Issue 29 - 09/15/20


  • A Review of Everything I Bought Impulsively During Quarantine 
  • Alex Reviews: A Newsletter 
  • Ranking My Quarantine Hobbies
  • I Want to Talk About Daddies (Of Lord of the Rings)
  • Matt's Weekly Martial Arts Mambo
  • Newsworthy: The Story of Three Kind-Of Assholes Trying to Survive One Night in a Nice Town
  • Unlicensed D&D Character Creation Charts
  • Office Chart

A Review of Everything I Bought Impulsively During Quarantine

Chief Decadence Correspondent Jenna Hay

We all know that buying useless stuff is the way to achieve true happiness, the only emotion we are intended, nay, commanded to always be feeling. So below are my assessments* of products I impulsively purchased during quarantine to make myself feel better.

*These assessments are completely unrelated to the actual quality of the products and rely solely on the intensity and longevity of happiness the product hath provided me. Amen.

ITEM: Ninja Professional Plus Blender

FROM: A department store near you!

I would give this a rating of 6/10 because the initial high was INTENSE. While I was checking out at Target I was already day-dreaming about the matcha smoothies I was going to chug and the healthy antioxidants I was going to pummel my body with. I could already envision the emergence of my new, smoothie-induced hot girl body, complete with abs and a bubble butt (can't flatten THOSE curves amirite ladies). But I guess I either forgot my blissful day-dream on the drive home, or maybe I realized how much I'd miss chewing food, and now the blender sits unopened in my garage and brings me zero happiness, if not a -1 of happiness (a +1 of sadness?) because of the shame I feel every time I drive away to eat out somewhere with REAL CHEWABLE FOOD.

ITEM: Crosley Record Player

FROM: Facebook Marketplace

Hands down I give this impulsive purchase a 5,000,000,000/10 on the happiness scale. Do you like dance parties, scratchy music and feeling vintage-cool?? Because with a record player you don't have to choose, you just get it all! I am a people person (also a cat person and also a certified woman of the cloth, let me know if you and your loved one want to elope) who loves loving people, which means I host dinner parties a lot. The joy my friends feel when they get to flip through records, choose one, put it on the player and basically relive the days of having to manually handle a party's music selection in turn brings me so much joy that I'd pay Jinelle from Facebook Marketplace $20 all over again to say thank you. But I won't, because she didn't ask and that's not a good business investment. Overpaying = 0/10 on the happiness scale.

ITEM: Blue Porcelain Tea Set

FROM: Amazon

Truth be told, it looks quaint in my even-quainter kitchen, but mostly all I do with this beautiful, stunning porcelain tea set is move it around to make room for more practical things, like peanut butter. Or coffee mugs. Occasionally, I'll display the tea set when I want to embrace the bohemian vibe and one time I did the full ritual of boiling water and infusing it with tea leaves and fresh ginger and I'll admit, it was a really soothing experience and it helped my tummy feel better. But if you're looking for a tea set to be medicinal, then I recommend opting out and grabbing some Pepto. It's cheaper. And it takes up less space in your pantry, AKA more room for peanut butter. Tea set gets a 3/10, Pepto gets a 8/10.

ITEM: Floral Apron

FROM: World Market

Y'all, boudoir photos are OUT, aprons are IN. If you want to feel like a sexy young entree with a side dish of spunk then aprons are the way to go. I have worn this little number around the house so many days, often with zero intention of cooking. I watched a movie in it once. Aprons are just fun! Like assless chaps kind of fun, but for the domestic woman. What's great is you can dress them up with a turtleneck for the sophisticated sous chef look, or you can dress it down and wear nothing but underwear and surprise your friends! Plus ladies, it has pockets. 9/10.

ITEM: Seeds for Planting

FROM: Home Depot

This is a tough one to rate because my happiness fluctuates depending on whether the plants live or die. I lost Susan the spider plant to a nasty hot day when she was exposed to more than the prescribed 4 hours of sunlight. Also some idiot (it was me) forgot to water her, and now she's dead and I have to live with that. -5 happiness for crushing guilt. But on the other hand, Beatrice the basil plant is THRIVING and she has produced some of the most choice basil for my homemade Margherita pizzas and basil-infused gin. +10 happiness for basil and alcohol. Overall, I suppose gardening may eventually teach me the valuable lesson that I will only understand true happiness once I've tasted and embraced the bitterness of sorrow... but until then I'll just give it a static 7/10.

ITEM: Denim Overalls

FROM: Facebook Marketplace (yes, again)

Why do we even buy clothes during quarantine, who wears 'em, not me haha! But no, for real, these were a terrible decision, I've never seen such a blasphemous cameltoe. I should have known because my torso is famously long and I bought these from an old person and they are famously short. I'll give them a 1/10 because there's still a potential for future happiness - maybe I'll save them for when I'm old and short. Perhaps I'll embroider sunflowers on the pocket and sell them on Etsy for profit to pay off my car loans. Or maybe, just maybe, I'll pair them with a denim jacket and start a 90s boyband. Then, and only then, will I award it a 2/10.

ITEM: Coffee Bar

FROM: Facebook Marketplace (I can stop whenever I want, okay)

Buckle up everyone because I freaking love my coffee bar. 200/200. If you are a person in 2020 who hasn't devoted a separate bar area for your caffeine addiction while simultaneously owning a stocked bar cart then you, my good friend, need to stop playing favorites. But it's not your fault, I get it, a coffee bar is underrated and typically understood to be strictly an amenity reserved for hotel lobbies and commercial businesses; but then again, weren't bowling alleys that way once too? And now look at the rich, mansion-owning folk go! All that to say, just know that you, too, can live decadently. And it starts with a coffee bar.

Alex Reviews: A Newsletter

Chief Correspondence Correspondent Alex Speed

Wow. This is so meta and smart.

When Newsletter first started it was really a thing that Matt and Sam did. I read it and was very jealous of how funny and smart they both were. I decided to butt in by submitting a fan question about where to buy meth or something that was featured in the next issue. I caught the bug. The bug of my dumb words being published for literally a few people to read on the vast information superhighway we call The Internet. I spent weeks workshopping an idea for my own article (hey I know I said this was a review but also it is me so we both kinda knew what was gonna happen here) and published what can only be described as hot garbage. Matt was very gracious and gave me a little pat on the head and told me I had done good that day.

By issue number 8 we had really found a rhythm as an actual weekly publication of super deep thoughts and funny ha-ha's. I had my series of Weekly Restaurant Roundups, more people were submitting, and we were really in the thick of learning about the Potty Monster. I would call these the Newsletter Baby Days and would give them a 7/10. We were still warming up but I hadn't essentially turned my articles into excuses to talk about how sad I was yet - and we know that's what the people pay to see: a grown man cry into a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food while writing jokes that have too many loose ends for even he to understand. This era of Newsletter also includes what I think is my greatest contribution to society as a whole where I reviewed every version of "Life Is A Highway" currently available on Spotify.

Then there is the Pawscars Era. This was a sweet beautiful period where Matt and I both worked at the same horrible technology company. We would spend very literally 8 hours a day sending each other jokes over slack and just leaving in the middle of the day to go work at the coffee shop across the street. This is the era where I went through a big ol breakup and decided that writing all my thoughts into Newsletter was easier than therapy. This is also peak capitalism Matt and he founded Pawscars, which now that I think about it still technically probably exists somewhere? It is objectively a billion dollar idea, just working out some kinks. This is also the era where Sam's horoscopes got really fun and I learned to trust astrology. (Hey Matt insert that image of the pots and pans that you did that one time here) 

Matt had a lot of ideas about capitalism in this era and it was fun to witness a true mogul being unleashed. Pawscars Era gets 8 paychecks out of 10 tax deductions.

The Experimental Era was post Liverpool winning the Super Bowl or whatever. This is when things started to be less focused around the ha-ha's and more inviting of the "oh hey I am a big sad." This is also when we really took some liberties about what an "article" is and what a "cookie recipe that includes brief snippets of a wartime love story" is not. This did not last very long and was ended by a very long Newsletter hiatus. Experimental Era can not be represented by numbers or any real system - obviously.

The Quarantine Diaries Era is I guess where we still are. This era is a blast. Sam writes things that make me want to laugh and also die e.g. her review of the strange men who try to slide into her various social media messages; Andrew reminds me to listen to musical theatre and show tunes; I have never met Marina but I feel like we have a bond that only Newsletter co-contributors can share. This era, much like the quarantine itself, confronts the possibility that time itself does not exist. It feels like both yesterday and a century ago I was writing a review of Cuba. It is funny how things begin and then sort of snowball into significance without you realizing it. The various eras of Newsletter serve as benchmarks for life in and around Austin over the past almost two years (remember what I said about time not existing?) I can't accurately rate this era because then I would have to include this review of the era into an article published during the same era and I worry deeply about the spacetime continuum repercussions of such a very smart and meta thing.

Overall I would give A Newsletter a C-

Rating My Quarantine Hobbies

Chief Ghost Correspondent Wendy Fernandez 

I don't think I've ever spent this much time at home. Even though I grew up in this house, these past several months have felt just as long as the first 18 years. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I love being home and I'm incredibly privileged to be able to work from a distance, but I find myself having an excess of free time despite my best efforts. So without further ado, here are the definitive ratings of the hobbies I've picked up during quarantine:

Brewing Mead - 6/10

I didn't understand the process before I started and brewed it WAY too strong, easily 3x as strong as it should be. I had to keep explaining to my mom what the brown stuff was in the linen closet.

Archery - 8/10

Have you ever whipped your double-jointed arm with a 40-pound draw? Yeah, me neither. It definitely didn't burst a blood vessel. I've hit bullseye on the target at least twice but caused my neighbor to make a suspicious phone call. She was obviously reporting me as a weapon of mass destruction to the FBI.

Astronomy - 10/10

I had a run-in with a pack of coyotes at a construction site while trying to spot a comet, but it was worth it. The best place to contemplate mortality and our insignificance in the universe is alone in the darkness surrounded by eternity.

Hiking - 7/10

Gotta stay in shape even though the world is in shambles. Saw some cool bugs but this hobby lost major points for happening during summer in Texas. Also for the time I slid down a 10 foot long granite rock to avoid falling into caves. Or off the mountain.

Learning the Newsies Dance from "Seize the Day" - 5/10

Turns out I'm still very flexible and good at jumping, but the cartwheel did NOT go well.

Eating a Ghost Pepper - 8/10

Listen, it wasn't that bad. It honestly wasn't spicy at all, it was just pain. After about 10 minutes, the burning piece of charcoal in my throat subsided and I was left with the pleasant normal burn of Tabasco. Milk and ice cream were must-haves, bread did a lot for me as well. Bucket list item #119 was successfully crossed off.

Typewriter - 9/10

I bought a 1934 typewriter that I use to write cryptic letters to my friends. Changing the ribbon was a mess but I love feeling like Lemony Snicket at every opportunity. Also, support the USPS.

Animal Crossing - 9/10

Obviously a great time, but my wrist was sore for a week from holding my Switch. Remember to socially distance digitally too. Just because my island is called Coronia doesn't mean it has to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jump Rope - 4/10

Exercise is always good but I'll never be Brooke Wyndham.

Blacksmithing - 10/10

Dad wouldn't forge a sword in the backyard with me, so I decided to make a knife out of spite. Haven't bought the materials yet but watch out dad.

Botany - 1/10

I've killed every plant I've tried to propagate, but I have an app that identifies the weeds growing in my backyard so not a total loss.

Reading War and Peace - 3/10

This is a bucket list item I'm working on. It's slow going but I'm proud that I'm actually doing it.

So anyways...

Please remember that just because you can go out, doesn't mean you should. Masks are necessary to prevent the spread, and don't trust politicians to do a physician's job. Stick it to the man and always do good by your neighbor. Please don't make me be the one to explain why we should care about each other.

There's so much to do at home if you just look around, stay home, stay safe, and stay entertained!

I Want to Talk About Daddies (Of Lord of the Rings)

Chief Bloodline Correspondent Marina Martinez

I could talk about Lord of the Rings for....ever? But I won't. I'll just talk about some dads.

There are such great and iconic heroes in the LOTR trilogy (and beyond), but honestly, where would they be without their fathers? I'm here to shed some light on the best and worst of the Dads of Middle-earth. Here is my definitive ranking, the criteria of which are very accurate and do not need to be disclosed or evaluated.

10. Denethor II, Steward of Gondor

Children: Boromir and Faramir

Dad Score: -10/10, I want to give him a lower score but I have restraint.

Summary: I wanted to include more dads just so Denethor would somehow be lower on the list. I have no sympathy for you if you like Denethor. He neglects Faramir (more than usual after Boromir's death), orders his only remaining child to their death, and then lights himself on fire and runs off the side of Minas Tirith. Fuckin' hate this guy; 'Steward of Gondor' my butt. I'm done talking about him and his gross eating habits.

9. Thrór, King Under the Mountain

Children: Thráin II

Dad Score: 0/10, because 0 is the number of braincells he had and it looks like the Arkenstone.

Summary: This guy, this fuckin' guy. Can you imagine being single-handedly responsible for the fall of an entire kingdom? I can, because that's what this guy did. He coveted the Arkenstone and hoarded so much gold in Erebor that a dragon came and killed like 99% of his people. Like yeah there's a 'gold sickness' but they claim it's hereditary - did Erebor fall to any of the others in the line of Durin?? No. It fell thanks to this guy. And it's super ironic, too, because he'd lost his father and brother to a dragon in ANOTHER mountain years ago, and this was supposed to be his epic dwarven kingdom pt. 2. To be fair, he did have an 'oh shit' moment and try to recoup some losses in Moria, but he died failing. Plus that whole chain of events led to the deaths of his son, grandsons, and great-grandsons. So, not a super good dad.

8. Thráin II, King of Durin's Folk

Children: Thorin II, Frerin, Dis

Dad Score: 3/10, the number of mistakes he made per day.

Summary: Like, I get it - your father is the king and is crazy and could have you killed, so you gotta listen to him. But do you though? He literally could've overthrown his dad on the basis of Thrór being mad with gold-sickness but instead I guess he was just chilling. He's a little higher on the list because I feel bad that he was tortured by Sauron in Dol Guldur. But he still did just wander off with the last dwarven ring of power without telling anybody, so he's responsible for the deaths of a lot of dwarves, including Balin and Ori, who died trying to reclaim that ring in Moria.

7. Théoden, King of Rohan

Child: Théodred

Dad Score: 5/10, because he has half a brain.

Summary: Théoden seems like an okay guy, actually, but...who trusts a man named Wormtongue? Like, dude, did that evil sounding name 'Gríma Wormtongue' not clue you in even a LITTLE?? My guy is the King of Rohan but he's such an idiot. His only son and heir died because he was taking advice from the spy of Saruman the White. Died heroically, I guess, but it just seems like too little, too late.

6. Thranduil, King of the Woodland Realm

Child: Legolas Greenleaf

Dad Score: 6/10, a point or two deducted for being racist.

Summary: Okay so Thranduil is actually an okay dad, but he is a bit lower on the list because he just sucks in general otherwise. I mean, look, he did eventually help people when they needed help fighting the bad guys, but the dude was just so damn petty with dwarves that a lot of people died. Also his kingdom went from being called the Greenwood to Mirkwood, so the guy clearly was not super big on landscaping. Still, he did listen to his son and we have to assume he was cool when Legolas brought his dwarf husband into the Undying Lands with him, so we love to see a dad Ally.

5. Arathorn II, Chieftain of the Dúnedain

Child: Aragorn II

Dad Score: 7/10, which is five more years than he was a dad (ouch).

Summary: Arathorn is a very tragic character, which probably explains his son being Angsty Ranger Man. He never actually appears in the series because he was killed in an orc raid when his son was 2, but he was Chieftain of the Dúnedain for like 3 years, so that's cool. There's a really good fan film about him called Born of Hope that is free to watch on YouTube. That's how you know he's awesome.

4. Glóin

Child: Gimli

Dad Score: 8/10, that's how many times a day he boasts about Gimli.

Summary: Glóin is pretty wholesome, overall, and you gotta give him kudos for turning out chill even though he was probably bullied for his father being named Gróin. He had his own time in the spotlight as part of the quest to reclaim Erebor, and he was chill enough with the whole 'power hunger inherent to our bloodline' thing that his son, when confronted with the literal Ring, just tried to smash it with his hammer. I love that for them. This guy just loves his wife and son, which is the biggest dad energy.

3. Elrond Half-elven, Lord of Rivendell

Children: Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen

Dad Score: 10/10, Hugo Weaving can get it.

Summary: I have so many feelings about Elrond. So like, brief background: he and his twin bro Elros were both half-elven (duh), so when they came of age they had to choose between the elves and men. Elrond obvs chose to live as an elf, but Elros chose the life of a man - he died early into the second age, which is like...tragic short for an elf. (And then his daughter goes and does the same thing, this poor dude..) ANYWAY Elrond has three kick-ass kids and his mother-in-law is Galadriel, so you KNOW this man drinks his daily dose of Respect Women Juice.

2. Hamfast 'Old Gaffer' Gamgee

Children: Samwise (and 5 others, apparently, but I do not know anything about them)

Dad Score: 100/10, The Ultimate Dad.

Summary: Samwise Gamgee is, arguably, the hero of Lord of the Rings. Without him, the Ring would never have been destroyed, and Sauron's armies would've killed everybody. So of course Sam's dad is among the best dads, because he raised the best character. He's literally just a gardener, but he is so wholesome. If you heard this man tell a dad joke you would be obliterated instantly. But, like, with love.

1. Daddy Twofoot

Children: ????

Dad Score: 420/10, I don't know

Summary: I know - I can't believe this is a real character, either. There is an actual hobbit named Daddy Twofoot. He was in the book, the movie, the radio series, the trading cards, and the video games. Daddy's entire character arc consists of him gossiping about how fuckin' weird Frodo's mom was because she came from Buckland. He then attends Bilbo's farewell party. That is his whole character. I love him and I want to be him.

Matt's Weekly Martial Arts Mambo

Chief Espionage Correspondent Matt Spradling

Sometimes I experience a problem where I think too much about writing before I write anything and psych myself out of it. This is maybe an understandable thing to do if the writing you do eventually produce is masterful and worthwhile, but if you've read much of the newsletter before, you know that is iffy at best.

So, this week, I'm switching it up and writing in modus Alexander: doing it at the last second with no clear plan and maybe not even sober and oh god I'm immediately panicking.

Perhaps it's time for a new segment, lest things grow a little stale.

The Nine Traditions of Ninjutsu

Back when I was in 10th or 11th grade and my brother was in the middle of his time at UT, I was in Austin visiting and hanging out with him, his girlfriend, and his frightening roommate that only knew how to talk about military history. On one particular outing, they decided to take me, a 17-year old, to their favorite dive bar. I, a novice when it came to drinking at all, and certainly a novice when it came to doing sneaky illicit underage things, was a little nervous but happy to go along with it, as they insisted I would merely need to say I was 21 without any form of proof and then I would be allowed to hang, and not necessarily even have to drink. I, a mastermind, decided I should do some improvising to really sell my charade.

When the tired-looking old waitress came over to check IDs and take orders, my masterful brain went into a blank sort of masterful autopilot. My brother showed his ID. His girlfriend showed her ID. Then it was my time to shine. I found myself rising to my feet. I stiffly checked all my pockets and then pulled out my wallet which was in the first pocket I'd patted. I opened the wallet, inside of which my driver's license was deftly hidden amongst the cash. I turned to my brother and coolly said, "Uh oh. I left my license in the Tahoe because our parents needed me to drive it down here and then I left it in there." This felt like nonsense at the time, but in retrospect was a tactical masterpiece of circular storytelling, designed to leave the audience bewildered and confused and a little bit nauseous. I could tell it was working.

"How old are you?" asked the bemused waitress.

This was it. Feeling out the situation with immense subtlety and nuance, I decided the encounter was going well enough but not perfectly, so I shouldn't push my luck.

"19," I said.

The point of this story is that I'm basically a ninja and have been for a while.

Togakure Ryu Ninpo

Translation: "hidden door" ninjutsu "concealing arts", "stealth arts" or "patient arts"

This is pretty much the classic ninja stuff: the use of little gadgets, espionage, concealment, sabotage, breaking in and escaping, as well as the use of shurikens and "very strong punches." Can't argue with that. I think this would be good to use if you had to do a reverse Home Alone (breaking and entering) but bad if you want to get any smooches in middle school.

Koto Ryu Koppojutsu

Translation: "tiger knockdown" koppojutsu "bone structure art"

"Emphasis on using the opponent's bone structure and skeleton to defeat him" is just such a great sentence. This seems like the kind of stuff you'd do if you were unarmed and needed to fight someone bigger or sharper than you. I think this would be good to use if you cheat at sports but very inappropriate to do at funerals and concerts.

Kukishinden Ryu Happo Hikenjutsu

Translation: "nine demons' divine transmission" happo hikenjutsu "eight secret weapons arts"

I haven't learned much about this one, but that "nine demons' divine transmission" name is unbeatable. I am devoting my life to it sight unseen. Meant for both battlefields with heavy armor and weapons and also ship decks. I think this would be good to use during and after the impending apocalypse, fighting my neighbors while robed in golden toilet paper and armed with a broom and a gladiator's net made of christmas lights; bad to use during a dissertation defence.

This concludes Matt's Inaugural Weekly Martial Arts Mambo. There are six other traditions of Ninjutsu I have not touched on but I am never going to do those because I do not want to, but if you do then I will see you in court.

Newsworthy: The Story of Three Kind-of Assholes Trying to Survive One Night in a Nice Town

Chief Spicy Chips Correspondent Andrew Piotrowski

Author's note: I'm not just like, gassing myself up by calling this "Newsworthy;" that's just what I named the roll20 campaign because I thought it was a fun joke.

So time doesn't exist anymore. We all know this. I wrote a few weeks ago about my attempts at writing a D&D campaign from scratch, but I'm also not confident about how many weeks ago that was, so don't worry too much about it.

A few (?) weeks ago I wrote about my attempts at writing a D&D campaign from scratch. Alas, the group I wrote it for hasn't been able to meet in a while, a fact which I lamented to Matt. If you're not familiar, he's the editor and aggregator of this whole shebang. Or claims to be. If time doesn't exist, I don't think I can be convinced that editing does either.

But anyway, I complained to Matt about this, and some other words were exchanged, some light flirting, a bit of alcohol and bam.

Suddenly we're playing a new D&D campaign. He mentions Alex has been wanting to play, and of course Sam is lurking in a nearby old-timey dumbwaiter so we extend an invitation. And thus, I became a Dungeon Master for a new flock of dumb idiots.

If you don't wanna be spoiled for the award-winning D&D podcast we're eventually going to release, I'd stop reading now.

Since the adventure in question was one I actually wrote for an entirely different group of people, I decided to turn that into the adventuring hook. The former party, conquerors of the Lost Mine of Phandelver, find themselves at the bottom of a cliff. Except they don't find themselves because they are dead at the bottom of said cliff. Although if they're religious, I suppose you might consider that metaphorically finding one's self.

In any case, the old party is dead at the bottom of the cliff, along with their money, collection of magical items, and a beautifully embellished envelope. This is where the party of intrepid reporters came in.

Enter Bill Torpedo: human bard and veritable ball of nerves and mommy issues. This D&Dsona of the lovely Alex Speed found the corpses first but, bowing to his inner muse, sought inspiration from the grisly scene rather than riches. 

Enter editor Matt's Karhorn Prius: dwarven paladin made out of pure, smooth, slick wagon oil; the silver-tongued and salacious salesman of the group. As he approached the bodies with the eye of someone who truly knows the value of a dollar, Bill Torpedo raised his voice in protest at the desecration of his art fuel.

Enter An: the elderly dragonborn barbarian and brassy, brass woman of few words but several axes. Sam took the reins of this reticent reptile and quickly shoved aside the need for talk and began looting the bodies. And by "need for talk," I mean Karhorn. She shoved Karhorn aside and laid claim to the treasures by reason of Because I'm Thicc and I Said So.

Naturally, after I explained what the various items were, the party went on to discuss who got what for like 20 minutes before remembering the Obvious Quest Item.

The envelope contained a letter directing the party to the coastal settlement of Iblan Tur, along the High Road between Waterdeep and Neverwinter.

Since this was more of a session zero, there wasn't a ton of grist to the story, but the gang fought a trio of very weak bandits on the way to the town and embarrassed them very deeply.

Upon arriving in Iblan Tur, the party was treated very warmly by the townsfolk. This quickly made them suspicious for some reason. They were shown to the central keep of the hilltop settlement, wherein a very pretty half-elf girl escorted them to the writer of the Obvious Quest Item. Unfortunately, she didn't escort them quickly enough to avoid Bill Torpedo (and vicariously through him, Alex) falling desperately in love with her. They later found out her name is Tanis but they didn't particularly care at the time.

The writer of the Obvious Quest Item is an older human man named Sildar Hallwinter, and he was surprised and distressed to see that his callers were not the people he actually assigned the quest to. It didn't help that they were also not especially friendly to him, but maybe that's just DM bias. In any case, he told them that he would still give them some work if they came back to talk with him after an event to be held later that day. He called this event Arbitration but only elaborated to say that it was a way the town resolved conflict.

On the way out, An did not stop to awkwardly flirt with any innocent young women. She instead went in pursuit of raw meat to put in her mouth hole. I only mention this because Bill, with the lukewarm hypemanship of Karhorn, did in fact stop to awkwardly flirt with an innocent young woman. Tanis went into a little more detail about the town and arbitration, including that it was to be led by Sildar and the other two arbiters, a wizard named Berris Feuller and another character only referred to as Lady Dragonsbane.

They didn't really get any more information or affection out of Tanis because of that problem they have where they lack any significant social skills, so they ventured out in search of alcohol. They found it in a dwarven pub in a part of the city called the Iron Ring. The bar, which I haven't named yet (leave me alone) is staffed by a pair of twin dwarven sisters named Bert and Gert, which stand for Bertrude and Gertha. They almost poisoned Bill with a potent alcoholic beverage called "dwarven rock polish" and entertained An with an assortment of smoked meats. Thus the party killed time until Arbitration.

Arbitration itself wasn't nearly as ominous as I make it sound, by the way. The party entered the keep again to find what basically amounted to a town meeting where the Arbiters (the now-familiar Sildar Hallwinter, elven wizard Berris Feuller, and halfling ranger Iana Dragonsbane) went over complaints submitted by townsfolk and the efforts that had taken place to rectify their issues. The party remained mostly polite and quiet, even when Dragonsbane entered with her ballista-sized bow and Feuller pulled back his hood to reveal a face covered in mottled snakeskin.

The Arbitration proceeded smoothly and ended in around an hour, with all parties pleased by the outcomes which, of course, made An incredibly suspicious. However, this suspicion was lightened by Bill doing a Successful Flirt with Tanis against all odds.

Session Zero ended with Sildar Hallwinter enlisting the party to assist with an undead nuisance in the nearby Mere of Dead Men.

That's the end of the recap. I'll probably write another summary next time we play, but I want to conclude with how wonderful it feels to be doing something with this cast of clowns again. To my dears Matt, Sam, and Alex: I missed you guys and your dumb cute faces. I think this is gonna be a fun game.

Unlicensed D&D Character Creation Charts

Chief Arcana Correspondent Matt Spradling

Coming up with entertaining ideas for a new D&D character can be tricky; doing it without just stealing goofs from reddit can be downright maddening. Here are some supplementary, custom character charts you can use for inspiration, choose from, or roll a d6 to randomize:

Literally Who Are You?

  1. Michael Jordan (in uniform)
  2. Used wagon salesperson
  3. Mage with a familiar but you're actually the creature and using the humanoid as a familiar
  4. Michael Jordan (retired and disillusioned)
  5. An old-timey gold prospector
  6. Fantasy Santa Claus (So, Santa Claus)


  1. The sole servant of a religious entity that does not seem to exist; derided as a fool by unbelievers
  2. Grave-digger (every misadventuring pencil needs an eraser) (hey side note, to successfully hide a body you need to bury a dead animal 6 feet deep and bury the body 2 feet under the animal) (Marina Martinez told me that)
  3. Kicked out of the Bard academy for shooting fireballs out of your trombone
  4. Disgraced pornographer
  5. Teeth stolen by Tooth Fairy as child; now a Fae-focused Bloodhunter
  6. The greatest of all time at a sport no one else knows or cares about


  1. To find your literal Scottie Pippen and literal Dennis Rodman
  2. ...and take down the big bad: North Korea
  3. Going to be a Warlock? Interested in the Hexblade patron? Don't be a fool like I was - roll a female character and become an actual Hex Girl
  4. Plying your trade as a castle inspector (many a quest devolves to this ruse eventually anyway so you might as well have some official paperwork)
  5. Reverse thieving
  6. Tax collection


  1. Pretending to be a witch but you're secretly just a shitty rogue or something
  2. A mage but literally don't know what magic is
  3. Dumb as a rock, but not this one - you have a pet rock that whispers commands to you
  4. Multiple personalities (not recommended - roleplaying is tough enough as it is)
  5. Was born in modern day America, but as a child crawled through a wardrobe and found yourself in this world, have stayed ever since, and are determined not to tell anyone
  6. Not stoned, but constantly contemplating with terror and awe the concept that every egg cell a human woman contains was formed while she was still in the womb, which means that you technically began to be formed in your grandmother's womb, but that's not all because your mother was formed in your great grandmother's womb, and literally all life is one great uninterrupted spectrum of branching evolutionary chains and hey you just got shot with a crossbow bolt if your armor class is less than 16, come on Michael Jordan what is with you lately


  1. Mormac CcCarthy
  2. IAmJamesBondOo7
  3. Peepums
  4. Captain Ricky Falcon
  5. ~xxXXChr1stmasSh0es369XXxx~
  6. A Halfling named Dildo (Okay I remember being a child and thinking this was the best goof I'd ever come up with and now it doesn't hold up all that well but hey 6 ideas is a lot to come up with)

Office Chart

Townie - Mitski

My ideal spirit animal is '98 Michael Jordan smoking a cigar and brandishing a baseball bat while muttering about the man he is about to annihilate in a basketball game.  -Matt

I Am the Doctor - Murray Gold

Listen I know it's cool to pretend like you were never into Doctor Who but I super duper was (and still am) so fight me. All of the music Murray Gold has composed for DW is absolutely glorious, but if you won't listen to six different albums at least try this one. Listening to this song makes me want to travel through time and space and have glorious adventures with an alien twink. I know it's not realistic but that is low-key still the top thing on my bucket list.  -Marina

Yet Another Dig - Bob the Drag Queen feat. Alaska Thunderfuck

Okay so if you're not familiar with drag queens and the music they produce, it's almost exclusively tracks about how awesome one queen is or how terrible all the other queens are. These brags or disses are then applied over a generic electronic riff and the track will sometimes feature another drag queen that the performer is friends with. This song hits all those marks with two exceptions: the beat and chorus are actually pretty magnetic, and the featured artist is fucking fantastic.  -Andrew

Walking The Cow - Daniel Johnston

The anniversary of Daniel Johnston's death was on the 11th. If you aren't familiar with his work I highly suggest giving this song a listen. Daniel was one of the most impressive artists in recent times. He is the creator of the "Hi How Are You" picture everyone in Austin is so familiar with, the star of a very moving documentary called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and a truly gifted songwriter. Put this song on and close your eyes. Imagine being in the basement of an apartment in Austin while Daniel bangs this song out on a toy keyboard for you.  -Alex

Medusa - GRiZ, Wreckno

I accidentally set this to repeat while I was in the shower and it was hype as fuck.  -Matt

Welcome to Wildemount - Colm McGuinness

My goal in life is to make all of my friends watch Critical Role so that I have people who will talk about it with me. This is the theme music for their second campaign, so hopefully it makes at least one other person at least a little interested. It's a D&D live show, please love it.  -Marina

New Strings - Miranda Lambert

I like my recent trend of peppering country songs into the office charts. It feels like I'm doing my duty as an attempted redneck. Anyway, this song really satisfyingly creates the emotion of flying down a highway into the sunset while a dusty plains wind blows your hair back because the top of your old convertible doesn't go up anymore but at this particular moment, you don't mind because everything is exactly as it should be.  -Andrew

No More Parties In LA - Kanye West

Man what a hard time to be a Kanye fan. I have a lot opinions on Kanye as an artist over the years that are not worth the effort to type. This song is bonkers. The production is really great and the sentiment behind the whole song is one that I think a lot of people living in big cities can relate to. The real thing about this song though is that Kendrick is the best rapper of all time and to hear him on a Kanye track to me is just peak.  -Alex


Banner: Fevers and Mirrors, Zack Nipper for Bright Eyes, sadness

Pots and pans: knockoff Chinese Amazon seller that doesn't exist anymore

Ninja shit: