Welcome you to the next installment of musings and thoughts on the new campaign of Critical Role, Geek and Sundry’s mega-popular live stream gameplay starring Matt Mercer as Dungeon Master with a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors playing D&D. New episodes live stream every Thursday at 10 p.m. eastern on Alpha, Twitch and starting with campaign 2 on YouTube as well.
VOD of each episode is instantly available through Alpha and Twitch for subscribers, and on Mondays on Geek & Sundry’s YouTube channel and website. Down below you’ll find a video from the Nerdarchy YouTube channel where Nerdarchists Dave and Ted share their thoughts on Critical Role too. The new campaign was the perfect jumping on point for them to join the Critter family. These videos will post on Wednesdays, with a two week window giving Critters time to watch if they missed the live game. Now…
*spoilers for Critical Role, Campaign 2 Episode 7 ahead
Let’s dive into Episode 7 of Critical Role
It’s the bottom of the ninth, the remaining prisoners have been untied, but so far they can’t seem to find a way through the enemy’s offensive strategy. On the whole our team is is still in fighting form, but a few are struggling with injuries, and our resident warlock has fallen victim to a hold person spell from the home team. Enemies currently on the field are a cultist of the gnoll god Yeenoghu, an infant manticore, and a fiercely ferocious fully-grown manticore. Boy howdy folks, let me tell you this is not going to be an easy victory for our adventurers!
Coming into the round our party’s current HP is as follows:
Currently in play are a few captives the naughty gnoll-folk captured earlier from the nearby village of Allfield. They can’t seem to make any progress, though, as conditions in the cave aren’t favourable, and the giant manticore is blocking their escape!
But what’s this? Nott the Brave is making an incredibly bold, some may say foolhardy decision to go for the baby manticore! Like the fleet-footed feral she is, our heroic goblin steals across the chamber unseen by any foes, and takes out the cub in a single strike from her blade! My, oh my how the crowd was stunned by that one!
Suddenly, the dark depths of the mine echo tremble with the terrifying roar of the remaining manticore! It’s seen the goblin now, and streaks through the air with a single-minded intensity as it prepares to rend our gutsy green girl limb from limb. She strikes out with her claws, but oh, Mollymauk has imposed disadvantage with his vicious mockery, saving Nott from the first attack! But the monstrous manticore isn’t dissuaded in the least folks, no siree. This spectre of the sky has two attacks left, and she strikes with savage accuracy for 20 points of damage, leaving Nott barely standing with a only single hit point left!
Nott’s sacrifice hasn’t been in vain though, as the prisoners take the opportunity to flee! And they’re not the only ones on the move – our mobile monk Beauregard makes a mad dash to rescue her young compatriot, and carries out a daring play to pluck the young goblin straight from the clutches of the manticore! She’s fast folks, but oh no, the manticore is faster! This voracious villain manages to land an attack of opportunity on Nott! Goblin down folks, goblin down!
Caleb, in a desperate attempt to aid his fallen friend, steps up and sends a blast of cold energy at the manticore, dealing a solid blow as ice spreads across the beast’s breast. It’s not nearly enough to fell the monster, though, and before anyone else can act the conniving cultist strikes a deadly blow against none other than the cleric Jester. Yes, that’s a solid dose of damage from an inflict wounds spell, and it takes the otherwise tenacious tiefling to the ground!But don’t worry fans, Jester might be the party cleric, but she certainly isn’t the only cleric on the field. The sagacious Shakaste, having already established himself as a hard hitter capable of using spiritual busts to bludgeon baddies, now uses a strategic sacred flame against the cultist, not only injuring him but breaking his concentration, and oh look, he’s helped the half-orc escape the cultist’s creepy clutches!
And now it’s Mollymauk making a play, but what’s this? He not able to land his attack? Egads, the tiefling lets loose a canata of curses as colorful as his coat! Thankfully our freshly-freed Fjord is on the move with a healing potion, and he successfully pulls Jester back into the fray! Yes, she’s up folks, and in no time she casts cure wounds on Nott, getting the goblin back into the game too!
Having just stepped back from death’s door, Nott shows her nerve by successfully casting Tasha’s hideous laughter, and suddenly the mighty manticore collapses in a cackling heap!
It’s over to Beau now. No longer in possession of the goblinball, she’s free to do her worst to the cultist. Scrambling past the scrawny subversive she lands two attacks, leaving him reeling and primed for Caleb, who follows up with a deadly firebolt! The resulting carnage leaves the wizard wavering, but luckily he’s surrounded by his fearless friends.
We’re down to the wire here folks, it’s time finish this fateful fete by fleeing or fighting. A round of attacks from the manticore could easily take down any one of party, but wait, they’re not done yet! Shakaste steps up to the plate, and with a divinely guided double he lands two attacks in a row… and YES! The mighty manticore is finally brought down by a combination of the ethereal bust of Estelle Getty and a final sacred flame! And with the Dungeon Master’s final “How do you want to do this?” the cast goes WILD!
All righty guys, shenanigans aside you have to appreciate how perfect and dramatic the last two rounds of combat were in the final boss fight. Episode 4 might have been titled Disparate Pieces, but episode 7 is where everyone comes together and really finds their groove. It couldn’t have been more perfect if it was scripted, or called by the likes of baseball announcer Scotty Smalls.
There are two considerations that make the scenario even more amazing. First of all, they had a first-time guest on who needed zero time to acclimate. Khary Payton, known for his roles on The Walking Dead and Teen Titans Go!, melded into the group as seamlessly as if he’d already played a dozen sessions with the cast. I attribute part of this to his own talent, and the other part to the eager welcome he received from the regular players.
Payton came in with a character that was unique, but also a good fit for the scenario. He had a firm grasp of what/who that character was, and the established players easily roleplayed incorporating him into their adventure. Payton didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the rules, but everyone was willing to offer help while also making it clear his decisions were his own. It was a perfect example of how to bring people into the game, and for their efforts the regular players got to enjoy Khary’s fresh perspective and charismatic presence in the session.
The second point of awesomeness has to do with how a group of level 3rd-level characters successfully completed such a lengthy dungeon crawl. The venture into the mines spanned most of episodes 6 and 7, and the party made it through at least five encounters while only taking a single short rest. A short rest gives everyone a chance to use hit dice, and Caleb and Fjord each get a spell slot back, but that’s not much when you consider how many enemies they faced.
This table is a summary of combat from the first three hyenas outside the mine’s entrance to the climactic battle with the cultist and manticore at the end. Admittedly the hyenas were pretty low level, but overall the party was outnumbered 4-1 and still managed to inflict close to five times the damage they took themselves. The party from their first boss fight against the devil toad certainly in episode 3 couldn’t have pulled that off. It’s a testament to both the cast’s strategy and roleplaying abilities to see how their characters evolve from complete noobs to adventurers making a name for themselves.
Now all they need to do is decide on what that name actually is… [NERDITOR’S NOTE: They gave a powerful no to this question!]
Leave a comment here or tweet me @IfThenAnderson if you’ve got a good suggestion. Personally, I’m kinda sad the Super High Intensity Team has already been used. I think it would have been a great fit.
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