Critical Role EN World's Critical Role Roundup 009: Rise from the Ashes

See classic D&D monsters, arcane puzzles, and a secret lab of horrors! Join in as the players embark on a quintessential dungeon crawl on the latest episode of Critical Role.

Episode Recap
The gang's all here! The episode picks up where we left off last week, with the Mighty Nein paddling down the underground river in two small rowboats, searching for an abandoned arcane research lab the Gentleman asked them to clear out.

The river is narrow and sometimes rocky, but navigable. It's dark, so Caleb casts Dancing Lights so they can see a little bit. Suddenly, a stalagmite appears to drop from the ceiling of the tunnel. It opens like an umbrella, landing on top of Nott. It's a darkmantle! The creature's darkness aura blinds everyone and it's time to roll initiative.

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Nott wisely took the Crossbow Expert feat!​

Two more darkmantles eventually join the fray. Fortunately, they aren't too hard to defeat. As the Mighty Nein make their escape, two more strange creatures pull away from the walls and start toward the boats. They may be shambling mounds, but I don't know for sure because Jester and Yasha each are able to row away quickly enough to outrun them. Caleb re-casts Dancing Lights, and it's quiet on the river again.

They eventually find the spot they were searching for and get out of the boats. A faint purple glow emanates from a crystal attached to the wall inside the chamber, which is a landing that leads to a spiral staircase that goes both up and down from that point. They decide to go downstairs first. The light is coming from a glowing purple crystal in a cage-like sconce on the wall.

Downstairs is a hallway leading to a chamber. Nott locates three traps by accidentally setting them off. She is injured by metal bolts firing out of the walls. She figures out how to break one of the traps. Yasha also is wounded by the traps. Nott apologizes to the party for handling this situation poorly.

The hall leads to a large chamber with a high, domed ceiling. A raised platform on the floor shaped like the Superman shield has symbols carved into it, and a narrow hole in the middle that goes about 18 inches deep. On the ceiling above, eight other symbols are carved on the ceiling. They are versions of the symbols which represent the eight schools of magic.

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Time to solve a puzzle!​

They go upstairs to look for clues to solve the puzzle. On the way back down the hall, Nott takes more damage disabling the remaining traps, once again forgetting that her Mage Hand would be extremely helpful in this situation.

Upstairs, they find a large chamber that was quite fancy at one time. A search reveals a bronze rod that looks like it would fit the hole in the platform. Three red clay urns are in the room, each half-full of ash. Fiery blobs--will-o'-wisps!--erupt from them and begin attacking the party.

The will-o'-wisps are quick and hard to hit, but eventually Molly discovers they can dispel them by breaking their urns. Once they are all down, Molly examines the urns and finds that the bottom halves are made of metal bowls which have the same magical symbols etched in them.

After a short rest, they go back downstairs. An attempt to solve the puzzle results in a gelatinous cube dropping from the inverted dome above. Caleb casts Maximilian's Earthen Grasp as a giant, earthen cat's paw forms to restrain the cube.

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"I've always wanted to do this," Taliesin says as he commences gleaming the cube.​

Another fight ensues. Nott crits against the cube, then Jester gets knocked from full health to unconsciousness in one shot thanks to a crit by the cube. Yasha finally kills it. D&D achievement unlocked: fought gelatinous cube. Fjord feeds Jester a potion to wake her up. Molly is very concerned because her HP is still low. You need to keep your cleric healthy!

They get back to trying to solve the puzzle. Simultaneously casting a combination of the right types of spells opens a secret door. The room inside smells like decay, rust, and burnt hair. An inert teleportation circle lies in the floor. Several iron cages have chain nooses hanging inside and urns of ash on the floor. At one point in the distant past, this was probably a will-o'-wisp factory, among other things.

Jester pulls down a magic sword that was mounted above an empty bookcase. Caleb rolls a natural 20 for Investigation, and finds a partially burned book under the table. It's in Draconic, so he casts Comprehend Languages to read it.

This is the journal of Siff Duthaar. It contains ramblings about a "coming war," the armies of Ghor Dranas, and experiments on whether it's possible to bind souls to the flesh in any form, such as ice or ash. Siff doesn't like gods and is obsessed with avoiding the eternal hunger of the Crawling King, one of the Betrayer Gods, He Who Tunnels Beneath the World. He believes mortals must harness arcane power to show the gods they are not above their creations. The journal also speaks of a bounty hunter who came to this lair, the former owner of the sword Jester found, who took Siff's legs, but did not survive. It gets more disjointed as Siff worries that his research will fall into Ghor Dranas' hands, so it must be destroyed. "All must come to ash, and from the ashes shall rise again." The journal itself was partially burned.

After Caleb reads this, the temperature drops, and everyone notices they can see their breath. A dark shadow rises from the floor, wind whipping around a cloaked figure with gray flesh stretched over a skull. It says, "Now the secrets are yours!" Cliffhanger!

Play of the Game
Caleb restrained the gelatinous cube with Maximilian's Earthen Grasp, substantially reducing the threat to the team.

Quote of the Week
Nott, requiring healing: "I feel guilty for having needs!"

Context-Free Comedy
"I don't know how it works, and I'm not paying any attention!"

contributed by Annie Bulloch

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