EN World's Critical Role Roundup 001
  • EN World's Critical Role Roundup 001


    Welcome to the first of my Critical Role recaps! This is a new weekly feature here at EN World that will follow the Dungeons & Dragons campaigns streamed via the Critical Role channels on YouTube, Twitch and the enhanced offerings on Geek & Sundry streaming service, Alpha.


    This was a combat-heavy episode, starting where the previous episode left off. The fight against the gnolls in the mine had ended when a cry of "My baby!" was heard from another part of the mine. The party doesn't have time to rest and rushes toward the voice. They find knolls -- both undead (witherlings) and living -- preparing to eat a young boy.

    Khary Payton is invited to the table, the first guest player of the campaign. He is probably best-known for playing King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead, but also is a prolific voice actor who has been heard in many animated series and video games.

    photo by Gage Skidmore

    Payton entered and declared that this initiative roll was the first time he had rolled this d20. He rolls a 1. "One of us!" the others cheer. He is playing Shakäste, a human cleric of the tempest domain. The charcter is a black man with snowy white hair, a pointy white beard, and completely white eyes. Shakäste is blind and carries a reed-like cane. He also has a familiar: a black hummingbird who he introduces as the Grand Duchess Anastasia, or Stacy. He can see through her eyes, and she helpfully has darkvision. (It was never stated how a cleric has a familiar. Did he take the Magic Initiate feat? His level was unclear.)

    art by Ariana Orner

    A fight ensues. The gnolls and hyenas are killed. The child is injured but stabilized by Jester.

    The group finds the boy's mother and another survivor, and take them back to the surface. Shakäste has a safe shack nearby where he brought four other survivors after rescuing them. They all were taken during the Alfield raid.

    The group returns to the mine and encounters even more knolls. Map #2 is brought out. Another fight ensues against gnolls, witherlings, and a Pack Lord. Once they are defeated, it's time for the break!


    Nott picks Shakäste's pocket while he is busy viewing through Anastasia. He feels her take his purse, but chooses not to say anything. Through Anastasia, Shakäste sees one of the Crownsguard from Alfield, now a prisoner, dragged in front of a priestly figure. There's a manticore, with her baby manticore in a nest. The manticore eats the Crownsguard. Two prisoners are left, tied-up civilians taken from Alfield. The monster has been receiving a series of human sacrifices for about an hour at this point. Map #3 comes out.

    There's a brief planning huddle. The goal is to rescue the prisoners and either kill all the baddies or trap them underground. Shakäste already had collapsed one tunnel on a bunch of baddies before meeting the party.

    The fight begins. Nott unties the prisoners with Mage Hand. The priest casts Hold Person on Fjord. Molly isn't able to do much damage, but repeatedly uses Vicious Mockery to give the baddies disadvantage. Shakäste casts Spiritual Weapon, which takes the form of a giant marble bust of Estelle Getty.

    To distract the mama manticore, Nott runs up to the baby and yells, "You want to save this thing?" Nott stabs the baby manticore with her shortsword. She auto-crits since it's a defenseless infant, killing it in one shot. The enraged manticore attacks her, reducing Nott to 1 HP. Beau goes to grab her away, but the manticore bites again and Nott falls unconscious.


    The priest knocks Jester out. Shakäste Sacred Flames the priest, who drops his Hold Person on Fjord. Fjord feeds Jester a healing potion, so she wakes up and casts Healing Word on Nott.

    Nott casts Tasha's Hideous Laughter on the manticore with a terrible riddle. It fails its save and falls prone. Caleb kills the priest by setting his head aflame with Fire Bolt. However, Caleb fails a Wisdom saving throw and zones out, staring into the fire while flooded with unspecified memories. "Backstory…" most of the table whispers.

    Shakäste continues the Critical Role tradition of guest stars getting the "How do you want to do this?" He kills the laughter-incapacitated manticore using Sacred Flame, which explodes dramatically from her chest.

    Molly slaps Caleb out of his daze.

    Mollymauk: Are you alright?

    Caleb: ...yes?

    Molly kisses him on the forehead and walks away.

    Looting the priest's body, they find night-vision goggles and a gem. Fjord also finds a ring, a fancy-looking stick, and manticore-sized manacles with runes pressed into them.

    Shakäste whispers to Nott that he figures she earned the gold she took from him, but she should watch where she puts her fingers.
    Fjord and Molly lop the head off the manticore. Beau and Molly each guide a dazed Caleb out of the mine.

    They go back to the shack, reunite the survivors, and head back to Alfield. Back in town, Bryce asks what the group calls themselves.

    Everyone:
    "Uhhhhhhhhh…"

    Fjord: "The TBDs."

    The town throws a celebration for the group of heroes and the survivors' return.

    Caleb takes Nott's hand. Nott slips Shakäste's purse into his pocket.

    Nott: I got you some book money.

    Shakäste slips away, uses the reed to draw a sigil in the dirt, and disappears. End of session.

    Play of the Game
    Nott oneshots a baby manticore in front of its mother.

    Episode Notes
    On two occasions during this episode, Matt rolled a natural 20 for a monster to hit a player, then rolled a 1 on the damage die. He expressed his disappointment.


    Khary Payton brought a d20 sent by Will Friedle. Wil Wheaton had touched it, so they treated it like it was radioactive. They promised to destroy it like the One Ring in Mount Doom, and post a video of the destruction online.

    Critical News
    Issue #5 of the Vox Machina Origins comic book will be released digitally on Wednesday, March 7. A limited run of 1,000 print copies of Issue #1 will be for sale at the Dark Horse Comics booth at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle next week.

    contributed by Annie Bulloch
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. hayek's Avatar
      hayek -
      Good times! Nott, the Brave, earned her comma last night.
    1. Matchstick's Avatar
      Matchstick -
      That might have been the best episode of the campaign thus far. Khary fit in well right from the beginning and seemed to energize everyone else. I'd love to see he and his character again, a lot. Easily one of my favorite guests.
    1. Istbor -
      Nice. And thank you Annie for the summary. Helps those of us without time, or too erm... lazy to watch the show themselves!
    1. Schmoe's Avatar
      Schmoe -
      Ok, I just have to say that a blind holy man with a hummingbird that acts as his eyes is one of the coolest character concepts I've seen. Shakäste rocks!
    1. Iry's Avatar
      Iry -
      Quote Originally Posted by Schmoe View Post
      Ok, I just have to say that a blind holy man with a hummingbird that acts as his eyes is one of the coolest character concepts I've seen. Shakäste rocks!
      I've got a celestial warlock in one of my games who wears a blindfold and sees through the eyes of his celestial dove. That dove has a higher perception check than him!
    1. snaggle2th's Avatar
      snaggle2th -
      Small but important point, I think: Nowhere does this post identify WHICH episode is being recapped. In fact, I think the title Roundup 001 will be confusing in the long term. I think the title should include Campaign No., Episode No., and the stream date should be indicated early on. Other than that, great work!

      [Edit] Ooh! And we’re going to need an index page!
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by snaggle2th View Post
      Small but important point, I think: Nowhere does this post identify WHICH episode is being recapped. In fact, I think the title Roundup 001 will be confusing in the long term. I think the title should include Campaign No., Episode No., and the stream date should be indicated early on. Other than that, great work!

      [Edit] Ooh! And we’re going to need an index page!
      This link should do for the moment, but yeah, eventually we'll probably need something.

      Critical Role
    1. Fandabidozi's Avatar
      Fandabidozi -
      What is this a roundup of? I'm a confused Critical Role noob 😳
    1. Psikerlord#'s Avatar
      Psikerlord# -
      Those sad crits are why I prefer max damage plus half level. You know you'll always do more than a normal hit, and it works well even with a smaller weapon such as a dagger.
    1. A Stray Cat's Avatar
      A Stray Cat -
      This is awesome! Thank you for this! Any chance of getting recaps of the first several episodes of this season?
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      Quote Originally Posted by A Stray Cat View Post
      This is awesome! Thank you for this! Any chance of getting recaps of the first several episodes of this season?
      Prior to first episode the players ran zero session adventures offscreen in three groups. Caleb (human wizard) and Nott (goblin rogue) had some sort of adventure where Nott saved Caleb's life, resulting in a strong bond between them. Beauregard (human monk), Fjord (half-orc warlock), and Jester (tiefling cleric) messed with a brewery of some sort. Mollymauk (tiefling blood hunter) and Yasha (aasimar barbarian) were part of a traveling carnival/circus but I don't recall any details about their zero session adventure.

      The characters all went to see the big top show at the circus and during an eerie singing performance of a female dwarven child, an elderly townsperson transformed into an undead baddie. He bit another townsperson and they also transformed. The party killed the baddies but when the authorities arrived about half of them came under suspicion and were placed on 'house arrest'. Yasha ran into the woods, Ashley Johnson has a pretty active acting career (Blindspot) and her attendance has been sporatic.

      The group sneaks out of the inn to conduct their own investigation of the cause of the transformation, eventually leading to an island with old ruins. They find the dwarven child with her fiendish protector, another member of the carnival, a frog/lizard like thing. Battle ensues, froggy thing is killed but several characters take a beating. Young girl is traumatized when the party decapitates her protector and drags the huge head back with them on the rowboat. Beauregard has a one-on-one with the DM where we find out she ran away from some arcane order but the head of the Order's secret monk group recruits her to join them by beating her senseless, although she does get in one good shot. She is instructed to go out in the world and hone her skills.

      The party is cleared of the charges, but the circus owner remains in custody until he works off a 1000 gold piece fine. Party says they will return with the money, and decide to leave town together. They don't so much have a destination as they do a list of places they don't want to go. Fjord has a one-on-one with the DM where we find out his patron is some sort of great old sea creature and he wakes up spitting salt water. Like Beauregard, he is instructed to go out and seek knowledge/improve.

      The party arrives at a town under attack by a group of gnolls, both living and undead. They are recruited to help fight, promised gold for any gnoll ears. They fight off the attack, and are then hired to track the gnolls back to their lair to try to recover townspeople and kill more gnolls. The kills some hyena's and enter an underground lair.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fandabidozi View Post
      What is this a roundup of? I'm a confused Critical Role noob [emoji15]
      It’s a recap of the latest episode, plus news (of which there was some about the comic book).
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by A Stray Cat View Post
      This is awesome! Thank you for this! Any chance of getting recaps of the first several episodes of this season?
      That’s next week’s column, then back to individual eps the week after.
    1. rogermexico's Avatar
      rogermexico -
      Thanks for putting this together! I really enjoy the show but manage to watch maybe twenty minutes of it a week. So having a spot to come and get caught up on everything is fantastic.
    1. Annie Bulloch's Avatar
      Annie Bulloch -
      Quote Originally Posted by snaggle2th View Post
      Small but important point, I think: Nowhere does this post identify WHICH episode is being recapped. In fact, I think the title Roundup 001 will be confusing in the long term. I think the title should include Campaign No., Episode No., and the stream date should be indicated early on. Other than that, great work!

      [Edit] Ooh! And we’re going to need an index page!
      You're right, I should have included the date! The official title doesn't appear by the time I turn in the recap, but that Alpha site now has it listed as "Hush." I think we can add that.
    1. Annie Bulloch's Avatar
      Annie Bulloch -
      I appreciate the feedback, everyone! There's a bit of a learning curve.

      As Morrus said above, next week I will post a summary of the season so far. The recap of next week's episode will be a bit delayed because I will be at Emerald City Comic Con (including the Critter meetup, CR panel, etc.) with limited internet access. But the schedule should be normal after that.

      ETA: Geek & Sundry posted the promised video of the Wheaton-touched die being destroyed.
    1. iamntbatman's Avatar
      iamntbatman -
      It's taken a bit, but I'm really starting to come around to these new characters. I can't wait for Caleb to get out of the low-level wizard slump and start focusing more on battlefield control than trying to compete with the warlock, monk, rogue and blood hunter for DPR, and the "tired traveler" thing is a nice change of pace from deathwish emo rogue. I still like Beau the least of all of them, but she's been more effective in combat recently so has made up for that. I like Fjord a lot and can't wait to see how his arc goes. Molly and Jester are both fun characters. Sam as Nott is just amazing - wonderful character, really strong tactical plays by him during combat, but also lots of extremely bold, battle-defining moments. He's like the perfect storm of charismatic, endearing RP, really solid tactical playing, and cinematic "Rule of Cool" moments that don't even require DM fiat to pull off.

      I can't wait to see how these characters and their story develops. Khary Payton was also a fantastic guest - it was clear he had never played before, but man, he picked it up QUICK. I feel like he'd very quickly turn into another Sam Riegel who really squeezes the goods out of his character's skillset while having tons of fun diving into the character during RP as well, should he ever join a game full time.
    1. Wrathamon -
      I wish there was a repository of all the battle maps images. i would love to see the various layouts
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