Once everyone adjusts to the hilarity of playing in their Halloween costumes, The Nein step off their ship and into Eiselcross. Vess leads them to the fortress of Balenpost where the wardlow, Akron apologizes for the meager setting. It’s been a rough winter and supplies from the North are being blocked by a nasty band of storm giants . The Nein may regret feeding all their fancy rations to the cetus family after all.
Vess finds her contact, Dagan a burly, black haired dwarf who rides in an armored battlechair. Dagen will be their guide through Eiselcross once the party is ready to set off in a couple days. Vess asks the Nein to meet back here in 40 hours, prepared to set off into the wilds. The journey should take about a week and a half. They are free to prepare any way they would like.
Veth, Yasha, and Caduceus spend their time securing better rations for their travel, they find some wolf and mammoth meat at a local butcher. Caduceus wins the butchers fancy but….he’s got other things to think about at the moment. Jester, Beau and Caleb spend their time playing in the snow, building snowmen and using valuable spell slots to wage a vicious snowball fight. After a nice, casual dinner with Vess, the Nein catch up with Dagen to ask some questions about their upcoming journey and what to expect. Dagen says the Storm Giants up north won’t be much of a problem, but all the mutated wolves, yeti, ice salamanders, mammoths, trolls, and frost giants might be a bother…oh and did I forget to mention the remorhaz? Everything is going to be just fine.
After dinner and talking with Dagen, the Nein get settled into their rooms for the night. Jester scries on Lucien and is surprised to find that one of his nine eye tattoos lights up like a beacon when she starts to scry. Lucien suddenly begins to speak to her. This has never happened before. He thanks her for leading him to ‘her’ scent again. He was able to retrieve what was lost to him. He holds up a familiar looking book. Cryptically, he says “from alpha to alpha we trek will homeward bound we be. Maybe we’ll see you there.” The scry cuts off and an astonished Jester relays what just happened to her friends.
The group agrees not to bother Vess with this vision just yet, she’ll probably just lie to them again anyway. Weird about that book. They shrug and decide to leave the problem for tomorrow and settle into Caleb’s mansion for a good night’s rest.
After a night spent enjoying the comforts of the mansion and each other, the Nein move on to their meeting place with Vess. She should be joining them sometime this afternoon. It’s weird no one has seen her today, and now it’s getting pretty late in the day, maybe they should go check on her. Fjord and Jester find Vess’ room but no one is answering. A quick message spell also gets no answer. They start to worry. Fjord brings the rest of the Nein to her room and they break in. The room is freezing, and absolutely ransacked. Jester suddenly realizes that this is the exact room she saw in her scry last night. Lucien was here! Fjord finds Vess long cold body in her bed, blood pooling from eyes, nose, mouth and ears. This is bad.
Fjord acts quickly, conjuring an image of Vess to trick the guards into believing that she was taken ill and will be needing a more private place to recover with the Nein. They will handle ALL further communication now, ok thank you bye. Caduceus speaks with dead to answer a few pressing questions. The nine eye tattoos on Vess’ body are not new, she is part of the Nonagon club. He discovers that being a Nonagon means to be a vessel. It is the key to Cognoza. It is the one to free the somnovem. ( WHAT does this mean?!) Caleb preserves her body, entrapping it in amber to hopefully to reunite her spirit with body tomorrow.
The Nein hide the signs of Vess’ demise, forge a note saying she has Assembly business and will catch up later, and tell the guards not to disturb the room until further notice. They then find Dagen and agree to set off on their journey. The Nein front his 1,000 gp fee since Vess is…otherwise engaged. Dagen leads the Nein through the gates of Balenpost and into the frozen wilds of Eiselcross.
Another fantastic Halloween episode themed episode of Critical Role down in the books! For starters, the casts costumes were spot on. I love that the cast all decided to dress up as in game NPC’s. Shout out to Ashley as Henry Crabgrass, and Marisha as “Dickhand” Celia from Travelercon. Honorable mention to Travis as Orly, that costume looked dangerous to sit in for four hours.
While not as “spooky-ooky” as previous year’s games, this episode had a wild thriller of a reveal to lead into the break. I am SHOCKED that Marisha ‘Conspiracy Theory” Ray didn’t sniff out that reveal from a mile away. Even Travis’ danger finger sirens didn’t make an appearance. We did get a hilarious mime scene between Marisha and Sam after Marisha finally figured out exactly what happened to Vess. If you listen to the podcast or missed the moment in stream, it happens around (—) in the YouTube VOD. We’ll talk a bit more about this pivotal moment later in a second.
The first half of the session was a really fun and light exploration of Balenpost. The snowmen building, making friends with Dagen and the guards, and Caduceus seducing the butcher were all cute little scenes that made this feel more like a christmas special than a Halloween themed one. Although, Mercer’s enormous eyebrows, and Travis sadly honking the bagpipes constantly reminded us that this was indeed a Halloween treat. I do love the wintery setting, and next session promises us some “crazy [email protected]!t” according to Dalen, so hopefully we get some more monsterful combat!
The second half of the second half of the session nearly went rogue. If the Nein hadn’t made some clutch rolls and done some quick thinking with their spells, they would have been in some deep trouble with the Assembly and Balenpost. They had ONE job as bodyguards. ONE. But hey, everyone is allowed to make mistakes right?? They have her body encased in amber. She’ll be up at at ’em after Caduceus prepares his Ressurection spell in the morning. She’ll have been dead for less than two days, No biggie!
I’m excited to see how the cast fit these new pieces into their conspiracy puzzle. Matt basically confirmed to Marisha that she’s on the right track for most of her musings. Travis leapt in with a helpful hint on what the Alpha to Alpha part of Lucien’s message, deciphering that the different areas of Aeor on the map were marked with an alpha symbol. Laura also wondered what the name of the living city could be. Is it Cognoza?? This would make sense. An entire cognizant city named Cognoza. What is a Somnovem though?? And why does being a Nonagon unlock it? So. Many. Questions.
I am absolutely loving this new arc of the campaign. The tone is still a very grey, no one is completely good or completely evil character, but now there is an overarching theme and mystery that is drawing the action to something larger than this conflict between the Empire and Dynasty. Big things are about to happen. Don’t worry Critters, it’s almost Thursday!
Don’t Miss It!
New Narrative Telephone this Tuesday at 7 pm! No clue as to this week’s guest might be but I know I don’t want to miss it.
Critical Role’s new gaming company Darrington Press debuted last week. Exciting things seem to be coming down the pipeline for Critical Role’s newest business endeavor. Their first board game to be released is one of Critical Role’s own, Uk’atoa. Play as pirates on a sinking ship, battling it out to survive the clutches of the leviathan Uk’atoa. Keep an eye out for more daring new games as Matthew Mercer and head of Darrington Press Ivan Van Norman. You’ll recognize Ivan from the peripheries of Critical Role’s time at Geek and Sundry. Ivan also appeared in Brian W. Foster’s Undeadwood campaign as the gregarious barkeep with a wicked set of cards.