Balance – Episode 15: Murder on the Rockport Limited: Chapter Six

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Put on your thinking caps, gumshoes! It's time to solve a murder in... the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"Murder on the Rockport Limited: Chapter Six," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 15th episode of The Adventure Zone, from the arc which would later be named Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

In this penultimate chapter in the Rockport Limited murder fiasco, our players deduce the true culprit of the titular heinous crime. Merle runs out of magic. Taako finds more creative applications for Levitation. Magnus gets some fresh air.

The Tres Horny Boys are still on the hunt for The Rockport Slayer, and, along with Angus, are preparing to breach the cargo car, the only place they haven't checked yet. They burst in SWAT-team style, only to find the place completely empty. As they move the car they feel a brief sense of nausea that quickly subsides. Merle's earpiece also stops working once he enters the room. Taako rolls a perception check to see if anything is wrong with the cargo car's safe. He rolls a 19 and sees that the safe is still locked and has no signs of assault. Taako recalls that the crypt-safe can only be opened by a Rockport Limited employee holding their hands on it for an hour, and connects it to the fact that Jenkins's body was missing both its hands.

TAAKO: But there i-- are no hands on the safe.
GRIFFIN: Angus uh, looks up from his dusting for prints on the safe, and he looks up at you, and he says:
ANGUS : Yes, I had the same suspicion a while ago--
TRAVIS: [imitating Angus] Stupid!
ANGUS : --of--in fact a really long--
TRAVIS: [still imitating Angus] Way to catch up!
ANGUS : --like basically from the start, I had that suspicion.

Angus corrects Taako and reminds him that it's the engineer who can only open the safe. Angus tells the boys that he noticed something suspicious about the room they're in and asks if one of them could try and open up the rear door.

TRAVIS: Is this the point when the lightning flashes and when the lights come back on he’s got, like, an arrow in his heart?
EVERYONE: [laughs]
TRAVIS: I know who the killer is! [lighting noises]

Taako tries to open it, but the door doesn't budge. Magnus tries brute force and punches the door.

GRIFFIN : You punch this very, very, very sturdy iron door. And it does-- nothing. It doesn’t even make a sound.
TRAVIS: I do 1d4 plus push.
GRIFFIN: [interrupting] You don’t do any damage!
TRAVIS: I d-- I do-- but it says I push it, and I wanna push it back and open.
GRIFFIN: It pushes you back!
TRAVIS: [Russian accent] In my country--

Taako casts Detect Magic on the room, and his vision goes completely white as he is blinded by the sheer amount of magic in the room.

TAAKO: Bad news compadres, this place is magic as hell.

Taako is also able to pick up faint hints of the spell Ghost Sound. Angus leads them back to the dining car, and, along with Jess the Beheader and Graham, they try to crack the case with the evidence they've gathered. Magnus theorizes that whoever killed Jenkins used his magic rod to create a fake vault, so they can't be bothered as they open the real vault. Angus throws a rolled up ticket stub at the door to the cargo car, and it bounces off an invisible barrier, confirming their suspicions.

ANGUS: You can’t take an item from one of those pleasure rooms out of the pleasure room. So that room is almost certainly a fake. Good detective work, uh.. Whatever your name is.
MAGNUS : It’s-it’s Magnus, but that’s not important right now

Having figured out the vault mystery, the gang turns to the method of murder. Merle brings up the possibility that maybe Jenkins wasn't beheaded by Jess's ax or any other kind of weapon but instead had his head removed by some sort of teleportation magic, specifically the pleasure rooms. Angus proposes that this is why they could not find Jenkins's head, as whoever killed him shoved his head into a pleasure room, presumably while he was asleep so as to not make any noise, and closed the portal.

ANGUS: But why- why the hands? That’s the problem I keep coming back to.
MAGNUS: [interrupting] The hands are for the safe.
ANGUS : I think that’s entirely possible, although, again, Jenkins’s hands wouldn’t open the safe.
MERLE: It w- it wasn’t Jenkins’s hands.
ANGUS: What are you saying?
MAGNUS : J’accuse!
TAAKO: Oh my god.
MERLE: It was the engineer.
MAGNUS: Jenkins is the assassin!

Taako, having a moment of lucidity, posits that Jenkins used his rod to get into the engineer's room, removed Hudson's head, swapped clothes with him, took his hands, and conjured up the crab monster so it could incinerate Hudson's body and prevent them from identifying the body.

TAAKO : By the way, classic Jenkins to use a crab instead of just using a spell slot.
MAGNUS: Oh, classic. Classic Jenkins.
TAAKO: Just burn one spell slot Jenkins!
MAGNUS : [groans] C'mon.
ANGUS : If we’re- If we’re 100% accurate on this, I think we need to be a lot more, uh, respectful of Jenkins’s magical potence.
MAGNUS : Naah, Jenkins is a real weiner.
TAAKO : I would sooner die!

Angus states that it's more likely that Jenkins got into the engineers during the drink service. He also guesses that the reason they were able to talk to Hudson earlier was probably due to the effects of Ghost Sound. Magnus asks where Jenkins could be now, and Angus reminds him that, while they were revealing their identities to each other in his sleeper car, they were interrupted by the shadow of somebody moving past the sleeper car towards the back of the car. This leaves Jenkins as the source of the shadow, seeing as Graham and Jess were in the front of the car, and Hudson was already dead by this point. Angus questions why Jenkins would leave a body in the first place if he could get rid of it so easily and Magnus points out that he may have left Hudson's body out for them to find in order to alleviate suspicion away from him.

ANGUS : I think that’s right, he had to -- whenever this job is done, he doesn’t want anybody looking for him. And it’s a lot easier to escape and- and start a new life as a corpse than as a criminal.
TRAVIS: Well it’s hard to start a new life as a corpse…
ANGUS: I think-- I have a theory--
TRAVIS: [overlapping] Cause you’re dead… you can’t get ar- you can’t get around, you can’t get out a lot--
CLINT: It hadn’t stopped iZombie!
JUSTIN : It's true...

Angus wonders how Jenkins managed to get Hudson's corpse into the space between the passenger and the sleeper car without anyone the wiser. Magnus answers that Jenkins may have been hidden it in the drink cart he was pushing. The same drink cart that was in the room they found the corpse in, and the same drink cart that was destroyed by the crab monster.

ANGUS: Eureka! Baz- Bazinga!
MAGNUS: Shut up! [laughing as he talks] [overlapping with Angus] You already knew the answer Ang-Angus, I don’t need your pity!
ANGUS: No! I’m just - I’m very proud of the three of you. You’ve been much more competent than anybody on earth would have ever thought.
TAAKO: Oh th-thank you!
MERLE: Well, wait til you get to know us.
TAAKO : Yeah, we, we blew up a whole city once.
MERLE: Sh-sh-shhh!!

The only remaining question on Angus's mind is, if Angus only hears static when the boys talk about the Grand Relic in the back of the train, how does Jenkins know about it? After some speculation amongst the boys on whether this information means Jenkins is a Bureau of Balance member, they learn from Graham that they only have 25 minutes until they crash into Neverwinter, meaning they only have 25 minutes to catch Jenkins and slow down the train. Merle casts Locate Object on the magic rod, and he gets a ping from the back of the car, confirming Jenkins location is at the cargo car. Seeing no other way around the fake room Jenkins created, the boys come up with a plan to get into the cargo car:

  1. Taako will cast Levitate on Magnus.
  2. Magnus will be put out a window.
  3. Magnus will knock out the side of the cargo car.
  4. Or just go in through the back of the caboose, either ways fine.
  5. Seeing as the fake room is kept up as long as Jenkins is concentrating, Magnus will distract him long enough to bring down the port blocking their way.
  6. As soon as he brings the port down, they go in, and take Jenkins to Brown Town!

Magnus makes one addendum to the plan, and that is that Taako cast Levitate on his magic boots instead of his entire body. Other than that, he's completely on board with jumping out a moving train.

[Money Zone]

Everyone has gathered around a table in the dining car, and are now looking at a map of the train's route that Graham had on him. Angus points at one point of the route.

ANGUS: There’s a brief gap between the Teeth, where we will have a--
MAGNUS : They call it the Letterman Gap.
ANGUS: It goes over, it’s a suspended rail line over a, uh, a lush basin. Over - called Letterman’s Basin. And, uh, at the speed that the train’s moving now, you’ll have about 90 seconds exposed--
MAGNUS : Okay!
ANGUS: --uh, where we-- where we won’t be inside the mountain and that’s gonna be your best opportunity to get around. You’ll have to move around two cars: you’ll have to move around the dining car and get to the back of the- the cargo car if you want to pull this off. Are you sure you wanna go solo on this- on this journey?
CLINT: By any chance, is Magnus a Chinese acrobat?
TRAVIS: Well, lemme look, lemme look at my character sheet. Oh! Look! Says it right there! ‘Chinese Acrobat!’ Sure enough!

Graham hands Magnus a magic bean, that he alchemized, as a safety measure in case something goes wrong. He tells Magnus that, once he pops it into his mouth, the bean will make him extremely heavy. Taako casts Levitate on Magnus's boots, and, before jumping out the train, Magnus gives some last words in case he doesn't make it back.

MAGNUS : Don't touch my stuff.

Magnus, now hovering in the air, steps out of the train and starts the process of making it to the back of the Rockport Limited. Now in bullet time, Magnus comes up with a genius but risky plan.

TRAVIS: And that is: I don’t have to do anything but let go and then grab on again.
CLINT: Oooooh!
TRAVIS: Cause the train’s moving!
CLINT: Ohhhhh!
TRAVIS: It’s just a matter of timing. That I can grab y’know the back of the train, then I don’t have to do shit. But that would require probably an immense dexterity roll.
GRIFFIN: Yeah, and if you fail this... I’ll kill you.

Travis quickly changes his course of action and retcons that, before jumping from the train, Magnus tied some rope around a table in the dining car, and is now holding onto it. Magnus, using the rope, slowly sideways rappels his way down the side of the train, and successfully makes it past the cargo car to the caboose door. Standing on the small platform leading to the caboose is a flesh golem. Seeing Magnus, the flesh golem rears back its fist and punches him in the sternum for 16 damage. Magnus rolls a strength roll to see if the golem's punch makes him let go of the rope. Magnus rolls a 19, and the punch pushes him above the train like a tire swing. Magnus, now swinging around wildly, uses the situation to his advantage. Seeing that the train is about 60 seconds away from the next tunnel, Magnus waits for 59 seconds. As the train goes through the tunnel, and the rope is pulled back towards the dining car, Magnus pops the magic bean into his mouth.

GRIFFIN : So you are flying above the train. You are waiting. Uh, you have waited 59 seconds, the train has started to move back into the tunnel [rolls dice]. As the uh, uh, uh, dining car moves into the train, it, uh, begins to pull the rope back in towards the train, and you pop this heaviness bean in your mouth?
GRIFFIN : Okay, and from your position above the train, you get super duper heavy and begin to fall directly behind the train, the rope catches on the roof and... you are going to make a really cool acrobatics check...
TRAVIS: Yes I am!
GRIFFIN: If you’re going to do this thing.
GRIFFIN : Because I shoulda just killed you on the side of a tunnel.

Magnus rolls a 19 on his acrobatics check, and, knees curled, collides into the flesh golem like a wrecking ball, doing 14 damage to it. The golem is knocked through the caboose door and into Jenkins, who drops his magic port rod, getting rid of the fake room. Also in the same room is another flesh golem with its right-hand planted firmly on the crypt safe.

It's Combat Time, and, because Jenkins definitely wasn't expecting this, the party gets a surprise round. Magnus enters the cargo car and sees Railsplitter in a big pile of laid out items next to Jenkins. Magnus spits out his bean into his hand, and, now floating again, jumps across to the same side as his party and his ax, flipping Jenkins the bird as he does so. Now that the surprise round is over, the boys roll initiative. Taako rolls a 5. Magnus rolls a 9. Merle rolls a 13. The meat monsters get to go first. The left-hand flesh golem that Magnus knee'd in the chest stands up, trudges over to Magnus, and overhead hammer strikes him for 13 damage. The right-hand golem takes its hand off the safe, and also trudges over to Magnus, chopping him in the side for 11 damage. Magnus is now down to 1 hit point. Next in the order is Merle, who casts Sacred Flame on the right-hand golem. Because undead monsters are vulnerable to holy magic, the right-hand golem is instantly obliterated. Next up is Magnus. Jenkins stands up and, in disbelief, asks how they could have possibly seen through his perfect crime.

MAGNUS: Because you’re not a very good wizard.
JENKINS : I’m the best wizard any--
MAGNUS: You're a wiener.
JENKINS : You-- you-- I hate you all so much.
MAGNUS: You’re a weiner, Jenkins!
JENKINS: I hate you all--
MAGNUS : [interrupting] More like ‘Wankins’.
JENKINS : I hate you all so much.
MAGNUS: I’m gonna call you Wankins from now on.
MERLE : Dinkins! How about Dinkins?
MAGNUS: Dinkins is pretty good! What about Jerkins?
MERLE : [tauntingly] Dinkins!
MAGNUS : I like Jerkins!
JENKINS : I’m going to kill everyone on this train, and then I’m going bring you all back to life again, and then I’m going to kill you again.
MAGNUS : More like Junkins.
MERLE : That would take another spell slot!

Magnus picks up RailSplitter, pops the bean back into his mouth, and two-handed swings his ax at the left-hand golem's head, doing 16 damage. Magnus tries to get away from the golem, leaving him open for an opportunity attack. The left-hand golem attacks Magnus with its big meaty fist, but Magnus uses Parry and dodges the attack. Taako casts Ray of Frost on the golem, doing 6 damage, and Jenkins, seeing he is outnumbered and out-axed, drops his compass and rod. He leverages and points his wand at the left-hand golem, and explains to the rest that the golems he created were made from both of Hudson's hands. Jenkins threatens to destroy the golem, leaving them without a way of getting into the engine car or slowing down the train, if they don't leave him alone to find his treasure. Magnus asks Taako if he would be able to use the magic port rod, to which Taako replies probably. [Theme Tune Plays]

Personal message for Ben, from Grace: Happy anniversary, sweet man! Thank you for putting up with my lack of competition in strategy games; inability to understand song lyrics; and impromptu dance parties. I'm looking forward to what the next few years will bring. My wheat is your wheat.

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

  • Rockport Limited
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