Episode 119: Malice and Mystery Below
Jumping right into action, the Nein prepare to attack the monstrous baby faced abomination that is lumbering towards them. Beau and Yasha scramble to the front of the fray and prepare to get physical. The baby nightmare swings its bloated head side to side, swinging its lighted lure. Both Yasha and Beau become hypnotized by the enrapturing light and their bodies halt limply right in front of the beastie’s grasping mouth.
The rest of the Nein realize that Yasha and Beau are in trouble and that directly looking at Babyface will do more harm. Jester averts her gaze, but sends her magical duplicate reaching forward with an inflict wounds spell on her fingertips. The spell lands and does a critical blast of damage, sending the monster screaming, stumbling, and vomiting a torrent of acidic bile onto the adventurers . Babyface still sees two helpless victims lulled by its lure and focuses the brunt of its malice on them.
Beau is unable to do anything but watch in horror as the creature’s grasping arms pull her into its toothy maw. Taking a devastating amount of…chewing damage, darkness and stomach bile boil around Beau as she finds herself in the belly of the beast.
The rest of the party do their best to get the monster to spit out Beau. Veth prepares to leap down its throat to pull Beau out as the magic users ready a volley of attacks as soon as they get the all clear. Meanwhile, from inside the beast, a desperate Beau manages to open up 10 vials of extremely potent Suude into the stomach acid around her. She prays the drugs are enough to either make Babyface vomit her back out or OD the monster into oblivion. The Nein watch as Babyface begins to gurgle strangely, swaying on it’s feet before its cloudy eyes roll back into its head and it collapses unconscious to the floor.
Veth takes this moment of confusion to crawl into the maw, grab Beau’s arm and start to drag her out. Yasha shakes off her stun and helps yank Veth and Beau back out to freedom. Caduceus pours a massive heal spell into Beau to get her back on her feet and she begins sucker punching the abomination while it’s still unconscious. Yasha gets in a few scrapes with her sword, Fjord sends a quick blast up its behind, and Caduceus cancels a natural 20 eating attack lessens the brutality of Veth also being swallowed by the creature (thank the gods for grave clerics). Caduceus then musters up a rarely used Blight spell, channeling necrotic energy into a life sucking beam. The creature’s skin begins to crackle and split, all moisture and life now empty from its husk.
The Nein take a short rest to lick their wounds and heal up after this intense encounter. They proceed through the next tunnels with more stealth and care. The adventurers find themselves in another laboratory of sorts, this one with a magical suit of armor complete with dead body, a platinum rod, and two glass tanks with still, alien looking forms inside. On one of the walls, a panel has some strange descriptions on it… “Hunter development list: Absorber 0-072, Nullifier 0-038, and Subject 0-002.” What could this mean? The exploring is cut short when one of the figures inside the tanks begins to twitch and bump against the glass of its prison and a sickly eye on a tail’s tip locks eyes on the Nein. Not wishing to fight another horrifying abomination, the Nein quickly and quietly move into the next room.
A steep and lengthy descent fades into an eerie underground forest. Caduceus feels overwhelmingly unsettled as he realizes this forest very closely mirrors what the corrupted parts of the Savalier Woods look like. Something here is not right, the trees are…so sick. There will be no rest or shelter here. Caduceus, in a pained and horrified state, calls out his sorrow to the trees, promising them he will fix this if he can. Jester attempts to reach out with speak to plants to see if she can more clearly pass on Caduceus’ message. She is met with only a wave of seething desperation and hunger. It’s time to go.
The Nein find another archway leading to the next chamber. Using Jester’s locate object spell, they know this is where the Lode Stone they seek will be. Sure enough, planted in the ceiling, the large crystal glitters in the faint light. As the Nein gaze up at their quarry, the episode comes to an end, leaving us wondering what the adventurers will do next.
We got a lengthy fight and a spelunking adventure this episode! It’s been a while since our last long form combat and clocking in at an hour and a half this fight is no turtle-y tiff. Jester came out swinging with a beautiful Critical hit with her high level Inflict Wounds. Nothing is more beautiful than when a high damage spell rolls really well and gets the natural 20 double dice damage. Which led to her dealing 106 damage with one spell. Cleric MVP moment number 1!
I know the fight started out in a bit of a panic, especially with the melee girls down and out in the first round. But after Jester’s mega spell, confidences remained pretty high throughout the fight. Even when Beau was near death and boiling inside intestinal juices, the rest of the gang was playing it calm, cool, and collected. It’s refreshing to see how creative the Nein’s battles are becoming. There’s usually a point in combat, especially in higher levels, where you get so focused on higher level abilities and all the cool combos you’ve been min/maxing that you forget the creative solutions to some scenarios. I was fully expecting Beau to try lightning fist punching her way to freedom, so when the Suude came out it was a hilarious long shot that I was absolutely on board for. I couldn’t stop laughing when Mercer said “are you going to take drugs for your final moments” and Marisha had to lengthily explain how she wanted to drug the baby monster. It’s classic DnD moments like this that I love and live for.
After the final few rounds of rather embarrassingly easy rounds of combat, Caduceus sweeps in with that final Blight spell. The HDYWTDT moment paired with the ever so helpful 70 HP Heal spell gave us Cleric MVP moment number 2! A short rest and a long walk to an underground forest bring us to the second half of this episode. The Nein have become pros at navigating the convoluted tunnels and structures of Aeor now and move pretty painlessly into the next few chambers. They find a nice creepy lab that hosts more genetically modified abominations preserved in large fluid filled tubes. The gentle twitching from hundreds year old limbs inside the glass is enough to get the Nein to hustle into the next chamber. Mercer is a master at setting the eerie tone and moving players through scenes at a manageable pace.
The underground forest that is unsettlingly similar to the Savalier Woods was a cherry on top of our creepy sundae. What new hints could Mercer be laying on with this strange information? I’m happy to see new ties into Caduceus’ backstory, since we haven’t heard much after the Clay family reunion. Who knew talking to trees could leave you feeling so slimy and spooked?
Next week’s episode leads in with the Nein figuring out how they want to handle the giant lode stone they’ve discovered. Destroy, confiscate, use? What will the Tomb Takers have to say about the Nein’s actions? When will Essek be able to have his friends over for dinner? All this and more, coming up soon! Is it Thursday yet?
Don’t Miss It!
There will be new episodes of both Narrative Telephone and Talks Machina airing this Tuesday. Narrative Telephone will be broadcast at 4 pm pacific. It will feature a holiday story from Laura Bailey and special guest Mica Burton!
Talks Machina will broadcast after Narrative Telephone in its normal 7 pm time slot. Brian and guests Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey will be catching us up on episodes 116 through 119.
Episode 120 will be our last new episode of Critical Role in 2020 as the cast and crew take a holiday hiatus. Critical Role will return on January 14th with episode 121 of campaign 2! Stay tuned for next week’s Critical Role Review or check critrole.com for an updated broadcasting schedule,