna lay down in the shade in the front lawn and moan.

Eric: Okay.

[all laugh]

[Inara moans]

Brandon: Tracey’s gonna lay down next to Inara and moan. He doesn’t know what’s happening really but he’s doing it.

Michael: Johnny’s gonna try to get down, but his bones ache, so he’ll just stand there and moan instead because it hurts.

Eric: Five minutes later, Vince has tried to comb his hair. 

[door squeaks open]

He’s wearing just- you can imagine that he has a closet full of the same outfit which is just like blue jeans and a blue checkered shirt.

Eric (as Vince): Alright, let’s go- let’s go find the lion. I’m taking you to him.

Eric: He walks you to a cul-de-sac, and on the other side of the cul-de-sac is like a woodsy area, and there’s a path leading down a sloping hill. And the whole time, Vince is trying to talk to you about animal facts. But he’s really interested in you guys.

Eric (as Vince): Hey so where did- what’s going on? Who are you? Tell me about yourselves!

Michael (as Johnny): Where’d you learn such animal facts?

Eric (as Vince): I don’t know, I read ‘em in the library.

Brandon (as Tracey): What’s your favorite animal?

Eric (as Vince): Hmm… I would say bombilates. Bombilates are my favorite animal.

Brandon (as Tracey): We’ve met them!

Amanda (as Inara): We’ve met some of those!

Eric (as Vince): You have?

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah!

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, they’re really nice!

Eric (as Vince): What? They don’t have those in Tortipolis! Are you serious?

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah!

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, they’re great.

Eric (as Vince): That is so cool.

Amanda (as Inara): I rode one once.

Eric (as Vince): Wh- what?!

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah!

Eric (as Vince): Yo!

Amanda (as Inara): I know! It was very fast. They like sugar. Sugar water.

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah. We have a special kind of job, and we’re here to make sure the realm is safe.

Eric (as Vince): Okay.

Amanda (as Inara): And we’re from Fidapolis, and that’s where we hang out some of the time, and that’s where we met our bombilate friends. Also, a gargoyle. He’s very nice and his hair is very shiny.

Eric (as Vince): That sounds so cool.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So, we’ve seen some stuff, we’ve had some battles, we’ve tried to save some people, so we’re just hoping to, you know, make sure this place is safe at the end of the day.

Eric (as Vince): Oh man, I really wish I’d eaten something before I left the house, but it’s fine. It’s fine. No applesauce please.

Amanda (as Inara): What do you eat? What do you like to eat?

Eric (as Vince): I mean like, food? I don’t- what do you mean what do you like to eat?

Amanda (as Inara): Like what kind? You said you had a special diet, so I’m wondering what kind of food you like. I like food a lot. Almost more than my pet. But not really, girl.

Eric (as Vince): That’s true.

Amanda: And I do finger guns at Oatcake.

Eric (as Vince): That’s cute. You have a cute dog. I like your dog.

Amanda: Thanks, I like her too.

Eric (as Vince): That’s a cute dog. No, there’s just- I’m allergic to like a bunch of like fruits and vegetables. It’s like a raw food sort of thing. Like a raw fruit and veggies sort of thing.

Amanda (as Inara): I’ve got an oatcake, want one of those?

Eric (as Vince): Uh… yeah, I mean I usually- I eat a lot. I’ll gnaw on one of these.

Amanda (as Inara): Sure.

Eric (as Vince): Sure.

Eric: He starts by just like casually trying to eat it, but then like he’s like really hungry and just like shaves all of it in his mouth.

Amanda (as Inara): I nod knowingly, and give him four more.

Eric (as Vince): Oh my god, thank you so much. It’s helpful.

Eric: He just like keeps popping them into his mouth as he shows you over.

So, at the bottom of this sloping hill, he says

Eric (as Vince): Oh, oh. This got- this got worse than I remember it last.

Eric: Someone’s hedge maze has burst out of the ground, but it’s just all covered in beautiful dark pink roses and very sharp menacing looking thorns.

Amanda: Does this look cultivated or does this look overgrown?

Eric: No, it looks overgrown. So then Vince points to the other side of the maze, and there is this really large cave. Like comically sized, like really large. Like a bear cave but it’s like really massive. And he’s like

Eric (as Vince): I did not know that was there. I am sorry. This makes me look really bad, and god I’m so sorry. I’m just trying to like help, you know, the best I can. And I can- we can try to go in together. We gotta go through the maze, there’s no way to get around it.

Michael: If I were to roll a Nature roll-

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Could I discern the effect of a fire based magic spell on this maze?

Eric: Sure.

[dice rolling]

Michael: With a 17 + 3, for non-natural 20, I am naturizing the nature of this natural nature maze.

Eric: I understand. So, these roses look a lot like the rose hydra y’all fought before.

[all sighing]

Brandon (as Tracey): Wanna turn back, or…?

[Eric laughs]

Michael: Boy, look at the time.

Eric: This is not the rose hydra. They are roses, but they look similar. So, you probably can figure out Ze’ol had something to do with this thing.

Eric (as Vince): Alright, well I mean, I’m like a scout. That’s kind of my job here. I’m good with animals, and I’m good with the land and stuff, so I can try to lead you guys in if you want.

Brandon (as Tracey): I mean, yeah let’s do it.

Amanda (as Inara): Sure.

Eric: So, Vince is gonna try to lead you. He’s gonna go in front, but I want all of you individually to make a Survival roll.

[dice rolling]

Amanda: I got a 16.

Michael: I got an 11.

Brandon: Tracey decides that he is better off out here at the top of the maze.

Amanda: Trace, what’d you get?

Eric: Hey Brandon, what’d you roll?

Amanda: What’d you roll?

Brandon: I got a 2 minus 1 for a 1.

Amanda: Aww.

Eric: Oh no.

Michael: Non-natural 1, so it’s okay.

Eric: Okay, all of you have rolled your Survival, but I think that you as gamespeople should try to get your way out of your maze as it’s done.

Amanda: I love it.

Eric: So, I printed out some mazes from the internet. Inara, you get the easy maze.

Michael: Baby maze.

Amanda: Yes!

Eric: Fish, you get the medium maze. And-

Brandon: I’ll just throw mine away.

Eric: And Brandon, oh my Brandon. You get the hard maze.

Amanda: Uh oh.

Eric: So, I am putting one minute on the clock. You have one minute to do your maze. Are you ready?

Amanda: Yes.

Eric: 3, 2, 1- go.

[jazzy baseline plays over hip-hop beat]

And stop. How’d you do?

Brandon: Oh, I just drew- I just drew myself on the back of a big eagle going over the maze.

[all laughing]

Michael: I genuinely can’t solve this maze.

Eric: Okay, so Vince says

Eric (as Vince): Alright, y’all, just follow me.

Eric: Vince takes a step forward into the maze, and I’m going to do an order within your Survival checks, so it goes Inara, then Johnny, then Tracey. Vince leads you into the maze, and between all of the roses and the thorns, and it’s like twists and turns and it like doubles back on itself. 

And you think that you can see Vince through the brush, but Inara, as you step forward, Vince is gone. He must have taken a turn and you weren’t paying attention. And then it seems like Inara is leading, and Inara walks through and the Johnny you lose sight of Inara.

Michael: I turn to try to see Tracey, and Tracey is also gone.

Eric: And Tracey, yeah- that’s literally what I was gonna say! And Tracey is just gone. Inara, after about five minutes feeling your way through the maze, you see a clearing in front of you. And you walk through, and you see the beautiful spring day. You made it through the maze.

Amanda: Whoa!

Eric: But Vince is not at the end.

Amanda: Huh. Can I roll an Investigation check? Do I see him around? Do I see anything suspicious?

Eric: Sure.

[dice rolling]

Amanda: Oh. I got an 18 + 5 for a 23.

Eric: Okay, you look for footprints in the grass, and you don’t see any other footprints. It’s like you are the first person here.

Amanda: Okay.

Michael: Johnny is doing the tried and true method of sticking to the leftmost wall to get through the maze. Unfortunately, he got confused a couple of times what is left and what is right, so that plan has totally gone to poop.

Eric: [laughs] Yep, so Johnny, you come to a dead end. There are thorns on all sides.

Michael: On purpose, by the way.

Eric: Of course, on purpose.

Michael: I wanted to have a picnic.

Eric: You’re just turned around and confused.

Michael: So, here’s what I would like to do.

Eric: Okay.

Michael: So, the Dancing Lights have absolutely no Intelligence and I can’t just let them go on their own.

Eric: No, unfortunately.

Michael: That is a fact, I am stating a fact. However, I’m going to start using them in situations like this dead end, so it marks where I’ve been to hopefully get to where I need to be. And I’m gonna Thaumaturgy just a quick

Michael (as Johnny): How’s everyone doin’ out there? I’m doing great. Totally not lost!

Eric: Alright, Inara, as you stand at the end of the maze, you hear Johnny definitely not being lost inside the maze.

Amanda: I’m gonna open my mouth to respond and then just shrug because there’s nothing I can do.

[Eric laughs]

Eric: Okay, great. Tracey, I don’t know what happened to you, man. It’s like you walked into the maze and-

Brandon: Distracted easily.

Eric: Like you saw a rose and you’re like, “Wow, that one’s so pretty!” and then you walked off and took a hard right accidentally.

Brandon: Accurate.

Eric: Everything looks the same. You can’t tell if the rose is different or not, and you’re just- you’re lost. What do you do?

Brandon: I’m gonna take a couple of approaches here.

Eric: Okay.

Brandon: Because I don’t know which one’s gonna work best. So, first thing I’m gonna do is take Tallahassee out and say

Brandon (as Tracey): Let’s play.

Brandon: And I’m gonna use my infinite rope to attach us together.

Michael: Yep. Yep.

Eric: Do you actually have infinite rope?

Amanda: Yes, he does.

Brandon: Yes.

Michael: It’s like basically canon at this point.

Eric: Yeah, you guys are attached, that’s fine.

Brandon: So basically, we have two people trying to solve this maze at the same time now. Tallahassee is very smart.

Amanda: One of whom is an alligator.

Brandon: Very smart alligator. And then as I go through the maze, I’m going to do two things: I’m going to be blowing my help horn, so hopefully someone can hear me and come guide me, and as I turn corners, I’m going to use my axe to like knock corners out of the patches, so I know if I passed them or not.

Eric: Cool. Okay, and Tallahassee goes, “womp, womp, womp” and he walks off. So, you’re walking through the maze for about ten minutes, and then the rope goes slack.

Brandon: When I feel the rope go slack, I immediately rush over and follow it.

Eric: Okay, you hightail it to the end of the rope, and holding onto the other side of the rope is Vince.

Eric (as Vince): I found the side of this rope. Is this yours?

Brandon (as Tracey): Vince, what’d you do with my gator friend?

Eric (as Vince): You have a gator friend?

Brandon (as Tracey): Vince I will kill you right now in cold blood.

Eric (as Vince): Wh- I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am s- god, I am so hungry. Do you have anything to eat? I ate all those oatcakes.

Brandon (as Tracey): Did you eat Tallahassee?

Eric (as Vince): No.

Brandon: Tracey has a moment where he thinks about slicing open Vince’s stomach.

Eric (as Vince): Where do you get a gator? Where do you even get a gator?

Brandon: Can I roll insight to see if he’s lying?

Eric: Lying about the gator?

Michael: If he’s lion?

Eric: Sure.

Michael: If he’s lion about the gator?

[dice rolling]

Brandon: 17 + 2 for 19.

Eric: Good, okay. Vince did not eat your gator. He is being honest about that. Brandon, I want you to roll a Perception check.

[dice rolling]

Brandon: 17 + 2 for 19.

Amanda: Bah-bah-bah!

Eric: Ooh, good roll buddy!

[Michael singing jingle]

Eric: Okay.

Eric (as Vince): Man, I am so hungry. Do you not have any snacks? I am so freaking hungry.

[harp and piano melody plays]

Brandon (as Tracey): I’ve never really been hungry, so I don’t really carry food. Sorry.

Eric (as Vince): No, it’s fine, I just don’t know how much longer I can-

Eric: And as Vince is talking and talking about how hungry he is, you see that there is hair that grows out of his arms,

[sound of Vince straining, crackling sounds]

-and it’s golden and bushy, slowly he grows. 


He starts to lean over, and his back is just expanding, and there is a massive fuckin’ lion staring at you in the face, and I want you to roll a Strength check right now.

[music fades]

Amanda: Hi, it’s Amanda. Has it ever occurred to you that you can’t really see people age? You look at old photos, of course, and see the difference, but it’s another thing to catch sight of someone’s face in profile, maybe at dinner or in the car, and feel absolutely struck with the sudden knowledge that they’re growing up. This is the bittersweet feeling of time passing. Your back is worse, but you’re a lot more confident, so welcome to the midroll.

Hey, hi, hello to our newest patrons. There’s a lot of you, so it’s so exciting! Cassander, Rebecch, Jen, A.Buck, Esther, Emily, Olivia, Jenn, Kate, Melody, Carman, Josh, Lindsay, Jennifer, Yuliya, Morgan, Savrit, Julie, and Anne! You keep this party going, like a HAIM song, or a pizza delivery, or a great new guest arriving just when people need a mid-party pick-me-up. The door opens and everyone is like woah! yeah! you came! I’m so glad you’re here! your shoes are perfect! AND you brought Pop Tarts! Pop Tarts!!!

We are hard at work on making our first round of exclusive merch for our new Party Favor tier on Patreon. This is merch that’s not available for sale anywhere—just as a reward for those who support us at the Party Favor tier or above. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that all hoomans are gonna find this to be a must-have. Get in on the action at patreon.com/jointhepartypod. 

We are sponsored this week by 20 Sided Store in Brooklyn, New York, whose co-owner Lauren Bilanko is our resident Master, Dungeon Master. Each month we bring her one of our listeners’ questions about games and GMing. Today our question is: “What games do you play when you want to turn your brain off? I love D&D but I am tired by the end of the workday.”

Lauren says: “There is a new Choose Your Own Adventure Game : House of Danger that is great. It plays in five chapters like a book, but consists of a deck of cards and dice rolling for action. It is perfect if you still want the adventure and campaign feel with no prep. I also really like social deduction games like Skull, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Coup, or The Resistance / Avalon.”

Thanks, Master Dungeon Master! And you can pick up these games for yourself at twentysidedstore.com or visit them in person in Brooklyn, NY and use our discount code, JOINTHEPARTY, for 20% off. So head over to twenty (the full word) sided store dot com and use our discount code JOINTHEPARTY.

And now, let’s get back to the show.

[jazzy musical transition over hip hop beat]

[birds chirping]

[dice rolling]

Brandon: I got a 9 + 3 for a 12.

Eric: Okay. The lion roars deeply and pounces right at you and tries to get its entire massive mouth around the top of your head, but you’re able to hold its jaws open, and it can’t close itself on top of you.

Brandon: Tracey does a swift wrestling maneuver that he learned from Horkley.

Eric: Yeah.

Brandon: And he starts prying the jaws of this giant lion apart, going-

Brandon (as Tracey): Tallahassee! Tallahassee!

Brandon: And as I’m screaming Tallahassee as loudly as I can, I shove my cannon arm into his mouth and fire it.

Eric: Oh god. Okay. First, make an attack roll for shooting your- I don’t know, what do you even call this thing?

Brandon: My powder blaster.

Eric: The Powder Blaster.

Michael: Powder Blaster!

[dice rolling]

Brandon: 17 + 4 for a 21.

Amanda: Bah-bah-bow!

Eric: Nice. I’m gonna make a Constitution saving throw to resist-

Brandon: The effect of it.

Eric: The effect of it. I’m gonna make that 15.

[dice rolling]

Eric: [laughing] I rolled a 1.

Michael: Extra affected! Super affected!

Amanda: Woo!

Eric: Okay, tell me what happens. This is badass as hell.

Brandon: So, I am literally prying this lion’s jaws apart from the top and the bottom-

Eric: Yeah.

Brandon: And as a last-ditch effort, I just shove my cannon arm in his mouth and fire it, and a plume of purple powder just wafts over both of us. And my face is a little purple, but definitely their throat is coated in this powder.

Eric: I like it. Okay, you fire the purple powder. The purple people eater powder- inside the lion’s mouth, and everything is just purple for a second. You’re not holding the jaws anymore, but you can’t see anything. I feel like you’re just waving around trying to hold onto something and also avoid thorns at the same time. And finally, the purple smoke clears as you fan it away, and laying on the ground in a tattered blue checkered shirt, is Vince.

Brandon: So, I’m immediately going to take the rope that I have, and hogtie Vince up.

Eric: Sure.

Brandon: And then I’m also going to cast Alarm. I’m going to set a circle around him as he lays on the ground, so if he leaves that area I will know.

Eric: I like that.

Brandon: And then finally, I’m going to start blowing my help horn as loud as I can.

[high pitched help horn blowing]

Eric: Okay.

Michael: Do I hear that?

Eric: Alright, I want you to make Charisma roll for the help horn.

[dice rolling]

Brandon: Well, that’s a 4.

Eric: Okay, so Johnny and Inara, you do not hear the help horn.

Michael (as Johnny): I’m having a nice time choosing to walk around in this maze and enjoy the beautiful day. Is everyone else having a beautiful day?

Amanda (as Inara): [from a distance] Come on guys, I’m tired.

Eric: Okay, I want both of you to make Charisma rolls.

Michael: 11 + 4.

Eric: Okay.

Michael: For a 15. I can math.

Amanda: 17 straight.

Eric: Okay, everyone hears Johnny, who is totally fine, and Inara, who is complaining. I would also say that Tracey, you hear both of them like to your North, and Johnny, you hear Inara to your North as well.

Brandon: So, using my very honed detective skills, I have finally understood that these people aren’t hearing me, so maybe I should do something visual.

Eric: Okay.

[all laughing hysterically]

Brandon: So, I’m gonna stick my powder cannon up in the air and shoot a plume of purple smoke up.

Eric: Okay, great, I want you to roll Charisma, and I’m going to give you Advantage because it’s visual.

[dice rolling twice]

Brandon: I got a 6.

Eric: Okay.

Brandon: The other one was a 4. Just letting you know how bad-

Eric: You have an advantage.

Brandon: Great.

Eric: So, Johnny and Inara, you see the puff of purple smoke, but if you wanna go find Tracey, I as your DM am going to give you one maze harder.

Michael: I am going to roll a Survival check to get another maze from the DM to head towards Tracey.

Eric: [laughing evilly] Okay. Roll Survival.

Michael: I- okay.

[dice rolling]

I rolled a 12 + 3 for a 15.

Eric: There you go. Fish, I am giving you an easy maze.

Michael: Oh, thank god.

Amanda: Meanwhile I, instead of using random luck and chance am gonna use my skills and my items.

[Eric laughing]

Cha-girl’s learned something in a year and a half playing D&D.

Brandon: Hashtag D&D.

Amanda: I am going to take out Mr. Sippy, my almost best friend, next to Oatcake, set it down, and say

Amanda (as Inara): Fountain.

[washing gushing]

Amanda: Which sends a kind of like medium-height fountain into the air, taller than the walls of the hedge, so it’s a marker of the exit for my companions in the maze. I’m then going to bring out my bag of marbles and head back into the maze, using my marbles to mark my path back toward freedom.

Eric: I like it. Okay.

Michael: So, you don’t need a maze at all to get to Tracey?

Eric: No. She can go-

Michael: Damn, nicely done.

Eric: She can go find Tracey.

Michael: I’m just upset that I have to do a maze.

Eric: I’m putting one minute on the clock. Aaaaand, go!

Michael: [singing to himself]


Eric: [laughing] Good, you did a children’s maze in 13 seconds. Congratulations!

Michael: I did it!

[writing] By… Johnny… B… Goodlight. Age… infinite.

Eric: Hilarious.

Michael: [laughing to himself] It’s written like a child.

[all laughing]

Eric: Alright, Tracey, you are just like trying to get anyone to find you, and you are waiting around, and you’re on your toes. And you hear a rustle from inside of the maze.


 And you hear another one. 


You feel like you hear someone getting closer, and closer, and closer. And you turn behind you… and it’s Tallahassee! The gator!

Brandon: [sighs] Oh my god!

Eric: And storming right behind them from different directions is Inara coming from the front and Johnny who looks a lot worse for wear.

Brandon (as Tracey): Group hug!

Eric: You three have met up with each other, and Vince is hogtied and presumably not hungry at the moment.

Brandon: Is this powder made of people?!

Eric: No.

Amanda: Oh no. Flying purple people powder.

Eric: Well the thing is about the powder, Brando is that the Powder Blaster takes away a condition, and I am considering for whatever is going on with Vince, that being super hungry is a condition.

Amanda: It is.

Brandon: Great. Good.

Eric: So, what do you wanna do?

Brandon: Well, first thing I explain everything that’s happened to me to my companions. I hug Tallahassee greatly.

Amanda: His feet kick happily.

Michael: How’s that hug? Roll for hug.

[dice rolling]

Brandon: Uh, that’s a natural billion.

Amanda: Ooh.

Michael: Nice.

Eric: Oh, wow good hug.

Michael: And I wanted to do more science.

Brandon: And I let them know that playtime’s over. I think we should go towards the end of the maze into the cave. He wanted us to go there for a reason. If we have him hogtied, wanna go find out?

Amanda: Might as well.

Michael: I totally agree.

Amanda: We are going to stick very close together as I lead the party out of the maze, picking up my marbles as I go.

Eric: Alright.

Brandon (as Tracey): [whispering] Johnny, maybe we should do this more often, just follow Inara. She seems to be the competent one in this group.

Michael (as Johnny): I both resent and agree with that.

Amanda: I’m going to just smile privately to myself at the front of the pack. As we make our way out of the maze, I will say thank you to Mr. Sippy and turn off the fountain effect, put him back in my pack.

Eric: Perfect. Okay, so the massive cave is about just a thousand feet outside the maze, and you can just easily walk that way. It’s just a nice sloping hill that leads up to a rocky cave.

Michael: And you can also see an obvious way to go around the whole maze from this side.

[all laughing]

Hey Eric, I have a question.

Eric: Sure.

Michael: As we’re walking towards this cave, do we notice any kind of footprints of a giant lion, or the bodily remains of lion food?

Eric: That is a good point. So, now that you’re not in any sort of danger, you can kind of get aware of your surroundings. 

As you’re walking up to the cave, you do see this kind of obvious change, that is you see regular human footprints just kind of walking through the grass, and getting to the dirt outside the cave, and then it sort of turns into massive paws- four massive paws as they walk into the cave. Do you guys want to go in?

Michael: What’s the light situation in the cave?

Eric: It’s dark.

Michael: I would like to send my little light friends, fa-shoom, into the cave to illuminate it so that we can see from the outside without having to go inside.

Brandon (as Tracey): Hey, Vince, do we need to like- is there any traps? Do we need to like avoid anything here?

Eric (as Vince): [muffled mumbling]

Brandon: I remove the tie from his mouth.

[Vince sighs and coughs]

Eric: Vince coughs up a golden hairball.

Brandon: I just realized this is what that was.

Amanda: Yup. I just got it.

Eric: Bah-bah-bow! Your DM’s very good at Dungeons and Dragons! [laughing evilly]

Michael: I’m not touching that. I’m not touching that.

Brandon: I pick up the hairball with two fingers and hand it to Johnny.

Michael: I’m not touching that. Johnny backs up away from that.

Amanda: Fine. Inara’s going to hold out an adorable doggy bag, put the hairball inside it, tie it up all nice and neat, and put it in her pack.

Eric: Oatcake looks a little offended.

Amanda: Oatcake knows that it’s for a higher purpose.

Eric: Fair. Oatcake looks at peace, she’s like, “Hmm [mumbling]”

Amanda: “I appreciate irony.”

Brandon: I take the rope out of her mouth [laughing]

Eric: “Oh, thank you, Tracey! I am Oatcake the dog!”

Michael: What an interesting voice, Oatcake.

Amanda: She’s related to Chad, how strange. We would have known if we’d only asked. God, I’m so insensitive.

Eric: Vince says

Eric (as Vince): N-no?

Brandon: I squeeze him a little bit tighter.

Eric (as Vince): No?!

Brandon: Tighter. 30% tighter.

Eric (as Vince): Yeah. Yes. The answer is yes.

Brandon (as Tracey): Okay, where and when? Whenceforh? How do I…?

Eric (as Vince): On the ground. Just don’t trip the wire.

Brandon (as Tracey): Okay, just the one?

Amanda (as Inara): Why do we even have to come here Vince?

Eric (as Vince): Well…

Amanda (as Inara): By the way, I would have thought it was really freakin’ rad that you were a lion some of the time. I also get hangry, and I get mad when I get hangry. That’s what it means. And there’s a word for it. It’s really normal man. I thought we had a bond!

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, but like I turn into a mythical creature and you probably just like are mean to your friends.

Brandon: I squeeze Vince.

Eric (as Vince): Ah, oh, ah, eee.

Amanda (as Inara): Why a cave?

Eric (as Vince): I wanted to eat you.

Brandon (as Tracey): [laughing] That’s your answer.

Amanda (as Inara): So, is there any reason we shouldn’t just take you back to the higher powers right now?

Eric (as Vince): Wait, the higher- wait a second, who sent you?

Amanda (as Inara): I don’t know.

Eric (as Vince): What higher powers?... No, god- you guys are gonna bring me back to Ze’ol aren’t you?

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah, a little bit.

Eric (as Vince): No! He calls me Mr. Pickles!

Brandon (as Tracey): Is that not your name?

Eric (as Vince): No, it’s Vince!

Michael (as Johnny): Yeah, Vince, but the thing is, you should be called Mr. Pickles if all you’re doing is eating people.

Eric (as Vince): No!

Michael (as Johnny): It’s punishment enough.

Eric (as Vince): Please don’t do this. Please.

Brandon (as Tracey): Is your last name not Pickles?

Eric (as Vince): No, it’s just Vince.

Brandon (as Tracey): It’s Vince Vince?

Eric (as Vince): Okay, it’s Vince Pickles. It’s Vince Pickles. Fine.

[all laughing]

Michael: Wait a second.

Eric (as Vince): Goddamnit. It’s Vince Pickles yes.

Brandon (as Tracey): Oh, okay.

Michael (as Johnny): So, it’s just literally your name?

Eric (as Vince): Yes, Ze’ol is a big, big jerk.

Brandon (as Tracey): He’s actually just being more formal. He’s being more formal and respectful.

Eric (as Vince): No.

Amanda (as Inara): He just put an honorific on there.

Eric (as Vince): It is infantilizing. Just because he sounds like your grandfather doesn’t mean he’s not a big, big jerk. No, no.

Michael (as Johnny): Oh, we think he’s a jerk as well.

Brandon (as Tracey): He is a jerk.

Michael (as Johnny): But we’re just a little concerned because of the whole time situation, and the season situation.

Amanda (as Inara): And like the carnivorous lion roaming around the countryside…

Brandon (as Tracey): Although, to be honest, we just said we’d groom you I think.

Michael (as Johnny): We did just say that.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, that’s true. If you make it worth our while, I guess we could let you stay.

Eric (as Vince): Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yes please let me go. Please, please, please.

Michael (as Johnny): Well a couple questions first.

Eric (as Vince): Please? Please?

Michael (as Johnny): Couple questions.

Eric (as Vince): I’m soooooo hungry.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah, good try.

Michael (as Johnny): Okay…

Eric (as Vince): So- oh! I’m so-

Brandon: I squeeze Vince.

Eric (as Vince): Oh. ow!

Michael (as Johnny): A, you said there was something about tripwire.

Eric (as Vince): Yeah. Don’t go- just don’t go in the cave. Just don’t do it. There’s a lot of traps. It would knock you guys out. Don’t do that. 

I mean I wasn’t always a li- oh! Oh, I have a story! Wait, no, no, no you guys seem like storytellin’ folk! I will tell you how this happened to me, and then you guys will let me go after you take some of my hair. What is it- what do you have to do?

Brandon (as Tracey): We gotta- we’re gonna give you a nice bath.

Amanda (as Inara): I think you just want to be embarrassed by a bedraggled lion. Like a magnificent lion is fine, but that was my impression.

Michael (as Johnny): Our task is literally groom you, I think he just wants to embarrass you yeah, like my companion said.

Eric (as Vince): [whispering] He’s such an asshole.

Brandon (as Tracey): Here’s my idea, Vince. You tell us a story while we groom you, and it’ll be like a nice fun time-

Eric (as Vince): I’m a lion when you groom me. I can’t talk when I-

Brandon (as Tracey): I can comb your hair as a person.

Eric (as Vince): I try to swallow people.

Brandon (as Tracey): Oh.

Eric (as Vince): Like whole. Like you for example. I’m so hungry.

Brandon (as Tracey): Man, that was fun wasn’t it?

Eric (as Vince): No. I’m so hungry.

Brandon (as Tracey): Alright, tell me the story then.

Eric (as Vince): Okay.

Eric: And Vince still is tied up, so can you like prop him up somewhere?

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah, I prop him up against the outside wall of the cave.

Eric: Okay.

Eric (as Vince): I was not always a magical cat

[Michael singing “Twilight Zone”-esque theme]

[all gasp]

I know right? I actually used to be just a normal guy living in a normal house and everything was fine.

Amanda (as Inara): And your name was still Pickles?

Eric (as Vince): My name was always Mr. Pi- no. Oh. No.

Amanda (as Inara): Aw.

Brandon (as Tracey): Aw, that’s sad.

Eric (as Vince): My name was always Vince Pickles. But a few weeks ago, I was doing a regular round for the city guard. I was checking out the forest over in this area, and I saw a suspicious sort of shadow. So, I went to go check it out, because I am a good guard man person. I’m not- okay, I’m not that good at my job. 

And there was this shadowy figure out there that I couldn’t really make heads or tails of. It seemed like they were covered in some very dark cloak, but whenever I tried to shine my light over at the figure, the light just didn’t do anything. So, I asked them what they were doing there. It didn’t sound like a voice that could come out of a person, really. It was both everywhere and in front of me at the same time. 

And I said, “Hey, hello what’s going on?” and the voice- the cloaked figure, said- well I’m paraphrasing, but they said they could offer me like power beyond my wildest dreams that I could use for good. And I said, “Okay!” because it seemed cool, right? And then next thing I know, I wake up in my house, and I’m covered in blood. And I’m like, “That’s weird.” and there were reports of this like massive lion running around Chronopolis, and I’m like, “Oh no, was that me?” turns out, yeah it was! 

Started doing some research. Turns out this lion as big as a house during the Centering- you remember? You know the thing from the stories?

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah.

Eric (as Vince): Turns out the companion of this like unspeakable evil that like comes out of nowhere. So, like that’s me? Am I that? Probably. Libraries are great though. I learned a lot at the library.

Brandon (as Tracey): I don’t think we’re defined by our previous actions, or our path that’s been laid before us, but you know, we’ve all been there.

Eric (as Vince): So, I’ve eaten a lot of people. Like I just kind of like swallow them whole. After a while, I got used to it, and like I could remember what I did the previous day. Yeah, I would just like swallow up people. Like I didn’t even eat them. Didn’t chew.

Brandon (as Tracey): Hmm.

Amanda (as Inara): Hmm.

Michael (as Johnny): Hmm.

Brandon (as Tracey): Well…

Amanda (as Inara): Well…

Michael (as Johnny): I guess it’s time for decapitations.

Eric (as Vince): No! Noooooo! No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Okay, come on, come on, guys, come on. No. Please don’t. Please don’t do that. I didn’t do this! I didn’t do this! Someone else did it to me, and it was probably Ze’ol. Whenever I fall asleep, I always wake up and I see his dumb eyebrows in my head mocking me calling me Mr. Pickles. 

[imitating Ze’ol] Oh, hey Mr. Pickles. I gotta groom you. 

I mean it doesn’t- at first, I thought it was like a werewolf thing, like a lycanthropy thing, like it would only happen at night when the moon comes out, but then it just started happening in the middle of the day. I’d be like going about my day, then I’d get like, “Oh man, I forgot to eat today.” and then I wake- and then like a few hours later, I’ll have eaten and just swallowed a ton of people.

Amanda (as Inara): Man, that sucks. I’m sorry to hear it. Why don’t we say that we did what we had to do, and let you go?

Eric (as Vince): Yeah, yeah, yes please. I would like that very much. I mean, I don’t want to go back to him. I don’t know what else to do. Like I can’t get this out of me. I don’t know.

Amanda (as Inara): Have you tried never being hungry?

Eric (as Vince): How do you-

Amanda (as Inara): By eating, like regularly.

Brandon (as Tracey): Vegetables. Fruits and vegetables.

Eric (as Vince): No, I can’t-

Amanda (as Inara): Complex carbohydrates.

Brandon (as Tracey): Pasta.

Amanda (as Inara): Quinoa.

Eric (as Vince): Huh.

Brandon (as Tracey): Lentils.

Amanda (as Inara): Lean meat.

Eric (as Vince): Okay.

Brandon (as Tracey): Well, um. Normal meat. Not the human variety.

Eric (as Vince): Okay, I like it.

Amanda (as Inara): You can make like little date bites with like dates, and some nuts and seeds and stuff. Real good for energy.

Eric (as Vince): I should probably- I should go grocery shopping, huh?

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah.

Amanda (as Inara): Low sugar.

Michael: Johnny’s going to take out from his book a book that’s inside the book that is, “Johnny B.’s Fave Recipes.”

[all laugh]

And inside are-

Amanda: It’s a pamphlet?

Michael: It’s a surprisingly large pamphlet for how small it is. It has 100 recipes with shopping list and coupons that can be used every time you go shopping.

Amanda: For camping! So, it’s low on fresh fruits and vegetables because you can’t bring those camping with you.

Michael: It’s all about getting as much as you can, eating as much as you can, and keeping you feeling full for a long time, because it is, like you said, camping friendly. And I hand it to our friend Vince as a gift.

Eric: Vince is tied up, so he takes it with his mouth. And he drops it on the ground like

Eric (as Vince): Oh, regular eating. It seems kind of anticlimactic now, but I really should have thought of that one, huh?

Brandon (as Tracey): I can show you some meditation tricks to be able to control yourself when you’re underneath this affliction as well, if you’d like.

Eric (as Vince): Cool, cool. Yeah, I’d like that.

Amanda (as Inara): You know, it’s the things that seem the most simple that leave us first when we’re in times of stress, so you’re not alone my friend.

Eric (as Vince): Wow, huh. Okay, thanks.

Amanda (as Inara): Cool, so this is what we’re going to do. Johnny, you can do your spell thing and get Vince looking super fresh. Cool?

Michael (as Johnny): Sounds good.

Amanda (as Inara): Tracey, you teach him that trick. It sounds super helpful.

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah, definitely.

Amanda (as Inara): I am going to go into the cave- just a little bit, promise, no traps. And just to make it look like we did this, I’m gonna get as much fur as I can. Do you think you would have like scratched your back on the rocks or something, Vince?

Eric (as Vince): Oh yeah, I shed a whole lot. I don’t know why it took so long for anyone to figure that out. I shed everywhere.

Amanda (as Inara): Oatcake, you know what to do.

[jazzy upbeat music begins again]

Amanda: And she is going to florp upside down on top of Vince’s lap and put up her belly to be scritched.

Brandon: So while Inara goes into the cave, Tracey’s going to go over and slowly untie Vince. Does he make any moves?

Eric: No, Vince is trying to stay still. He knows you’re doing something kind for him.

Brandon: Great, so I think first Johnny’s gonna do some Prestidige action, clean him up.

Michael: I’m gonna clean him up. I give him a pompadour, and then I’m trying to improve his style, so I give him a nice like jacket that has this cool line design on the back.

Eric: Cool.

Brandon (as Tracey): Um, Vince, so we’re going to start with some breathing exercises.

Brandon: And we start with breathing, and then we go into meditation, and then we end with Tai Chi.


I tell him all about my struggles with my inner rage and how I learned to control it, and hopefully impart some wisdom onto him.

Eric: Inara, make an Acrobatics check with Advantage.

[dice rolling]

Amanda: 11… 4. 11 + 10 for a 21.

Eric: Hell yeah, okay. So, you walk into the cave and it’s like these trip wires have been set up like very crudely, and it’s like-

Amanda: Listen, he did a great job, Eric. I don’t know who you’re talking about, but-

Eric: Well, he had lion paws at the time, so-

Amanda: True, true.

Eric: So he had these really crude trip wires, and especially in the light situation, you can see that they are like very obviously tied to some gas traps that would have knocked you out. And in the back of the cave, you see there’s like- he shed all over. It’s like you’re just picking up shag carpeting at this point. And it’s just like it’s bright gold, and the fur is actually pretty springy.

Amanda: Cool, so I think we’re all set. We’ll help him up to his feet and give him a final straighten out of his jacket, show him how to zhoosh his sleeves a little bit, and-

Eric: He puts just the front of his tattered blue shirt- he tucks it into his jeans, and he’s like, “Oh man! I look so much better!”

Amanda (as Inara): Looks so intentional, wow.

Michael: Since Johnny wasn’t really participating in either of these things, he’s gone on ahead to the house so when everyone meets back at the house to drop him off, it’s been fully re-

[Eric laughing]

It’s been fully renovated with new things, it’s fully stocked with food.

Amanda: Plants.

Michael: Plants. Succulents because they’re easy to take care of. Just all this nice stuff so that even though the outside looks drab, the inside feels more like a home. And there’s like little nods to lions and cats everywhere.

Eric: It’s the lion’s den.

Michael: Ba-dow.

Eric: So, I do like that. You take him back to his little house on Clancy Street. You guys are inside and you’re all sitting on his new sectional that Johnny found.

Amanda: Accent pillows make a big difference.

Eric: There’s like a piece of driftwood that’s been sanded and burned into it it says, “The Lion’s Den.” I like that a lot.

Amanda: Yeah.

Eric: And Vince is like

Eric (as Vince): Wow, I don’t- I don’t know what to say. You’ve helped me out way more than I could have asked for. I was just some guy with like a terrible lion affliction, and I guess I’m more than the terrible history that I’m associated with. 

Thank you. Thank you so much. If you need anything, like a guy who likes plants and animals, or a terrible lion monster, just let me know. Let me know if you’re hanging out in the city.

Amanda (as Inara): If you wanna hang out with some bombilates, you know where to find us.

Eric (as Vince): Oh yeah, that would be so sick.

Brandon: Tracey looks at Vince, gives him a quick hug, and from inside his pack pulls out a very small and tiny, very perfectly smooth ang oblong. It’s sort of translucent. On the inside you can sort of see the inner mechanics and gears, and it’s slightly glowing orange. And hands it to Vince.

Brandon (as Tracey): Vince, anytime you need us, you just speak into the stone and I’ll hear it.

Eric (as Vince): Wow, yeah, absolutely. Same to you! If you ever need a big ol’ lion, I’m there!

Eric: You three say goodbye to Vince, and you walk outside. Tracey, you feel the familiar rumbling in your bag. The Book of Things to Come is shaking wildly. You open it back up, and two of the labors are crossed out, “Groom Mr. Pickles” and “Retrieve the golden wool.” 

[upbeat music stops]

[ominous, droning tones play]

As you step down the very nicely groomed walkway that leads up to 123 Clancy Street, you feel a sense of accomplishment like you actually helped someone even though you put on this wild goose chase to fix the city. And you step outside and you take a moment to enjoy the spring air. And you feel the temperature start to drop and drop and drop. And you look down and everything’s covered in snow. You guys still have a job to do. You should probably get going.

[theme music]

Eric: Join the Party is brought to you by Brandon Grugle, Amanda McLoughlin, Michael Fische, and me, Eric Silver. I’m your host and game master; Brandon edits, mixes, and scores the show; Amanda manages our community and our digital life; and Michael archives, manual-checks, and cartographs our world. Special thanks to our creative consultants Connor McLoughlin, Julia Schifini and Heddy Hunt.

Michael: The party doesn’t stop here! The day after every episode comes out we publish the Afterparty, where we sit down to discuss what just happened and learn what could have happened. Send us your questions anytime.

Brandon: Join our community online by following @jointhepartypod on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We’ve also got every episode up on our website, jointhepartypod.com; and you can email us questions or stories anytime at hello@jointhepartypod.com. 

Amanda: If you’re enjoying this ride as much as we are, help the show out by subscribing to us in iTunes and leaving a quick rating. For even more Join the Party goodness, check out our Patreon. Just a few dollars will get you access to drawings, character backstories, bloopers, and so much more at patreon.com/jointhepartypod.

Eric: We’ll see you in two weeks. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.