Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Episode 30: The Gods Are Most Certainly A Tad Bit Insane

Xoe watched her brother melt his way into their glaciated home. How in the hell did this happen? Who were these things? Why do I have a feeling this was Xeno's fault? As she pondered the possibilities, she though she heard a distinct 'woof' in the distance.

"Smoke!" cried Iryien. The group turned to look at a plume of purplish smoke rising from the woods behind HQ. It was coming from the general area of Xeno's Bunker of Lethal Experimentation. Saladin went aloft to check it out, and when he returned, he reported that two creatures, apparently slightly maimed, were crawling through the underbrush, away from the bunker. The currently smoking bunker.

"Looks like my carefully planned defenses have done their job," quipped Xeno. The group quickly decided to investigate. Longbottom quickly decided that he had other, less lethal things to attend to.

"I'll be in touch," he whispered to Xoe as he backed away from ruined headquarters, the smoking bunker and the group of heavily armed and bemajiked adventurers who were heading off to interrogate the interlopers.

The problem with the Gods is, they don't get to choose where they live.

Relying on the concentration of devout followers, the Gods will, as is their nature, tend to hang out where they are liked. And sometimes, as the devout splinter into their subgroups, heresies and offshoots, Gods find themselves in the company of subtly different, but often like-minded deities.

One look at the group of shabby deities huddled over the weekly Most Honorable Lords of Ata'ri Cripple Mister Onion game would tell you one thing about the devout on Atari - they didn't think too highly of mathematics.

"Double 30s? Impossible!" cried Lee Chang Seven, considered by most to be the luckiest of Atari's pantheon. He once rolled a Triple Onion in the court of an Arch-duke of Hell's personal valet, and was considered lucky to ever see the Prime Material Plane again.
"Not impossible, dear Chang," chuckled Didymus as he scooped up the dice, "Just highly improbable."

Iryien and Xoe crept up the hill on opposing flanks. Xeno led the monks up the path in the center. Saladin watched from the treetops with the bemused detachment of one who realized that the chances were good that someone would die.

"CURRENT ODDS FAVOR THE GNOME," said a voice - not so much in Saladin's ear as directly in his head. It sounded like a heavy stone being rolled over the mouth of a tomb. He turned to see Death sitting on a branch next to him. He was smoking a cigarette. "THE LITTLE BUGGER'S BEEN RIDING HIS LUCK OF LATE. PROBABILITY SAYS IT HAS TO RUN OUT SOON."

Saladin looked down at his companions. He noticed that for a half-elven ranger trying to sneak up on an enemy, she was particularly easy to see. He reckoned the shiny plate mail didn't help.

All at once, the group's quarry came into view - great gelatinous behemoths, covered in eyes, were making their way towards Xeno's group. Xoe, on the left flank, attempted hitting one with her crossbow, only to succeed in missing Iryien by a few feet. Iryien, bravely gripping the hilt of her sword, leapt towards the Ocular Custard with a mind of smiting it goodly...

"Who's that one then?" said Threepole Thrice, a minor deity of Northdumbria. "I like her style. And you know, I've always been partial to the half-elves..." Xi-Gong the Prolifically Bad at Subtraction looked down upon the scene and snorted. "Stick to the dice, Threepole. I'm sure she doesn't need your help. Besides, you're more likely to cause her harm than-"

Iryien punctured the Custard with a well-timed stroke, only to have the poor creature literally empty itself of its innards in a pool at her feet. Backing away from the mess, Iryien thought this just might be her lucky day as she looked up to see how the others were faring. Xeno had entered the fray, and was about to give the other Custard an outright stabbing...

Xeno was performing the perfect Malbegonian Eye Gouge on the Custard when he heard a distant rattling noise. Distracted, he looked up in the trees and thought he saw a robed figure cracking his knuckles as he sat watching the fray. Was that where the sound came from? Come to think of it, his hands appeared to be very bony. I bet his cracking knuckles would sound almost exactly like rolling dice. The next thing he knew, he was up to his eyes in custard, the overwhelming stickiness filling his ears, his eyes, his mouth. He couldn't even manage a loud vulgarity before everything went black...

Igor the Inauspicious was late to the dice game. He'd burnt the cookies, forgotten the beer and to top it all off he really had to use the Male Deities' Room. But if he didn't hurry, he'd miss out on a chance to get into the Big Onion, and when Fat Shoe Heel is rolling as poorly as he has been of late, there was serious green to be made. Damn this bladder! He really couldn't wait... But wait! He was a minor deity, wasn't he? What was the point if you couldn't use your eminent powers to bend the rules a little? And it wasn't like he was reworking the fabric of the time/space continuum or anything. He just needed to empty his bladder and get on to the game. Now if he could just concentrate on someone down on the planet's surface, the first person who stood out - and use them to rid himself of his liquid burden... There. It was done. And quite easily, too!

Igor remembered just a little too late that he'd had asparagus last night - and in great abundance. Well, it wasn't his problem now...

Xeno awoke, spitting and sputtering. He had been talking to someone, someone who SPOKE LIKE THIS, AND WAS BEING MADE TO FEEL LIKE A NAUGHTY SCHOOLBOY WHEN the speaker was washed away by a tidal wave of some sort. That was a lucky break. The guy was really starting to creep Xeno out.

He looked around. The others were all gawking at him (except for Takemiya, who was for some reason fiddling with his robe with his back turned). Oh well, Xeno thought, I feel great! So great in fact I think I'll barge right into my bunker and see who set off one of my traps. I'm sure it was probably nobody important - just a brazen local thief or cheeky teenage daredevil. I'll wager they lost an eyebrow or two and are making a beeline back home to mommy as we speak. I bet they even peed their pants! Haha, let's just open this cracked and dented door here and see what lies... within the charred and... smoking remains of my... bunker? Oooh, what's this shiny thing stuck in the wall?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Episode 29: Frozen Lump Sweet Frozen Lump

The final gifts had been distributed, the final pints had been drunk and the final concubines had given their final frankincense and myrrh rubdowns. The Caliph had let the crew know of the existence of the elemental wormhole - the one opened up by Xeno's unfortunate interaction with the Elemental Throne.

The Caliph brought the silken cloud to the wormhole - a giant hurricane spewing fire and steam into the Plane of Air - and bid the crew adieu. Then, one by one, everyone popped though the smoky bubbleportal back to the Prime Material Plane and onto...


At first, a number of the party groaned as they thought they'd been transported back to Aquae Sulis - and gods knows when. But as the intrepid Saladin transformed into death hawk form (and thusly avoiding becoming a druid pancake) he climbed back into the sky and surveyed the surroundings. In the distance.... the ocean. White sails billowing in the breeze. Closer in, the familiar sight of Port Harbor, the quaint tourist town nestled in peak fall foliage. And below, Saladin's comrades, sliding across a small shelf of ice to what looked like a frozen lump - right where DCM headquarters used to be.

Meanwhile, in another plane entirely, the hulking ice devil Mytzlplk was receiving a report from Chief Antagonizer Grewellyn, deep within the scintillating glacial palace of Pwn.

"Haave yoou foound thaat deetestable gnoome yeet?" hissed the devil through his large, razor-sharp mandibles. Ice cold venom, reflective like mercury, dripped from the chitinous tips and pooled at his feet. A minion scuttled out from a trapdoor at the base of the devil's frozen throne, collecting the venom to sell at a later date on the open market. Minion's gotta live, yo.

"Y-yes my liege," stuttered Grewellyn. He hadn't bargained for what an outright bastard this Mytzlplk had turned out to be. Sure, he had sent his resume all over the Hells, and the 8th level of Hell was reputed to be one of the nastier ones (especially when compared to Mammon's Vile Level Of Naughty Luxury) but this one just gave Grewellyn the heebie jeebies.
"I have sent a detachment of your Bone Guards to his domicile with express instructions. I am sure that they will have him in custody shortly. And as your Lordship will recall," he winced as he embarked on reminding Mytzlplk about his recent shortcomings in the memory department, "the Lady Gawgaw is overseeing the mission personally."

Mytzlplk turned his faceted eyes and, to Grewellyn, it looked like he was looking far away through the mists of Time.

"Yees, the Laady Gaawgaw... Exceeedingly beautiful... Deeliciously cruuel... I am ceertain I wiill haave hiis heead in my haands byy moorning..."

Mytzlplk shifted in his frozen throne. Grewellyn looked away with a modicum of embarassment and, bowing low, backed his way out of the chamber.

It took a moment for everyone's inertia to settle out on the ice. Takemiya broke through the thin ice that covered the inlet and found himself cold, wet and alerting the hidden team of translucent blue skeletons to DCM's return home. Immediately, the four skeletons sprung forth from the water and a melee ensued.

Luckily for DCM, numbers and tactics overcame surprise and superior cutlery as the skeletons were quickly dispatched. Only Saladin suffered the ignominy of being almost killed as a hurtling blue sphere of icy flame sent the scent of deep-fried falcon across the land.

(Moments later, in port Harbor, a down-and-out food vendor was inspired to, at extreme peril, update the items on his portable lunch menu. 'Grylled Skwab of Falcune' sounded like a surefire winner to him.)

After warp-marbling and bear-hugging the final skeleton out of existence, the crew surveyed the lump that was their headquarters. It looked like someone wanted to send them a message - and it wasn't a very nice one at all.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Episode 28: As Gertrude Stein said, "A One is a One is a One."

Xeno stomped towards the Temple. He was fed up. He wanted answers. And no one was going to stop him. No one but the orange dragon that exploded out the temple's double doors, taking bits of wood, plaster and stone with it, that is.

Fortunately, Xeno's recently highly-developed sense of non-causal reality had prepared him for this, and he was, with the deftest of backflips, able to avoid the steaming freight train of teeth, talons and wings and land safely on his feet, out of harm's way.

Less so was his ability to process the large, metallic horseless carriage that shot out of the temple in pursuit of the dragon. Rolling at high speed on four tires, covered in a myriad of colors and skeletal motifs, and bearing the words 'Grateful Dead' down the side, Xeno was caught off guard just enough to fail to notice the large leather satchel that was dislodged from the top of the vehicle.

It landed on his face. And would have killed him, too, if not for the intrepid healer Kobayashi Jones, who leapt forth from the cowering band of cohorts to remove the satchel from Xeno's face, thus sparing him from a gruesome death by drowning, smothering and bone fragment inhalation.

By this time, however, the rest of DCM was shaken out of their fearful stupor by the fact that the dragon was now turning towards them (pursued by a bus). Fortunately, Saladin (in death hawk form) was grazed by the dragon (who then expired midair), knocked into the bus (windshield, that is) and met Iryien's mom (who was not happy to see him).

Takemiya utilized his SUPA GROW POWA to snatch the dragon's falling corpse by the tail just before it crushed a slow-to-react-Longbottom. Unfortunately, due to die rolls, timing and inertia, the innards of the dragon paid no mind to Takemiya's heroism and proceeded to nearly drown the slow-to-react-Longbottom in muscle, sinew and innards as they shot out the dragon's mouth.

It was just at this point where another deadly Timestorm arrived and threatened to suck our heroes into yet another timeline altogether. But some quick thinking by Xoe (using a rarely utilized lasso proficiency), and enormous length of sheep-filled dragon intestine and the rear axle of a Grateful Dead tour bus tethered our heroes to the plane just long enough for Ben to arrive, pull them into the Temporal Prime and set them on the path (at last!) to wrapping things up. All that was required was tossing a Temporal Mine into Saladin's path, preventing him from leaping through the stained glass window and crashing into Iryien, thus fracturing an already fractured T/S Continuum beyond all hope of repair.

Ben opened a portal and Xeno crept towards it with the mine in his hand. History forgets how exactly the ensuing events transpired*, but suffice it to say that somehow, Xoe lost her grip on Xeno as she tried to assist him in getting the mine out into the temple. Xeno then hit the Elemental Throne at exactly the wrong angle**, possibly with the Temporal Mine***, and all hell broke loose.

The next thing anyone but Takemiya knows, they are floating in the crystalline clear Elemental Plane of Air, soaking wet and smoldering slightly. It would seem that someone**** blew a hole into all four elemental planes at once, and Takemiya pulled everyone out of the gouts of flame through the geysers of water and into the Plane of Air. There, everyone learned that Takemiya was a Janni, a genie who is at home on all four elemental planes. They also learned that Takemiya had a distant cousin who resided in a large, billowing palace of silk by the name of Caliph Ali Bhagwan Shri Rashneesh. The Caliph was very happy to see his distant cousin and has taken in the group, is seeing to their health and recovery, and is bestowing upon them many and various boons.

Let us see how long this lasts...

* Somebody rolled a 1.

** Somebody else rolled a 1.

*** Very damn probably with the Mine. I mean, he exploded an artifact. One I took great pains to construct as the nexus of a whole multi-session campaign. Weeks of careful planning, gone. Thanks, guys. Thanks a LOT.

**** Xeno.