Last week, Deborah Ann Woll’s Dungeons and Dragons series Children of Éarte left us with one big question – what’s behind the door of Room A on the Starlight Special? As the train nears its first stop at Twin Creek Mine, the passengers continue to puzzle over the mysterious door – and take increasingly drastic steps to uncover the mystery.
Episode one of Children of Éarte introduced us to collector Silas Jordan (played by Adam Bradford), lawyer Fairuza Armstrong (played by Alica Marie), mischievous mailroom clerk Maeve Flynn (Jennifer Kretchmer), baker Nebula (Lauren Urban), and rambunctious retiree Robin Beckett (Hope LaVelle). When we last left the party, they had just watched Maeve snap a knife attempting to unlock Room A’s door.
Before we jump into our review (and exclusive cast interview) of episode two, you might want to refresh yourself with our Children of Éarte episode one review. Here you can find all the details on our passengers, what we know of their stat blocks, and the plot from last week. And, if you’re still yet to watch, you can catch episode two on Demiplane’s Twitch channel.
If you’re looking for other Children of Éarte episode reviews, find them here:
- Episode 1 – Starlight Special
- Episode 3 – PRBLMs
- Episode 4 – Shivering Shadows
- Episode 5 – An Empty Train
- Episode 6 – Enough Blood
- Episode 7 – Campfire Mysteries
- Episode 8 – Magic Muscles
- Episode 9 – Icky Ichor
- Episode 10 – Blackest Night
Now, let’s begin this episode two review.
The beating, burning heart
While Silas definitely isn’t judging Maeve for attempting to pick a lock, Neb draws closer to the door of Room A. She can still hear whispers, and she can hear a heart beating when she listens again. Suddenly, the hushed voice utters a name – ‘Julian’. No one can quite recall knowing a Julian (though Silas is certain that’s the name of a train from Thomas the Tank Engine).
But that’s not all. When Neb knocks on the door, her heart matches its rhythm. Everyone who knocks on the door feels its beat in their core. “Perhaps if we open our hearts, the door will also open”, Robin muses. Before anyone can dwell on the profound thought for too long, Neb must roll a Constitution saving throw (with a +1), and she takes fire damage from touching the door.
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Hope LaVelle said in the post-game interview that Neb’s burned hand was “the moment it got real for Robin”. Robin is intrigued, but “doesn’t yet know how to take action” – with her biggest regret being her role as a bit of a bystander throughout the episode.
The group begin investigating the door further, and Silas discovers that Maeve’s attempts to unlock the door were more successful than she thought – though the door doesn’t open, it is unlocked. He chooses to keep this information to himself, though. The group discover a faint haze surrounding the door when seen through a mirror, and the flame of a lighter bends backwards when placed against the door – and Silas takes fire damage from the heat he suddenly feels on his back.
While Silas, Fairuza, and Robin debate whether to rush the door or use Fairuza’s trusty axe, Maeve and Neb go looking for clues. This is Deborah Ann Woll’s favourite part of DMing a game – “I love watching people solve problems. Each [player] had vastly different strategies, and it was really interesting to watch.” Maeve pockets a book of cyphers and codes, and she uncovers information about the train’s sponsor, 20th-century steel magnate Julian Alan Corbyn. Meanwhile, Neb learns that Maeve is, in fact, making this whole reality TV conspiracy up. She agrees to go along with it.
Both Lauren Urban and Jennifer Kretchmer said in the post-game interview that this moment of quiet was a poignant one for both characters. “I loved the moment where Neb said, ‘I’ll play along’”, says Kretchmer. “That felt like the first friend Maeve has made – her first partner in crime – which is one of the ways to gain her trust, as she doesn’t trust super easily.” Urban added that Neb realising she wasn’t in a TV show was “the turning point of, ‘I need to find out what’s going on in this room now’”.
After trying the doorknob with mittens, and rushing the door, the other three finally give up on trying to force the door of Room A. We learn little more about the door, but we do know that Silas has a +1 Strength modifier. The party decides it’s time for another approach to Room A – one that takes them outside the train.
Silas scales the train
Neb is immediately distracted by the beauty of the stars upon leaving the train (Editor: she has high Wisdom and Intelligence modifiers and a love of stars – Circle of Stars Druid, anyone?). Silas manages to scale a ladder on the side of the train with a dirty 20 roll, and Neb, on board with the adventure, moves to follow him. However, she backs off at the last minute, and uses her Wisdom modifier (+3) to try and convince Silas that climbing on a train moving at 70mph might not be such a good idea. Here, Lauren Urban says Neb experiences her biggest regret of the episode – not convincing Silas to come down.
Silas loses his hat in the wind, but Maeve saves it (and stashes it, no doubt for future trickery). It seems Silas isn’t particularly strong in the perception department, as he adds a -1 Wisdom to his rolls. Wisdom definitely seems to be lacking, as Silas proceeds to hang off the side of the train to get a look through the window of Room A. According to Lauren Urban, Neb believes the whole escapade is partly her fault, so she rushes in a panic to Room B and cracks the window in an attempt to assist. She tears open Silas’ backpack, and – alongside some mysterious cases – finds some rope to throw to Silas – right as the train plunges into a tunnel. Silas manages to flatten himself against the train with a Dexterity saving throw, but he does take some scratching damage.
Meanwhile, Maeve, Fairuza, and Robin attempt to stall train employee Augie, who is decidedly not happy with Silas “tricking” her into taking a nap (Editor: He’s very persuasive, rather dextrous, and suspiciously calm during his out-of-train adventure – is Bard a possible character class?). Maeve’s +4 Charisma bonus buys the team some time. She then pours snow onto the doorknob of Room A – only to watch it sizzle and melt.
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Silas at last gets a glimpse of Room A from his precarious position. A woman’s pale face and blonde hair flash before him, and this terrifying vision propels him to the window of Room B. Using the rope to climb, Silas convinces Fairuza to smash the carriage window with her trusty axe so he can climb back inside. She does so, and the axe has a mysterious glint as she raises it. Alicia Marie says using the axe brought Fairuza a lot of joy, but Adam Bradford says that the woman’s face will likely give Silas – and him – nightmares.
The party is understandably unnerved by the monstrous face in Room A. Alicia Marie says Fairuza, who “tries really hard to hold on tight to reality”, is terrified by the unexplainable facts. However, despite their fear, there are few regrets among the party. “Silas has loved his life, but he’s in a very restless place right now,” says Adam Bradford. “Other than being terrified by the woman in the window, he’d probably do the whole thing again.”
Update: Maeve Flynn’s profession was changed from ‘postal worker’ to ‘mailroom clerk’ on March 24, and the episode directory was updated on May 18.