Balance – Episode 5: Here There Be Gerblins: Chapter Five

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I'll drink up all the potions that you've got on your shelf, so just let me introduce myself. It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"Here There Be Gerblins: Chapter Five," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the fifth episode of The Adventure Zone, from the arc which would later be named Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

Merle, Taako, and Magnus complete their rescue mission, but then completely fail an entirely new, far more important mission. Taako acquires a powerful artifact, and doesn't seem so stoked about it.

What’s Going On? (Marvin Gaye, 1971, Tamla Records)edit | hide | edit source

Killian is impressed with the gang for dispatching Magic Brian. They ask her for more information on what this is all about, and she promises to tell them as soon as she is literally physically able. Taako posits that it’s a curse, which Killian denies, but they agree there’s something going on.

Gundren tries to elucidate them. They retrace some of their steps through the mine, going past the chamber where they fought Renee, and into another room. On a good roll for a perception check, Taako discerns a huddled skeleton wearing a crimson robe and sitting comfortably with its back against the wall. The skeleton is holding a cane that’s been tucked into its robe, and it seems the skeleton belongs to someone who’s been dead for a very long time. 

Taako and Merle both cast Detect Magic on the cane, and they both fail. Magnus casts it, and detects, just like, a bunch of magic. What Magnus gets is “everything… all schools of magic. It’s all the magic that there is and it seems to be somehow embedded in this cane.”

Merle decides he’d like to pick it up in the robe, and enters a contest of wills with the cane. The cane rejects him, and Merle gets flung backwards into the wall. Taako decides to try the exact same thing and… it works. The cane accepts him, and, as he pulls it out, he realizes that it wasn’t just a cane, it was the handle of an umbrella. As he pulls, the skeleton seems to gaze up at him. As Taako wrests it from the skeleton’s grasp, it disintegrates into ashes. 

“I have a thing called Zone of Truth?”edit | hide | edit source

Gundren recognizes that they deserve answers. (MAGNUS: Yeah! TAAKO: Please. MAGNUS: And some money. GUNDREN: Maybe…) Merle casts Zone of Truth on the assembled right as Gundren begins his exposition, accidentally capturing everyone in the Zone of Truth. Gundren is angry that Merle has cast a magic spell, Merle explains that he’s truthfully, a little pissed off, and Taako blurts that he stole a bunch of gold. Magnus is having a really great time and thinks they're becoming closer as friends! 

Quick exposition: Gundren’s father was in charge of security for Wave Echo Cave. When orcs came to Phandalin to take over the Cave, Gundren’s father locked away all of the magical items and weapons in a vault, that only Rockseeker blood (or pee, or really any bodily fluid) can open. He locked himself in, sacrificing himself, about a decade back. 

Gundren unlocks the door and leads the crew into the passageway beyond. The passageway and the entire room beyond that is made with a dark black glass, almost like obsidian. The room is completely empty save for a badly burned dwarven shape with one arm raised. That arm has an unburned, silvery glove stuck on it.

Magnus gives it a high-five. 

A spout of flame comes out of the gauntlet and burns Magnus’s hand.

Gundren is frustrated — the room is meant to be filled with magical artifacts and weapons, but it’s empty. That said, it’s his birthright. Enter: Killian.

Can’t leave them alone for 90 goddamn secondsedit | hide | edit source

Killian, seething now, pulls out her crossbow and asks if anyone has high-fived the gauntlet. Everyone denies it, after checking that they left the Zone of Truth back in the other room. Killian explains that the gauntlet is indescribably dangerous, and asks everyone to take a step back. Gundren reveals himself to be an orc racist and asks the gang to kill Killian instead. 

They argue back and forth for a second. Magnus asks if either of them know what it is. Gundren doesn’t, but he knows the gauntlet is his. Killian does, but all the comes out of her mouth is maracas. 

Gundren snatches the glove up and puts it on his hand. He’s engulfed in flame, but he doesn’t burn up. Instead, he feels imbued with power.

Killian shoots him with a crossbow, but Gundren easily blocks it with his gauntlet. Killian orders them all back. Gundren decides it’s payback time and he flies out of the chamber like a dwarven fireball.  

Gundren walks out, trailing a burning swath of fireedit | hide | edit source

The gang follows Gundren, which turns out to be easy because he's burning a path, like Little Billy from Family Circus. Killian says things will go bad if he's allowed to get back to Phandalin. Magnus tries to make the cart go faster, giving it high fives for moral support. Taako, annoyed, puts Magnus to sleep.

The gang pulls up to a convoy of Orc-driven conestoga wagons that Gundren has destroyed, confirming Gundren's horrible fantasy racism. There are four human figures scavenging through it for remains, and they have a cage with an adolescent orc boy locked up in a cage on the back of their wagon.

Magnus Rushes In (new podcast name?)edit | hide | edit source

Magnus, you know, rushes in to help the boy. He talks to the scavengers to discuss freeing the boy. Instead, they roll for initiative. Killian and Magnus hurt a couple pretty bad, and then Merle casts Thaumaturgy to intimidate them into thinking an army is coming to back up the gang. Taako is also convinced, but decides to cast Magic Missile just for funsies. They've solved Griffin's Bandit Puzzle!

They pop open the cage and free an orc boy. He's a teen who stalks off.

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source


Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

Quotesedit | hide | edit source

Weave a tapestry with your wordsedit | hide | edit source

  • JUSTIN: So there’s a big door, is that the only exit the one that-
  • GRIFFIN: Yeah, well, I’ll set up the scene. I’ll start with some word magic. That’s just how I like to-
  • TRAVIS: Word-o-mancy.

There's no way this could be important lateredit | hide | edit source

  • TRAVIS: Griffy, do we need to roll to see how comfortably he [the skeleton] is sitting?
  • GRIFFIN: He looks like he was chill. It looked like he maybe just sort of sat here, and was kicking it, and just sort of wasted away.
  • JUSTIN: Are there any clothes or anything besides just the bones there? Or is there any like distinguishing...
  • GRIFFIN: That’s what’s weird: it’s just the robe. Any clothes that this person had on is gone. It’s just the robe and the cane that it’s holding.
  • JUSTIN: Okay I wanna check out the robe. Uh, I’ll search the robe for any clues or anything.
  • GRIFFIN: Um. You look over the robe, it just seems to be a plain... a plain robe. You can’t really figure out how it survived when the rest of this person’s clothing sort of eroded away but there are - there’s nothing tucked away in the pockets or anything.
  • TRAVIS: Where’s the skeleton looking?
  • GRIFFIN: Uh. The skeleton is actually looking toward the entrance that you guys walked in through.

Carpe ferulum, seize the caneedit | hide | edit source

  • TRAVIS: Okay, I wanna paint a picture for what just happened. So Merle grabs it, gets flung across the room and takes damage, and Taako goes, [imitates voice] “my turn!” and just reaches for it!
  • TAAKO: I live like I’m dyin’.
  • MERLE: Ow!
  • TAAKO: Let’s do this!
  • TAAKO: You’re fine...Walk it off!  Walk it off.

Taako gets the Umbra Staffedit | hide | edit source

GRIFFIN: And suddenly - it’s almost like the goddamn quickening happens in this room. There are bolts of lightning shooting out of Taako as he pulls this cane from the grip of the skeleton. Uh. And as you remove it from where it’s sort of had it, um, enveloped in its robe, as you pull it out you realize that, uh, it wasn’t actually the end of a cane, it was the handle of an umbrella. And you pull this umbrella from, uh, the - the skeleton’s grasp. Um. The skeleton actually looks up at you, almost like it’s acknowledging your presence. And as you finally wrest it from its grasp, the skeleton and the bright crimson robe, uh, both disintegrate into ashes.

Hush up, the NPCs are talkingedit | hide | edit source

  • CLINT: Gosh, Griffin doesn’t even need us anymore.
  • TRAVIS: Yeah, we’re just standing off the side, doing like the tennis match look back-and-forth like "how’s this gonna play out?"

New Mission Directiveedit | hide | edit source

  • KILLIAN: That went about as shitty… as it possibly could have gone. Great - grape job you three.
  • TRAVIS: And Magnus says:
  • MAGNUS: I almost had him!
  • KILLIAN: We need to get him, and we need to find him, and we need to stop him, before he destroys the whole world.
  • MAGNUS: Okay.
  • KILLIAN: Y’all down?
  • MAGNUS: Super-clear.
  • TAAKO: Sure.  
  • MERLE: Well, okay.
  • KILLIAN: I’m not going to lie, this is super above your paygrade.
  • TAAKO: Hey, um, Killian, I’m d - I’m detecting that that glove was magical.
  • KILLIAN: Yep. Again, very, very studious. You are a very powerful wizard to pick up...
  • TAAKO: [genuinely] Oh, well thank you.

Fire Dancer Gundrenedit | hide | edit source

GRIFFIN: He’s basically gone super-saiyan. Um, only fiery-er, I guess? More burny. Um.

Carts need moral support, tooedit | hide | edit source

  • MAGNUS: Why doesn’t - why doesn’t Killian just use her magic feather duster to make us all lighter so then it moves faster?
  • KILLIAN: It doesn’t work like that. Stop thinking you know how magic things work. You’ve proven pretty inept at it.
  • MAGNUS: Can we high-five the cart to make it go faster?
  • KILLIAN: [sarcastically] You can try, yes. Yeah, oh yeah, that’ll do it. Oh, yes, you’re saving the day, Magnus! Keep high-fiving the cart, I guess! Keep high-fiving the -
  • MAGNUS: I’m doing it as hard as I can!
  • TAAKO: This is not a joke: I cast sleep on Magnus.

Countdownedit | hide | edit source

  • SCAVENGER: Aw, what’re you gonna do with a orc boy, huh? You gonna - you gonna train him up to be your ward? He’s not some pet dog that you can adopt, I know how bad you want one of them. What’re you -
  • MAGNUS: Then why do you have him in a cage?
  • SCAVENGER: For sellin’!
  • TAAKO: What do you think happens to him after you sell him?
  • SCAVENGER: That’s not my problem, I get the money for sellin’ the boy!
  • TAAKO: Listen, I’m gonna give you to three, we really got a lot to do -
  • SCAVENGER: [Interrupting] I’m ah - ah - I - eh - I’m gonna say some cool shit now. Me n’ my posse gonna give you ta two!
  • MAGNUS: We’ll give you to one!
  • SCAVENGER: Well how ‘bout this? Zero, motherfuckers!
  • GRIFFIN: And they all draw their weapons.

Referencesedit | hide | edit source

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