2017 Saving Throw Questionnaire

We’re about to usher in a brand new year, and thus it’s time to see how we’re doin’! Here’s a short questionnaire to provide some feedback and let us know what’s working and what we can improve upon. Your responses are much appreciated. Thanks!

Here is the link to the survey!
https://goo.gl/forms/5Zz9JBu9WQoQvsNw1

The survey closes December 3rd – so you’ve got roughly 2 weeks to fill it out. Shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes though. Thank you for your help!

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Phoenix Dawn Command – Journal Entry #10 – Idalia

**Editor’s Note: We will be featuring some character backstories & recaps from our Phoenix Dawn Command actual play series. Be sure to watch the adventure LIVE every Saturday night at 5p PT/8p ET on twitch.tv/savingthrowshow!**

by Tara Strand as Idalia, the Devoted.

It was my 2nd Crucible where my deeper lessons began. In it I found myself in a lovely village somewhere, and I soon discovered that no one could sense my presence. There were several groups of villagers whose lives I found myself guided around, and for what felt like weeks, maybe months, I got to simply observe them. I became familiar – and a fair bit attached – to their stories and their interactions, the ins and outs of their days, their dreams and goals, their hopes and fears… Then finally there would be a threat to anywhere from one to all of their lives, and I found I was able to intervene. The threat was always different, and so was the outcome. Sometimes I could save everyone, sometimes I could save no one, and all kinds of combinations in between. What I learned and what I experienced was different every time, and my Mentor – a floating being of almost total light whose androgynous shape I could barely make out through its glow – spoke directly into my mind words to help me process and master my experiences. Once I left that Crucible not only had I gotten to deal with a whole new slew of threats, but I’d managed to combine a healthier sense of detachment with my care and compassion.

My later Crucibles followed a similar thread, nuanced in ways to teach me lessons we’d come to find I needed after each death. And then there was my 5th. In it I was shown long term outcomes of so many of the situations in which I’d been able to intervene, both in my Crucibles and in the other reality. Terrifying and beautiful. I saw the interplay and balance between “good” and “bad”;  the constant swinging of the pendulum: joy-peace-suffering-peace-joy-peace-suffering, and on. I saw the effect of our perceptions, and the ever-peaceful face of The Dawn.
This higher appreciation of the co-existence between all forces could nearly cause me to forgive the existence of The Dread. But I also saw that the suffering they bring is wholly out of balance. The very existence of the Phoenixes is the other end of the pendulum. By the end of this there WILL be peace. There must.
Sidenote: I’ve also come to wonder if these Crucibles where I’ve been such an unknown force to those I champion is perhaps why direct interactions with some of our especially grateful groups of mortals at times leaves me a bit… heady. Ok, a completely full of myself, demanding, impetuous prima donna! Some instances more than others. Hm.
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Phoenix Dawn Command – Journal Entry #9 – Varya

**Editor’s Note: We will be featuring some character backstories & recaps from our Phoenix Dawn Command actual play series. Be sure to watch the adventure LIVE every Saturday night at 5p PDT/8p EDT on twitch.tv/savingthrowshow!**

by Mac Beauvais

The fighting had become tedious to Varya.

The Wing had been sent to clear out the township of Mardenford and they’d come up against a new foe: Wailers. The Wailers it seemed were powered by their Dawn essence. Bodies that should have remained dead after the Chant had worn through them could be reanimated by the very Phoenixes sent to make the town safe again. What did that say about them?

And then there were the human companions. Varya was built for taking damage, and in comparison humans were so delicate. It was difficult for her not to become frustrated when she had to reign in her attacks to shield them from damage. Humans were a hinderance.

Of course, there were also the Phoenix companions. She was connected to them, but simultaneously felt apart. The cycle of death and rebirth was quickly becoming numbing.

Then there were the shards they had been collecting, a seeming source of power for the Chant. The Marshals thought they were closing in on something, but Varya questioned this silently.

They made way for a smaller township outside of Mardenford where it seemed another piece of the puzzle might lie. Varya tried to keep at the back of the group as they negotiated entry beyond the guarded gate. A handful of people were all the known survivors of this Chant outbreak. The rest of the population was likely inside the fortress carved into a mountain at its back, and the likelihood is that they had all succumbed to the Chant.

The Wing entered and went to work in their usual manner wading through a few scuffles with Wailers. It was all quite routine until Varya noticed Ink heading towards a chamber at the end of a corridor. She sighed and trailed after him.

Without warning, four doors of slammed closed behind them, sealing them in the room. The doors could be manually broken, but it wouldn’t be easy and it would take time.

Ink cleared his throat behind Varya. She turned to him and she could see that look again, the one of curiousity and worry he had whenever he really looked at her. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts. Inopportune time or not, it appeared he’d kept things bottled up long enough.

“I know,” he began, “in the time we’ve been together it has made you very uncomfortable for the time we spent when I was in your head. And I understand that.”

He began to tell her that he believed they all had a greater purpose and did not understand why she could not see that she had a great destiny before her.

“I don’t know about destiny,” she snarled. “I died and was supposed to go somewhere else but instead woke up as a fucking monster!”

She could feel the rage boiling within her.

He continued to tell her there was a part of him that could not deny that she might be a manifestation of the Dread, but that he believed in her and forcefully added, “do not succumb to the monster.”

He thought he knew, he thought he really knew. He continued on and quoted some forgotten volume of text that Varya could not have cared less about. But he didn’t know. He wasn’t the one having to fight it and not be sure if it was really an “it” and not just her.

And then, he blinked momentarily out of existence. Simply disappeared. Something was wrong with him, but she was so mad she didn’t care. Not until he blinked back in and reached for her hands. In that moment, she gasped, he was seeing into her. It was like the time he’d spent in her head, but more intrusive. He could see her memories, her thoughts. He could see “it” or her or whatever it was, and as he receded, it followed.

Whatever he had done had drawn it out of her.

“What have you done?!” She snarled, her head swimming and the words having trouble forming.

Again she’d felt that snap, like the snap of anger when she’d been fighting the fear and the Dreadknights. Her body contorted, becoming more wolf than human. The beast had her in its grasp, or maybe it was her true self in control. Whatever it was, it was angry.

She leapt at Ink, claws outstretched, trying to restrain herself but barely curbing the blow. He blinked out again before she could land another. When he returned he said something about flooding the chambers and indicated the pipes above. She leapt and damaged them, but a part of her wondered if what she really hoped for was that she could drown the beast.

As the room began to fill, she sensed that the other members of the Wing were also in trouble. However, they had been successful in unlocking the cell doors and so she tore out of it, trying to direct her bestial rage somewhere more useful.

Her blows were savage as she plowed through the enemy. Chanter after Chanter and Wailer after Wailer, she struck with fury beyond her comprehension. All were nearly destroyed, but the rage wasn’t ebbing like it had the first time. Ink had tapped into too deep, and it would not be quieted without putting the others in danger. She knew of only one place that could contain it.

She bolted past her companions for the terrible shard fragment that had been giving the Chant its power, and as she clutched it, she let everything burn out to ash.

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Phoenix Dawn Command – Journal Entry #8 – Varya

**Editor’s Note: We will be featuring some character backstories & recaps from our Phoenix Dawn Command actual play series. Be sure to watch the adventure LIVE every Saturday night at 5p PDT/8p EDT on twitch.tv/savingthrowshow!**

by Mac Beauvais

Varya was back in the Crucible. She was back in the fucking Crucible!

She tried to shriek at the darkness but it came out more bestial howling than human cry.

How had she failed so badly again? Yes, she’d saved a few lives, but the creature had not been destroyed and it was possible that they now lay slain. And what of her Wing? Had they survived?

She prowled angrily through the darkness, screams of failure ringing her head so hard it seemed to be vibrating her skull. Once again, she came upon the mirror from her last trip, the only thing of substance in an unceasing oblivion.

She studied her reflection as it changed before her. Her bones shifted sickeningly. Her hair took on more grey. Her nails were more claw than before. She studied their edges protruding from the base of thick fingers and noticed a dull steel gleam like that of her axe. She looked at her weapon, but it seemed there was somehow less of it than before.

She tried to think. To remember when she’d last used her axe in battle. It seemed to her that whenever she was wounded and the beast sank its teeth into her that it had disappeared and that her claws had become more deadly in response. Perhaps in another time or two, it will completely transfer to be a piece of her.

She sank against the mirror. She had failed. Had any of it mattered at all?

Her thoughts drifted to Ink’s intrusion into her mind and what he saw there, of the looks from passengers on the ship when Beans was telling her story, of the fearful look in Talib’s eyes. What was she becoming? Was it possible she was no longer fit for true compassion? Perhaps not, but if she was fit for anything, it was to take as much of The Dread down with her as possible, even if it meant more failure.

With that resolved in her mind, flames sprang to life around the mirror and she stepped back into Pyre.

Marshall Winter wasted no time in dispatching the Wing to investigate an odd occurrence. So odd that she had no details to tell beyond that fact the sight of it had disturbed the soldiers who had come upon it.

The Wing set out and after many hours of walking, they came upon a strange sight. Over the crest of a hill was a village. Everything seemed in order at first glance, but none of the people there seemed to be moving. Varya sniffed at a current of air…no smell of people either.

They cautiously approached to find that what had seemed to be people at a distance were nothing more than some sort of perverse scarecrows made from bits and pieces of debris and equipment. A few branches for an arm. Perhaps a shovel for a leg. A flour sack head.

The whole place showed distinct signs of abandonment. What livestock had been present had since left their pens and wandered away into the surrounding fields and forests. The only clear trail led away into the woods, so that is where they went, traveling through the night only to approach another village in similar condition.

As they progressed through the town, following vague tracks to a mine nearby, they noticed that the figures seemed to be moving. It was imperceptible at first, tiny shifts of position. But as they approached the mine a swarm sprang to life and attacked.

Fortunately, the figures were relatively easy to dispatch, breaking apart into piles of their component parts. Yet it seemed given enough time that they would reform, so the team made haste for the mine and hopefully the source of the mystery.

In an attempt to move more quickly to the heart of the mine, Eerie and the others jumped into a mine cart to speed down the tracks leading deeper into the dank stone hallway. Varya followed on foot, surprising herself with how easily she was able to run on all fours as her legs had become more digitigrade in the Crucible. And it turned out to be a good thing that she was not in the cart as it went veering off course. She managed to help snag Idalia before she was thrown into a wall.

They had, however, reached the location from which the enchantment was emanating. A few errant pieces of metal at their feet were pulled by an unseen force into the adjoining room. They stepped into what appeared to be the most bizarre of displays. Dioramas lined the room, all made from the same bits and pieces of refuse and stolen parts. And in the center of it all was an orb, it’s blue glow highlighting the scenes around it.

Ink stepped forward and was able to ascertain that it was a memory contraption of some sort. But it had gone a bit mad during its time sealed away until the miners had reawakened it. To their great misfortune, it powered itself on their essence and that of the two now vacant villages. There was not a spirit left for even Idalia to save as it consumed the life forces utterly.

The memory orb did not care for being touched and caused the nearby constructs to spring to life and attack. Varya and Eerie worked to stem them as Ink and Idalia focused on the orb itself.

With each blow she took, Varya sank deeper into beast until at last in a rage she snatched up a stone altar and flung it into her opponents, sending their parts scattering. They were unable to reform before Idalia destroyed the orb.

Task completed, the Wing returned to Pyre, thoughts weighing heavy in their minds. It seemed as though old magics were waking up in response to The Dread. Just what else was out there waiting for them in the dark corners of the world?

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Phoenix Dawn Command – Journal Entry #7 – Idalia

**Editor’s Note: We will be featuring some character backstories & recaps from our Phoenix Dawn Command actual play series. Be sure to watch the adventure LIVE every Saturday night at 5p PDT/8p EDT on twitch.tv/savingthrowshow!**

by Tara Strand

9f7c8ec1fc4c1a5a7d4c8e83d79bcf6fBeing in The Grimwald was energizing. I can understand why its people rarely care much for the outside. Observing Varya in this place moved me, and I wondered if some piece of her soul felt more settled returning to what was once home. The natural world holds you in its embrace here. For the first time since becoming a Phoenix I was able to completely surrender and connect to it; to listen to all it had to say. More vividly than ever before I recalled my other connection to this place. I had a loved one from here. Had he survived? Would he have made his way back here? This mission stirred up so many of the deep, hazy memories of my past.

To think I should encounter my own sister’s professor! To realize how little time must’ve passed since my first death. And to know that at least one member of my family was alive and well. It gave me hope for the others. Memories of them drifted and flashed through my mind like the fireflies I watched passing through the trees. I wondered at my lack of impatience for them to know that some version of me still existed in physical form. But soon there was no more time for such reflections. A new threat began to show itself, and many of our party would fall.

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