Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein followed Marius LePual, a sailor who they had heard of from a letter they recovered in Shady Creek Run. In this pursuit, they lost control of a situation between smugglers and the city guard, and ended up hijacking a ship. They fled Nicodranas in a panic and made their way along the breadth of the Menagerie Coast, with Marius in the hold.
The Mighty Nein, now with their newly acquired vessel, the Mistake, made a quick u-turn and snuck into Nicodranas to acquire some crew for their voyage. Their new navigator, the tortle Orly, helped guide them through Inky Claw Reef. Along the way, the Nein battled harpies and nearly wrecked their ship upon the reef. They made it through, but had to find an island where they could beach their ship and make repairs. The nearest island had a huge, two-masted ship moored in its bay. She fired a warning shot at the Mistake as she approached, and two dinghies made their way towards the smaller vessel. Fjord disguised himself as the Mist's former captain, lowered the rope ladders, and prepared to parley.
Art by Caio Santos (@BlackSalander)
Caduceus Clay was pulled down into the cramped lower decks of the Mist to heal a smuggler that Jester had embedded her axe into. He healed the axe wound and went back abovedecks. Caduceus was dour and depressed; the chill and wetness of the sea seemed to disagree with him. When the smuggler came to, and Jester and her friends immediately began questioning him. This smuggler was named Gallan Westman, and that he felt oppressed by the taxation of the [[local government]]. The Mist was the sister ship to Captain Avantika’s vessel, the Squall Eater; the ship was picked from a place called Darktow, a hub of naval activity in the region.
Maiden Voyage of the Mistake
Jester and Nott looked through a heavily damaged sea chart that they had plundered from the ship. Nott pondered what they would call their ship. They would have to rename it from the Mist… what about the Mist-ake, asked Jester. Everyone agreed that it was a good choice, and the name stuck.
Beau and Fjord went abovedecks and found Marius, still tied to the mast of the vessel. Beau struck him and woke him up, and Fjord began interrogating him. Marius was an opportunistic fool; he kept himself intentionally in the dark so that he had plausible deniability in case he was ever apprehended. He had no idea what Avantika’s larger plan was. Only Gallan had any information about Avantika; she was a religious fanatic, possibly a cultist, in search of ancient relics.
The Mighty Nein decided to turn around and covertly return to Nicodranas to find the wharfmaster, and hire some new crew to bolster their skeleton crew. The journey was long, and the crew talked back and forth about their anxieties and their concerns—mostly about whether or not they were good people, or whether or not they were doing good in the world. Caleb was self-assured in his own actions, but Caduceus, Beau, and Fjord were all worried about the consequences of their dubious decisions.
The plan to return to Nicodranas was threadbare at best, but Jester skillfully forged a false ship’s manifest for the dockmaster. There in Nicodranas, they found a simple crew for the Mistake—including the fan-favorite grizzled sea tortle, Orly, who the Nein met in the tavern the other day—and also managed to spread rumors implicating the old captain of the Mist in the other night’s attack.
With Orly navigating a full and bustling ship, the Mighty Nein set sail out of Nicodranas. They sailed out into the open waters of the Lucidian Ocean and made a path through uncharted waters towards the Inky Claw Reef. Orly examined the map fragment they possessed and compared it to his chart of the Menagerie Coast, and said that this course of action seemed reasonable. While on the waves, Fjord nicknamed himself “Captain Tusktooth” (despite his tusks being removed) for the sake of his crew. Caduceus purchased very high quality food for the voyage, and the crew was seriously impressed by the quality of the meals on this voyage.
Art by David René (@BBoyFruit)
The journey would take several days. The crew and the Mighty Nein passed their time. In the late, lightless evening, Fjord strode onto the largely empty main deck and absently dipped the dip of his falchion in the water. Caduceus was talking to some fish on the other side of the deck. Fjord watched the eye on the hilt of his blade, but it didn’t react. He dejectedly dismissed his magical blade—and heard a sound. He gazed up and saw a hunched, humanoid silhouette perched atop the mainsail. Unnerved, Fjord whistled a general alarm, and the creature unfurled its broad wingspan and swooped away.
The party rushed up, and Caleb took a dab of phosphorus and cast dancing lights. As soon as the night’s darkness was dispelled, a shrieking surrounded the ship, and a pack of harpies descended upon the Mistake. The hired crew, noncombatants to the last, fled belowdecks at the first sign of trouble—and the Mighty Nein leapt into action. Some of the harpies tried to shred the sails and maroon the vessel, while others began to sing a plaintive and mournful song, one that could have lulled them into a sanguine calm. All managed to resist the harpies’ song… save for Nott.
Fortunately, Caduceus’s magic was able to break the harpies’ enchantment on Nott, and the battle quickly turned in the Mighty Nein’s favor. The harpies fled, and the crew began repairing the vessel. After some time, Orly came to Fjord and alerted him—they were approaching the reef. Together with Orly, Fjord navigated the Mistake through the reef. The ship’s hull scraped through the jagged spikes of the reef once… and twice! The second collision tore through the hull of the ship, and water began gushing into the ship’s hold.
Art by @GalacticJonah
Arrival in Inky Claw Reef
The crew and the Mighty Nein frantically tried to bail water and repair the damage. When their hour was most desperate, Gallan hurried from his chamber and—with a natural 20—managed to repair the damage. “This’ll hold… for a little bit,” he said. Just long enough to get the ship to shore. With the reef behind them, Fjord directed the Mistake towards a nearby island, where they would beach the ship and attempt more comprehensive repairs. There was no dock… but there was another ship.
The double-masted ship lurking in the harbor was much larger than the Mistake. As the Nein’s vessel approached, one of the other ship’s gunports opened, and fired a warning shot. The Nein kept their ship at a distance, and two small rowboats approached their vessel. Fjord disguised himself as Jawgrasp, the former captain of the Mist that they killed him Nicodranas. Fjord rolled down their rope ladders and prepared to parley.
The situation is dicey, and the Mighty Nein might be in serious trouble. The next episode is a live show in New York, so... is it Thursday yet?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of Chris Lockey and Critical Role.
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.