326 episodes

Friends at the Table is an actual play podcast about critical worldbuilding, smart characterization, and fun interaction between good friends. Find us (and a listener guide) @Friends_Table on Twitter.

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Friends at the Table is an actual play podcast about critical worldbuilding, smart characterization, and fun interaction between good friends. Find us (and a listener guide) @Friends_Table on Twitter.

    Sangfielle 08: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 4

    Sangfielle 08: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 4

    This episode carries content warnings for implied execution, description of bound people, knives, fingernails, poison/chemical weapons, hallucination caused by substance, dissociation, and descriptions of boils/infected flesh.
    It was a simple task: Head down into the hidden basement of the Abbey’s ruins and find out what happened to neighborhood youth Janek Polyte. But instead of a dank cellar, half of the Blackwick group found their way into a living hymn, simmering under eternal noon-suns, where ashen nuns worship a goddess they once betrayed even as they tried to save her. Inside, Polyte and a Pale Magistrate who pursued him with the same vigor as the Blackwick Group (if much more virulence). 
    Now: A deal is struck and a simple task comes to a close. But not before the rain falls, begging someone to fall with it.
    This week on Sangfielle: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 4
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Places
    The Priory of the Mother-Beast: In the streets of Concentus, some food sellers use specially treated props to advetise their goods. The color of fruit is brighter; the loaves of bread retain softness and texture indefinitely; meat glistens. Yet by extending their beauty through time, they trade their very nature as victuals, becoming injurious copies instead. Such is the Priory. Do not confuse the soft canyon breeze or the eternal noon sun for serenity. This place is ash, held.  
    Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.
    The Second Canton, aka The Pale Magistratum: The Second Canton has ordered itself around its Magistrates—holy marshals given weapons blessed by Fulmina, goddess of immediate justice, and the right to use that power as they see it. 
    Free Seas of Kay’va, formerly the Fourth Canton: First established after Cecile Cartine’s revolution over 300 years ago, today Kay’va is home to a collection of aligned communes who swear that the only way to prosperity is through the defense of equality.
    The Residuum:  A realm of vibrant color, where the things of the world go when their time in the material world fades away. A plane of death, but rendered in glorious light.
    Facts and Figures
    Sister Marisha (she/her): For decades, the human called Marisha served as the representative of the Boundless Conclave in Eastern Follow and as the only apparent follower of the old Cult of the Mother-Beast. Eager to guide, and quick to reprimand, she gained a reputation as a well meaning hard ass in the mining town. Now she finds herself adjusting to life inside this secret priory of salt, ash, and ceramic.
    Akule "Janek" Polyte (he/him): A Drakkan member of Blackwick County’s youth community, a member of the group who went beneath the Abbey’s ruins a year ago, and if his equipment is anything to go by, an undercover agent of the Free Seas of Kay'va.
    Ezek Semm (he/him): An up-and-coming Pale Magistrate, whose devotion to Fulmina, goddess of instant justice, is not to be questioned. It is, however, concomitant with his desire for glory.
    The Shape: Are the trains that run across the Heartland bound to the Structure, or do they direct it? Is the overlap between the two even real at all, or might two machinic forces be at work here in Sangfielle?
    Organizations
    The Telluricist Union: Made up by a mix of peoples driven to the hills by Aldomina, this group of knife sharpeners, herbalists, geologists, and all around investigators have made it their job to keep their old wisdom and see it used to help those in need. The best among them are called Keen.
    The Shape Knights: It took people with clear minds, great ingenuity, and implacable

    Sangfielle 07: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 3

    Sangfielle 07: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 3

    This episode carries content warnings for gun use, implied execution, knives, and amputation.
    As the Blackwick Group approaches the Priory of the Mother-Beast, a shot rings out, but it serves as question mark rather than exclamation. What is this place? Why does it seem stuck in time? Where is Janek Polyte, the young Drakkan they’ve been sent to retrieve? And how did a Pale Magistrate get caught up in all of this? Inside there are answers… but is the group more interested in finding those, or in pursuing their own interests?
    This week on Sangfielle: The Hymn of the Mother-beast Pt. 3
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Places
    The Priory of the Mother-Beast: In the streets of Concentus, some food sellers use specially treated props to advetise their goods. The color of fruit is brighter; the loaves of bread retain softness and texture indefinitely; meat glistens. Yet by extending their beauty through time, they trade their very nature as victuals, becoming injurious copies instead. Such is the Priory. Do not confuse the soft canyon breeze or the eternal noon sun for serenity. This place is ash, held.  
    Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.
    The Second Canton, aka The Pale Magistratum (ma-juh-strah-tuhm): The Second Canton has ordered itself around its Magistrates—holy marshals given weapons blessed by Fulmina, goddess of immediate justice, and the right to use that power as they see it. 
    Free Seas of Kay’va, formerly the Fourth Canton (kai-vah): First established after Cecile Cartine’s revolution over 300 years ago, today Kay’va is home to a collection of aligned communes who swear that the only way to prosperity is through the defense of equality.
    The Residuum:  A realm of vibrant color, where the things of the world go when their time in the material world fades away. A plane of death, but rendered in glorious light.
    Facts and Figures
    Sister Marisha (she/her): For decades, the human called Marisha served as the representative of the Boundless Conclave in Eastern Follow and as the only apparent follower of the old Cult of the Mother-Beast. Eager to guide, and quick to reprimand, she gained a reputation as a well meaning hard ass in the mining town. Now she finds herself adjusting to life inside this secret priory of salt, ash, and ceramic.
    Janek Polyte (he/him): A Drakkan member of Blackwick County’s youth community, and a member of the group who went beneath the Abbey’s ruins a year ago. Quiet in public, and little kept in his humble home.
    The Shape: Are the trains that run across the Heartland bound to the Structure, or do they direct it? Is the overlap between the two even real at all, or might two machinic forces be at work here in Sangfielle?
    Organizations
    The Telluricist Union: Made up by a mix of peoples driven to the hills by Aldomina, this group of knife sharpeners, herbalists, geologists, and all around investigators have made it their job to keep their old wisdom and see it used to help those in need. The best among them are called Keen.
    The Shape Knights: It took people with clear minds, great ingenuity, and implacable spirit to face down and defeat one of the living trains of Sangfielle. In the time since, they’ve crafted armor from their slain foe, and with that have come to be experts of all things train. They herd, they breach, they redirect. But they haven’t yet killed a second.
    Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)
    Featuring Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart) Sylvi Clare (@sylvibullet), Ali Acampora (@ali_west), Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel), Jack de Quidt (@notquitereal), Keith J Carberry (@

    Sangfielle 06: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 2

    Sangfielle 06: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 2

    This episode carries content warnings for a corpse, an animal feeding on flesh, claustrophobia, broken bones, death from immobility and implied starvation, fingernails, a body in a sack, animal sacrifice,  burning, a severed limb, animal slaughter, dissociation, and mental confusion.
    Having found their way through the chapel beneath Blackwick’s ruined abbey, the Blackwick Group continue their search for Janek Polyte and the mysterious magistrate who seems to be with him. From the bottom of a pit of salt, the group must find a way up a cliff face and back onto their prey’s tail—all while making sense of the strange new place they’ve found themselves in. In the distance, a bell rings, and a ritual begins.
    This week on Sangfielle: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 2
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Places
    Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.
    The Second Canton, aka The Pale Magistratum (ma-juh-strah-tuhm): The Second Canton has ordered itself around its Magistrates—holy marshals given weapons blessed by Fulmina, goddess of immediate justice, and the right to use that power as they see it. 
    Free Seas of Kay’va, formerly the Fourth Canton (kai-vah): First established after Cecile Cartine’s revolution over 300 years ago, today Kay’va is home to a collection of aligned communes who swear that the only way to prosperity is through the defense of equality.
    The Residuum:  A realm of vibrant color, where the things of the world go when their time in the material world fades away. A plane of death, but rendered in glorious light.
    Facts and Figures
    Janek Polyte (he/him): A Drakkan member of Blackwick County’s youth community, and a member of the group who went beneath the Abbey’s ruins a year ago. Quiet in public, and little kept in his humble home.
    The Shape: Are the trains that run across the Heartland bound to the Structure, or do they direct it? Is the overlap between the two even real at all, or might two machinic forces be at work here in Sangfielle?
    Organizations
    The Telluricist Union: Made up by a mix of peoples driven to the hills by Aldomina, this group of knife sharpeners, herbalists, geologists, and all around investigators have made it their job to keep their old wisdom and see it used to help those in need. The best among them are called Keen.
    The Shape Knights: It took people with clear minds, great ingenuity, and implacable spirit to face down and defeat one of the living trains of Sangfielle. In the time since, they’ve crafted armor from their slain foe, and with that have come to be experts of all things train. They herd, they breach, they redirect. But they haven’t yet killed a second.
    Ephemera
    A hymn found in the notes of Janek Polyte
    Her love is vast and nourishing.
    Her glory does astound.
    Thus in sin we're flourishing,
    Tis sin to which we're bound.
    With words we weave her love and ours,
    And with our voices breathe:
    A halt to death, a halt to stars,
    A halt to what will be.
    But listen, Mother-Beast, please know:
    Tis love by which we've wrought
    A world in which you're split in woe,
    Instead of merely nought
    Your love is vast and flourishing.
    Your glory does astound.
    Bless us with tears nourishing.
    We’ll drink until we’re drowned.
    Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)
    Featuring Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart) Sylvi Clare (@sylvibullet), Ali Acampora (@ali_west), Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel), Jack de Quidt (@notquitereal), Keith J Carberry (@keithjcarberry) and Andrew Lee Swan (@swandre3000)
    Produced by Ali Acampora and Austin Walker
    Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcam

    Sangfielle 05: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 1

    Sangfielle 05: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 1

    This episode carries content warnings for discussion of cigarettes, rotting flesh, animal corpse, aggressive animal, knives, gun use.
    One year after the people of Blackwick County (then Eastern Folly) broke a curse that had plagued the town for generations, a group of strange and determined professionals arrived. Explorers, investigators, wardens of nature and culture and everything in between. They’d come to answer the call for folks just like them, people who could ensure the town wouldn’t fall under the sway of any other supernatural threat. 
    And just a few days after they arrived, they got their first job. Janek Polyte, one of the town youths who wandered down underneath the Abbey a year ago and found the egg sac (which now rests nestled and pulsating near the mine’s entry), has gone missing. And witnesses place him at the Abbey’s underground entrance before he vanished. 
    And so, the Blackwick Group heads off to their first job. Explore the under-ruins of the Abbey, locate the missing Drakkan kid, and figure out what in the name of the heartland is going on down there to begin with...
    This week on Sangfielle: The Hymn of the Mother-Beast Pt. 1
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Peoples
    Caprak (cap-ROK): The goat folks of the northlands, where they put up with dust, ash, snow, and the unilateral “justice” of the Pale Magistratum.
    Carpana (car - pahn - a): They’re little folks, three to four feet tall or so. A little like capybara, I suppose. 
    Devils: Once, they were contained by (and made to administer) some vast network of hells. But they fought their way out, took over Aldomina, and nurtured a fledgling empire into an expansive one.
    Drakkan (drah-KAHN):  I’ve always thought we look like seahorses. Skin pulled across spiny, exo-skeletal armor. Bright colors. Good looking. 
    Heritrixes (hare-uh-trixes): Heritrixes are immaterial beings, sometimes confused for ghosts, demons, or other sorts of supernatural spirits, who enter into contracts with physical hosts.
    Human: A smooth-skinned, hornless type of person, mostly found in the Heartland and in the Unschola Republica these days. Unremarkable. “Except in variety,” you’ll often hear a human say, revealing only that they’re more prideful than wise.
    Ojantani: The Ojantani, who share traits with buffalo and water oxen, are as often melancholic or timorous as they are the loud, stereotypical minotaur sort.
    Places
    Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.
    Aldomina (al-doh-mee-nah): What once stood as the name of the whole continent is now only the name of the Confederation that runs across the eastern half of the territory surrounding the Sangfielle, currently constituted by three sub-states called Cantons. 
    The First Canton, aka the Throne of Dominion: Once a fledgling human empire but nearly 1900 years ago, a minor duke of some great hell led an effort to take it over. And once they did, they pushed what was an already spreading empire even further in that direction. 
    The Second Canton, aka The Pale Magistratum (ma-juh-strah-tuhm): The Second Canton has ordered itself around its Magistrates—holy marshals given weapons blessed by Fulmina, goddess of immediate justice, and the right to use that power as they see it. 
    Unschola Republica, formerly the Third Canton (oon-skoh-la): For a millenia, the alchemists, mage-practitioners, and cryptotheological scholars of the Third Canton complained in secret about the leash kept on them by Aldomina’s distant leaders. They’ve since slipped that leash, and whether that’s for better or worse, time will tell.
    Free Seas of K

    Sangfielle 04: The Blackwick Group

    Sangfielle 04: The Blackwick Group

    This episode carries content warnings for discussion of knives, possession, insect infestation of a living person, death, animal slaughter, being buried alive, and drowning.
    It has been one year since the folks of Eastern Folly put an end to a generations-long curse, and a few months fewer since a vote brought a new name to the town and its environs: Blackwick County.  The name was a compromise, evoking not only the darkening embers of the Triadic Pyre’s ashen dogma, but also the warmth and comfort of night at home coming to its end with a little prayer to Slumbous.  
    Name ain’t the only changed in that town, though. As the days went on, and the understanding that the curse had been broken was felt more firmly, it seemed as both miners and townsfolk let themselves dream of further futures than they had before. Some folks settled down to start families, others sent word for friends and relatives to move to this newly prosperous burg. New business sprung up, and not all of them made it through the year, sure, but more than you’d think. 
    This was a community that was only just now starting to know itself. The sort of town you heard about and thought was made up. A place really, truly, on the upswing. Even the trains seemed to be reliable, more or less. 
    But the powers that be, so to speak, they knew better than to rest on laurels, no matter whose they were. I mean… Skeletal emissaries. Miners going deeper into the mountain. Sounds below the abbey. The damned egg. 
    Can you blame them for putting out the call? Can you blame them for bringing together the Blackwick Group?
    This week on Sangfielle: The Blackwick Group
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Peoples
    Caprak (cap-ROK): The goat folks of the northlands, where they put up with dust, ash, snow, and the unilateral “justice” of the Pale Magistratum.
    Carpana (car - pahn - a): They’re little folks, three to four feet tall or so. A little like capybara, I suppose. 
    Devils: Once, they were contained by (and made to administer) some vast network of hells. But they fought their way out, took over Aldomina, and nurtured a fledgling empire into an expansive one.
    Drakkan (drah-KAHN):  I’ve always thought we look like seahorses. Skin pulled across spiny, exo-skeletal armor. Bright colors. Good looking. 
    Heritrixes (hare-uh-trixes): Heritrixes are immaterial beings, sometimes confused for ghosts, demons, or other sorts of supernatural spirits, who enter into contracts with physical hosts.
    Human: A smooth-skinned, hornless type of person, mostly found in the Heartland and in the Unschola Republica these days. Unremarkable. “Except in variety,” you’ll often hear a human say, revealing only that they’re more prideful than wise.
    Ojantani: The Ojantani, who share traits with buffalo and water oxen, are as often melancholic or timorous as they are the loud, stereotypical minotaur sort.
    Places
    Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.
    The Sleeping City: Every 13 years, a metropolis wakes with the buzzing sound of life. Do not cross its borders uninvited, especially not when it and its inhabitants are at rest.
    Facts and Figures
    The Course: There is debate about the true nature of the Heartland’s Truth, the power that turned Sangfielle into what it is today. But the Cleavers call it the Course. Part river, part lesson, part direction traveled. Entirely beyond the grasp of mortal minds. 
    The Structure: Reason, logic, sense. The world is, fundamentally, a place that fits together and functions. We may not like that, say the adherents of the structure. And sometimes, the world may mov

    Sangfielle 03: The Curse of Eastern Folly Pt. 3

    Sangfielle 03: The Curse of Eastern Folly Pt. 3

    This episode carries content warnings for human death, teeth, knives, possession, human branding
    One day of strange occurrences is, in some ways, a blessing. Good dinner time conversation. The stuff of campfire stories. Two ill-fated days? That’s a warning and a courtesy. The troubled cough that precedes illness. An opportunity for you to prepare for worse. But three cursed days in a row? That’s where you really have to worry, because it ain’t just one thing. Three cursed days in a row is as often the end to a little township as it is the sign of a great dynasty’s rise. With one or two, you’ve got a hex, maybe some begrudged witch or local spirit who wasn’t paid its due. With three, you’ve got a blank page. And from writer to reader, let me tell you: Ain’t nothing scarier than that.
    This week on Sangfielle: The Cursed of Eastern Folly Pt. 3
    The Almanac of the Heartland Rider
    Peoples
    The Tooth Trolls: Every year, right around harvest time, the trolls climb up out from the lake and do their gardening by the shoreline. Every few years, some strapping and brash showoff goes “to show them who really owns this land.” Only thing is, they find out they had the answer wrong. Don’t pay ‘em no mind, and you’ll be fine. 
    The Lake Skeletons: What is there to know, as of yet. Rivalrous. Boisterous. See right through ‘em. 
    Places
    The Waterlogged Kingdom: At least that’s what we’re calling it for now. Deep under the water, an empress waits. There’s been debate: Did they turn the wood from her sunken ship into a palace for her? Build castles out of the lake sand? Maybe they never stopped marching, and they’re down there right now, just going round in circles. An likely area of inquiry, for certain
    Facts and Figures
    The Sunken Empress Altapasqua (she/her): Around fifty years after the panic set in, Altapasqua told her people she would ride across this cursed land and purge it of its disease and danger. She only made it about three fourths of the way. And well, it’s as expected. She was down there ever since. 
    Slumbous (any): A minor god of the Boundless Conclave, who is associated with the ritual practice of putting one’s candles out at night, but whose domains extend beyond that to include the more general realm of routines of care and rituals of restfulness. Often depicted in a big, crooked hat.
    Snuffos (he/him): An even more minor god recognized by the Boundless Conclave, who decides whether to put out candles that tired people forget to snuff out before bed themselves. A petty god in more ways than one.
    Marisha (she/her): The previous attendant of the small Boundless Conclave temple in town. A caprak woman in her 50s, and a quiet fixture to the town.
    Stanislaka (she/they): Marisha’s replacement, the new attendant of the Boundless Conclave temple, an young ojantani whose faith to Slumbous knows no bounds. 
    Organizations
    The Boundless Conclave: Less of an individual church, more of an association between hundreds of independent faiths. Small sects, nearly forgotten cults, and unjealous gods make up this vast pantheon. 
    The Disciples of the Triadic Pyre: Appropriately devoted to a trio of gods, the Triadic Pyre believe that entropy is the only certain thing in this world, and as such aim to master it. Recently began to mark workers willing to do their tasks in the mines with their brand.

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Unparalleled Worldbuilding

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