Episode 34: Encroaching Waters
The Mighty Nein walk into a bar and are met with an interesting slew of fascinating characters. They are instantly drawn to a gnarled, crusty tortle with an eye patch and strange pipes sticking out from his shell. Jester discovers his name is Orly Skiffback, a local sailor and frequent patron to the bar. After a bit of warming up, they discover that he has some clues that could greatly help their search for the mysterious man in the Cloven Crystal letter, Marius Lepeul. He gives them a physical description of the weasely half elf man and the last place Orly saw him.
Fjord approaches another patron at the bar. A formidable woman with greying streaks in her dark brown hair. Fjord’s charm gets her attention and she tells him her name is Captain Adella. (Fun Fact: Captain Adella was also in campaign 1! She sailed the ship that led Keyleth and crew to Vesrah to complete her Ara Mente.) Adella offers Fjord a job at sea, which he would love to take but knows he must stay with his companions and see his story out here. He promises to call on her in the future should they need a ship’s passage.
artwork by: @BlackSalander
Nott does her own form of information gathering learning…nothing. But, she does manage to scare a bar full of drunk patrons. So there’s that win. The Nein decide to use the information gathered from Orly and Captain Adella to investigate the hidden underwater entrance to the shady ‘Sluice Weave’ that Algar has been known to frequent. Leading the party down to the docks, Fjord manages to make friends with a local fisherman and gets permission to borrow his boat for the evening. While Fjord is working on getting the group a boat, Beau gets up the courage to get some more clues from a local guard.
She channels her inner rich girl and creates a fake name and story for herself. She calls herself Traci and claims to be travelling through the Menagerie Coast for a spring break type vacation. She asks the guard what he knows about the Sluice Weave and what goes on inside of it. He questions her interest in it, but she feigns a deep interest in ‘scary things’. He gives her a brief history of the underwater transportation tunnel system, and does in fact point out a possible entrance point to look for. ‘Traci’s’ flirting gains her more attention from the guard than she bargained for and she has to do some quick thinking to ditch her new guard friend.
Using the information that Beau just gathered, and the little skiff that Fjord borrowed, The Nein set out into the harbor to do some investigating. Caleb spends a few minutes transmuting Frumpkin from cat form to octopus. He sends Frumpkin to do some underwater recon to see if they can find the hidden entrance. It takes some trial and error before Caleb can confidently guess that this particular sewer system may lead to the entrance. He recommends that they break into the first set of grates and do some more recon in the next chamber.
There’s a few moments of confusion and chaos as the group quickly has to convince Nott to go underwater and figure out exactly how long a tiny red weasel and a baby blink puppy can hold their breath. Nott’s fear of water can’t compete with Caleb’s Suggestion magic and she allows Beau to carry her down into the tunnel systems. Miraculously, the weasel and puppy survive the 100 ft swim and will live to see…at least the next few hours.
As Caleb send’s Frumpkin down the next set of underwater tunnels, Beau notices something strange happening in the water next to them. The swirling eddies seem to be moving on their own and she warns Fjord just in time for him to realize it’s a water elemental. They realize they probably tripped some kind of trap and must fend off the whirling entity of watery death while Caleb and Frumpkin find the way out.
After the whirlpool water elemental is defeated, and Frumpkin finds a promising path, Jester and Yasha break through the next set of grates. The group make it through to the next set of caverns and overhear a voice giving directions. They spot none other than Algar, with his two dwarven body guards talking amongst themselves about something in the water.
Algar calls out again and something begins to stir underneath the water. A glowing light breaks the surface and a large, floating, fish-like humanoid with a lower half that swirls like a water elemental. The elemental, responding to Algar’s commands, alerts to the presence of intruders. Algar holds up the lantern, a bracelet glistening at his wrist, and spots the Mighty Nein hiding behind the rocks. They leap into action and a battle begins.Caduceus notices something that no one else picks up on and he calls out to his companions that they must get that bracelet off.
The battle becomes more intense than either side bargained for. Fireballs, milky ethereal tentacles from another plane, and debilitating water walls are thrown back and forth. Both sides take massive injuries and the fight could go either way. Caleb and Caduceus become trapped in a wall of swirling water and fight for breath and consciousness. Both begin actively drowning as their companions desperately try and get them out while fending off a powerful water genie, a pretentious asshole, and his two armored body guards.
Fjord manages to take out the two body guards and Beau rushes in to take down Algar. Beau gets Algar pinned to the ground while Fjord decides to cut the squealing Algar’s hand off to get at the bracelet. A cloud lifts from the water genie’s eyes and it stops its attack. Its eyes travel over the members of the Mighty Nein and land on Algar. The being begins to slowly, menacingly float towards the companions and their captor.
I really loved this episode. I was worried I wouldn’t since last week’s episode was a little slow and meandering story wise. But this episode was action packed and had lots of laughs in it as well. Best of both worlds. The big fight at the end was a lot more harrowing than I expected it to be, and was really on the edge of my seat when both Caleb and Caduceus were fighting off death saving throws. It’s really interesting to see how on edge the cast is about making death saving throws after Molly. Taliesin was visibly uncomfortable and the rest of the cast were making dark jokes and shooting nervous looks at each other while Caleb and Caduceus drowned.
Caleb and Fjord really came in clutch this episode. Liam is really using Frumpkin, and all his wizard class abilities, to their fullest extent. Having a little ‘drone camera’ familiar to scope out new and possibly dangerous terrain is a game changer for these guys. It worked amazingly when they broke into The Iron Shepherd’s fortress and it worked again this episode. Fjord’s new warlock abilities are so badass. Thunder Step, Booming Blade, and Hunger of Hadar were so brilliantly brought to life during the battle and I found myself itching to play a magic user again for the first time in a long time. Warlocks are some serious shit.
Matt also introduced some killer NPC’s this episode. The cast was absolutely loving his portrayal of Orly Skiffback, the tortle sailor. ( An NPC actually created by the Critter Community and revealed during the last Fireside Chat). The cajun accent, the eyepatch, the tattoos, and the built in bagpipes make for one unforgettable character. The genie/water elementals under Algar’s control were also some pretty badass foes in the second half of the episode. I feel like the adventurers were slightly unprepared for their ambush. The beings were clearly very powerful, dealing near fatal strikes on several cast members. Hopefully Fjord and Caleb can charm the pants off the remaining ‘genie’ before it finishes them.
Ashley Johnson returns!!! Even if it’s just for one episode, it’s always great to have Yasha back at the table. She and Caduceus had some interesting interactions that I really enjoyed. As much as she doesn’t want to like the guy that took Molly’s place, his charming demeanor is hard to say no to. Yasha did some pretty awesome fighting in the second half of the episode that showcased why it’s awesome to have a raging barbarian warrior fighting on your side. It’s pretty crushing that Ashley won’t be able to make it to the New York Comic Con live show in a few weeks, but hopefully this means Blindspot will be done filming faster and she can come back for good.
Marisha had an interesting character growth/experimentation in this week’s episode. In one of the biggest breaks from norm, Marisha plays a ‘clueless rich girl pretentious’ type character dubbed Traci. Traci is the exact polar opposite to Beau’s (and Marisha’s) normal personality. Bubbly, seductive, friendly. Traci was a weird role playing exercise that I think I actually liked. When the idea first came up in the discussion with Fjord I was ready for another bizarre Marisha tangent that goes nowhere. But the deeper she got into Traci’s personality and the longer her conversation with the poor guard went on I actually really enjoyed it.
Next week’s episode promises to start with a bang. It’s been a while since we’ve had a classic Mercer mid-action cliffhanger. It will be interesting to see if the Nein will have to continue to fight the obviously more powerful entity they have now graciously freed from Algar. The Nein will also have to see out the consequences of the brutal beating they put Algar through. Hopefully he gets the message and he doesn’t have any higher up friends that could cause more problems than the Nein bargained for. It will be interesting to see how the Ruby of the Sea reacts to the news of Algar’s defeat. At least the Nein didn’t kill him…yet. There’s no telling when the group will go murder hobo on a poor NPC. Next week’s episode may also contain an exciting peek into Fjord’s Cloven Crystal! With the ample clues the Nein now have on Marius, they should be able to figure out how his story ties into this crystal.
Don’t miss Critical Role’s new shows! You can find the Pub Crawl video game play through and group chat with Marisha, Liam, Travis, Taliesin and Sam on YouTube. Sam Riegel is an absolute joy to watch as he flips from ‘king of the world’ to ‘I have no idea what’s happening.’ Brian W. Foster’s new show Between the Sheets premiers Monday’s at 7pm Pacific or catch the YouTube upload on Wednesday. Brian and Taliesin have a one on one discussion about the man behind the myth. Also, get Taliesin’s very own recipe for a Blonde Manhattan. Sam Riegel and Liam O’Brien’s brand new (?) episode of All Work No Play premieres Friday, September 27th at 7 pm on the Critical Role Twitch channel. If the show is anything like the podcast you. Do. Not. Want. To. Miss. It. I also can’t wait to tune into the NYCC live show on Thursday, October 4th! Exciting things are headed our way.