Episode 39: Temple of the False Serpent
The Mighty Nein find themselves trapped in the Yuan-ti temple. The trap just inside the door sent the group tumbling down a hidden staircase right into the middle of some kind of cobra shaman ritual. Startled, the Yuan-ti priests begin to surround the Nein who launch into a furious attack. The priests retaliate with severe poisonous bites and psychic attacks. They manage to take out two of the three priests, leaving one alive for questioning. Caduceus begins asking the priestess questions to determine what they were doing in the temple. She speaks of serving the god Zehir and that the temple was originally ‘built to a false god’. Fjord and Avantika presume that she is speaking of Uk’otoa. Before he can get any more information, the priestess suddenly and violently takes her own life in front of them and silence falls on the chamber. Discouraged, but not defeated, the group begin to look around for any information they can get. They find a fountain in the center of the room that seems to lead to a different room. All around the room there are snake like statues around the fountain as well with eye holes that match the size of the rubies Nott found in the other room.
As the group inspects the room, Avantika takes Fjord aside and asks him about any guidance or messages he has received from Uk’otoa since they last spoke. Fjord excitedly reveals that he had a dream the previous night right after they spoke and then asked her what she had seen. Surprisingly, Avantika reveals that she hasn’t had a communion with Uk’otoa in two or three years. Fjord detects a flash of jealousy from Avantika as he spoke of his visions. She seems very keen on keeping Fjord safe from danger and away from the others.
Nott carefully places the three rubies into the statues. A gear begins to shift and suddenly the stone walls surrounding the fountain begin to shift downward revealing a staircase. Nott sneaks down the stairs and discovers an underground orchard that exists in complete darkness. Apparently the trees are fed by the blood sacrifices in the fountain from above. Creeped out, and slightly drunk, Nott decides to steal some fruit from the trees and takes a solid bite out of the sweet smelling fruit.
As the rest of her companions struggle to make it down the narrow path, Nott begins to feel a bit funny. Colors begin to blend together and lights and voices become a bit warbled. Caleb and Beau realize that Nott is tripping balls off from the fruit she ate. The rest of the group begins to investigate the room with the underground orchard and find the walls covered in hieroglyphics depicting the Yuan-ti worshiping Zehir the serpent god. Only Nott is able to see glowing, psychedelic symbols hidden beneath the hieroglyphics. Caleb also eats a bite of fruit to help decipher the symbols and finds a message in the madness.
The Sacrifice Feeds the Fountain.
The Fountain Feeds the Garden.
The Garden Feeds the Warden.
The Warden Guards the False Serpent.
As the group attempt to make sense of the messages, Nott feels her body become wrapped in vines and suddenly all the air is squeezed out of her. The group leaps into action to try and rescue her but are quickly all attacked by more blood-fruit tree vines. They fight their way through the ferocious vines. Nott loses consciousness from being constricted before Yasha and magically enlarged Giant Jester getting the final blows on the sentient vines.
The group quickly move out of the creepy underground blood orchard and move into a strange room filled with leathery eggs, like a nursery. A humanoid body decomposes in the corner. They carefully traverse through the room, trying not to disturb the eggs and find a secret lever. Nott pulls the lever and reveals another staircase, but accidentally resets the fountain, closing them off from the exit they know.
They descend the staircase into a cold stone room with a deep well of water in the center and a dark, coiled shape resting in the damp corner. A huge cobra-like Yuan-ti in full metal armor rests with its arms crossed over its scaled chest. The Nein quietly come up with two plans to quietly take out the two foes in the room. Nott and Jester make a solid case to use black powder explosives and an exploding arrow to do maximum damage to both beasts. The rest of the group quickly shoots that idea down and opts for a much more sensible sneak attack, but promise to keep Nott’s ‘Fluffernutter” explosive plan on the back burner in case of emergency.
The Nein launch their devastating sneak attack and come face to face with the powerful cobra like Abomination and a Hydra lurking in the pool of water. The adventurers take some ferocious hits from both the Abomination and the many headed Hydra Warden. The battle sways between winning and losing as each side suffers incredible damage. Caleb discovers that the Hydra is weakest to fire damage and he cauterizes one of the heads with a fireball, stopping it from regrowing.
The fight drags on for several intense moments as Beau, Caleb, Jester and Caduceus taking critical damage. They continue to hold their ground and fight bravely though. Nott and Jester get to dangerously try their Fluffernutter plan, but it thankfully fails to ignite and spares the group from a possibly fatal blast. Nott watches as the Hydra corners Fjord, Caleb, and Jester while at the same time seeing Beau fall unconscious and begin bleeding out in front of the Abomination. The Warden raises his scimitar for a final fatal blow and Nott looses a crossbow bolt through the Abomination’s head. The Hydra attacks and Jester falls unconscious. Caleb steps over her body to protect her and unleashes a firebolt at the Hydra. It rears back for another attack which could very well end Jester and Caleb. Yasha comes through with her greatsword Magician’s Judge and cleaves the entire Hydra in two, killing it. The Nein stand victorious on the battlefield ready for whatever comes next.
This is one of those D&D episodes that has it all. There are three monster battles, a harebrained scheme involving explosives, a dungeon crawl through a creepy ancient temple, and a dramatic puzzle that the entire team must solve. I really enjoy episodes like this because the pace tends to move quickly from one scene to another and they switch up how they play based on the action that’s occurring. I feel like the transitions between different rooms and battle in the episode dragged a little bit, but not everything needs to be an intense battle montage. At least we didn’t have another plan for three hours and get nothing done episode. That final Warden and Hydra battle was a bit of a surprise, but a good surprise at that. I was expecting the episode to end on that fight as a cliffhanger. Seems like Matt wanted the action to end at a more natural lull since the story will have a two week gap due to MCM London.
I was most impressed by the ‘must be tripping balls to solve this’ puzzle that Matt threw at the gang about 2/3rds of the way through the episode. It added an element of mystery and fun that was refreshing that late in the episode. I’m a sucker for a good ‘escape the room’ puzzle and this one was definitely one of my favorites. I found the psychedelic fruit and subsequent drug high to be some of my favorite moments of the episode. Sam does an incredible ‘having a bad trip’ goblin that really rounded out the role play. Also, Sam and Laura jointly unveiling the ‘Fluffernutter” plan had me in stitches. Matt does his best not to break too often from the antics of the cast, but even he couldn’t resist Sam’s descriptions or Laura’s adorable sound effects.
The final battle with the ‘warden’ and the hydra was pretty intense. I wasn’t expecting the third battle of the night to be this difficult and dangerous. The ‘fluffernutter’ plan was so perfectly dangerous and desperate that it may have just worked if the dice would have allowed it. This episode made it very apparent how badly Critical Role needs Ashely Johnson back. I love the Yasha-jaegering that Travis has been doing and it’s nice to have more Yasha in the story. But it can get a little tricky when a PC character gets so many final blows in the fights when their player isn’t even at the table. I still would prefer this method of fighting (with someone playing as Yasha for Ashley) to not having any Yasha in the story at all. I think I just miss having Ashley around more consistently.
There were a few mistake moments that stuck out to me this episode. The first was Beau’s malaria like sickness that should have been cured last episode with Caduceus’ lesser restoration. And the other moment was Liam and Matt’s little disagreement on the failed Bane saving roll that the Hydra had to make. Liam made a solid point and I totally understand his frustration at his spell failing for what he felt like an arbitrary reason. They both just seemed tired and anxious to get the episode finished though. And I guess it just goes to show that Matt is such a talented and knowledgeable DM that the mistakes are so few and far between. Between all the cross country and international travel the cast is doing, a bit of exhaustion is understandable.
I am super excited for Laura’s one shot this Thursday, but also can’t wait for the main story to pick back up in November. I am dying to see where Fjord’s backstory ends up and how Uk’otoa will affect the mythological landscape of The Empire. Avantika is up to something shady and I am so ready for her and Fjord’s final confrontation.
If you haven’t seen the third episode of All Work No Play I would highly recommend watching this one. I was very curious when I heard they would be trying Goat Yoga and that Travis Willingham and TJ Storm would guest star. It was better than I could have asked for. The faces, the poses, the goat poop… all of it is so worth watching.
Next week will be an interlude episode. Laura Bailey will be leading a one-shot! No news yet on who the guest stars or what kind of RPG they will be playing, but I am excited to finally get a Laura Bailey one shot. The rest of the cast will be travelling to London for MCM comic con. The regular campaign will pick back up Thursday, November 1st at 7 pm.