Critical Role Recap: Episode 9
Previously on Critical Role, the newly titled Mighty Nein made their way north on the Amber Road toward Zadash. They encountered landmarks from an ancient war and deterred a bandit group by pretending to have severe syphilis. They soon arrived at Zadash and pawned off junk they found in the gnoll-infested mines, encountered a beloved shopkeeper called Enchanter Pumat Sol, and made their way to the Leaky Tap tavern.
Single Paragraph Synopsis
The Mighty Nein explored Zadash in search of new odd jobs while pursuing their own character goals. Fjord and Beau sat in on a secret meeting of an anti-imperialist group called the Knights of Requital. Nott did some thieving while Caleb admired the Archives. Jester tried to pick up a package from her mother, but upon learning that she had never sent it, the Traveler visited her to lighten her spirits. The Mighty Nein looked at a jobs board and retired to a bathhouse in order to discuss their options. While naked together, they found Yasha in the baths. Beau admired the view.
Finally, the Mighty Nein accepted a job to delve into the Zadash sewers and hunt down an unknown beast that had caused several disappearances and clogged the sewers with webbing.
Upon arriving in the Leaky Tap, a simple but large tavern filled with Zadash’s working class, Beau immediately decided to case the joint. She found lots of dusty, destitute folk throwing off their worries tonight by laughing, carousing, and making merry chaos—but found no one particularly unwholesome. She spotted several bartenders, including a portly white dragonborn with a scarred but jovial face. This dragonborn, known as Wessec the Trim, greeted the Mighty Nein (“but there’s six of you”) and opened a tab, setting up rooms for the night.
The Leaky Tap Tavern
With this business taken care of, the Mighty Nein began exploring. Jester and Nott investigated a pair of men playing cards in a corner, and Jester muscled her way into playing a hand of Crick-Queen’s Call, a game she introduced her friends to back in Trostenwald. Unfortunately, the older of the two men caught her cheating and took the whole pot. Nott decided to watch, but Caleb took her away to do something else.
Jester, Beau, Molly, and Fjord decided to look for Claudia Sheed, the owner of the establishment and the person their friend Watchmaster Bryce had recommended they meet as they left Alfield. Wessec directed the party upstairs to Claudia’s office, and found her to be a glamorous—if overworked—female elf. “Any friend of Bryce is a friend of mine,” she explained, and let them into her sparse, utilitarian office. Molly asked her for employment, as they were seeking odd jobs around Zadash. Claudia asked what kind of employment they were looking for, and the party ultimately decided that anything worked, as long as they avoided entanglements with the Crownsguard.
Claudia suggested they find jobs posted around town, and gave a few warnings about the totalitarian rule of the Dwendalian Empire. The empire’s influence is felt keenly in large cities like Zadash, especially their religious inhibitions. She warned Jester not to speak too loudly about her god, the Traveler, lest she wished to find herself in the Umber Dungeon. Only state-managed shrines to the six state-approved gods—the Allhammer, the Raven Queen, the Lawbearer, the Dawnfather, the Platinum Dragon, and the Knowing Mistress—are permitted. All other gods and religions are viewed as heretical cults. She also warned Molly that those of “unique heritages” should avoid the eastern reaches, as tieflings “bear the curse of Ghor Dranas.” The Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting explains that in the Age of Arcanum, millennia ago, Ghor Dranas was the seat of power for the evil Betrayer Gods. Now, it is only a ruin, but legends run strong.
Meanwhile, Caleb and Nott spent time together in the taproom of the Leaky Tap learning magic. Caleb was copying the unseen servant spell from a scroll into his spellbook, and wanted Nott to help him and learn with him.
The Knights of Requital
After speaking with Claudia, the Mighty Nein found that some sort of party was gathering downstairs. A young half-elf girl with freckles and auburn hair and a dirty face hailed Claudia and asked if her party free to use the cellar for their meeting. She gathered a group of people from the taproom, and Jester asked Claudia who they were. She explained that they are “passionate political debaters,” and Fjord and Beau decided to investigate. Caleb and Molly trailed behind.
Along the way, Fjord commented to Beau that a compliment she gave to Claudia earlier really sounded like an insult, and offered to help her sound more sincere when complimenting people. They worked on it for a bit, following the mysterious “political debaters,” but nothing seemed to work. Beau tried smiling, tries winking, but the resting bitch face (and voice) always won out. She eventually returned a compliment to Fjord, saying “you’re really nice, too.” He thought it was a step in the right direction.
In the cellar, a human man in his early sixties with small spectacles and unshaved stubble on his chin greeted Fjord. After some dissent from the other people present in the room, the half elf girl from earlier, named Kara, nudged towards Fjord and Beau and allowed them to join their meeting.
Silence took hold in the room. She broke it by asking her guests a question. “I’m curious. Share with me briefly the joys the empire have brought to your life. Be honest.”
Fjord replied dumbly, “I’m afraid my list is not that long.”
Beau was more articulate, and said “We’re a bit skeptical. We’re looking for support, just like any other wayward souls in this crazy town. We want to be able to trust our empire, but maybe we need some reassurance in one way or another.” She rolled a Charisma (Persuasion) check with advantage, and succeeded.
Fjord and Beau, and Molly and Caleb, who were listening from the back, learned that these people are political dissidents who chafe under imperial rule. They call themselves the Knights of Requital, and are reminiscent of the student revolutionaries from Les Misérables. Several members share their grievances, including the elderly man who greeted them. His name was Dolan Thryme, and he was wronged by the noble house of Sutan. Another man’s wife was thrown in jail after being mugged by a street gang and barred from seeing her family. Dozens of others shared similar stories of woe.
Dolan concluded the meeting that they may have a new beginning for the people of Zadash, and urged them all to keep their chin up.
Beau and Fjord were enamored with the dissidents. Caleb and Molly dipped out just before the end, but were very interested. Jester didn’t go, but was convinced that it was a very sticky orgy.
Caleb expressed concern to his friends that the dissidents were too trusting. Dolan and Kara gave their names to people they barely knew, and even shared with them where they lived. Molly agreed, saying “You gather groups of people together to turn them into idiots! That’s what I did [in the carnival]! It’s what I did to you!”
As the Mighty Nein prepared to rest for the night, Molly reminded Nott that there are people in the world who need what they have. He suggested that Nott should develop how to tell who needs their money and who can be stolen from. Steal from the grumpy and don’t take from the poor. “Definitely steal from Beau,” he joked. “Beau needs to know who likes her.”
Jester borrowed scraps of parchment from Caleb and made religious pamphlets about the Traveler. The entire table gasped; this was clearly against the religious strictures of the empire. Nevertheless, Jester made ten pamphlets as her friends laid down for the night.
Job-Hunting in the Big City
The next morning, Caleb asked Wessec the dragonborn about where he could find a large library in the city, and learned of two libraries in town: the Archives and the Hall of Erudition, part of the Soltryce Academy’s building in town. Molly, Jester, and Nott made plans to visit the Pillow Trove inn to pick up money that Jester believed her mom sent her. But they agreed to visit a bathhouse and tidy up first. Fjord also decided to go to the blacksmith, sell some junk from their adventures, and then to look at job postings.
Now with a plan of action, the Mighty Nein traveled into the city’s market district, the Penta Market, and bumped into a town crier, shouting about the Alfield attack, and spewing propaganda that the gnolls had been defeated by the Crownsguard. Nott objected, “Hey, we did that! That was us! They stole our thunder!”
Molly interjected, “But not our gold.”
Fjord said, “But credit would help our reputation.”
After some investigation, they learned that both the town crier’s boss and a job board could be found within the King’s Hall, a nearby municipal building. Another town crier announces that protested in the imperial capital of Rexxentrum were crushed by the Crownsguard. The party thought back to the dissidents they met in the basement of the Leaky Tap, but tried to put the thought out of their heads.
They traveled to the Sparkhammer Smithy and met a halfing man named Yennik with deeply tanned skin, short black hair, and muscular arms. Jester approached traded a great deal of junk from previous adventures for a pair of shining hand axes.
From there, Caleb gawked at the gorgeous exterior of the Archives while Nott snuck off and found the grumpiest person he could see and tried to steal from her, taking great pains to pickpocket her using her newfound mage hand, but accidentally popped open her blouse. The lady fled, and Nott made her way back to the party.
Now reunited, the Nein made their way towards the King’s Hall and the jobs board. It was filled with jobs, and plenty of sellswords and other workers passed by. One notice promised a reward for information on Myriad activity—that is, the movement of a notorious thieves’ guild that originated in Wildemount. Others offered gold for information of rebel activity or proof of heretical worship. However, what caught the party’s eye was a bounty of 700 gold placed on a roving beast in need of extermination. The board specified that all job inquiries were to be taken to the Herald of the Hall, Voloshin.
Nott suggests ratting out the dissidents—perhaps that was just Sam joking—but the rest of the party disagreed vehemently. Molly decides that the best way to decide on their next course of action is to take a hot bath together at the bathhouse, where everyone can be “boiling and naked.” Molly’s declared that he always hit the bathhouse first, in any major town. They traveled to the Steam’s Respite bathhouse and chose a communal bath that is appears to be made from a hot spring.
Boiling and Naked (With Friends)
Jester cannonballed in and relished being in the water, but then saw a familiar face in the water: Yasha is relaxing in the hot tub, too. Ashley Johnson returned, and was welcomed onset with cheers!
Taliesin described Molly’s entire tattoo in detail too great for this writer to catch on the first go. Nott got a swimming lesson from Beau. Jester offered to wash Nott’s hair for once in her life. Yasha revealed that she worships the Stormlord, a god banned within the empire, and takes great pains to hide her secret. “The Stormlord pulled me out of what felt like the depths of hell,” she said. “I owe him my life.”
Most importantly, while in the steaming water, the party discussed which job they wanted to take. Eventually, they decided. They would return to the King’s Hall and speak to the Herald of the Hall to gain his permission to hunt the roving beast. Before they leave, though, Beau and Yasha played “hot tub chicken,” trying to see who would leave the bath first. Yasha ended up leaving first, and Beau enjoyed the view.
As the rest of the Nein departed for the King’s Hall, Jester and Caleb made their way to the Pillow Trove in search of the care package Jester had requested from her wealthy mother some time ago. However, Jester was barred from entering by a bouncer who didn’t like the look of her or Caleb. She was eventually able to persuade him into letting her in, but Caleb was strictly forbidden to enter, because of his ratty appearance. Another guard even kicked Frumpkin, dealing 1 point of damage and killing the familiar! Frumpkin can be resummoned every day, but it still stings. Caleb attempted to sneak in after Jester by using disguise self to adopt a disguise of “Evil David Hasselhoff,” in full black velvet.
However, a magical ward dispelled Caleb’s disguise and he was thrown out.
Jester entered the glamorous, casino-like interior of the Pillow Trove and asked a woman at the front desk for her package. Two members of the Crownsguard kept a close watch on her. She asked three times for her package, each with different names, but it seems nothing had come for her. Distraught, Jester rented a room there and sulked in solitude. She called to the Traveler in desperation, and to our surprise, the Traveler appeared before her. He appeared in a green cloak with a dark hood casting his face in shadow, save for two glowing emerald eyes. His presence was a comfort, one that had helped Jester stay alive for so many years alone in her room, back in Nicodramas
He said to her, “The more deeds you do, the more lives you change, the more confidant brats you break. She'll find you. I’m never far.”
Jester’s spirit was renewed, and she left to find her friends.
The Next Quest
Meanwhile, in the King’s Hall, a stressed looking male dwarf with thick mutton chops and salt and pepper hair greeted the rest of the Mighty Nein. He wore long robes of gold, white, and silver, and carried the holy symbol of the Lawbearer. He was the Herald of the Hall, Voloshin.
The Mighty Nein agreed to hunt down a beast and gave false names as he drafted a contract for them. Voloshin described the issue: near the Trispire was a sewer entrance blocked up by webbing and menaced by a mysterious beast. Three groups had already tried to slay the beast, two hadn’t returned, and one had retreated.
With the contract signed, the Mighty Nein reconvened for the night in the Leaky Tap tavern, this time with Yasha sticking around. They hunkered down for the evening and prepared for their adventure at dawn.
Critical Role will continue on March 15th 2018 with Episode 10. Beware the Ides of March!
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, and writes as a freelancer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He loves watching Critical Role and wants everyone he knows to get into it, too. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his very own Frumpkins, Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.