Episode Guide

Welcome!

Bad Heroes is an actual play podcast about four hapless adventurers hunting curses in a land bound to Hell itself. Our story is set in a homebrew world by Drea Silvertooth, our game master and the show’s creator, using Pathfinder First Edition mechanics.

The purpose of this page is to serve as a guide to all our episodes and to help you decide where to jump in. Click on any episode in the table of contents below for a quick description and a link to that episode’s page, where you can listen to it.

Content warnings can be found here (may contain spoilers). We’re also working on making transcripts available, and will be adding those to their respective episode pages.

New to actual plays and tabletop roleplaying games? Here are the basics.

It is the game master’s job to create a rich world full of characters and scenarios, like writing a story on the fly. Only, in this story, the writer doesn’t control the protagonists, the players in the game do. Bad Heroes has four players, and their characters shape the story through the power of choice and the sheer luck of dice rolls.

Where do I begin?

Where to begin listening to the show depends on your preferences!

  • If you want to experience the entire story, start at Episode 1. You’ll meet the characters at the beginning of their journey together and catch all our bad jokes, as well as cool foreshadowing for what’s to come. Note: our audio quality starts out okay-ish, but gets way better later on. Although the early episodes are definitely listenable, we record remotely and not everybody had good mics or soundproofed spaces when we first started this podcast.
  • If good audio quality is important to you, we recommend starting at Episode 16. By this time, everyone has upgraded their recording equipment and this episode drops you right at the start of some exciting action during the Forgotten Court arc. Below is a recap version of Episode 16 that catches you up on the basic events you need to know to jump in the fray. You can also click on the recaps in the table of contents below for more detailed written summaries.

Prologue: The Unholy Empire

What do a bardic catfolk, a haughty sorceress, an aloof druid, and a street-smart fighter have in common? Nothing, except they’re all working for the Queen now. Welcome to Vyer. Episode page »

Our heroes accept their fate in the Queen’s service with varying levels of enthusiasm. Iria strikes a chord, Tonreir summons an ally, Wingthe takes a hit, and Gydeon screams. Episode page »

Vyer is full of secrets, even in the most humble of places. Tonreir plans, Iria explores, Wingthe bonds, and Gydeon makes it clear she’d trade any one of them for a bath. Episode page »

Vesper’s mansion proves as strange as the undead alchemist himself. Our heroes receive the tools they need to catch a vampire — but not before they’ve met a talking door, a meddlesome cupboard, and cats. Just, a lot of cats. Episode page »

☆ RECAP: The Unholy Empire, Parts 1-4 ☆

We begin in the capital city of Vyer, the Unholy Empire, which is one of the most influential nations in the known world. The House of Fane has sat on Vyer’s throne for the last century. Queen Sephira rules presently, her mother ruled before her, and her grandmother before her. Each generation is rumored to be more terrifying than the last, and more intertwined in the dealings of Hell.

But despite its dark reputation, Vyer’s capital is a hub of culture and knowledge, attracting artists, academics and travelers from all walks of life. Four strangers passing through the city are about to be thrown into an adventure they are not at all prepared for. They are:

Gydeon Greyfrost, an aristocratic elf from a wealthy bloodline of draconic sorcerors. She doesn’t give a damn about interpersonal relationships, and though she’d prefer to spend all her time in her family library, the Greyfrost clan has recently forced Gydeon out into the world to make a name for herself.

Iria Clawstrike, a wandering catfolk bard who plays the hang drum, and sometimes hits people with it. She’s motivated by love, and is on a musical quest far away from home to find recognition, gold and maybe a soulmate or two along the way.

Tonreir Ceni, an aloof half-elf druid. He maintains a stoic presence, molded over the years by callusing experiences, and chooses to engage with most folk at arm’s length. His intentions often shrouded, Tonreir journeys here and there with his owl companion, working on bettering the land and ensuring its survival.

Wingthe Faldrum, a human fighter who grew up alone on hard streets, cut her teeth in a band of mercenaries and is now fulfilling her dream to see the wonders of the world. She values personal freedom, loves a good scrap, hates a war and cares about money only as far as it buys her freedom.

Gydeon, Tonreir, Iria and Wingthe are conned (and partially kidnapped) by a dwarven grifter named Risk and his partner-in-crime, a half-orc named Bagheera, into an audience with Queen Sephira. They learn the queen is looking to hire outsiders to complete a difficult job, and has been paying Risk and Bagheera a bounty to bring in fresh recruits.

The Royal Advisors

Upon being escorted into the throne room — a lavish affair of obsidian walls, silk banners and intricate flows of lava — our heroes meet the queen’s royal advisors, two demons sent from the pit: Lord Zera, a captivatingly beautiful fury with ash-colored wings, and Talgron, a nine-foot-tall monstrosity covered in ice blue spines. Lord Zera asks the new recruits to introduce themselves, and Talgron is not impressed.

The Hellhound

Queen Sephira, sitting on a throne shrouded in darkness, unleashes her loyal hellhound Dreska on the party to test their mettle. A short battle ensues: Gydeon deals damage with her ice magic, Tonreir summons a water elemental, Iria casts chord of shards, and Wingthe tries to be intimidating despite getting dragged around by the huge, infernal hound.

The queen calls Dreska off after deciding this party isn’t completely incompetent. When the dust settles, she explains the job they’ve been drafted into.

The Three Curses

There are three great, infectious curses that plague mortals in Vyer: vampirism, lycanthropy, and the eternal hunger.

The royal alchemist, Vesper, is working to learn about these curses so that the House of Fane can better manage them. Queen Sephira orders our heroes to bring her one infectious individual afflicted with each curse, and gives the party a ring gate to send the captives back to the castle.

She grants each adventurer a token bearing a symbol of the House of Fane — a bracelet, an earring, a pendant and a coin — in case they need to prove their affiliation while carrying out the job. She also summons her familiar, a pit viper, to travel with the party and keep an eye on them. Tonreir kneels and extends a hand to the snake, who climbs up and settles into the half-elf’s hood.

Finally, the queen tells her handmaiden, a halfling woman named Danya, to help the party prepare for their mission.

The Queen’s Handmaid

Danya, who goes by Dani, leads our heroes out of the throne room and to an old supply shed. It has been mostly picked clean of adventuring supplies by previous parties, but amid the dust and broken equipment, Wingthe finds a pair of enchanted pink fuzzy slippers and a cracked, glowing longsword, Gydeon puts on a ring of protection and pockets a few potions, and Iria picks up an empty scroll holder and discovers a very cursed-looking mirror.

The party spends the night at Dani’s house, a small, cozy cottage on the castle grounds. Gydeon has a bath while Wingthe helps Dani cook and Iria plays music to the chickens outside. After dinner, Tonreir goes to sleep in a tree with his owl, Gydeon takes Dani’s bed, Iria curls up on the floor by the fireplace, and Wingthe stays up late talking with the halfling handmaid.

After a bit too much to drink, Dani reveals more of Vyer’s history to Wingthe. Since the House of Fane’s rise to power — which is rumored to have coincided perfectly with the appearance of hellmouths all over Vyer — everything that is holy has been systematically eliminated. There are no good clerics alive in Vyer, and worship of the Archdevils is encouraged. Dani confirms that the two demons in the throne room, Lord Zera and Talgron, were sent from the pit to advise the queen and speak for the interests of Hell.

In short, Vyer is the closest thing to Hell on earth, and our heroes are right in the middle of it.

The Royal Alchemist

The next morning, Gydeon, Tonreir, Iria and Wingthe say their goodbyes to Dani before heading down the pathway to Vesper’s mansion, a short distance away on the castle grounds. The red brick mansion is covered in vines and home to a lot of cats. Like, seriously, an unreasonable number of cats. Wingthe befriends a gray and white kitten, who hitches a ride on her shoulder.

The entrance to the mansion is a heavy wooden door with a face carved into it, which comes to life as the party approaches and demands they answer a riddle to pass through. After solving the riddle, they walk inside and find a haunted cupboard, an empty waiting room, and more cats. Ivy, a talking Maine Coon with a red stone hanging from her collar, drops down from a wall and leads the party upstairs to the alchemist’s laboratory, where Vesper — a living skeleton wearing black robes — is in the middle of an experiment. The cauldron Vesper is working with explodes, scattering his bones across the floor.

Tonreir helps Vesper piece himself back together and informs him that they have been sent by the queen. Vesper invites everyone to his library, where he briefs the party on the location of their first mission: the forgotten castle of Lord Oberon, a Moroi vampire who is rumored to have turned his entire court into his thralls over a hundred years ago.

Vesper has been ordered by the queen to send the party through a portal to the general area of Lord Oberon’s court, and to only bring them back after they capture a fully-formed vampire with the ring gate. To help with the mission, he gives them an inverted disguise undead scroll that makes the living appear undead, and a book of information and rumors about vampires.

Iria attempts to ask Vesper about the symbols on the mirror she found in the shed, but the alchemist is too focused on the task at hand to provide any answers. They all go downstairs and out to the mansion’s inner courtyard, which is a lush garden guarded by a huge dire lion named Amra. In the center of the courtyard, Vesper draws a circle of sigils to form the portal and sends our heroes into the great unknown.


Arc One: The Forgotten Court

Our heroes encounter hidden dangers in a world of wind and sand. Wingthe takes in the views, Gydeon wields her journal, Iria is moved by the music, and Tonreir just tries to keep them all alive. Episode page »

As night falls and creatures stir, it’s time for our heroes to head underground. Gydeon reads, Iria inspires, and Wingthe is on fire. Meanwhile, Tonreir gets a little bit risky. Episode page »

Inside the crumbling walls of Lord Oberon’s castle, our heroes must decide if a mysterious prisoner is friend or foe — and make a sacrifice before time runs out. Episode page »

It’s time to face the castle’s first vampire. Iria contemplates the sun, Tonreir summons a weapon, Gydeon makes a break for it, and Wingthe loses a little something. If only someone had brought decapitation. Episode page »

In a rare moment of quiet, our heroes consider a moral dilemma. Tonreir stands with the natural order, Iria pushes for peace, Wingthe makes a deal, and Gydeon isn’t really paying attention. Episode page »

It’s rude to read other people’s diaries, but that sentiment may not apply to a century-old vampire whom our heroes are hunting. Episode page »

☆ RECAP: The Forgotten Court, Parts 1-6 ☆

Our heroes emerge from the portal to find themselves surrounded by the sand dunes of a vast desert, with no castle in sight. While trying to decide what to do, the portal opens again for a brief moment, and a small orb containing bottled sunlight and some notes from Vesper fall from the sky. In the scrolls, Vesper asks the party to send him an additional cursed individual who might be interested in testing a cure he’s working on, and shares a bardic work Ivy found about Lord Oberon’s forgotten court.

In my haste to send you off and return to my research, I neglected to give you this bottled sunlight, which I hope will protect and aid you. I also forgot to ask your party for a favor. I am interested in developing a cure for vampirism. I am also interested in experimenting with cures for lycanthropy and the eternal hunger. I can not make promises as to my success, I believe better persons than I have tried, but I have had a theory brewing in the recesses of my mind for some time and I do enjoy exploring the impossible. So please, if you encounter any moderately docile, infected individuals interested in being cured of their affliction, bring them back with you. Do this, and I will owe you. Perhaps we can discuss the mysterious object and symbology that the little catfolk mentioned. -Vesper
PS: I forgot one more thing. Ivy identified lines in the works of the infamous bard, Drakdor Nuz, that we believe may reference Lord Oberon’s court. I have transcribed it below in case you have need of it.   There is a forgotten court beneath the singing sand,  and a castle which crumbles where it once was grand.  Year after year it remains unchanged,  hypnotic faces and cold hearts contained. A kingdom which obeys is a kingdom enslaved,  an entire court that has been betrayed.  Their world is ever timeless, forever still, so time has forgotten and damaged their will. Best of luck, Vesper

The Guardian

As the party begins to explore, they hear mysterious whistling notes in the distance, and head towards the music. Before long, our heroes come across what looks like a pair of very large flutes sticking out of the sand. Iria and Wingthe are entranced by the music and head towards it, while Gydeon hangs back and Tonreir tries to stop them. A giant sand stalker rises from beneath the ground and attacks.

Iria is badly hurt when the spider takes a bite out of her, Gydeon (who is terrified of snakes and spiders) lets loose an ear-piercing scream that dazes the beast, Tonreir casts flames at its legs to stop the music, and Wingthe snaps out of her entrancement and fights back with her spear. The injured sand stalker, which is tethered to an iron ring sticking out of the ground, retreats to the end of its chain.

In a risky maneuver, Tonreir sets the sand stalker free and it scurries away, burrowing beneath the dunes. After healing Iria with a potion, our heroes dig around the iron ring and uncover a stained glass window at the top of a buried tower. Wingthe smashes the window with the enchanted flaming longsword she found in the shed, and sand pours into the room below, carrying half the party with it.

The Vampire Hunter

In a dark room at the top of a tower, our heroes encounter a prisoner named Nyx, a catfolk dhampir who is also hunting Lord Oberon, and who quickly befriends Iria. After some debate, they free Nyx from his shackles and they all escape the room — by solving a puzzle requiring a blood sacrifice to reveal a door — before it filled completely with sand. Nyx explains he is a vampire hunter with a personal vendetta against Lord Oberon, and he was captured by the vampire and his lackeys while searching for this castle. He agrees to join the party under the condition that Oberon must die.

The Spawn

Gydeon, Wingthe, Tonreir, Iria and Nyx head down the winding staircase from the top of the tower and enter a crumbling storeroom. A vampire spawn — a former servant turned into a mindless thrall by Lord Oberon — is alerted to their presence and attacks. They manage to subdue her with a stake to the heart, but not before Wingthe is energy drained by the spawn. Another debate breaks out over what to do with the captive: Wingthe and Tonreir want to kill her, Gydeon is ambivalent, Iria wants to spare her life, and Nyx tries to inform everyone of the weight of their decision.

In the end, they decide to hide her de-animated body in a wardrobe. When a Moroi vampire dies, all of his thralls become full vampires in their own right. Wingthe makes a deal with Nyx to help him kill Lord Oberon, and after the deed is done, they will return to the wardrobe and send the new vampire to Queen Sephira.

A quick search of the storeroom yields a variety of trinkets with the crest of the House of Fane, signalling the failures of previous parties sent by the queen, alongside countless articles of clothing that belonged to Oberon’s victims. Our heroes also discover a handful of RSVPs responding to an upcoming event called the Eternal Masquerade.

Oberon’s Library

The party continues to explore the castle, heading further underground. They come across a dusty library, where Iria finds a century-old map of the world and notes that Vyer’s territory was a lot smaller in the past than in the present day. Gydeon also finds Oberon’s journal and reads an entry from its pages. The journal entry describes Oberon’s loneliness in undeath and his desire to find a romantic partner. It also mentions someone named Thalia as a rash mistake. This evidence of Oberon’s desperate bid for love leads Tonreir to theorize that the Eternal Masquerade is an attempt to cast a wide net for potential suitors.

It has been many moons coming, 1,293 solitary cycles to be exact, but I think I finally understand the greatest mistake of my mortal existence. My folly does not lie in any of the mundane steps which led to my untimely death. It is not in the planning nor in the execution of the trip which led me into the arms of the one who turned me. Ranoc’s otherworldly beauty and charm drew me to him like a moth to a flame, it could not have been helped. In many ways I do not regret it. Similarly, my six months as a mindless thrall, waiting in my castle for my master’s instructions while life went on around me, could not have been avoided; every heart in my castle beating while mine sat cold and still. No, my mistake lies not in this, the series of events surrounding the ending of my life - a perfect rose plucked before its time. My greatest fault is that no one in my mortal life loved me enough to follow. When I came back to myself, a changed creature and not quite a man, there were no warm arms to embrace me. If there had been, if someone had loved me truly, then perhaps I would not be alone - no matter how cold my flesh, no matter how strange my thirst. For as eternity alone is a curse, eternity together would be a gift. A millenia to talk and embrace, countless lifetimes to share the most beautiful literature of the day, to savor blood shared before the hearth like the finest wine.... I am so wretchedly lonely. But I mustn’t give up hope. It is not too late to find my twin rose. I thought that Thalia, but, no… A rash mistake. My twin flame does not wait in this castle. I believe they wait beyond. I will find them, beautiful or handsome, to share the ages with. Perhaps one already cold, one who already understands my thirst. Yes...I will find them, and they will love me...even if it is the last thing I do.

There is something old in this castle, something powerful, something the heroes aren’t prepared for — and it’s not Lord Oberon. Episode page »

What do our heroes do when they’re up against the wall? Some buck wild things. Gydeon loses her temper, Tonreir hatches a plan, Wingthe takes a leap, and Iria learns why curiosity killed the cat. Episode page »

The enemy of your enemy is your friend, so long as they stop trying to eat you. Iria breaks up a fight, Tonreir strategizes, Wingthe makes a discovery, and Gydeon’s dreams come true. Episode page »

With dawn approaching and Lord Oberon fast returning, our heroes take the first steps in their scheme to infiltrate a vampire masquerade. Episode page »

Nothing in this castle is as it seems. With one last puzzle to solve, Gydeon prepares for a starring role, Tonreir spots a trap, Iria loses the thread, and Wingthe loves those pink fuzzy slippers. Episode page »

☆ RECAP: The Forgotten Court, Parts 7-11 ☆

After leaving Oberon’s library, Iria opens a door that has been booby trapped with a spell to summon several aggressive dire rats. The party dispatches the rats and continues down the hallway. They enter a torchlit, circular chamber with an open casket resting in its center. A mysterious humming echoes through Wingthe and Iria’s minds, getting louder as they approach the coffin.

The Lady

Iria looks inside the casket and sees the shriveled husk of a woman, with long red hair and an elaborate black opal dress. A red rose has been placed beside the wooden stake protruding from her heart. Before anyone can stop Iria, she has the sudden compulsion to remove the stake, and she pulls it out. The woman in the casket grabs and bites Iria, regaining her life force as she drains blood from the catfolk’s neck.

Art credit: Diana Martinez, illustrated for Pathfinder Monster Codex, reprinted under Paizo’s Community Use Policy.

Fully awakened and revitalized, the woman gets to her feet and drops Iria to the floor, badly wounded. Gydeon recognizes this vampire as Thalia, the one mentioned in Oberon’s journal. Our heroes attempt to fight her, but their attacks seem to have no effect. Seeming amused, Thalia says she also intends to kill Lord Oberon — as revenge for turning her into a vampire against her will — and warns the party to stay out of her way.

Gydeon, who doesn’t trust Thalia not to turn on them, shoots a crossbow bolt into her stomach. The fight resumes in earnest, and Thalia drags Gydeon up to the ceiling and bites her while the rest of the party tries to take the vampire down. Gydeon uncorks a vial of laughing gas from the shed and Thalia drops her in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Wingthe puts on the fuzzy pink slippers, which give her the power to climb walls, and attempts a flying leap to stake Thalia through the heart as Tonreir waits below to catch her in the ring gate.

The attempt fails, and Thalia stops laughing. She tells Gydeon, “You shouldn’t have done that,” drops to the floor, and transforms in a cloud of black smoke into the form of a giant hyena. As the party tries to battle Thalia in her hyena form, Iria breaks up the fight and makes the case that they are all on the same side.

Thalia, back in human form, explains that over a century ago, she and Oberon had courted before he grew withdrawn and secretive. He eventually came for her, asking if she would like to spend eternity with him, and did not heed her “no.” She answers a few more of our heroes’ questions before turning into a gas and floating out of the chamber.

The Scheme

In need of rest, our heroes spend the night in the next set of rooms they discover: Oberon’s bedroom and an adjoining bathroom and partner suite. Gydeon takes a long-awaited bath, Wingthe and Nyx burn an empty coffin hidden behind Oberon’s bed, and Tonreir tends to Iria’s wounds. The next morning, they decide to infiltrate the upcoming masquerade in order to launch a surprise attack on Lord Oberon.

Gydeon changes into a court gown and Tonreir uses magic to encase her in ice armor to make her seem cool to the touch. Then, they cast the inverted disguise undead scroll from Vesper to give Gydeon the appearance of a vampire noblewoman, so that she can act as a distraction for Oberon while the rest of the party prepares to strike.

The sound of bats swarming through the castle signal the return of Lord Oberon and his thralls from their nightly hunt, and shortly thereafter, our heroes hear the sound of waltz music drifting along the corridors.

The party sets out in search of the ballroom where the masquerade is taking place, but they encounter one final trap — a hallway with an illusory floor concealing a pit of spikes below, filled with poison gas. They start to make their way across using the pink fuzzy slippers and a long rope. Iria falls in the trap and briefly loses her memory upon breathing the gas, but Nyx jumps in and rescues her with Wingthe’s help.

Finally, our heroes reach the foyer and see a guest pass through to the attached ballroom. Gydeon grabs a mask from a table of masquerade masks by the entrance to complete her disguise. Ready to set their plan in motion, she busts through the double doors leading to the Eternal Masquerade, and to their mark, Lord Oberon.

Spells cast, masks on, hearts racing — it’s time for the Eternal Masquerade. Stealth and subterfuge is the name of the game, but how long can our heroes keep it up? Episode page »

After the music stops, the real masquerade begins. Concealment and costume are at play and the only difference between ally and enemy is a well-placed phrase. Episode page »

The gloves come off and blood will spill as our heroes go on the offensive. But the lord of this castle has one last trick up his sleeve. Episode page »

Our heroes must escape their own minds to survive. Can they find a way out, or will the ghosts of their pasts lead to their demise? Episode page »

With Lord Oberon’s castle crumbling around them, our heroes must make several life or death choices in very little time. Episode page »

☆ RECAP: The Forgotten Court, Parts 12-16 ☆

Coming soon!


Interlude: The Return to Vyer

Exhausted and shaken after their first mission, our heroes find respite with allies in the capital and discover they’re not the only ones unhappy with the Queen of Vyer. Episode page »

During their first evening back in Vyer’s capital, Iria investigates a cryptic inscription and makes a new friend, while Gydeon and Tonreir unlock secrets of the past. Episode page »