"Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) is the fourth episode of the first season of Critical Role. Vox Machina forms a tentative alliance with an illithid outcast, named Clarota, deep inside the caverns under Kraghammer. The heroes devise a plan and fly themselves down to the center of the enemy's war camp to chance a risky assassination attempt on a creature that could easily break their wills with a glance.
- Matt and Ashley apologize for Pike's backstory video not being ready yet, but they should have it next week.
- Today is Ashley's mom's birthday. Her name is Nancy.
- The Blackrock Mountain expansion for Hearthstone came out today. Matt voices two characters in it.
- Sam and Marisha say hi to their moms.
- Orion leveled his undead holy priest to 64 in World of Warcraft last night.
- Taliesin's brother, Alex Jaffe, gave a talk on metagame balancing at GDC. The video just went online and Taliesin encourages everyone to go watch it later.
Previously on Critical Role
"The party has been sent to the city of Kraghammer, through a friend of theirs named Arcanist Allura Vysoren. A good friend of hers and a folk hero throughout the land known as Lady Kima of Vord, who is a halfling paladin of Bahamut, has gone missing. She went on a vision quest as part of a pilgrimage she has been on for the past year and sensed a dark evil brewing far beneath the city of Kraghammer, disappeared into the city and hasn't been seen for weeks. So Arcanist Allura asked the party, hired them essentially, to go and see her whereabouts.
"Upon getting to Kraghammer, they interacted with some of the local characters, eventually found themselves talking to Lord Nostoc Greyspine, who owns and runs the mines at the very bottom of Kraghammer proper. After a brief encounter with a mutated abomination of a Naga creature, they were then hired by Lord Nostoc to go into the mines, find out whatever is creating these abominations, destroy whatever is the source of them and he will pay well and also pay for each creature head that is brought to him individually.
"After getting into the mines, a few battles ensued with some of the local denizens, a couple umber hulks that were turned into snails and other interesting circumstances, the party then found what looked to be an entirely abandoned goblin city and a series of goblinoid corpses, many of which had bored holes in their skull, in various states of decay. They found a long bridge across an open chasm. Upon traversing it, Scanlan went invisible and found what looked like a duergar warcamp, which are like ashy-skinned evil dwarves that live deep underground, watched a dwarf get executed by what appeared to be some sort of strange alienoid creature that was revealed to be an illithid or mind flayer, a being that is psychic and consumes brains.
"Upon returning, the party had a plan to lead them off an illusionary cliff that went pretty well, ended up taking out a significant portion of the charging army at the time. Vax here, however, got stunned on the way across by the one mind flayer, nearly fell, however was saved by Tiberius at the last moment. Nearly lost their magic carpet, but was retrieved.
"After a brief discussion, Keyleth and Vex decided they didn't want to listen to anyone's bullshit, hijacked the magic carpet, flew down into the chasm below, and discovered behind one of the underground waterfalls some sort of a mind flayer who was cast out from the society, covered in rags, a twisted physical form and, after a very tense discussion, seemed to befriend it under the guise of mutually agreed retribution against those that are oppressive to this whole chasm area."
The Rise of K'Varn
Vox Machina and Clarota head back to the abandoned Goblin village to rest. As they approach Vax sees a light up ahead. He and Scanlan go to investigate. Where the duergar were camped, they find Pike examining the symbol carved by Lady Kima on the wall. Scanlan is ecstatic to see her.
Upon returning to the rest of the group, Clarota tells them what he knows of K'Varn.
Clarota expresses a deep desire to free his people in the hope that they will allow him to rejoin the colony, his family. Vox Machina wants to know if they can jury-rig a helmet like Clarota's for themselves, but Clarota says they don't need it. Grog brings out a large bronze pot from the bag of holding and wears it on his head.
Percy negotiates free passage for their help to which Clarota agrees.
The Plan, Part II
Clarota suggests that they attack the duergar warcamp and capture their general so that Clarota can "pry" him for information on the stronghold below. But Clarota warns that since they have seen Vax, they will be prepared.
While they are strategizing how to attack the warcamp, Pike mentions that she experienced a vision where she was pulled down towards the mines, into the tunnels where the dwarves were working, past the goblinoid creatures and past a great underground lake, past a jagged onyx-colored fortress framed in molten rock, past a field of broken glass and bone.
The group briefly considers exploring the lake to see if that yields a way around the duergar warcamp, but Clarota warns that the ancient creature in the lake is best not tampered with.
Percy suggests blinding the members in the camp and Clarota mentions that the deep dwarves hate light. Keyleth wants to enchant the flying carpet with a light spell that blinds the duergar as they fly over. Vax asks if he could fight blindfolded without being affected, Clarota is unsure. Scanlan has a ring of mind shielding which Clarota assures would help against psionic influence. Vax suggests that an invisible Scanlan infiltrate the warcamp again and blind the illithid but Clarota reminds them that this would not affect the duergar already under its control.
The party finally decides on a two-pronged plan. Vax and Scanlan will sneak in to kill the illithid, while the rest of the party creates a distraction and try to blind them with light.
After an uncomfortable sleep filled with unsettling dreams due to Clarota's presence (Pike even wakes up in a cold sweat), the party wakes to the ground rumbling. Scanlan asks Clarota what it is and he says they are creatures and it's best to stay still. The party holds still until the rumbling subsides. When the danger passes Clarota explains that some creatures can detect movement in the sound.
Vox Machina makes final preparations for the attack on the duergar warcamp, including finding some goblin refuse to use to blind the illithid. Clarota offers to cloud the illithid's mind if the rest of the party protects him.
Attack on the Duergar Warcamp
Keyleth turns into an eagle and picks up the gnomes. Tiberius casts Fly on Grog and hops on his back to steer, as Grog still has the pot on his head. The rest get on the carpet and they all fly over the crevasse to the warcamp. Clarota gives them a final warning that there could be an abomination in the camp.
As they fly over the camp undetected, they can see tunneling siege engines being constructed as well as other preparations for an attack on the city above. They approach the center of the encampment and land on the roof of the barracks.
There is no roof access but Vax and Scanlan scale down the wall and sneak through a window on the side of the building. They find themselves in a dormitory and continue into the hallway. They avoid the duergar stationed in the hallways. Vax throws a gold coin down the front hall and one of the two guards goes to investigate. Vax sneaks up behind the second guard and stabs it in the throat, killing it. Leaning the guard against the wall, Vax and Scanlan continue into the central chamber.
Inside the chamber is the illithid, the duergar general and two other duergar. Vax and Scanlan hear footsteps behind them. They sneak into the room unnoticed. Vax positions himself behind the illithid and Scanlan throws the refuse at the illithid.
As Scanlan throws, his invisibility fades and the illithid catches a glimpse of him before being blinded. The party hears Clarota in their minds, "Now."
Vax makes his attack on the illithid. Keyleth casts Daylight on Grog's pot, and Pike casts it on her shield. The light is so bright that the others on the roof have to avert their gaze. The illithid manages to pull Vax's dagger from the back of its neck and, eyes burning with rage, turns to him. The duergar in the room are now on alert, reaching for and pulling out their weapons.
Vax makes another attack and the illithid crumples to the ground. The general runs across the table in the center of the room and swings at Vax with his flaming warhammer. Grog slams his war axe into the roof, splitting it open. Grog slides down into the room below, Pike jumping onto his foot and falls to the side.
Vex and Percy jump down and they both take a shot at the general.
The duergar are in the room and more entering the room are cringing at the light coming from Grog's pot helmet. They try to avert their eyes but it is still physically hurting them. They have a disadvantage attacking.
❝'Cause I'm so bright.❞ — Grog
The duergar attack Vax, Grog, Vex, and Scanlan. Tiberius casts Obelisk of Stone under the three duergar attacking Vex and Grog, crushing them. Scanlan dominates the general and makes him stand down and has him order all his guards to stand down as well. Clarota is pleased. Keyleth binds the general's hands with grasping vines.
A familiar tremble begins. The rumble gets louder and the duergar look around nervously. The stone floor below splits open near Percy, though he manages to dodge out of the way. A large, armored, four-legged creature comes burrowing out of the ground and takes a bite out of him.
The general breaks out of Scanlan's influence and the grasping vines and picks up his warhammer.
Grog frenziedly slams his axe into the bulette, cleaving open some of its armor. It glares at Grog with one of its eyes. Vex casts Hail of Thorns and shoots an arrow, piercing the bulette's armor.
Percy, his hand still in the bulette's mouth, fires his gun. A dull blast is heard as its eyes pulse with intense fury and pain. Smoke billows out of its mouth and nostrils.
The duergar grab their weapons and take advantage of the distraction to attack Scanlan and Vax.
Tiberius uses Telekinesis to pry open its armor and shoots a Fire Bolt in the hole. Scanlan runs toward the general, "Come here big guy. Come here," gives him a big hug and banishes him to another dimension. To follow, he gives inspiration to Pike.
Keyleth turns into a rhinoceros and charges the bulette, goring it. The bulette jumps over Keyleth, carrying Percy with him, to land between Clarota and Scanlan, crushing them. It drops Percy's arm to attack Scanlan. Scanlan is no longer conscious as the bulette thrashes him around. Pike rushes to Scanlan, pulling herself over a ledge to get to him, and heals him. Clarota blast a Lightning Bolt at the bulette, searing the back of its armor. Vax runs up to its butt and carves into it.
The duergar general Scanlan banished returns right in front of the bulette, but swings his hammer at Percy, knocking him out. Grog flanks the bulette and attacks. His attack catches the corner of its mouth, so he reaches in with his teeth and pulls its tongue out. Wrenching its jaw open, Grog punches into its brain and the bulette goes limp. Pike heals Percy.
The cast (minus Laura and Sam) held a Q&A after the game session.
Question: What alignment are your characters? Marisha says they're all good for the most part. Vax, Pike, and Tiberius are Chaotic Good. Grog is Chaotic Neutral. No answer was given for the others.
Q: What was your first roleplaying experience? Taliesin played GURPS in high school. Matt played 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons in high school. Liam played AD&D in high school, but he was simultaneously a player and the DM which is "totally cheating" in his own words, so the Critical Role campaign is his first "pure" experience.
Marisha's first DM was Matt, way before this. She played several other games between then and now.
The Critical Role campaign is the first for Ashley, Travis, and Orion. Orion was a Magic the Gathering player before this.
Q: When and how did you all start playing together? Liam explains that he directed Matt in his role as Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil 6. Matt would always offer to run a one-shot for Liam, who always declined because he too busy. Eventually Liam decided to accept the offer of a one-shot for his birthday, partially due to the podcast he runs with Sam, AllWorkNoPlay, where the two of them plan to do something fun every episode. So the group got together to play a D&D one-shot, but they all loved it so they just continued playing.
Q: Does alignment affect how you play the character? Yes.
Q: Why did you convert from Pathfinder to 5th edition? The amount of floating modifiers in Pathfinder tends to slow down combat with such a large group of players. Matt felt the the combat system in 5th edition was a little more simplified and easier. Also more people are familiar with the name "Dungeons & Dragons" than "Pathfinder", so D&D was better for attracting an audience.
Matt did have to create a custom gunslinger class for Percy, though. He and Taliesin took a day to sit down and decide what aspects of the class they wanted to keep, what was broken, and what was interesting. Matt's gunslinger build is an archetype of the Fighter class, so it gets the bonuses from the class without being overpowered, just with some custom weapons and abilities.
Q: Where did Travis get his "Enjoy Grog" shirt? He googled "Grog" and found the shirt on redbubble.com.
Q: What's a good party size? Matt prefers four to six players. The Critical Role party works because Matt thinks they're amazing players and they don't get bogged down following the rules to the letter.
Q: Does Keyleth have limitations on what animals she can transform into? She can only transform into Beasts below a certain Challenge Rating. At Keyleth's current level that Challenge Rating is three or lower; a third of her druid level, which is nine right now.
Other than that, Keyleth can turn into pretty much anything as long as it's within those boundaries.
Q: How does Pike feel about Scanlan? Does she return his affections? Pike is on the fence about him. She thinks he's great and funny and she likes his musical talents, but she's not sold on the idea of him as a romantic partner. Keyleth/Marisha worries that Scanlan might not treat her well. Pike is aware that Scanlan frequently visits brothels; she would give him his freedom and space to do so, but she isn't really into it.
Q: Do you guys like presents? They all like fan art.
Q: What's with the cat ears that Ashley is wearing? Ashley likes supporting small businesses. She got them from an Etsy store called Tiny Tangerines. The ears are handmade, and the creator also makes deer ears/antlers, bear ears, and other headbands.
Q: What was a favorite moment before you started streaming the show? They all agree their first game was great.
Liam remembers the moment when Pike died shortly before Critical Role began. It was very emotional and everyone was crying.
Q: Has Orion thought out a story for Tiberius? Orion has it fully written out. Tiberius comes from a political family. His buffoonery is "half-planned". Tiberius also is attracted to Allura Vysoren.
Q: What kind of food would everyone like? Orion likes Thai food. Liam, Matt, Marisha, and Taliesin like Indian food. Zac chimes in telling the chat not to order any more food right now. Maybe next week.
Q: What do you want as a result of Critical Role? Liam hopes to encourage more people to begin playing D&D.
Marisha finds it amazing that they're essentially building a story together. She wants D&D to be viewed as more socially acceptable. Matt thinks The IT Crowd D&D episode is one of the best examples of a game night.
Q: What edition of Dungeons & Dragons is best to start with? Liam suggests the most recent because it will continue to be updated. Matt agrees that 5th edition is a good entry point. They all enjoyed Pathfinder, but the rules were much more complex.
Q: Is this a homebrew campaign? Yes, Matt wrote all of it himself. He doesn't like having to refer back to a pre-written module because that feels more detached. There are some great modules that he's ran, but he prefers to do homebrew.
Q: Matt, do you have any tips for new DMs? Preparation is important. Outline cities, NPC characteristics, etc. Simple notes are fine, don't worry about the details too much because you never know what your players will do. Be prepared to improvise.
Liam asks if Matt wrote out Clarota's monologue from this episode. Matt says that he writes down key information known by NPCs, which they might reveal if the players convince them to in whatever way. In this specific circumstance, Vox Machina had allied themselves with Clarota so he was willing to share the information. The monologue was pre-written, but the amount revealed was based on what the party asked.
Matt also has random encounters prepared in case the players go off the rails. Tonight's encounter was actually picked by the audience. Matt never knows where the party will go; he sets up the general plotline, but how they proceed through it is up to them.
Q: How much do you improvise and when is it appropriate to? A lot, and always.
Matt has had games where he's prepared the session, but none of it happened because the players went in an entirely different direction. Marisha notes that one time Vox Machina just walked through the backdoor of the thieves' guild.
Q: Orion, what are your favorite Smash Brothers characters? Donkey Kong and Pikachu.
Q: How did you all decide on your character classes? Liam says that Laura really likes rogues, so he made sure to claim rogue as quickly as he could. Laura was very angry. Also, the reason they are twins is because Liam and Laura have the same birthday, May 28th.
Ashley entered the game later than the others so there weren't many options left. She'd never played, so she picked gnome because she though it was funny, and cleric even though she didn't really know what it was. It was tougher than she expected, but she loves being a cleric.
Travis asked what the biggest playable character was (goliath) and the class that liked to "fight, drink, and fight" (barbarian).
Marisha had been playing another campaign at the time with Taliesin, where she had been an assassin rogue who was very seductive and had high Charisma. When Marisha joined the Critical Role game, she didn't really know the other players that well, so she created a deliberately introverted and naive druid to reflect her unfamiliarity with the group.
Taliesin played a lot of tabletop games in school. He was really excited by the gunslinger class in Pathfinder because he'd never tried it before. He also felt like that class could fill in a hole in the group.
Orion asked Matt if the group had a caster yet, which they didn't. Orion debated between wizard and sorcerer for a while, but eventually decided he preferred the mechanics of the sorcerer class.
Q: Does any of your voice acting influence your characters? Tiberius, absolutely. Orion played Elminster Aumar in the Neverwinter MMO, and he used a sillier version of that voice for Tiberius.
Q: Matt, how did you bring the party together in the first session? The first session took place in a swamp town named Stilben. The characters had been in town for their own separate reasons and needed money, so they joined together as a mercenary group out of necessity. They ended up helping out an individual in the city. The characters had a small rapport with one another and knew they were useful to each other, so they accepted a job from the local job board. They were hired to look into a conspiracy within the city. When they finished, they decided to stick together.
Q: What's the story of the troll penis? Vox Machina got into a subterranean battle after sneaking up on a pair of trolls around a fire. They came up with the idea to have Tiberius alter his appearance into that of a female troll. Unfortunately, these particular trolls had not seen any female trolls in a while, so they quickly became very "aggressive", and Tiberius found himself between "a rock and a hard place".
The party then attacked the trolls. At several points, Percy and Vex both specifically aimed their shots at the trolls' dicks. They rolled well enough to sever the body part, although being trolls they would eventually regenerate. When the battle was over, the party (mostly Grog) decided to take one as a trophy and place it in the Bag of Holding. It was later used as a distraction in another encounter.
Q: What's it like playing for three hours in front of 2500 people? Liam thinks their games have gotten better because when they played at home the game would sometimes lull when they didn't know what to do or when they would go off to the bathroom or take a break. Playing live, there's an element of theater to it that boosts the energy.
Q: Bag of Holding? The party has one Bag of Holding that is carried by Grog. Lots of weird things go into it.
The party once put a live ox named Dork into the Bag of Holding, unaware that living things should not be put inside.
Q: Why does Scanlan have so many awesome spells? Bards in 5th edition can choose a few spells from any caster class at certain levels. They can choose between the School of Lore or the School of Valor; Scanlan chose Lore, which allows him to use even more spells from other classes.
Sam Riegel also did a lot of acapella in college and helped write several season of The Voice, a show about acapella.
Q: Can Marisha do her dwarf impersonation again? Marisha: NOPE!
Q: Could Grog keep a woman in the Bag of Holding? Ashley clarifies that you can't put living things in the Bag of Holding (unless you want them to die), as they learned from the Dork the Ox incident. There is no air in the bag.
After they saved the kingdom of Emon, Sovereign Uriel Tal'Dorei III gifted the party with a keep constructed for them. It took six months to build. Their first session in 5th edition was figuring out who to hire to care for the keep when they were away. Grog came up with the idea to test the applicants in combat and hire whoever survived.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Tiberius Stormwind
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot
- Unnamed warcamp illithid
- Unnamed duergar general
|Crafted||1||Entanglement Arrow||Percy||Percy||Percy crafts an Entanglement Arrow.|
|Acquired||1||bucket of goblin shit||goblin camp||Vax'ildan||Vax gathers up a bucket of goblin shit.|
|Transferred||1||bucket of goblin shit||Vax'ildan||Scanlan|
|Relinquished||1||bucket of goblin shit||Scanlan||warcamp illithid's face|
|Transferred||1||pot||Bag of Holding||Grog's head||Used as a target for Keyleth's Daylight spell.|
|Relinquished||1||gold coin||Vax'ildan||environment||Thrown as a distraction.|
- The recap. See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) from 0:14:24 through 0:17:14.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) from 29:59 through 32:47.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 2:00:33.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:12:59.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:13:09.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:13:52.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:14:33.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:14:41.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:15:51.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:16:29.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:16:49.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:17:16.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:18:05.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:18:15.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:18:40.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:20:46.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:21:56.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:22:28.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:24:10.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:24:51.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:25:16.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:27:28.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:28:01.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:28:09.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:29:18.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:32:41.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:31:57.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:33:05.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:33:56.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:35:20.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:35:58.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:36:17.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:36:58.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:37:05.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 3:37:25.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 1:07:28.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 1:13:02.
- See "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04) at 2:50:19.