Episode 102: Ghosts, Dinosaurs, and Stuff
Wow what an episode! Matt gives the party no time to think, immediately rolling initiative against the Specter.. Underestimating the danger of the situation, Beau tries some dope monk shit but immediately gets dropped unconscious with one glance into the Specter’s gaping mouth hole. Yasha, Fjord and Jester leap into action to protect Beau and defend against the –. Viridian joins the fight with a devastating lightning strike that sparks a more intense retaliation from the Nein. Beau finally gets to land a few ghost punches in while Fjord gets the HDYWTDT.
Viridian leads the Nein to a safe place to rest. Yasha, feeling particularly tender, carries an exhausted Beau in a scene that was every fan artists dream. Fjord asks Jester and Caduceus for some help with an idea he got from helping Jester heal from a mosquito disease. He thinks that maybe they can do a more powerful version on Viridian to restore her memory.
Viridian interrupts their conversation with a warning that something big is coming. The Nein hide in the foliage just as a massive drow-like demonic Draegloth bursts through the tree line. Like a scene out of Jurassic Park, the Draegloth appears to be running…from something much larger and more dangerous. Suddenly, a large lizard-like creature with shrunken forearms and razor sh-it’s a T-Rex, let’s just call it what it is, comes barreling into the Draegloth ripping its head off its body and roaring triumphantly. (cue dramatic dinosaur music). With some quick thinking from Caduceus, a diversion throws the T-Rex off the scent and the Nein escape a dino battle…for now.
Viridian finally leads the group to the entrance of Vokodo’s lair. She warns that the path is dangerous and will take some careful planning. Stepping inside, the air is hot and acrid, burning their lungs. The group hold their breath and climb down the ledge to an underground lake. The going is painful and harrowing, but the Nein are mighty adventurers, even Sprinkle the weasel is somehow surviving the inhospitable nightmare. The Nein, still holding their breath, dive underwater trying to get as far as possible on their precious air. At a near drowning point, one of them gives in and takes a breath of water, expecting the worst but miraculously realizing they can breath this water. After the novelty of the moment wears off, the aquatic Nein continue on to the heart of the lair.
Viridian calls to Vokodo, bringing him out to see the newcomers, A dark, shadowy tentacled shape moves in the deep corners of the lair. His voice calls out in their minds. ” Look upon the Lord of Exandria. Look upon the center of the world and kneel.” Vokodo demands offerings and the Nein begin to throw trinkets, baubles, and gold pieces up towards the shape on the ceiling. Inky black tentacles, almost too fast to see, scoop up the treasure, but Vokodo is a greedy beastie and demands something more precious of the group. Unimpressed with their paltry offerings, the water begins to boil around the group, finally leading to some big league offerings. Fjord holds up his Stormbreaker falchion as a gift, Caleb gives 10 platinum and his precious concealing medallion leaving him vulnerable to the Academy’s prying eyes. Caduceus offers his parapet of wound healing and loses a beetle armor shield made by his dear sister in the process, Yasha her Skingorger, Nott loses…so so much, a diamond, her gold, her flask, a gun held for some long con future joke, and finally as a pity move from Caleb a magical Driftglobe. Jester hands over beautiful elven chain mail, and Beau somehow gets off by offering a giant bag of Suude (Do you spice?).
Finally pleased with the offerings, Vokodo tells the group to GTFO and releases the Nein with the instruction to return with more offerings soon. The Nein quickly backtrack out of the lair and regroup in a safe place for the evening. A bit shaken and definitely lighter than they were when they went in, the group settles in for the night. In the dwindling firelight, Caduceus decides to enact Fjord’s plan and slyly reaches out towards Viridian and casts Greater Restoration. A moment of shock, then a dark realization pass over her face as she suddenly realizes she and her whole village are trapped on this island.
Where do I even start with this episode?! After complaining that last episode was too slow for my taste, I feel like I got three episodes in one this week. For sanity’s sake, let’s start all the way back at the beginning.
As if this period of time isn’t stressful enough, just seconds before the stream was supposed to go live on Twitch, the server crashed and Critical Role’s channel went dark. After 10 minutes of panic and anxiety the technical difficulties were repaired and the stream remained solid all night. Whew.
Before we even get into the episode, we were blessed with another “episode’ of Sam’s (cough Black WIllow73 cough) Nord VPN “Haxorz” skit. It involved Sam and Laura, a green screen, incredible acting, and a surprise cameo by darklord Taliesin as a new hacker in this bizarre story line. Just as magical as the puppet shows that happen before every Yee Haw Game Ranch show.
Finally we get to some game play! The action picks up right away with Beau staring down the creepy slenderman Specter and immediately gets dropped by a nasty energy drain spell. The cast recognizes that they are definitely in for more than they bargained for. I leapt out of my seat when Beau went down, and didn’t sit back down until Jester, Fjord, and Yasha surrounded her and pumped a few healing spells into her. I love that we are getting into the more dangerous encounters now that we’re at level 12.
As if a ghost fight wasn’t enough action for one episode, the group immediately get thrown into a second encounter. We see another mysteriously out of place creature as the Draegloth pops out of the trees. This creature, a twisted Drow body melded into demon form, should theoretically live only in the underdark, yet here it is… above ground…fleeing from a T-Rex. What even is Rumblecusp? Is this purgatory?
For all the ship makers out there I’ll throw in one adorable sentence about the Yasha and Beau moment that explains the YouTube episode thumbnail. It was cute. A sweet peaceful moment in the chaos.
Now, the Vokodo encounter. The lair seemed awful-poison air, boiling water, dangerous fire plane flora. Not a happy place. Part of the group falls into a sort of excited trance that seemed like some sort of creature or lair effect from Vokodo. Gave me the goosebumps. Then, we finally get to see this “god of the island” only to realize it is most definitely a sinister being tied to this plane in an unknown way. The Nein play nice through this encounter as the Critters watches them give away so many precious items. I can only assume they gave these items up with the knowledge they’d throw down with Vokodo at some point and get every piece and penny back.
Finally, FINALLY we get to the Viridian/ Vilya Greater Restoration bomb drop. THis was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever seen in a DnD game. I probably say that a lot, but I mean it this time. Sam Riegel has been dethroned as king of the long con. Mercer has held on to that through five years of game play and who knows how long in their home game. What an emotional load off the shoulders! And thank goodness Matt never finished the episode outro and we could see the genuine cast reactions to the reveal!
For those uninitiated. Viridian/Vilya is the mother of Keyleth (Marisha’s episode 1 character) who went missing during a years long journey to prove her worth to as future ruler of her people. In episode 88 of campaign 1 Keyleth discovers that her mother fought a Kraken and supposedly perished as all they found of her was a leg. The hints that Viridian was Keyleyth mother were there all along. Half-elven druid, natural born leader, about the right age, missing a leg and conveniently missing a backstory. For those Critters who don’t watch with chat on Twitch (understandable, chat can be wack) or catch up on YouTube, this revelation may have come as a complete surprise and you probably had the same reaction as the rest of the cast.
This leads me to my one minor, teeny tiny nagging question from this weeks episode. Would we have gotten the same reaction in the same way if Sam hadn’t read the chat when he did? In all fairness, even when he knew, he didn’t spoil it and let the scene play out as naturally as he could. Although, Liam did spread the word by trying to text message Marisha before the fateful spell. I personally am grateful she didn’t see the text message and we didn’t have an interruption in the role play. Metagaming was kept to a minimum and we were left with this beautiful, genuine Arsequeef gif set. Oh, and for those who are still stumped as to how Sam read chat while filming a pre-recorded episode, the general consensus is that Critical Role still films on Thursdays and Sam was checking the stream of the previous week’s game when he saw the spoiler.
We can only hope this epic moment will lead to an even more epic reunion as imagined in this gorgeous art by Twitter user @heyshannuckles. It’s probably not realistic to have Marisha role play as Keyleth if a future meeting were to happen. Most likely, the Nein will bring Vilya to a safe harbor and wish her luck in future travels and we’ll have to keep this artwork alive in our imaginations. Although, we are still owed a crossover Mighty Nein V Vox Machina epiosde per Kickstarter fundraising. We can all dream of the Nein meeting the Tal Dorei council and helping Vilya find her way home.
Don’t Miss It
Critical Role has released next week’s streaming schedule, which means we get the long-waited Travis WIllingham episode of Narrative Telephone, AND another episode of Campaign 2. Looks like the new shut down hasn’t effected the crew’s shooting schedule! (crossing fingers, knocking wood)
Jester’s playlist was also released late last week. True to Laura Bailey’s personality the playlist is simultaneously soul crushingly cute and emotionally layered.
If ever there was a need for Talks Machina, it would have been after this episode. Sadly, there is still no word on the after show no body asked for but everybody loves. There will be much catching up to do when this show returns.