Fly Into The Danger Zone

"Fly Into The Danger Zone"
4-Sided Dive episode
Episode no.Episode 3
AirdateJune 7, 2022 19:00 PDT
Running time1:42:38
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"4-Sided Dive: Party of NPCs" (4SDx02)
"4-Sided Dive: Independent Witches" (4SDx04)
List of 4-Sided Dive episodes

"4-Sided Dive: Fly Into The Danger Zone" (4SDx03) is the 3rd episode of 4-Sided Dive, discussing up to "The Hellcatch Valley" (3x24) with guests Liam O'Brien, Matthew Mercer, Taliesin Jaffe, and Travis Willingham. Matt was the Tavern Keeper, and the guests played Exploding Kittens after the break.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Cold open[edit | edit source]

Matt is declared the host and introduces the show as written by "the world's most powerful sentient AI," with the opening monologue reassuring everyone that he is a completely organic human.[1]

What the fuck is up with that?[edit | edit source]

On skyships: Travis is very excited and had wondered if Matt would bring out the Campaign 1 skyship model. Matt had actually commissioned the current version some time ago, as he wanted to provide the party in Campaign 3 with a skyship after Campaign 2's naval battles. The commissioned version took several months to complete. Liam and Taliesin admire the skyship model, with Liam comparing it to the ships in JRPGs.

Liam also was reminded of Campaign 1's adventures with skyships, and notes that while Vax enjoyed them well enough, Orym "is in love with airship."[2] He brings up Orym's close call after being knocked off the skyship during combat, to which Taliesin mentions that he had "half a plan",[3] but that while Ashton could teleport to Orym he likely couldn't control it further. Liam agrees, and is glad that the witches were able to save Orym.

Matt mentions that the crew of the ship are off having their own adventures while Bells Hells is in Bassuras, and Taliesin expresses the hope that they have airship-to-airship combat, as Caduceus prevented a potential ship-to-ship combat last campaign.

Liam also asks if the airship can take them to the moon; Matt responds that while airships are a means of rapid transport, they don't have an oxygen supply and cannot withstand the winds in the upper atmosphere.

On lasting impressions of Jrusar: Taliesin teases that Bells Hells missed out on the best parts. Similarly, Liam thinks of Jrusar as he did the Folding Halls of Halas - there's still so much more to see. The group discusses the Folding Halls and how much more they could have explored, and call in Dani for a lore check - time is confirmed to go much more slowly inside the Happy Fun Ball than outside of it. Liam also says that Jrusar's structure, built into the mountain peaks, reminds him a little of Zephrah.

Travis mentions that the Shade Mother and similar have still not yet been resolved. Matt points out that because they turned in Emoth Kade, an investigation is ongoing, to which Taliesin jokes that Vox Machina's children will take care of that problem.

On Bassuras: Taliesin thinks of it as a terrible hometown - you hate it, but there are also little things you love about it and want to share with your friends - and describes Bassuras as not a place where anything went wrong, just a place where nothing has ever gone right. The group then has a digression about strange local dishes, reindeer meat, and trips to Anchorage, Alaska. Back on topic, Liam says he's expecting Black Rock City. Taliesin says it's not as nice as that, but Matt notes that it was included in his inspiration along with Mad Max and Battle Angel: it's been broken and rebuilt multiple times, and is lawless yet not without its own rules.

Taliesin is excited because only he and Sam (as FCG is also from there) know the details of Bassuras. Travis asks if Ashton left by choice or was kicked out, and Taliesin said he left by choice. Matt confirms that the city is a place for people who may have been kicked out of other places.

On Dusk's first impressions: Travis remembers the teleporting specifically, Taliesin thinks she's not "broken" enough to be from Bassuras and is interested to learn more, and Liam and Travis are excited but a little skeptical about "Taste of Tal'Dorei."

Favorite forms of fantasy travel: Travis loves teleporting and the way it's shown in fantasy, Taliesin loves submarines (despite having some fears about the depths of the ocean), and Liam thinks of Blaine the Monorail - a sentient train from the Dark Tower series - or the landstriders from The Dark Crystal. The conversation then turns to fan boats and Matt's adventures growing up as a child in Florida.

The Tower of Inquiry: Round 1[edit | edit source]

WolfgirlStuart: If your character was a part of the "Modern Day Era," what job would they have, or what job would they like to have? Like a teacher, a doctor, a YouTuber. — pulled by Liam, 27:38

  • Liam: Orym would either be in the New York Ballet, a track-and-field coach, or an Olympic athlete.
  • Travis: Chetney would still be a woodworker, or a dentist, but specifically the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Taliesin: Ashton, like Henry Rollins and many other punks before him, would work at an ice cream shop.
  • Matt: Ariks Eshteross would be a mysterious venture capitalist. The Shade Mother would be a character actor, in competition with Alex Ward.

trashwithaname: What would your character's Twitter bio look like? — pulled by Travis, 32:56

  • Travis: Chetney's handle would be 'CPock'. His bio would say "He/him. No instant gratification. 18+" and would also include a link to his Etsy page.
  • Taliesin: Ashton's avatar would be an anime character and not only would he only make "obnoxious political retweets", his bio would say "Nothing but obnoxious political retweets." He'd also tweet about obscure bands and probably have a Soundcloud.
  • Liam: Orym might have a Tumblr or Instagram instead and would link to videos of his workout routines. His bio would say "Pie is better than cake," but also "Halfling your way to health."
    • The group has a digression about whether having a full sleeve, like Robbie Daymond, makes you look more buff, and about Robbie's hiking posts. They agreed that a full sleeve does make you hot.
  • Matt: Xandis's bio would say "Infinite pronouns. Free spirit. Seeing the world. Will do it all. Again." They would also have a Linktree to their OnlyFans but the videos would just be cooking videos. Evon Hytroga's would be a "quintessential boomer Twitter" in which he signs his tweets and has a link to a Geocities page.

Amy van Leeuwen: If your character was a candle, what scent would they be? — pulled by Taliesin, 39:52

  • Travis: "The scent of rusted pennies. The scent of birch, pine, oak, cherry."[4]
    • There is a digression about nag champa incense; it's unclear if this is for Chetney or Ashton.
  • Liam: Orym's candle would smell like cherry blossoms and sea breezes.
  • Matt: Eshteross's would be a ginger spice or a musky cedar, to reflect his baking and his home.

The Deep Dive[edit | edit source]

Liam: Vax was closely connected to the Clasp in Campaign One. What is it like to see Clasp connections pop up with Spireling Shenn and Jiana Hexum, all the way in Marquet?45:38

Liam is excited to see the story grow, especially since the Clasp dates back to even before the stream. He likes seeing them in the Vox Machina Origins comics as well; it all feels like a branching tapestry. He relates it to how Orym is in a way building on the story and worldbuilding that began with Keyleth. Matt mentions that in many ways, he is living his dream from when he was younger - hoping to DM multiple interlinked campaigns - and that all the cast including the Exandria Unlimited DMs have all contributed to the world with their character backstories. Travis agrees - guest stars like Robbie or Erika Ishii have also expanded the world, and he's excited to see what Dusk will add.

  • The group digresses a bit to talk about Exandria Unlimited: Calamity, in which Travis talks about how much he's learned about the history of Exandria through that series, and Matt talk about how the era of the Calamity is, in modern Exandria, difficult to learn about because so much was destroyed during that time so the history is unreliable. Liam ties it back to the last campaign and the hints of the Calamity from Aeor. Matt mentions that he's been wanting to do something set in the Calamity for a long time, and when he and Brennan Lee Mulligan were discussing EXU ideas, Brennan was particularly interested in that and has contributed to the lore, just as Aabria Iyengar did for Exandria Unlimited.

Taliesin: How is Ashton feeling about the return to Bassuras and the prospect of finding the Nobodies?52:29

Taliesin isn't sure any of them are there - he expects that they largely scattered after the heist went badly - and Ashton doesn't like to focus much on the past as it's painful. He knows the Nobodies got him to safety before they left, but that's it. He does think there's a good chance that Ashton will run into at least some people from his past in Bassuras, though. Taliesin likes writing characters who try to avoid or run from their pasts, and Ashton is one of them.

Matt: We're heading into Bassuras and the Hellcatch Valley now and experiencing a very different culture from Jrusar and Heartmoor. What was it like to create and collaborate on this lawless valley?55:32

Matt collaborated with a number of writers on Marquet to help bring in people with relevant cultural backgrounds, and Basheer Ghouse in particular did much of the worldbuilding for the Hellcatch Valley. Matt provided some basic geographic information and history, and from there, Basheer had a significant say. Matt's excited for the cast to see what's there.

  • Liam's excited for the potential for exploration earlier in the campaign. This leads into a discussion of fantasy cartography, and how maps show what was important to the mapmaker, not necessarily the party.

Travis: Give us a peak behind the ExU curtain. Tell us about Cerrit "Pinch" Agrupnin and what it's been like experiencing the Age of Arcanum.1:00:16

Travis wanted to create a melee-based character given that most of the rest of the cast were building arcane spellcasters. He also, after hearing the level of detail Brennan had included, and that Vespin Chloras was involved, wanted to build a character with the ability to investigate. His inspiration was John Cusack's character in Con Air. He also was excited to play an eisfuura and because of the Dexterity bonus, chose an inquisitive rogue because of the high investigative skills bonuses and sneak attack. Cerrit's voice came from Travis doing a gumshoe impression during character creation and the rest of the cast, especially Aabria, convincing him to keep it. He also is finding that even though all the actors in EXU: Calamity know how it ends, their characters are still trying to put together all the pieces in the story and often failing. Travis sees Cerrit as a lawful good character in a city with a lot of ambition and corruption.

  • Matt thinks that the Cobalt Soul also has inquisitive rogues, as it's a good class for uncovering truths and intrigue. Liam asks if the Clasp has inquisitive rogues; Matt thinks they're more likely masterminds.

Liam: How has it been bonding with Chetney? Orym told him about his tattoos and gave him the Alarm Horn but also saw his tense interaction with the woodworker Zadro. What does he think of his lycan friend?1:06:18

Orym was initially a bit wary of Chetney but now feels as though he's almost a grandfather figure, though the two of them do still need to discuss Chetney's Bloodlust while in wolf form. Orym is a very private character but not secretive - he will offer information if asked - and Chetney's one of the few who has asked.

Taliesin: What was the inspiration behind Ashton, as well as the 'Fundamental Chaos' aspect of your class?1:08:25

Taliesin felt he had already covered most other subcultures he grew up with — goth, hippie, and carney — and was interested in building a punk character. To prepare, he watched a number of documentaries by Penelope Spheeris and interviews with Henry Rollins. The Fundamental Chaos class came out of frustration with the Wild Magic barbarian subclass, which becomes less chaotic as you level up, so he collaborated with Matt to build an increasingly chaotic barbarian class.

Matt: There's been a lot of fey influence so far in this campaign. Was that brought on by the characters that the cast presented to you or was that always a theme you planned to play with in Campaign 3?1:11:22

It was not originally intended, but Fearne is a fey character, some other characters have the fey-touched feat, and Matt realized that while he'd shown Artagan and the Feywild there hadn't been much more than that, so he began to include it in his planning.

Travis: What is it like to think of toys for all of the characters? Do you have a creative process for what Chetney makes for everyone? What would Chetney make for the illustrious DM?1:12:44

Travis hadn't intended it originally, but when Dorian said he could pay them with toys, Travis was inspired and began looking online for potential options. The ship Chetney gifted Dorian (that Travis brought to the table) took a very long time to assemble. He would make an orrery for Matt, ideally one that included both moons.

The Tower of Inquiry: Round 2[edit | edit source]

Effie Erin: If gold didn't matter, What would be your character's first purchase? — pulled by Travis, 1:15:55

  • Orym would buy a skyship for the party to travel wherever they wanted.
  • Chetney would perform a hostile takeover of most of the world's toy stores.
  • Ashton would purchase the Fownsee Hollow so that the area of Jrusar where they and their colleagues live.

Deep Dive during the game[edit | edit source]

All of the following were asked during the Exploding Kittens game.

Taliesin: How does Ashton feel about being debt free? Does it feel real, or does it feel like the other shoe is going to drop?1:26:19

Ashton feels they've involved with someone who can mess with them and that the whole situation is a lie. Good things don't happen to people and the other shoe is going to drop at any moment.

Travis: So Chetney got his revenge for Tuyen Otwana, the owner of the Prism Emporium. Tell us more about that experience. Is this flavor of revenge new for him?1:26:59

Chetney is "experienced with death", but he has a moral code and a way of judging others. For now, the slate is clean.

Matt: Tell us about Lord Eshteross. What was your inspiration behind this Batman Beyond-era Bruce Wayne figure?1:28:20

Matt initially wanted a unique, older former adventurer who knew what to look for, as a patron, and didn't quite intend the Batman comparisons originally. The baking and attractiveness came out through RP.

Liam: How does Orym feel about going to Bassuras right now? Is he frustrated to not be focused on the assassins or is he eager to finish things with Armand?1:29:43

Orym does want to continue investigating the assassins, but he's friends with Bells Hells and understands that he needs to support them just as they support him. He trusts they can pick up the investigation afterwards.

Travis: What was it like for Chetney (and for you) to lose control of the wolf during the heist?1:30:35

Travis was aware of the bloodlust mechanic for Order of the Lycan Blood Hunter but had forgotten it at that point, so it came as a surprise when Matt brought it up. He likes it because it opens things up for interesting RP to try to avoid it, since by default you attack the nearest creature. The situation with Orym was a very specific bad scenario in which it was out of combat, with an ally. Liam also asks how Travis feels about finally playing a werewolf, and Travis says it's wonderful and he has many more transformations planned.

Liam: Orym is the one who learned about The Grim Verity from Estani, what does he think about the institution and Estani's connection to them?1:38:20

Orym's glad to have some learned people around him as they approach a secret society.

Travis: Chetney now has more information on the Gorgynei. What does he think of the group and of Ajit Dayal? Does he want to join them or just learn from them?1:39:08

Right now he wants to learn from them as they have so much more experience, but depending on what they're like he may choose to join them.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The drink special on the chalkboard during the Twitch countdown was "Bailey's Mouthsmack".
  • The binary that Matt reads in his opening monologue takes the place of the recurring "fucking do a show" conclusion of the other opening monologues. The sequence read does not convert to anything meaningful, only to "Ww" and an incomplete character. It is probable that both Matt did not precisely follow the binary on the prompter and the script did not actually include the correct lengthy string.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Fly Into The Danger Zone" (4SDx03) at 1:05.
  2. "Fly Into The Danger Zone" (4SDx03) at 6:04.
  3. "Fly Into The Danger Zone" (4SDx03) at 8:55.
  4. "Fly Into The Danger Zone" (4SDx03) at 40:10.


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