"A Turtle By Any Other Name" (2x60) is the sixtieth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein face a fiendish showdown in the Braan, and uncover more clues about the rifts throughout Xhorhas...
We play Dungeons & Dragons! ...It is a slow descent into complete and utter madness.
- First and foremost, our returning sponsor for Campaign 2:
- Sam claims that D&D Beyond doesn't really know what they're sponsoring every week. They know generally that Critical Role plays "the D&D and stuff", but they don't know what Sam is going to do in his ad spots. Sometimes they get a song parody from award-winning Sam Riegel, sometimes they get a glimpse into history, and sometimes they get a shark costume. As you all know, Sam was a huge fan of the 1980s sitcom "You've Got Gale", starring our very own Ashley Johnson. The show was cancelled after the pilot aired, but that one episode was massively influential to Sam and his personal style of humor. [This explains so much.] Laura says Ashley was so good on that show. Ashley thanks Laura: that means a lot! As you all know, Sam goes to the UCLA Film & Television Archive every Wednesday. Yesterday, Sam found something from "You've Got Gale" that he never knew existed! CBS was so forward-thinking on this TV sitcom that they had actually begun production in 1985 on a theatrical film spinoff! Sadly, production was cancelled when the TV show went off-the-air, but CBS had already finished filming and editing a theatrical trailer! Unfortunately, UCLA has confirmed that the trailer has been lost to time: the only copies that CBS kept after the film's cancellation were recorded on Betamax tape. However, the transcripts for the trailer still exist, and UCLA generously loaned them to Sam so he could stage a sort of radio play for the trailer for the "You've Got Gale" spinoff film that definitely existed. Matt provides the narration, Marisha provides the sound effects, Ashley plays her old role as Gale (aka "Justice Bitch"), Liam plays Gale's special forces commander, Travis plays the evil Russian supervillain, Laura plays Gale's lover [Surprisingly progressive for the 1980s!], and Taliesin plays the President of the United States of America. "Gale Force 5: A Gale in Your Coffin"...gagging spoons in theaters everywhere this Memorial Day! [Monday, May 27, 1985] Ashley claims that actually they had shot the whole film, but it was initially five hours long, so it got bogged down in the editing room. Sam claims that those rough cuts were also recorded on Betamax tape. Liam claims that "Gale Force 5" could have had the same impact on him as a kid that "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" had on him in 1991. Taliesin was surprised that "Terminator 2" lifted such a good idea as the Los Angeles River chase scene off of "Gale Force 5". Sam thanks D&D Beyond for bringing wonderful art like this back into their lives. Please subscribe, if you haven't already. Matt thanks Sam, and also mentions (since Sam didn't talk about it once in his D&D BEYOND ad) that D&D Beyond is a digital service that allows you to keep all your D&D character information online!
- Denver Pop Culture Con: Critical Role is heading to Denver Pop Culture Con on the first weekend of June. It's coming up a lot faster than any of us were prepared for! We have limited number of autograph and photograph opportunities available at denverpopculturecon.com.
- The Legend of Vox Machina: We're going to thank the Critters again, because we can't say it enough. Thank you to everybody who helped make this Kickstarter as insane as it has been. We closed out the Kickstarter at midnight with our friend Joel Hodgson present. We had a little closing party you can see on Critical Role's YouTube channel, where we all got super-emotional and proceeded to down shot after shot of "totally alcohol". Laura thinks they sold it well, though. Taliesin says it was definitely not caffeinated and definitely didn't keep him up until 5:00 am. Marisha didn't get any emails from Critical Role's Twitch reps, so she thinks the statute of limitations has passed! Matt says they are now knee-deep in the pre-production and getting the animated series going! But we are really excited, and it's been fun for the cast to go back and re-watch previous episodes of the first campaign and reliving those moments. Marisha says it's crazy. Liam is so excited: we're making a CARTOON! Travis jokes they were so "good" at D&D back then! (i.e. "What's Advantage?")
- merch update from Laura: You might have noticed on Twitter today that Critical Role has announced its new Grog Strongjaw tankards! Travis (Grog?) is very excited! Sam says the box is f***ing LIT! Laura does an unboxing. You can separately buy an engraved leather to make your tankard especially "Grog-y" or "Yasha-y"! Sam wants eight to decorate his dining room table. Laura also wants to announce another item...this one isn't in the store, Laura just wants to brag about her brand-new Jester dice bag from Christina Ahrens! It's pink, just like Jester's Fantastic Haversack! And there's Jester-inspired doodles decorating the inside of the bag. She shares Christina's Etsy page, because Christina makes custom dice bags, and she's phenomenal. Laura was running out of room in her original dice bag, so now she can start filling the new Jester one! Liam starts to take Laura's old dice bag and says she's going to have to wipe the slate clean, but Laura says shut up and rips the bag out of Liam's hand. Ashley is going to get a Yasha dice bag commissioned from Christina. Taliesin feels like custom dice bags are the beginning of a habit, and he is not ready for that.
Previously on Critical Role
"Last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after allying themselves for the time being with the Bright Queen and the Kryn Dynasty in Rosohna -- previously known historically as Ghor Dranas, once the center of the Betrayer Gods' machinations in the Calamity -- you began to inquire as to means to further deepen this alliance and gain some more funds to continue your own respective interests. Upon speaking with Professor Waccoh, you were sent to the nearby mines in the Vermaloc Forest, where it seems a bastion of stone giants has taken over and sent most of the miners and steel workers running.
Upon going there, you briefly tussled with the giants before instead coming to a conversation and thinking maybe there's something beyond just this conflict. Finding that the giants had been essentially scared out of their home, and they came here as a means of defending themselves, you made an agreement to help them in clearing out their home and whatever seems to have pushed them out of it, and in return, they would return. You managed to have one of them come along with you. Landspeaker Soorna agreed to join you as you went to where they once lived, in the Braan, which is giant for 'belly'.
Upon arriving and slowly making your way through the wide stone giant tunnels, you were immediately beset with small demonic creatures, one of which, this sickly bulbous flea-like or fly-like entity, its droning sound, the buzzing of its wings causing a number of you to fall unconscious and nearly snuffing the life from Fjord. You managed to best them in battle, and in the quiet moments, take a few moments to breathe, heal up, and, in Nott's instance, go and inspect the corpse of one of the fallen giants near the bone pit, this large open pit that is just filled with bones about ten feel down and below. Upon inspecting the body, you watched this strange glowing jellyfish-like entity drift ethereally out of the wall, and then lower itself into the body of the dead giant, upon which the dead giant began to re-animate, its jaw tearing open into a terrible grin, the flesh on the sides of its face tearing up to where its ears are, before it begins to rouse, and that's where we left off..."
Jester attempts Turn Undead on the possessed giant, but the spell fails to take effect since it's technically not undead. After a brief battle, Yasha makes the killing blow on the giant, but the possessing dybbuk, a jellyfish-like entity, Dimension Doors away before they can kill it.
During the fight, Caleb had cast Flaming Sphere and now moves it into the bone pit to destroy any other potential possess-able bodies. He accidentally kills an NPC goblin that was hiding there. He succeeds on his resulting wisdom save, however.
Caduceus and Beau explore the rest of the fortress. Upstairs, in Soorna's meditation chamber, they find another rift in the ceiling, and simultaneously hear a second possessed giant coming up the stairs behind them. Jester tries twice to use Dispel Magic to close the rift, but fails, and a chasme emerges from it, also attacking the party. The chasme uses its draining attack on Yasha, but her aasimar resistance to necrotic damage prevents serious harm. Landspeaker Soorna again gets the killing blow.
The possessed giant frightens Fjord and Beau, although Beau shakes it off quickly. Caleb casts Polymorph on the giant, trying to change it into a giant tortoise, but it instead becomes a dangerous giant snapping turtle, of which Fjord is still terrified. Another dybbuk emerges from the rift, and after a brief fight, Beau kills it. The snapping turtle, however, does significant damage to the party, and Caleb casts Polymorph again, this time changing it into a regular, small, turtle, which Nott uses Mage Hand on to chuck into the rift.
Since the party has no way to attempt closing the rift before a long rest, Caleb casts his Tiny Hut over the top of the stairway to try to seal off the upper chamber with the active rift. Yasha and Fjord investigate the unexplored rooms of the fortress, while Nott takes Caduceus to the bone pit, asking him to make the incinerated goblin more at peace. Caduceus casts Decompose, but his Detect Magic picks up an essence in the pit. Nott leaps down to investigate and recovers an operating Abyssal anchor. At that moment, the jellyfish re-emerges from the rift in the upper chamber and disappears, re-animating the skeletal corpse of the stone giant in the first chamber.
The possessed giant attacks Nott and Caduceus, who shout for help. Nott draws her pistol and shoots the giant through the anchor, shattering the crystal globe in its center and rendering it nonfunctional. The rest of the party joins the fight, except for Beau, who, figuring that she won't get there in time anyway, remains back studying her notes. Caleb gets the kill on the giant, and Fjord kills the possessing dybbuk.
Beau checks, and the destruction of the anchor has sealed the rift. She investigates the remains of the anchor and discovers a tiny piece of torn dark blue wool fabric caught in its coils. Caduceus puts the charred goblin corpse in his bag of holding. The party settles down to sleep for the night, with Beau and Caleb staying up. Saying he's been putting it off, Caleb casts Identify on the silvery vial recovered in Felderwin. He confirms that Yeza had pulled the possibility out of the dodecahedron and it is in the vial, in slightly more potent form.
A thunderstorm rolls in, and Caleb goes to sleep, but Beau stays up for another three hours, working on her notes and comparing the fabric swatch to her uniform. Jester finally gives her a backrub, helping her to sleep. The storm outside continues, and Yasha dreams of standing on the precipice of a mountain in a storm. When she turns around, she sees a field of dozens of corpses, and standing over them a male figure with curved horns, wings, and yellow eyes. He shakes his head and walks away. When Yasha looks at the bodies, the first one is Mollymauk, and then the other members of the Nein and everyone in Yasha's life that she's let in. She wakes up, as do Caduceus, Jester, and Nott. She tells them about the dream, saying she thinks she's done something very bad that she doesn't remember. They suggest she talk to the Stormlord by going outside in the storm and yelling into it. She agrees, and Nott and Jester go with her, watching from a distance.
She talks to the storm with no answer, eventually falling asleep, still outside. Her wrists grow cold, and she sees she is shackled and her wings are out. The Stormlord's voice tells her that the only way to fight the chains is to struggle and push against them. She does, yelling into the storm. The Stormlord asks where she finds her strength, and she thinks of her friends and of Zuala, continuing to struggle and pull at the shackles. The links pull and stretch, and her withered wings begin to feather, but the shackles do not break, and the feathers dissipate. The voice tells her that though they remain, they weaken. "You know your strength. Use it. And struggle."
- Yasha: Hello? I don't quite know how to do this. But I'm trying to learn. I feel and I know that you are trying to communicate with me. But I'm very confused. I don't know what these dreams mean. And... I'm feeling scared. But I... I want to be an instrument for you. And... You quite literally saved me and I want to do what I can and do whatever work that needs to be done. Are you there? I don't know if this is the right thing that I'm doing, I feel like I'm talking to nothing. Are you there? I think I'm... I think I'm most scared because I feel like I did something... I feel like I did something bad, and I don't remember what it is. But I think I'm most nervous about what is to come. And if I will continue hurting people.
- Matt: You pull and you yell into the storm, the rain smashing into your face, filling your mouth. You scream and you tense in anger as the storm rolls, the lightning flashing heavier, and the eyes growing brighter. "Struggle. Find what gives you your power. Where do you find your strength?"
Yasha: I continue to think of... I think of Jester and I think of Beau and I think of Fjord. And Mollymauk and Caduceus. And Nott and Caleb and Zuala and I keep pulling and screaming.
- Matt (as the Stormlord): In that moment of sorrow and failure, the voice goes... "You grow stronger still. Your shackles remain, but they weaken. You know your strength. Use it. And struggle." The storm begins to pull away. The sound of the thunder dissipates.