A new Wednesday means a new recap of the Dungeons and Dragons actual play series Children of Éarte – and this week, Dungeon Master Deborah Ann Woll is very sorry for all the damage she’s caused. Time to cross your fingers on those Survival checks and death saving throws.
For anyone who needs a brief reminder of what happened last week, Children of Éarte episode five saw the Starlight Special become a literal ghost train. The now-panicked staff flicker in and out of the party’s view, and a death in the crew seems to have led to them fleeing the train altogether. After some investigation and a long rest, the passengers realise they’ll need to go forward on foot if they want to reach Twin Creek Mine.
As usual, a more comprehensive review of previous Éarte episodes can be found below in our episode directory. You can also rewatch to your heart’s content over on Demiplane’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel. But if you’re ready to move forward through the snow, then get ready for this week’s recap – and exclusive interview with the cast of Children of Éarte.
Here’s the Children of Éarte episode directory:
- Episode 1 – Starlight Special
- Episode 2 – Whispers on the Wind
- Episode 3 – PRBLMs
- Episode 4 – Shivering Shadows
- Episode 5 – An Empty Train
- Episode 7 – Campfire Mysteries
- Episode 8 – Magic Muscles
Into the woods
The party load up on as much equipment as they can find for traversing the snow outside (and eventually the mine). They head out into the cold, and they’re immediately met by two crossed wrenches dug into the ground in front of the avalanche that blocks the tracks. Everyone is silent, certain they’ve just discovered a grave.
When Wargamer asked Deborah Ann Woll about the moment in the episode that brought her the most joy, she chose the grave – though perhaps the moment could be considered more special than joyful. “Everyone seemed to stop, and a natural moment of silence happened as you took that in and tried to determine what it meant for you”, Woll said to the players. “Death is so easily passed over in an RPG – things just die.” “I appreciate the realistic reverence,” she added, “that death is not easily given or taken”.
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Setting out for answers in Twin Creek Mine takes the passengers into the nearby woodland. Maeve Flynn (played by Jennifer Kretchmer) feels oddly at ease surrounded by trees, but Robin Beckett (Hope LaVelle) and Fairuza Armstrong (Alicia Marie) sense movement in the forest. They’re right to be uneasy – as an enormous white wolf ambushes them, tearing a nasty hole in Maeve’s shoulder and reducing her to one hit point in a single bite.
Nebula (Lauren Urban) rushes to Maeve and yells at the wolf – a yell so powerful it sends the wolf flying over ten feet away. Robin successfully staggers the wolf by casting Grease (or, as she puts it, making the ground icy with bottled water). Silas Jordan (Adam Bradford) also rushes to Maeve, and he’s miraculously able to heal her bite wound – by Rick Rolling her, no less. He also doles out some psychic damage with another bout of Vicious Mockery. Once she recovers a little, Maeve also gets in on the fight by casting a command that’s quickly becoming a favourite of hers: the word “no”.
Even more wolves begin appearing, with one stalking the primary party, and another cornering Fairuza, who is some way ahead of the rest of the group. Fairuza swings with her treasured axe, but she misses her assailant. The first wolf springs at Neb and takes her down, knocking her unconscious. Neb fails her first death saving throw. Robin throws herself at the wolf in a rescue attempt, but she is unable to drag Neb away from the monstrous jaws of the wolf – so she shields the unconscious Neb with her body until she can be revived.
"It felt like a survival game"
For lack of a better weapon, Maeve pulls out her trusty letter opener – which feels strangely right sitting in her hand. And so it should, it seems, as Maeve doles out 26 points of damage to the first wolf, feeling “invigorated” as the life force drains from the creature. At the sight of Maeve, the second wolf attacking the main group runs away with its tail between its legs. Fairuza also finally gets a hit on wolf number three with the blunt end of her axe.
In the post-game interview, Adam Bradford said the episode and its combat scene “played out so beautifully – it felt like a survival game”. He emphasised this with comparisons to survival games and shows like The Walking Dead and The Long Dark.
Neb becomes conscious
When Neb comes to, she and the others hear Fairuza roaring at the final wolf. Encouraged by an off-hand comment from Silas, Neb tries something new – speaking to the wolf (or, as seasoned D&D players know it, casting Speak with Animals). It works, and the wolf turns, only to receive another blow on the back from Fairuza. It whimpers from pain and hunger, and its cries draw forth two more wolves.
In the post-game interview, Lauren Urban could barely contain her joy at being able to speak with the wolves. “I honestly didn’t think that was gonna happen anytime soon, but the whole circumstance fell into place really beautifully”, she said.
Now Neb can understand it, one of the wolves draws itself up on its hind legs to speak with her. Neb and Maeve both offer some of their rations, now certain the creatures are driven by nothing more malicious than hunger. The offering is accepted, and Neb offers to work with the wolves to find them food. The creature addressing her takes one look at its dead brother, and leaves Neb with one final sentence – “enough blood”.
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The dust settles as the wolves depart. Silas is definitely traumatised (and his Constitution saving throws will suffer for the next day). Robin somewhat sardonically points out the passengers have barely made it fifty feet from the train. Despite Robin’s dismay, her player Hope LaVelle told Wargamer how much she enjoyed the focus on such a small distance. “For me as a player, the best thing I’ve gotten from this episode is just the understanding we get to take our time with this adventure”, she said. “I think about a lot of campaigns, especially shows that are on a time constraint, where things are kind of passed over – but we’re really taking our time to take everyone on this adventure with us, and no task is too small to enjoy”.
Robin’s comment about their lack of progress gets lost in a feeling of stunned awe shared between the party members. They all did magic. Jennifer Kretchmer chose this as one of their most joyful moments this episode. “Starting to see everyone settle into and take ownership of who they are on this journey is really exciting to see happening”, she told Wargamer.
After some effort (and a few sips of Maeve’s whiskey), the group makes it back to the train tracks. Alicia Marie chose a quiet moment here as one of her most joyful encounters of the week. Fairuza struggled to pull the party’s sledge singlehandedly, and Silas offered words of inspiration and encouragement that saw her succeed. “In real life, she doesn’t have friends because she focuses on work”, Marie said. “This is her first time having something like friends – when Silas said that to her, she felt something.” After surviving the encounter with the wolf, the party earns a smooth transition journey that finds them at the train’s first intended stop – Twin Creek Mine.
Update: The episode directory was updated May 18.