"A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) is the tenth episode of the fifth chapter of Critical Role. After proving their strength to J'mon Sa Ord, Vox Machina heads to a casino to have some fun and make some deals. The next day, they go in search of Mistress Asharru—the owner of Cabal's Ruin—and discover a shocking scene, as well as evidence that an old foe is on the move.
- Matt, Marisha, and Taliesin went to Burning Man and met some Critters while they were there.
- Sam is late but on his way
- Liam ran a one-shot while the show was off
- Travis reads an ad for Loot Crate
- Marisha announced Critical Role nail wraps on the web store, and Laura showed off other merchandise available
Previously on Critical Role
"Vox Machina—in their perpetual quest to take down the Chroma Conclave and the path of destruction that they've swept across all of Tal'Dorei, and continents beyond it seems—found themselves going to the continent of Marquet, across the central desert, meeting the parents of Gilmore it seems, and coming to the city, the 'Jewel of Marquet', known as Ank'Harel.
"They found themselves wandering the streets and meeting curious individuals—our gnome, apparently, has made a 'spice' deal that is to come to fruition at some point in the near future—in search of what seems to be the bearer of one of the Vestiges of the Divergence they have been seeking, in preparation for their battle with Thordak, as well as seeking allies in this strange new interesting city.
"Through the continuous perpetual threat of evil that forces the world, Vox Machina found a hookah bar and got fuzzy-drunk on a form of sand kheg-based liquor. They learned a bit about the city, a bit about the culture, they learned from Jarett some possible tips on how to engage with the people around the town, and they made their way towards the Cerulean Palace in the center of the city. After being balked by the Hand of Ord upon arrival, they were then greeted by the Grand Maven and given entry to the Cerulean Palace.
"Upon passing up a large, translucent blue tower above the city of Ank'Harel, it eventually opened into a central chamber at the very top of this tower that overlooks the majority of the desert from this position that they can see. There were large windows across the entirety of the somewhat circular-like room, there was a raised platform in the center, a balcony across the opposite way, and sitting atop this throne in the center made of brass and sapphire, they met an individual—seemingly the ruler, for a long time, of this city—the androgynous, long-living figure known as J'mon Sa Ord."
J'mon Sa Ord greets Vox Machina, saying that they knew of the group's arrival and of the dragon attack on Emon. The party informs them of the coordinated attacks of the Chroma Conclave and of their plan to gather some of the Vestiges of Divergence to aid in their fight against the conclave. J'mon recognizes the name "Thordak" as belonging to a young red dragon that they killed centuries ago, which reveals to the party J'mon's incredible lifespan. J'mon recounts the story of a young Thordak attempting to capture Ank'Harel for his own, but being repelled by the city's forces and seemingly killed while he was fleeing across the ocean. The party ask for J'mon's aid in fighting this new threat, and J'mon says that first they must prove their worth. They step out of view and the chamber doors close, and a huge metal golem wielding a large sword drops into the room.
During the battle, Percy finds that his bullets have no effect on the construct. It hits Vex twice with poison breath, briefly knocking her unconscious until healed by Scanlan's Healing Word spell. Grog tries to throw his Lightning Javelin at the golem, but misses and it flies out the window. After the party trades a few blows with the golem, Scanlan uses Bigby's Hand to smash out the window behind it. This allows Keyleth in her Earth Elemental form and Grog in his enlarged form from the Titanstone Knuckles to shove it out the window, crashing into the roof of another part of the Cerulean Palace below.
An impressed J'mon Sa Ord reappears and says that they must remain and guard the city of Ank'Harel, but when the time comes Vox Machina may call to them for aid. They present the group with a small brass flute. Scanlan moves to start playing it but J'mon stops him, saying that it will call Devo'ssa, the guardian of Ank'Harel, only once. J'mon then steps backward and transforms into their true form of a large brass dragon. The dragon speaks, telling the party that knowing their secret is a symbol of trust between them. At Scanlan's request, they also give the party a brass-and-sapphire emblem that they can display to show that they have the favor of J'mon Sa Ord should they enounter trouble in the city. Percy asks them who they should trust to help them identify their powerful magical items, and they direct him to James Kryon, head of the Crystal Chateau's program for arcane arts. As the party leaves, they pass the golem on its way back into the chamber. Vex and Percy spend time on her broom looking for Grog's lost javelin but are unsuccessful.
- Travis' Loot Crate ad from "Critical Role EXTRA – Liam's Quest!" (Sx12) was aired
A bit shaken from their battle with the golem, Vox Machina take a short rest on the steps of the palace. They discuss what they should do next and decide to go to the Luck's Run casino. Scanlan insists that the rest of the group keep their distance from him so as not to ruin his fusaka deal there. They return to their rooms to change and head to the casino, being careful not to look like they're all together. Keyleth goes to a lizard-racing area called the "Run of Luck" and asks if she can get a closer look at the beasts. She tries to cast Speak with Animals but is caught by the guards and forcibly removed while the rest of the group watches. Percy and Vex try their luck with some casino games but don't win anything.
Meanwhile Scanlan, in the red shirt he was instructed to wear, is stopped by a half-orc and taken to a back room on the third floor. There he finds the half-elf he'd spoken to before, who locks the door behind them. The half-orc produces two large sacks of the spice. Though he has no idea what he's doing, Scanlan tastes a small sample, which is very strongly flavored but with a lingering aftertaste of spiced meats. He agrees to the quoted 400-gold price and the deal is made. The half-orc asks what he should call Scanlan in case they do business again, and he replies "the Meat Man." Scanlan quickly asks the half-orc if what he's buying is a drug and he assures him that it is. The two figures surreptitiously reopen the door and Scanlan walks out, spice in tow in a backpack.
Vax, who had snuck up to the outside of the room to hide, stops Scanlan and they both try more of the spice, but neither can feel any effects. Downstairs, Percy buys some very elaborate cocktails and Grog tries his luck with the ladies in the casino. After speaking with one of them, the gentleman accompanying her tells him to "piss off." Before Grog can escalate the confrontation he is siezed by several guards and ejected from the casino, finding Keyleth outside.
Percy gets some "to-go cups" for their drinks and the rest of the party leave. Reunited, they all make their way back to their rooms at the Debt's Respite. Vax tries to tell Scanlan that what he's bought isn't a drug, and Keyleth and Grog take turns checking it out. Grog in particular enjoys the flavor of the spice, but nothing else happens. Fed up with this, Vex goes downstairs and finds Treev tending the bar and asks him for a meal with some fusaka in it. He tells her that he has some but that it's a bit pricey. She asks what would happen if someone had too much of it and he says that you might get a bit sick but that's all.
Back upstairs, a disappointed Scanlan has resigned to the fact that this is just a flavoring spice. He lies and says he only paid 50 gold for it, and the party make fun of him for spending so much. Percy sprinkles some of the spice in some of Grog's Sandkheg's Hide and Scanlan chugs it, going completely numb from the mouth down. They all bed down for the night, and the next morning Scanlan resolves to do better in his search next time.
The party makes their downstairs for breakfast, and Scanlan confirms with Treev that a large sack of fusaka would only run about 10-12 gold. After breakfast, they all make their way to the Crystal Chateau on the upper-class southeastern side of the city. Around the Chateau, Percy notices that the cobblestone contains traces of whitestone. They all notice a large square hole dug in the ground and the guards there tell them that this is the current excavation site of the Allegiance, the people who run the schools here. They head to the front gate and, with the help of the medalion from J'mon Sa Ord, have an audience with a very old gnome. They ask to speak with the headmaster and he goes back inside to check. He returns and tells them to try again next week, but Vex persuades him to try again. After a very long wait, the elven headmaster James Kryon emerges to speak with them.
The headmaster creates a magical cube where they can speak privately. They tell him of the conclave's attack and that they are gathering aid in defeating them. He Identifies the Titanstone Knuckles, Fenthras, and Mythcarver for them, but they don't learn anything new. He also Identifies Vax's Deathwalker's Ward armor and is surprised to see that it has been "awakened." Percy shows him a crystal of purified whitestone and he is very intrigued by it. Percy says that once the dragons have been dealt with he is eager to reestablish trade out of Whitestone again. Keyleth asks him about the Den of Druja, and he recalls that they were a guild and tells them of an incursion about 60 years ago involving one of Allegiance turning on them and being brought to justice. He takes his leave, speaking again of doing business with Percy for the whitestone crystals.
The party return to their inn and Vax, Vex, and Scanlan make their way to the home of Mistress Asharru. The check it out from the outside, and Scanlan uses Polymorph to turn in to a dragonfly. He makes his way inside through a crack but is unable to see anything in the dark. He sees that the scroll that was delivered to her with their message is still there untouched. He goes to the bedroom, where he sees a rug pulled back and a trapdoor open with stairs leading downward. He returns outside and drops the dragonfly form to tell the others what he saw. They notify the rest of the party.
Vex picks the very difficult lock and as the door opens there is a flash of light. The whole party make their way inside and they notice dried blood on the floor leading from the trapdoor to the outside door. Vax heads down into the trapdoor and finds a much nicer home inside a door downstairs and a woman's dead body with multiple puncture and stab wounds. There are clasps on the shoulders where a cloak would affix but they are broken off. Vax notices that the puncture wounds in the body are burned and there are corresponding exit wounds on the other side. He tells Percy, who immediately recognizes these as gunshot wounds. Vax and Scanlan find a secret tunnel leading to the streets and double back. Everyone discusses that the killer is likely Anna Ripley, but she has a week's head start on them.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Vex: Why don't you walk that fast, Scanlan?
Scanlan: (disgusted) I'm carrying two giant sacks of spice. It weighs me down.
- See "A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66) at 3:14:38.