Episode 105: Rumble at Rumblecusp
The Nein continue to plan their encounter with Vokodo. Jester has a crazy idea and messages the Dragon Turtle to try and entice him to aid their fight by taking out Vokodo’s precious fleet and provoke an attack. Unfortunately, the Dragon Turtle is not quite convinced this endeavor is worth his time or effort and he ignores the bait.
The planning continues and the Nein finally land on the idea to try and blow up some of Vokodo’s ships by themselves and see what happens. Vilya, finally remembering that she has the ability to Travel Via Plants, brings the Nein back to their camp at Heaven’s Falls. The group spends the rest of the night having a Heroic feat of pancakes and sprinkle salads before resting for the night.
Yasha has a dream like vision during the night. She awakes in the eye of a lightning storm, reaching towards a drifting white feather. The Stormlord speaks to her, calling her to break free of her shackles once again. Yasha is finally able to muster the courage to face her torment head on and takes a full blast of lightning that sparks her wings back to an un-fallen state. beautiful white feathers sprout from Yasha’s remade wings and she is about to leap into flight when she hears a familiar voice. Her heart sinks, she knows this voice is her wife Zuala. Glancing down, she can see the figure of her lost beloved, beckoning her, calling out among the landscape of chains. Yasha briefly falters, reaching out to Zuala, then whispers “I have to go.” Leaping up into flight Yasha leaves her pains behind her and reaches up into a freedom she has never felt before. Zuala’s voice echoes in her mind, “I’m proud of you. Don’t let me be a shackle.”
The Nein all awake knowing that a battle lies ahead. Well, almost all of the Nein. Caleb has been affected by Vokodo’s thrall, though Jester quickly remedies the situation. The Nein make quick work of attempting to draw Vokodo from his lair. Caleb and Veth plant a bomb on one of his ships and swiftly sink it. Immediately the volcano reacts, erupting lava and ash. Vilya hopes her village will know what to do without her. Caleb tries again, firing up and sinking a second ship in an attempt to incite Vokodo, but only manages to set off more volcanic explosions.
Seeing no other choice, the Nein prepare to fight Vokodo in his lair. Fjord leads the way, and the Nein tumble into the familiar, boiling hot, watery hideout. Fearless Beau swims right on top of Vokodo and begins kick punching the beastie into submission. Yasha cannot resist Vokodo’s intense psychic abilities and spends almost the entire fight in a hypnotic trance. Veth tries a new approach by conjuring an imaginary portal into the astral plane to try and scare Vokodo into distraction. Fjord jumps in on this action and conjures a mini astral dreadnaut complete with haunting screeching and horrific growls. It’s super effective. Vokodo expends several crucial moments avoiding these imaginary nightmares, giving the Nein major opportunities to land serious damage.
Vilya realizes that Vokodo is able to ricochet and redirect spells against them when her Call Lightning attack inadvertently hurts Fjord and Jester instead of her target. Caleb tries the first attempt to Banish Vokodo, but using his redirecting ability, Vokodo is able to banish Beau into the Astral plane instead. Vokodo attempts to teleport away, but Caleb counterspells him into staying put.
It’s now Jester’s turn to try a Banishment, and again Vokodo manages to turn the spell against them. This time Caduceus is whisked away to a surreal few seconds in the Astral Sea. In desperation, Vokodo begins a devastating chain lightning attack, but another incredible counterspell defense from Caleb saves the Nein from taking any damage.
Jester uses Vokodo’s frustration and fear to once again attempt a Banishment. This time…it works! Frantically, the Nein try to protect Jester from taking too much damage during the full minute it will take to permanently banish Vokodo. The water in the lair is still boiling hot, but it’s not enough to break Jester’s concentration. With only six seconds left before the spell is complete, Jester and the others realize that Vokodo has taken all that shiny treasure with him to the Astral plane. Not able to resist the temptation or recouping their offerings, Jester drops the Banishment and the Nein launch a ferocious volley of attacks in a last ditch effort to take Vokodo down permanently.
Caleb, either unaware of the great risk or confident enough not to care, releases a lethal Disintegration spell right into Vokodo’s mouth. There’s a brief pause, and the air grows tense- who did the spell hit? His eyes glance carefully at each of his companions, looking for any sign his spell may have backfired. Suddenly, Vokodo begins to scream, a psychic blast exploding outward as the disintegration spell dissolves his body.
The blast sends the Nein reeling into a shared vision of the Astral plane. It’s strange… a city floats menacingly towards them. How can a city be so angry, so…hungry? The buildings seem to shudder and bend with a mind of their own. This is what terrified Vokodo beyond knowing. The city is filled with millions of minds, the minds are the city, all as one, the Eyes of Nine. We see Vokodo’s plane-shattering escape and then the vision ends. Their consciousness returns and they see an empty, still boiling, lair with Vokodo’s precious horde drifting to the cave floor.
This episode was fantastic! If you didn’t catch the live stream, then I’m sure the nearly 5 hour long episode length hinted at an intense episode. Finally, finally after all the planning, we got to see the showdown we’ve been waiting for. Though, it was short a dragon turtle in my opinion. We’ll get a kaiju battle one of these days, I can almost taste it.
The first half of the episode is mostly silly dialogue, teasing, more planning, message bombing Dieter the D Turt, and of course Yasha’s incredible dream sequence. This moment was the crown jewel of the pre break session. Mercer never ceased to amaze me with his ability to paint scenes so vividly with his descriptions and voices. Ashley is always 110% invested in these one on one moments which helps to build the emotional tensity of the scenes. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to have Mercer single you out at the table, on camera, in front of a virtual audience of tens of thousands. The nerves must be real. As the scene progresses and Mercer drops that Zuala bomb right before Yasha takes her first flight, you can see the wave of emotion hit the whole cast. Not gonna lie, this scene wrecked me. I’m a sucker for these heart wrenching scenes. I can’t wait to see how Ashley grows Yasha’s role play now that she is more free from the pain of her shackles.
Laura has another more serious role play moment with Jester during the first half of the episode as well. Beau manages to pry out more of her insecurities surrounding the Traveler and Jester ends up in tears…again. It won’t be long before Artagan will have to reckon with his lies and face a protective Mighty Nein rally around their dearest Jester. Will she be able to progress if the Traveler shirks his ‘godly’ duties? Could she be stronger without him? We have yet to see the event of the year that brought us to Rumblecusp in the first place. TravelerCon is coming. Are you sure you’re ready?
After Jester misses her Kaiju battle by one measly persuasion point and Caleb goes full pyromaniac on two boats, the Nein have only two options remaining. Flee and leave the island to its doom, or fight Vokodo in his lair. Out of all the spaghetti that got thrown at the wall, somehow we ended up here….swimming right into the belly of the beast, busting down the back door and throwing punches until he calls uncle. What an insane fight! It reminded me a tiny bit of a fight in campaign one, K’varn the Beholder in the city of Illithid. Vox Machina also ended up busting into said beholder’s lair and whacking him in the face until he died while also being absolutely wrecked by the lair effects and psychic attacks.
Chat always cries TPK whenever Mercer says the word initiative, but I could not picture this fight going as well as it did. It goes to show how incredibly well matched this party is at level 12. Beau and Nott landed an impressive amount of damage for being melee/ close range fighters. Fjord got some nifty Paladin-Warlock mash up combos that flavored the combat and turned the tide of the fight. Caduceus and Jester each had their shining moments with helpful heals and that banishment that could have ended the fight had greed not won out. The only one that didn’t get to do a single thing was Yasha! Poor Ashley was having a rotten run with her dice. And of course, Caleb, the obvious MVP of this fight. two clutch counterspells and the most stressful HDYWTDT of the campaign.
When Caleb pulled out that disintegrate spell I found myself literally kneeling in front of my tv screen. I did not have the careless confidence that Caleb had, knowing that there was a solid chance the spell could ricochet and accidentally, permanently end one of his companions (Jester, it definitely would have been Jester). I think I held my breath the entire 57 seconds it took for Mercer to reveal if the spell hit Vokodo or not. His poker face is impenetrable. I do wonder how Laura would have reacted if another one of her characters was killed because she wanted treasure.
One last scene I want to zero in on was the vision the Nein saw as Vokodo erupted in his death throes. The eerie, living city that reminds me of something out of Dotor Who, the cryptic “Eyes of Nine” message. A formidable foe that scared Vokodo so bad he broke reality to escape from it. All this screams future alien invasion on Exandria in a near future episode. What a would arc that would be. Maybe this will be our epic Chroma Conclave level destruction event that will define a new arc of campaign two! Oh, and there was a little whisper on Reddit that made me scratch my head. Apparently, it was confirmed in game that Mollymauk did in fact have nine all-seeing eye tattoos on his body. Coincidence? Breadcrumb? We’ll have to wait and see.
Don’t Miss It!
Critical Role released another Character playlist, this one featuring Fjord. Listen to it on Critical Role’s Spotify channel or find it here.
If you have a spare hour and want to watch a soothing mini painting marathon, the behind the scenes compilation of Mini Prime Time is out on YouTube now!
The only Critical Role VOD for this week will be a new episode of Campaign 2 this Thursday. Still no word on if or when Talks Machina will return. I am desperately missing this show and sincerely hope it comes back soon.
Don’t worry, it’s almost Thursday. See you in the next one!