Previously on Critical Role, the Mighty Nein were trapped in a mystical dungeon—a pocket dimension contained within an arcane sphere carried by a gnome named Twiggy who had stowed away on the Nein’s vessel. They explored only three of its rooms—which in total numbered at least one hundred—and escaped. Once they escaped, however, they found that the few moments they had spent in the dungeon were equivalent to several days back in Exandria.
The Mighty Nein paid for their ship repairs and set off once more on the open ocean. This time they traveled to the Gravid Archipelago in search of the third and presumably final orb of Uk’otoa. Along the way, Yasha was granted a vision of her past trauma, and was visited by a mysterious lightning elemental—a servant of Kord, the Stormlord?—who tested her strength and resolve. Fjord, however, remained focused on his mission. Beau moored their ship on one of the Gravid islands and the group descended once more into its murky depths—where they encountered hideous, crustacean-like monsters.
Art by Jeremy Sandler (@JJ_Sandler)
The Mighty Nein traveled onto Bisaft Isle to pay for repairs on the Ball Eater. The ship repair cost 225 gold pieces, and Fjord paid in full. As they walked through the town, they learned from a local that many ships and mercenary soldiers had left Bisaft lately, as the village of Felderwin—in the Marrow Valley, southeast of the great city of Zadash—had been attacked by soldiers of the Xhorhas Dominion. They snuck through the mountains to strike at the heart of the Dwendalian Empire.
Recovery on Bisaft Isle
The Mighty Nein settled down at a meadery and had a bite to eat. Fjord hoped to travel south to the Gravid Archipelago immediately south of their position to grab the last artifact of Uk’otoa. He was troubled by the news of Xhorhasian attackers headed towards Felderwin, as Nott revealed that she was born near there, and that Beau’s hometown of Kamordah was directly in the path of invasion. The party urged him not to worry, and recommended that he stay the course and finish what he started.
Yasha reunited with her friends in the tavern, and told them she was glad they were safe. She was scared for them when they disappeared into the dungeon sphere for days. Yasha vented her worries that they had abandoned her, that they had decided they didn’t want her in the group anymore, and the rest of the Mighty Nein fervently dispelled that fear.
Caduceus visited a blacksmith on Bisaft and handed over the mysterious broken sword he found earlier in his adventures. The blacksmith looked over the weapon with dismay and recommended that Clay take the weapon back to the mainland; there isn’t anything she could do. Clay offered his condolences for taking up her time, and the blacksmith asked for merely a fuzzy hug. Meanwhile, Jester toured the beehives behind the meadery and cheerfully shouted, “Hello bees!” at the beehives, and purchased a honeycomb and a few jars of honey.
At the same time, Caleb spent most of the day alone on the ship. Caleb began fiddling with the puzzle sphere, and found that the entire puzzle had reset after they escaped yesterday. Caleb identified new treasures—but refused to share the information with the players. He also began to read some of the books he looted from the dungeon. These books related to the flying city of Zaidell, and the mysterious icy realm of Eiselcross, a relatively icy subcontinental island north of Wildemount.
The Mighty Nein boarded the Ball Eater and set sail for the Gravid Archipelago. Beau and Jester shared a sweet moment of friendship. The ship approached a storm, and Fjord commanded the storm sails to be raised. And Yasha looked into the wind and fell into a trance.
(Art by @Dragan)
She opened her eyes, and she was cleaning a fox she had killed while hunting. Her tribespeople approached, namely a woman named Zuella, who greeted her warmly, like a dear friend, or perhaps a lover. There was a flash of lightning, and Yasha then saw Zuella as naught but fleshless bone. And then she disappeared, and the vision changed. A fiendish being with crimson skin and long horns spoke to her. “Your anger is beautiful to behold, orphanmaker,” the mysterious voice growled. The scene shifted again, and thunder grew louder and louder as it cut through the vale. Then she awoke, and a thunderbolt struck the bow of the ship—but instead of splintering the craft, a being with wings of crackling lightning strode towards her.
Yasha asked, tentatively, “Are you him?”
It said nothing, but raked its claws across her chest. Yasha roared, and fought back. She was slashed by strike after electrifying strike, and Jester ran from across the deck to try and save her friend. Yet, as Jester healed her and joined the fray, she watched the elemental avatar grow in strength. Its body glowed brighter and brighter, and surged upward in height. However, when Jester retreated from the fight, the creature returned to its original size.
Yasha grappled the creature and hurled it down onto the deck of the ship, tearing at its chest. She plunged her hand into its chest, and the creature burst and disappeared into the aether, leaving her beaten and bloody on the deck. Jester pulled her up—healed her with gusto—and brought her to Caduceus, hoping he could give her some insight on her vision, and her combat.
Jester turned to Yasha and asked, simply, why she left her homeland. Yasha hesitated, but Jester assured her that her secret was safe. Yasha explained that she made a blood oath with her tribe and was given the name “Orphanmaker.” She was given a mate in time, but she fell in love with another who was not chosen for her. They were married privately, against the wishes of her tribe’s matriarch, the Skyspear. The punishment for such a transgression was death, and Yasha’s tribe killed her wife, and Yasha fled. She wandered the wastes of Xhorhas for days, weeks perhaps, until she collapsed. She awoke at an altar of the Stormlord.
Cosplay by Tiffany Amber (@QueenCharismas)
Arrival at Gravid's Shore
Later on, the ship reached its destination: a barren, rocky island with a few copses of mangrove trees on its igneous shores. Beneath the water was a sunken, listing tower. The water was thick with floating, turgid corpses. They delved beneath the water and blasted their way through the twitching undead. They battled their way downward, and discovered a group of chuul lurking in the depths. They prepared to battle… and realized that the fight wouldn’t begin until 2019!
Critical Role returns on Thursday, January 10th. Is it 2019 yet?
Unless otherwise credited, all images in this article are courtesy of 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.