Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein escaped the collapsing temple of Uk’otoa and boarded Avantika’s ship. Fjord had a tense encounter with Avantika—which turned into a sexual encounter by the end of the night—and learned more about their mysterious patron… and of his former captain, Vandren. The Mighty Nein agreed to journey with Avantika to the pirate haven of Darktow, outside the boundaries of the Clovis Concord.
The Mighty Nein have become pirates! They boarded a government vessel, stole magic items and plundered the vessel—nonviolently—to impress Avantika. Then, they traveled to the pirate haven of Darktow and were officially welcomed into the Revelry, the piratical family that ruled these seas.
Art by Linda Lithén (@Darantha)
Caleb visited Caduceus in the middle of the night and checked in with him—to ask him if he was still comfortable traveling with them, and to give him a gift. Caleb handed him the Periapt of Wound Closure he received earlier in the adventure. Caduceus thanked Caleb for the gift and said that he needed to stay this course because he was on a spiritual journey, and it wouldn’t be a trial if it were easy. He also looked deep into Caleb’s self and said that this journey is shaping him into who he needs to be, and that Caduceus was happy to be there as it did.
Jester wandered around the deck and found Nott drinking in the night air. They talked about their first kisses; Nott’s was as a little kid, and she doesn’t remember much about the experience. Jester recalled that the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation Fjord gave her last episode was her first “kiss.” Nott tried to convince her to play hard-to-get with Fjord to put him on the defensive and get him to pursue her instead of the other way ‘round.
On the Open Sea
Along the way, Jester worked on a piece of artwork with Orly, and contemplated getting a tattoo. After they finished, Orly asked her if she possessed any gem dust. Jester enthusiastically asked if he was going to make sparkly ink with it, to which he responded “more or less.” It sounded like he was interested in creating magical ink for an enchanted tattoo—which could give a permanent +1 bonus to any one ability score (or grant other traits, like elemental damage resistance), though only one person could get such a tattoo, ever.
Days later, a tiny horn blew within the Squall Eater, summoning the crew to the deck. Avantika pulled out a spyglass, gathered the Mighty Nein, and gazed towards the horizon. She told Fjord that it was a Concord ship, probably a lightly equipped and lightly manned cargo vessel. She offered Fjord the spyglass and asked for his opinion. Fjord hesitated, but then decided: intercept. They would try to keep casualties low and overwhelm the traders by boarding their craft and intimidating them into giving up their cargo.
Caduceus led the diplomatic exchange, then used thaumaturgy to slam open all the doors in the ship. A man with bright blond hair—Captain Jules Errog of the Stormcap—stepped forward and parleyed with Fjord.
Once aboard the Stormcap, Beau headed straight for the captain’s quarters to investigate the shipping logs and paperwork. The ship’s inventory included a variety of standard supplies and trade goods, as well as a note: “Requested package (guarded)” for an amount of 1,800 gold. Upon further investigation, Beau also found a large chest filled with coins, to the chagrin of Captain Jules.
Fjord assembled the crew of the Stormcap abovedecks to keep them out of the way as he, Beau, and Yasha investigated the ship’s hold.
Caduceus cast detect magic and sensed some magic down below. Caleb looked through Frumpkin’s eyes to keep an eye on his friends, and Jester asked for a volunteer from the crew of the Stormcap for “a special present.” She successfully convinced one poor sod from the Stormcap’s crew over, and used him as practice for her tattooing skills. The result was a goofy-looking doodle of “Captain Tusktooth,” permanently inscribed upon his flesh.
As they made their way into the dark hold, Beau, Fjord, and Yasha were attacked by an armored figure with a sword, who quickly slashed at Fjord. Yasha and Beau retaliated, and Beau managed to stun the attacker. Through Frumpkin, Caleb cast vampiric touch, and Fjord attempted to intimidate the stunned, beaten man into surrender. After being grappled by Yasha and further threatened by Beau, the man revealed that the “guarded package” they were looked for was in a nearby crate. In the crate, Beau discovered a locked wooden box. The man didn’t want to give them his name, protesting that he was already losing his job and his wage—he was being paid 150 gold to protect the box—so Fjord slipped the resentful and bemused man 70 gold. Caduceus came over to the Stormcap to heal the wounded man as well as Caleb.
Nott picked the locked box using mage hand and found a small paintbrush and a small set of paints, which the defeated guard declared “complete bullshit.” Beau and Fjord tried to get the man to confess who paid him, but he said it was “a don’t-ask type scenario.”
Back on Board
Back on their own ship, Avantika congratulated the Mighty Nein on their first true pirate raid. After this brief meeting, Caleb identified the paints they recovered from the Stormcap, and discovered they were a set of Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments, allowing Jester to paint anything she wanted into reality! (Of course, drawing lifelike penises was Jester’s first priority.)
After disseminating their booty, Fjord asked his party what they thought of the afternoon’s piracy. Nott said she loved to blow things up, and that she was born to be a grenadier. Caduceus was uncomfortable with the situation, and Beau said it was a fun, one-time “bucket list” sort of scenario. Caleb said that he didn’t particularly want to be a pirate, but he was willing to do whatever it took to survive, and supporting Fjord and pacifying Avantika was vital to their survival.
One night, on the journey to Darktow, Jester felt a hand on her shoulder. She glanced behind her and saw the pale skin and forest green garb of the Traveler standing behind her. He seemed pleased with her progress on their journey, and was pleased to see her new “toy,” the paints. Jester asked the Traveler how she could make a boy like her, and the Traveler’s response was appropriately sinister: what enchantments was she willing to consider? Jester demurred, saying she wanted to do it the old-fashioned way, with no trickery or magical enchantments.
As an offering for her god, Jester painted a little shrine to the Traveler, nd he appraised it with glee. He suggested she keep it and leave it in the place where it would be least expected… “And the creepiest to find.”
Then, just before the Traveler left, he said something strange. “The time is coming soon when we will meet the rest of our brethren.”
Jester responded with glee. “In less than a year!”
And when she turned about, the Traveler was gone.
Fjord had another dream. He was trudging through the sky as if it were thick water. There was a light in the distance, and a nude woman—Avantika—swimming through the air. She dove into the depths, hunting the light as it plummeted. He followed.
Three shooting stars falling through the sky.
Fjord peered through the dark. Three objects, like a triangle of landmasses, were beneath him. He shot down towards the center of the triangle, between the three objects.
Uk’otoa’s voice rumbled out through the darkness as Fjord and Avantika raced for the center of the triangular reef: REWARD.
The next day, Fjord opened his map of the Menagerie Coast and hunted for a triangular reef… with little success. Only a little discouraged, he looked out—and saw Darktow on the horizon.
Arrival in Darktow
The skies were gray and rainy, and the island of Darktow itself was preceded by waters choked with driftwood. As the Squall Eater skimmed through the waves, Jester saw another ship flying a purple flag—the flag of the Revelry, the alliance of pirates who took over Darktow many years ago. Thanks to their combined might, the Clovis Concord has never been able to take back Darktow. Jester recalled that the Revelry was ruled by someone known as the Plank King—and that he had taken the crown from the previous Plank King after challenging him and killing him.
They drew close towards the island, and saw its tall cliffs emerging from the waters. It was like a hive, with tiny caves honeycombed into the cliff face. Avantika was all smiles as they appeared on the island. She turned to the part and offered them a free round of drinks at the Bloated Cup, a local tavern.
Marius LePual emerged from the ship and sheepishly approached Fjord, and asked where the hell they were. The Nein tried to toughen him up in this nest of thieves. The seamen the Nein conscripted back in Nicrodranas were worried as well, but were content to wait and be cautious… for a time. The Nein had the thought as they left their crew in the ship: they were all now part of the Revelry. Somehow, accidentally, by joining Avantika’s crew and being seen on this isle of pirates, they had become part of that inauspicious organization.
The Plank King
Later that afternoon, they met Avantika at the Bloated Cup. She said that before they could celebrate, they needed to meet with the Plank King. An assistant to the Plank King—James Tibault—stood beside Avantika and urged them to come with him. Avantika was also summoned. The Plank King wanted to “check in” with her. They followed Tibault up to the Throne Roost.
Within a cave atop of the island of Darktow was a throne. Sitting atop the throne was a half-giant man. His grayish skin was decorated with scars, and he dressed plainly. This goliath, unusually, had a full head of luscious hair. Fjord glanced at his hairline, and saw that the king’s scalp was slightly discolored right at the hairline… and he suddenly remembered that the previous Plank King was well-known for his beautiful locks.
The Plank King addressed the Mighty Nein and Avantika warmly, welcoming them to the Revelry in gruff-yet-affable tones.
He introduced himself as Wyatt Marinus, the Plank King of Darktow and Master of the Revelry. They introduced themselves simply as members of Avantika’s crew, then individually using their assumed names. Some of them used assumed names, at least. The Plank King looked behind him and asked Linus, his scribe, if he got down their names and likenesses. The poor chronicler sketched at a lightning-fast pace. The Plank King eyed them dangerously and warned them—no bad blood between pirates. No theft. No fighting… unless no one is able to report their complaint. If any complaint is made, the Plank King himself is judge, jury, and executioner.
What revelry will ensue on Darktow? And… is it Thursday yet?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of Critical Role. This article was written with the invaluable aid of Hannah Rose (@wildrosemage).
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.