This week’s episode of D&D actual play series Children of Éarte may sound like it’s all about bodybuilding, but Magic Muscles is full of intrigue, investigation, and surprises. In fact, in a post-game interview with Wargamer, Dungeon Master Deborah Ann Woll said this episode shows off “why I love this game in general”. “It’s watching people think, be creative, and come up with ideas and solutions,” she says. “It’s just a really joyful experience for me.”
Last week, the party set up camp outside Twin Creek Mine – but there wasn’t much time for ice-breakers, as a trio of Ice Mephits quickly ambushed them. After a few close shaves and showing off some impressive new powers, everyone just about made it out alive. Morale was high after everyone learned more about their magical abilities, but the wounds started to pile up, too.
You can find a complete recap and cast interview for all D&D Children of Éarte episodes in the directory below. And the episodes always go up on Demiplane’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel for later viewing.
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 6 – Enough Blood
- Episode 7 – Campfire Mysteries
- Episode 9 – Ichy Ichor
- Episode 10 – Blackest Night
Set a watch
After a gruelling day of battles, the party settles down to rest around the campfire. Silas Jordan (played by Adam Bradford) observes that “this place is not right side up”, and Fairuza Armstrong (Alicia Marie) says to “expect everything” after what they’ve seen. Maeve Flynn (Jennifer Kretchmer) falls asleep as everyone discusses the potential of their new powers, and the rest of the passengers set a watch schedule for the night before turning in.
“I really enjoyed seeing what everyone did on their watches,” Jennifer Kretchmer told Wargamer. “It gives a fascinating insight into who these people are and what they’re trying to do.”
Fairuza is the first to take watch duty. She feels a heightened sense of awareness after the fight, and she shares a special moment with a passing moose, which seems to nod its respects. She takes another look at the mine, but all she feels is a sense that she is right where she needs to be.
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Silas takes the next shift (after a rough awakening from Fairuza). He spends much of his time playing card tricks and humming songs, but a failed check means that he’s hallucinating foxes everywhere he looks. Finally, Robin Beckett (Hope LaVelle) takes the last shift, leaving Carolyn ‘Neb’ Stern (Lauren Urban) to sleep through the night along with Maeve. Robin checks her compass – it still points north, despite all the other strange occurrences in the woods.
Neb wakes early and takes some time to gaze at the stars before sunrise. Eventually, everyone wakes feeling stiff but rested. Out of nowhere, Fairuza asks to lift Silas – and manages to haul him high off the ground with very little effort. Lauren Urban said in the post-game interview that this was one of her favourite moments. “That was fun to watch,” she said, “and was also literally an inspiration for a bunch of playing around afterwards”.
Maeve (not a morning person), desperately wishes for coffee, and Neb decides to try and manifest it. She produces some berries out of nowhere, and everyone who eats them feels warmer and fuller than before. Naturally, everyone is pretty amazed.
Beyond the mine
The party decides to spend the morning investigating. Maeve takes another look at the mine entrance, and she spots a cable attached to a platform and lever at the back of the cave. It’s clearly an elevator, but it must need power, right?
She also pulls out the pocket watch she swiped from the staff quarters on the train. Between her memory and Silas’, they decide this is not the pocket watch they’d seen train conductor Gloria using before. Silas has a pocket watch of his own with a picture of his grandfather (we assume) inside, and Maeve speculates that the vine design on her watch may have something to do with the ghost known as Ivy.
The party eventually agrees to explore the path beyond the mine rather than going straight in. Neb keeps up the trend of diving headfirst into every new encounter, with the others following behind.
They spot a house nestled into the side of the mountain, and a strange, man-made trough carved out of the rock. The earth seems burned, and there’s an unidentifiable chemical smell in the air.
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Robin opens the unlocked door of the house and finds a large, engine-like machine. There’s also a cable going in and out of the ground, right above the spot where the cables in the mine entrance would be. This, then, is the steam-powered engine they need to operate the elevator.
Maeve suggests they attach a phone to a cable or rope and dangle it down the cable shaft to take a look around, and Fairuza enthusiastically offers a phone as tribute. Alicia Marie had many favourite moments in this episode, but the phone plan was a particularly significant one. “As a character right now, since we’re here and in and moving forward, Fairuza’s like ‘let’s do this’”, Marie said. “I want to see what’s on that phone when it comes back up.”
Before they do so, however, Robin takes a look at the barrels of yellow salt in the house. They saw plenty of this salt outside, too – and Robin now realises that they’re looking at a huge supply of cyanide. “This definitely amped up the tension quite a bit”, Adam Bradford told Wargamer. “I’m glad Robin listened to so many stories when she was a waitress.”
“Selfishly, as a Dungeon Master, when you’ve done a lot of research, it is pretty fun to add a cyanide leaching field and see everyone try and make sense of that,” Deborah Ann Woll said in the post-game interview. “As someone who, a few weeks ago, didn’t know anything about mines, I would have had no idea what that was – and it’s fun to watch a bunch of people put their heads together.”