Balance – Episode 42: The Eleventh Hour: Chapter Two

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If that old lady is some sort of spooky ghost, I'm out of here! I need a ghost-free guarantee if I'm going to stay in... The Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Eleventh Hour: Chapter Two," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 42nd episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

What waits for our heroes on the other side of the time-stuck barrier? Seriously, what could be in there? A dragon made out of time? A parallel universe where people eat time like snack chips? A genuinely kind of innocuous, rustic town? Whatever it is, one thing's for sure: There's about to be some trouble in that bubble. Merle does some successful evangelizing. Taako gets caught red-handed. Magnus rushes in!

Rustic charm so thick it could choke a gerblinedit | hide | edit source

After forced immersion therapy for “putting up with shit” for a sick DM and a quick refresher on the plot so far, the team wakes up in a strange place: the town of Refuge (though they don’t yet know it). As they begin to make their way through town and through the gate, they come upon Roswell, a keeper of the peace, who asks them to identify themselves. 

Magnus, very excited to demonstrate his rustic hospitality, addresses the bird and introduces himself (“Hail and well met, bird friend!”), and, eventually, the others. Roswell seems very confused — it’s been a while since they’ve had visitors in the town. Taako explains that they got lost, and the guys attempt to clarify in a way that won’t get them killed or super banished.

Griffin gives the team a head’s up that this arc will be a little more of an open world — the players will need to do a bit more talking to grease the wheels and get the information that will move the campaign forward.

Roswell asks for clarification, and Merle explains that they were shot through the wall, but he sings it… so maybe Roswell doesn’t believe him. Roswell makes a command decision to bring the boys to the sheriff’s office, where Sheriff Isaak can decide what to do with them.

To jail! (But not really.) (But also, really.)edit | hide | edit source

They walk down the main street of town and Griffin describes what they see before them, including a clock tower showing the time as 11:05/11:10. At the end of the street is a manor, and in front of the manor is an 8-foot tall statue cast from some kind of brown metal. The statue depicts three figures: a small human girl, about seven years old, wearing a knee-length dress with her hair done up in a bob. She is holding hands with a large, broad, bearded human man wearing a miner’s helmet with a torch on it, and a big flannel shirt and big bulky pants. He’s clearly dressed as a miner. They are both smiling, and the statue looks pretty well-made: they can make out the facial features of this statue. Standing behind them, with a hand on each of their shoulders, is a figure cloaked in a red robe. The figure is smaller than the man, but has pretty broad shoulders as well: the figure is tall and muscular, which can be seen even under the robe. The figure’s robe is obscuring their face. 

Roswell indicates that the statue depicts a very important event in the town’s history: “the time that the visitor came and brought the father and daughter to our town. And by their sacrifice our town was made safe!”

Magnus asks how long ago the sacrifice happened; Roswell answers that it was about a year and a half ago. Merle tries to get more information about the figure in the red robe, but Roswell said nobody saw the figure other than Sheriff Isaak. Roswell had heard tell that the red robe was “big and tall and strong.” Taako presses Roswell to ask what sort of danger the town was in, and Roswell answers “the danger of, you know, the world,” and then says they shouldn’t be talking about it.

When they get to the sheriff’s office, Roswell says they don’t want to lock anyone into a cell, seeing as they haven’t done anything wrong… they’re just not sure whether they can trust the boys. Magnus offers to fix the chairs.

Taako does an investigation check on Roswell, revealing that the red stuff coming through the armor is clay (not blood). Whatever is animating Roswell is “magic as fuck,” something like a golem or a homunculus. Justin dubs them Homer, but Griffin points out that they have a name, but nobody has bothered to ask. Taako asks, “Homer, what’s your name?” and lo! It is Roswell — no distinction between the bird and the suit of armor. Taako runs an arcana check to learn that Roswell is an Earth Elemental — and the spell covers the armor, the clay, and the bird. Though Roswell was made from a spell, they are operating under their own volition: nobody is controlling them remotely through magic (though the creator is probably, as Travis put it, “powerful as fuck”).

Magnus is getting ready to fix the chairs (and build one giant super chair). Roswell prepares to leave to find Sheriff Isaak. Taako asks for more information about him, but is rebuffed.

The gang learns that Roswell has always lived in the dome, making them perhaps one year old.

The Aforementioned Trouble in Bubble Cityedit | hide | edit source

There is a disturbance outside, complete with shouting and spells being cast, things being broken. Roswell goes to check in on that. Merle begins to rifle through the drawers, and there’s a map hanging on the wall. 

Magnus sneaks and peeks out the front door. Down the street, outside the Davey Lamp, a man in a purple handkerchief is lying in the street. Another man in purple goes flying into the street out the saloon doors. Roswell moves to chase the two men, but they run away. Mischief managed, Magnus begins work on his superchair. 

Merle goes to meet Cassidy, the woman in the last cell of the jail. He attempts to convert her to hear the good word of Pan, but she is largely unimpressed. 

Meanwhile, Taako casts Knock on the locked desk drawer, revealing a) an alarm and b) a set of keys. Magnus tries to quickly shut down the alarm with his thieves’ tools. It’s too late, Roswell has already come back, super suspicious of the team. 

Taako attempts to explain/bluff, saying that those guys [the ruffians] were trying to break into the desk. Roswell asks Cassidy if that’s true, and she says that she didn’t see any ruffians.

Magnus tries telling the truth to Roswell, which definitely doesn’t work. They ask them to wait in a cell, and says that the ruffians were merely involved in a bar fight. Taako continues to try to talk his way out of the lie and any sort of consequences of unlocking the drawer. Roswell puts them in the cell.

Merle may have been in prison before, as he says, “I can’t go back, man!” Magnus is actually enjoying himself. Cassidy is giving them the stankiest eye from the other cell, so Magnus tries to hail her in Thieves Cant. She just thinks it’s Gerblin Speak.

What’s your story, Cassidy?edit | hide | edit source

Taako asks Cassidy what her story is, and she refuses. Taako reminds her of the rules of improv, so then she tells them that she’s been falsely accused of blowing up a temple. She claims she was just blowing up the earth to get at the precious diamonds underneath. Magnus tells her he believes her, and introduces himself. She calls him Marches Burchniz, which is close enough. 

Magnus asks Cassidy about the visitor and the sacrifice. All she knows is that the bubble came to protect them from the dangers of the world. They ask about the sheriff, and all she says is he’s a good dude who keeps them safe, and the mayor, and a town elder, and he lives in the biggest house in town.

Magnus asks about the purple-bandana ruffians, and where they came from. Cassidy doesn’t know, saying it’s a “fuckin’ good question.”

Time passesedit | hide | edit source

After a few minutes, they feel a very light tremor or earthquake. The building is shaking, the ground is shaking, and the boys can hear sounds of concern from outside. Glass breaks, a lamp post falls over, a horse gets scared, and the quake ends. Cassidy says it’s not normal at all. Roswell leaves to go check it out.

Magnus wants to check the cell for any damage, but Taako points out that they could just leave if they wanted to. Cassidy kicks her way out of the cell.

Should they leave? Magnus wants to leave and go help, hoping to make a big impression. Merle wants to help Cassidy escape, but she did already. Merle thinks maybe it will help the narrative along to just sit and relax for a bit. Taako says that’s a good point. There’s no visible damage to the cell, and Merle wishes they had smokes to trade (though Griffin points out they are the only people there, so…). Magnus wants to go help wherever the noise was.

Taako casts Knock and they leave to go help. Magnus uses the Lens of Straight Creepin' to follow Roswell’s footprints straight into Helpingtons. Roswell is helping to clean up the store, even though there’s not a lot there. They see the three and say “Okay, seriously?”

11:45: Explosion!edit | hide | edit source

They hear a short pop and a fucking explosion. Magnus runs toward the explosion and Roswell is chasing. Merle waddles toward the noise as well. They see smoke coming from the windows of the bank. Roswell rushes into the bank, and Magnus follows right behind. 

A guy with a purple kerchief, on fire, bursts out of the bank, and Magnus starts rolling him around in the dirt. There are shouts and screams coming from the bank, stuff is getting thrown around, and there’s still stuff super on fire.

Taako considers casting Cone of Cold, but then remembers that he can’t sculpt his spells, and he would probably kill people to put the fire out. He remembers he’s got Stoneskin on, which grants him resistance to fire. He takes off his skirt (doesn’t want that to get burned up!). He’s got his undies on, but nothing else. Magnus switches his belt to fire and runs inside as well. Merle waits outside, ready to heal any injured.

There are some bodies on the ground. There’s a burned-up, dead, dark elf woman. There’s a young man with jet black hair lying on the ground. He is also dead. There are two guards who were protecting the bank; they are dead. Two purple kerchiefed ruffian dudes: dead. Dwarf woman: alive but injured. Three purple kerchief ruffians who are alive and freaked out, but fighting Roswell. The vault was charred but still closed — if their plan was robbery it did not work.

Magnus and Taako go check up on the dwarf woman while Roswell is handily handling the ruffian dudes. The dwarf woman has about 1 point of HP left. Taako opens the Umbra Staff to protect her from any embers. She says, “Who? the fu- are you guys?”

Merle casts Mass Healing Word on the burnt up ruffian and the dwarf woman. The burned guy is pretty dazed, the dwarf woman coughs and tries to ask what happened. The dwarf woman is about middle-age (150 years old). She has long red hair, some whiskers, and she’s wearing some nice clothes. She’s coughing a lot.

Magnus rushes back in. Roswell has killed all of the dudes, and is standing at a really badass angle. “This has been a really bad hour, and it didn’t start until you guys came into town. It’s my job to keep the town safe, and this hour has kept me from doing so. I need to know what you brought with you,” they say. Magnus wants to get them outside the burning building, as beams are falling from the ceiling.

Justin clarifies: when they woke up, they could see the bubble and they didn’t leave a hole. Griffin points out that this means there's no escape, unless they have another giant cannon on this side of the bubble.

Roswell asks Magnus where he came from and what they’re doing there. Magnus says “We came from outside the bubble, we came here to find a chalice, and now we need to get out of this building.” Roswell doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about, but shoos Magnus out. Another beam falls from the ceiling.

Magnus runs out, but just as he makes it outside, the building collapses. Roswell was still inside.

Now that the bank has fallen, the party can see the clock tower behind the bank. The base of the clock tower is on fire, starting to climb up it. There are some people who have come out, into the street to check things out. There’s an elf with a big bucket of water trying to put out the clock, but that’s not going to help. Some others try to help, but it’s clear it’s just a big disaster.

The Clock Tower Chimesedit | hide | edit source

[This section is a direct transcript]

The clock tower chimes, because it has struck noon. It chimes again, and again, and it chimes twelve times, as clock towers are wont to do, when it has turned over to noon. As it does, something absolutely horrible happens. [Travis: Ditto, did you base this on Majora's Mask?]

There is another tremor, and this one is much more powerful from the last, and much longer than the last. It doesn’t seem to show any sign of stopping. And as it picks up, as the clock strikes noon, the residents of Refuge who are now standing in the streets of Refuge start to scream and hold each other. And the buildings that they were standing in just start to fall over like they were made out of toothpicks, because the ground is shaking so much that it’s actually hard for you to keep your footing. Cracks slowly start to form in the ground, but they’re not just fissures in the ground: there’s a bright and incredibly hot light coming from the ground. And you just hear the screams pick up all around you, and the fissures grow bright, and a plume of unbearable heat emerges from the ground. The ground, all around this town swells up beneath you, just toppling all of the buildings that remained. The clock tower snaps at its midsection as it chimes its twelfth chime, and it falls over into that large two-story manor at the end of the street, with a loud crash.

The ground, as quickly as it expanded, it just… falls out beneath your feet. And you’re falling, and you’re burning. And you’re being crushed, by the shattered earth, as it compresses down into the ground. And you hear an anguished scream, come from something massive, and furious. And all three of you have died.

  • TRAVIS: Thus ends…
  • CLINT: Welp.
  • JUSTIN: Good run.

And there’s something about the dying? that feels familiar. And then you’re back in that white space. And you see that old woman again. And she says, “Oh, you’ll have to do much better than that, loves.”

And then you wake up.

[Applause and laughter. AWESOME.]

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

Referencesedit | hide | edit source

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