The Candians have been on the defensive for a long, exhausting time. ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’ gives the Taste Buds the win we’ve all been waiting for, and I’m both scared and excited to see what happens next.
Trigger warning: ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’ is a battle episode which prominently features an interrupted hanging, so there is a gallows visible in many of the set images in this article.
Like a lot of the Dimension 20 fandom, I was on tenterhooks going into ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’. The characters have been on a brutal losing streak, unable to do anything but react to a series of deeply unbalanced fights where they were lucky to escape with their lives (if that). We also saw some depressing propaganda being spread last episode that made us wonder if the Candians could win back their kingdom even if they somehow managed to expose the Pontifex and her co-conspirators.
It’s been a rough ride, guys.
‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’ is different not just because the characters kicked a ton of Vegetanian and Ceresian butt. These are tough characters, they’re always awesome in a fight. What’s different is that with the addition of Saccharina, a primary spellcaster, they finally have the well-rounded team they need to actually go on the offensive.
All the regular players are good role players, but we know there are some that have an edge in the technical department. Emily Axford is definitely one of those. In her first round of combat as Saccharina, she wiped out a bunch of gallows guards, injured the rest, rescued Joren Jawbreaker before he could asphyxiate, and fully demoralized the invading forces.
Magic has been restricted in Calorum for a long time. Only the church could openly hold it. Now we see why: if every citizen had access to this kind of power, either by blood or through learning, the Bulbian church couldn’t have maintained their iron grip on the world.
Saccharina’s magic rounds out the party to something more like a traditional balanced D&D group, too. Now everyone has a place to shine.
- Saccharina provided major damage while staying out of the range of the spellcaster’s nemesis, melee range.
- Amethar and Sir Theo sowed carnage and tanked a bunch of hits while getting the captured villagers to safety and doing a supply raid (respectively).
- Cumulus was a cotton candy wind of death.
- Ruby snuck through volatile territory to gather intel and rescue hidden hostages.
- Liam isn’t Peppermint Batman anymore. He’s Peppermint Wick and no one will ever change my mind on that (although I will accept the less-catchy John Mint).
I know Siobhan Thompson was frustrated that her character barely got any attacks in, but she was able to save a major potential ally who would otherwise have died. Despite Liam having a complicated web of 37 parents, Spearia Mentha is his bio mother and (we think) a powerful figure in her own right. We’ve had some hints that she has magic or maybe some healing abilities, I think, haven’t we?
We also need to talk about Liam’s completed transformation from “anxious young man trying to find a peaceful place in the world” to “hard, smooth, driven assassin who will do anything to complete his mission”. He’s still a little silly at times, still awkwardly earnest with his friends, but the second things get serious he snaps into focus.
I love the way Brennan took a moment to narrate that transformation taking a physical form, describing how Liam’s body used to be gangly and coltish but is now settled into a lean murder machine. I also love Spearia’s sorrow over how the world has turned her one sweet child into Peppermint Wick.
This show rarely misses the chance to reflect on an emotional beat.
Speaking of, does anyone else think Amethar is more kingly now that he’s not the king than he ever was? The other players were focused on rescuing Joren, their actual goal. That’s great. But Amethar- almost the first thing he does is call all the captured townspeople into the stone circle to be rescued. He put their safety above even his own.
Maybe there’s a world where Amethar gets his throne back, with Saccharina as his willing heir and Ruby able to do what she wishes as a princess again? If there’s going to be a new Concord, anything’s possible. I would like to see Caramelinda restored to her position; she worked so hard at it, and with her guidance, I think Saccharina would be a very good queen.
I have no idea what’s going to happen next and I love it.
What I hate (well, it does scare me) is how the Bulbian contingent is also starting to amp up their blatant magic usage. Those golems- that’s some scary stuff right there. My least favorite type of creature is the kind that deals permanent hit point damage, because restoration spells are hard to come by. They’re usually cast after a battle, once the clerics have rested. A reduced hit point maximum makes healing spells so much less effective during combat.
That brings us to a major thing we learned in ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’: the Pontifex and her crew of conspirators aren’t just trying to take over Candia and put their own candidate on the Imperial throne. They’re trying to create a whole new Concord. They want to rewrite all the rules- maybe to allow themselves to use magic, maybe to wipe Candia off the map and absorb it into Ceresia, maybe for some other purpose we don’t even know yet.
I guess this could be an answer to our earlier questions about what Belizabeth Brassica’s actual goal was, but if it does I’m a tiny bit disappointed. My mind was going between “she is secretly a devotee of the Hungry One and is trying to end the world” and “she’s a fanatical Bulbian cleric and is so confident the Bulb will win that she’s tempting the Hungry One to attack so it could be destroyed for good”. If she’s just another character obsessed with mortal power- well, that does make her a little less interesting, doesn’t it?
It might make the actual story scarier. If the conspirators make a new Concord their path to renewed legitimacy could be eroded. Will the Dairy Islanders still want to support Candia under Saccharina’s leadership if this new Concord changes the rules? Where do the Meatlanders stand? How cohesive is the Vegetanian apparent dedication to wiping out Candia?
So many questions, so few answers.
That’s the struggle with a GOT-style series done from the perspective of a single party. If you watched Dimension 20’s Adventuring Party you saw Brennan sharing how hard it is to know what other characters are doing in other places. He can only drop hints: an infuriating monologue by Calroy, Manta Ray’s tale of making it out of Comida, an ominous puppet show, the desperate pleadings of a cowardly onion cleric. There’s just so much going on, and we only see a tiny corner of the action.
I would love to see a comic series of this season, expanded to include the outside action as well. Everyone go suggest that in their Discord so it’s not just me banging my ice cream spoon on the table.
Story aside, this was one of my very favorite sets. You guys know I love Rick Perry and his crew, but ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’ may be my favorite Dimension 20 set of all time. It’s so good I started to write this article yesterday but got caught up in a rewatch just pausing the action to stare at the minis.
Take a look at this amazing set:
From the top, it looks like a cool enough battle set: burned-out town, hasty gallows in the town square, disguised rock circle, a few military tents, and covered buildings. BUT those roofs? They come off, and everything inside is painted with as much detail as the outside.
The BOOKS on the SHELVES are painted. The SUPPORTS are PEPPERMINT STRIPED. Oliver’s BOOK HAS WRITING IN IT. The braziers outside have SHADED SMOLDERING FLAMES.
That’s not all, though. We have a crowd scene of random townsfolk (although knowing Brennan every one has a name and at least a one-sentence backstory). We have guards with individual banners painted. There’s a full-on cooking scene set up in front of that military tent.
We’re also seeing more cinematic images clearly shot after the episode and edited in later, which is awesome. My personal favorite is this scene where Peppermint Wick plays with his food.
How am I not supposed to just stare at this for hours?
I know I’m a better DM for watching Dimension 20, but I also feel my minis game is super weak. When we get back to in-person gatherings maybe I’ll surprise my players with “finale sets” once a campaign. That seems like something Ordinary Mortals can do, right?
Anyway. ‘Rescue at Buzzybrook’ is an incredible battle episode with an upbeat, hopeful ending and you should watch it. Maybe this signals more triumphs and agency for the Taste Buds, maybe it’s a temporary reprieve, but at least we got to have this.
Did you watch it? What are you thinking will happen next? If you’re behind, don’t forget you can catch up over at DROPOUT!
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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