Episode 139: Rebirth
The Nein slowly pick themselves up after the world stops shaking and the black spots clear from their vision. Miraculously, they have not been obliterated by the cluster of Intuit charges Lucien detonated. Fjord and Jester rush back a ways to see if Lucien or the Somnovum are alive and they are able to make out Lucien’s voice. Fjord also notices a weak red, pulsing light that he assumes are the Somnovum, gravely injured but still conscious.
Jester’s earthquake surprised Lucien and he was hurt, but he’s not letting it slow him down. He muses about needing a rest and always wanting to become a butterfly. Then he drifts slowly into the walls of the chamber, bringing the lights of the Somnovum with him. The Nein debate whether to give chase now, and hope to end this fight while he’s already injured. But ultimately, the risk is too dangerous, Lucien is unpredictable, in complete control of the city and the Somnovum, and is able to sense their every move. They won’t survive any more tricks he has up his sleeve, a short rest is needed.
Jester manages to convince the rest of the party that they should have a Heroes’ Feast while they rest. Any extra help they can get against Lucien is essential. They spend the next hour eating a wide array of delicious delicacies while also rearranging their attuned item boons and giving each other a bit of extra luck with Fortune’s Favor. After taking another few moments for pep talks, last words, and a rousing motivational speech by Caduceus, the Nein prepare to confront Lucien…again.
Fjord risks another peek into the Somnovum chamber. Red lights travel through hidden tunnels in the walls, sporadic and fast. Jester leads the Nein up to the surface of Cognouza, following the trail of lights. They find themselves under the open starscape of the Astral Sea once again, staring at a glowing, pulsing flesh sac on the ground before them. The layers of flesh begin to peel back and a familiar, and yet now more monstrous lavender tiefling form floats free. His body is muscular, skin faintly luminescent, and the eye symbols have been replaced by tentacle like stalks with glowing red orbs protruding from his body.
Lucien has fused his form with the consciousness of the Somnovum. Each eye stalk now housing a tortured soul bent on destroying the Nein. He watches as the Nein gather around his floating form, wondering what his next move will be. He questions outloud… why did he leave them alive all this time? He can’t seem to recall the reason. Jester takes the bait, and quietly says Molly’s name. Caleb joins in too. Lucien snarls and twitches but shrugs off whatever effect the name had on him. He flexes and the city screams in unison, announcing his rebirth.
Lucien attempts to activate the two threshold crests, but soon realizes one is missing. He threatens the Nein, saying maybe he will send the pattern to Veth’s family, or their other loved ones. Veth says he ‘shouldn’t steal from nice people.” Caleb says his threats are “empty”. Jester sings a song from the circus Molly performed in all that time ago. Lucien swallows down the reactions to these memories of his previous life and enraged, turns the eyes of the Somnovum against the Nein.
Elatis sends out a ray to Veth that leaves her heart racing in uncontrollable excitement, but she just manages to steel herself against the full effect. The red eye on her body seemed to affect her ability to withstand the reaction, and she senses a new eye emerge on her body. Ira detonates a fireball into the heroes, sending them scattering. Gaudius targets Beau, filling her with an overwhelming sense of love for Cognouza, but she is also able to shrug off the effect without incurring a new eye..
Now the Nein are able to get some punches in. As Beau rushes in with her fists, she reminds Lucien of the time she and Molly got high together. Lucien snarls, distracted enough to lose a legendary action for this round. Jester pops up the Arcane Field Generator and Lucien’s anti magic cone shimmers into view. Fjord sends a few eldtrich blasts in, but they only seem to draw the eye’s ire. Fastidan hits Fjord with a necrotic ray, sucking the some of the life out of him. Luctus sends a sickly grey ray crashing into Fjord who suddenly feels all the grief of the world on his shoulders and he slows almost to a halt. Yasha rushes in, boosted by a Haste spell from Essek and manages to land two solid hits. Essek rips space time apart, sending a gravity fissure arcing through the battlefield and tearing into Lucien’s form. Veth sneaks a hefty hit with her crossbow bolts.
Lucien’s hand snaps out, closing around Beau’s throat. “This seems familiar,” he muses as Beau’s vision goes white with pain, blood pouring from her eyes, nose and ears. Beau manages to keep most of the devastating damage to a minimum, but isn’t able to stop Lucien from attacking Yasha with Gaudius. Yasha fails her save and is charmed by the love Gaudius sends to her. She’ll do anything to protect him. Her face goes cold as she turns her sword on Beau. Timore tries to send a bolt of fear into Jester, but Heroes’ Feast saves the day and she’s immune. Beau manages to break Lucien’s grip on her throat and she croaks out “Molly, don’t you want to go visit Gustav?” Lucien loses another legendary action as he struggles with his mind.
Jester and Fjord also attempt to break his concentration, bringing up tarot cards and the circus. Lucien seems disoriented for just a moment, but still maintains control, sending another Ira fire ball to Beau and Fjord. Caleb comes roaring in with another Gravity Fissure that Lucien manages to mostly evade. Yasha, still under Gaudius’ influence, takes three swings at Beau, who manages to duck out of the way of all of them. Essek calls out to Yasha and dispels the charm effect. He watches with wishful amusement as Beau and Yasha share a quick victorious kiss midbattle. Caduceus boost Beau with a Holy Weapon effect and she excitedly prepares for another round of attacks.
Round three, and Faustidan focuses his guilty glare on Beau, crushing her under memories of all her failings and shortcomings. Fastidan hits Jester with 59 points of necrotic damage, leaving her feeling shriveled. Caleb manages to avoid Miramus’ gaze with a powerful Protection from Aberration spell. Beau tries to come in hot, but her guilt combined with Lucien invoking a blood maledict curse turn her vision black and she misses all her attacks. She still manages to distract Lucien by recalling Molly’s drinking adventures in Hupperdook. He retaliates by sending Fastidan to suck the life out of her. Veth uses the distraction to land another solid crossbow bolt. Lucien is starting to look annoyed.
Jester speaks to Molly, sharing her regret that she couldn’t be there to save him when he died. Lucien’s facade cracks again and he tries to attack her with Miramus but she is able to withstand. Yasha and Essek land hits with Holy Avenger and five magic missiles; Lucien is finally starting to look injured. More crossbow bolts from Veth pique Lucien’s rage again. He grabs Yasha’s face, mimicking the devastating damage he did to Beau. Gaudius focuses his charm on Essek, whose eyes go wide as he is lulled by the eye. He begins to draw a powerful well of gravity into his hands to aim at his friends. Caleb catches this happening and quickly calls out to Essek “Wake up!” dispelling the charm before he can unleash destruction. Essek is shaken and thankful Caleb was able to stop him in time. Jester also falls prey to more necrotic damage from Fastidan.
Beau, feeling the fury of watching her friends hurt, lands four incredible punches (including two nat 20’s) for 111 damage in one turn. Veth suffers the full effects of a necrotic ray from Fastidan, while Fjord pops a few more Eldritch blasts off at Lucien. Caduceus is tricked by Elatis into thinking his sister Calliope is in his grasp, he rushes right next to Lucien to try and get to her. Once Caduceus gets up close and personal with Lucien he manages to shrug off the effect, but uses his proximity to his advantage. Veth’s next attack is doubled by Caduceus’ path to the grave boon. Her next crossbow bolt deals a whopping 100 damage.
Lucien looks around, remarking that he’s been doing this on his own a little too much. Time to really flex his new powers. He dives back down to the surface of the city and into a hole that opens willingly to him. The Nein give chase, no chance of him getting away this time. Just as the Nein catch up with Lucien, he is attaching himself to the city structure. His eye stalks fusing with the surrounding building, his flesh bulging and sagging into a new, final form. And that’s where we’ll pick up next time!
Ok, before we get started with the review of episode 139, we should talk about the end of campaign news Mercer dropped earlier this week. While the news may have surprised some, the cast has been heavily hinting that the end of the campaign may be looming. This arc has certainly built into quite a crescendo and is an epic way to finish the explicit story of the Mighty Nein. Now, while some reactions to this news were rather…heated… for the most part Critters are processing the news in stride and looking hopefully at a new Campaign 3 adventure. I will say that even though I knew the end of Campaign was a very real option, I was a bit heartbroken to have the news officially confirmed. After three amazing years with the Nein I think it’s safe to say we all got a little attached. Saying goodbye is always hard! It was hard the first time, it will be just as hard this time.
I’m sure we’ll get quite an emotional wrap up session full of anecdotes, memories, tears, and a wide array of options for future Mighty Nein appearances. We will still get the M9 vs Vox Machina one shot, and who knows how many more canon one-shots will follow. Like Mercer said, this is a goodbye, but not an ending. The story will go on, whether we follow their every moment or not. The loose ends of the story only make it more unique in my opinion. Just like in life, not every question will be answered. Not everyone gets a happy ever after all wrapped up in a bow. This campaign has never been about obvious story lines with clear heroes and villains and to try and force it into a perfect wrapping would be disingenuous. I fully trust Mercer and the cast to tell their own stories in the way they best see fit. I am thankful they still enjoy bringing us these stories every week! I look forward to riding this campaign out to its end, whether that’s in a few weeks or months. Then, I’m sure the cast will take a brief hiatus to catch up on new projects (Animated Series here we come!) and maybe toss in a few interlude one-shots while we wait for them to prepare what comes next.
OK, ok I think that’s enough soap box from me, let’s talk about this week’s session.
Whooooo boy, the chain of events that led to this final fight have been crazy! It’s so strange to think that this fight could have ended any other way half a dozen times. Could you imagine if the Nein had killed Lucien back in Eiselcross the first time they travelled together? Where would we be now? While this fight may lack the God-tier intensity of Vecna from campaign 1, I don’t know if that kind of fight would fit with the Nein. They are not the golden heroes that Vox Machina became. They’ve always been the scrappy underdogs with half-baked hair-brained plans. It should be a true testament to their chaotic power that a former villain is now fighting side by side along with them to try and stop the end of the world.
And, as epic and public, and destructive as the Vecna fight was for Vox Machina, the Nein have quite the opposite problem. Only a select handful of people know exactly what the Nein are trying to do for Exandria, and should they win…their best reward will be that the entire world will have no idea how thankful they should be for this band of mercenaries. Life will go on, blissfully unaware, and the Nein will get to return home to their loved ones in quiet reception. It’s heartbreakingly poetic. I love it.
There were a few comparisons made between NeoNonagon and a beholder…like K’Varn from Campaign 1. Yeah, true the guy has some nifty eye stalks with cool deadly powers, but this fight was a bit beefier than your average Beholder fight. K’Varn only took around 400 damage, although he was scaled to face off against a level 8 or 9 Vox Machina. Lucien took well over 600 damage already, and has now seemingly found a second source of HP by fusing with the city. The Nein did a good job of spell conservation and mitigating damage, though some of those necrotic hits really took chunks out of the party. I’m interested to see what curve balls Mercer may throw in part 2 of the fight!
As much as I love a long session, it was nice to have a breather between battle maps this time. The Vecna fight was an epic 5 1/2 hour marathon that left me feeling drained in every sense of the word. Having a week long wait is just whipping fans into a fury for the finale. My nerves get a few days to reset, and my imagination gets the chance to run wild at how this battle could possibly end.
There were some great moments in the fight! Lucien rolling a nat 20 to start the initiative was extremely concerning, but the Nein weathered the storm decently. Yasha and Essek had some scary moments, but lucky rolls (TWO nat 1’s) and well timed dispel magic saved the party from a deadly turn. Tumblr was frothing at the thought of Essek unleashing the long-begged for Dark Star spell on the Nein. Yasha’s all too familiar with trying to attack her beloved Beau, it’s old news to the ladies by now but it still had Ashley in cold sweats as she rolled her attacks.
Caduceus and Veth seem to be a devastating combo, with a little Beau sprinkled in there too. Caduceus’ grave cleric abilities enabled his allies to each deal 100+ damage attacks in a single turn. Mind-blowing and so sexy. Love me a good support cleric.
I love the Nein continuing to try and crack Lucien’s composure by recalling every single memory they have of their time with Molly. It seems to be doing… something to the tiefling. Although it would have been explosive to have Molly break back through Lucien’s subconscious, it seems like in his final form, the NeoNonagon may be too strong. We’ll see if the Nein pivot their proddings, or keep trying to needle away at that sore spot in Lucien’s mind. Keep fighting circus man! Protect your friends to the bitter end!
Next week may be the final session in the Cognouza arc! Are you ready?! I’m…feeling everything all at once. I’m desperate to see this story out to the end. Nervous to watch it play out in real time in front of me. Excited to see the Nein kick ass and save the world. And still in the denial stage that the end of the story is fast approaching. Episode 140 promises to be an epic one. The peak of a long thread that has wound its way through this entire campaign. Let’s go Critters!! It’s almost Thursday!
Don’t Miss It!
Lots of new Critical Role content coming out this week. Up first, an Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood sponsored one shot featuring GM Matthew Mercer, and players Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Sam Riegel, Aabria Iyengar, and Michele Ngyuen Bradley. You can catch this one shot on Critical Role’s Twitch channel Monday, May 24th at 7pm.
New episode of Talks Machina this Tuesday at 7 pm. Catch up on the campaign so far with guests Liam O’Brien and Marisha Ray.
And finally, after the regularly scheduled Thursday stream of episode 140, tune in Friday, May 28th at 4 pm for a new episode of Everything Is Content with Liam O’Brien and Laura Bailey as they continue their play through of Elder Scrolls Online with their characters Lex and Lax.