18. Pool Party VII

With the Blackfish in check, the party crosses the river to the Antipolis ruins. Can they talk down Zubi from his frantic mind? Tracey believes. Inara digs through her bag. Johnny finds a curse.


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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


Amanda: Last time on Join The Party...

Eric: What are we doing, exactly?

Eric (as Alonzo): We're going to save Antipolis. Just like I said we were going to do. 

Eric: Oh, that’s right. Thanks, Alonzo. Johnny talks to the Undying Light and meets a shadowy companion

Undying Darkness: Decide soon, Lightbringer. Acceptance or Annihilation

Eric: They figure out that Callie has been the leader of the Blackfish this whole time, and Jamie leads them towards the Antipolis Sailing School, now appropriated as a Bone Whale cult hideout. Inside, they uncover what really set Zubi off. 

Eric: The giant freaked out because it saw the whale and now these people are praying to the whale to save their city.

Eric: When Callie returns to her hideout with a new sacrifice in hand, Inara is ready for her.

Amanda (as Inara): I'm going to stand up as if to look over her shoulder and then very swiftly and efficiently cut her throat.

Eric: Lying to a robot about your human foibles? That’s a new kind of captcha code. Let’s get the party started.

[theme music]

[drawn out, breathy notes]

[waves upon a shore]

Amanda (as Inara): What are we going to do about Tracey?

Michael (as Johnny): Well the truth will not make him happy. We could say that she chose to sacrifice herself. 

Amanda (as Inara): Or that she came to me and I had to respond.

Michael (as Johnny): Yeah that makes sense. Let's do that.

Amanda (as Inara): All right let's go.

Michael: We walk back to the shack. 

Amanda: Somber-faced, even though Inara is filled with more energy than she ever has been in her life.

[low piano notes]

Michael: I push open the door.

Brandon (as Tracey): [muffled] Jaimie stay down!

Eric: Alonzo and Ev are chilling outside. Kicking it with each other and showing each other their battle scars from this stealth mission.

Michael: Did Alonzo hurt himself when he sneezed?

Eric: Yeah.

Michael: Aww, poor baby.

[Amanda giggling]

Eric: He pulled a muscle. And inside, Tracey's holding down Jamie still. Jamie is still thrashing about.

Amanda (as Inara): So, good news bad news. Yeah. No more Blackfish, bad news: Callie is also no more.

Brandon (as Tracey): What?

Amanda (as Inara): Callie came at me and, I had to- had to do it.

Brandon: Tracey slowly releases Jamie and stands to his feet.

Eric: Immediately, Jamie scrambles up and grabs the sword and runs outside. From the doorway you can see him look around from one way or another. And for the first time since you've seen him, relaxes.

Eric (as Jaime): I don't feel it anymore. They are gone.

Eric: And he starts to walk away

Amanda (as Inara): Jamie, Jaime, come back, big problem still remaining in this whole ghost whale situation.

Eric (as Jaime): Oh no. Oh I'm done. Like I assumed they brought me back to murder the Blackfish who killed me, and I'm good. Like deuce's. All the big gods in the sky are going to take me back in, three, two...

Eric: -and he's just like walking away and he waves to you

Eric (as Jaime): Three, two, one.

Eric: And he throws his arms up in the air, and just holds it there for a second.

Michael: I'm going to walk over to him, put my arm on his shoulder.

Michael (as Johnny): The gods aren't done with you yet. Help us save this city and you will find even more peace.

Eric (as Jaime): No, I'm going to, I'm going to wait here for them to bring me up.

Michael (as Johnny): Yeah....

Eric (as Jaime): Beam me up.

Michael (as Johnny): Yeah that's just, you're going to be hungry, it's going to rain, you'll be cold.

Amanda (as Inara): Someone will come down here, ask what's going on, look at this sword.

Michael (as Johnny): It's going to be awkward. Might as well just join us.

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah but no seriously. Let's just, let's just talk for just one minute.

Brandon: While the three of them are talking outside. Tracey walks out and surveys the situation.

Brandon (as Tracey): Where… Inara, where is she?

Amanda (as Inara): We fought on the edge of the dock and she fell backward into a boat. I cut it off from the dock so that in case she was still alive she couldn’t jump back up and get to us, kicked it out into the river, and a bunch of those ghost fish jumped into the boat. Tracey, I didn't want to do it and I would have brought her back if I could. But. I think this means that we have defeated the Blackfish

Brandon (as Tracey): Inara, I know you love murdering, you don't have to like, sugarcoat it for me. It's fine. I'm not saying you did murder. I'm saying it's okay. I'm glad the Blackfish is over. We got some bigger problems to deal with now. Like Jamie. Let's do this thing.

Amanda (as Inara): Alright.

Eric: You're having a team meeting inside the shack, and Alonzo stands up and walks over to the altar and stands on top of it like it's a podium. And he says

Eric (as Alonzo): Alright. One- one thing down, two to go. Here's we're going to do next. We're going to go over there, we are going to get in boats. Just me and my crew, that's all we're going to do, and we're going to go over there and we’re going to kick some butts, or take out Zubi and take on the ghost whale. Take down the Bone Whale. Anyone have any questions?

Michael (as Johnny): We don't actually want to kill Zubi since Zubi is the main source of infrastructure and stability of this city.

Eric (as Alonzo): It's like metaphorical, kick butt, like we're gonna kick the situation’s butt.

Brandon (as Tracey): He's very tall, I don't think we'll be able to reach his butt.

Eric (as Alonzo): Again, metaphorical butt, not real butt.

Amanda (as Inara): Maybe if we were in the ship Tracey?

Eric (as Alonzo): Again, one more time, not-not a real, not a real butt

Amanda (as Inara): Just in the Uptown Girl and we can just like hover, hover just like kind of just above taking off area. I think that it would be doable with the propellers, you could like, use the Long Arm of the Law out of a porthole. It's really cool. And I think you can hit the butt that way.

Brandon (as Tracey): You might be small enough- I could just hold you with the Long Arm of the Law and shoot you out.

Amanda (as Inara): And hit the butt directly?

Brandon (as Tracey): You could just hit his butt directly!

Amanda (as Inara): Yeah!

Michael (as Johnny): Have either of you actually kicked a butt? It's not as rewarding as you'd think.

Amanda (as Inara): Not a stone giant butt.

Eric: [laughing] Jaimie slams his fire sword on the ground [sword hitting ground] and something starts to light a fire behind him.

Eric (as Jaime): No more talking about butts! I lost my butt when I came back! This is very hurtful!

[all cracking up laughing]

Michael: Half of his butt...

Eric (as Jaime): It's all bone now, I have only a bone butt.

Brandon: I feel ya.

Eric: Alonzo says

Eric (as Alonzo): Again, last time, metaphorical butt. We got to go over there, and I think I know how.

Amanda (as Inara): Uh petition: lets me locate this meeting outside the burning building.

Brandon (as Tracey): Seconded.

Eric (as Jaime): Oh we’re just gonna keep that going? Okay, nice, nice, nice, sweet.

Eric: Smash cut. You guys are standing at the end of the dock. The shed is starting to genuinely light on fire, and smoke is climbing into the air.

Amanda (as Inara): Alright guys what boat looks right to you? Want to take one or two?

Amanda: And I stretch my arm grandly over the side of the dock. DM, what kind of boats are there?

Michael: What's the biggest one there. Can they take a full crew complement of all of us?

Eric: Yeah, there's one sailboat that is pretty sizable.

Michael: I jump onto one of the boats and take my position as captain.

Eric: Nice.

Michael (as Johnny): All aboard the SS Undying Light.

Amanda (as Inara): Whatever man, you guys coming?

Amanda: And Inara is going to jump onto the back of the boat.

Brandon: Tracey follows and on his way there he kind of bumps his elbow into Jaime and is like

Brandon (as Tracey): Hey man, we cool?

Eric: Jaime looks at you, fire smoldering in his eyes and he says

Eric (as Jaime): Don't worry, I'm going to get you back.

Brandon (as Tracey): Cool, cool, cool. Yeah, I will get you back too, good one, yeah.

Eric: And he put his arm around you roughly and walks with you over to the ship.

Michael: I do the spell treatment of the boat, casting Light all throughout the ship to give everyone nice visibility and so that I can pilot the ship in a good and safe way.

Eric: Sounds good. I like it. I'll give you Advantage on Perception checks.

Amanda (as Inara): Hey Ev, let's go, I need some help untying here.

[dice rolling]

Amanda: Inara does not need help, I am just trying to get him on the boat. Just so we're all clear.

Eric: Ev does a running jump and does a somersault in the air, and lands right on the boat safely.

Amanda: I high-five him satisfyingly.

Eric: Nice. As you're crossing the river, Fish, please make a Perception check.

[dice rolling twice]

Michael: So, 15.

Eric: As you are steering the boat

Michael: [humming a shanty] doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doot.

Eric: I was thinking the same thing. To your right, you see another boat streaking across the river.

Michael: Do I recognize anything about it?

Eric: It's dark, so you can't see much and since there's light near you, your visibility that far is down, but you see only one person and it's going very fast.

Michael: How many feet away is it?

Eric: A hundred.

Michael (as Johnny): There's a vessel over there guys!

Michael: And I point to starboard.

Eric: Okay, all of you make Perception checks

Amanda: 6.

[Michael groans]

Brandon: 11.

[Michael groans]

Eric: Ev got an 8. And Jaime got a nat-20. 

Michael: Ay, thanks Jaime!

Amanda: Ooh, cha-boy!

Eric: Jaime stands up and says

Eric (as Jaime): Don't worry- I got him!

Eric: And he jumps out of the boat. He is swimming as fast as he can. With his Flaming Sword held high, you could watch him as he nears closer, and closer, and closer to the other boat.

Michael: Okay. Before he even gets like way too far I'm going to use my Prestidigitation and just yell out

Michael (as Johnny): State your intentions, because you got a dude with a sword coming at ya, sorry about that.

Eric: Fish with your Perception check before, you can see the person in the boat turn towards the Flaming Sword, and then just goes exactly the other way, away from Jamie. And they are now chasing each other towards the right across the river. Now the boat is going away from you guys, and so is Jaime.

Amanda (as Inara): Johnny, let's see if we can follow them.

Eric: As you guys look around to try to see if you have any possibility of catching Jamie, and as you're watching the two combatants swim away, Ev says

Eric (as Evan): Uh, guys, I think we have, you know that thing where it's someone that you don't want around you? And then they become a part of your party and then they're coming really fast and it's dangerous?

Amanda (as Inara): Company?

Eric (as Evan): Yeah, company.

Eric: Even in the darkness you see clumps of shadows coming towards the boat.

Michael: The scrolls...

Amanda: Yeah, yeah, we have to.

Michael: The scrolls. The scrolls. They have to go.

Amanda (as Inara): Hey Tracey can I get those scrolls right now?

Brandon (as Tracey): [calmly] Let me just get my bag, I think it’s right behind the...

Amanda (as Inara): [urgently] Tracey, right now.

Brandon (as Tracey): Oh, there you go. Sorry.

Brandon: And then I toss my bag at Inara.

Amanda: And I'm going to chuck those scrolls in our wake so that hopefully it stalls the ghost fish

Eric: As your boat speeds through the river, you see that as each scroll drops into the water it starts to fizzle like an Alka-Seltzer-

[fizzling sound]

And you see these ghost fish jump into the air and just like swallow and attack each scroll. And they are way more concentrated on the scrolls and they are of you.

Amanda: Nice.

Brandon (as Tracey): Oh, guys, we were supposed to eat the scrolls!

Michael: Do I recognize the one that bit my butt?

[Eric laughs]

Eric: Yeah. As you see one fish jump into the air...

Amanda: A dull ache starts in your left cheek

Eric: And the fish has a scrap of a tunic just stuck within its bones! And you realize it's your tunic.

Michael: Okay.

Eric: [chuckling] Are you just at peace with that?

Michael: I mean, I ain't gonna do anything about it. 

[Brandon laughing]

I mean... I tip my fedora at it and move on.

Eric: About 100 feet out, as you make it past the Bonefish attack, the other boat runs aground, and the person in there jumps out and when Jamie surfaces, he starts running towards that person, and they get lost within the ruins of the city.

Michael: I, using my boat skills, park the boat, using my boat skills, safely, using my boat skills, so that we can, using my boat skills, reuse this boat later, and I properly do the things so that it stays in the place so it no go go.

Eric: Yeah okay. Alonzo jumps out and starts running towards the center of the ruins. He says

Eric (as Alonzo): Alright, come on- let's go find Zubi.

Michael: I carefully place the plank so I can walk off the boat and not just trip and fall because I know I would.

Amanda: Osteoporosis is a real concern.

Brandon: Tracey rushes past Johnny and shoves him on the way out of the boat.

[all laughing]

Amanda: Inara jumps out too!

Michael (as Johnny): Let's try to keep a safe distance from the giant, and kind of stay kind of close, but not too close to each other in case one of us falls under the charm spell. I'm going to try to distract it and get it to come towards me with light.

Amanda (as Inara): So, I have a mind reading potion from, from back in the ‘Chopped’ remember when I was totally the champion?

Eric: Ev says

Eric (as Evan): Whaaaat? That is dope as fuuuuuck.

Brandon (as Tracey): I know ‘Chopped’ is really fun, but sometimes they don't let you play.

Amanda (as Inara): Thanks, bro. We're going to debrief later about how dope this is indeed. But if Zubi is caught in a waking nightmare and I can talk to him in that nightmare, maybe I can talk him out of it.

Eric: Alonzo says

Eric (as Alonzo): Okay I'm ready. Give me the potion.

Brandon (as Tracey): Alonzo, we can't risk you getting hurt, we are here to keep you safe.

Amanda (as Inara): We haven't tested this, normally royal potion tester- I'm sure you got one of those back in the castle to make sure it's not like poison or anything. Don't have that here and listen as your defender I can't let you taste an unknown substance.

Eric (as Alonzo): Hmm, you're right. I'm going to hide over here instead.

Eric: Alonzo points to a ruin over to the left. He’s like

Eric (as Alonzo): Alright. Got my orders. Aye aye.

Amanda (as Inara): Other idea: why don't you come with us, that way if something goes terribly wrong, you can rescue me.

Eric (as Alonzo): I- I- yes. What? Yes.

Amanda (as Inara): Anyway.

Eric (as Alonzo): Good.

Amanda: And Inara is going to kneel down, grab that potion from the bottom of her pack where it has been for many episodes.

Eric: It's warm. It's like, you know when you have a soda, and it's been like rolling around in a car for so long- you like feel that it's been in the bottom of your bag.

Amanda: It’s a little like dusty with like M&M crumbs.

Eric: Yeah.

Amanda: Yeah. I'm going to chug that potion in one go.

Eric: Alright, Amanda, here's the deal with this thought spell. When you drink this, you can just look at a creature that you want, and you can hear their thoughts- what's on their mind at the moment. You can also probe deeper into their thoughts. They need to make a Wisdom saving throw. If it fails, you gain insight into its reasoning, if any, its emotional state, and something that looms large in its mind, such as something that it worries over, loves, or hates. If it succeeds though, the spell ends.

Amanda: Okay. So, Ev and then Inara, and then Johnny, and then Tracey start to advance toward the ruins.

Eric: Where's Alonzo?

Amanda: Oh, fuck I forgot Alonzo!

[all laughing]

Okay so-

Michael: The thing is-

Brandon: We took the plank behind us as we were going and it’s like, “Oh, shit, sorry Alonzo!”

Amanda: He’s first actually- Okay, so I'm going to actually write Alonzo on my paper.

Eric: You guys are sneaking up to the center of the city. You're walking through new ruins that are matching the other side, the Antipolis city proper, but everything looks a lot more dilapidated. You are seeing the bones of these buildings. As you near the center of the city, you start to hear the thump [thumping sound] It's like thunder and it's a totally clear day. 

It's a thump [thumping sound]

and then another thump [thumping sound]

and a crash [crahing sound]

and about a hundred feet away, you see the looming, purple visage of Zubi. And again, Zubi's walking lackadaisically through the city, just kind of swinging his club wherever it may land, destroying buildings as he walks through, stomping on whatever comes upon his path. And he's heading right towards you guys.

Amanda: I'm going put my hand on Alonzo’s shoulder, and duck to the left or the right- is there any kind of like overhang or building we can sort of shelter behind for a second?

Eric: Sure, over to your left is a ruined outcrop of what used to be a building.

Amanda: Cool. I'm going to kind of steer Alonzo toward there, and wave the rest of the party over to kind of shelter with me next to that wall.

Eric: Sure. All you make Stealth checks.

[dice rolling]

Michael: I've got non-natural 20

Eric: Great.

Amanda: 'cha girl for once got a natural 20.

Eric: Hey!

Amanda: In an assassin-related thing.

Brandon: Ahem, 8

[all laughing]

Eric: Johnny you look around and try to keep an eye on everyone and you don't see Inara anymore, and she is looking at you from inside the building waving you over. [Amanda laughing] But everyone runs over pretty quickly. Ev trips a little bit and like scrambles just to keep going, but you don't know if Zubi saw you or not. Alonzo trips over something buried in the ground and just falls right on his face, and he looks back, and he goes

Eric (as Alonzo): Ah!

Eric: And you all look over, and there is a skeleton gripping a bow with two hands and a quiver of arrows on the skeleton back, and Alonzo says

Eric (as Alonzo): Dibs.

Eric: Alonzo then looks at all of you and grabs it and puts the quiver on his back.

Michael: Oh no I'm sorry, he called the bow. I grab the arrows.

Eric: No shut up. He gets everything. He called dibs on everything.

Michael: Can I do like a check to see it's magical properties?

Eric: Yeah. If you want.

Michael: If it's cursed, I'm not telling him. 

[Brandon laughing]

[dice rolling]

8 plus 5.

Eric: Wow, you get this really weird feeling coming from that- No, It's just a bow and arrow.

Michael (as Johnny): Hey Alonzo, I wouldn't use the fourth and fifth arrow in that quiver.

Eric: Alonzo makes very wide eyes at you.

[all laughing]

Eric (as Alonzo): How do I… They are all just in a quiver. How would I know how which one...?

Michael (as Johnny): You didn't pay attention? How they were when they were on the ground?

Eric (as Alonzo): I didn't count the arrows! What was I- I didn’t do it!

Amanda (as Inara): [whispering] Anyway, guys let's keep our voices down with the giant giant looming over us over there. Thanks for attending this little meeting that I called. Very important to me that we have an actual battle plan.

Michael (as Johnny): What's the agenda?

Amanda (as Inara): The agenda is, 1: how do we get out alive. 2: what snacks are we going to eat afterward?

Michael (as Johnny): Okay, who has the minutes of the last meeting?

Amanda (as Inara): You can search in your backpack on the boat when we get there.

Eric: As you guys are talking about your agenda...

Brandon (as Tracey): Nachos?

[all laughing]

Eric: Zubi

Brandon (as Tracey): Cheese Sticks!

Eric: Starts lackadaisically, walking towards the building you were coming from.

[thumping footsteps]

Michael (as Johnny): I have an idea for the next agenda item: let's move to a different building.

Amanda (as Inara): Johnny, can you cast something to keep the giant in one place?

Michael: I'm going to poke my head out the window and cast Dancing Lights to fly around his head.

Eric: How do you shoot the Dancing Lights out?

Michael: I stick my head out the window, do my finger guns right at Zubi and go

Michael (as Johnny): Lights, camera, action!

Eric: The lights zoom out to your finger guns [fireworks-like sound]

And they encircle Zubi's head and he's distracted by them, he's watching them go by, but he's not disoriented. He's like “Eh, this is my life now. There are lights going around my head.”

Michael: I don't want him to be disoriented. I want him to still have a good time and enjoy

Eric: Okay, what do you guys do?

Amanda: So, in that initial moment of disorientation or questioning, Inara is going to run to the nearest shelter she can find closest to Zubi. Is there like a column, a building, a wall within fifteen, twenty feet of him?

Eric: Sure, there is a low wall about ten feet from his right, which is within his charm radius.

Amanda: Alright, so I am going to stealthily kind of crouch run toward that wall and hunker down behind it, look right at Zubi, and channel this mind reading potion. I haven't felt any different, but I want to try to overhear what's going on in his mind.

Brandon: And Tracey follows behind Inara trying to keep as stealthy as possible, keeping within 30 feet of Inara.

Amanda: Can Alonzo be uncharacteristically waiting?

Eric: Oh yeah, Alonzo didn't move with you guys. He's hunkered down in the same building with Ev.

Brandon: Is he still trying to figure out which one is the fourth and fifth arrow?

Eric: Yeah, he's counting all of them and like

Eric (as Alonzo): [distressed] How did they not pay attention?

Michael: My bullshit worked!

Amanda: Like a good babysitter, you gave him a puzzle to work out instead of getting into trouble with the neighborhood kids.

Michael: And it's going to make him smarter. He will learn a lesson.

Amanda: It will. It will.

Eric: Now that you’re within his radius, you need to make a Charisma saving throw.

Amanda: Sure.

Michael: I send out the Orb of Undying Light to Inara to assist her with this task.

Amanda: Big money, big money, big money. 

[dice rolling]


[dice rolling]

Michael: 3.

Eric: Okay, here we go. 

[low piano notes begin]

You feel the stone tendrils try to enter your mind. You feel like your mind is being paved over, like it's being overrun by stone, but at your darkest moment, a light just bursts in your mind. And the stone pulls back and you are not charmed by Zubi.

[piano notes grow more frequent]

Amanda: I want to concentrate as hard as I can on gleaming his present thoughts ,staring right at him.

Eric: Zubi's mind, as you look into it, is kind of a mess. His present thoughts are just all over the place. They're floating. You can't even get a good to reach on them. The one thing that you see like floating through is just the sentence:

Eric (as Zubi): [deep, echoing] What is this?

Eric: It's dreamy. It's cloudy. Nothing's clear except for him asking:

Eric (as Zubi): What is this? What is this? What is this?

[dreamy tones and higher fluttering notes join piano bassline]

Eric: Johnny make a Constitution save, please.

Michael: 9.

Eric: As you see the ball of light touch Inara, crawling from the inside of a lantern-

Michael (as Johnny): Hello again

Eric: Is your shadow friend.

The Undying Shadow: What took you so long, I thought you'd never call me back!

Michael (as Johnny): I just figured you wanted to go on a nice... date. So, I brought you to this dark ruin.

The Undying Shadow: Ooo, you know me so well. You know what the best way to get close to someone is?

Michael (as Johnny): I'm sure it's hurting me somehow.

The Undying Shadow: Doing activities together.

Michael (as Johnny): Ugh.

Eric: And the Shadow grabs you from the front of the shirt, and pulls you 5 feet towards the wall. Make a Charisma saving throw.

[dice rolling]

Michael: Okay that's good. 9 plus 4

Eric: There you go,13. Once again. Same thing happens. You fight off Zubi's charm. The shadow says

The Undying Shadow: Oh, that would have been so sweet.

[music fades]

Michael (as Johnny): Yeah but then we wouldn't be able to play again next time.

The Undying Shadow: See you then Johnny.

Amanda: Hi, it’s Amanda. Have you ever gotten home after a long day, or maybe woken up on a Sunday where you have nowhere to be, and put together just the perfect meal for yourself? Breakfast for dinner, or leftovers for breakfast, or toast with weird toppings, or maybe my favorite: plate-of-stuff. And you sit down on your couch with your perfect-for-you meal, put on a show you love, and think—yes. Good. Adulthood is not always what we thought it would be like when we were kids, but sometimes it is a weird dinner while watching cartoons. And that is pretty beautiful. 

The biggest of all welcomes to our newest patrons: Ronnie, Jeffrey, Fonda, Marc, Lillian, Calli, Gavin, Lisa, Anchoria, Erin, and Annie. And we have some exciting news to share about our Patreon: we added more stuff! And more tiers! And more goals! Existing Patrons now get more rewards than ever, including early access to every episode at the $10 tier and above. We added new goals, like commissioning a poster-quality map of Fidapolis. And there are new tiers, including the Party Favor level, where you get actual physical stuff from us! A package full of dice, merch, other games, stickers—whatever goodness we can scrounge up, delivered right to you. Check that out and sign up for access to our poppin’ Patron-only Discord at patreon.com/jointhepartypod.

Ooh! By the way, Eric and Brandon were on the D&D Character Lab podcast this week talking about our warforged robot son Tracey, character creation, world building, and more. Check out the episode in any podcast player: the show is called the D&D Character Lab.

We are sponsored this week by 20 Sided Store in Brooklyn, New York. And we are back with our favorite Q&A segment, Master, Dungeon Master with Lauren Bilanko. Lauren is an experienced DM and game store co-owner here to answer any questions you have about games and gaming. This week’s question: “Do you have any favorite RPGs set in a well-established fictional universe, like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek?” 

Lauren says, “There is a 5e system that came out last year by Cubical 7 for Lord of the Rings called Adventures in Middle-Earth that I love. I haven't played it yet, but the new Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius looks pretty sweet. If you are a Star Wars fan the Fantasy Flight RPG is solid. Play force sensitive characters in Force and Destiny, be part of the resistance in Age of Rebellion, or form a band of smugglers in Edge of the Empire.” Thanks, Master Dungeon Master! Check out all 20 Sided Store has to offer at twentysidedstore.com. That’s “twenty,” spelled out, sided store dot com. 

And if I can ask one final favor of you, can you tell one friend about JTP today? We are a weird little show, but if you’re listening I hope you agree with me that we are also very awesome. And it’s hard to describe what exactly we are to people, which is why we need your help to grow the party. So text or call or tweet someone today who would love to get in on this action! Maybe your partner, your coworker, your cool spinster aunt who’s always been a lot cooler than you realized. We really appreciate it.

And now, let’s get back to the show.

[high, breathy, ethereal music]

[sounds of waves on the shore] 

Amanda: I am going to say as loudly as I can towards Zubi:

Amanda (as Inara): It's real life, Zubi. It seems like an illusion. It seems like a nightmare. But none of those things you're seeing are real.

Eric: Zubi turns towards you and says

Eric (as Zubi): These are words, words, words, words. Until I see something I know is real, what can I tell what is fabrication and what is not?

Amanda (as Inara): Zubi, in times of darkness you have to screw your courage to the sticking place, and take on faith sometimes what's real and what's not. I know it's scary in there. And I can help you. I can tell you. I can be a second voice of reason and tell you what's real and what isn't.

Amanda: And then Inara stands up. And kind of waves her hand and says

Amanda (as Inara): Me down here, I am really real. I'm right here. All these buildings around you, really real. It's kind of cold out here, that's also real. And I think I can hear from the shores of Antipolis some people yelling and having a good time in their evening. That's real too.

Eric: Zubi walks forward towards you. He's about ten feet away from you now. And at this point, you can see how massive a Stone Giant is. It's taller than any building you've seen. He leans down, almost with purpose, puts his hand on the ground and says

Eric (as Zubi): Well what I can touch is real. Climb aboard, little dream.

Eric: And he lays out his hand for you.

Amanda (as Inara): There's the rub, Zubi. Neither of us are going to shuffle off this mortal coil if we go together, I promise. So, take me away.

Amanda: And I'm going to step up on his palm. Behind my back, I'm going to flash an Okay sign to where Tracey and Johnny are.

[repetitive, dreamy, higher piano notes]

Brandon: Tracey sees this and lowers his Long Arm of the Law.

Michael: I'm going to run back towards the other guys and I'm going to try to gather us to maybe go after Jaime.

Eric: Zubi lifts Inara up upon his shoulder. And Inara from this height, you can see the entire city- both this city and the other one. Even without its main source of power, Antipolis is beautiful from up there. With the limited light it has, it still twinkles like a few stars in the sky. And Zubi says

Eric (as Zubi): Look at this. I made that. These humans, these tiny people, would be nothing without me. And when I lose a little bit of touch, when this dream overtakes me, what do I get in return? Fear, destruction, distrust. Nets and knives. Nothing. They worship a Bone Whale, something that came out of a dark portal in the middle of the river. Why don't they trust me?

Amanda (as Inara): When people panic, function is smothered in surmise. Nothing is but what is not. They're not rational. They don't make the same decisions. They don't live by the same values. Panic makes fools of us all. And I think you should judge them by their best and not by their worst.

Eric: Zubi sighs and says

Eric (as Zubi): Well what's the most realistic thing I've heard, and apparently I've been walking through dreams for a long time. Is there are actually a bone monster out there?

Amanda (as Inara): There is. In the shape of a whale.

Eric (as Zubi): Hmm… Well. At least I wasn't dreaming that.

Amanda (as Inara): Do you know from whence it came?

Eric (as Zubi): When the second star winked out in the sky, a hole, a drain, a cosmic drain appeared in the center of the river. From there the monsters swam out. I thought I had been above ground for so long that I did not remember- I don't know. I mean that seems crazy to me. I thought- I thought I'd lost it, but as the water flooded the caverns from my home, where my people would carve our stories, our living, in the side of the old ruins. The Bone Whale lives there now. The whale has created a pool where I cannot go. I'm a person of stone- stones do not swim. I can show you how to get there. It's dangerous. They might still be out there. But you can do it.

Amanda (as Inara): I'll go where the danger lives. But, if we're able to bring the whale to the surface, could you take it on?

Eric (as Zubi): No. This [laughing to self] is not my fight anymore. I'm still regaining touch with reality. I can't go from what has brought me to the brink of madness in the first place. You can do it. And the flaming one. He's running around with a Flaming Sword, it's easy to see them.

Amanda: I'm going to sort of tap the top of the finger that I'm holding onto, and really just turn to fully face Zubi and say

Amanda (as Inara): Zubi, it's the whale that's murdered sleep, that's caused this dream for you, and once I take care of it, you're going to be okay, and things will be back to normal, and people will realize how grateful they've been for you all along.

Eric (as Zubi): I hope so.

Eric: He says as he lowers you to the ground.

Eric (as Zubi): Oh, one thing. If I were you, I would choose the statue with the legs. You'll see.

Amanda (as Inara): Just point me in that direction. That's what I'll do.

Eric: He levels a long, translucent arm towards the South and you see that in the center of the city, like in the other side of Antipolis there is a massive stone column. But here, there is a very large hole right in the center, a cavern.

Amanda (as Inara): Thank you so much. And I'm going to come back to see you when this is all done.

Eric (as Zubi): You'll find me, I'm the one who’s very, very large.

Amanda (as Inara): Goodbye and safe passage Zubi, and we'll see you soon.

Eric: Zubi makes an exaggerated bow towards all of you. His eyes are starting to focus for the first time he says

Eric (as Zubi): Exit pursued by no one

Eric: And he takes off to the left. 

[music ends]

All five of you are standing at the entrance of the center column. There's a dark mouth of a cave right in front of you.

Michael: I'm assuming the Light situation is not good?

[Brandon laughing]

Eric: It is very poor.

Amanda: It's anti-light.

Eric: There is very little light there. Ev says

Eric (as Evan): So, um, are we gonna- are we just going to walk in there? Just do whatever the massive giant tells us to do?

Brandon (as Tracey): I vote Evan goes first.

Eric (as Evan): No, I am-

Brandon (as Tracey): All those in favor say Yay… yay! Yay! [pretending to be different people]

Amanda: Inara just looks at Tracey.

Amanda (as Inara): Yes, we're going in there. Yes, I trust Zubi. And yes, I don't mind going first. Johnny, light me up.

Michael: I'm going to cast Dancing Light, placing one to kind of follow Inara in front of her, then one to go behind her, and in between, her and the next person, and so on so forth, and I'll be the last person because I won't have one in front of me, but I'll have my staff that has the lantern.

Eric: Cool, cool, cool. I like it. Ev says

Michael: We're a chain of light.

Eric (as Evan): Here's the thing, I'm super afraid of the dark, and I don't trust that giant who went crazy and destroyed a bunch of stuff. I saw it, I don't like it. So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going wait outside and I'm going to wait for Jamie, and it is all gonna be fine.

Amanda (as Inara): Alright that sounds good, but Zubi said that we have safe passage, so if he comes up or if you see him, don't be afraid. He's gonna be fine. Just don't engage. Alright?

Eric (as Evan): Yeah, yeah, I think I'll be able to, you know- it's that thing where you try to be peaceful and not fight and be friends with other people?

Brandon (as Tracey): I think you just said it... the best way you could.

Amanda (as Inara): You got detente, you got truce, you've got...

Brandon (as Tracey): To be peaceful and be friends.

Amanda (as Inara): Peaceful and friendly.

Eric (as Evan): Okay, I got it. Truce. I got it. Good luck.

Amanda (as Inara): You’ve got party, you’ve got chill...

Brandon (as Tracey): Hey Ev? Look, I know we've been, what's that word?

Eric (as Evan): You're a big jerk.

[Michael laughing]

Brandon (as Tracey): Yeah, a big jerk. But if you get bored there's chess in this bag here, and if you get in trouble just say these two words.

Brandon: And I take out a piece of parchment and write, “Let's play,” fold it up, and give it to Evan.

Eric: Ev opens it and says...

Brandon (as Tracey): [quickly] Don't say it now!

[ethereal transition note]

Eric: You four walk into a long narrow hallway. It stretches a hundred feet forward. 

[drops of water echoing in a cavern]

And it ends at a stone wall, dead end. Near that far wall, about ten feet from the end, two statues stand on two pedestals. These statues are about a foot, a foot and a half tall. And they are standing on pedestals that come up to about your waist. One statue has long legs, twice the size of its torso and the other one is a regular-sized statue that has wings. They are humanoid in shape except for these two differences between these two statues. The one on the left has long legs. One of the right has wings.

Michael: What's the writing situation?

Amanda: Any Thieves’ Cant?

Eric: There is none of either.

Michael: There’s no words? Aww, these guys deserve names. I'm going to write down their names.

Eric: Sure. The one on the left is named Jimethy and the one on the right is Steve.

[Michael laughing]

Brandon: I was going to say, Sergeant

Amanda: I was going to say Leggy and Wingy.

Eric: Also good.

Michael: Wingtopher.

Amanda: Oh no…

Michael: This is why-

Amanda: Wingdafred!

Michael: Wingfred!

Michael and Amanda: Wingifred.

Michael: Wingfried and Roy

Brandon: We got there, it took us a second.

[all laughing]

Amanda: Inara is going to walk out to the statue on the left, and once everyone else is caught up, lay my hand on the foot of the statue.

Eric: Nothing happens.

Amanda: I'm going to lay my hand on the other foot of the statue.

Eric: Yeah nothing happens.

Amanda: Then I’m gonna look over and say-

Amanda (as Inara): Hey, guys?

Michael (as Johnny): So Inara, why are you touching those feet?

Amanda (as Inara): Zubi said to choose this one, and I don't know what that means.

Michael (as Johnny): So, when you choose things, you touch their feet?

Amanda (as Inara): … I’m not gonna answer that.

[all laughing]

Amanda: I'll take a couple of steps back and say 

Amanda (as Inara): Hello.

Amanda: And look up at the statue.

Eric: The statue, being a statue, does not respond.

Amanda: Okay DM! I'm just trying to solve your statue puzzle!

[Eric giggling]

Brandon (as Tracey): I think to speak giant, you just have to yell a lot louder and a lot bassier.

Michael (as Johnny): Why are we speaking giant?

Brandon (as Tracey): Because we are in a Giant cave.

Michael (as Johnny): Seems like an average cave to me.

Eric: Budum tissss.

[all laughing]

Michael: Can you describe the-

Brandon (as Tracey): [in deeper voice] Hello?

Amanda: What is the light situation by the statue? What’s the right situation?

Brandon: I think we walk out of the cave and this is the end of the campaign and we quit.

Michael: So, the statues are not holding their hands out, they're not like it going for a high-five?

Amanda: How about we all roll Investigation checks.

Brandon: If player Brandon rings a help horn, does he get a clue?

[all laughing]

Michael: Bring one next time

Eric: Everyone pick one thing, one skill you're going to do, and I’ll give you the roll.

Michael: Nature… no, History.

Amanda: I'm going to do Perception. I rolled a 19 plus 3 for 22.

Eric: Sick. 

Michael: 18 total for History.

Eric: Nice.

[dice rolling]

Brandon: I rolled Investigation and got a 5 + 5 for a 10. Also, is my danger sense going off?

Eric: No, your spider sense is fine.

Brandon: You, know, like traps?

Eric: Yeah.

Brandon: Cool.

Eric: I mean so far, nothing is amiss so you are chill.

Brandon: Great.

Eric: We're going to go and order. Inara, you did Perception?

Amanda: I did.

Eric: Okay, you look around the dead end and there are three like doors that are carved into the far wall, but they're not- they’re like- they are sheared to the face of the wall. They’re also higher than your size would be able to clamber up on.

Amanda: So, it's like up above my head, and sort of flush to the wall.

Eric: Yes. There's one on the left, one on the right, and one in the center, and they're about ten feet big. 

Amanda: Okay.

Eric: Johnny, you rolled History.

Michael: About these two wonderful characters whose names are...

Eric: Jimathy and Steve. So, you recognize that these are Giant folk creatures. They come from two different Giant fable, where it's about two giants that escaped a town that was on fire. One ran away, and only got as far as the nearest other mountain, and had to look back and see his city on fire, and the other one took a leap of faith, jumping off of a cliff, and although he did not see the fire, he had to believe that he would grow wings and survive. Tracey, what did you do?

Brandon: Investigation.

Eric: 10, right. These two items are really valuable, actually. They’re made out of really valuable stone- something like granite or adamite. And you can carve them into intricate statues as you see or you can carve them into weapons and they are very, very powerful.

Amanda: Inara is going to walk forward and pick up the long legs statue.

Eric: As you pick up the statue with the long legs, the center door opens. And you all hear a rumbling.

[rumbling sound]

Amanda: I'm going to look from side to side, and then put the statue back.

Eric: It takes you a few seconds to react. And as you put the statue back down, the door that opened starts to lower. But it only makes it a few feet while a boulder busts [sound of bursting stone]

Through the door and is rolling right at you four. Everyone make an Acrobatics.

[dice rolling]

Brandon: Do you think I could punch a boulder?

[Amanda laughing]

Eric: You- yeah, I do have stats for punching the boulder if you want to punch the boulder.

[more dice rolling]

Brandon: [muttering to self] Oh god I’m rolling so bad today.

Michael: 14 to acrobatically lunge forward to safety.

Eric: Okay.

Amanda: 21 for me.

Eric: Great.

Michael: Okay, well brag about it

Brandon: 11 plus 1 for a 12.

Eric: Okay.

Michael: Hey I did better than Tracey!

Eric: Alonzo goes

Eric (as Alonzo): Ahhh!

Eric: And and jumps forward, dodging out of the way like Inara does. Johnny, you make it out of the way by the skin of your teeth. Hey Tracey.

Brandon: [pause] … I’m sorry what?

Eric: Hey Tracey, what's going on bud?

[the sounds of many dice being rolled]

Michael: [gasps] Jeez the number of dice he just rolled!

[Amanda giggling]

Eric: Luckily, you were not pinned underneath the boulder, and it bounces behind you, but it smacks you right in the back. And you take 10 points of damage, and you land face down on your front. The boulder speeds past all four of you, and pins itself right in the entrance of the cavern that you came from. You hear the small pounding at the door of Evan. It's very muffled screams like

[muffled sounds of Evan’s voice behind the boulder]

Michael: Last time we trust a giant.

Amanda (as Inara): We're ok Evan, don't worry!

[Evan’s muffled voice]

Brandon (as Tracey): I mean worry a little bit! we are stuck!

Amanda: I'm going turn to everybody else and say,

Amanda (as Inara): Okay so my play didn't work who else has ideas?

Brandon: Tracey runs over and grabs the other statue.

Michael: No no no! God damn it! The thing was open!

Amanda: Do it! do it! do it!

Eric: Tracey, the other two doors open, and you hear a rumbling.

[Rumbling sound]

[metallic-sounding action music begins]

Brandon (as Tracey): Uhhh, guys lets go through the middle door quickly! Let's go!

Brandon: So, I'm going to reach up and use the Long Arm of the Law to kind of grapple the edge of the doorway, and then kind of like ferry people up and climb up my body and my arm to the doorway.

Eric: Sure, why don't you make an Athletics check for all of that?

Brandon: Well I haven't been rolling so good...

[dice rolls]

[all laughing]

Michael: Well why'd you say that? 

Amanda: Seriously.

Michael: Seriously don't literally ever say anything ever.

Amanda: Wow Eric, you look so happy.

Brandon: I die, I think.

Eric: What did you roll?

Brandon: Um, it was a 5 + 3.

Eric: Yeah. Tracey as you shoot your Long Arm of the Law up there, you can't pull yourself up. Maybe it's the rumbling. your danger senses going off, you can't pull yourself up.

Brandon: I had a long day, I'm very tired.

Eric: And also, you just got hit by a boulder.

Brandon: I got hit by a boulder.

Michael: Good to write my health on this- I just now remembered this so I had to look it up, because apparently it's relevant.

Brandon: I'm a strong boy and I'm not a flip boy.

Amanda: At the same time, I'm going to jump up, pull myself onto the pedestal to the left, and from there try to jump up into the doorframe.

Eric: Great. All right Acrobatics.

Amanda: Yep, I got a [dice rolling] 13 + 5 for an 18.

Eric: Cool, you jump off, what does it look like?

Amanda: I'm going to put my hands up on the pedestal, pull myself up, and from there make a leap as much as my little legs can carry me toward the door frame, clutch it with my hands, pull myself up, and lay on my belly looking back out into the room with my arms stretched downward to try to help pull whoever, Alonzo maybe, up.

Eric: Johnny, Alonzo comes to you and grabs you by the front of his shirt and says

Eric (as Alonzo): I don't want to get hit by a boulder!

Michael (as Johnny): Jump up, jump jump jump up!

[dice rolling]

Eric: And here's the thing Alonzo rolled a 4. 

Amanda: Oh no!

Eric: So, he tries to jump but he lands smack on the wall.

Michael: Okay, so I'm going to push Alonzo towards a wall and cast Blade Ward on myself which, if we're going to consider these boulders as weapons-

Eric: Sure.

Michael: -gives me resistance to bludgeoning damage. And I'm going to cover him.

Eric: Okay, what does Blade Ward look like?

Michael: As he is cowering on the ground. I trace a sigil in the air that looks vaguely sword-ish- one of the sigils is a sword, one is like a hammer, and one is like an arrow. Those three sigils then come hit me giving me resistance to piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing damage.

Eric: Alright Johnny you're pressed up against Alonzo, and you hear the rumbling come faster and faster and faster [rumbling sound grows louder]

And as you turn back, one boulder is coming barreling out of one doorway, and another boulder is coming barreling out of the other doorway, and as both of you are pressed up against the wall, The two boulders smash each other above your heads in a massive explosion, and you might have taken damage from the falling debris, but the Blade Ward keeps you guys safe. Tracey, you're just dirty now. You're covered in rock dust.

Brandon: Just how I like to be.

Eric: Nice. And as you are holding your breath and not dead, you turn around and in the rubble from the two boulders, is a black, inky, goopy, sludgy mess.. that starts coming towards you. Let's roll Initiative. 

[music fades]

[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 hitusup@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.