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"A Familiar Problem: Sprinkle's Incredible Journey" (Sx68) is the 68th special episode of Critical Role. Marisha Ray guides a scrappy and stressed out team of familiars played by Laura Bailey, Matthew Mercer, Travis Willingham, Heidi N Closet and Isabella Roland through a daring (and chaotic) quest to prove they’re up for adventure.

Synopsis

Announcements

  • Tonight's game is played using the one-page RPG, "A Familiar Problem," created by Marisha Ray and Honey Heist designer Grant Howitt. It was available for free on 25 June 2022 at local game stores participating in Free RPG Day, and will be released more widely later this year. Visit Darrington Press to learn more.
  • Marisha dedicates this game to her and Matt's late bird, Dagon.

Introduction

The sun is thinking it's going to start making its way to the ocean horizon. It begins its descent over the coastal city of Nicodranas. The air is warm, but a light breeze starts flowing through the city streets, as the temperature starts to cool down from its postcard-worthy tropical vacation weather that it has sported throughout the day. Savory scents of cured meats mix with the smell of sweet incense as the denizens of the town begin their sunset rituals. Tired shopkeepers and wanton travelers flood the sidewalks, eager to discover what the night has in store for them. There's almost like a music to it. The clacking of horse hooves and the clattering of carriages, combined with the cracks of canvas flags being battered by the wind, and the general white noise of anticipation. Anything could happen.

Sprinkle! The last 48 hours of your life have been fucking nuts. In this short amount of time, you've been jettisoned from the comfort of your cage that was safe within the confines of the traveling cart.[1] Since then, you've been yanked through sewers and flooded tunnels,[2] dragged through the cold and salty sea,[3] sucked up into a sentient water tornado that was shaped like an angry man. You witnessed the assault and maybe murder of several individuals who, quite honestly, were just trying to do their jobs, as well as having a front row seat to watching a man get his hand chopped off, threatened, and then sent away on a big wooden people-floaty that people apparently call a boat.

To top all of this off, this was spearheaded by this blue girl with horns that you've been forced into traveling with who just keeps claiming to be your mother. You currently find yourself back in a familiar bougie building with six other compatriots your blue benefactor refers to as The Mighty Nein, whatever the fuck that means. Rich-colored silks obscure the sunlight, trying its best to pierce through the windows. A charcuterie board with bread and pickled vegetables sits on a side table next to a beautiful woman in a rhinestone bustier with ruby skin and horns. She actually resembles the blue girl that you've been traveling with.

Part I

As Jester and the rest of the Mighty Nein exit the Lavish Chateau, Sprinkle (a frazzled crimson weasel riding reluctantly on Jester's shoulder) is struck by the hanging wooden sign and knocked to the ground. When he comes to, the party has vanished, but Nugget (the blink dog adopted by Jester at the same time, whose superpower is that he eats everything) apparates next to him and offers to carry him to safety. While taking shelter in an alley, they meet three other animals rummaging through the trash: a crab named Toby who just wants to be someone's familiar, an octopus named Clarence Ladasaul Abraham Pawtucket Pat (CLAPP for short) who's afraid of water but carries a bucket to occasionally hydrate, and a pseudodragon named Joanne with a hunched back and a cigar, who is a career familiar "in transition".

Fan art of the escape, by Dixie Lee Henning.[art 1]

They decide to join forces to help Sprinkle get to the Open Quay, but are quickly overwhelmed by the sights, smells, and dangers of the busy city and decide to make for its outskirts. Managing to steal a cart, Toby drives them all outside the city. There, they see another cart filled with cages holding animals, with a sign reading "Creatures of Fantastical Possible Talent". The three humanoids around it are apparently searching for three escaped blind magical mice, although the owner Kestiff Drudy almost immediately decides to take a nap.

Sprinkle, Nugget, and the rest manage to sneak onto the cart and free the animals held there (including two baby tiger cubs who adopt CLAPP as their mother), but they eventually wake Drudy. After a battle they escape into the forest.

Break

Part II

Fan art of the party, by LornArt.[art 2]

Nugget catches the scent of the magical mice, who apparently bolted for the woods. Suddenly, a voice surrounds them, greeting them and inviting them to approach. It proves to be coming from a sinister ancient toad or bullfrog in a hollow tree trunk, named Froga Yaga. She is missing a leg that has been replaced with a chicken leg bone, and she invites them in to tell them their fortunes.

The first card is "The Pervy Deer" indicating they are on a new path of discovery. The second is "The Rabbit and the Murder Baby", showing that their path is treacherous. The final card is the "Unlucky Fucks", a sign of imminent evil and sheer terror in their future. They have a scent of the Harbinger, the evil being who took Froga Yaga's leg years ago and has killed thousands across the lands. He had been captured and locked in a beast-drawn cart, but it is rumored he has broken free. He goes by many names, but most recently... Professor Thaddeus.

Froga Yaga tells them to follow the stream to the beach, and gives them several mysterious mushrooms. Suddenly, Sprinkle freezes, and a voice comes from his mouth: "Hello? Adorable mangy critters. Uh, yes, um... Look, this weasel is deeply important. Surprising, I know. But he really needs to be reunited with his owner, Jester. So if you all could please escort him safely to the docks, that would be phenomenal. You'll all get a reward. You'll get a biscuit or something. I don't know. I don't know how animals work. All right, move along now, chop, chop."

Froga Yaga volunteers to babysit the tiger cubs and the rest of the group heads downstream, reaching the beach at sunset. However, in order to get to the Open Quay, they must first cross a stream over a fragile downed log. All of them make it except Sprinkle, bringing up the rear, who falls into the rushing water and is killed. CLAPP leaps in after him and pulls his lifeless body out, when Sprinkle suddenly gasps in air, mysteriously resurrected. Further down the beach they find the bodies of the three magical mice, killed by the talons of Professor Thaddeus. Sprinkle becomes hysterical and leaps into the ocean, where he is hideously stung by jellyfish before being rescued again.

As night falls, they spot the Open Quay. Now all they have to do is make it aboard the ship. As they approach, they see the figures of the Mighty Nein also approaching the ship, and other figures nearby firing crossbows at them. Suddenly, Professor Thaddeus swoops in, landing on the mast and greeting Sprinkle and Nugget. He tells them they all need to die because he has a reputation to maintain and they saw him humiliatingly locked in a cage.

They dodge his first swooping attacks and run for the ship, but they are running through the Mighty Nein's ongoing battle with the pirates as well and Toby's claw gets pinned to the ground by Fjord's falchion. He snips off his own claw and keeps running. The party is dodging spells, bolts, swords, and Professor Thaddeus's attacks, and Nugget panics, blinking far out into the ocean where Joanne manages to rescue him and bring him back to shore only for him to panic again and bamf back into the water when she cauterizes his wounds with her cigar. Sprinkle is hit by Fjord's Eldritch Blast and also pushed into the water. CLAPP throws Toby to Sprinkle who is panicking again.

Joanne aims her broken bottle rocket at Thaddeus, hitting him squarely and bringing him down. Toby manages to drag Sprinkle across the ocean bottom to the ship. After a Fireball whooshes overhead and ignites the dock, Joanne flies Sprinkle onto the deck of the ship. This leaves only Nugget still ashore, where the badly wounded Thaddeus confronts him. Nugget leaps onto him and grapples him by lying on top of him, shouting to the others to go while they can. The ship pulls away from the dock.

As it does, they all see Nugget bamf again and the released Professor Thaddeus stagger off, limping. As Sprinkle relishes his freedom, a blue hand grabs him around the scruff of the neck and tosses him into the hood of their cloak. Jester sees the other animals and offers them biscuits, and Joanne decides to retire there and then on the ship.

Featured characters

Fan art of CLAPP and Toby, by Melissa Hahn.[art 3]

Player characters

Returning

New

  • A horse pulling a cart with familiars
  • Froga Yaga, a bullfrog
  • Three blind mice (corpses)
  • CLAPP's bucket (animated by Sprinkle)

Mentioned

Quotations

  • Marisha: You seem to remember someone calling it the Open Quay.
    Isabella: Is it not a key?
    Laura: Not in Nicodranas.
    Matt: We're not going to have this discussion again!
  • Nugget: Thaddeus! Why you got to be so mean?

Inventory

Trivia

References

  1. See "Beyond the Boundaries" (2x32) at 3:16:03.
  2. See "Encroaching Waters" (2x34) at 1:55:02.
  3. See "Encroaching Waters" (2x34) at 1:50:45.
  4. See "A Familiar Problem: Sprinkle's Incredible Journey" (Sx68) at 1:39:31.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the escape, by Dixie Lee Henning (source). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of the party, by LornArt (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of CLAPP and Toby, by Melissa Hahn (source). Used with permission.
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