Trapped in the Birdcage
Two weeks ago Holly Conrad (who plays Strix on Dice Camera Action) launched a new streamed game called Trapped in the Birdcage, set in Sigil, Planescape’s city of doors.
The party offers plenty of variety:
- Wilhelmena, a compulsive thief, played by Anna Prosser Robinson
- Saturn, a triangle-playing bard who seems to get in a lot of trouble, played by Jimmy Whetzel
- Nejma, a wizard who thinks fire solves everything, played by Hadeel Al-Massari
- Reader, a warforged who’s keeping notes on the others’ crimes, played by Chad Quandt
I’ve made a custom alignment axis which I think sums them up to some extent:
- It seems like Nejma and Wil are both pretty streetwise or capable. Saturn and Reader both aren’t.
- It seems like Wil and Saturn are both looking to cause trouble. Reader and Nejma are looking to stay out of it – although they aren’t necessarily great at that.
Having watched the first two episodes I have to say it’s well-paced and flows well. I think that’s because Conrad doesn’t allow the story to get bogged down by the vast amounts of Planescape lore from previous editions. Just describing Sigil the first time a party visits takes up a lot of time. And that’s just the start of it. If a dungeon master isn’t careful they might end up spending a whole session explaining the Lady of Pain, planar cant, the fifteen factions, the dabus, the Blood War… and not leave much space for adventuring.
I think these two introductory episodes are a good example of how to introduce setting by starting small and focussed. You can’t get much more small and focussed than the first episode. The beginning of the show has the four adventures arriving and meeting in a closet, which turns out to be in a teahouse. For the whole first episode, the adventurers don’t leave the shop.
In the second episode, they get to see some of the city, causing havoc in the Great Bazaar, visiting a diner and meeting one of Sigil’s most iconic characters at the Great Gymnasium. A few of the factions are also introduced fleetingly.
From what they’ve been told, the player characters seem to be an interesting situation. It seems they are on the other end of a summoning spell: they’ve been summoned and compelled to the do the will of a wereraven who watches over Sigil. With the exception of Reader, they’ve been causing a fair bit of trouble in the city already, which might create complications as they try to fulfil their contract.
Trapped in the Birdcage is on again tonight (Thursday 5-7pm US Pacific time) on the official Dungeons & Dragons Twitch stream, so hopefully you’ve got time to catch up on the first two episodes before then!