Episode 1: The Draw of Destiny
Our campaign opens with a gorgeous description of the vast continent of Marquet and the stunning variety of city scapes, geography, and peoples it has to offer. We land in the city of Jrusar, capital city of the jungle area in the Oderan Wilds. The skyline is pierced by five rocky spires connected by aerial cable car gondolas.
Zooming in on one of the cable cars, we meet two new friends. A bright eyed young human woman with purple hair speaks in a gentle accent to her…slightly more eerie looking companion. Imogen Timolt hashes out a game plan with Laudna, a frighteningly pale woman with dark hair framing her face. They seek entrance to the prestigious Starpoint Conservatory, a library on the University grounds.
They walk in, all confidence and suave, and are swiftly met with a cold bureaucratic wall. Without the proper introduction or invitation, there’s no way these two fine ladies will be able to peruse the stacks. No amount of charm, or accidental intimidation on Laudna’s part, can break through to the stuffy receptionist. Imogen and Laudna decide to cut their losses for today and try and find a sponsor of some kind to get them an invitation to enter the conservatory. It’s a beautiful day in Jrusar and the ladies decide to take a walk through the Corespire district market and pick up some fresh ingredients for their landlady. I wonder what adventure lies just around the corner for them.
On a neighboring spire, we meet two more budding adventurers. The Corespire district is where people go to be forgotten. It is a far cry from the perfectly manicured spectacle that houses the university. Abandoned buildings have been gutted and filled with a mish-mash of tin, rope, and fabric to create large, floating communities. It’s dog-eat-dog…and honestly there’s not enough to go around. Our friend, Ashton, an earth genasi with quite a chip on his shoulder (and a rather intense scar on his head) wakes, hungover and angry at the midday sun interrupting his beauty sleep. He’s fresh out of gold, no jobs lined up, and a roommate that’s tired of all the nothing going on all day. Ashton calls over his newest friend and project, Fresh Cut Grass ( F.C.G. or Letters for short). A one-wheeled automaton with a bright and shiny personality joins his friend for some breakfast.
Ashton’s roomie Milo suggests that Ashton try looking at the local tavern Spire by Fire for some temp work. Ashton is skeptical, but F.C.G. tries to look on the bright side, who knows what exciting things they could find out in the wild world. And so, they set off towards the tavern to beg for some boxes to lift and scraps to eat.
In the sky above the Corespire district, a cable car carries three companions fresh off the airships into Jrusar. They’re on a mission from the fabled Voice of the Tempest, Keyleth of the air ashari. Orym, of the air ashari, a halfling fighter, and his two companions Fearne Calloway, a fawn from the Fey Wilds, and Dorian, an air genasi safely touch down on the outskirts of town. Orym has never been to Jrusar and has no idea where to start looking for the subject of their mission. Dorian, who is from Marquet has traveled to Jrusar once before and remembers the name of a particular tavern they can start with. And so our adventurers head off to the Spire by Fire tavern.
Imogen and Laudna are returning from their day at the market and walk nearby a local tavern named…you guess it… Spire by Fire. Imogen notices a strange blue orb flash above the road ahead and the busy street comes to a standstill. Orym, Dorian, and Fearne round the corner to the tavern and find a strange commotion beginning. People staring at an overturned cart, furniture and housewares spilled onto the street. That’s strange… that knife is vibrating, and did that rug just twitch, oh that table definitely just picked itself up. Ashton and F.C.G. rush out of the tavern once the screams begin. They notice a knife floating menacingly above a man, and a rug beginning to curl around another bystander. Ashton readies his maul while F.C.G. begins to attach a sawblade onto his arm.
Imogen and Laudna begin to draw magical energy around them. Imogen sends a wave of purple witch bolt crashing into the knife pulling it away from the innocent bystander. Fearne and Dorian attempt to draw the rug’s attention and maybe succeed too well, ending up trapped in the rug’s constricting folds. Laudna leaps into action, black ichor dripping from her elongated fingers and a creepy shadow making her seem more ghoulish than ever. She tears into the rug with a well placed eldritch blast.
A final adventurer joins the fight! A handsome, 70 year old man in well made armor cheers on the action. He takes a few solid swings at the table that’s trying to antagonize some townsfolk. The table retaliates with a surprisingly strong body slam that sends our new friend reeling. Ashton and F.C.G step in to help. F.C.G. helps the older fighter back to his feet and takes away some of the damage from the table. Ashton unleashes a furious “chaos burst” attack with his hammer, completely shattering the animated furniture.
As the action winds down, the older fighter introduces himself as Sir Bertrand Bell, from Vasselheim. He’s looking to recruit some new talent for a well paying job. Ashton and FCG are immediately drawn in by the promise of pay. Imogen and Laudna are enticed by the opportunity to work for someone with serious clout, someone that might be willing to write a letter of invitation if they do a good job. Orym, Dorian and Fearne are a bit of a wild card, but something on the wind is telling Orym that this new thread might lead him exactly where he needs to go. The part spend a while getting to know each other, making introductions and giving a little peek at each other’s lives. Bertrand is excited to introduce his new friends to his employer, one mysterious Lord Esteros, first thing tomorrow morning. For tonight, though, his new friends can stay here at this…lovely tavern… on his coin. Bertrand buys six rooms, while Imogen and Laudna thank him kindly but since they live so close by, they’ll just rejoin their new companions in the morning.
The companions spend a relatively quiet evening decompressing, or in Bertrand’s case- falling asleep by 7:30 in the evening. Ashton and FCG try their hand at gambling, but quickly burn through all their coin. Dorian whips out his lyre and flute to try and get some musical entertainment going but…the crowds a bit rougher than he’s used to and before too long he decides to cut his losses and turn in for the night.
Early the next morning, the party regroups and Bertrand leads them to a rather large estate. He gains them entrance to Lord Esteros’ home and asks to meet with the enigmatic older orc, who seems none to pleased to be disturbed. He begins to question the new party, trying to assess their strengths and motivations and is rather off put by their confused answers. Bertrand tries to step in on their account, but Esteros turns a dark eye back onto the adventurers. They want to prove themselves? Well, let’s see what they can do. Esteros rushes forward with unnatural speed, tossing his cane aside and assuming a fighting stance… and that’s where we’ll pick up next week!
And we’re off to an exciting start! It’s hard to believe Campaign 3 is already here. The cast have been hinting at a unique experience for this campaign and we’re already seeing some truth to that. We had quite a surprise when not one…but four of the player characters are returning to the table from different campaigns or one-shots. I personally love the vibe and am happy to see some familiar faces coming together for a new adventure. For those critters who are new and have no idea who Bertrand Bell, Fearne, Orym and Dorian are- don’t worry, you don’t really need to know too much beyond what was revealed in their introductions to understand who these characters are. If you are curious for a more in depth description you can find links to Bertrand Bell’s Critical Role Wiki page HERE, and our review of Exandria Unlimited featuring Orym, Fearne, and Dorian.
How about that staggered character introduction?! I’m glad that it went so well and didn’t feel too forced or out of place. Each character had a shining moment and it really felt like a grand “coming together” moment that, looking back on campaign 2, really stands out to me. We got three mini stories that each carried a unique flavor and they perfectly meshed into a fun little fight sequence for everyone to get involved in.
Imogen and Laudna are such darlings. Imogen’s description gave me major “Dolores from Westworld” vibes. Just add purple hair and some telepathic powers. Laudna though, is the complete opposite. These two make the perfect rainbow/goth meme. Laudna seems to have a real playful, sweet side that is just absolutely destroyed by her terrifying exterior. She has a moment, trying to play a game with children and really engage with them, but just ends up scaring the daylights out of them. I’m loving how Marisha is RP-ing such a frightening high charisma character.
Ashton and FCG have already stolen my heart. FCG is basically a robot version of Ted Lasso. We all thought we wanted to see sexy and intimidating automaton Devexian return from campaign 2, but no…we basically get Charlie the brain damaged darling with a heart of gold. Speaking of a heart of gold…for all the tough and untouchable air that Ashton puts on…we all know he’s hiding a sweet and sensitive soul in there. The way he leaps to defend FCG from any naysayers…you know he loves this little robot more than he lets on. And how cool is Ashton’s character description! I’m loving the strong personality that Taliesin threw down on the table this session.
We all know that Sam is hiding some hard hitting sob story behind that shiny exterior. We got a little peek into the layers this session when FCG explained how he got his name. I will have to shout out his old companion constructs and creator Oatmeal, Apple Pie,….Pussy…. and Dancer. Leave it to Sam Riegel to absolutely slaughter the cast with his dirty humor only two hours into the first session. We all know there has to be more to the story than meets the eye with this little guy. No one is buying that FCG managed to sleep through every member of his family being destroyed in the middle of the night, right? What secret mission were they on? Was is a setup? Did he go rogue and massacre everyone? I’m already hooked.
While Sam laid down some serious backstory breadcrumbs in session 1, Orym, Fearne and Dorian have been reeling us in through their entire 8 episode prequel in Exandria Unlimited. If you kept up with these reviews, you’ll know I left ExU pretty crushed that we didn’t get to fully explore Dorian or Orym’s backstories. And on top of that we’ve got whatever nuttiness is happening with Fearne and her dark visions of the Fey Wilds to dig into as well. I know there’s been some ruffled feathers on bringing in already established characters into a ‘new campaign’. I think it’s a great way to world build while creating cohesion between different series and campaigns. This is all one world and one timeline after all. Plus, when you think about it, Imogen and Laudna have two years worth of adventures we never got to see on screen, and Ashton and FCG have several weeks of time that will remain a mystery. So we should feel lucky that if you want to, you can go back and watch the beginnings of Orym, Fearne and Dorian on screen!
We have a NEW “special guest” cast member joining the Campaign! While Robbie Daymond may only be a temporary add on (maybe for this first arc, or possibly longer), I am thrilled to have him as a part of a main Campaign. He was the obvious favorite new addition from ExU (all the new castmembers were amazing, Robbie was just a shining star among them), and he took to DnD so well and had an obvious talent for role playing in stride with the rest of the main cast. It’s no surprise that he was invited to join in for as long as he’s able in Campaign 3.
Bertrand is a bit of a mystery for me. As soon as Travis pulled out “that” old man voice, I instantly knew he was pulling in his old one-shot wonder. My brain instantly began to wonder how many “old” jokes and gags the cast would unleash before the session ended and I was not disappointed. Now, will Bertrand be around for the long haul? Is he only here to introduce the party to each other? Mercer said to expect the unexpected…. so anything is possible and I have the feeling that this campaign may not be a linear campaign with the same locked in cast through it’s entirety. I could go either way on whether Bertrand stays or goes. I don’t think the humor and shenanigans will get old, but it would also be fun to have Travis switch gears mid story too.
Fearne is another wildcard for me. She’s so flighty and “go with the flow” to begin with that it’s not hard to see her just going along with the story with no real motivations to drive her. I’m really enjoying seeing Ashley open up to Fearne’s RP and lean into her more mischievous and unpredictable nature. Not sure if we’ll get to see a Fearne central backstory arc, or what will be in store for our mystical friend. Only time will tell.
And so the adventure begins, we have a room full of level 3 adventurers, with one level 5 old man leading them on. We’ve got more questions that answers and more enticing breadcrumbs than we know what to do with! Who is this “Oshad Breshio” person that Orym is looking for. What about that other mysterious name “The Anger” he tried to pry out of Bertrand? What were Laudna and Imogen searching for in the library? Was it more than just the origins of their magic? Also, Laudna is originally from Whitestone….is anyone else getting some serious vampire-ish vibes yet? We already know there’s more digging to do in FCG’s history, but what about Ashton? How’d he get that wicked scar? Who is this obviously shady Lord Esteros and what exactly is he hiding? Pale skin, unnaturally fast movement, large spooky collar? Is it just because it’s close to Halloween that i’m stuck on vampires? Most likely yes, I’m on high alert for spooks.
The fight during the first half of the episode was a fun little warm up and introduction for our new characters. We got to see some exciting new dynamics on the table, Taliesin crushing it with his homebrewed barbarian, Sam holding nothing back as the party’s cleric, and our two sorcerer ladies wiping the floor with their magic. It’ll be interesting to see Orym, Fearne, and Dorian, along with Bertrand, lend their skills to the battlefield as more traditional DnD builds. I can only imagine the levels of chaos that Fearne could bring to a battle if she reaches peak Keyleth levels. I had to laugh at Sam bringing up the fact that their party has already decided to fight furniture and old people, and it’s only the first episode. I’m honestly shocked that the sentient table wasn’t the evil BBEG chair that everyone in Campaign 2 was on the lookout for.
We’ll start next episode diving right into the action! I can’t wait to see where the story goes from this wonderful little intro. Don’t worry Critters! It’s almost Thursday.
Don’t Miss It!
The third and final episode of Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood play through aired on Twitch Monday, October 25th and will be available on Youtube shortly. Join Liam and Laura one last time as they lead Lex and Lax through some final exciting adventures.
Also catch the final episode of the Elder Scrolls Online “three-shot” with GM Liam O’Brien. What new shenanigans will our restauranteurs/monster hunters get up to this time? Joining GM O’Brien will be Aabria Iyengar, Laura Bailey, Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, and Michelle Nguyen Bradley.
Episode 2 of Campaign 3 airs this Thursday at 7 pm. There’s a good chance the cast will be all dressed up for Halloween this week!