Episode 7: Behind the Curtain
The gang settle in to watch the Flying Lauders and scout for clues on the missing theater patrons. The show goes off mostly as expected, though it ends a bit early due to a performer injury. The gang use the distraction to infiltrate backstage and begin chipping away at their very few leads. The crew of seven strangers wandering backstage causes enough turned heads to attract the owner of the theater, Stuvan. At first, he’s uncertain about the odd group poking around in his theater, but with some smoothing over, and sweet talking, they manage to get Stuvan on their side.
In Stuvan’s office he dishes the details on the six missing theater workers and patrons. All mysteriously vanished, none seen leaving the front door of the theater, leaving no notes or clues as to why they may have up and left. The group has Stuvan’s permission to continue searching the theater and the surrounding grounds.
While exploring the back door of the theater, Orym and Laudna notice a shady, cloaked figure keeping an eye on the group. Thinking this may be their tail from the Hubbat Corsairs, Orym and Laudna try and make contact, but the figure outruns them and gets lost in the crowds.
The group meets back up and asks a theater worker for some more personal information about the missing people. They discover that all the missing seemed to be lonely, or at least kept to themselves. Each also had a reason to discreetly leave the theater mid performance. The theater worker reveals the alleyway at the back of the theater that the missing people may have used. The rest of the theater has turned up no new clues, so the gang head to the alley to see what they can find.
The alley seems like another dead end. Literally. There’s no where the alley really leads, just an empty cul de sac ending in a strangely clean, blank wall. There’s some loose building supplies littering the alley and the theater worker mentions that there was a crew repairing the wall a few weeks back that left the supplies behind. Imogen begins to get a weird feeling and opens up her mind to try and sense any people or creatures lurking nearby. She gets a strange…staticky feedback when she approaches the newly repaired wall. FCG is also picking up something weird, but it’s nothing like they’ve ever sensed before. Laudna wants to get a closer look and begins to approach the empty cul de sac to investigate the repaired wall.
She’s about to turn back, saying there’s nothing to see, when the bricks suddenly begin to shift in front of her. First, an eye opens and locks her in its gaze. Then another eye, and a great toothy maw cracks open. A frothing tongue lolling out between the sharpened teeth. A tentacle whips out, slashing viciously at Laudna and gripping her in place. The rest of the gang rushes in. Orym, Laudna, and Imogen are caught in the creatures acidic vomit. Dorian and Orym’s attacks are hindered by the sticky nature of the creature. Between the wicked teeth, grasping sticky tentacles, and acid vomit, the gang have their work cut out for them and the battle is fraught. Spells fly, weapons strike, friends are grievously wounded and things begin to look dire. Orym, Laudna, Dorian, and Imogen are all hanging on by a thread. FCG is caught between healing spells and attacking. Even Fearne’s monkey Mister gets involved, trying to fling flaming attacks at the creature.
Feeling the desperation of his companions, Dorian launches one final burst of magic at the creature. His chromatic orb bursts through the creatures eye and it sloughs off the wall, dead on the ground before them. Among the slopping skin and tentacles, the group find a few identifying objects that explain the six missing patrons. Human bones, teeth, and jewelry litter the inside of the corpse. Imogen notices some strange half orb devices embedded in the creatures body and she takes one in the hopes it will lead to some new clues.
The Wilders, Jrusar’s police force, come to investigate the racket. They question the gang about what happen and quickly take over the scene. They inform the group that the repair work was done by the Treshi House Mason’s Guild, but nothing suspicious was reported at the time. The gang decides to let the Wilders take over the investigation and head back to Stuvan to deliver the news.
Orym and Imogen notice a small figure watching the group from from across the way. Imogen reaches out telepathically and spooks the little guy a bit, but the figure begins to approach the group. Travis Willingham rejoins the table and introduces himself as the gnome rogue, Chetney Pocko’pea. He’s impressed by the gang’s investigation and fight and is hoping they can help him.
And that’s where we’ll pick up next time!
Alright! The action picks back up! After a bit of a lull in the story and action, we finally have momentum, a brutal fight, and some new promising story threads to explore.
The first half opens a bit slowly with a brief theater show description, then a long and winding investigation of the theater. Then there’s the interviews with various theater workers about their missing coworkers and patrons. I’ll admit, this group is thorough in a way the Nein weren’t. After exploring every possible nook and cranny, yes including two peeks into the theater bathrooms, the episode finally picks up a couple of hours in when the gang finally land on the right path and discover the weird (mimic?) wall creature.
This fight was definitely an interesting one. I was surprised that the disappearances all happened because the patrons were eaten, but I guess that’s not the weirdest story line we’ve ever had on Critical Role. The creature dealt some nasty damage and was surprisingly hard to hit for being…you know…. a wall. The gang is still so squishy at this stage, and don’t have easy access to resurrection spells, so every battle and hit point count! Laudna and Imogen are the party’s wet paper bags, having less than half the HP as the beefier members. And it definitely showed. Laudna was nearly knocked out by one good hit, and Imogen would have been taken out by acid if she hadn’t made her save. Orym is dancing dangerously with his goading attacks and front of the line bruiser techniques. He barely made it through the last couple rounds with two or three hit points. Ashton also took a fair amount of damage, and was a bit off his game with his own damage dealing this battle. He can normally hit like the absolute tank that he is, but the dice were not in his favor this night. Dorian, Fearne and FCG had an interesting time kicking around the back of the battlefield, though they absorbed a surprising amount of damage as well. Dorian had to keep fighting the urge to rush in to Orym’s aid because he didn’t have the dexterity or hit points to spare another hit from the creature. Poor Laudna was stuck up far to close to be effective at all! As a wimpy range spell caster, it’s your worst nightmare to be glued to the front of the battle.
Ultimately, the gang eked out a victory against the wall monster, and everyone made it out mostly in tact. Who knows if they will continue this story thread to try and figure out where this creature might have come from… or maybe their new friend asking for help might pull them towards new paths. There’s also Dorian’s brother lurking in the shadows, waiting to drop another juicy story line in their laps.
Ok, ok ok, let’s dish about Travis’ (new?) character! Chetney, that sweet sweet old gnome. I mean, can we really be surprised that Travis pulled out another one-shot character? They did tell us to expect the unexpected. I know…. I KNOW we were all hoping to meet Travis’ long term campaign character, but hey, Chetney will come with a wealth of hilarious new possibilities to explore. If you’re unfamiliar with the one-shot (Nightmare Before Critmas) that Chetney stems from, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out. It’s a short, sweet, Liam O’Brien led holiday themed episode that is a wild ride from start to finish. Chutney and Chetney are basically the same in mannerisms, personality, and backstory, so watching the one shot will give you a great sneak peek of what Travis may bring to the table. Personally, I’m all for letting Travis play whoever the hell he wants at the table. He’s an incredible improviser, character actor, and having his unpredictable humor back at the table is so welcome. I trust that he and Matt will work out a cohesive storyline that will mesh Chetney into the main campaign just like they did with Bertrand. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the chaos Chetney is sure to unleash onto his new companions.
Next episode will dig more into Chetney’s mission for the gang. We’ve also got Dorian’s brother waiting to jump in at any moment and drop some juicy backstory on us. Not to mention all their other mysteries the group still has to solve. How did the sentient furniture become sentient, why was Duggar stealing Brumstone, what did The Anger have to do with the attack on the Ashari, where did the wall monster come from? We’ll see what threads get pulled next!
Don’t Miss It!
There’s been lots of new Critical Role content in the last few weeks. We got the fantastic new opening sequence and theme song to keep us laughing through the holiday hiatus.
Then there was the release of Critical Role’s first novel Kith and Kin. Mica Burton led a Fireside Q & A with Kith and Kin’s author, Marieke Nijkamp, along with Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien. Liam and Laura also did a two hour long Rolling Stone interview about the book’s background and release.
And finally, Critical Role released another installment of Crit Recap Animated covering campaign 2, episodes 70-91.
Critical Role will be on hiatus until Thursday January 6th. While we’re waiting for new content, I’d highly recommend the Night Before Critmas one shot (bonus: you get to meet Chutney Chocolatecane, who definitely has “NO” connection to Chetney).