Web Video / Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana

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"Left to fester, ancient evils threaten to emerge and unleash mayhem upon the world. And so, to face them, new heroes must arise from the ashes of Valkana."
Opening narration

Titansgrave: The Ashes Of Valkana is a 10 episode celebrity Tabletop RPG campaign GMed by Wil Wheaton. It is a Spin-Off of his own Tabletop series and stars a Player Party consisting of Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Hank Green, and Alison Haislip (while Troy Baker narrates the intro). The entire series can be watched at Geek & Sundry's website or on YouTube. The series is also broadcast on the terrestrial channel TBD. Word of God is that season two is already in the making.

The campaign is set in Valkana, an original post-apocalyptic Science Fantasy Constructed World inspired by Heavy Metal and Thundarr the Barbarian, and runs on the Fantasy AGE Game System originally designed by Green Ronin for Dragon Age. Green Ronin released the system and the campaign as separate books after the series' conclusion.

Now has a character sheet—please add character-specific tropes there!—and a recap page.

The show provides examples of following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The entirety of episode 4 is set in Nestora's sewers-slash-sunken old city.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: At the start of episode 7, the party gets some off time while camping for the night to talk over the recent happenings and revelations, before heading to what seems to be The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Aerith and Bob: The party all have ordinary (for fantasy RPG) names like Aankia, Kiliel, Lemley, and S'lethkk. Aankia's robot buddy bears the exotic name "Jeremy".
  • After the End: Valkana experienced two ends: a global cataclysm that ended the Saurian Empire and a devastating world war that followed it and destroyed whatever was rebuilt in the meantime.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Life on Valkana was specifically "seeded" by an ancient visiting alien race.
  • Ancient Evil: There is a lot of foreshadowing concerning some long-forgotten evil about to resurface.
  • And This Is For...: As S'lethkk delivers the killing blow to Kynagidas, he yells his brother's name, whom Kynagidas killed earlier.
  • Author Appeal: Wil Wheaton's got a passion for craft brewing, so the inclusion of the Beer Baron and various liquor types in the first episode isn't unusual.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: At the end of episode 10, the party has released Prophet Dhawan onto Valkana all over again... just as she (and possibly Voss) had planned.
  • Blood Magic: Unlocking the seals protecting the Staff of Forlorn Hope requires each party member to spill some blood onto the runes surrounding it, because they are actually all descended from the heroes who originally placed the staff there.
  • Bookends: In a way. Aankia scores a legendary roll around halfway through the first episode and around halfway through the last one.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 6 is the first one to contain zero combat and mostly role-play with a few skill checks. It comes after episode 5, which had some really nasty combat encounters and before what is presumably the action-heavy final leg of the adventure.
  • Brick Joke: In Chapter 2, S'lethkk steps in a bucket in one of his many Butt-Monkey moments. During the first season finale, he steps in another one (referenced at the San Diego Comic-Con panel).
  • Cataclysm Backstory: The old Saurian Empire ended when "the sky fell down"—although every culture had a different explanation for what exactly caused it.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Five gold and a party!" To elaborate, in episode 2, the Beer Baron hires the Player Party for a (small) handful of gold and, to sweeten the deal, promises to throw a party for them, too. The players like the idea so much, "five gold and a party" soon becomes their default payment request and to a certain extent, their battle cry. Now with T-Shirt.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Between the terrorist attack in episode three and and finding the body of S'lethkk's brother in four, the show takes a sharp turn from wacky humorous adventures towards a much darker and more somber tone. Coincidentally, the Excited Episodes Titles! go away after episode three.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Subverted with S'lethkk's brother, who, after all the build up, turns out to have been Dead All Along.
  • Combat Tentacles: One of the monsters in the Prophet's Tomb fights with a mass of tentacles on its back.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: At the end of episode 3, the party is on the run from the authorities when a mysterious man approaches them and tells them to follow him... cue the Cliffhanger.
  • Constructed World: The series is set in Valkana, an original world created by Wil Wheaton, who even had a Universe Bible written for it.
  • Cool Airship: The Voss Group owns a fully-automated airship that takes the party to the Skyside Stronghold.
  • Critical Hit: In addition to the standard AGE stunt rule on rolling doubles, the campaign has a house rule that rolling triple sixes results in an exceptional success that makes the character Famed In-Story for it. This should only occur once in every 216 rolls, but naturally, it happens in the first episode. And then Hank does it again in the final episode, on an attack roll to kill Aankia's illusory father.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The team come across a giant fanged mutant trapped in a brewery's basement; fortunately it had managed to get itself extremely drunk. It only takes a single combat role to kill it.
  • Door to Before: Upon recovering the Staff of Forlorn Hope, the party is almost instantly teleported back to Voss' study.
  • Dungeon Shop: Kinley the Mermaid. For some reason, there is a mermaid in the cellar of the Reed Manor that's been abandoned for centuries, and she happens to be wanting to barter with the party.
  • Evil Brit: Invoked by Aankia, when she immediately suspects Runcible the Teddy Bear of being evil when it speaks to them in a thick British accent. Whether it is played straight or subverted, it's still ambiguous.
  • Excited Show Title!: The first three episode titles (on YouTube) ended with exclamation marks.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Pretty much every fantasy being you can think of can be found living on Valkana.
  • Framed Face Opening: The opening sequence contains short clips of the players turning towards the camera and stopping in a freeze frame, as their characters' names are displayed.
  • Game Master: Wil writes and runs the campaign for the players.
  • Game System: The game runs on the AGE system originally developed by Green Ronin for the Dragon Age tabletop RPG, but since modified to be universal.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Chaos Wars, which followed the fall of the sky.
  • High-Class Glass: The Beer Baron sports one.
  • Holding Hands: After Aankia freaks out about entering Voss' penthouse, the entire party walks in while holding hands to calm her down.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The entire party except Kiliel seems to have a firm grab on it when they let the apparitions of their late loved ones hug them in episode 10 and do massive damage to them in the first round of combat. Even Dhawan lampshades this later on.
    • And then, again, not one of them stops to think about why four third-level adventurers were sent to kill the Prophet when the ancient heroes of the past with all their armies merely chose to imprison her.
  • Kill Steal: Poor S'lethkk doesn't get a chance to unleash a Spell Stunt on their opponent in Chapter 2 before Aankia accidentally finishes it for him.
  • Killer Game Master: Played for Laughs by Wil, who promises to "only to try to kill them [the players] a little bit".
  • Knockback Slide: Lemley does it in episode 10 after an enemy tries and fails to knock her down.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: Voss believes that the cause behind recent invasion of Chaos monsters into Valkana is the awakening of Prophet Dhawan in her extradimensional prison.
  • Lizard Folk: The Saurians are essentially humanoid lizards.
  • MacGuffin: The magical sphere the party got from their last off-screen job, which turns out to contain four magical glyphs that boost their stats.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: Played with. The Chaos Wars were not magic versus science but a war for segregation of magic and science versus integration.
  • Master Race: The Saurians view themselves as such, and have a good reason to, being on average the smartest sentient beings on Valkana.
  • Mega Corp.: The Guilds of Nestora appear to have originated as Weird Trade Unions but have gained so much power over time that they became a fantasy equivalent of this trope, turning the city into a surveillance-heavy Police State.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the middle of Wil's narration establishing the eerie mood for the climax of episode eight, Hank kills the moment with a Double Entendre about S'lethkk's staff. Wil is annoyed enough about it to arbitrarily decree that Hank's character trips and falls on her face, taking 1d6 armor-piercing ("Annoying The GM During a Dramatic Moment") damage.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Subverted when Lemley seemingly breaks the mechanisms powering the Skyside Stronghold. Kiliel is worried about antigravity keeping it afloat failing alongside other mechanism, but the party manages to escape unharmed.
    • And then there is the ending... The party manages to kill the Prophet—but guess what? She has Born-Again Immortality and was just waiting for some naive heroes to come her way and release her from her prison.
  • Party Scattering: The entire episode 9 basically consists of four portal-induced unconnected Vision Quests the party members brave on their own before reuniting in the end.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish": When the party encounter a door with a keypad lock in episode two, they joke that the code is "1111", but don't actually try it; Wil subsequently informs them that the code really is "1111". (They then try the same code on every keypad lock they encounter for the rest of the adventure, with no success.)
  • Previously On: Each episode starts with a summary of the story so far, before the intro plays.
  • La Résistance: The Autonomous Front seems to be the underground resistance to the Guilds' rule in Nestora.
  • Robot Names: The Beer Baron has a robot assistant named Keg-E.
  • Robotic Reveal: While fighting a pair of cyborgs in episode 5, Lemley is wounded to her cyborg side, revealing the electronic parts she kept hidden from everyone but Aankia until then. She is very uncomfortable about it.
  • Rule of Cool: Invoked in the third episode when they go into the sewers and Wil asks if they brought any light sources and Laura asks if Jeremy's eyes light up. Wil thinks this is such a neat idea he allows it
  • Running Gag:
    • Kiliel's first question every time they meet a male dwarf — "Dad?" — to the point that when Aankia meets a male dwarf while the party is split up, Hank's first question is "Is it Kiliel's dad?"
    • "N-n-n-nineteen!" This one is used whenever someone rolls a 19 and is a reference to Paul Hardcastle's 1985 seminal '80s tune, "19".
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In episode 7, when the party squeezes through the closing entrance to the Reed Manor, Lemley loses her Nice Hat and doesn't roll well enough to retrieve both it and her stat-boosting glyph in time. Wil makes her decide which one she leaves behind, causing her considerable anguish.
    • The entirety of Episode 9 is this, with each member of the party being trapped in unique hallucination that gives them multiple sadistic choices. Of particular note is Aankia's dream, where she has to choose between watching Voss execute her father or him executing her younger self. After her segment is over, Hank even thanks Wil for not making him go through even more of these.
  • Science Fantasy: A perfectly normal adventuring party in the setting consists of a rogue tinkerer with a Robot Buddy, a half elf-half dwarf proficient in archery and explosives, a half saurian-half orc wizard/priest, and a cyborg warrior.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Elves (along with humans) spent most of their history under the heel of the saurians.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Prophet Dhawan was not killed, as the world believes, but merely imprisoned by the ancient heroes in an extradimensional space called the Tomb of the Prophet.
  • Sequel Hook: The very end of the first season finale sees the party releasing the Prophet instead of killing her, and then there is her offhanded mention of "them", who "arrived" and upset the "natural" order of things on Valkana.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: When Yuri fails an attack roll during a battle with an eldritch creature in episode 10, Wil narrates it as the creature distracting S'lethkk by temporarily assuming the face of S'lethkk's mother.
  • Shrinking Violet: Kinley the Mermaid seems very diffident around the party when they first meet her, but she opens up a little after Aankia returns her jewelry to her and shows readiness to trade.
  • Slave Race: The orcs have been this to the saurians for most of Valkana's history. Saying the two species don't get along is an understatement.
  • Spit Take: While the party are toasting their success at the end of Episode 1, using actual mugs of presumably water, Wil gets a spit take from some of them with his narration.
  • Sure, Why Not?: Happens in-universe (kind of), when Laura comes up with Jeremy's eyes doubling as flashlights in episode 4 and Wil likes it enough to retroactively add that to Jeremy's functions.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Staff of Forlorn Hope serves not only as a Plot Coupon, but also as a powerful Amplifier Artifact for spellcasters' (read, S'lethkk's) abilities.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: S'lethkk taunts an enemy mage after Aankia blows his arm off:
    "It's hard to cast spells without an arm, bitch!"
  • Trust Password: When Oker finds the party at the end of episode 3, he mentions "Five gold and a party"—the payment they negotiated with the Beer Baron previously—which lets them know he is a friend (of the Baron, at least).
  • Unwitting Pawn: Basically, everything the party does from episode 5 onwards serves to further the villains' plan.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Saurian Empire, which ruled most of Valkana before the sky fell, but is as much in ashes as the rest of the world currently.
  • Viking Funeral: The party gives one to S'lethkk's brother in episode 5. Apparently, it is the orcish funeral tradition.
  • Vision Quest: For some reason, stepping through the portal to the Tomb of the Prophet sends each party member into a mildly interactive stream of visions exploring their deepest fears and insecurities and full of Sadistic Choices.
  • Walkie-Talkie Static: Parodied by Yuri when he tells Laura to "take the shot" at the last bandit in episode one and mimics the sound effects that usually accompany radio communications with his mouth.
  • We Can Rule Together: Prophet Dhawan attempts to tempt the party with promises of conquering Valkana during their fight. Except it's all an act to motivate them to kill her (current physical form) faster.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Episode 9 had the group separated and forced to make a series of cruel choices without any of the others around, with S'lethkk's choice of power being the most obvious.
  • Word Salad Title: Lampshaded by Wil in the announcement video, and Word of God is that the title Makes Sense In Context. "The Ashes of Valkana" at least makes sense, considering Valkana is a post-apocalyptic setting.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Downplayed. The game does indeed begin in an inn, but the player characters have been together for a while. It still fulfills one of the two basic purposes of the trope, however: It serves as a logical place for the player characters to meet up with some of the important characters, and kick off the plot.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Downplayed. The car accident that cause Aankia's father's death was carrying a Voss Group employee, so she is unhappy about working for him. Taken to a natural conclusion in episode 9, where Aankia's hallucination depicts Voss himself killing both of her parents.
    • Invoked when the group lets S'lethkk finish off Kynegidas for killing his brother.
  • Your Mom: Aankia chooses to taunt Prophet Dhawan by calling her mother names.

Alternative Title(s): Titansgrave

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