Episode 23: Have Bird, Will Travel
The Mighty Nein get revenge! Literally as soon as they have completed their mission, The Nein are set on a path of vengeance against that stinking swamp troll that took Febron, and nearly Caleb and Beau, from them. Nott comes up with a fantastic plan to use a stick of dynamite sneakily placed in the troll’s hideout to try and blow it to smithereens. After a slightly bumpy, awkward start looking for matches, a fireball spell, firehands… just a flame or something to light the dynamite, Nott finally gets the dynamite in place.
BOOM! …or maybe more like a firecracker….pop… as smoke and flames and tree trunk bits fly everywhere. The group launch a volley of attacks, catching the troll unaware and doing serious harm before it begins to regenerate. The fight gets messy when the troll manages to get Fjord in its grasp, biting and clawing him until he falls unconscious (three times in one round!). Unable to attack the troll for fear of killing Fjord, Caleb pulls out another Slow Spell that changes the fight to their favor once more. Jester manages to pull Fjord from the troll’s grasp giving Molly the kill shot.
Breathing a sigh of relief, the group takes a moment to heal and recover. Molly takes a closer look at the corpse of the swamp troll when he notices the troll’s wounds are still healing. He tries to call out but the troll lumbers to its feet and takes a swing at the freshly revived Fjord. Fjord goes flying, unconscious again, and the troll tries to take another swing to finish Fjord for good. Caleb’s slow spell still seems to be affecting it though and Caleb fires off a Fireball that consumes the body of the troll into ash. Caleb sinks into a catatonic state, watching the body burning, and Beau goes to him trying to bring him back from his dark memories.
Finally sure that the troll is dead, Jester harvests its heart for some future use while the rest of the group rests up. Jester sends a telepathic message using a Sending Spell to The Gentleman back in Zadash letting him know they completed the first task and will continue on with the second.
Back in town, the Nein come across a familiar face. Horace, the man they helped smuggle out of Zadash after the attack on the tower, has found his way to the swamp town and is waiting until it’s safe to return. After exchanging pleasantries, the group continue on to the town’s local apothecary to try and sell their troll heart. The Fungal Font is home to a dwarven alchemist named Smythe Durban, a wonderfully shady new NPC that I instantly loved. He agrees to buy the heart from them and offers 50 gold, a Greater Healing potion, and a potion of…some kind of protection… Smythe is so shady but so wonderful…
At the Inn for the night, the group make plans to gather supplies and leave for their next location, Shady Creek Run, in the morning. Fjord and Molly share a moment, examining Fjord’s newest jewel addition to his falchion. Molly searches for something more from Fjord, something maybe more sinister but is unable to find anything yet. Jester tries to reach out to Kiri’s parents but is unable to form any kind of connection with them. Nott confides in Caleb, telling him more about the Halfling man named Yezza, she tried to save from her village.
The next morning, the group gathers their things into the cart and set off towards Shady Creek. Along the way, they come across a group of refugees travelling away from the city. Nott sends a secret message to one of the nervous looking children and asks where they are from. Discovering they are coming from Nogvurar, Nott remembers hearing news that there has been a string of mass kidnappings in the area.
The Nein make camp on the side of the road for the night. During the night’s watch, Caleb gets a funny feeling of being watched and sends Nott to investigate. Nott sends an illusory image to investigate an overturned cart. Chent, the illusion, discovers a trap and Caleb sounds the alarm of an ambush. The Nein quickly subdue the highway robbers. In fact, they turn out to be the same group of highway robbers that unluckily came across the Nein the last time they travelled. The robbers surrender and leave behind their entire set up and make a run for the hills vowing to never rob the Nein again.
The rest of the night passes uneventfully and the next morning the Nein make it to the base of the mountains and into the city of Hupperdook. They meet a fiery gnome names Risa, a local that offers to show them around town just for the fun of it. The Nein explore the town, finding a slightly dystopian, military city. People work long and hard, bustle busily from task to task with little time for brevity or fun. The city is guarded by a militia wielding a strange weapon, a stick or staff that Nott names a Firestick. For all the seriousness the townsfolk put on during the day… the night it seems, hold a different kind of life. As dusk falls, the night sky is lit with fireworks and the sounds of celebration as the town prepares to let loose and party.
This episode felt a bit like a two part-er for me. I absolutely loved the first half of the episode with the troll fight and the return to Barrelbend. The humor interspersed through the action was amazing. Kiri is such a source of quirky comedic relief, Nott is still a golden goblin gem, Yasha is the best awkward companion you could ever have. The interactions while trying to light the dynamite on fire, and trying to figure out what book the innkeeper is reading made me laugh out loud and moved the first half of the episode along so quickly. I also loved the throw back (intentional or not) to the first campaign with the Innkeeper’s book being titled Feather Leather. Which Sam immediately ran with, turning the innocuous title into a smutty novel written by a famous bard named Scanlan about everyone’s favorite winged rogue Vax’ildan.
The second half dragged for me a bit. With the Nein still having to travel on foot (Tree Stride is one of the few things I miss about Keyleth), the down time between action and story lines is really dragging this first story arc out quite a bit. Don’t worry Travis/Fjord/Grog… I too am instantly bored by shopping episodes.
When the bandit fight started, I went into it thinking…really, this again? It’s literally the exact same thing that happened the last time they were on the road… so it was a bit humorous that Matt actually made it the exact same group of robbers that confronted the Nein before.
We get to explore more of WIldemount, and finally the long awaited city of Hupperdook! I don’t know if the actual city can live up to the anticipation built after 20-odd episodes of build-up. We’ll see how well The Mighty Nein can do against the might of Hupperdook… or as Liam so quaintly put it… Steampunk Burning Man!
If you haven’t seen the important announcement from Critical Role, you can find our article about the news here. As a reminder, there will be no new episode of Talks Machina on July 3rd and no new episode of Critical Role on July 5th.