I’m saying this for the last time: HIS. NAME. IS. AEOFEL!

I've been pointing out new episodes of the D&D/Penny Arcade/PvP/Me podcast on Twitter, but since the third series draws to a close today, I thought I'd catch up, and then share some thoughts on the final episode.

My last post took us up to episode three, so…

Episode Four:

In this episode, the battle continues in full against Thazin Stormbellow, guardian of the Ambershard mausoleum. That sleeping boar? No longer sleeping…

Episode Five:

In this episode, the members of Acquisitions Incorporated learn about the death and dying rules… but does it concern them, the boar, or the dwarf? They also learn that intimidating a bloodied enemy may force that enemy to surrender… may. And finally, they learn the might of a solo monster—essentially, four monsters wrapped in one.

Episode Six:

Acquisitions Incorporated prepares for their ultimate fight against Leer of the Ambershard Dwarves. As they approach the upper chambers, will they simply bust in and take the guards out? Or quietly bar the other doors, and take a sneakier approach?

Episode Seven:

What's left, but for Aeofel to throw his dagger at the fleeing Leer… and he's thankful he did, despite missing. For the dagger hangs in midair, as if suspended in something… unseen.

Episode Eight:

"At least you're not in the acid pit…."

All caught up? If you're ready, follow me past the jump, where it's SPOILER-TASTIC!

Well, then. A picture being worth a thousand words:

Podcast_papvp3_8

So. Um. That didn't work out very well for Aeofel, did it? I can already hear the cries from other members of the gaming tribe: "Never split the party you dumbass!"

Normally, I'd agree completely, but here is where actual roleplaying sort of lead to . . . unforseen consequences. Allow me to explain: Aeofel is an Isolating Avenger. He is, in normal language, a zealot. Where a Paladin brings comfort to the afflicted, the Avenger brings great vengeance and furious anger to those who caused the affliction.

So, if I'd been metagaming, if I'd mixed player knowledge with character knowledge, Aeofel never would have chased after Leer. If I'd adhered to the second rule of RPGs (the first being, "never pick up a duck in a dungeon") I wouldn't have split the party. But Aeofel had sworn an Oath of Enmity on Leer. He had Leer on the run. Leer was bloodied and had offended Melora. That alone was enough to get Aeofel to go after him, but if there was any doubt, Aeofel had been implored by Binwin to "get him." Binwin was the only Dwarf in the 'verse who Aeofel actually liked, the only Dwarf in the 'verse who could actually be a friend to Aeofel, and Aeofel was intensely loyal to those who were close to him. Aeofel knew that Leer was part of a clan who made Binwin's father stop drinking! So when you add all that up, Aeofel had no choice but to chase Leer down, and end up in that acid pit. (And, to be honest, there were two damn awesome bits in there, before tragedy struck: the way Aeofel found the gelatinous cube and the way Leer activated the traps was really cool.)

I haven't had a character die in . . . I'm not exactly sure how long. Not since I was a teenager, and even then, characters weren't dead dead, because we all kept locks of our hair in special jars marked "In case of death, break glass and resurrect, y'all." But Aeofel is really, truly, I'm-totally-serious-about-this dead. He may find a way to come back as a revenant, but if he does, he will be changed by the experience. If it's at all possible, Aeofel will be even more serious and overly-dramatic.

Regrets? Well, obviously. My fuckin' character is dead, but he died doing what he loved, and while it would have been nice to make some kind of heroic sacrifice, I'm happy that I stayed true to Aeofel's beliefs and played him the way I wrote him.

When we finished the session, Chris Perkins drove me back to my hotel Aeofel's blood dripping from his evil hands, where I met up with Anne, who got to spend the next two hours listening to me explain, in excruciating detail, how Aeofel died and exactly what character death means to a gamer geek like me. To her credit, she didn't mock me, but since she is a normal person, she wasn't able to totally grok why I was so upset.

So I grabbed my Blackberry, and I texted the following to Scott:

His…name…was…Aeo…fel.

A few minutes later, he replied:

We will not rest until we retrieve your soul.

"What are you doing?" Anne asked me.

"I'm sharing nerd-grief with Scott," I said. "It'll just be a minute."

For the next fifteen minutes or so, this is the conversation we had (transcribed by Scott, because his Jesusphone kept the messages that my Blackberry deleted – thank you, Scott!)

Wil: Anne says I should have a candlelight vigil. I can't believe he's gone. Do you think Aeofel went to live on a farm where he can play with them goddamn rabbits? Tell me about the rabbits, George.

Scott: He's with the Raven Queen now.

W: [Wipes a single, solitary tear.] He's in a buh-buh-better place.

S: His torpedo coffin soft landed on the genesis planet. We're gonna totally search for Spock him.

W: He has been, and always shall be…your friend.

S: You dwarven bastard, you…KILLED….my SON.

W: Of all the Eladrin souls I've encountered in my travels….his was the most….Huh-HUMAN!

S: *Scotty playing bagpipes*

W: This is the best nerd catharsis ever. You are a true friend, Scott.

S: The doors slide open with a swish. Uhura lets out a gasp. Binwin holds Aeofel's corpse.

S: "He stayed at his post…when the trainee's ran."

W: The way to grieve a loss of a D&D character seems to be by quoting wrath of Khan.

S: Indeed, captain.

W: We are SO going to get all KHAAAAAN on that dwarf's ass.

S: He vexxes us. He vexxes us and we will have him.

W: Aeofel comes back as a Revenant, unites with Binwin and spends the rest of his life hunting and killing every last Ambershard dwarf for great justice.

S: Ha! I thought you were going to say he tries to KILL Binwin.

W: …..

W: Oh, they probably have some stuff to work out first…

S: Gulp!

I'm sure it seems silly, probably because it is, but I really did feel a sense of loss when Chris said that Aeofel wasn't coming back (and death by acid pit is super duper extra permanent in D&D, guys) and I really did need to talk about it with someone who could understand why. I'm grateful that Scott was there, and as I told him this morning, I withdraw my oath of enmity and instead swear an oath of eternal friendship. Because while it's a lot of fun to blame him for killing Aeofel, we all know that it wasn't actually his fault. Also, Scott is one of the few people in the world I can quote Trek with, and it isn't weird.

In fact, Scott told me this morning,

Reading this chat log again, I leave you with this….the one WOK thing we didn't touch on.

Omin Dran enters the lobby and sees the pit of acid. He gaps and runs towards it. Jim and Binwin grab him, holding him back.

Binwin: Omin, NO!

Omin: He'll die!

Scotty: He's DEAD already.

Giggle. WIN.

I hope we'll be doing another series of podcasts soon, not only because they're incredibly fun for me to listen to (it's so weird to have it on my iPod, hear Scott say something funny, and then laugh at it along with myself exactly the same way I did four months ago) but because it's so incredibly fun for me to play with all of them. Even though Chris killed Aeofel, he's a great DM who did some of the best NPC roleplaying ever. As evidence, I present: "Jim Winks." "How are your death scenes?" and "…who are you?" And all the fun we're obviously having on the podcasts? Well, we're not making that up; if I could play with these guys every week, I would do it in a heartbeat.

So if there's another series of podcasts, and if I'm invited back, I'll certainly play, either as zombie Aeofel, or as a new character . . . maybe a Barbarian who tears off the heads of anyone who calls him "Al."

Namárië, Aeofel. Ná Melora veria le, ná elenath dín síla erin rád o chuil lín.

172 thoughts on “I’m saying this for the last time: HIS. NAME. IS. AEOFEL!”

  1. Hey Wil,
    Let me congratulate you on some AWESOME roleplaying. I listened to the podcast and you definitely mixed up your healing surge value with your bloodied value…meaning Aeofel should have survived for at least one turn…meaning rescue was possible.
    However, I LOVE that the only reason Aeofel went off alone is because you were roleplaying your character rather than just rolling dice and moving a mini on a board. Plus, even if Aeofel had survived for another turn or two, there’s no way the rest of the party could have known of his predicament without metagaming.
    I love D&D because I love roleplaying and I love stories. Thanks for making the story of Aeofel’s demise poigniant and making sense. It would have sucked if you’d turned back from chasing the dwarf…and sucked even more if the rest of the party magically knew you needed rescue.
    HINT HINT:
    A character like Aeofel is BOUND to have an old friend or family member who would track down Aquisitions Inc. to discover how such a mighty warrior could have died when a DWARF survived.

  2. I’ve never seen a character ‘die’ like that. It was shocking. I am curious how you kept Aeofel’s death a secret for so long. Did it hurt everytime someone mention the podcasts at a con, knowing he was gone and unable to tell anyone?

  3. Acquisitions Inc should all look up the grab rules. So many times when things have been trying to run away I screamed ‘try to grab the bastard’. I’m just saying…
    Love the podcasts. I wish I could sit down and play one session with you guys.

  4. I don’t want this comment to become a story but I’m afraid that is what it will become.
    As September came to a close I bid my family and friends goodbye and hopped on a plane to Japan. I’ll be in Japan for the next year. Before leaving the States, the last book I read was Just a Geek. I was inspired to read that book because of the second podcast series in which Wil and Aeofel were introduced. While I am having a great time here in Kyushu, my Friday afternoons spent listening to these podcasts have been a source of great comfort (dare I say joy?) even though I’ve never played D&D. That being said, thank you Wil for the time and effort you put into making and being Aeofel. The programs were made all the better by your addition to the group.
    Out of curiosity, what is a Revenant? Wil: will you still be a part of future podcasts (albeit with a different character)?

  5. Absolutely LOVE the D&D Podcasts, as well as when you and Gabe post D&D stories on your site.
    Way back in Jun 2008, WotC had a video podcast of a D&D encounter. (Episode 23: A Paragon Tier Adventure) I would love to have them start filming the Acquistions, Inc games. Just a single camera mounted over the table, so we could see the map and character positions would be enough for me. Hell, they could start the video with a commercial to help offset the costs and I wouldn’t mind. (if they’re smart they’ll use D&D related commercials, like from Dwarven Forge and other products.)
    Plus, the video could be edited to include some of the awesome art Scott & Gabe cook up during the campaign.

  6. I can honestly say I was shocked when Aeofel died, never expected that to happen. Guess that shows me for trusting the DM to play nice. I hope you guys do another series of podcasts, and soon!
    Whether you choose to play as a Revenant Aeofel or a brand new character, you were consistently awesome and will no doubt kick ass whomsoever you choose to play as.

  7. Aeofel, we salute you.
    I am *really* looking forward to the next podcast when Aeofel’s twin brother ‘Al’ (he’s got to have a reason for hating that name…)comes around seeking vengeance.
    I actually really hate it when people just rename a clone of their character so please don’t do that. ;)

  8. Keeping it to myself, and acting like everything was just swell was difficult, yeah.
    But I have a lot of experience when it comes to working on something that I have to keep a huge secret for months or longer, so I got +5 on all the related rolls whenever it came up.

  9. [Omin and Jim are attempting to get Binwin to join them in hunting down Leer Ambershard]
    Omin: “Binwin, you haven’t had an ale or a fight in 6 weeks. I can’t stand seeing you like this. Please, just have a bottle of warm British lager and get slapped by the barmaid! Something!”
    Binwin: “NO! I led a comrade to die! I will never drink again!”
    Jim: “Well, Omin led him there, you just sort of… pushed him.”
    [looks proud that he’s helping, then shrinks at Omin’s glare]
    Omin: “He knew the risks, Binwin. If aught remained of his body, I would devote myself to restoring him. But at it is, all we can do is seek vengeance. And we shall have it, with or without you.”
    [Binwin looks up]
    Binwin: “With.”
    [They share a look denoting determined vengeance, although Jim may just be sleepy]
    Jim: “I propose a toast, gentlemen. To Aeofel Elhromanë.”
    [Revenant Aeofel walks in]
    Revenant Aeofel: “I Have Returned, garbed in Vengeance and Wrath”
    All: “AL!”

  10. *pours one out for Aeofel* (And if the guy at the liqour store later on today doesn’t realize that my ID is expired, I’ll pour one out using actual alcohol later. The damn thing proves I’m 22…who cares if it expired at the end of last month?!?)
    Y’know, I was gonna go to class today, maybe learn some more stuff about management information systems. But damn it, today is my birthday, and I’m going to spend it however the hell I feel like it, and I feel like sitting on my ass in my apartment & listening to the D&D podcasts. Scholastic pursuits got in the way of me listening to the majority of season 2, but not anymore! For I have iTunes open because I was charging mah la-iPod last night, and I’ll honor Aeofel by reliving his epic adventures!
    Note: If my one-time academic delinquency causes me to miss a test or something, I won’t hold you responsible, Wil. I’ll just tell my mom I overslept or something. XD

  11. I want to see Aeofel’s brother come in. Perhaps a more earthy, practical kind of guy who didn’t go in for all of his brother’s “hokey religion.” With a voice that’s a little easier on your throat, perhaps?
    I’m thinking Ranger with a bow specialization. Ranged, so you get to hang back in relative safety like Jim, but nonmagical so you’re not competing with him.
    You can give the team some tracking skills and maybe even pick up some Rogue abilities that they’re missing. Like…find traps…maybe.
    Or, if you really like playing the Mystery Man you could go exotic and complicated again with a Shaman or a Wild Sorcerer.
    My favorite part of the podcast was Mike in the background stirring shit up every time it started to calm down. “He died because of something you did. It seems like you killed him because you killed him.” Etc.

  12. Aeofel has to come back as a Revenant. The Oath he made against Leer needs to come to its natural conclusion — namely, Leer’s death via liberal use of Overwhelming Strikes. That unfinished Oath, combined with his natural zeal? I’m sure he’s champing at the bit to get back to the Material Plane. And, given the situation, returning as a Revenant probably looks pretty appealing.
    Plus, an even more stern version of Aeofel would be hilarious/awesome.
    (I feel like I’m begging Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to bring Holmes back from the dead…)
    Whatever you decide, this 3rd series was great. Thanks for the laughs.

  13. Aeofel will be sorely missed, I even raised a shot of tequila in his memory after the podcast ended (I promise to raise two or more shots in celebration if he manages to return in a Gandalfian manner). You mentioned that you had written extensively about his backstory and I can’t help but think that would be an awesome read. Do you plan to release that to the public at any time? Please?

  14. You know, when I listened to 7, I thought to myself “Man, you have to get one freebie reference before you get cock punched — someone should have said ‘the first duty of every member of Acquisitions Inc is NOT TO SPLIT THE PARTY'” That said, “Aeofel is now exploring the Universe with the Traveller” is pretty damn evil. Scott gets a tip of the hat.
    Honestly, I’m surprised you guys didn’t work the whole ghosts of hammertime thing into it; you could have haunted Binwin’s ass right then and there! But then, the shock of getting disintegrated by a pool of acid probably leaves one a bit disoriented.
    P.S. You’re all trying to kill me — my commute is never safe when I have a D&D podcast playing.

  15. Despite never having played D&D, I never miss your podcasts, and I confess to being totally caught up in the story. Your imagination is so vivid and colorful, I truly believe you would be a fantastic fiction writer.
    This is totally off topic, but I was wondering if, when you were more deeply involved in the poker world, you ever met Jennifer Tilly? I read her sister, Meg’s, blog, and she wrote that Jennifer placed fifth and her boyfriend, Phil Laak, won the top prize. Meg Tilly is another actor who is a wonderful writer, and like you, I have collected all of her works. Have you ever read her blog or any of her books??
    Just random questions…..

  16. Well, after a third listen, I can find humor in the event now. So you know, I’m working on a portrait of Aeofel in pastels, and I’ll show it to the world soon as it is done. My best possible tribute to the fallen.
    (And yeah, the background image on my lj page is my own work.)

  17. Hah! I love the idea of Aeofel coming back, Gandalf style.
    Omin and Binwin: “Aeofel! We thought you were dead!”
    Aeofel: “Aeofel?…Aeofel. (Smiles) Yes, Aeofel, that was my name.”
    Jim: “Aeo…Ey-oo..falafel…I thought your name was Al?”
    (Aeofel reduces James Winnifred Darkmagic III to a fine powder)
    Oh, and I also don’ know how you didn’t feed Scott his own dice for the ‘traveler’ line.

  18. Oh yeah, can somebody BUY the dice that killed Aeofel?
    I think you should auction off the first pair and just keep selling them, like medieval hucksters selling chicken bones and pretending they came from John the Baptist.

  19. To atone, I think that Scott Kurtz (Binwin) really needs to make a nice memorial drawing or 30 of Aeofel. I’d buy a Aeofel t-shirt or hat or mug or underroos. Binwin profits by surviving, Aeofel profits by dying. The balance is preserved.
    Like him reaching out of the acid pit gasping “I am Aeofel”, or an action shot with him screaming his oath while chasing Ambershard. Or him teabagging Binwin. It’s all good.

  20. Near the end of the episode, I kept thinking to myself: “What does Wil Wheaton think of the warforged?” You guys were romping through a mansion in which souls were transmuted into metal monstrosities. I think you all might have been able to find an artificer you could coerce into bonding Aeofel’s soul to a golem of some sort. It’d be like Robocop. Or Johann Kraus in Hellboy II.

  21. Is it weird that every time anyone on the podcast said ‘fey step’, I had to actively remind myself that they weren’t saying ‘face death’? I’m talking as far back as series two, when Aeofel was the probie, the new hire.

  22. Hey Wil, this is horribly off-topic, but I’m re-listening to the Memories of the Futurecast episodes (and not surprisingly, laughing my ass off!) and I noticed that the picture of you on your last.fm page is pretty old. It’s the same picture from your Wikipedia page, which I believe is from 2001.
    Would you mind if I uploaded that really cool “happy accident” pic of you? Their policy is that users are only supposed to upload pictures that are public domain, and even though a lot of other people ignore that policy, I figured that you should be given the courtesy of deciding on this, yourself.

  23. I’m truly sorry to hear about Aofel’s passing. I thought you took his death much better than I would have, especially on a podcast. It sounded as though you just missed the save to get out of the pit (I think a 19 would have done it). I would have fudged the save for you, Mr. Wheaton.
    I was surprised that you had to explain what the Tomb of Horrors was to the other guys. I know that I’m an old school AD&Der (“Whaddya mean there’s ‘editions’?”), but I thought TOH was a classic.
    One last thought…Aofel wasn’t wearing a red shirt, was he? Maybe Aofel can keep reappearing in every podcast (only to die in some awful painful way) wearing different hats and moustaches.

  24. Hmmmm, yeah I think you must of had one more turn. But you know what, it’s a mistake and it happens. I think having Binwin and the guys doing a “Search for Spock” for Aeofel is a really cool direction to take the story.
    Also, don’t worry too much Wil. I think a lot of the guys on the WoTC Forums are just a bit jealous and don’t “get” your sense of humour. One guy was saying you seemed “fake” about enjoying yourself, I pretty much replied with a; “Really? *folds arms and stern look* Really?”
    We all know you were having fun and poking fun at Scott. :)
    Also, can you remind Scott that if he hits a Marked enemy when they try to move/shift, he stops them moving/shifting. Might save somebody’s bacon in the future. :)

  25. That would be a freaking awesome shirt!
    I want to see the whole Acq Inc team as shirts. Already got a Binwin and Jim one, need Omin and Aeofel ones now! :D

  26. Though i felt bad about it, i laughed myself sick at the post death comedy.
    You know it would not be setting a precedent for a character named ‘Al’ to have his soul bonded to armour. See- full metal alchemist. On top of that you were in a city that had a special relationship with its dead.
    Though its somewhat odd, you in theory could have sliced off your own ear and thrown it clear of the acid. That probably would have counted as a portion for this thing.
    http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Resurrection
    Though maybe whatever they scrape from the inside of the gear darkmagic hauled out of the acid is enough of a portion, in CSI terms.
    They have to bring you back somehow man, you added so much to it.

  27. I’ve never played D&D before (pretty sure there’s literally _nobody_ in the town where I live who plays it), but I want to try it out sometime. Seems fun. (And I’m pretty sure there are a lot of Carnegie Mellon students who play – we’re a pretty nerdy college.)

  28. I had to laugh hearing the reaction to Aeofel’s death. In my gaming group death is not uncommon, and we have a “body bag,” a bag full of the torn up character sheets of our dead characters.
    Mine almost joined them recently in our Dark Sun campaign when a Shadow Wizard ALLY shot a fireball into the air, and I was too close to the blast, and in one shot ended up dead. (who does that remind you of?) I’m an elven bard, and squishy. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, they could afford to get a druid to cast Reincarnation for me, and I ended up in the body of a recently dead half elven WOMAN. You never realize how misogynistic your party members are till your character becomes suddenly female.
    Anyway, I look forward to your next character. I think, if I’m not mistaken the party needs a rogue… perhaps a Half-orc, or elf, or OR!! Maybe even Eldarin…..?????? Eh, eh? Int, and dex baby! Bread and Buttah! Aeofel’s black sheep cousin maybe? Can you imagine Fey-stepping behind someone and then BACKSTABBING them?

  29. Dying and coming back would actually make him a very complex character. In his previous life he had nothing but contempt and hate for the undead. It was part of his character set up. Imagine then being brought back and finding yourself the thing you once despised so powerfully. One side of him would want him to kill himself , the other driven by spite, revenge and duty to fulfil the oath he made in life to return a certain item to a certain monastery of its origins would start tearing him apart. As dark hero origin stories go, the facts of it ain’t shabby.

  30. It always sucks to lose a character but I think without the danger of actual ‘character death’ then victory would feel very hollow. You did the right thing by your character in pursuing Leer.
    On a side note, I could accept a long abandoned tomb being packed with a gauntlet of deathtraps but a domicile that’s used as living quarters? Accident rates amongst the Ambershards would have been through the roof – “So is the spike trap active on tuesdays or wednesnyyyarrgh!”

  31. Dood! I started playing D&D about 6 months ago and just hit irontooth a few weeks ago! Put two arrows through his throat (after getting my legs broken).
    Awesome.

  32. Your delight when you realized this was a retooled “Tomb of Horrors,” was awesome. I’ve never even played it and I was like HOLYSHITTOMBOFHORRORSMOTHERFUCKERS!!!

  33. I’m actually astonished that Chris did not mention this, perhaps he may not have known. Even after a character dies, especially by the case of acid or other ongoing damage, Aeofel the corpse will still remain until you take a negative 4 times your bloodied value. So even after you died, you body would have still been dissolving for 4 more rounds or so. Had he said this, they could have fished Aeofel out and revived him in Hammerfast. I’m sure they have a temple capable of resurrections.
    Secondly, I think this has been mentioned, but 13 sounds more like your Healing Surge Value and not your bloodied value. 13 would mean your max HP was 26-27; I know you guys are higher level than that.

  34. Man, as the main DM for my group, I hate killing the other guys. I had one way too serious player who stormed out and left the game when he died. After that we refused to invite him back, though. Not the kind of player we wanted.

  35. Well, remember that the rest of the party took a short rest before looking for Aeofel.
    However, you could argue that this was metagamey as they only rested because they believed Aeofel to be “gone gone” and therefore unnecessary to seek out.
    Since this is my first post here, RIP Aeofel :(

  36. I’m definitely gonna miss Aeofel , Man, could that guy avenge. Not to mention, best… oath… ever.
    I too love the podcasts. I think I could listen to D&D podcasts all the time – could D&D become a spectator sport? Well, you guys made it entertaining enough to be one for me. Thanks for all the laughs and nerdy-goodness.
    I hope you guys keep doing more of these!

  37. I think I am in denial. According to the character creator Aeofel’s bloodied value was 21 so he should have had one more saving throw and a full round for someone to help him. I believe there was a trap door at the bottom of the pit and he was frozen in carbonite and sent to some emperor somewhere. Just an idea. :P

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