Grab a pint, pull up a chair, gather ‘round and listen close while I recount for you the legendary tales of the Tavern of Heroes!
Welcome back to the “Recap of Heroes”! Every two weeks on I’m A Social Gamer you’ll find a new article chronicling the adventures and exploits of the heroes from the Tavern of Heroes. Tavern of Heroes is a brand new actual play podcast created by Michael and Stephen Stagliano. It features an entirely original campaign setting and uses a custom ruleset created by Michael and Stephen which is built to be simple to understand and, more importantly, unobtrusive. Each adventure will be released in two-part episodes and will feature Michael, Stephen, and a rotating cast of friends and guest stars as they take their heroes from the tavern and head out on perilous adventures in the lands of Elderon. You can listen to the show here, and it’s also available where all good podcasts can be found.
Act 1: Open Your Eyes Sheeple!
Stephen is our Story Master for episode 2, with Michael taking on the role of the bomb-wielding alchemist Morty. For this episode Michael and Stephen are joined by Graham Bunn, who plays the fearsome warrior Cole Hardwell.
The adventure begins with Morty and Cole enjoying a drink in the Tavern of Heroes (tea for Morty, whiskey for Cole). The boys drink is cut short when Malar Nightbringer gives them a new job: for the past two weeks something has been attacking the farmlands in the south. Cattle have been killed, sheep and pigs have been torn up, and crops have been destroyed and burned. Morty and Cole need to go find out what is responsible for these attacks and stop it.
Not wasting any time, Morty and Cole set out and head for the farms. They meet a young boy, Wilmer Willis, son of Bruce Willis and a die hard fan of the Tavern of Heroes. The heroes learn that the boy’s sheep have been killed, and Morty finds a large white tooth embedded in one of the carcasses – a dragon tooth. Nearby Morty and Cole find a trail of acid, confirming their suspicions that a dragon is the culprit of the attacks.
The heroes follow the trail up the mountainside to a cave where they do indeed find a dragon: a green dragon, with acid dripping from its mouth. But it is not alone: a red dragon resides in the cave as well. Morty and Cole are face to face with two dragons.
A Note on Being a Little Bit Country
Can I just say I love Graham Bunn? To say I’m not a fan of country music would be putting it mildly but I am seriously considering getting internet radio just so I can listen to this guy talk. For someone who’s pretty much brand new to roleplaying, Graham took to it straight away. The banter between Cole and Morty was probably my favourite thing about the whole episode.
Act 2 – Out of the Acid and into the Fire
Morty and Cole barely have time to fully realise what is going on before the dragons attack. Both heroes take a blast of fire breath from the red dragon and are almost melted into puddles by the green dragon’s acid spray. Cole tries to parry the teeth and claw attacks of the dragons but can’t quite manage it. Morty is hurt but scrambles and pulls out an explosive bomb that lights up with glowing runes. He triumphantly hurls it at the red dragon… Only to realise that, of course, red dragons are immune to fire. Faced with two dragons (and with Stephen rolling ridiculous numbers on his dice) things look grim for the heroes. But then Cole Hardwell steps up. In a flurry of steel and blood he cleaves the red dragon’s head from its neck. Not content with killing just one dragon, Cole turns his attention to the green dragon. The green dragon falls to Cole’s blade and the two heroes (one maybe a little more heroic than the other) stand triumphant.
And then the roar of an enormous black dragon splits the skies.
A Note on Pacing
I think one of my favourite things about the Tavern of Heroes podcast is the pace. It doesn’t hang about. Stephen does a great job of moving the adventure forward and getting to the interesting part. There’s very few live-play podcasts you could listen to where the heroes are facing down dragons in only the second episode!
This whole episode does a great job of showing that the Heroes from the Tavern of Heroes are these larger than life characters. The fact that they can go toe to toe with two (three?!) dragons drives home the fact that these are not normal people and that there’s a reason the tavern exists.
Act 3 – The Mother of Dragons
Morty and Cole have only a few moments respite as the great black dragon circles and lands with a crash, its 60-foot wingspan nearly blocking out the sun. Cole and Morty retreat into the cave, hoping to gain a tactical advantage. Morty tries to break line of site with the dragon (or as the rest of us like to say, he hides) while Cole steps up in search of a third trophy.
The black dragon is enraged at the murder of her children. She spits fire and acid at the heroes, claws at them, bites them. Morty hurls vials of tar and ice at her, hoping to slow her down. Cole hacks away with his bloodied blade, trying to crack the dragon’s scales. In a fury the creature hurls Cole almost 50 feet from the cave entrance, leaving Morty isolated. Morty hurls his ultimate bomb, the Big One, and though she is wounded the dragon survives.
After taking a quick breather, the battered and bloodied Cole charges back into the fray, attacking with everything he has. It proves to be more than the dragon can take. The black dragon falls and Cole stands triumphantly over the bodies of three dead dragons.
Morty is there too.
Wrap Up of Heroes
I have to say I really enjoyed the second episode of Tavern of Heroes. Although the adventure essentially boiled down to two combat encounters, there was a lot of fun roleplaying crammed in there two. And as I already said, how many actual play podcasts are you going to listen to where the heroes fight three dragons in the second episode!?
I’m really excited for the next few episodes. When I play a tabletop RPG at home I love playing in a campaign, but the thing I like most about Tavern of Heroes is that every episode (or two episodes I should say!) is a brand new, completely different adventure.