From Dusk Till Faun

"4-Sided Dive: From Dusk Till Faun"
4-Sided Dive episode
Thumbnail from "4-Sided Dive: From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05).[art 1]
Episode no.Episode 5
AirdateAugust 9, 2022 19:00 PT
Running time2:00:37
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"4-Sided Dive: Independent Witches" (4SDx04)
"4-Sided Dive: Liam Laudna-Hands" (4SDx06)
Airdate order
"Dark Portents" (3x29)
"Reunion & Revelation" (3x30)
List of 4-Sided Dive episodes

"4-Sided Dive: From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05) is the fifth episode of 4-Sided Dive, discussing up to "Dark Portents" (3x29) with guests Erika Ishii, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, and Matthew Mercer. Taliesin served as the night's Tavern Keeper, and the guests played Codenames. The secret word was "sticky".

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Cold open[edit | edit source]

Taliesin rolls a natural 20 to become the fifth tavern keeper and monologues about the cuteness of quokkas, despite his future self's urgent warning to not trust them.

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

On Deathwish Run: It came from Matt's collaboration with Basheer Ghouse on the Hellcatch Valley and Bassuras - they both felt that an intense, deadly race full of automata and explosives, used as a form of entertainment for the people of the city, would make a lot of sense. Matt then ensured Ashton and Fresh Cut Grass were aware of it as a possibility and waited to see if the party would pursue it, which they did. Everyone then discusses the possibility of future skyship battle, similar to what Matt and Erika experienced in Escape from the Bloodkeep. The party is also not sure if they can take their crawler back on the Silver Sun.

Taliesin asks people for their favorite part, and Matt's favorite is that the only thing All-Minds-Burn ended up doing was dropping a boulder...after every competitor other than Bells Hells had been dispatched. He was also surprised by the choice to weld FCG in as the wheel, which made things very different as he was able to cast while racing. Erika felt that putting FCG in as the wheel would be very funny and urged the party to do so after it was initially brought up, but was surprised they went through with it. This led to Matt including some more difficult obstacles and creatures like the kagaronk to increase the challenge. The kagaronk is based on a creature designed by Crystal Sully for Dwarven Forge.

On the Dusk/Yu reveal: Matt and Erika began discussing this in October. Erika already wanted to play a changeling, and in discussions with Ashley wanted to play something that allowed them to "get messy."[1] Matt then brought up the possibility of being tied to Fearne's story given the shared fey connection. The two of them discussed the Feywild and the courts and Erika decided on the Unseelie Court, at which point Matt told her that this would tie into a plot to assassinate Birdie and Oleander Calloway. They were excited to do so.

The Dusk persona was developed about a week prior to the filming of "The Hellcatch Valley" (3x24), though Erika developed other false identities for the character as well. They hoped to play on expectations to trick people (eg, Erika hoped people assumed that they didn't realize that elves don't sleep), while still providing some hints to Dusk's true nature. Taliesin and Ashley didn't suspect Dusk at all! Matt enjoyed watching the cast's expressions during the hints Erika had dropped; Travis and possibly Liam seemed to show some doubt, and eventually Chetney confronted Dusk in-game about them. This made sense to Matt as Travis and Marisha are often the cast members who do the most analysis and theorizing, and Marisha seemed suspicious, though he doesn't think Laudna was. Taliesin agrees that Travis was probably the only person who figured anything out in advance. Matt later agrees that it made sense for Chetney to figure it out. Taliesin still hasn't seen the one-on-one scene with Dusk and Zathuda, but Erika showed it to Ashley after the filming of "Dark Portents" (3x29).

More seriously, having a PC play an antagonist as a surprise was something they could do because everyone at the table knew each other very well. Erika brings up the "Lines and Veils" principle and similar guidelines for setting boundaries in RPGs in cases where the table isn't as comfortable with each other or have not yet shared those boundaries. Matt agrees and adds that it's difficult to balance the narrative aspects too, in terms of not wanting to upset anyone else but wanting to explore those antagonistic qualities. He and Erika didn't know quite what would happen. Among the possibilities: Yu could have been a boss battle, or they also could have killed a player character and assumed their identity. Matt and Erika texted throughout the game based on what was happening.

Erika clarified that about 30-40% of what Yu says is true or based in truth, and the rest is manipulation and lying.

Favorite fictional parental figures: Taliesin says the parents from Spy Kids, and Erika names Gomez and Morticia Addams. The cast digresses to talk about Addams Family Values.

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

Matt discovers that the tower is not merely sticky (which, incidentally, is the secret word, said by Taliesin, whose prize is having to pull the next brick); it has since been glued together so that the new tower can be used! Matt and Taliesin pull eight bricks without reading the questions in order to set up the new Tower of Inquiry.

Paige Hellbaum: How much of your backstory do you like to write and how much mystery do you leave for the DM to fill in? — pulled by Matt, 29:17

  • Matt: Gives all of his backstory to the DM.
  • Taliesin: Usually allows a good amount for the DM to fill in, and usually gives only his character's perspective. Ashton is the first time he's added slightly more context, beyond just what Ashton knows, because he had some specific ideas in mind...though he's not sure what Matt will do with them.
    • Matt and Taliesin briefly discuss the "combination of absolute trust and continuous teetering mistrust"[2] the cast holds for Matt. Because he understands their boundaries, they trust he won't do anything that crosses them, but they also know he could do anything else. This briefly turns into a discussion of how a surprise birthday party could be seen as a betrayal to some; it's important to understand what people are okay with!
  • Ashley: Tends to not make very detailed backstories, but will add to them throughout the campaign - she learned this in part from Sam, who does this. Matt agrees that this is a great option! As long as you aren't contradicting previously established information or drastically changing the backstory, it's valid to add to it later on. She also enjoys being surprised, and a more open backstory allows for that.
    • Matt elaborates that Fearne feels like a natural progression for Ashley; because of Ashley's commitments she wasn't able to be present for much of the Vox Machina campaign and so she couldn't do too much with Pike (though The Legend of Vox Machina has allowed her to develop more); she was able to do much more with Yasha, but Yasha was also a quieter character; and so she can really let loose with Fearne.
  • Erika: Agrees with Ashley and Matt. It's also very campaign-dependent - she often is contracted for specific amounts of time for actual play, so she will in those cases provide a fairly in-depth backstory (as she did for Yu).
    • They then go on to talk more about Dusk's story specifically - they wanted to have the party underestimate them.

Faye: If Kiri spent a day with your character, what phrase would she pick up and mimic? — pulled by Taliesin, 39:45

  • Taliesin (as Ashton): "Fuck, Fuck shit, fucking fuck, fuck shit. Don't touch me." Or, "don't you fucking touch my shit", which is as versatile as the word "smurf."
  • Ashley (as Fearne): "I was just lying" or "I don't know."
  • Erika: Yu, as a changeling, wouldn't have a fixed personality or trademark phrase.
    • Taliesin came up with the idea for a changeling character who would take the form of a kenku and try to trick a party into believing that they were a true kenku by mimicking the voices of their party members.
  • Matt (as Eshteross): "Cookies are ready".
    • Matt didn't originally intend for Eshteross to be an avid baker. Matt considered that, being a retired, paranoid warrior, he would become lonely and would welcome any guest who came within his circle of trust, and would therefore develop hobbies appropriate to hosting, such as baking.[3]

The Deep Dive[edit | edit source]

Taliesin: With Ashton learning more about their memories and the night they fell, how does he feel about not having found any Nobodies yet?44:44

Their time in Bassuras has been very busy so he hasn't had a chance to look. They also haven't really had a chance to process the discovery of those memories, nor the information they found in the Twilight Mirror Museum, so they may not be ready to seek out the Nobodies for some time, at least not before some intra-party discussion and downtime.

Matt: You revealed that FCG is an aeormaton and that Dancer is alive. Can you tell us a little bit about both of those reveals? How much did Sam already know, and what did you keep secret?46:24

After Sam told Matt he wanted to be an automaton, Matt recalled Sam's interest in Devexian and the aeormatons encountered in Campaign 2. Matt then included it in FCG's backstory. Dancer being alive came about because the backstory was left fairly vague. Once the party headed towards Bassuras, Matt began to seed the story, although because the party has been focused on very specific goals so far they haven't had a chance to investigate further. Taliesin notes that he and Sam had their session zero together and they did see the bodies, so he is curious to know what happened.

    • In a tangent, Ashley asks about All-Minds-Burn. Matt suggests she go talk to them in-game to learn more!

Erika: Chetney caught onto Yu's secrets early. What went through your head as he laid out your plan? What did you say in the whispered insight check?49:55

It made sense for Chetney to have caught on, but he didn't have all the details, so Erika told him that Dusk was "absolutely going to murder Fearne's parents".[4] There were a lot of hints towards Dusk/Yu's true nature, such as the Lay on Hands. Erika then talked about the choice to have Dusk immediately tell on Chetney to Fearne to try to control the narrative. Taliesin notes that because Chetney has a reputation within the group for being overly suspicious, it was easy for Fearne to dismiss. In general, Dusk tried to manipulate the group; by becoming close with Laudna, they set up that they could claim Imogen was jealous and had never liked them if Imogen brought up her concerns.

    • For the most part, with the exception of Arkhan, who was open about his association with evil deities and who had a clear shared goal, the party's guest members have all been fairly nice towards them, so Yu was a new experience.

Ashley: What does Fearne think about the revelation that Morri wrote the postcards and is not actually her blood-related grandmother?54:38

It's been a lot of new information for Fearne recently! Fearne's had this in mind since the dark version of her appeared in Exandria Unlimited and told her that Morri wrote the postcards, but because she had nothing else from her parents she didn't want to confront it. She's interested to see where the revelation about Morri not being her blood relative goes!

Taliesin: What is it like showing Bells Hells around Bassuras? Does it compare it at all to Percy showing Vox Machina around Whitestone?56:54

It's quite different! Taliesin wrote many of the details of Whitestone as part of Percy's backstory, but he did not build Bassuras in the same way - he just told Matt that Ashton was from a "shithole". He compares it to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; there are a small number of good things about it and once you're back, it's enjoyable and you want to connect with old friends, but you don't really want to go back when you're away. Erika notes that Justi Pross sounds very much like how Taliesin would describe an old friend with whom he'd lost touch. Taliesin agrees, and says that many of the NPCs in his backstory are based on real people he knows or knew.

Matt: There have been a lot of strange coincidences surrounding Bells Hells and their connections to each other. Is fate a theme in this game or are there other in-game reasons for those coincidence that will be revealed in time?1:01:03

Matt can't really answer that yet without giving too much away! There are lots of themes. He can say that he's allowing a lot of things that have been on his mind since Campaign 1 to finally come out in this campaign, and is very excited.

Matt: The Calloways are a little more morally ambiguous than Fearne's recollection might have made them to seem, being thieves and working with Ira. What inspired the characterization and how is it getting to reveal Birdie?1:03:00

The Calloways are actually not dissimilar to Fearne, in terms of fey morality - they are impulsive and don't play by typical moral codes. He's excited to explore more of what they've been doing. While Fearne is probably in many ways more similar to Morri, since she was raised more by her, she still does have a lot in common with her parents. Erika brings up that Matt had told them he hadn't realized Bells Hells would be as suspicious of Birdie as they ended up being. Matt agrees; in retrospect, the party has enough lack of parental trust but isn't aggressive enough to outright attack either, which is how they ended up in the standoff. Erika and Matt had prepared for a tense encounter, regardless what would happen; and from Birdie's perspective, this was just one more Unseelie assassin in a line of many. The fact that Imogen saw Ira in her mind also complicated the encounter.

    • Taliesin regrets that they've never had a chance to knock out a guest character. Matt notes that the fact that Dusk/Yu might be killed or knocked out influenced which items he let her have, as he knew the party could end up looting them.

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

Heliophage: What facet of your character would annoy you the most if you got stuck living with them as freshman college roommates. — pulled by, 1:09:52

  • Everyone has had a roommate who's stolen from them before, so that aspect of either Fearne or Ashton would be annoying.
  • Taliesin: Ashton is, in some ways, a combination of the worst traits of many roommates: inconsiderate, loud, keeps weird hours, is often drunk.
  • Ashley: It would definitely be the stealing, particularly of not very important but useful items.
  • Erika: The gaslighting; based on experience, it's very bad when a roommate or housemate does that. The manipulation would also be bad. The Dusk persona would be better, but they'd still probably break things by accident.
  • Matt (after some discussion, deciding to answer for Essek): Essek would very publicly mope but would then deny anything was wrong or that he needed help.
    • Taliesin asks if Essek would label all his food in the refrigerator. Matt decides that he wouldn't initially, but after having a roommate after some time alone he would. Fortunately, Caleb would probably be fairly similar and so the two would get along.

The Deep Dive Pt 2[edit | edit source]

The following were asked and answered as the cast played Codenames. Erika's chair broke in the middle of the game.

Matt: Hondir dropped a lot of lore on the Hells. The Gray Assassins, the text and the forgotten gods, Ruidus being a later addition. How long have these secrets been stewing?1:23:17

The Gray Assassins are from the beginning of the campaign. The details of Ruidus, the forgotten two gods, and the texts come from late Campaign 1 to early Campaign 2, but didn't come out in those stories, so Matt is excited to explore them now.

Erika: Did you Yu actually fancy either Laudna or Orym? Or was that just a tactic to cause chaos?1:24:22

It's unclear...perhaps even to Yu themself. That said, as an assassin, they can't get too attached.

Taliesin: Ashton and Bells Hells have now joined Paragon's Call. What is it like for him to join up in not just a Crawler gang, but one of the more terrifying ones?1:24:51

Ashton's not really engaging with it; they're just trying to keep putting off any consequences, and so he hopes it will all just work out.

Matt: What was the inspiration behind Otohan Thull? And is there anything about her and her mysteries that you can tease?1:26:17

He really wanted to introduce an older, badass woman with military experience. He can't really tease anything other than confirm that several party members are correct in noticing that she has connections to their stories well outside of Bassuras.

Taliesin: Like Ashton showing his friends around Bassuras, what are some haunts from your past that you love showing new friends?1:28:47

Taliesin loves giving culture tours of Los Angeles and has a number of examples, but in particular he wants to shout out the CIA Club, or the California Institute of Abnormalarts, a strange venue and museum that sadly just closed as of July 2022. They notably had a dead, preserved, and possibly cursed, clown.

Erika: Yu offered to take Fearne back to the Feywild and swore she wouldn't sell Fearne out. Was that true? And if so, what did Yu see in Fearne that sparked interest and/or compassion?1:31:12

While Erika wants to keep this vague as Yu could return, Yu does genuinely like Fearne and hopes that Fearne will indeed embrace the chaos of the Feywild even in Yu's absence.

Ashley: What was it like to have to choose between Yu and Birdie? What was going through Fearne's mind?1:33:10

It was difficult! Birdie is her mother, but she doesn't know her that well, and she also liked Yu a lot. It's difficult to consider that your parents may be more flawed than you'd realized. However, in the end, Birdie is family, and so she chose her.

Taliesin: What is the hands down worst piece of life advice you can give us right now?1:35:35

Taliesin thinks a lot of his potential answers would be too dark for this show, and he and Erika briefly talk about manipulation. However, his best one is, when someone gets into the passenger seat of your car, lean across them and re-close the door. This will mess with people's heads. Taliesin tries to use these tactics sparingly.

Ashley: In a surprising twist, Fearne is Ruidusborn. How do you and Fearne feel about that revelation?1:38:48

It was a surprise for Ashley! She hasn't really processed it yet, in or out of game.

Erika: What is Yu's life like in the Feywild? What is a typical day off like for Yu when they're back home?1:41:55

Yu was trained in the Unseelie Court from a very young age and doesn't really have much of a life outside of work. They do genuinely love the Feywild though.

Matt: Were there any details or jokes from the Taste of Tal'Dorei that you weren't able to get in, or thought of after filming?1:45:00

While Matt blames Aabria for introducing the idea, he also really loves the concept of a location that truly butchers a history, having been to theme restaurants of that sort. It was inspired by Casa Bonita, Medieval Times, and the Madonna Inn in terms of the atmosphere and style of restaurant.

Taliesin: How does Ashton know Justi and All-Minds-Burn? What is the story there?1:50:55

He's not that familiar with All-Minds-Burn other than knowing that they're weird, but Justi was the friend in their group who had money back when he lived in Bassuras. She helped pay other people's way so that they could do fun things, and sometimes helped bail them out.

Ashley: How does Fearne feel about what her parents have been up to? Does it change how she feels about finally finding them?1:56:00

As mentioned earlier, Fearne's morality is very fey in nature and so she's not particularly fixated on whether what they're doing is good or bad. She's much more concerned about how little she knows them.

Quotations[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05) at 12:03.
  2. "From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05) at 30:39.
  3. "From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05) at 42:35.
  4. "From Dusk Till Faun" (4SDx05) at 50:50.


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