Snowy Days and Blueberries Always Get Me Down

[James, as Vrixx the sprite] Previously on

The Dimension Door Podcast Season One: One

 

summer's day, a wounded man gets drug into

the town of Heldren by the married couple

 

Marge and Norm Gunderson, two retired rat

folk who were previously in search of their

 

original home where they were raised. They

take him to the nearby healers where local

 

wise woman Vasilisa Morozova helps tend to

his wounds and discovers signs of frostbite

 

and cold exposure. Word travels fast in Heldren

and soon to arrive is Valdeen, a mercenary

 

who just so happened to be in the area. The

wounded man's name is Yuln. He soon comes

 

to consciousness and reveals his caravan was

attacked by bandits and cold dwelling monsters

 

after encountering a snowstorm. The caravan

was transporting Lady Argentea Malassene,

 

a noble woman traveling between the two largest

cities nearby. Lady Argentea was seen being

 

drug into the nearby forest and Yuln began

to limp his way along the road, trying to

 

reach the town for help. Vasilisa points out

that it is the centennial in Irrisen, a land

 

far to the north where every 100 years the

current queen is replaced by her successor

 

whom the greatest of all witches, Baba Yaga,

chooses. With the fear that Baba Yaga could

 

be invading or maybe even the kidnapped noble

woman may be the next forcibly chosen queen,

 

Heldren's head of town council, Ionnia Teppen,

asks for aid from the four individuals before

 

her--the wise woman, the mercenary and the

two retired rat folk. They are to go to the

 

forest, rescue the noble, and stop the cold

if possible. Before leaving, our newly formed

 

party goes to Vasilisa's home, where she performs

a Harrow reading. Looking to the cards for

 

guidance and premonitions of the future, she

binds their fates together, granting each

 

a special token which will hopefully draw

luck in its holder's favor. The group packs

 

up Vasilisa's donkey, Marigold, and Marge's

pet giant weasel, Ghost. Journeying south,

 

they soon come across the wrecked caravan

covered in snow with an icy wind blowing through.

 

The forest that lays behind it is also blanketed

in winter weather and a clear path is found

 

where it looks as though someone has been

drug against their will. Following the trail

 

proves to be challenging; traps, creatures,

and bone chilling cold. The parting later

 

finds bandits have taken over the High Sentinel

Lodge, an old guard post and hunting outpost

 

near the center of the woods. Here they begin

their siege on the lodge only to find that

 

when they begin to slay the bandits frozen

skeletons rise in their place. With the immediate

 

threats cleared up, the group searches the

lodge, uncovering a trapdoor leading to where

 

Lady Argentea is being held. They continue

to search the lodge, eventually finding a

 

sprite locked in a bird cage and half starved

to death. The sprite tries to escape, but

 

is swiftly captured and shoved in a jar for

later. A knock on the door to the lodge startles

 

the party. On the other side is...another

Lady Argentea?! with Heldren's woodcutter

 

and Vasilisa's special friend, Joseph, leaning

heavily on her. This is the real Lady Argentea;

 

the one the party found locked up was a decoy

who assumes the identity of the noble woman

 

for various occasions. When the caravan was

attacked, Lady Argentea fled into the woods

 

before coming across the injured Joseph. The

group learns that there is a portal that has

 

opened in the woods which is allowing the

weather and the creatures to invade from Irrisen,

 

the land of eternal winter thousands of miles

to the north. Lady Argentea, her double, and

 

Joseph head back to town while our heroes

head further into the forest, using the captured

 

sprite Vrixx to lead them directly to the

portal. Upon arrival, they meet the Black

 

Rider, one of the three heralds of Baba Yaga.

He reveals that Baba Yaga has actually been

 

captured by the current queen of Irrisen,

Queen Elvanna. Elvanna has opened portals

 

all over the planet and plans to conquer the

soon-to-be frozen world. Before dying, the

 

rider performs a blood magic ritual binding

the party's fates to Baba Yaga. They receive

 

the Mantle of the Black Rider, a nice boost

to their stats, and level up. However, they

 

are now bound by fate to save the Mother of

All Witches. With the portal secure, the party

 

returns to the town of Heldren to stock up

on supplies and say their goodbyes. After

 

having a short rest, they returned to the

Border Wood, stopping to spend the night at

 

the High Sentinel Lodge. During the night,

the lodge is raided by winter fey, surprising

 

the party in their sleep and bringing Norm

Gunderson's journey to an end. After defeating

 

the fey, the party buries Norm and pushes

forward. After entering the portal, the group

 

finds themselves in Irrisen, where they meet

Kapa, a ratfolk woman who looks exactly like

 

Marge's girlfriend from childhood, who also

died in her arms.

 

[Amanda laughs] Sorry [keeps laughing]

 

[James] I gotcha

 

[Zac] I mean, it is hilarious

 

[James] It is pretty funny

 

[Zac] How everyone you love dies in your arms

 

[Amanda stops laughing with a little 'oh']

 

[James, as Vrixx] This isn't the end of the

doppelgangers, though: Kapa takes the party

 

to the nearby town of Waldsby, which is a

spooky mirror version of Heldren; the same

 

frozen clock tower, the same statue in the

center of town, and even a gnome with a blue

 

pompadour who does woodworking. The gnome

turns out to be the long-lost brother of the

 

gnome of the same description in Heldren.

The party also meets Bolka, a local dwarf

 

cleric who helps the party escape from a group

of [???] guards that ride into town. With

 

some magic distraction and only a minimum

amount of violence, the guards who are still

 

alive leave town and head back to the tower,

but not before capturing Marigold the donkey,

 

burning down Kapa's house and branding her

a traitor to the crown. Marge, Valdeen, Vasilisa,

 

Bolka, Vrixx the sprite and his cousin Hatch

the house spirit, Kapa, Kapa's children, and

 

Arbagazer the gnome come together in Kapa's

secret hideout in the woods, where they make

 

their plan to infiltrate the Pale Tower in

order to shut down the portal leading back

 

to Taldor and Heldren. Our heroes, along with

Vrixx and Hatch, head to the Pale Tower, hoping

 

to close the portal and save Kapa's youngest

child, Thora, who has been taken prisoner.

 

Arbagazer sets off to the portal in order

to join his brother on the non-frozen side

 

of the portal, while Kapa stays in the hideout

with her two children in order to keep them

 

safe. Making their way to the tower, the group

sneaks in at night, avoiding combat where

 

they can and jumping from floor to floor of

the tower using magical keys that allow them

 

to step through giant ice mirrors. At the

top of the tower, they find a magic spinning

 

globe of the planet and an angry goat who

lets out a scream alerting the towers current

 

guardian, Radosek Pavril, witch apprentice

to the region's White Witch. Battle ensues!

 

Valdeen recognizes the face of Radosek as

someone he might have known back in Taldor,

 

but before he can be asked questions he comes

to a swift death, in large part thanks to

 

Ghost the giant white weasel. The party searches

the top floor, finding a dungeon guarded by

 

a magical trap which curses Marge. The dungeon

is empty and the child known as Thora is nowhere

 

to be found. Vasilisa identifies the magic

of the big spinning globe to be the key to

 

closing the portal and that Heldren and Waldsby

are physically linked through a magical ley

 

line. Vasilisa is able to figure out and close

the portal; however, it leaves the party stranded

 

in Irrisen and unable to return to their homeland.

With the first step to stopping Elvanna and

 

freeing Baba Yaga completed, the spirit of

the Black Rider appears again, this time taking

 

on the guise of the deceased Norm. By manipulating

Vasilisa's Harrow cards, the spirit transfers

 

the blood magic that tied Norm to freeing

Baba Yaga over to Bolka. With the fourth member

 

of the party now adorned with the Mantle of

the Black Rider and a step closer to saving

 

the Mother of Witches, magic surges as the

spirit of Norm vanishes and the party levels

 

up.

 

[Music: opening theme plays (“Jelly Castle

(orchestral remix)” by MDK Music)]

 

[laughter of the players]

 

[Zac] Wait, is that really what happened?

 

[Elizabeth, sing-song] We survived a book!

 

[Amanda] I love that last part, where the

party levels up again

 

[David] Yes!

 

[Elizabeth, still sing-song] We're level 5!

 

[Amanda] Woo-hoo! And I love how everyone

Marge has ever loved, besides her kids, has

 

died in her arms.

 

[Elizabeth] You might actually want to avoid

reuniting with your kids in case they decide

 

to climb into your arms and die.

 

[David] Yeah

 

[Amanda] Exactly. Oh boy

 

[Elizabeth] Not good

 

[David] No more hugs

 

[Amanda] No more hugs!

 

[Elizabeth] If any of our party is wounded,

we'll just be lying on the ground and be like,

 

'just keep Marge away, we might die; don't

let her embrace us in her arms!'

 

[Amanda] 'Don't let Marge hold me!'

 

[James] and so we rejoin our party exactly

where Season One, Book One, left off at the

 

top of the tower, uh, the-the portal closed,

the magic surges, the spirit of Norm Gunderson

 

disappears, and we look around the room. Elizabeth,

what's going on with Vasilisa?

 

[Elizabeth] Well, Vasilisa Morozova is looking

really tense right now. You can tell that

 

this is all starting to really get to her.

Her freckles on her cheeks are now kind of

 

hidden by the reddened skin from being exposed

to the cold of Irrisen and in this ice tower

 

for so long. Her- she's, she's clearly uncomfortable

with the magical illusion of the clothes that

 

she's wearing, with this drab Irrisen merchant

garb, and she just wants her bright warm colors

 

to be free and out there again. She's-she's

cold, she's tense, and right now specifically,

 

she is clutching this card and looking down

at one of her Harrow cards and the one thing

 

that she really inherited from her mom is

her eyes so she's got these eyes that are

 

the color of the ice of the tower around them,

this piercing blue, and right now her eyes

 

are just pinned to the card of The Mountain

Man that, once again, her Harrow cards escaped

 

her control and this card was chosen by Bolka

or chose Bolka in some mutual way and she's

 

just caught in this moment, looking definitely

frazzled, definitely the worse for wear, and

 

cold, and puzzled-it's so uncomfortable that

her cards have once again done something of

 

their own volition.

 

[James] and Zac, how's Bolka reacting after

all of this? What-what's he looking like right

 

now?

 

[Zac] So, he always-he always looks like a

dwarf, even though he's a little bit thin

 

and a little bit tall, but he looks more-his

expression is a little bit more gaunt now

 

than usual like he's also always a little

bit underfed, um, and but you see now his

 

eyes look a little bit darker and a little

bit more sunken like 'oh my god' and um yeah

 

his-his beard is a little bit frazzled from

the ring that he had from the the wedding

 

that he did for uh Kapa and her husband that

he took out and was used and uh is to become

 

blood tied to these people and blood tied

to this quest. So the ring is now in his hand

 

and his beard's frazzled and his eyes are

sunken. His robe has goat blood on it, his

 

mace has goat blood on it, plus maybe a little

like little piece of lettuce too um from-from

 

hitting the lettuce baby earlier

 

[James] that was perfect. That's perfect

 

[Zac] Yeah, so he looks very frazzled and

if you were to try and do like a sense motive

 

or read his face like he's unsure he went

with it and rolled with it because it was

 

like it seemed so important and intense and

he does have this feeling like he was destined

 

for something, but this doesn't feel like

what it was supposed to be; this feels so

 

much darker than he had imagined his purpose

would be.

 

[James] and then we look over at Marge, who

just watched her husband appear, completely

 

ignore her, and then vanish again. Amanda,

what's Marge looking like?

 

[Amanda] Her eyes are darting between everybody

in the room and where she last saw Norm. She

 

doesn't understand what happened and why there

was no communication between them; that was

 

her Norm. um. She's a sturdy rat woman and

you can tell she's strong--with with her armor

 

and her shield and her sword she's obviously

strong, but she has a look of frailty about

 

her; in her face you can see the pain of,

well, being cursed and of losing her husband

 

and the reminder of another loved one that

she's lost before. Her sword is stained red

 

and blue, and she smells faintly of blueberries.

 

[Elizabeth] That's Hatch's fault

 

[Amanda] You remember that--exactly.

 

[Zac] the blue sword

 

[Elizabeth] he made you smell like blueberry's,

right

 

[Amanda] but she's standing next to this large

giant white weasel that's got blood all over

 

its face; it looks menacing, I'm sure to anybody

else who who's looking at it. I'm sure Bolka

 

might be a little taken aback as well, seeing

what Ghost has done and-

 

[Zac] She was cute when I met her!

 

[Amanda] Exactly! So just this this strong

duo of Ghost and Marge, but yet there's this

 

this feeling of frailty and of maybe a little

fear, but also anger and there's just a lot

 

you can read in her face and in the way she's

carrying her-her body uh on the back of Ghost.

 

Yeah

 

[James] Yeah

 

[Elizabeth] That's really good

 

[James] uh and then we finally look over to

Valdeen. David, what's going on with Valdeen?

 

[David] Valdeen's olive skin and gold eyes

kind of stand out in contrast to the environment

 

we're in; there's blue and white ice everywhere

around us. And the normally maybe cool calm

 

collected expression on Valdeen's face is

replaced with one that is switching between

 

a lack of understanding or confusion and back

to a somewhat of a pained expression that

 

kind of stares off and then shakes off and

comes back to the present moment. He's clearly

 

struggling between something current happening

now in the moment and something in his past

 

that has come back to haunt him through the

visage of Radosek, a face he never thought

 

he would see again. Valdeen's presence in

the group--he's been acting as a protector

 

trying to uh guide and lead with as much leadership

of strategy as he can, yet he is not um a

 

strong warrior; he's more of a strategic fighter.

So, he's had to learn a different kind of

 

way of being in a group, that is a mix, like

this, of a ratfolk, now a dwarf, and a witch

 

that throws cards.

 

[Zac] She's human, too, right?

 

[James] Yeah she's human, too

 

[David] Yeah

 

[James] That was really good. And here we

are. Norm's spirit is poofed and we've obviously

 

hit a really high note: everyone's leveled

up, you closed the portal, everything's great

 

in absolutely everyone's lives right now,

um... No, this is a depressing victory is

 

what this is.

 

[David] I know: we killed a goat!

 

[Amanda] and we couldn't find Thora and then

Norm and then...

 

[James] You haven't found Thora, yet, yeah,

and here you guys are

 

[Elizabeth] Marge got cursed

 

[Amanda] Marge is cursed (laughs)

 

[James] um, welcome to level five, first of

all. um As was our last level up, this magical

 

surge automatically grants you everything

hit points, blah blah, class features, abilities,

 

all of that kind of stuff um and our good

friend Bolka also got the Mantle of the Black

 

Rider which boosts an ability score and everyone's

happy and full; the only thing that you don't

 

have is getting spells that you need to prepare.

You have to do that at your regularly chosen

 

spell time. So you guys are, you're sitting

in this ritual chamber: what do you guys want

 

to do? What happens? What is-what does the

moment after Norm disappear look like? We

 

saw the freeze frame: What happens next?

 

[David] oof

 

[Zac] What are these around the walls? Are

those benches or-?

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