Episode 120: Contentious Company
The Nein have found the coveted threshold crest hidden deep in the cavern of Alpha 2. Now they face the task of retrieving it and safely returning to the surface while avoiding any other nightmarish horrors lurking in the ruins. Beau and Yasha take a quiet moment to themselves to discuss some rather private matters. Beau thanks Yasha for the adorable poem and they awkwardly work their way into making plans for a date night tomorrow evening. With their romantic engagements planned, the ladies rejoin the rest of their party who are working on getting ahold of their prize gem. The crest is firmly mounted in the ceiling of the cavern, but luckily the Nein have plenty of muscle and plenty of down time to pry the thing loose…well…almost.
Caleb notices the body of an intricate automaton buried in the rubble. He marvels over its complex mechanisms wondering what it could possibly have been used for when suddenly Caduceus alerts the party that something is heading their way. A large, nearly identical centurion automaton comes charging into the room ready for a fight. Luckily, Jester’s quick thinking and a well aimed banishment spell earn the Nein a full minute to prepare.
A levitating Yasha and Caleb’s cat’s ire claws work on freeing the gem while the others prepare attacks for the automaton’s return. Unfortunately the gem is stuck in a bit tighter than expected and the centurion returns with a vengeance before the gem is loosed. Fjord unleashes a devastating divine smite, but is immediately skewered clean through by the centurion’s lance. Beau, seeing her friend in danger leaps into action and lands some good hits on the construct before also being nearly killed by the piercing lance. Jester manages to banish the centurion again giving Veth a chance to hatch a perfect plan involving a banana peel.
The construct returns again! But unfortunately it misses Veth’s banana peel and stays upright. Undeterred, she and her crossbow nearly take the centurion down but an unlucky natural 1 backfires a bolt directly into her face. Caleb comes to the rescue with cat’s ire, clawing and rending the centurion useless. Yasha finally manages to pop the gem loose and the Nein squirrel it away safely. Caleb and Jester dismantle the centurion, saving its red ocular gem and it’s power source for another time.
As the Nein backtrack to the surface, Caduceus and Jester make plans to destroy the unnatural forest in the chamber above. They both agree this abomination needs to end. Caleb get’s the rest of the Nein up and out while Jester unleashes a massive firestorm onto the twisted forest. She retreats to the eerie sounds of wailing and screaming from the burning trees.
Returning to the entrance chamber, Iver greets the Nein and asks for news of his companions. Caduceus steps in and tries to hide the truth saying they didn’t find any sign of the travelers. Unfortunately, Caduceus is really new to the art of deception and Iver becomes convinced that the Nein have killed his companions and aim to off him next. He quickly says his goodbyes and tries to escape the Nein who are so unsuccessfully trying to convince him that the are in fact the good guys. The whole awkward ordeal ends with Iver tied up as a prisoner until Jester can wipe his memory in the morning.
Dagen greets the Nein, telling them a rather large storm is heading their way and leads the crew to a safe place to rest for the evening. Caleb throws up the dome and the companions take turns keeping watch. The night passes seemingly undisturbed until Caduceus’ early morning watch when he realizes Lucien and the Tomb Takers are patiently waiting right outside their campsite.
He alerts the others to their surprise guests and takes a few moments to figure out what Lucien wants. Lucien, putting on a calm and reasonable front, politely asks that the Nein hand over the lodestone and please refrain from taking charge over explorations. Caduceus, seeing right through the facade, pokes every single one of Lucien’s buttons while also trying to somehow buy his companions two extra hours of much needed rest. Lucien, who is about ready to strangle Caduceus tries to negotiate the Nein into giving him the lodestone in exchange for information and safe passage to the next alpha location. It seems like both parties agree traveling together will prove more exciting than continuing to compete against each other. What new chaos will the Nein find themselves in next time?
This episode is sprinkled with a little bit of everything. An invigorating fight. Some new mysterious story threads, romance, hijinks, and a neat little cliffhanger. Overall not a bad winter’s break end cap to tide us over until episode 121.
Marisha busted out the big guns, surprising us all with a blooming romance just a few breaths into the start of the episode. This encounter has been a long time coming with both Marisha and Ashley talking about wanting it to happen for ages in their respective Talks Machina episodes. After letting the Critters whet their appetite and leaving them begging for their date night, it seems like we have a wonderfully awkward first date to look forward to very soon.
Sam, never one to be outdone in the awkward humor department, spent the rest of the episode niggling both Beau and Yasha and surreptitiously invites herself along on their evening plans. These silly little moments breathed some life and light into an otherwise plot heavy episode. Sam also had another stand out humorous moment during the centurion battle. The hopeful banana peel ploy along with the natural 20- natural 1 whiplash with the tinkertop crossbow had me shaking my head.
Caduceus and Jester had their MVP moments this session as well. Jester with two helpful banishments and the level 7 fire storm highlighted the action. Caduceus stepped in with his ever useful grave cleric healing abilities, his essential perception checks that prevented them from being ambushed. And of course his adorable attempt at lying that led him to question just how far he’s fallen since joining with the Nein. Poor darling Caduceus has come a long way from the sheltered graveyard recluse in episode 28.
Did any one else hold their breath the entire time Lucien was harassing the Nein? Obviously we hadn’t seen the last of the Tomb Takers but I don’t think anyone was quite ready for a rather heated discussion before the Nein had even had their breakfast. Thankfully, due to a masterful negotiation between Lucien, Fjord and Caduceus, things seem to have reached a tentative peace… at least for now.
And so we wait with bated breath for the obvious disaster that teaming up with the Tomb Takers will be. The new year will bring many long awaited story threads together again. Beau still needs to tie together all her conspiracy threads into a neat little bow. Lucien is still holding too many interesting and mysterious cards. Will we ever find out how the creepy Aeor forest connects to Caduceus’ trouble at home? Oh and dinner with Essek is buried somewhere in this pile too! January 14th can’t come soon enough.
Don’t Miss It!
Happy New Year Critters! We are finally halfway through the winter hiatus. Only two more weeks to go before Critical Role returns with episode 121. Hopefully you’ve been surviving the break with a re-watching of The Night Before Critmas and catching up on Dani Carr’s new series Crit Recap Animated.
After Critical Role returns January 14th, keep an eye out for a new episode of Talks Machina that should air Tuesday January 19th.
Here’s hoping this new year brings new amazing adventures, a beautiful animated special, and maybe…gods willing…the entire cast sitting all together at their custom made Wyrmwood table once again. Catch you all in two weeks with a new Critical Role Review. Don’t worry, it’s almost Thursday!