We’ve put together a special episode for you, summarising the adventure so far, and how our heroes got into this web of divine secrets! If you’re just starting with us now and sixty-plus episodes of catch-up isn’t possible, this will give you the highlights at 180x speed. Educational!
If you’re listening on the website, the transcript is below the cut.
Hello everyone, welcome back. You’re listening to Come Out And Play, an all-trans actual play podcast. We release an episode of our main campaign, a Dungeons and Dragons adventure set in our own corner of the multiverse, every week, and we’ve been playing for around sixty episodes. So, to celebrate the end of our first podcast year, we’ve put together an altogether terser work, for skim-readers. If you’re just joining us now and you’d like to get caught up, this is for you. But be warned, it is entirely filled with spoilers, so if you’d rather listen to the whole story without knowing what’s coming, you should pause this recording, and go back to episode one, “Isn’t There An Oath?”
This paragraph has been deliberately left blank, to provide time to escape, if you don’t want the spoilers.
The story begins one hundred years ago, with the War. The Merciful Dark, the god of death, was killed. Some say it was the Conquering Queen that did it. Others blame the Endless Tide. All that is known for certain is that the gods fought amongst themselves, and dragged all of creation into their fight.
Many gods, and many mortals were killed. The dwarves and drow, who had long been allies in their underground world, turned against each other as their pantheons did, and the dwarven cities were not fortified against magic from below. The dwarves died and their gods died, and in the end they left their doomed strongholds and marched out upon the surface, one last futile strike against the world. They died with their weapons in their hands.
There are not many dwarves left, now.
In the surface lands, the nations of humans and halflings, elves and orcs, the war ran through the middle of each society, as their favoured gods split this way and that. There were revolutions and civil wars and many rulers were assassinated, as those they trusted became enemies overnight, guided by divine hands.
Perhaps it was the destruction of the dwarves that cooled the gods’ anger. Perhaps it was the fear of their own ends. But their anger did cool, and the Treaty of Iron was signed, forbidding the nations to make war.
There are two pantheons now, where before all the gods gave their favour freely, mingling their blessings as they saw fit. There is the Circle of Grace, and the Council of Light, and to choose one is to forsake the other.
In the Circle of Grace, the people pray to the Scourger, who delights in combat; to the Maiden and the Messenger, the last gods of the drow, whose realms are in obsession and secrecy, in the stars and the moon. To the Lord of Falling Waters, patron of farmers and hunters, who sees war only as a way to make peace, and to the Singing Flame, beloved of artisans, whose song is an invitation to join them in the sacred act of creation.
In the Council of Light, the Sleeping Queen dreams beneath her oak tree, guiding the seed to sprout and the undead to rise. The Lady of Silks teaches pleasure in life’s finer things, and the Threadmistress guides everyone to find their place, through tradition and obedience. Earthshaker stands, the only survivor of the dwarven gods, to give blessing to masons and miners and test the work of the builders, and Featherwind, once honoured only by sailors, now spreads their hand towards the sea itself.
These are the pantheons, and though war is forbidden, the enmity continues. Some nations maintain temples to both, allowing the populace to make their own choices. Others are committed to one pantheon, and persecute worshippers of the other. There are assassinations and rebellions still. There are portals opening up across the world, and strange things creep in across the edge, where creation gives way to the void. Nothing is as stable as it once was.
But the War was a hundred years ago, and soon only the elves will remember it.
Our story begins with a handful of strangers, seeking gainful employment with the Courier’s Guild in the city of Eisenbruck. Terpsichore, Furn, Alusha and Rhyl signed up to take messages to High Dorahl, and along the way they met Yana the shepherd, and her dogs, and helped them fight off an assault from werewolves. In the process, Alusha was bitten, and they learned that Yana had also been infected with the werewolf curse. They tracked the wolves back to their lair, and found a shrine to an unknown power, including an ornately carved ram’s skull set with extra eyes along the horns, which Rhyl took with him. They went on into the mountains, but once they reached the mining town at High Dorahl and delivered their packages, Furn decided to leave them, feeling that the loose end of that cultish shrine needed to be followed up.
Before the rest of the party was ready to leave, there was a collapse in the mines, which along with wounding or trapping several miners, broke through into the old tunnels of a dwarven outpost, which had existed here until a hundred years before, mining the same seams of iron. Taking their new friend Ember along, the party agreed to investigate the dwarven mines and clear them of any danger they found, which they did, in the form of a gigantic underdark slug.
They defeated it, and continued their explorations, dealing with some traps and entering the abandoned halls of the dwarven city itself. There, they found a letter, written to whomever might read it by one of the dwarves of High Dorahl. She spoke of how the War of the Gods, the worldwide conflict of a century ago, in which many of the gods were destroyed, had turned against the dwarven people. The drow were breaking into their tunnels from below and with their clerics unable to cast spells, the dwarves could not hold against them. They chose instead to arm themselves and march out upon the surface, in a suicidal final assault.
The party left the original letter behind when they left the tunnels, but Rhyl took a copy with him. They reported back to the miners that the mines were now safe, and made their return towards Eisenbruck.
Their journey was interrupted once again as they passed by Yana’s hut, reaching it just too late to help, as it was burned by a mob of angry farmers. They found the hut aflame, but empty, and followed the mob down the valley towards the werewolf lair.
The dog Brick found them and led three of the party back to where Yana was hiding in wolf form, her curse having been discovered by her neighbours, who had come to drive her out.
Terpsichore took a detour, following the mob down to the cult’s shrine and passing themself off as a professional werewolf hunter. They found a hidden room at the back of the shrine, apparently lived in until recently, but no sign of its former resident.
Reunited, the party found some makeshift clothing for Yana and took her back to Eisenbruck with them, breaking in to the cathedral grounds in the early morning. The fences gave them some trouble, so after Rhyl retrieved some spare clothes from his temple for Yana, they woke Terpsichore’s lover Annette to help them leave the grounds again, and she extracted a promise to take her to a particular puppet show in return.
Terpsichore dressed up in his finest outfit, composed a new sonnet, and took Annette to the show. The rest of the party also went to the show, independently tracking it down, in the expectation that either the puppetry or the date would provide some entertainment. Since Terpsichore firmly believed that puppetry was the lowest possible form of art and Odysseus, the puppeteer, her creative nemesis, she took her heckling to such a level that she was thrown out, with some magical assistance from Odysseus. Her companions and Annette returned to see the show play out and in the finale, Annette accepted the invitation to dance with the puppet, which seemed to move with unnatural ease, and to bring her magically into its dance.
Heading out after the show, she made peace with Terpsichore and they went to continue their night, as Odysseus and Rhyl also did, having a pleasant time at the local drow diner.
Their next job for the Courier’s Guild was a collection of post for Khemudosh, a drow city on the Jagged Coast, across the mountains from Eisenbruck. Rhyl found the prospect of returning to his home unsettling, and sought out Odysseus for a liaison before they departed.
On their journey to Khemudosh, the party took a detour to Anchor Point, a place where the line of the coast meets the edge of the world. They found a set of mighty chains stretching out over the water and into the eerie twilight of the Edge, the impenetrable darkness which encircles the world and separates it from the void, and they fought a monstrous creature from the beyond.
Continuing their journey they were led off their road again, this time by a glowing spirit creature, its form warped and constantly changing, echoing the carved skull which Rhyl still carried with him. They followed the path taken by that spirit and found the hidden orphanage of Whetstone, home to a group of dwarves who had survived the fall of High and Low Dorahl as children, and the elven oracle they called Grandma Hill. Promising not to reveal the location of the dwarves, who were afraid that as survivors of the near-destruction of their people they might still be hunted down, the party continued down the coast and, after a little more sight-seeing, finally made their way to the underground gates of Khemudosh.
Camping outside the drow city, they bought a spell-book for the dwarf Gem at the orphanage, and gave their collection of letters into the hand of a drow cleric, who knew Rhyl from childhood. Terpsichore bought and then forcibly returned a fake magic lamp, distracting the crowd with his performance of song and illusion, including transforming himself into the form of a dragonborn. This was particularly startling to the party, who had heard of dragonborn only as distant legends and fairytales, not real creatures. Terpsichore insisted he had seen them, and they must live on some other continent.
Hearing from his friend that Rhyl was camped outside the gates, Rhyl’s father came to see him and brought the party briefly into the city, where they took advantage of his access to the university library and met Rhyl’s fiance. This too was startling, as Rhyl had not previously mentioned his betrothal.
As they left Khemudosh, the party encountered a trio of giant eagles on the road, who appeared to be attacking some traders. They defeated the eagles, and only afterwards discovered the baby eagle chick the traders had stolen and hidden in their cart. Realizing their mistake, Ember adopted the chick and named them Arvid.
In an argument between the party members, Terpsichore revealed the truth of her mysterious past: the luxurious but confining lifestyle she had fled from, the reason she slept despite appearing to be an elf, and the source of her magic. She was a phoenix, who had accepted mortality as the price of freedom. Her parents were still looking for her, sending warlocks to find and bring her back, but Terpsichore was determined not to go.
The party once again broke their journey at the orphanage, to deliver Gem her book, and agreed to carry a letter from the dwarven exiles to the miners at High Dorahl, opening negotiations for a return to their home. They spoke for a while with Grandma Hill, discussing Ember’s prophetic dream, in which they had seen their god, the Singing Flame, working at the forge. They were told there was something the Singing Flame could not tell them about, something that explained the true cause of the war and which must be fixed.
Back in Eisenbruck, Terpsichore spent more time with Annette and Rhyl with Odysseus, experiencing first-hand the curious magical effect which seemed to take hold of his steps when he danced with the puppet. Ember sought out some advice on taking care of Arvid and decided to keep the baby eagle with them for the time being.
The party accepted a new task from the courier’s guild, which came with a warning that the cargo was valuable and the road might be dangerous. They were required to transport a significant quantity of gold and art objects to the White Forest, to form part of the bi-annual tithe offered to the queen – who was, they realised only after accepting the task, a frost dragon.
For the first couple of days the road was easy, but the party were attacked at night by a group of thieves on horseback, who summoned an elemental to join in with the fight. The attackers included a rogue who snatched the bag of holding from Rhyl and attempted to make off with it and at that point the fight could have been abandoned, but Terpsichore pressed the battle to its end and soon enough, every combatant except for one of the thieves was unconscious and bleeding on the ground.
They did what they could, but healing takes time, and when the rest of the party regained consciousness, Terpsichore was nothing but a skeleton, his flesh burned away by his own phoenix soul.
Gathering the bones of their friend, the survivors made their way to Grisgard, Ember’s home, inside the boundaries of the forest. They took a day or two to rest, heal and recover, while Ember went to the forge and called upon the aid of the singing flame to enchant the weapon they carried, using as materials a chunk of bone collected from the edge of the world, and the gold wire which Terpsichore had carried as a magical component. They worked the metal into a double-headed axe with a dragonfly design and named it Kindler.
In the fasing heat of the forge, looking at the moonlight reflecting off the new axe-blade. Ryhl called upon his god, the Messenger, for answers. He needed to know that the quest they were on, what Ember had been given by the Singing Flame, was meaningful. He said that he had come to the surface to find a dead woman, not to make more.
In response, he had a vision of rising and growing until he could see the whole disc, Edge to Edge, and the words “It means the world”.
The next day, when the party set out for Grisgard, they were met at the edge of the trees by Trick, Ember’s older sibling. Trick had listened to Ember’s stories of what had happened since they set out to follow their god’s call, and decided that whatever else the Singing Flame might have in store for them, they would need help. Trick’s eldest child was soon to be married and old enough to take on some responsibility for the family, and their spouse was willing to manage without them for a time, therefore, they would come with Ember and protect them.
Journeying the rest of the way to the Forest’s capital at Fossberg, the party reported to the Steward of the Forest, a harsh, dragon-eyed halfling named Brinna Longflight, and explained that the tithe had been taken from them. Longflight was unmoved by their loss and gave them an ultimatum, that either they would find enough gold to replace what was missing, or she would send the dragon to Grisgard to devour the people there, as the sacrifice required both treasure and flesh. She suggested they might begin their search with the wizard college, who would have been able to supply the elemental stone the thieves had used.
Spurred on by this threat, they left the forest and made the short trip to Praule, a small city governed by the college of wizards. They made enquiries, both official and unofficial, and found that the thieves had come to the city and one at least had entered the grounds of the Faculty of Arcana. After some persuasion they managed to speak to the Dean, who seemed distressed that anyone would bring the college into such disrepute, and gave them the name of Professor Isembard as someone who might be responsible for the attack.
They tracked down Professor Isembard at his preferred pub, where he was discussing mechanical blueprints with one of his students, and quickly realised he was innocent and the Dean had tried to frame him. Trick immediately raced back towards the tower, managing to catch sight of the thieves as they fled on horseback. The others stayed long enough to explain their mistake, which Isembard did not blame them for, and invited them to look him up next time they were in the city, as he had some work for adventurers willing to go underground.
Meeting back up with Trick, the party pursued the thieves into the farmland outside the city. Alusha transformed into her wolf shape to track them by scent and the party became aware that a second wolf was shadowing them. When they stopped to make sure they were on the right trail, the wolf transformed into an elf, just like Alusha, and introduced themself as Rroma.They had been keeping an eye on Alusha, who seemed very new to the werewolf situation, and were willing to help. After a battle in an underground cave, where one of the thieves, a halfling named Daisy, surrendered and the rest were captured, Rroma spoke with alusha about her place in the world, and invited her to join up with Rroma’s clan of elven werewolves, to learn more about herself and the traditions she was now inheritor to. Alusha agreed, said her farewells, and went with Rroma into the wild depths of the forest.
The rest of the party also travelled into the forest, heading not for the northern wastes, but for the capital at Fossberg. They were interrupted on the road by a lone wizard, named Maynard, who had lost all of his travelling companions first to betrayal and then a pack of giant spiders, who had dragged their prey into a half-buried ruin. Unfortunately for Maynard, his spellbook had been stolen before the attack and was now somewhere inside the ruin, guarded by spiders he could not defeat on his own.
The party agreed to help him and made short work of the spiders and their ettercap companions. Searching the ruins, they found Maynard’s spellbook and something less expected: a long-buried chamber, swaddled in a mysterious warmth, with an ancient mosaic still almost pristine beneath the dirt. The mosaic confirmed the place was built by the Principes Benevolentii, an empire that had conquered half the world from its capital in Telverum, and long since retreated back to its home, the legions marching out of these lands a thousand years ago.
The image showed a stylised map of the world, surrounded by icons of the three major deities of the Principes: the Endless Tide, goddess of the sea; the Sleeping Queen, patron of undeath and spring, and the Conquering Queen, goddess of the sun. These were placed at the quarter-points around the circle, leaving a suspicious gap, which on inspection had been patched with a flagstone and a section of mosaic matching the border. Beneath the patch was the icon of another god, this one wholly unfamiliar to any of the party, represented as a bull’s head crowned with wheat.
Concerned that they were facing a deadline, and the ruins might contain dangers they were not ready to face, the party returned to their prisoners and took the time to question them about their involvement in the scheme to steal the dragon’s tithe. They gained confirmation that their rivals had been simply hirelings in the affair, selling their services to the Dean of Arcana at the College.
Proceeding onwards to Fossberg,they delivered their prisoners to the steward Longflight along with this information about the College, and she accepted their work as sufficient to withdraw the threat against Trick and Ember’s family. To pay the rest of the debt, she directed them to Azar, a fire genasi and warlock of some renown, who was high up in the dragon’s court. Azar gave the party a mission to find and destroy a frost-gaunt, a kind of undead known to arise sometimes in the forest, and asked them to also retrieve a blue crystal, matching those embedded in the bracer he wore, which he was sure the frost-gaunt would possess. Any grave goods they found, they should bring back for the dragon.
Following Azar’s map, they made their way deeper into the Forest, to a place where winter seemed to linger, an unnaturally deep cold gripping the trees. They saw and avoided two giant bears, their bodies swollen and torn by the ice which had grown inside them. At the centre of the cold spot they found a long-abandoned castle, much of it still standing, and made their way inside, although not without triggering the pit trap at the gate house. They found a pile of small corpses, the bodies of rabbits and deer and forest creatures, all frozen solid inside the old chapel.
Exploring the cellars, they identified the cold as emanating from the undercroft, directly beneath the chapel, and fought their way past undead tangles of ice and bone, and onward past the bodies of warriors rising from their tombs. They reached the frost-gaunt in its burial chamber, which it seemed to be unable to escape, the door too small for its huge ice-bound frame. Making good use of the gaunt’s limited mobility they dispatched it without much difficulty, and looted the surviving grave goods. Along with the fine armour and weapons, they found a small shrine to the Merciful Dark in the tomb, the god of death who had himself perished in the war of the gods, and whose blessings no longer held any power to prevent undeath from taking hold. Within the skull of the frost-gaunt they found a blue crystal, faintly glowing, and carefully pried it loose.
Concerned about the wellbeing of their horse, Trick hurried back outside to find the horse and the giant eagle chick Arvid had been harassed by the bats and ice-patterned crows that roamed the area, but which were all now lying motionless, their undeath broken by the destruction of the frost-gaunt. Arvid was hurt, but not too badly, and while the party rested and explored the castle. Trick asked Maynard to identify the magic amulet they had been given for safekeeping, years ago, by their commander in the border riders who patrolled the edge of the world.
Maynard was able to identify the amulet as the anchor for an Imprisonment spell, a very powerful enchantment designed to hold someone, or something, in captivity until the spell was released. He could not tell what the spell had been used to hold, only that it had been cast a hundred years ago, during the war
Maynard also cast Identify on the blue crystal found within the frost-gaunt, and as part of his casting he touched it with his bare hand. He learned that the crystal was a shard of the Crown of Bone, the symbol of sovereignty over the Forest, and in the same moment gained some kind of connection, some strange pull that gently urged him to travel in a particular direction. Over the days of their travel back to Fossberg, the party noticed that this pull moved around, changing its direction over time, as if it was following the movements of some other creature.
Back at the palace, the party delivered their loot to Azar, who confirmed that, along with other wealth that had been collected, it was enough to satisfy the dragon’s desire for tribute. He asked about the blue crystal, which Maynard handed over, admitting that he had touched it and it had had some kind of effect on him. Azar asked to speak to Maynard alone. Ember eavesdropped on their conversation, in which Azar explained that he was not simply working for the dragon, but was in fact the next in line for the throne. His warlock powers were granted by the forest itself, and by making contact with the crystal, Maynard had entered into that same line of inheritance. If he didn’t want to be conscripted into the monarchy, he should leave the forest, and hope the connection faded.
Before they left, the party spoke one last time with their fellow couriers who had attacked them on the road, asking why they had done it. They learned that it had, as they suspected, originated with the Dean of Arcana at the College, and the couriers had been promised payment in the form of the Helm of Stonewalker, a religious artefact held in a College museum, which the dwarf amongst them was anxious to see returned to the fortress of Brarrilgrin where it belonged. The party agreed to take over that quest for her.
Rhyl was still considering dracoregicide as a possible course of action, rather than leave a ruler in place who routinely ate people, and in the hopes of arming the condemned prisoners, he purchased weapons and crossed the central plaza to the dragon’s lair, where she slept on a bed of ice. He spoke briefly with the dragon, who accepted the weapons as another gift for her hoard, and escaped unscathed.
Maynard lasted less than a day before telling the party all about his conversation with Azar. Luckily for his pride, having eavesdropped, they already knew.
The midsummer festival was spent in Grisgard and was a very pleasant time, except for the visions Maynard had, watching the sacrifice through the dragon’s eyes as she devoured the prisoners. It did not seem that Rhyl’s weapons had been found in time. During these few days at home, Trick spoke with their wife Lavender, who agreed to let them continue adventuring and trying to keep Ember safe, since it seemed Ember’s quest was far from done. Maynard came to a decision on his own fate, and spoke to the trees of the forest, agreeing to take up the mantle of warlock. There was no immediate response, but he felt his words had been heard.
Having saved the village, the party spent a while travelling, tying up their loose ends. They went to Eisenbruck, to speak with the courier’s guild, where it was unclear whether they were resigning or being fired. They delivered the news of Terpsichore’s death to her lover Annette, and left their bones in the cathedral, hoping to return with diamonds and resurrect him. They searched for information on the unknown god depicted in the Principes ruins, and found nothing. They took Arvid, who was getting too big to either carry or feed, to a group of druids in the forest, and left them to be raised in a better home than a series of dungeons could provide.
They also returned to the ruins, exploring the parts they had not reached before. They found a small complex buried by time, perhaps a villa or a collection of homes, which now had the heat and the rich smell of a compost heap. Hidden within it was an ancient shrine to the god none of them could name, a god represented by plough and wheat and cornucopia, and a statue of a pregnant woman with a bull’s head. Hoping that perhaps the god was not dead, or that they might be able to contact whatever remnant survived, they made an offering to the altar, and in response Maynard felt a stab of disapproval from his Forest patron, and Rhyl saw the fanciful creature who skull he was still carrying.
They did not have long to discuss the significance of this before they were interrupted by a stranger, teleporting into the ruins, claiming to have noticed their activities. She was an elf, who introduced herself as Rhothomir, and was very cagey with the party about what she knew and how she knew it. Near the end of this unsatisfactory conversation, Maynard remembered the old rumours of an elf lich dwelling within the forest, and thought this was very likely to be her.
With no clear course of action, they returned to the College to investigate the helm they had been told about, and in the process met back up with Professor Isembard, who was still looking for adventurers to travel to Brarrilgrin for him, and establish a safe route for an archaeological expedition to the underground boat lift the dwarves had built there. The party accepted the job and, leaving the helm in the museum, set out for the underdark.
Over the two weeks of their journey they defeated giant slugs, hooked horrors and carrion crawlers. They fought or avoided several bands of undead, remnants of dwarven defenders and drow invaders, victims of the gods’ war a hundred years ago, in which Brarrilgrin fell, its people marching out upon the surface seeking their deaths in battle. Trick gained an enchanted shield, immune to some of Maynard’s favourite spells, and Ember recovered some magical armour which, although too damaged to sustain flight, would allow them to move through the air during their turn.
They found, just inside the broken wall of the city, a number of long-dead drow, laid out respectfully in a plaza, and amongst them an archer wearing Rhyl’s family crest, just like his mother, who had come to join this war, and never returned.
Leaving the body undisturbed for now, the party explored some of the city, searching for a way back to the surface. They found a great open shaft, circled by a ramp, connecting the many floors of the residential area, and in trying to see off some minor constructs left to patrol it, Ember made a miscalculation over their new armour, and fell into the void. Some quick thinking let Rhyl fly in their wake and reach them with a Levitate spell just before they could hit the floor, hundreds of feet below.
The whole city was covered in a thick, slimy layer of algae, and the river running beneath it was undrinkable, and upon finding and scaling the boat lift, the party discovered why, as the aboleth living in it charmed first Maynard and then Trick into turning on their friends. During the battle that followed both Rhyl and Trick were infected by the aboleth’s mucus and their skin lost the ability to tolerate dry air, confining them to an aquatic life until they could find a cure.
As the party were exploring the ruined harbour and the high cliffs surrounding it, searching for a way out, Rhyl received a Sending spell from the elf Rhothomir, asking if she could trade some information. The party agreed and Rhothomir first asked them about which entities had responded to their actions in the Principes ruins. Upon confirming it had been the Forest and the warlock patron known as the Father of Monsters, Rhothomir explained that the Forest gained its power from the death of the god they did not recognise, many centuries ago, at the hands of the magicians of Principes. This was the disaster that befell the ancient city of Feraxus and turned it into the poisonous jungle region now called the Plaguelands. The power of that lost god, which the surviving deities had forbidden all memory of, became the White Forest.
Rhothomir had assumed that the gods who died more recently, during the war, would be subject to a natural cycle of rebirth, but that did not seem to have happened. Instead, all of their power had also been trapped, and only warlock patrons had arisen, entities which were native to the material plane, but which fell short of godhood. The fabric of reality had been destabilised by this trapped power and there were more spontaneous portals and incursions of strange creatures over the edge of the world. Rhothomir thought this would keep accelerating until the world ended in its current form and some new, different equilibrium could be found. As a devotee of the Sleeping Queen, who is said to be waiting for the apocalypse herself, Rhothomir felt no particular urgency to prevent this from happening.
Even so, she told the party that if they wished to know more, they should go to the Spindle, the druidic monastery at the centre of the world, and ask about the wizards who had last tried to unmake the Plaguelands, during the war. She said they had come through there, and though those wizards were probably all dead, the place that had trained them might still exist.
With some help from Rhothomir, who had the Fly spell prepared, the party made their way back to the plaza where the fallen drow had been laid out, and Rhyl used Speak with Dead. He expected to find his mother, but spoke instead with a cousin, who remembered seeing Mila vanish into the air, into a bright light, along with all her squad. She did not know what might have happened after that, and asked Rhyl to tell her family to stay safe until the war was over.
As the last part of her payment for the information they had shared, Rhothomir teleported the party back to the College and left them to douse their drying skin in the river, and successfully seek a cure from one of the nearby temples.
And so, as our second year of play begins, this is where the world stands. It is July, at the height of a glorious summer. Preparations are underway throughout the world for the centennial in December, the hundred-year anniversary of the ending of the War of the Gods and the signing of the Treaty of Iron. The surviving gods are divided into two pantheons, known as the Circle of Grace, worshipped by our heroes, and the Council of Light, their rivals in this uncomfortable peace. The dead gods are gone, and something is holding their power entangled in the mortal world, something hidden in the forgotten ruins of Feraxus, in the heart of the deadly wilderness now called the Plaguelands.
Our party of adventurers is in the small city of Praule, home of the Wizard’s College, where they hope to report back to Professor Isembard and get paid for their service in locating a route through the underdark, to the ruined dwarven stronghold of Brarrilgrin on the eastern coast. The lich Rhothomir, their tentative ally, is still here, going about her own business in the city, having used her arcane strength for the day in teleporting them all to safety.
In the nearby White Forest, now known to be a power in its own right, the partial inheritor of the power of a long-forgotten god, the dragon Athrorka rules as queen. She is flying now over the tundra of the furthest north, feeding on reindeer and brooding over the hoarded treasure in her lair. Azar the warlock, her crown prince, is enjoying the comparative peace of the summer months, with the Queen sated by the recent sacrifice and some time to himself, to continue his search for the mysterious fragments of the Crown of Bone. In the forest village of Grisgard, Trick and Ember’s family are tending to the farm, and preparing for a wedding. There is an amulet hidden behind a loose stone in the chimney breast, waiting for the day its magical power may be called upon.
Arvid, the giant eagle chick that Ember began raising when their parents were killed in a misunderstanding, is staying with the druids in the west of the forest, hidden between the mountains and the edge of the world, learning to fly. Alusha the elven ranger is in the forest too, learning the ways of her new people from the clan of werewolves who roam amongst the trees. Furn, the party’s brief companion turned hunter, is pursuing rumours of a cult through the caves beneath Eisenbruck and in the city above her head, Terpsichore’s bones lie in the cathedral vault, watched over by her lover Annette. Yana and her dogs are patrolling the sleeping grounds of a foundry, where a machine long-dreamed-of is taking shape at last.
Further south, the half-elf Odysseus is performing in a seaside town, with his puppet and patron balanced on his arm. The dwarves of Whetstone Orphanage and the miners of High Dorahl are exchanging tentative letters, planning for a return of the exiles to their halls. Rhyl’s father Vorn is safe at home, far underground in the city of Khemudosh, and his mother Mila is missing, never returned from the war, and only now revealed to have been seen, not to die, but to vanish into the blinding light of a portal, long since closed. What became of her, and whether she still lives to wander some distant plane, is yet to be discovered.
But the party are in the city of Praule, where the Wizard’s College governs. They have a map for Isembard, and a cure for the aboleth’s poison, and new ideas of what their quest may be.
And now, we can begin.
Come Out And Play is a real play podcast project, all trans, all the time. You can find us at coapcast on Patreon and on Twitter, and at our website comeoutandplay.games. If you’re trans or nonbinary and you’d like to get involved, drop us a line. And as always, if you enjoy our show, share it with your friends, and if you don’t enjoy our show, share it with your enemies. Word of mouth is how a project like this gets attention and we just love attention. Join us next week for the start of our second major arc, featuring both shenanigans, and plot.