After an episode of rest, it’s time for ACTION! Our Buccaneer Buddies have just two episodes – ‘Scramble To The Ramble’ and the next one – to stop the Crescent Moon Trading Company from hurling Leviathan into Umberlee’s domain.
First, apologies for the delay in this review. I’ve been – is there a stronger polite phrase than “a touch under the weather”? Because that seems like a pretty mild way to say “feeling like hammered dog-snot warmed over for second breakfast”. At last, the clouds of misery are starting to part and I am finally able to enjoy ‘Scramble To The Ramble’.
There is a lot of action to enjoy here. The crew starts at the Gold Gardens, where they were recovering in last week’s comfort-food episode, and after a talk with Jamina Joy they head off to the Crow’s Keep to help stop the ritual.
Let’s take a Marcid The Typhoon appreciation moment right here. If he hadn’t spent all that time gathering information and sending out warnings instead of enjoying the Gardens, Jamina Joy might well have died. Having her alive and well and in command of Leviathan’s defenses is a major asset for the crew. They only have to stop the action at the Crow’s Keep, not try to hit every one of the 13 lamps around Leviathan.
One thing I like about this virtual game table format over the in-person games is that we can see everyone’s faces at once when something funny happens. For example, look at everyone’s reactions to this delightful little scene, when Sunny jokes they can check saving Jamina Joy off the list of things they need to take care of and Cheese literally pulls out a list to do so:
We actually get to see everyone’s reactions most of the time, since this layout is the most common in the show as well as the one they flip back to in between close-ups of speaking characters. I could (almost did) make a whole photo gallery of Aabria Iyengar’s full-immersion roleplaying expressions down there.
It’s nice to realize this format has some advantages, even if I still like having physical sets more. (I miss you Rick Perry & Company.)
The episode doesn’t actually cover that much in-game time. As we get closer to the climax it becomes more relevant what every character is doing at every second, so the exposition stretches a little bit. Notice I didn’t use the phrase “drags out” because the change of pace didn’t affect the quality of the episode. It’s fun to take a little extra time for character flourishes.
Brennan wound up juggling a party that doesn’t always want to stay together, which I feel in my Forever DM bones. Sunny and Bob split the party because as winged creatures they don’t need no stinkin’ elevators.
The rest of the crew piles into an elevator gondola for one of the comically absurd interludes Dimension 20 is famous for: Edith the pirate snail centaur and her methodical dedication to exact change. The Buccaneer Buddies are literally on their way to save Leviathan from being sunk, yet they take time to interact with Edith courteously. Even in a dire situation, they’re not going to go hurling her over the gondola’s edge to take the controls themselves.
If you want to read way too much meaning into a funny scene (and I always do), this little interaction gives us a reference for what the life of an adventurer is like on a practical level. The crew is careful to follow established courtesy when it comes to the people who keep Leviathan running even though there’s a strong chance the whole city will sink within the hour. They’re even actively nice about it, and do the same as they run into other pirates (hey Cathilda!) mid-fight.
Why? Why not just scream, “LIFE AND DEATH BUSINESS, OUT OF MY WAY” and make amends later?
Because if you’re an adventurer, things are almost always life and death. There’s probably three or four unrelated adventures happening on Leviathan right then. Sure, the one we’re watching is the one which could kill everyone, but if manners get dropped every time there’s an emergency nothing would ever get done.
Remember Octavio Costello Gainglynn, Bob’s dad? He’d forgotten to call her for a ridiculously long time because of a series of fantastic-sounding adventures strung one after another. That’s just life as a player character.
The bulk of ‘Scramble To The Ramble’ is the first half of the final battle: getting everyone up to the tower, finding where things are happening, and figuring out some kind of plan of attack. I don’t want to turn this into a play by play of the fight, though there are three major developments we should touch on.
First, the crew can use Stimey as a creepy kind of Discord server. You know, always lurking in the background and can relay messages privately or as a group. I wonder if there’s a range component to that? Is there a Stimey Sporenet spread around the city that allows him to track the crew everywhere? Would they have to put Stimey on a ship to keep using that communication, or are the bits of him they ingested enough to keep things moving?
Second, Myrtle has a choice between attacking Alamaria and saving Cheese (who is falling and making death saves). At the beginning of the show, she probably would have kept her eyes on the prize. Now, she turned away from the druid to snatch Cheese out of the sky, then heal him. This is a huge step for her. Cheese is a kid – a great mage but still a kid, and not even her species. But he is her crew. That scene really showed me how invested in the crew idea she is.
It’s also a great move because as we find out, Cheese has the magic needed to destroy the lantern.
Finally, this wouldn’t be a review without talking about Jack finally getting his revenge on Clive the Traitor, AKA Clive McDoon. Is it just me or was it better for being a team effort? I also love the idea of him taking three rounds to die. (Not quite- you fall 500 feet per round in 5e and it was a quarter of a mile down, but you get the idea.)
There are a bunch of fun callbacks in ‘Scramble To The Ramble’. Besides Jamina Joy and a few Ayda Aguefort references, we run into Cathilda the Black, Captain Bill Seacaster’s former crewmate, and Fabian Seacaster’s one-time nursemaid. Plus, the bank being taken to the cleaners here is KVX Bank! Kalvaxus was dead and his hoard went to the Bad Kids, but I guess there was a lot of non-hoard-related money?
I have one concern there actually – where does this fall in relation to Sophomore Year? I thought it was well after, but the Nightmare King’s Forrest is still there and KVX bank is trading. It can’t be before because Garthy mentions kids who came through and did a bunch of drugs. It has to be concurrent, doesn’t it? That means that the Bad Kids are imminently going to give away their fortunes to get rid of Dragon Sickness. Their fortunes included the collected hoard of Kalvaxus, which is the bulk of KVX’s money.
So, if Crescent Moon sinks Leviathan, it’s very possible there won’t be any money for them to collect. KVX will be rebuilding wealth, if they’re around at all by that point. Food for thought.
As has become tradition, let’s close out with some of my favorite bits of ‘Scramble To The Ramble’:
- Marcid to Bob and Sunny: “If something terrible happens, just scream and plummet and we’ll all know.”
- Sunny (on seeing her wanted poster on the way into combat): “Uhhhh I’ll get to that later.”
- Bob: “Do you ever think that sometimes the things that you say out loud should just stay in your head as suggestions? I think that’s how I feel right now.”
- “Where was she keeping a crossbow? She’s wearing a gown!”
- Cheese using his yo-yo for magic makes me happy. I am such a nerd for reskinned spellcasting.
- Using the elevator time to pore over insurance documents to find bits of the overarching plot they missed before was brilliant.
- Jack Brakkow casually beast-moding up a rope carrying a mermaid and a mast is going to be my new example of high strength and constitution characters.
- Marcid is going to have a very awkward time when all this is over, because Alycon and Stimey are A Thing now and they can only really hang out together in Marcid’s head. No one can tell me differently. I’m giving them a ship name and it’s… Alyctimey.
You can rewatch ‘Scramble To The Ramble’ on DROPOUT. If you’re already caught up, don’t miss the final episode of Pirates of Leviathan next Wednesday on College Humor’s YouTube (then come here the next day for our review)!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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