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Introduction

Kiss my ass, you sanctimonious bastard.

—Merle, to John

Merle Hitower Highchurch is a player character in The Balance Arc campaign controlled by Clint McElroy. He is a beach dwarf cleric and former mercenary soldier with a neutral good alignment who enjoys long walks on the beach.

He was formerly associated with Marthammor Duin, the dwarf god of wanderers, travelers, and outcasts; and a Disciple of Life, but switched his allegiance to the nature god Pan at the conclusion of the Moonlighting mini-arc.[1] He is from a big family of the Rockseeker clan with many cousins.

History Edit

Early Life Edit

Merle comes from a wooded enclave away from most of society. He was born into a Panite commune, and comes from a religious family of beach dwarves. Merle's father, who was also a Panite, had forced him to many religious functions, every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, Summer Pan Camp etc. which Merle did not enjoy, but dealt with it so he wouldn't disappoint his father or get grounded. Because of this, his religion is something he's inherited and therefore has mixed feelings on Pan.

Sometime during his teen years, a person in Merle's enclave would barely survive a bear attack. This would lead to his first experience of being somewhere outside his enclave, when he came to a woodsman living in the nearby forest in search of ways to protect himself from danger. For many years after, Merle would be taught in the ways of ax-wielding by this woodsman.

The Stolen Century Edit

Feeling that the Panites around him were too exclusive, Merle would leave his enclave in search of greener pastures. During that time, he ended up getting a job at the Institute of Planar Research and Exploration as its Resident Medic and Biologist. He would later be chosen as one of the lucky seven to leave their home world, and explore other planes besides their own.

Before leaving their home world, the crew goes to a biker bar to party and fight. After a fight inevitably does break out, Merle hides Lucretia behind the counter and tries to put a stop to it before it gets too bad. He succeeds, but not without getting a small cut on his forehead from a flying bottle.

On the day of the launch, Merle chose to wear the red jacket. As the storm starts to consume their world, the crew catches sight of The Hunger. They decide to evade and not return until after the danger has passed. When they touch back down, they realize they're not in the same plane they left.

Cycle One Edit

After the Red Robes land onto The Animal Kingdom, they see The Light of Creation crash-land somewhere on it. Merle leaves to scout out its current location, and brings Davenport along to help him out. After a long, tedious trek through the forest[2], they find out that The Light of Creation is being held by the High Court of The Animal Kingdom. After relaying this information to the others, the crew goes back with Magnus to try and gain access to The Light of Creation. After causing a scene, Magnus and the rest of the crew enter the animal's High Court.

After a year of negotiating and gaining their trust, the Red Robes almost manage to get The Light of Creation from the High Court. Unfortunately, The Hunger attacks The Animal Kingdom before they can retrieve it, and they are forced to make a hasty retreat. As they leave, they watch The Hunger become stronger as it absorbs The Light of Creation.

Unhappily Married Edit

Later on in his life, Merle would end up in an arranged, loveless marriage with his now somewhat ex-wife, Hekuba Roughridge, in order to keep the dwarven bloodline pure. Hekuba had had a daughter named Mavis with another dwarf before marrying Merle. During their marriage, Merle and his wife would have a son named Mookie. After years of putting up with each other, Merle ended up abandoning his family, saying he was going to the Dwarf Store to get smokes and never looking back. Because they never properly divorced, Merle is still legally married to Hekuba and is now a "dwarf on the run".

Lone Adventuring Edit

Merle has stated he's been on other adventures before joining up with Taako and Magnus, the details of which are unknown.

Here There Be Gerblins Edit

Merle introduced the party to his cousin Gundren Rockseeker, who offered them the job that began the quest.

Epilogue Edit

After defeating The Hunger, Merle began Merle Extreme Teen Adventures as a way to prepare the next generation of adventurers and travel with his children. 11 months after the Day of Story and Song, he was approached by Lord Artemis Sterling who wanted him to become the governor of Bottlenose Cove and help it get back on its feet after it was destroyed by the Hunger; Merle agreed on the conditions that he be called "Earl" not Governor, he be allowed to continue his work with his adventure company, and that a bar named Chesney's would be built for him. Shortly after, Merle moved into his new estate, which was located next to a guild hall being built for his company.

One year after defeating The Hunger, he officiated the wedding between Killian and Carey Fangbattle.

Powers and Abilities Edit

Racial Traits Edit

  • Darkvision: Merle had the ability to see with no light source at all, but gave it up during the mission in Wonderland.
  • Poison Resistance: As a dwarf, Merle has advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance to poison damage (which Clint and Griffin forget on almost every occasion).

Class Features Edit

Cleric Edit

  • Channel Divinity
    • Nature - Used mostly to hit on plants.
    • Turn Undead - Merle can present his holy symbol and speak a prayer censuring the undead. Each undead that can see or hear him within 30 feet of him must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.
  • Destroy Undead: When an undead fails its saving throw against Merle's Turn Undead feature, the creature has the possibility of being instantly destroyed.
  • Divine Intervention: Merle can call on Pan to intervene on his behalf when the need is great. If Merle rolls a number equal to or lower than his cleric level, Pan intervenes. Griffin chooses the nature of the intervention, and the effect of any cleric spell or cleric domain spell that would be appropriate.

Proficiencies Edit

  • Animal Handling Proficiency
  • Battle Axe Proficiency: Given up during the mission in Wonderland.

Spells Edit

The following are the spells known by Merle.

Please note, that most low-level spells can be cast at an additionally higher level for a stronger effect.

Cantrips Edit

Cantrips are spells which can be cast at any time. Merle knows 6 of these.

Name Synopsis School Number of Times Used Episodes Used
Light You touch one object that is no larger than 10 feet in any dimension. Until the spell ends, the object sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. Evocation
Prestidigitation You create a shower of sparks, clean or soil a small object, print a symbol or color, etc. Transmutation Ep. 4
Thaumaturgy You manifest a minor wonder, a sign of supernatural power, within range. Transmutation Ep. 4
Sacred Flame Flame-like radiance descends on a creature that you can see within range. Evocation
Thorn Whip You create a long, vine-like whip covered in thorns that lashes out at your command toward a creature in range. Transmutation
Spare the Dying You touch a living creature that has 0 hit points. The creature becomes stable. Necromancy 1 Ep. 16
Mending This spell can physically repair a magic item or construct. Transmutation

1st - 6th Level Level Edit

Name Synopsis Level School Number of Times Used Episodes Used
Augury By casting gem-inlaid sticks, rolling dragon bones, laying out ornate cards, or employing some other divining tool, you receive an omen from an otherworldly entity about the results of a specific course of action that you plan to take within the next 30 minutes. 2nd-level Divination
Healing Word A creature of your choice that you can see within range regains hit points equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier.

At higher levels, when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the healing increased by 1d4 for each slot level above 1st.

1st-level Evocation
Prayer of Healing Up to six creatures of your choice that you can see within range each regain hit points equal to 2d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier.

At higher levels, when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the healing increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 2nd.

2nd-level Evocation
Guardian of Faith A Large spectral guardian appears and hovers for the duration in an unoccupied space of your choice that you can see within range. Takes the form of Della Reese 4th-level Conjuration
Shield of Faith A shimmering field appears and surrounds a creature of your choice within range, granting it a +2 bonus to AC for the duration. 1st-level Abjuration
Zone of Truth You create a magical zone that guards against deception in a 15-foot-radius sphere centered on a point of your choice within range. (Merle's specialty!) 2nd-level Enchantment
Insect Plague Swarming, biting locusts fill a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point you choose within range. The sphere spreads around corners. 5th-level Conjuration
Locate Object The spell can locate the nearest object of a particular kind, such as a certain kind of apparel, jewelery, furniture, tool, or weapon. 2nd-level Divination
Silence For the duration, no sound can be created within or pass through a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point you choose within range. 2nd-level Illusion
Clairvoyance You create an invisible sensor within range in a location familiar to you (a place you have visited or seen before) or in an obvious location that is unfamiliar to you (such as behind a door, around a corner, or in a grove of trees). 3rd-level Divination
Calm Emotions You attempt to suppress strong emotions in a group of people. 2nd-level Enchantment
Enhance Ability You touch a creature and bestow upon it a magical enhancement. 2nd-level Transmutation
Guiding Bolt A flash of light streaks toward a creature of your choice within range. 1st-level Evocation
Spiritual Weapon You create a floating, spectral weapon within range that lasts for the duration or until you cast this spell again. 2nd-level Evocation
Meld into Stone You step into a stone object or surface large enough to fully contain your body, melding yourself and all the equipment you carry with the stone for the duration. 3rd-level Transmutation
Dispel Magic You end the effects of any 3rd level or lower spell. 3rd-level Abjuration
Banishment You attempt to send one creature that you can see within range to another plane of existence. 4th-level Abjuration
Commune You contact your deity or a divine proxy and ask up to three questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You must ask your questions before the spell ends. You receive a correct answer for each question. 5th-level Divination
Spirit Guardians You call forth spirits to protect you. 3rd-level Conjuration
Protection from Poison You touch a creature. If it is poisoned, you neutralize the poison. 2nd-level Abjuration
Stone Shape You touch a stone object of Medium size or smaller or a section of stone no more than 5 feet in any dimension and form it into any shape that suits your purpose. 4th-level Transmutation
Flame Strike A vertical column of divine fire roars down from the heavens in a location you specify. 5th-level Evocation
Mass Healing Word As you call out words of restoration, up to six creatures of your choice that you can see within range regain hit points equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier.

At higher level, when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the healing increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 3rd.

3rd-level Evocation
Find Traps You sense the presence of any trap within range that is within line of sight. 2nd-level Divination
Legend Lore Name or describe a person, place, or object. The spell brings to your mind a brief summary of the significant lore about the thing you named. 5th-level Divination
Command For the duration, you understand the literal meaning of any spoken language that you hear. You also understand any written language that you see, but you must be touching the surface on which the words are written. 1st-level Enchantment
Mass Cure Wounds A wave of healing energy washes out from a point of your choice within range. Choose up to six creatures in a 30-foot-radius sphere centred on that point. 5th-level Conjuration
Aid Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve. 2nd-level Abjuration
Geas You place a magical command on a creature that you can see within range, forcing it to carry out some service or refrain from some action or course of activity as you decide. 5th-level Enchantment 1 Ep. 49
Wind Wall A wall of strong wind rises from the ground at a point you choose within range. 3rd-level Evocation
Sanctuary You ward a creature within range against attack. 1st-level Abjuration
Planar Ally You beseech an otherworldly entity for aid. 6th-level Conjuration 1 Ep. 56
Blade Barrier You create a vertical wall of whirling, razor-sharp blades made of magical energy. 6th-level Evocation 1 Ep.69

"I cast... Zone of Truth!" Edit

Merle's favorite spell is Zone of Truth, and he casts it often. Some examples:

  • Ep. 5: Baby's first Zone of Truth. Merle casts Zone of Truth on Gundren Rockseeker and, unintentionally, Magnus and Taako.
  • Ep. 12: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Angus during their first meeting.
  • Ep. 14: Merle casts Zone of Truth on the suspects of the murder on the Rockport Limited during interrogations.
  • Ep. 21: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Hurley in order to learn more about Sloane.
  • Ep. 27: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Sloane to try to get information on how to free her from the sash's possession.
  • Ep. 45: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Cassidy to get her to tell them the truth about the Quarry.
  • The Adventure Zone Presents: The Live Boston Stunt Spectacular: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Klarg to make him confess his true feelings about the boys.
  • Ep. 59: Merle casts Zone of Truth on Taako in order to gain Angus's trust.
  • Ep. 68: Merle casts Zone of Truth during Parley, unintentionally summoning Pan.
  • The Adventure Zone: Live in Austin!: Merle casts Zone of Truth on a bleacher full of students in order to determine which one of them trapped them in the dreamscape.

Items Edit

Items both currently owned and lost by Merle throughout the show.[3]

Current items Edit

These are items currently within Merle's possession as of the most recent episode.

Item Episode Acquired Item Type Notes
"Smoosher," the War Hammer 1 Weapon
Water skin 1 Tool Given in Ep. 1, discovered Ep. 3
Hand Axe ("Lil' Choppy") 1 Weapon A small hand axe. Existence somewhat debated.
Adventurer's Kit (minus crowbar) 1 Tool See "former items" below
Bracer of Balance 9 Magical Artifact On Merle's left arm, which, given what happens later to his right, is a good thing.
True Heart Clasp 9 Magical Artifact; Jewelry From the Fantasy Gatchapon machine; assists on insight checks (lie detection)
Extreme Teen Bible 9 Tool; Magical Artifact Purchased from Fantasy Costco; enhances spells
Rusted Compass 16 Trinket; Enchanted/Haunted Item Finds Treasure
Ring of Recall 17 Magical Artifact; Jewlry Purchased at Fantasy Costco; helps Merle recover lost spell slots on a fail
Slippies of Haste 17 Armor/Clothing; Enchanted/Haunted Item Advantage on all initiative rolls; fuzzy slippers with wings
Owl Mask 23 Armor/Clothing Gifted by Hurley
Physician's Pendant 28 Jewelry From the Fantasy Gatchapon machine; saves a healing spell slot
The Nitpicker 28 Enchanted/Haunted Item; Tool Purchased from Fantasy Costco; opens locks while nitpicking
Phone-a-friend Scrying Bones 28 Magical Artifact Used to ask DM a question
Iron-on badge 29 Candlenights Gift? Dark blue circles, iron on; twelve circles around the outside; unreadable language in the center; comes with note that reads "For Your Eyes Only"
Potty Chair 29 Candlenights Gift Gift from Magnus
"Caleb Cleveland, Kid Cop" Book 29 Candlenights Gift Gift from Angus
Airplane Bottles of Booze 29 Candlenights Gift Gift from Avi
Awareness Frames 40 Enchanted/Haunted Item; Armor/Clothing Nerd-ass looking glasses; thick, boxy, brown tortoise shell; +2 to Perception/Investigation
Mathias, the Living Grimoire 40 Magical artifact; Tool Clockwork owl that allows a wizard to prep a spell they don't have once per day
Pan Chic Tracts 40 Document Merle has unending supply.
Strongmouse's Laughing Amulet 40 Jewelry; Enchanted/Haunted Item Laughing face; wearer taps twice, then throws a stinger at the defeated enemy; If DM thinks joke is funny, you get a recharge of your abilities; if the DM hates the joke, it strikes you with lightning
Cockroach Mandible 33 Weapon Taken from giant cockgroach
Boyland's Axe 33 Weapon Covered in Boyland's kids' names
9-second Back-Up Ball 47 Magical artifact Gift of the Goddess Istus
Broom of Flying 50 Enchanted/Haunted Item Wooden broom; can carry 400 lbs; flies 50 ft; can be fetched remotely; activation words: "Hang Ten!"
Ring of the Grammarian 50 Jewelry; Magical artifact Allows user to change a letter in a spell once per day ("Cause Fear" becomes "Cause Bear")
Gilley 66 Weapon; Stick A magical wooden stick with a leather cup on the handle that was created by Merle himself; Imbued with Arcane Assurance, which means he can spend two spell slots in order to gain advantage on the spell he's casting.
Plastic Sheriff's Badge 68 Trinket; Enchanted/Haunted Item Gives user a false authority on bluff rolls; Given to Angus by Taako who then gave it to Merle.

Former Items Edit

These are items which were lost or given away.

Item Episode Acquired Episode Lost Item type Notes
Holy Symbol 1 9 Magical Artifact Sold when for the Extreme Teen Bible when Merle updated his religion
Emmanuel the Crowbar 1 19 Tool Part of Adventurer's Kit, lost to the vines in the elevator shaft
Jade Frog Statuette 3 9 Trinket Sold to Fantasy Costco
Map of Wave Echo Cave 3 8 Document Made of Merle's Blood; lost like everything else in Phandalin
Scuttle Buddy 9 16 Tool Purchased from Fantasy Costco; listens in on conversations; super cute; lost in train crash
Stone of Far Speech 9 57 Tool Gifted from Magnus to Merle; Fantasy walkie-talkie. Destroyed by Barry Bluejeans.
Hammerhead Uniform 22 22 Armor/Clothing Disguises stolen from sleeping Hammerhead gang members
Safety Harness 23 23 Armor/Clothing Used in Battle Wagon Race
Cheerwine 28 28 Food and Drink +5 to max HP, drunk; Merle had another can of (non-magical) Cheerwine that was lost during the Battle Wagon Race (ripped off with door)
Old Meat 44 44 Food and Drink Fed to underground bug creatures
Music Box 29 29 Trinket Music box the size of a lemon; made of bronze; with some of Johan's music; Merle re-gifted his to the Director
Whetstone 29 29 Tool Gift from Killian; personalized, shaped like a duck; Merle re-gifted this to Angus
Trick Tract 29 29 Document Given to Avi
Pick Axe 44 44 Tool Held temporarily during Ep. 44 while in the mine
Root Beer Barrels (candy) 49 49 & 50 Food and Drink Grody gift from Cassidy; gifted to both Istus and Mookie
Adamant Spanner 23 54 Tool; Enchanted/Haunted Item Imbued with charges of spell "Repair"; Functions as +1 mace; Gifted by Hurley; Lost to the Wheel of Sacrifice in Wonderland
Wedding ring Unknown amount of time 54 Jewelry Merle claims he "always had it" and that it contains his last happy memory of his family, which he abandoned; Lost to the Wheel of Sacrifice in Wonderland

Official Outfits Edit

Usually, Merle is dressed as a typical dwarf cleric who is also a follower of Pan.

Outfit Name Description Arc Used
The Owl Merle takes on the racing persona of the Owl, complete with a mask featuring white feathers and a cracked yellow beak. Petals to the Metal
Safety First Everyone, even Steven, gets a null suit to counteract the crystallization of Lucas's lab. The Crystal Kingdom
Jortpurs In Ep. 41, the gang goes to Fantasy Costco and Merle gets jodhpurs, cut right above the knee and secured with garters, in black, green, and red plaid. Jortpurs. The Eleventh Hour 
Pinstripe! In The Adventure Zone Presents: The Live Boston Stunt Spectacular, Merle takes on the persona of Pinstripe. He is resplendent in a sleazy pinstripe suit with a lot of chains. The Chaos Stadium
IPRE uniform In Ep. 60, Merle excitedly chooses the jacket instead of the robe. The uniforms are "crisp and bright red" with the IPRE logo on the left breast pocket. The Stolen Century

Known Physical Traits Edit

Disclaimer: The McElroys do not consider their versions of their characters any more "canon" than anyone else's - there is no obligation to stick to these in fanart, so please do not be rude to people for ignoring these traits.

Trait Episode Mentioned / Introduced
Has a beard Episode 10
Kenny Chesney face tattoo (right butt cheek ) Episode 10
"She thinks my [image of a tractor]'s sexy" tattoo (left butt cheek) Episode 10
Has a tonsure Episode 11
Fat Episode 21
Has a wooden right arm with four fingers (after introduction) During / Post Episode 34
3ft 6in tall Episode 50
Hazel Eyes (before) / Gray Eyes (after) Episode 52
Missing left eye Episode 54
Older than Magnus and Taako Frequently referred to

Deaths and Major Injuries Edit

Unconscious Count Edit

Merle has been knocked unconscious 4 times.

  1. Knocked unconscious by Sloane in the Goldcliff bank.
  2. Fell into unconsciousness after having his arm chopped off by Magnus.
  3. Knocked unconscious by Edward in Wonderland.
  4. Knocked unconscious by Final John in Ep. 69, before being revived by Pan.

Death Count Edit

Merle has died a total of 68 times.

  1. While he was traveling through other planes as a Red Robe, Merle died 57 times without crossing over to the Astral Plane, making him the richest bounty Kravitz has ever hunted. Here are some known ways he has died:
    1. Killed by John.
    2. Killed by John.
    3. Killed by John.
    4. Killed by John, but not without giving him a sick burn.
    5. Killed by the Justices in the 65th cycle.
  2. Merle died a total of 11 times during the events of The Eleventh Hour.

Trivia Edit

  • Merle has 1,999 party points.
  • His interests include Kenny Chesney and the hit Faerun TV show "The Bigg Bang Theory."
  • His basketball number is 29.
  • His favorite candy is marzipan.
  • His ascended dragon form is Krayphis, the Eternal Dragon.
  • Merle founded a church to Pan in the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Merle has confessed to having a plant fetish.[4]

References Edit

  1. Note that per later events in the story, this change appears to have been retroactive.
  2. Along with a reenactment of a certain Blazing Saddles scene.
  3. JimmyMarks
  4. Episode 65.
    Justice 1: You also harbor a desire for… arbor, that does not bear repeating.
    Merle: I’m pretty guilty of the arbor—ardor—

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