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Dca5strix

Art courtesy of Holly Conrad - "Dustman" by Tony DiTerlizzi

Strix is a player character by Holly Conrad. She is a Tiefling sorcerer, and she has a pet cranium rat named Stinky and an owlbear named Waffles.

Personality Edit

Strix is a paranoid and fearful individual, always ready to run away or hide. She doesn't like children and isn't one for physical contact, often disparaging Evelyn for hugging her, but she has accompanied her friends through dangerous circumstances nonetheless. Strix lacks basic manners and maintains a poor hygiene, exemplified by the collection of filthy oddities hoarded within her robes, including snacks which she refers to as "snicketty snooks." She speaks in a dialect known as planar cant.

As a child, Strix witnessed an unidentified monster slaughter dozens of innocents, but was spared for unknown reasons ("haunted one" past). The scene of the crime was detailed in Holly's "Trapped in the Birdcage" series, where those characters arrive after Strix has already escaped through a portal.[1] Strix carries some form of survivor's guilt which drives her to try to make the world a better place (chaotic good alignment).[2] She puts no faith in deities,[3] although she has grown to respect Lathander since she observed how much he helps Evelyn.[4]

Background (spoilers for season 1) Edit

Strix's background is still unclear. What is known is that she was born or summoned to the Wachter family in Barovia, along with her half-brother Izek, when she was very young. Calling herself Strix's aunt, Fiona Wachter claimed that she knew Strix's mother, "a lovely woman", and that "a deal was wrought to make [Strix]".[5]

Shortly afterwards, Strix and Izek were taken by the Vistani, under orders from Madame Eva, in order to protect them. When the Crew later came across an old ruined Vistani wagon in the woods of Barovia, it triggered memories in both Paultin and Strix that implied that Paultin's family may have been the ones that had taken her. Strix's brother had escaped back to the town of Vallaki and was taken in by the burgomaster, becoming one of his henchmen. Strix grew up in the Hive (the slum district of Sigil) as an orphan, and supported herself through various jobs, which have included corpse collection for the Dustmen and working as a pastry chef for Imbris.[1] She learned to speak Infernal while in Sigil, but according to Chris Perkins, "despite years of being tutored by gnomes, she never mastered the art of talking to little furry critters".[6]

She has traveled to other planes by falling through portals or being transported there by others (she possesses no spells of her own to do so). After traveling to the Feywild, she stayed a few years with Baba Yaga, calling her "grandma".[3] During that time, she began to manifest sorcerer powers.

Eventually, her planar travels would land her on Toril, in or near the city of Waterdeep[7]. She had no money and was frightened of everyone, having to forage for food in the trash. She came to the attention of Diath Woodrow, who slowly befriended her and swore to protect her. They adventured together for several years, then ran into Evelyn Marthain at the Rusty Pommel Inn, where she defended Diath from accusations of thievery. The bard Paultin Seppa, who had been performing at the inn, decided to accompany them as they fled from the attention of the local guard. They adventured together for a short time before finding themselves camping outside the town of Daggerford, musing about finding waffles (henceforth becoming known as the Waffle Crew).

As an orphan from Sigil, she did not know her age (although it is later revealed that she was 32 at the start of DCA)[8] or her surname (which was also later revealed).[3,9] The only reason she even knew her first name was because 'Strix' had been written on her arm in green ink when she was found in the Hive.

Character Development I (spoilers for seasons 2 & 3) Edit

When the Crew were transported back in time to Barovia, they attempted to stop Sergei and Tatyana's wedding in order to prevent Strahd from succumbing to the dark powers. However, their plan failed and Strahd killed Diath, Paultin and Evelyn, forcing Strix to flee and isolate herself in a swamp for fifty years. She learned how to take baths in goat's blood to keep herself from physically aging, although Waffles continued to grow older, and Stinky eventually passed away. Over the years, Strix befriended neighboring villagers and dusk elves, and to thank her, they bartered with the dark powers to help resurrect the Crew and Juniper the mouse. They also recovered all of Diath, Paultin and Evelyn's belongings (Strix had already lost several items by tossing them at Strahd, or being forced to sell them over time).

Initially, Strix's sheltered life prevented her from understanding how to interact with people. She shied away from Evelyn's attempts at friendship, although she eventually relented. She was also completely oblivious to Diath's approaches, with Holly even labeling her as asexual and aromantic.[10] However, having grown comfortable around the Crew, she chose to reject her own brother, saying that the Waffle Crew was her real family. When those friends were killed and she was forced to spend fifty years alone, she started to understand the power of those connections, such that she is now open to exploring deeper relationships.[4] While living in the swamp, Strix had fashioned dolls in the likeness of her friends to keep her company. She later gifted them to the Crew, as well as made promises not to run away, to be Evelyn's friend, and to provide Paultin with more wine.[7]

Strix was suddenly transported away from her party and onto the airship of Acquisitions Incorporated (AI), where she learned more about her background.[9] Omin had bought a contract that allowed him to summon the greatest member of the Skizziks clan, which turned out to be Strix. The Skizzikses were an old human family that made a deal with the devil Asmodeus to become tieflings. Asmodeus later became a god, and is presumed to be the origin of Strix's sorcerous power (Divine Soul).[11] Strix became an "indentured intern" to AI, but was allowed to return to the Crew after helping AI reach Omu. However, Strix later realized that she was being pursued by members of her family, who hired a Mercykiller to bring her back to Sigil. By this point, Strix had learned that running away was not an option if she was going to keep her new family safe. She offered herself up to the Mercykiller to save them, however the Crew managed to defeat him. Strix is now constantly worrying about their return, and has taken to drinking wine with Paultin to help calm her nerves.

When the Crew became trapped in Dendar's nightmare, Strix imagined a version of Ubtao who revealed that long ago the Skizzikses and Lorcatha (who had angelic aid) had been at war, and that an accord had to be forged to save the multiverse. Despite Strix later trying to get Diath to reveal what he knew, Diath remained closed-mouthed about his history. When the Crew later followed Paultin into the Shadowfell, Strix fell victim to a magical despair that made her even more fretful, but otherwise still sane. Just as they found Paultin, Strix was backstabbed twice by assassins, and was then once again teleported away by Omin.[12] Strix received healing from AI's C Team, and helped them on their mission to infiltrate a drow city in the Underdark. They bought her a magical watch and a petrified duergar as thanks, which she brought back with her to the Shadowfell, catching Paultin by surprise. The watch stopped time for all but elves, and Miranda managed to slip the ring off Paultin before Strix could cut off his finger. With the immediate crisis ended, Strix confronted Izek about the truth behind the Skizziks-Lorcatha situation, and he revealed that even their friendship risked "destroy[ing] everything". Refusing to accompany him back to Fiona to learn more, Strix turned Izek into a spider and left him behind. She used her mummified raven claw to help Meathook guide them to an area filled with death and a portal back to Chult. There, the group encountered a balhannoth that Strix tried to defeat with a fireball, but the flames were reflected back onto the party and both Evelyn and Simon died. Strix grew more insecure, feeling she couldn't do anything right, especially compared to Paultin whose magical abilities have progressively improved and who ultimately slew the monster.[13]

The portal brought them to the Sewn Sisters' lair, where Strix pretended to be a hag and they negotiated the retrieval of Shemeshka's items and a resurrection scroll in return for more hair. The hags also offered Shemshka's true name or the piece of Diath's soul Shemeshka had kept, in exchange for Strix carrying a hag child. Strix was too innocent to understand what that actually entailed, knowing only that she would do anything to save her friends, but Diath refused to let her. When they later encountered their clones the hags had made, led by the evil paladin of Shar, Strix momentarily fell under a fear spell that made her envision the rest of the Crew as being dead and herself left abandoned once again. Strix also saw Evilyn make out with evil Diath, and she sent a fireball at them out of jealousy, even though that emotion confused her.[14]

Character Development II (spoilers for season 4) Edit

When the Crew fought over the best course of action to take against Aremag the dragon-turtle, Strix's impulse was to try and save the items the Crew tossed overboard as tribute, even though this only angered the monster further. She dove into the ocean and risked her life to return one of Diath's keys to him. The Crew continued to argue in the aftermath of the bomb, and frustrated with all of them, she refused healing from Evelyn and turned herself into a swarm of rats to escape. She was particularly hurt when Paultin remarked that Strix had "gotten us killed more than anything", and commented wryly when she had cooked his fish that it seemed there were some flames she could control. Despite this, Simon tried to comfort Strix and indicated that he didn't hold any grudges towards her. Strix tried to mend her relationship with Paultin, tag-teaming with him against the storm giants to counter their magic, and later lent him her magic staff to fly on, since he had lost his mandolin. She also tried to restore Diath's confidence, making him a captain's hat and telling him that "the only place that ever feels like home is wherever you are."

When Magnus let them rent his house, rather than find her own room, Strix slept on the floor in Diath's. She began decorating the house with body parts she had collected from their past kills, which got the attention of the City Watch, who had reports of her going through people's garbage. After clearing her name and agreeing to register as a magic user to defend Waterdeep, she also helped the Crew investigate a shambling mound that had taken on the form of a trash golem. They learned the creature was animated by magical symbols written on the back of news-sheets called 'The Little Birdie', which caused her to have a nightmare where she remembered scaring off a kenku when she had been living on the streets. When Mercykillers arrived to take her to Sigil, Rosie was able to distract them until the Crew and C Team found themselves taken in by the mists of a domain of dread. Both groups were then reunited in Nightstone as the city fell under attack by hordes of demons and devils. The Skizziks demanded that Strix go with them, and then sent their kazram to take her by force. Strix was dismayed to see that the kazram wore helmets with a crescent shape and the seven runes she had always considered to have been her own invention. Finally when Asmodeus showed up, he considered physically separating Strix and Diath by sending them to different planes, but agreed to Rosie's solution of Strix being adopted into the Beestinger clan, which would dissociate her from the conditions in the Ashtown Concordance. Afterwards, Strix felt the dread she had carried with her since birth finally lift from her shoulders (although she later learned from a tiefling banker that the Beestingers are also a nefarious crime family).[15] She began to relax, drinking and playfully animating chairs with Paultin, and decided to finally choose a room for herself. She also found purpose in converting Trollskull Manor into a bakery, hiring three applicants to join her Chickenfoot Coven to help her bake and "learn magic". When a spiritual therapist came to visit, Strix had hoped it would make her friends reveal their many secrets, especially since Strix claimed that she herself had none. She freely explained that the purpose of her baking was to make Diath happy, since she had noticed how sad he looked. Ironically, although she assumed it would be reassuring for Diath to see how strong and independent she was becoming, Diath revealed that he felt he was no longer needed by the group and worried that they would soon abandon him. Everyone denied this, and Strix explained that her new goal was to solve problems and help others, bringing up Diath's missing soul piece and how she wants to recover it. However, she was hurt that her advice didn't seem to matter for most things, such as in the renovation plans for their manor. When Diath was later arrested as a suspect in the murder of Father Sunbright, she panicked and sought help from the Blackstaff wizard, a position she had always idolized and somewhat coveted. Although the Blackstaff did try to convince Omin to intervene on Diath's behalf behind the scenes, Strix was not told this. Even so, when she became angry at the outcome of Diath's trial, she chose to seek shelter at the Blackstaff tower rather than return home. She was later able to sneak into his cell as a rat and give him a pie and the magical feather to comfort him. When Diath returned early to the Waffle House, Strix was at first suspicious, poking him to be sure he wasn't a simulacrum. He was in fact Plurio the doppleganger, and was able to read minds and fool the Crew into thinking he was Diath. He even tenderly pressed a hand to Strix's face, which caused her to blush furiously and hide, worrying she was sick from a curse. She agreed to go with Paultin and Evelyn to set up a performance at the Gralhund estate, but they were ambushed by Zhentarim and their leader, Manshoon. She was able to teleport everyone to safety using word of recall. When Diath learned Plurio had caressed Strix, he became merciless in his interrogation, eventually killing the doppelganger. Strix was preoccupied preparing for an inspection of her kitchen by the Waterdeep Baker's Guild, and Ulkoria, the coven's silent business partner, revealed to Strix that Simon could be changed to a human boy with a permanent polymorph spell. Strix asked Ulkorria if it was possible for Diath's caress to have cursed her, but the dwarf impatiently replied that such touching was normal. When human Simon began pointing out the Crew's true feelings for each other, Strix did not outright deny it, but told Simon it was wrong to share his family's secrets.

Notable equipment (spoilers for season 4) Edit

  • Staff of the Horned Crescent[16] - black wooden staff with upward facing crescent at the top, marked with runes. Original staff was unmarked, which young Strix found useful for prodding corpses out of pools in Sigil.[17] Newest version can change form to a flying broom, cauldron, pan, quill with green ink, owlbear plushie, fishing pole or lantern
  • magical feather - a feather that Diath had Purloque enchant to give the bearer the feeling of being hugged. Strix returned it to Diath to comfort him during his imprisonment
  • a small handful of Strahd Prime's ashes, some of which she licked
  • Heward's Handy Spice Pouch - a gift Strix discovered left for her behind the bar in the Waffle House.
  • Mr. Fox's spectacles - pink-tinted glasses owned by the arcanaloth known as "Mr. Fox" (retrieved by the Sewn Sisters for the Crew. Strix's examination identified them as a Gate Key)
  • Shemeshka's spellbook, i.e. 'X the Mystic's Arcane Grimoire' (according to Shemeshka, it was stolen from her by Mr. Fox. It was retrieved by the Sewn Sisters, but Strix is unable to read it)
  • 2 magical rings taken off the eyestalks of the Xanathar's corpse
  • Nar'l Xibrindas's spell book - a book written so that only wizards can read it
  • magical pocket watch (can stop time for 2 seconds before it becomes too hot to hold; bought by the C Team from an Underdark merchant)[11] (the effect turns out to last much longer and not affect elves)
  • piece of cloth cut from the robes of the Shadowfell's representative of Death
  • two gold coins salvaged from the remnants of a shadar-kai assassin's victim souvenirs
  • mummified raven's claw[3] (used as a scent for Meathook to track a location filled with death)
  • varnished basilisk's eye [3]
  • black wooden pipe that creates skull-shaped puffs of smoke [3]
  • ring of protection +1 (blessed by St. Markovia)(given to Omin Dran to help resurrect Evelyn, but instead was packed with his things and later passed on to the C-Team)[18]
  • potion of stone to flesh (bought by the C Team from an Underdark merchant to reanimate Samite the duergar warrior)[11] (Samite's arm was broken off during the tavern's collapse, and he was left behind there as a statue). (Strix ended up using the potion to reanimate a petrified Evelyn in episode 110. The potion even filled in the pieces that were missing after the statue had shattered and been reassembled, similarly restoring the max hit points that had been stolen from her)
  • broom of animated attack ("Whisky") (broken)
  • Driftglobe (lost; tossed at Strahd in episode 58)
  • Iron flask (can hold extra-planar beings once activated by a specific word, and force them to obey commands for one hour upon release) (lost or sold)[19]
  • tiny book about etiquette and manners given to Evelyn by her mother, along with a lucky four-leaf clover, bequeathed to Strix[20] (clover was stuffed into a potion by Strix, and the book was buried in Barovia as Evelyn's makeshift grave and now likely decomposed)[21]
  • A little black book that records your dreams, and yours alone, when you sleep (likely lost) [2]
  • Hag potions of laughter (likely lost), youth (used on Diath) and "mother's milk" (given to Dee)
  • One of a magical pair of scrolls that allow changes or messages on one to appear on the other. Also adapted by a spell to allow small objects to be sent through the scrolls. Used by young Strix and Reader to communicate on the "Trapped in the Birdcage" series, but likely lost over time.[1]

Trivia Edit

  • Strix's current character page on D&D Beyond is found here
  • Holly had said that Strix's favorite color is probably grey[22]
  • Holly reminded fans that Strix's skin is more grey than how she portrays her in her cosplays (she just doesn't like wearing body paint) and has white freckles, with some scars from her early adventuring days[22]
  • Holly has written an extended background for Strix, preceded by this story and followed by this short vignette.
  • Holly has written about Strix's thoughts and experiences during episode 58 here and here.
  • In the Trapped in the Birdcage Season 1 finale, the characters noticed a shard of amethyst in the hand of Imbris's corpse. Strix wrote to Reader that Imbris sent her through a portal and still had the key. Fans have speculated that this may be related to the amethyst that Diath found in an enemy lair and later turned into a pendant.[1]

References Edit

[1] Trapped in the Birdcage, Episode 11. YouTube.

[2] Strix's character sheet: level 4.

[3] Strix's character sheet: level 9

[4] Waffle Talk: Discussing Dice, Camera, Action Episode 78.

[5] DCA Episode 7.

[6] DCA Episode 16.

[7] DCA Episode 73.

[8] DCA Episode 78.

[9] Acquisitions Incorporated Episode list. Penny Arcade.

[10] "I'm Holly! I play Strix! I know Magic! AMA!" DCA Reddit.

[11] Strix's Sorcerous Origin. DCA Reddit.

[12] Acquisitions Inc: C Team: S2 E7. Penny Arcade Website.

[13] Holly Conrad and Anna Prosser Robinson on Dice, Camera, Action's Third Season and the Dungeons & Dragons Livestream Experience. SyFy Wire.

[14] https://i.imgur.com/CoaxIAv.jpg. DCA ep 90 Twitch chat.

[15] Aquisitions Inc: Switcharoo. Penny Arcade.

[16] https://twitter.com/HollyConrad/status/944689632079261696

[17] Tapped in the Birdcage, Ep 6. Twitch.com.

[18] https://twitter.com/AcqIncUpdates/status/991841987014819841

[19] https://mobile.twitter.com/hollyconrad/status/958376911742255104

[20] DCA Episode 52.

[21] https://imgur.com/aGEg9eQ. DCA Discord.

[22] DCA AMA Session