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Writing Alchemy Episode 34 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 2

Note: ‘*’ is used to indicate music and sound effects that were added to the recording.

[*Intro music that is an energetic, electronic song begins playing.]

TOBI: [voiceover] You are listening to Writing Alchemy, stories that step outside the oppressive grind of the everyday world with your host, writer and artist Fay Onyx.

[*Music swells and then fades to a background volume.]

FAY: Willa, Tarragon, and D’Zân are participating in The Owlbear Reintroduction Program, a project that is reestablishing owlbears in areas where the owlbear populations have been previously wiped out, something that’s not so easy because owlbears are large, ferocious, magical predators. Throw in a group of skilled poachers determined to steal owlbear eggs and things are bound to get interesting.

[*Music swells and then fades out.]

Hello and welcome to the 34rd episode of Writing Alchemy. I am Fay Onyx and today is the fifteenth game episode of Unfamiliar Heroes, my new podcast series where I work with players and storytellers to create new representations of disabled, sick, and neurodiverse people using tabletop role-playing games. Today’s game is the second game episode of The Owlbear Reintroduction Program.

This game was played using Magic Goes Awry, which is a game system that I have created. Magic Goes Awry is designed to capture the fun of Dungeons and Dragons in a free game that is accessible to a wider range of people. I created it to have little math, fewer things to keep track of, and more room for creativity, while still allowing people to create a diverse range of fantastical characters.

Now I’m gonna take a quick moment to say thank you to all of the people who help make this show possible. To each and every one of my Patreon backers, a huge, heartfelt thank you for setting aside some of your money to support Writing Alchemy. Your contributions keep this show going! To all of my guests and participants past, present, and future, thank you for putting in the time, effort, and commitment to add your unique perspective and experience to this show. I can’t do this without you! And to each person who took the time to comment and share this show with others, thank you for helping this project grow. Your participation is creating a community and I am so grateful for that!

Finally I’m going to quickly mention that you can follow Writing Alchemy on Twitter at @Writing_Alchemy [and] on Facebook at You can visit to find all of the Writing Alchemy podcasts, articles, stories, and other content. And if you want to help me keep this podcast going, you can pledge your support on Patreon at

And now, let’s get to the show! The Owlbear Reintroduction Program, Part 2.

[*Game theme, a bright, mysterious piece of world music featuring flute and percussion, plays.]

[This is the start of the game recording.]

FAY: So hello, I’m Fay Onyx. My pronouns are ze and hir and, well, I’m playing the world, as I am being the storyteller slash game master for this particular game. And I am a genderqueer, queer, asexual with a chronic back condition and anxiety and other interesting brain things. My main areas of privilege are that I’m white, middle class, and have a lot of education.

ROBIN: Okay. My name’s Robin. My pronouns are they/them or she/her depending on the day. I’m… genderqueer [and] agender. I’ve got chronic illness resulting from Lyme disease, so that’s chronic pain and chronic fatigue, as well as some mental health issues. But I’m privileged in that I’m a white person living in Britain and I’ve been able to have a good education. My character is Tarragon Songsteel, whose pronouns are they/them. They are an orc and a bard. They’re quite enthusiastic and excitable, um, and their performance is fire-breathing and singing. They have light green skin, like mint green skin, and blue hair. And they like to wear loose, comfortable, elegant clothes.

FAY: Awesome.

ORIANA: My name is Oriana, and I am queer, bisexual, genderqueer, disabled… I have multiple chronic illnesses. I’m Latinx. So I have a lot of different identities and also a lot of privilege in the ways that I am perceived fairly normatively, and [have] access to higher education and working andum, other fun middle-class things. Like healthcare! Yay healthcare. Thinking about that one a lot; it’s because I’m in the United States.

FAY: Yeah.

ORIANA: Yeah. My character is Willa, and Willa is a lizardperson. But not just any kind of lizardperson. She is a gecko lizardperson. So she’s yellow-greenwith small, soft scales that are sort of pearly more than overlapping plates, and her colors will change slightly depending on her mood. She’s very excitable, so her color will brighten, um, when she’s worked up. Which happens very easily. Both to get excited about things or to get nervous. And she’s fairly short compared to a lot of the lizardpeople of mythology, various mythologies. But for a human, that’s sort of average, around five feet or so. [FAY: Mhm.] So she has a very soft round body, and she’s both very much a bookworm and loves to spend a lot of time reading. And [she’s] very excited to finally have the opportunity to prove herself and become an adventurer.

FAY: Awesome. And Sage? Are you up for doing-

SAGE: Uh, we’re agender, asexual, autistic… and we’re chronically ill and also a member of a plural system. I’m Sage. There’s also a guy and two women living in our system, and one of them was talking earlier. That’s Silka, who loves silk.

SILKA (who has a higher-pitched voice than Sage): Hey, I’m Silka! Nice to meet you all! Not actually playing; just sitting in on the session.

FAY: Awesome. Well, welcome.

SAGE: And the others, I think, are either still asleep or [laughs] I don’t know. We haven’t talked with them that much this morning. [FAY: Mhm.] Right, so we are, uh, we’re not able to work because of disability.We’re legally blind also.And we’re chronically ill with dysautonomia. Um, so that means we have a lot of complicated health issues that all sort of affect every system in the body and means we’re often in pain and fatigued.

FAY: Mm.

SAGE: We’re very fortunate in having middle-class parents who own the place we live [in]. And so, although we’re on a very low income, we do have a nice place to live because they own it. Werent it and we have awesome housemates and oh, and also we’re mentally ill. We have depression and anxiety for which we’re currently being treated [FAY: And-] and a smattering of other stuff like ADHD and dyslexia, so. And cognitive issues.

FAY: Mhm. Yeah, and your character?

SAGE: Their name is D’Zân- or xyr name isD’Zân. Oh right, our pronouns – well, my pronouns – are xe/xem/xyr, and so are D’Zân’s. So anyway, D’Zân is a druid. That’s their class. Their species is zmeu, which is a Romanian weredragon. [FAY: Mhm.] When in human form, zmeis aren’t totally human. They have a little bit of scaling around the hairline and under this- under the hair and everywhere in the body that there’s body hair. So basically, only their fingers, palms, soles of feet, and faces are um, unscaled. And even there, you can see teeny little iridescences around the mustache and chin area. And you will notice our cognitive problem where we keep switching back and forth between xyr actual pronouns and using singular “they” because we use that for so many people we know in real life.

FAY: Sure.

SAGE: -apologies.

FAY: Is there, is there a predominant color for their scales? Or xyr scales?

SAGE: Uh… okay, they have-xe has scales that are multicolor green on the top with [a] little purple and grey and teal thrown in. And on the underside, xehas sort of more tree bark colors, with browns and deep rusts and reds and deep purples and occasional deep blueiridescences. And in human form, you see all those colors in the same sorts of places as a general rule. [FAY: Awesome.] Yeah.

FAY: Perfect. Okay, so I’m gonna do a brief summary of where we’re at. So this group of three characters has been tasked with going into the Wild Wood to collect a family of owlbears and move them down to the town of Steep Valley. Well, just to remind everyone, owlbears are a kind of magical animal that is part bear, part owl. They look much like bears with owl heads, as well as some feathers down their spines and a patch of feathers around their belly. The rest is fur. And the group has previously run into four people who are all acting suspiciously. The group suspects that these people may be poachers who are after the owlbear eggs.

FAY: [voiceover] An additional fact about owlbears is that they are repelled by the smell of stinky pricklebushes, a fast growing type of bush that is used to protect people and livestock from owlbears. When we last left off, the group was traveling to Islandtown to meet with keeper Silvia Aguilar (transcriber’s note: pronounced AEg-yoo-lAAr), who will be giving them the things they need to enter the Wild Wood and collect the owlbears that they are transporting. The group currently has an official document and two maps. The first is a map of Crossroads with a route to Islandtown and a route to Steep Valley marked on it. The second is a map of the regions surrounding Steep Valley where they will be taking the owlbears. Our three heroes have just finished their interaction with the four suspicious people who might be poachers.

[The game recording resumes.]

ROBIN: What time is it now?

FAY: It’s still about eight in the morning. It’s probably like 8:30 by now.

ROBIN: So it’s a full day’s walk, so-

SAGE: [slowly] Oh my god.

ROBIN: We’re probably not gonna be able to make it there all in one go. So maybe we should, um… well, walk for a little while and then see if we can find an inn?

SAGE: Yeah.

ROBIN: To stay in?

FAY: Yeah, so on the edge of town there is a small, reasonably priced, reasonable-quality inn that is kind of like the last main place [ROBIN: Mhm.] before going on this trail that heads up to Islandtown. Which is a main base for those who are working in the Wild Wood.

ORIANA: I’d really like to ask [at the inn] about that plant. The spiny one that we read about?

FAY: Ah yes, the stinky prickle bushes. So they’re prickly and stinky. And in fact, you’ll notice when you go to this inn that surrounding the inn, and especially the stable area, there’s actually some spiky bushes that have a pungent aroma. It’s not a completely unpleasant aroma, at least to most noses. It is very pungent and um, it has a little bit of a sharp, bitter smell to it.

ROBIN: Okay. Huh.

ORIANA: Well, while we’re at the inn, I’d definitely like to ask the innkeeper if I can get some cuttings of their sticky pricklebushes.

FAY: The innkeeper-

ROBIN: Oh, that’s great.

FAY: Yeah. The innkeeper’s happy to oblige. She says, “Oh yeah, those things? They grow so fast. Fortunately, they don’t just seed themselves everywhere. I guess they kind of bred that out of them. But yeah, you grow those from cuttings super fast. Feel free.”

ROBIN: Um, so Tarragon asks if they have it planted because they’re worried about owlbears, or was it just a nice shrub.

FAY: Well, and the innkeeper’s like, “Oh yeah. Well, the owlbear populations in the Wood have been getting really big lately, and they definitely- some of them come out of the woods lookin’ for easy food. So you know, got to have the prickle bushes up.”

ROBIN: Yeah, it’s a good way of, of protecting yourself. You don’t get hurt; they don’t get hurt. It’s a good way of doing things.

FAY (as innkeeper): I’ve never seen them sniffing around my stables.

ORIANA: Are we staying here for the day?

FAY: Uh, you can. Yeah.

ROBIN: If that works for you. I’m not sure if there’s another inn further along the road, and I don’t wanna get stuck on the road if you need to sleep.

FAY: The innkeeper’s gonna pipe up and say, “Oh, I’m the last thing between here and Islandtown.”

ORIANA: So we all do well in the mornings. Do we also do well in the evenings?

ROBIN: Um, well, it- I struggle in the US. It depends. As long as I’ve had a good solid sleep and I’ve taken my medicine when I wake up,I’m okay, but I need to make sure that I have a good solid sleep. If we sleep all day, then I can walk at night. That’s fine.

SAGE: Oh, that’s interesting. But that wouldn’t really help Willa.

ORIANA: No. Willa, Willa is fine in the evenings if she rests during the day.

SAGE: Okay. So basically, you all are having afternoon naps and D’Zân‘ll sleep like that’s their main sleep.

ROBIN: Normal routine. (small laugh)

SAGE: Yeah. Xe might be-xe is willing to get by with less sleep than usual this time, just because it will make it a lot easier to travel on foot for a while in the evening. [ORIANA: Okay.]And then maybe we all should take a break so that you all can have more naps, and you know.

ROBIN: That sounds like a good plan.

ORIANA: Yeah, so Willa definitely won’t be able to walk the whole night. But if we rest during the day, Willa can walk for most of the evening.

FAY: Okay.

SAGE: Okay.

ROBIN: Yeah. So we can rest here and maybe get some supplies and make sure we’ve got enough food and anything we need. [FAY: Absolutely.] And we can head off.

SAGE: How much coindo we have left for getting supplies?

FAY: So you guyshave- each of you has some coins, thatif you didn’t already have them, was provided for standard minor supplies. And staying at inns. [ROBIN: Okay.] [SAGE: Oh.] Soyour group doesn’t need to worry about, um, inns or relatively cheap, affordable things like rope. If you wanted to buy a bunch of horses, you might not be able to afford that, but like, more standard everyday items…

SAGE: Okay. So our passage on the boat was paid for essentially out of our per diem.

FAY: Yeah, basically. Yeah.

ROBIN: Excellent.

FAY: So if people are ready, I can just move time along.

SAGE: Mhm.

ROBIN: Yeah.

ORIANA: Um, the other thing that’s gonna happen at the inn is that Willa is going to get some of this plant stuff.

FAY: Absolutely, cuttings.

ORIANA: And then also like, do some boiling-

[*A sequence of alchemy sounds begins playing. The sequence includes constant bubbling as well as chopping, the grinding of a mortar and pestle, dripping, rattling, splashing, hissing, and a lid being placed on a pot.]

ORIANA: And some chopping and prepare some- [FAY: Ah.] some little bottles of uh, stinky prickle bush juice stuff.

FAY: Okay, sure. Is Willa gonna keep any ones that Willa’s trying to root, or is Willa just taking a few snips here and there to make this extract?

ORIANA: I don’t know that she has any way of growing that on the road.

FAY: Okay, sure. Just making an extract. So that’s gonna be, um, alchemy, so that’s your mind skill. I believe you do have your alchemy books, though. [ORIANA: Yes.] And this is a time when you could absolutely consult them about making extracts of unusualplants.


FAY: So that would give you three dice.

[Dice shaking noise begins.]

ORIANA: Yeah, so I’m spending most of the morning checking my books and trying to turn these plants into something useful.

[Dice rolling noise.]

ORIANA: Okay, I have two failures and one success.

FAY: So… I’m gonna say that it turns out that stinky prickle bushes- it takes a lot of stinky prickle bush to make extracts. So you have one bottle of extract with the amount of cuttingsyou were willing to take from someone else’s bushes. So you just got the one, but you do have one, and you believe that if opened, this will successfully repel owlbears.

ORIANA: Okay. [laughs] Let’s hope one’s enough. [FAY laughs]

ROBIN: One’s better than none, so well done. [FAY: Absolutely.] That was a really good idea to do that.

[*Alchemy sound sequence fades out.]

SAGE: D’Zân is like, “Keep that stuff away from me. I mean, us zmei – well, druids – we can, you know, we can get around in nature and leave no trace. But if owlbears can smell us, there’s not really much we can do. [laughs] So I’ll just fly if I have to.”

FAY: Mhm. Everyone’s got their own way of handling it.

SAGE: Yeah.

ORIANA: And that was definitely part of the idea with creating an extract. We don’t- aren’t carrying around a plant. You’re carrying it in a bottle that’s closed.

SAGE: Yeah, that’s fantastic. [FAY: Absolutely.] D’Zân is like, “Wow, okay. I can smell that from over here. Please just don’t spray it on me.” [laughs]

FAY: Right.

ORIANA: Well, I spent all morning boiling half a plant. Of course I’m gonna smell. [laughs]

SAGE: “Not that I don’t- I don’t dislike the smell,” D’Zân says. “It’s just, I don’t want to scare away the owlbears. And we’re supposed to be capturing them, after all.”

FAY: Mm.

ROBIN: That’s true.

FAY: Okay. So your group rests up, and then, I guess in the early evening, everyone gets up and heads out on the road to Islandtown.

SAGE: Mhm.


FAY: Mmkay. I’d say you get to Islandtown maybe, um, a little bit before dawn?


FAY: Okay, so Islandtown is located on the edge of the Wild Wood.

[*Sound of waves gently breaking onto a lake shore, with occasional water bird calls, begins playing.]

FAY: Here, grassland gives way to a towering temperate forest. The town itself is a modest collection of stone buildings that’s perched on a large island in the center of a lake that runs along the border between the grassland and the trees. On the edge of the lake, there’s a dock with a sign that says“ferry” in five different languages.

ORIANA: When they arrive, Willa is definitely going to be totally exhausted and basically like, “Sleep. Now. Nothing else. Everything else later.”

SAGE: Mhm.

FAY: Right.

SAGE: Sounds about right.

FAY: So… after a moderate wait, the group is met by a ferry that takes them across the lake.

[*Rowing sound begins playing.]

FAY: The town itself is the base for the Crossroads Wilderness Keepers, whichagain, is that official organization that manages and protects the wilderness in Crossroads. In addition to the Keepers, Islandtown contains a few shops, one inn, and there’s some homes that belong to a number of local fisherpeople.

[*The sound of people talking and sound of waves hitting boat hulls slowly fade in.]

FAY: And when you get across the ferry, there is a junior Keeper who asks for your paperwork. Um, and D’Zân hands it to them. [SAGE: Mmhm.] And they look it over and show you the building that you’ll need to be going to. I presume, at this point, you mentioned how exhausted you are?

ROBIN: Mm, yes.

ORIANA: -has probably mentioned it a few times.

[laughter from multiple people]

SAGE: Yeah. Now it’s like mid-morning?

FAY: They show you to the inn to rest up after your journey and uh, says, “Be sure to go to the Crossroads Wilderness Keepers building for the monster reintroduction program before dusk tonight.”

[*The water sounds slowly fade into the background as the sounds of people talking continue.]

ROBIN and SAGE: Okay.

SAGE: So basically, D’Zân has to set sort of a magical alarm so xe wakes up.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): Yes, okay. Thank you for understanding that we need to rest, but uh, it’s just how we work.

FAY (as junior Keeper): Absolutely.

ROBIN: And [Tarragon] curls up for a well-needed sleep.

[*Both the sounds of people talking and the water sounds fade out.]

FAY: Awesome. So it’s a- it’s a nice, simple, straight forward, reasonably clean, cheap inn, and the owners are happy to wake your group up, uh, a few hours before dusk.

SAGE: Oh, thank goodness.

FAY: Okay, so I presume that everyone gets themselves together [ORIANA: Yeah.] and is gonna go off to that building. Okay. So um-

[*There is the sound of a doorknob turning and door opening, followed by the sound of a fountain and echoing footsteps on a tile floor.]

FAY: Inside the building, another person takes your paperwork-

[*Sound of pages being flipped. The echoing footsteps continue as the hum of talking people fades in.]

FAY: Looks it over, and then directs you to a desk.

[*The fountain and footsteps sounds fade out.]

FAY: At that desk is a tall, graceful elf with long, tightly curled, silver-streaked black hair, weathered dark brown skin, and a deep green tunic and trousers that are embroidered with an elegant leaf pattern. And next to their desk is a golden eagle that is perched on a stand.

ROBIN: Oh, marvelous. Um, excuse me, we’re looking for Silvia.Would that be you?

FAY (as Silvia): That is me. I am keeper Silvia Aguilar. Paperwork, please?

SAGE: So… D’Zân presents the paperwork again?

FAY: Absolutely.

ORIANA: Willa’s just cheerful and “Hello!”

ROBIN (as Tarragon): It’s a, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I understand you’ve been told that we’d be arriving.

FAY (as Silvia): You are expected.

[*The talking sounds fade out and are replaced by a sequence of paper and filing sounds. The sequence includes paper being handled, a drawer being opened and closed, a pen writing on paper, and paper being stamped.]

FAY: So Silvia looks over the paperwork, and they get out some files, check things off. They actually take the official documents that you would- were given at the Academy, file those after making some marks and stamps, andget out a, um, a piece of paper that is a specific type of permit – and it is actually glowing a little bit – and they hand that to you.

[*Paper and filing sound sequence ends.]

ORIANA: Willa does not touch the paper.

[ORIANA and FAY laugh]

FAY: So this permit will allow you to remove one owlbear family from the Wild Wood for relocation at Steep Valley. And Silvia has kind of a slightly curt way of talking. As they tell you that there’s a specific owlbear family that was selected for relocation, they hand you a map that actually will lead you to the den site of this owlbear family.

This is a pair that is in a territory that’s too small to allow them to successfully rear their young, as the owlbear populations are recovering in the Wild Wood quite rapidly.They do have a clutch of eggs that you will need to transport. It is extremely important to keep those eggs warm. And they kind of give you all like a firm look and say, “This permit only allows you to take that one family of owlbears. You will not be permitted to kill, harvest, remove, or otherwise interfere with any of the other plants or animals in the Wood. Is that understood?”

SAGE (as D’Zân): Yes, ma’am.

SAGE: Oh, not ma’am. It would be yes- oh gosh. What is the-

FAY: Hm.

ORIANA: Mx (transcriber’s note: pronounced “mix”) is a good one.

SAGE: Oh, Mx.

SAGE (as D’Zân): Yes, Mx.

[ROBIN laughs]

FAY: Okay. Silvia seems slightly approving of theseriousness with which you’re taking this because Silviatakes this extremely seriously- youdo not need to make an insight roll to know that Silvia takes this all very serious[ly].

[laughter from multiple people]

ORIANA: Okay, Willa sort of bounces up and says, “Do we- do you have the supplies we need? Do you have like a carry case for the eggs, or um, is there anything like that that you have that we can use? Or do you know where we can get something like that?”

FAY: Silvia says, “The method of transport is entirely up to you. Um, each group that works with us has a very different strategy for interacting with the owlbears.we do know that standard body temperatures for most races is a fine temperature to transport eggs if they’re next to the skin. I will say, however, that we do know that there’s a group of highly skilled thieves that has specifically been targeting owlbear eggs during transfer and the relocation process.”

ORIANA: Willa coughs a little bit and says, [coughs] “I’m assuming that’s most non-reptile races?”

FAY (as Silvia): Ah yes, so I would suspect that a reptile would perhaps not be warm enough to incubate the eggs. But most fully warm-blooded people should be able to keep the eggs warm with their own body temperatures. Of course, the owlbears themselves are perfectly capable of incubating their eggs, should you gain cooperation from the owlbears.

ORIANA (as Willa): Okay, thank you.

FAY (as Silvia): If you need supplies, you can acquire various things at the shops in this town, including various carts and boxes.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): So back to this group of… troublemakers. What do they look like?

FAY (as Silvia): Yes. Well, that’s the thing. There always seems to be four people, but every time there’s a different appearance.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): Ohh.

FAY (as Silvia): We suspect-

ORIANA: The poachers!

[*Anxiety music, a suspenseful, mechanistic track featuring synths and percussion, begins playing.]

ORIANA: Willa starts freaking out a little bit.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): It’s fine. It’s fine, Willa. It’s fine. We don’t know that, and they were going the other way.

SAGE: Oh, that’s right. We would have had this conversation, so D’Zân  would have found out that the others suspected that it might be poachers. So D’Zân’s a little less clueless at this point.

FAY: And Silvia says, “What is this? You think you had an encounter with them?”

ORIANA: Willa’s like, [whisper scream] “Yes, I almost went right up to them! [normal voice] Wait no, I did go right up to them. Well, we saw these strangers in town, and I thought they were really suspicious. I tried to ask them what they were doing. And they just seemed to be adventurers and were really clearly avoiding telling us what they were doing.

FAY (as Silvia): Mm, and you say there’s four of them?

ORIANA (as Willa): Yes, they looked like humans when we saw them.

[*Music fades out.]

ROBIN (as Tarragon): There was a very wide variety of sizes, wider than you would normally get. Not saying that sometimes you don’t get big and small humans, but I mean, it was an unusual amount of diversity there.

SAGE (as D’Zân): Yeah. I mean, we had like Michael Jordan on the one hand and Michelle Kwan on the other hand.

FAY (as Silvia): Mhm. Well, that does match the descriptions. They have been going after the eggs, as I said, and in the process, they’ve done a lot of snatch and grabs. They’re very fast, and each time they appear different. But there is one particularly small member of the group [and] one particularly large member of the group. And they will often appear different races, very different appearances, but that is the one thing that seems to be um, constant. It implies, perhaps, a use of extensive disguise, perhaps magical disguise. And we don’t know much more about them, but you will if they’ve already interacted with you. If that- if this is the case, that means that they must have some sort of information that they’re tracking our program with.

SAGE (as D’Zân): Oh wow.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): And they were heading into town, though, so maybe they’d already been out looking for things? Or maybe they- you don’t think they had a contact, do you?

FAY (as Silvia): We don’t know at this point. It’s also possible that they have used some sort of magical device to compromise our security. We will have to double check everything.

In the meantime, this form that I’m giving to you – this document is something you need to take particularly good care of. It is essentially a magical key that will let you inside the protections that keep poachers out of the Wild Wood.You want to definitely not let this out of your sight until you enter the Wild Wood. It will only allow you to enter the Wood once.



SAGE: Okay, so D’Zân has a, you know, pocket in theirgambeson. So it can be under their, under their armor. [FAY: Absolutely.] Under xyr armor. Sorry, god, I can’t even- [laughing] these are my pronouns, and I still can’t get them right.

ORIANA: It’s okay.

FAY: Understandable.

SAGE: Anyway, so xe could put- could protect the document under [xyr] armor.

FAY: Excellent. Sounds like a plan.

ORIANA: Willa just looks at it very skeptically.

FAY: [laughs] Awesome. Okay, so did you have any more questions for Silvia?

ROBIN (as Tarragon): Um… what’s the best sort of time of day to approach the owlbears? Are they nocturnal or…

FAY (as Silvia): Ah. Well, they’re particularly active at dawn and dusk. It depends on whether you want to negotiate with them or whether you want to incapacitate them.

ROBIN: Oh no. I think, I think that will work for us. That’s okay. Well, it will work for Tarragon, at least.

SAGE: Which is which? Which time is the negotiating time and which time is the…

ROBIN: Good point.

FAY (as Silvia): They will be most ready to negotiate when they’re awake and active. Most likely.

ORIANA: As opposed to when they’re asleep? [small laugh]

SAGE: Well, yeah.

FAY: They’re more grumpy and defensive when they’re asleep.

SAGE: But I mean, like, are they- are they wake-up people or before-sleep people? ‘Cause if they’re nocturnal…

FAY: Well, they’re not. They’re-…

SAGE: Dawn and dusk?

FAY: Yeah, I’m not sure what the word for that is.

SAGE: Yeah, that’s crepuscular. So um, alright, so that’s good. Dawn or dusk or both: good times, ‘cause that’s when they’re kind of awake and cognizant. [FAY: Absolutely.] Middle of the night: not so good. Middle of the day: not so good.

FAY: Exactly.

ROBIN: Suits us, I think.

FAY: Yup, absolutely. Um, so yeah, just depends on how you want to interact with them.

ROBIN and SAGE: Okay.

ORIANA: Well, Willathinks that, um, the team should spend another day in town making a plan and maybe preparing some supplies, especially because traveling during the night requires a little more recovery time.

SAGE: Yeah.

FAY: Absolutely, absolutely.

ORIANA: So another night in town would be better.

SAGE: So D’Zân says, “By the way, I should tell you that I can talk to animals. [ROBIN: Oh.] So we ought to make sure that we try to find them at either dawn or dusk and you know, make use of that.

ROBIN: I think, I think I’d rather try that sort of approach. I think it suits us better. And you know, we don’t want to make them angry. There’s no reason to do that if we don’t have to.

FAY: Ah yes, the one other thing that Silvia’s is going to tell you is that the final den site is being kept secret because of the threat of the poachers. [ROBIN: Mhm.] You should have already the meetup location where a couple elders from Steep Valley will meet you to lead you to the secret den site. And Steep Valley themselves have paid for magical protections that will be surrounding this den site. So once the owlbears are installed in their new den, they should be secure. It is simply the transportation between the two points that you’ll need to worry about.

ORIANA: How far away is the new site?

FAY: Yeah, so that’s going to be two days at a standard walk. So fortunately, you got a fairly nearby one because the mountains – the high mountains, which are on the east side of Crossroads – are the ones that have the particular problems with avalanche[s] and landslides, and Steep Valley is one of those that’s nearby in the um, mountain range.

ROBIN: Okay.

ORIANA: Right.

ROBIN: Let’s, let’s have a think about what we need.

[*Podcast announcements music, a calm electronic track, comes in.]

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[*Music swells and then fades.]

[The game recording starts again.]

FAY: Cool, so how much planning does your group wanna do before entering the forest?

ROBIN: Oh. Okay, so I think we need to sit down and decide how we are going to approach this family of owlbears.

ORIANA: The last thing we were talking about was how they tend to be… first thing in the morning and last thing at night?

FAY: Mhm.

ROBIN: Yes. Right. I think it sounds like we’re going to try and get them when they’re awake because that will be safer for everybody nobody likes a grumpy owlbear who hasn’t had enough sleep. [FAY and ORIANA laugh] hopefully we can talk to them and get them to follow us but we probably need some things that… mm… Maybe we could- do you think if we suggest-

ORIANA: Some food so they don’t actually eat us.

ROBIN: Yeah, if we can- we need to make sure that we have snacks and things they like. What, what are owlbear snacks? We need to find out what owlbear snacks are. And maybe as well, maybe D’Zân, you could ask them if- now this might soundnot so good, but trust me, it’s for a good reason. Maybe they would consent to being on a leash of some sort. Like a really long leash so they’re really free and they don’t have to- they’ll still have their dignity. But it’s more just in case anybody attacks us and then we get split up and it could be really dangerous. And it might be better if we did that?

SAGE: Uh, yeah.D’Zân says, “Well, yeah. If we first explained that people might try to catch them or split us up and then present the idea of a leash – in that order and not the other way around – that would be a really-”

ROBIN: That sounds-

SAGE: That sounds like a not-terrible suggestion, but we might want a backup in case they say [raises voice] “No fucking way!”

ROBIN: And oh, we need to- how do we, how do we carry the eggs?

ORIANA: Well, Keeper Aguilar did mention that we could potentially get some wagons in town.

ROBIN: Ooh, that might be easier.

ORIANA: So that might be an easier way to transport them, especially since they have an egg and we definitely want to make sure that the egg is safe.

ROBIN: That’s a good idea. I’m glad you were paying attention; I think I was getting overexcited by owlbears.

[FAY laughs]

ORIANA: Well, Willa is definitely checking her notes right now, and Willa has some notes from when they read the books on the boat. [FAY: Mhm.] Maybe our game master can help Willa remember what’s actually in [the] notes about what owlbears eat?

FAY: Yeah, so their… their diet is… much like a combination of owls and bears. They’re very carnivorous, but they do eat berries. They’ll eat honey. So they’ll definitely eat some of those kind of lovely, super tasty, treat kind of foods, so they’ll eat fruits. But other than that, they’re primarily carnivorous.

SAGE: Okay, so like this pemmican we have in our rations might do, but I mean, that’s like a small human amount. It’s not like-owlbears are pretty big. They need a lot more.

FAY: Absolutely. Um, so this town has a lake surrounding it, and you noticed the homes and boats of some fisherfolk. So there’s likely to be a lot of fish available, which is definitely something that would be considered a delicious food for an owlbear.

ROBIN: Excellent. We should probably try and get some… hm, I guess dried fish is gonna be easiest while we’re traveling.

SAGE: Yeah, but will they eat it?

FAY: So common preservation techniques for fish include smoking, which will be a bit dried out.

SAGE: But not super dried out, yeah.

FAY: But yeah, ‘cause the other- the main drying technique is lots of salt, so this will have less salt, and it’ll be that smoked flavor.

SAGE: Yeah, that’s definitely more- I mean, animals don’t like a huge amount of salt.

FAY: Yeah.

ROBIN: No, we don’t want to make-

SAGE: I don’t think that they’d mind, or at least that’s been my experience.

FAY: As far as you can tell, smoked fish would be fine.

ROBIN: Excellent. And then, yes, wagons. That’s a good idea, Willa, and hmm…

SAGE: Do we have the coin?

ORIANA: -something for the, for the egg. [ROBIN: Yeah.] And [the] egg has to stay warm. What if we filled some wagon beds with blankets? That’ll make it comfortable for the parents and make their ride easier and provide a space where they can essentially just put their nest inside there. That way, they don’t have to worry about getting settled when there’s a new environment too.

ROBIN: That sounds brilliant.

SAGE: Yeah. Yeah, and were we given enough coin to hire wagons that big?

FAY: Yeah. So um… so to rent some wagons is definitely within your budget. Absolutely. How are you planning on pulling the wagons?

SAGE: Oh, good point. We’re pretty strong but not that strong.

ROBIN: We’re gonna need a-

ORIANA: I’m not that strong.

ROBIN: -donkey or an ox or something.

FAY: That’s absolutely an option. I will remind you that one of you has a branch of magic called transportation magic.

ROBIN: I have, haven’t I? [laughs] Let’s see. Can I do something that big?

FAY: Absolutely. If the dice…

ROBIN: Help?

FAY: Mhm, yeah. So if you want a reminder of what transportation magic can do, um, it’s a wide range of things, which includes things like teleportation, but that’s a little too risky for transporting owlbears. [ROBIN: Yes.] Considering if it goes wrong, your characters and the owlbears could end up in separate locations. But it also involves things like making phantom steeds, for example. [ROBIN: Ohh.] Or large floating disks that carry things for you.

ROBIN: So can I ask how that works practically? Because- do I have to be performing continually for it to work because it’s part of mybardic performance?

FAY: [laughs] Yeah so generally, the magic effects that bards createlast as long as they’re performing. [ROBIN: Mhm.] Now, if you specifically focused on, say, “I want this magical animal that’s kind of like a phantom animal to last for a day or something,” [ROBIN: Okay.] you could do that. It’s gonna be harder to do, which means that if the magic goes wrong, something really strange is gonna happen. It would make it a lot more of a big magic sort of thing.

ROBIN (as Tarragon): Okay. Well, I’m happy to try that because while we’re in the town – sorry, this is Tarragon speaking – while we’re in the town, we’ve got things that can help us, and there’s people around, so it’s a good safe environment to try something like that.

SAGE: So D’Zân has another thought, which is- I’ll just speak asD’Zân. You know, getting a wagon or any kind of conveyance into a forest area is impossible. So we have to get the owlbears to come out to a clearing where we can get them onto this – a clearing or a road. Um, and that’s where carrying the eggs will be essential for somebody with a warm enoughbody temperature.

ROBIN: Okay.

ORIANA: Yeah, Willa’s cold blooded, so she’s pretty sure that she can’t carry the eggs. But it does sound tricky to get a wagon into the forest if there’s no road.

FAY: I will-

ROBIN: So I think-

FAY: Sorry. I actually, I’m gonna read the transportation magic section. [ROBIN: Mhm.] So you can create magical transportation effects. Possibilities include speeding travel, magical mounts, wayfinding, making people able to easily traverse hazardous terrain, helping people carry heavy loads, large floating disks that carry things for you, and teleportation.

ROBIN: So ifthe magic goes well enough, then it would mean that we’d be able to get through a forest pass okay.

FAY: Yes. It also, I should have mentioned, it includes things like flying.

ORIANA: We also don’t know how owlbears will respond to magic, and it might be easier to get something like a donkey to pull the cart with some help from magic.

ROBIN: That’s true.

ORIANA: -relying on powerful magic to pull the cart, so that sounds incredibly hard. We also might need Tarragon’s help to defend ourselves if we run into those poachers.

ROBIN: That’s true. I wouldn’t wanna leave us defenseless. So yeah, if- if we’re able to find a creature and then I can enhance it some way so that it’s just smoother for everybody.

FAY: Awesome, so sounds like you guys have a plan. [ORIANA: Yup.] So you can definitely acquire plenty of smoked fish. [ROBIN: Mhm.] Rent… how many wagons? One? Or two?

ORIANA: How big is the wagon?

FAY: You can get various sizes.

SAGE: I’d get one bigger one.

ROBIN: Yeah, I’d say one biggerone and keep us all together, then.

FAY: Absolutely. One bigger wagon with a donkey and a bunch of blankets. It sounded like you wanted to have them wait outside the forest?

ORIANA: Um, I think we’re taking it in with us.

FAY: Or you’re taking-

ORIANA: Or just potentially-

ROBIN: Well, we’ll take it in if my magic works, and if not, we’ll have to leave it somewhere convenient. [FAY: Okay.] So I will try and do a performance. This is quite big because I need to keep it going after I’ve stopped performing, so. The best performances always have an audience, so Tarragon is going to gather everybody in- the wildlife keepers all together into the same room.

ORIANA: “I can help with that,” says Willa.

ROBIN: Yeah? Thank you.

FAY: So a lot of people have their own jobs to attend to. [ROBIN: Ohh.] There are a few local fisherfolk who are sitting around mending nets who would be interested in a performance.

ROBIN: Yes, excellent.

ORIANA: Can Willa use, um, some of her charisma to help drum up an audience for Tarragon?

FAY: Awesome. Yep, definitely.

ROBIN: Great, thank you.

SAGE: D’Zân can’t hide their dragon-ness, so xe’s decided to go off and go buy things, supplies and stuff.

FAY: Okay.

ROBIN: Well, thank you, D’Zân. We appreciate that.

FAY: Oriana, I’m gonna have you roll for Willa’s drumming up an audience. IsWilla using her charisma ability?


FAY: Okay, so that’ll be three dice, then.

[Dice shaking noise followed by a dice rolling sound.]

ORIANA: Ooh. I got a one, a three, and a five.

FAY: Wonderful, so that is a very solid success. So a bunch of the fisherfolk who are doing various tasks like mending nets… you also get a few people from the houses who are doing, um,some various tasks that can be moved outside – like mending clothing and whatnot – will come out and pay attention to this performance.

ROBIN: Okay. So we’re gonna do, um, firebreathing for this. Because lots of energy put into it and energy is really good for transportation. [FAY: Awesome.] So Tarragon starts setting up their equipment and… they’re a little nervous because this is one of the biggest spells they’ve ever done and certainly the biggest one they’ve ever done outside of a classroom. So there, there’s a little bit of banter with the audience and thanking them for watching and then they set the first flame up.

[*There is a flame whoosh sound. Then performance music, an airy, suspenseful track featuring percussion and synths, begins playing.]

ROBIN: And then they start doing a firebreathing routine.

[*A sequence of flame whooshing sounds punctuated by flame surge sounds begins playing.]

ROBIN: So should I roll three for that?

FAY: Yeah, yes. You get an additional dice for having this audience.

[Dice shaking noise.]


[Dice rolling noise.]

ROBIN: Um, okay. So I got a one, a three, and a five. Mine is four, so.

FAY: Excellent, so that is a solid success. That means that for a whole day, this wagon will just have a shockingly easy time going through difficult areas. [ROBIN: Ahh.] So kinda like all of the things will just arrange themselves such that it can pass through.

ROBIN: Excellent. And well done that donkey for standing still with the fire all around itas well. Good donkey.

[ORIANA giggles]

FAY: Absolutely, yeah.

SAGE: That’s some donkey.

[*Performance music and fire noises end. Sound of a small, enthusiastic group of people clapping and cheering phrases such as “Woohoo!” and “Great job! Oh yeah!”.]

SAGE: Of course, D’Zân comes back at some point after that performance and is happy to hear that it went well.


ORIANA: It was so great! Willa is super excited.

SAGE: Sorry xe had to miss it.

ROBIN: Thank you. Let’s, let’s go and get some owlbears.

FAY: Absolutely, with the really calm donkey that’s seen it all. [ROBIN laughs] I’m guessing this is gonna be a slightly older donkey that just has a lot of experience with magic and weird things. [ROBIN: Yeah.] ‘Cause it’s been in this region.

ROBIN: They’re used to it now.

FAY: Alright, so the three of you plus donkey and cart go into the Wild Wood.

[*The sound of forest morning bird song begins playing.]

FAY: Following the route marked on the map. This time of year, the branches of many trees and bushes are bare, save for a few yellow-green buds that are just starting to sprout. This makes the forest open, and it is possible to see a good distance away through the widely spaced trees. Moss andferns are lush on trunks and branches. New sprouts are just starting to make their way through the carpet of decomposing leaves that covers the ground, and here and there, a few early spring flowers brings a touch of color to the gray and muted greens of the forest.

Um, so- oh, quick question. What day is this? Because your characters have their meeting with Silvia kind of in the evening after taking a rest.

ORIANA: I think what we talked about last time was the fact that our characters, especially Willa and Tarragon, really needed a day after that to recover, so I’m guessing this is the day after that.

ROBIN: And we know that – yeah, the owlbears, sort of evening, dawn and dusk – so I know we were timing it to get there atthe time they were awake.

FAY: So this is the next day. Great. So you do this first thing in the morning to enchant the carts. [ORIANA: Mhm, yeah.] And then, um, you’re ready to enter the forest while it’s still like really early morning, and you’re hoping the owlbears will be active. [ROBIN: Yes.] So Oriana, I need you to roll a six-sided dice for me to determine what the weather is today.


[Dice shaking noise followed by a dice rolling noise.]

ORIANA: I rolled a one.

FAY: Oh. A clear, gently warm, sunny day, but the nighttime temperatures are cold. So it’s early morning, so it is gonna be a little crisp right now. But it should warm up when the sun comes out.

ORIANA: In that case, I think Willa might be riding in the wagon as they get started.

FAY: Yeah, it’s a bit frosty still.

ROBIN: Yeah. We’ll keep you warm; don’t worry.

FAY: In the cart with all the blankets. Awesome. Okay, so I’m gonna need a roll to see how effectively you can follow the map. So D’Zân is the one with the map and who has professed that xe can effectively read it. And D’Zân is in tune with nature, so it’s gonna be a survival roll to follow the map.

SAGE: Okay. Two dice?

FAY: Does someone have survival? D’Zân does. So that’ll be three dice because you’re also in tune with nature.

[Dice rolling noise.]

SAGE: Two threes and a two.

ROBIN: Great.

FAY: Okay, so that is…survival is a mental skill. And that means that that’s three successes, so that is actually a really good success. And it’s so good that D’Zân is just helping everyone find this path super effectively and is actually able to cut some time off of this journey by being very quick to spot this route. So it’s still early morning when you start to get close to the den site. As you draw close to this area, the three of you notice a pale light dancing and bobbing between the trees. Soon, there are more of them, each tantalizingly flitting between the trees.

ORIANA: Willa would like to do an insight check.

FAY: Well, so this is going to be nature or culture to figure out what they are.

ROBIN: Yeah, I’d like to, er, roll nature, then, please.

FAY: Absolutely.


[Dice rolling noise.]

ROBIN: Ooh, I got ones on both of them.That’ssuccess on both of them. That’s good.

[*The bird song fades out.]

FAY: Okay, so Tarragon knows that these are will-o’-wisps, which are vengeful spirits of people who were killed unjustly.

ROBIN: Oh no.

FAY: Yeah, yeah. These malicious spirits seek revenge on the living. Because will-o’-wisps have become consumed by their purpose, they have limited intelligence. They cluster around dangerous areas, including marshes, mines, and cliffs, attempting to lead people off to their doom. Those who fall victim to will-o’-wisps will sometimes become will-o’-wisps themselves, creating a rather unfortunate cycle.

ORIANA: Can Willa try and do a culture check to see if she can get any sort of insight on these particular will-o’-wisps and, um, any potential way of understanding their motivations?

FAY: If you would like to.

ORIANA: Okay, and Willa has culture as a skill, so is that two dice?

FAY: Absolutely. Yup.

ORIANA: [quietly] ‘Kay.

[Dice rolling noise.]

ORIANA: Ooh. A three and a six.

FAY: Yeah, so Willa basically knows about the same stuff as Tarragon, but maybe slightly less detailed. As your characters sit around discussing this, I’m gonna need all three of you to roll your magical defense.

ROBIN: Oh dear. [laughs] Just when we’re saying, “Oh, what do we do about these?”

FAY: Right.

ORIANA: Um, right. How many dice is that?

ROBIN: What do we roll for that- yes.

FAY: So each of you should be, you know, ready with your standard however your character uses their magical defense, whether you have a staff or a special outfit or whether you’re using gestures. So you each get two dice to roll your magical defense. Unless you have a magic item that enhances your defense, and you can use those.

ROBIN: Oh, okay.

SAGE: Let’s see. We have deflection as a skill.

[Dice rolling noise.]

FAY: Mhm. Two dice, rolling two dice.


SAGE: Two dice.

[Dice rolling noise.]

ROBIN: I have two successes.

FAY: Okay. So Tarragon fully resists, uh, the temptation to follow the will-o’-wisps.

ROBIN: [sighs in relief]

FAY: So you’re doing fine. Like you feel it for just a second, and you’re like, “No. Bad idea.” [ROBIN: No.] And it just kind of fades away.

ORIANA: Unfortunately, Willa is not so lucky.

FAY: What’s Willa-

ORIANA: Willa is still really cold, and let’s be real, is the kind of person who wants to get along with everyone. So I just rolled a five and a six.

FAY: Okay.

[*The will-o’-wisps enchantment music starts with the tinkling of bells, followed by a slow, dreamy flute melody. This ominous and magical music piece features alto flute, bass flute, percussion, and synths.]

ORIANA: Willa slowly looks up and immediately starts following them.

FAY: Yeah, so here’s how this works. Willa feels an irresistible urge to follow them. Now, Willa can still act, uh, as she wishes, but she has to follow them. So she has a choice about actions she takes as she follows them. She can take various actions. She can choose the exact path that she follows in following them, but she does have to follow them. It is irresistible.

SAGE: Uh, I’ve got a question.

FAY: Mhm. Yeah.

SAGE: Willa’s cold. Wouldn’t Willa be pretty slow? I mean, usually that’s how it is with reptiles. They’re slower when they’re colder, so.

FAY: Oriana?

SAGE: The irresistible, of course, might be mitigated a bit by the coldness.

ORIANA: Yeah, she’s not moving fast but she’s moving without any hesitation. Eyes are completely locked on the will-o’-wisps. Like, she’s not running through the brush, but she’s heading right for them.

FAY: Okay.

ROBIN: So yeah.

SAGE: Okay, and D’Zân- what are we rolling? Is it armor, or is it magic? It’s magic, right?

FAY: It’s magical defense, yes.

SAGE: So we’re rolling deflection?

FAY: Um, yes.

SAGE: Okay.

[Dice rolling noise.]

SAGE: Alright, a one and a four.

FAY: Okay, and that’s- because it’s magical defense, I believe D’Zân has a mind of five, so D’Zân also resists the lure of the will-o’-wisps. [SAGE: Okey-dokey.] Yeah. So you feel it for a moment, you do your gestures, you know it’s a magical thing, and you get that out. AndD’Zân is fine.So just Willa [is] following the will-o’-wisps.

ORIANA: They’re so pretty!

ROBIN: Tarragonhas the staff in their hand, which is- it’s their magical staff, and that’s what sort of kept them safe there. [FAY: Yup.] And they start to see Willa moving towards with them with that sort of gleeful yet sleepy look on their face. [FAY and ROBIN laugh]

ROBIN: “Willa- Willa no! Willa!” And they try and reach out to them, try and stop them.

SAGE: Do the rest of us see you- Willa struggling and falling under- they must, right? Or should we do a perception check or something?

FAY: Well, um. What is Willa doing?

ORIANA: Pretty much as soon as this, you know, irresistible urge came over her, she immediately climbed off the wagon and started walking towards them.

FAY: Okay.

SAGE: That would be pretty obvious.

FAY: That is obvious, so both of the other two characters immediately notice Willa’s following.

SAGE: Uh oh, uh oh.

ORIANA: Willa’s enchanted, right? So she like, wants to follow them?

FAY: Yup, but-

ORIANA: So she’s not gonna resist?

FAY: Yeah, well, so you- Willa cannot resist the urge to follow them, but Tarragon has mentioned to everybody that these are malicious entities that intend to kill you. So Willacan take actions based on that. For example, Willa could use a stick to test the ground in front of her. [laughs]

ORIANA: I just wanted to know how enchanted Willais. Because if she’s so enchanted that she doesn’t want to resist, that’s different than she just feels an intense need to walk in this direction. Because Willa is an alchemist and she has her little alchemist’s bag with her. So while she’s really enchanted by these lights, she does feel a little nervous as she gets closer and closer. [FAY: Yup.] So she digs around in her bag and pulls out a little vial of something that smells really foul. [FAY: Okay.] Can I see [laughs] if the foul smell will help break the, the trance or whatever?

FAY: So basically, she’s trying to shock her own brain out of… the enchantment? Is that what she’s trying to do?

ORIANA: Mhm. By sniffing her own stink bomb.

FAY: Okay. Okay, sure.

ORIANA: She never thought it would come to this, but.

FAY: [laughs] It’s like smelling salts.


SAGE: Oh, I’ve got a question. [FAY: Mhm.] Does this count as a magical injury or illness?

[*The will-o’-wisps enchantment music fades out.]

FAY: Um…. It’s, it’s not an injury or illness exactly. But if you’re wondering whether or not restoration magic would help, it could help restore Willa to her natural state, which is not enchanted by will-o’-wisps. [breaks into laughter]

SAGE: Okay. So in other words, the risk after that would be reenchantment, but at least it could maybe help?

FAY: Mhm, yeah.

SAGE: Alright, so um-

ORIANA: Why don’t I start by rolling for my stink bomb?

SAGE: Mhm.

FAY: Yeah, so why don’t you roll your alchemy to see how effectively bad that stink bomb is? Is it-

ORIANA: Is that two dice?

FAY: That’s- yes, two dice.

ORIANA: Mmkay.

[Dice rolling noise.]

ORIANA: Ooh. One success, one failure.

FAY: Okay, so it’s, it’s pretty bad, andyou know,it’s kind of distracting your mind a little bit. But you’re still feeling an urge to follow them, so.

ORIANA: Okay. Willa has slowed down even more and is now coughing and spluttering a little bit. [laughs]

FAY: Yeah. Basically, exactly. Perfect.

ROBIN: Oh. Okay.

FAY: Perfect. So you’re slowing down, but you’re still following. D’Zân wanted to cast some restoration magic?

SAGE: Yeah, so is this- we’re an expert in this. Is this something we can prepare something for? [FAY: Yes-] And we thought to ask it before, you know, as a plan B. So.

FAY: So there was no way for D’Zân to know that this was specifically gonna come up. However, Tarragon is capable of potentially assisting, so what was Tarragon wanting to do?

ROBIN: Well, Tarragon’s first instinct was to try and sort of physically get to, get to Willa, which is possible- if it’s possible. [FAY: Yeah.] But obviously, seeing that you’re trying other things and realizing that this is sort of an enchantment effect, they’d be happy to try and offer you some help to break the enchantment. Butif you also want sort of physical restraining, they are an orc. They’re a small orc, but they’re still an orc.

FAY: Absolutely. So this is all happening pretty fast, so Tarragon probably just needs to quickly choose one of those two courses of action.

ROBIN: Um… let’s see. Sage, can you just quickly describe to me what D’Zân was doing?

SAGE: Okay.

ROBIN: Like what it, what it would have looked like.

SAGE: Um, so D’Zân has the healing and restoration ability. You can create magic healing effects. Possibilities include mending wounds, curing poisons, removing curses, and healing those diseases which can be healed by magic. And I, you know, I haven’t sat- sat down and thought about how that would be done, but I assume that involves being physically near to Willa and then laying on of hands of some sort.

ROBIN: Okay. So with that in mind, if I see- if Tarragon sees D’Zân sort of approaching Willaand Tarragon probably doesn’t know exactly what you’ve got in mind, that means Tarragon is gonna continue with their first instinct. Which is to try and grab at Willa and stop her and physically restrain her, or physically bring her back towards the wagon and see- stop the progress.

FAY: Okay, so if you’re interposing yourself-

ORIANA: Um, can I add something?

FAY: Mhm.

ORIANA: So one of the reasons why Willa’s friends are really comfortable doing this and trying to physically grab her is because they are good friends. And like, Willa has in the past consented to hugs and is also [a] very eager hugger, so they know that this is probably a good call for Willa.

ROBIN: Thank you for that clarification. That’s really good, actually.

FAY: Yeah, awesome. So I’m gonna say having Tarragon interpose themself between Willa and where she’s being lured off to will be… if you’re just kind of interposing, mostly, that’s gonna be athletics. [ROBIN: Okay.] Is athleticsone of Tarragon’s skills?

ROBIN: It’s not, but… [FAY: Okay.] Oh no, that doesn’t work. I was looking at my derring-do skill, but that doesn’t work, unfortunately.

FAY: Unless you did it in a particularly daring fashion, which would have greater risk [breaks into laughter] if it goes wrong. [ORIANA laughs] But if you decided to do that, you could make it derring-do.

ROBIN: I will, I’ll have a go because I am- Tarragon was still on the cart. So Tarragon is going to make quite a mighty leap in your direction.

FAY: Ah, the mighty leap.

ROBIN: A bit of a tumble, though.

FAY: Leap and tumble.

ROBIN: They are a performer at heart. [laughs]

FAY: Awesome. That is definitely big enough for derring-do, so that’s two dice.

[Dice rolling noise.]

ROBIN: Um, and we get a three and a two. [relieved sigh]

FAY: Awesome.

ORIANA: Does Willa… respond to this at all?

FAY: Uh, Willa can. So it sounds like what’s happening [is] Tarragon makes a mighty leap and tumble to go dash right in front of Willa and just shows up with a flourish and like does a very big gesture. And blocking Willa like, “You can’t continue!” So there’s our daring action there, so Willa can react to that.

ORIANA: Um, Willa attempts to continue because [starts giggling] Willa is magicked to continue.

FAY: Absolutely.

ROBIN: “No! Willa!”

FAY: Yeah, so at this point, D’Zân- [SAGE: Mhm.] D’Zân’s casting magic. So D’Zân has approached Willa, and Willa is temporarily stopped right now between Tarragon’s actions and already having been slowed down by smelling that awful, awful stinkbomb. Willa is temporarily stopped. Now is your moment.

SAGE: Okay.

[Dice rolling noise.]

SAGE: Okay, two and a four.

FAY: Beautiful. So D’Zân lays on hands, in a gesture that xe knows Willa will likely be okay with, and casts this magic. And there’s a brief flare of light and energy, and Willa is free from this urge to follow the will-o’-wisps.

ORIANA: Has this also fixed the coughing?

[Unknown person snorts.]

ORIANA: Yes it has, actually.

[FAY and ORIANA laugh]

ORIANA: Willa’s very relieved.

FAY: It has.

ORIANA: “Thank you so much, both of you,” she says.

SAGE: You’re welcome.

ROBIN: That, that was all D’Zân. Well done,D’Zân. You did better than I did.

FAY: Well, you both were extremely successful at helping.

[*Game theme, a bright, mysterious piece of world music featuring flute and percussion, plays.]

FAY: [voiceover] And that is the end of this episode. Please join us in three weeks on Thursday, June 21st for Part 3 of “The Owlbear Reintroduction Program,” to find out what happens when our three heroes reach the owlbear den. If you want to find out more about today’s guests, here’s how to follow them.

[Start of recorded section.]

ROBIN: Okay. I can be found on Tumblr with the username skeletonmug. That’s all one word: skeletonmug, S-K-E-L-E-T-O-N-M-U-G. And I also have a website, which is for accessibility in live action roleplay, and that’s accesslarp, A-C-C-E-S-S-L-A-R-P, dot wordpress dot com.

FAY: Perfect, and that was Robin. And Oriana, I believe you have a coloring book you’re working on?

ORIANA: Yes, I can be found on Facebook as Oriana Soup. That’s O-R-I-A-N-A space S-O-U-P. And I’m working on a coloring book that is body positivity and diversity and disability themed. It is a high fantasy world in which all of the kinds of people that I care about [are] present realistically. It’s called Our Space: A Coloring Book, and it has a Facebook page, which is Our Space, O-U-R S-P-A-C-E, colon, A Coloring Book.

FAY: Perfect. And Sage, you have, uh, a Dreamwidth blog, I believe?

SAGE: Yeah. And it’s not- we’re not really doing anything super worth looking up. I mean, there’s not much there. But anyway, I just sent it to you in the link, and could you-

FAY: Absolutely, absolutely. So it is V-L-A-D-D-R-A-C-U-L-E-A dot dreamwidth, which is spelled D-R-E-A-M-W-I-D-T-H, dot org. So thank you all so much, and I look forward to continuing this adventure soon.

ROBIN: Okay, thanks very much. Bye-bye.

FAY: Bye.

ORIANA: Thanks, everybody.

SAGE: Bye-bye.

FAY: [voiceover] If you like what you hear and want to hear more, be sure to follow Writing Alchemy on Twitter at @Writing_Alchemy, on Facebook at, [and] on Google+ at, where the first plus is the word and the second is the symbol. You can subscribe to this podcast on Google Play, Stitcher, iTunes, or by using its RSS feed. If you want to help me keep this podcast going, pledge your support on Patreon at or make a donation through Ko-fi. And be sure to visit to find all of the Writing Alchemy podcasts, articles, stories, and other content. There you can join the discussion and sign up for the mailing list to receive announcements about new podcasts and projects.

[*Outro, a calm electronic track, begins playing.]

FAY: If you are a person with a disability, chronic illness, or a diverse mind and you would like to participate in an Unfamiliar Heroes game, head over to and click on the participation link in the sidebar. Future games include recorded audio games and text games which will be published in chapters. Note that wait times vary a lot depending on what games participants are interested in.

Thank you for listening, and please join us in three weeks on Thursday, June 21st for Part 3 of The Owlbear Reintroduction Program!

[*Music continues for about half a minute, then stops.]


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