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Welcome to Episode 32 of the Rescued by Dragons fantasy podcast, Tales of the Brunch Club:
My name is Brian Messmer and I am not only your story teller, but the dungeon master behind the homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign this story is based on. Please join me as I tell the tale of how my players, and the dice, ruined and improved my perfectly laid plans.
But first, a quick recap…
In episode 31, The Brunch Club enjoyed a delicious breakfast at a small tavern. They raised a glass to the fallen Vorjhon. As they were leaving, the halfling who had been serving them asked for their assistance. He introduced himself as Jory, a cook and master mead maker. He told them he had been kidnapped by pirates. During his escape he stole a map to the Lost Treasure of Bonlhodir. The pirates were looking for him and he needed their protection. They told him they would think about it and would meet him the next morning to let him know their decision.
Episode 32, “The Brunch Club Goes LARPing”
The Shivering Nip tavern was empty when The Brunch Club walked in. They sat at the table they used the day before and waited for Jory. A dwarf with a sullen expression on his face approached their table.
“What can I get ya all?” he asked them. They had the sense he wasn’t used to greeting the customers, but was doing his best.
“Where’s Jory?” asked Drusilla.
The dwarf snorted. “I fired him. He took off yesterday right in the middle of his shift,” he told them. He was visibly annoyed. “Fucking halflings,” he then added under his breath. His eyes betrayed a sudden panic when he noticed Salys, but he relaxed when he realized she was a gnome.
They ordered brunch and mead from the dwarf. When their meal arrived they were disappointed. It tasted bland and mediocre.
“Jory must have been the cook,” Diesa guessed.
Fortunately the bottled mead was still good.
“Hey guys!” a familiar voice called out to them. They turned to see a halfling running toward them. He was wearing a short cloak with the hood pulled down to hide his face, but they knew it was Jory.
“Sorry I couldn’t meet you,” Jory apologized. “I got fired.”
“We heard.” Salys said, sympathetically.
“So, did you make a decision? Can I join your group? Well not ‘join’ join, but hang out with you for protection?” the halfling asked eagerly.
They looked awkwardly at each other for a few moments.
“We kinda forgot to talk about it,” Elora admitted.
“We’ve had a lot on our mind,” said Salys.
“That’s okay, I understand,” Jory said softly. He was unable to mask his disappointment.
“Tell you what, Jory. Why don’t you spend the day with us? That way we’ll be able to see if you fit in,” suggested Drusilla.
“If we do take you under our protection, you’ll have to do all our cooking and cleaning though, since you can’t pay us,” said Elor.
“Well, I am giving you a treasure map, but I was probably going to cook for you anyway, so sure.” Jory agreed, with some apprehension.
“And whenever you introduce yourself you have to tell people you spell your name J-o-r-i-e with a heart over the ‘i’,” added Drusilla.
“Um, that’s not how I spell it,” Jory said.
“‘Jorie, with a heart.’ That’s your new name,” repeated Drusilla.
“Wow. I guess they were right. Vorjhon was the nice one,” Jory muttered under his breath.
An awkward silence fell over the group. No one was sure what they should do next.
“Um, guys,” Salys finally said. “I could use some new clothes.”
They suddenly realized that Salys had been wearing nothing but Elora’s winter wolf cloak and the silver boots for two days now.
“I grew up here! I know just where to go,” said Jory, happy to be helpful.
Salys found a new robe that was her size, and close to the same color purple as her old one. She bought a new dagger, staff, bedroll, and other supplies that a wandering adventurer might need. She also bought another scroll of find familiar to resurrect pip with. The rest of them pooled their remaining gold to get her a new health potion as well.
On their way out of the potions shop Salys ran up to a bulletin board.
“Guys! Look at this!” She called to them.
They saw a wanted poster depicting a man in wizard robes. He had a long beard and matching eyebrows. His nose was long and hooked. His small eyes were set narrowly together. The poster read, “WANTED: Mage College President Kormor for conspiracy to murder his predecessor through the well known assassin, Varjo.”
As the group inspected the unflattering portrait of Kormir, Diesa noticed the poster below it.
“I think I found a way to replace some of our gold,” she said, pointing to the bulletin.
“The Selsuns’ Annual Pit Fighting Tournament” the headline said.
“Accepting all comers. 10 gold entry fee. 500 gold grand prize! No Magic Users!”
“It starts in an hour!” Diesa noticed.
“Well that’s lucky,” observed Salys. It wasn’t so much luck as a last minute plot device placed by the Dungeon Master to move the plot along since the players couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do next.
Captain Pernold was at the registration table when they arrived. He grinned when he saw them. “Well if it isn’t the giant dick killers!” he greeted them, laughing at his own joke. “Where’s the dragonborn? He’d be a great entry for the tournament.”
“Vorjhon’s no longer with us,” Salys said softly.
The smile faded from Pernold’s face. He assumed a proper and official tone of voice. “I’m sorry to hear that. I liked him. He seemed like a kind and just paladin,” he said with respect. He paused for a moment then asked if any of them were there to sign up for the tournament.
“How does it work?” asked Diesa.
Pernold explained that it was a bracket format with the first round opponents being chosen by random. Wooden weapons were supplied by the Selsuns. A fight ended when one person was either knocked unconscious or submitted. Headshots to opponents without helmets were frowned upon, but not necessarily cause for disqualification.
Diessa entered and chose two wooden hand axes as her weapons.
Elora entered when she noticed wooden arrows were included in the provided arsenal.
“We’d like to enter one more,” Drusilla said.
“Sorry, no magic users,” Pernold reminded her.
“No. Not me. Put down ‘Jory’…”
“Wait, what?” Jory said, interrupting Drusilla.
Drusilla continued as though she didn’t hear him. “Jory, J-O-R-I-E. With a heart over the i,” she added.
Pernold raised an eyebrow and looked down at the halfling. “Kind of a downgrade from Vorjhon, isn’t he?”
“That’s what we’re here to find out,” Drusilla said coldly.
Pernold shrugged and entered their names as Drusilla paid him the 30 gold entry fee. They waited to see who their first opponents would be.
The Brunch Club watched from a rickety set of wooden bleachers as the first contestants entered the sand pit. The first was a large man, who looked even larger in his head-to-toe plate armor. He wielded his wooden two-handed great sword with ease. Even though the sword was made of wood, his opponent, a younger man in his twenties, looked afraid of getting hit by it.
The armored man seemed to be a crowd favorite judging by the volume of the cheers when he swung his sword into the stomach of the younger man, lifting him off the ground.
The uniformed soldiers who were dispersed through the crowd also cheered. The Brunch Club guessed correctly that the armored behemoth was also a Selsun.
The young man had caught his breath and circled the Selsun. He looked for an opening in the armor, but found none. The larger fighter swung his sword again, catching his opponent under the arm. The crowd paused their cheering for a brief second as they heard the sickening crack of several ribs. The crowd erupted in cheers as the young fighter fell to his knees and raised his hands in submission.
The selsun pumped his fist in the air in triumph and pointed at some of his soldier friends in the crowd. He offered his hand to his opponent and helped him to his feet.
Diesa was up next. She faced off against another, large, well-armored opponent. This adversary was not as large or heavily armored as the victorious selsun, though he did have a shield. Diesa had trouble landing effective blows with her wooden hand axes.
She was able to dodge many of the swings he took with his wooden sabre, but the ones that did hit her were leaving her bruised and in pain.
Up until now, every time she fought she could use her companions as a distraction, or sneak attack from the shadows. Having to fight an opponent one-on-one in an open arena did not play to her strengths and she felt frustrated. She could hear The Brunch Club cheer her on. Jory cheered the loudest. She refused to give up, but swinging her axes repeatedly against the armor and shield without doing any damage was tiring her out. Her opponent was finding it easier to hit her as she grew exhausted. Eventually, her body ached, and her lungs burned to the point where she simply couldn’t stand any more. She reluctantly yielded.
Her opponent gave her a respectful nod before acknowledging the applause of the crowd.
Diessa got up and brushed herself off. She walked back to her friends, her head hanging with shame. Her friends greeted her warmly and told her she’d do better next time and she had nothing to be ashamed of.
She really didn’t have anything to be ashamed of. Not only was this Bethany’s first time playing a rogue, but her first time playing Dungeons and Dragons. So she didn’t have experience in one-on-one combat and fighting creatively.
Elora was invited into the pit next. She stood waiting for her opponent, who was taking his time getting there. She inspected the arrows she selected and knocked one onto her bow string. These arrows had their sharp tips removed and their ends dipped in tar and cooled over and over again. This created large, mostly non-lethal bulbs.
Elora looked up when she heard the squeals of teenage girls, and excited applause as a young, handsome, physically fit male walked into the pit. He smiled a wide, toothy grin and winked at the group of young ladies who cheered for him. He wore leather sandals with wide straps, a fur loincloth held up by a thick leather belt around his waist, and nothing else. He held a shield in one hand and a wooden broadsword in the other. He flexed his muscles to the delight of his adoring fans then turned to Elora.
He winked at her. “Hey there. What’s a pretty little thing like you doing in a pit like this?”
Elora rolled her eyes.
Pernold gave the signal to start the fight.
“Don’t worry, honey. I’ll go easy on you,” the cocky young man said. He turned slightly to wink at his fans once more. That’s when Elora hit him with an arrow right below the sternum. It knocked the wind out of him and caused him to bend over. Elora fired another arrow. This one hit him square on the top of the collar bone where there was no fat or muscle to absorb the blow.
He screamed in pain. The boyish, smarmy grin was replaced by an angry snarl as he charged at Elora. She side-stepped his clumsy charge and put a few paces between them before shooting an arrow into the small of his back.
He screamed again and dropped to his knees. When he looked up, Elora was six feet away from him with her bow draw and the arrow aimed at his forehead.
“You should worry, honey. I won’t go easy on you,” Elora said softly.
He held up both hands in submission. The crowd rose to their feet cheering, except for a small group of sullen looking young ladies who pushed in front of each other, each hoping to be the first to help heal the young man’s wounded pride.
Jory stood up when his name was called.
“Didn’t you pick any weapons?” Salys asked.
“I’ve never used weapons before,” Jory said. He shrugged and entered the pit.
His opponent was an older man. He was once a soldier in his prime and wanted to see if he still had his fighting form. He wielded a shortsword in each hand.
They circled each other. Jory took a swig of mead from his bota bag then assumed a defensive stance as the man lunged at him. Jory evaded both attacks and punched the man squarely in the testicles.
“Sorry. That’s as high as I can reach,” Jory apologized to the man who was doubled over in pain.
The man straightened up and made another attempt to hit Jory, but once again failed to connect with the elusive halfling.
Jory reached as high as he could and punched the man in the stomach. He flipped his leg up to try to kick him in the chest and push him back, but accidentally hit the man’s head as he was bending forward from the stomach punch.
Jory apologized again and stepped back as the man stood there, stunned.
“What are you waiting for, Jory?” he heard Diesa shout from the crowd.
“Finish him off,” Elora shouted.
Jory reluctantly punched the man in the stomach two more times and when he still didn’t submit, he punched him a final time between the legs. The man fell to his knees and yielded.
At the end of the first round, they were allowed a half hour to rest. There were some healers available for those who needed it.
“I thought divine magic was illegal in Elnor?” Drusilla asked Pernold as they watched a mage heal a nasty looking broken arm.
“Only unregulated divine magic,” Pernold answered, then went on to explain that some people were allowed to learn some healing spells and given license to use them in service to the citizens of Elnor.
The second round began with the armored selsun easily beating another smaller, outmatched opponent.
Jory’s name was called next. A sinking feeling came over him when he heard Elora’s name called right after.
They stood facing each other in the ring. “You better not try any of those nut shots on me,” Elora warned him.
“It wasn’t my plan,” Jory confessed.
“What is your plan?” Elora asked as she fired an arrow at him.
The crowd gasped as Jory grabbed the arrow before it hit him.
“Not to get hit,” he answered. He threw the arrow as though it were a javelin back at Elora, but it sailed past her shoulder.
She fired again and Jory pushed the arrow to the side, deflecting it away from him.
Jory charged quickly at her and punched her twice below the sternum hoping to knock the wind out of her, but she was able to shrug off the blows. He quickly ran back to his original spot. He did not have time to get in a defensive stance and Elora’s arrow caught him in the stomach. He tried not to bend over, but did slightly. That’s when a second arrow hit him on the crown of his head. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.
“Shit. Sorry little guy,” Elora said quietly to herself.
Jory sat on one side of the Brunch Club while Elora sat on the other. A healer had revived him, but his head was still sore and he had a nasty bump. They waited for the next round to begin.
The opponents were announced for the first bout of the semi final round. The Selsun’s name was called first. Elora’s was called next.
For the first time in his fights, the selsun did not charge right away. He kept his distance, waiting for Elora to take the first shot.
“I like how you handled lover boy in the first round,” he told her. “But I don’t plan on taking it easy on you.”
“Same,” said Elora, as she shot her first arrow. It bounced harmlessly off the plate armor, leaving behind no more damage than a black scuff mark.
She quickly drew and shot another arrow aiming for underneath the arm where plate mail usually had some weakness. But not this platemail.
Confident in his armor, the selsun took a few paces toward Elora. She decided on a new tactic and fired an arrow right for his forehead.
The impact of the arrow snapped his head back, and the ringing in his ears made him halt his advance and pause for a moment.
Elora fired three more arrows hitting the exact same spot. The selsun took a step back and shook his head slightly. A clear dent was now visible in the helmet. The crowd grew silent. Whispers rippled through the spectators. This was the first time during the tournament that anyone thought the selsun might not be invincible.
Elora drew her bow back again, but the selsun raised his greatsword horizontally across his head just high enough so he could still peek under the wide blade.
With the only weak spot she could think of protected, Elroa shot for the neck, but her arrow glanced off there as well. She cursed as he crouched forward and charged.
He was faster than he looked and she could not evade the giant sword when he swung it into her side. Her oblique muscles spasmed at the impact and she felt like she might vomit. She kept her footing and backed away. She fired another arrow but it missed completely. When she reached for another arrow, she realized with horror she was out. She saw an arrow just past the selsun lying on the ground. She lunged for it but stumbled. He stomped on her hand with one of his large boots. She gritted her teeth and rolled out of the way. She clutched her hand and flexed it. Nothing seemed broken, but it hurt and she knew she wouldn’t be able get a good grip on her bow string.
She had placed a wooden shortsword in her belt as an emergency. She now held it with two hands as she tried to parry another swing, but it was a useless defense against the momentum of the giant greatsword. It knocked the short sword out of her hands and caught her in the chest. She staggered back a few feet. She stopped right next to one of her arrows.
His swing’s momentum had turned the selsun around. For a brief moment Elora had a clear shot at the back of his head. She picked up the arrow, fired it, and hoped it would have the same effect as her earlier head shots. The back of the helmet was more rounded than the front and the arrow glanced off harmlessly.
Her wooden shortsword lay broken in the dirt. She was out of arrows. She wasn’t about to parry the great sword with her favorite longbow, so she placed it on the ground. Elora raised her hands to yield, and bowed respectfully at her opponent.
The selsun nodded at her. From under his helmet he said, “Well fought, ranger. That might have gone different if you had real arrows.”
Elora walked out of the pit to applause deserving a worthy opponent.
She got her wounds tended to by the healers and rejoined her friends in the bleachers to watch the rest of the tournament.
The armored fighter with the shield who defeated Diesa squared off against the selsun for the championship. The selsun won easily.
They were leaving the bleachers tired, hungry, and a little depressed about throwing away thirty gold with nothing to show for it, when Captain Pernold called out to them.
“Elora! You forgot your prize!”
When he caught up, he informed them Elora had come in third, and won one hundred gold.
Their moods improved as they took the money, thanked him, and continued on to the nearest tavern.
The inside of the tavern was a large single room with several benches and tables. It was crowded so they took the only open table by the door. At the far end of the tavern were two sets of stairs that started at the walls and met in the middle. The kitchen must have been up there because the tavern’s wait staff were constantly running up empty handed and bringing back food and drinks.
“This is the dumbest tavern I’ve ever seen,” commented Drusilla.
They all looked at her. It wasn’t like their cleric to be so mean. Sure, she teased Vorjhon all the time, but it was playful and they had the camaraderie of being divine servants. The hazing she had put Jory through felt cruel, and criticizing the tavern’s layout just didn’t make sense.
“I mean, seriously,” she continued, tossing back her glass of wine. “Who designed this place?”
A tap on her shoulder interrupted her. A large, hairy man in sailor’s garb looked down.
“You know, ma’am, a carpenter worked really hard on this place, and it puts food on the table of its owner and his family. It’s not nice to make fun of people trying to earn an honest living,” the man said. He didn’t mention the dungeon master had like, two minutes to draw out the tavern because that night’s game was running late from his players’ lack of focus.
Drusila looked at the man, taking in his rough looking appearance. “What would you know about making an honest living?” she asked in a haughty tone.
The man pulled out a short sword. “Not much,” he said. “Now give us the halfling.”
Drusilla noticed the five similarly dressed, and similarly unpleasant looking men standing with him. “How much do you want for him?” she asked.
Before he could answer, Diesa smashed a bottle on the edge of the table. “Now this is my kind of fight,” she snarled, and lunged for the closest pirate.
The Brunch Club stood in unison and drew their weapons. They rushed at the pirates who rushed at them. Amidst the chaos of clanging swords and flying fists, Jory felt himself lifted up by the shirt collar and flung over the shoulder of one of the pirates, who ran quickly out the door with him. Jory struggled to break free. He watched the tavern recede in the distance as the pirate ran quickly. Jory began to panic. In a few moments he’d be out of sight of the tavern and The Brunch Club wouldn’t be able to find him. Sadness overcame him when he realized he didn’t even know if they would bother looking. Suddenly, his captor stopped, fell face-forward, and Jory rolled out of his grasp. He thought the pirate had tripped, but when he looked up he saw Salys standing outside the tavern door. Hands were raised, ready to fire another round of magic missiles if needed. He looked down at the unconscious, possibly dead pirate. The magic missiles would not be needed.
Jory thanked Salys when he ran back to her.
“Don’t mention it,” she smiled.
The rest of their party joined them outside. Their clothing was ripped and their hair was a mess. They looked like they’d been in a tough fight. Diesa was smiling.
“We should probably go,” Elora said, glancing back at the door.
They took a sharp corner down a side street and walked quickly away from the tavern.
“They saw us with Jory, they might be able to find us. We shouldn’t go back to the Rampart Wizard,” Elora advised.
“They might not think to look for us in a fancier inn,” Diesa said.
“I know a place in the Quartz District. It’s fancy, but also out of the way.” Jory told them. “It’s called the Victorian Inn.”
“Looks like you’re with us now,” Salys said to Jory.
“For the night anyway,” muttered Drusilla.
“Don’t worry about Dru, she’s not mean all the time,” Salys assured him.
“We should get Jory a disguise,” said Diesa.
“Let’s dress him up like a little girl. He’d look cute in a dress and curls,” said Drusilla.
“I lied. She’s actually mean most of the time.” Salys shrugged.
Jory sighed and led them to the Victorian.
Our tale will continue in Episode 33
Episode 32 was written by Dominic White and myself, Brian Messmer. The story is based upon my own homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Valuable contributions to the story were added by the role playing of:
- Bethany Powers, who plays Diessa
- JP Black, who plays Drusilla
- Liz Raychard, who plays Elora
- Anna Flemke, who plays Salys
- Dominic White, who plays Vorjhon
- And Brian Messmer, who plays everyone else
Thank you very much for listening Please join us next week to find out, along with the rest of us, what‘s going to happen next!