Critical Role Recap: Episode 31
Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein returned to the city of Zadash and reported back to the Gentleman that they completed their tasks in the Labenda Swamp and in Shady Creek Run. Now, they have two weeks of downtime to relax and recover in the big city.
The Mighty Nein had a (mostly) relaxing two weeks in Zadash. Nott sent unusual letters. Caleb went shopping for new paper and ink and transcribed dozens of new pages worth of spells into his spellbook. Beau studied new techniques with the Cobalt Soul. Caduceus learned how to brew healing potions. Fjord went on a journey alone to the south in search of a figure from his past. Finally, Jester was nearly arrested vandalizing church property—and reunited with the Traveler. After their two weeks were finished, the party reconvened and decided to travel to the Menagerie Coast, beyond the southern border of the Dwendalian Empire, in order follow a lead they got from Lorenzo's hideout.
Art by Caio Santos (@BlackSalander)
With two weeks to kill, the Mighty Nein went on a series of personal adventures.
Nott used her money to buy all sorts of shiny baubles and a single crescent ornament, and sent them in a package. She also went out and purchased Tinkerer’s Tools and began tinkering with the pistol she stole from a guard in Hupperdook. Finally, she approached Jester and asked her for help forging a letter. She wanted her to forge official legal documents to the Soltryce Academy, in search of “Astrid, no last name given.”
Caleb went shopping, and Beau, Jester, and Caduceus joined him. Their first stop was the Invulnerable Vagrant—Pumat Sol’s shop! The Pumats were excited to see Caduceus, and Clay was equally excited to see Pumat Prime.
Jester was interested in buying enchanted weaponry, but Pumat couldn’t provide anything quite to the specifications she wanted (opens wounds that don’t close, poisons people, makes people hit by them start dancing, and turns them to candy). She decided to scale back her request, and just wanted to commission a weapon that could make people struck by it start dancing. The commission would cost 8,000 gold… a little more than she possessed.
Caduceus went to a tutor to learn how to brew healing potions, and Jester purchased diamonds for use in reviving the dead.
Later in the wait, Fjord took a horse alone and left town. He traveled down the Menagerie Coast towards Nicodranus—Jester’s hometown—and adopted various disguises along the way. He rode for some time, searching for a companion from his past, but grew frustrated with the fruitless search and returned to Zadash.
Upon returning, Fjord spoke with the Gentleman and asked if he had criminal connections in the Menagerie Coast. He had a few, but his network was not extensive beyond the edge of the empire. Fjord further asked about Port Demali. He responded as such, “If you are looking to expand your portfolio beyond Zadash is Father Dwandeth Pierce, a dwarven fellow with a scraggly face. He helms the Pearl Shrine, a house of worship to Avandra, the Changebringer. Tell him that you bring many gifts. If you do not work with Father Pierce and his network, you could find yourself working on an opposing side to my business, and I don’t take kindly to betrayal.”
Cree, the black tabaxi that knew Mollymauk as Lucian, approached Fjord and warned that she had been having uncomfortable dreams in the past week. “They are cold, and sad. They are … I just see him alone. And I have tried to focus, but he’s not nearby. I had a very hollow feeling about this.”
Fjord broke the unhappy news to her.
Study and Training
Caleb spent a great deal of time transcribing spells, creating a Transmuter’s Stone, and returning Frumpkin to cat form. He also spent some time with Beau in the libraries of the Cobalt Soul. Beau searched for Dairon, her former tutor, but Dairon was off in Bladegarden for about a month, and would be gone for several more weeks. She instead sparred with Tubo—and he demanded four days of training with her.
Caleb performed extensive research on the realm of Xhorhas. He learned of the Kryn Dynasty and the origin of the dark elves, who were swayed to the worship of Lolth the Spider Queen during the Divergence. However, as the dark elves retreated underground, a terrible madness began to grip their minds. Some element of Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion, perhaps impacted them.
No mention of beacons or reincarnation could be found in these books. But he did learn that something or some things called the Luxon had risen in Ghor Dranas, and began enthralling and misleading beings of Xhorhas. Their power brought eternal midnight to the skies around the ruined city of the Betrayer Gods.
Caleb also discovered the name of the empress of Xhorhas: Leylas Kryn. She was known as an umavi, though the meaning of that word is unknown. She was over 600 years old, and wielded tremendous power on the battlefield. He also researched the nature of time and magic that could affect it. There was little on the subject, but the Soltryce Academy was researching some sort of power known as dunamis. This was new research, and the Cobalt Soul’s books had little else to say on the matter.
One Last Thing
For several days, Caduceus sat quietly and meditated somewhere green (or someplace that could pass for green in this city) on what he should do next. But the chaos of the city prevented him from establishing a connection with the Wildmother. Meanwhile, Jester studied the schedules of the guards and priests around the local temples.
Jester snuck into the temple of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, to commit some petty vandalism, but her efforts pulled her into a cat-and-mouse chase with the Crownsguard. Somehow, despite the entire situation going completely pear-shaped, both Nott and Jester managed to escape.
She was visited by the Traveler the next night. “Why didn’t you come?” she asked.
“I did,” he replied.
“But I didn’t see you!”
“You don’t need to see me to know that I am with you. And you’re free now.”
“You promise you won’t leave?” Jester asked, trying to control her tears.
“As long as you continue to be that wonderful little seed of joy and chaos in the world, I’ll be walking behind you the entire time,” he said.
He asked to have a look at the “strange relic,” the beacon they took from the Xhorhasian assassin. He smirked as he examined it. It was magic the likes of which he had never seen.
“What’s Our Next Move?”
The Mighty Nein reconvened at the Leaky Tap and discussed their next move. They ultimately decided to travel to the Menagerie Coast and seek out the subjects of the letter they looted from the Sour Nest—pirates of some sort, probably. In the meantime, they might visit Jester’s mom in Nicodranus and seek out a figure from Fjord’s past.
Fjord told Caleb of the people he knew on the Menagerie Coast and the night he went overboard in a storm. A man named Sabien tried to sabotage the ship, and attacked Fjord and leapt overboard into the storm. Fjord was desperate to find this man.
And so it was decided. The Mighty Nein packed up their things and journeyed towards the Wunun Gates, the southernmost point of the Dwendalian Empire—and onward to the Menagerie Coast.
What new adventures will the Mighty Nein face on the Menagerie Coast? What did Matthew mean when he said, “this next adventure will be a whole different flavor”? And most importantly… is it Thursday yet?
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, the DM of Worlds Apart, and a freelance writer 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 partner Hannah and his very own Frumpkins, Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.