"Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) is the one hundred twenty-ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Split into two teams, the Mighty Nein must contend with the dangerous surroundings of two very different planes while trying to get back home...

Synopsis

Announcements

  • Liam apparently delivered an exceptional pre-stream word of encouragement to Matt this week.
  • First sponsor tonight is Ravensburger and their new title Pusheen Purrfect Pick. To his surprise, Travis reads the ad - because of his well-known love of cats, of course. Check it out at bitly/CRPusheen and visit the Ravensburger Twitter feed for a chance to win a copy of the game.
  • D&D Beyond is the official toolset of D&D 5th Edition, and you can check it out at dndbeyond.link/critters.
  • Critical Role is now livestreaming on both Twitch and YouTube, but the moderated community live chat is on Twitch.
  • The third issue of Critical Role: The Mighty Nein Origins will feature Yasha Nydoorin, and is expected to hit the shelves sometime in September.
  • Tomorrow (12 March 2021) marks the six-year anniversary of streaming Critical Role. And on to six more!

Previously on Critical Role

So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein, gathering some information and some final supplies and bits of preparation for their journey up north to Eiselcross.

You reached out to Astrid in hopes of acquiring some of these cloaking amulets, one of which you've had for the entirety of your run in this campaign. Information was gathered and you were told they resided beneath one of the structures at the Vergesson Sanatorium, where you went to break into it, separating into two troupes. It went a little tits up, and with a brief encounter with Master Trent Ikithon realizing that it was you who broke in, a bit confused, you still managed to catch him off guard and escape, but not before he had acquired some information and some very curious interest into what it is you're doing and why you're being so dang secretive about it.

Fan art of the flight through Nicodranas, by vokhaz.[art 1]

You jaunted back to Nicodranas to visit your families, caught up a bit, and then began to realize that you were indeed still being pursued, after Astrid and Eadwulf seemed to have come at the behest of Trent but warned you of his particular coming very soon. You gathered the Ruby of the Sea, Marion, as well as your family, Veth, both Yeza and Luc, and immediately fled from the Lavish Chateau, having it closed behind you, and rushing to Tidepeak Tower where you learned that the mage Yussa is currently on his own expedition, astrally projecting himself into the Astral Plane in search of information to help you in your endeavors. But as such, he is unreachable.

As you begin to look about for some means of escape, you notice that Trent has come to the tower and followed you here. In a rush, you hatched a plan where some of you took the Folding Halls of Halas, the Happy Fun Ball, as you call it, and decided to trek into that sphere with Caleb setting most of the puzzle to completion and then handing it to Fjord to finish, in which Fjord, Yasha, and Beauregard stayed within the radius as it was triggered, and within a flash, they were gone, sealed within the Folding Halls. The rest of you took a singular scroll that was gifted to Yussa at some point in the past. Reading it, you realized it was a Plane Shift scroll, and contained within it one singular rod that was attuned. To where? You're not certain, though it was warm to the touch. As the door opened and you began to read the spell to escape, the first person to reach you was Astrid, who did not interfere with the completion of your spell. At which point you, the rest of you, with families in tow, vanished to where this may carry you. So. Let's begin with Team Happy Fun Ball, shall we?

Part I

Fan art of Team Happy Fun Ball, by Colourcloud.[art 2]

Team Happy Fun Ball find themselves in the Tapestry Entrance and go immediately to the locked red door they know leads to the Study and the exit. Beau uses her thieves' tools to try to pick it, but fails. When she tries again, the fire trap is set off. When she tries a third time, her lockpick breaks in the lock. Yasha then tries to pick it with a dagger, and fails, and in a rage, batters the door down. It opens to reveal the hallway beyond drifting away, unmoored from the doorway, and they frantically leap over the growing gap. Yasha fails to make the jump, but uses Radiant Soul to bamf out her wings and fly down the corridor, followed by the others.

The doorway at the end of the hall leads into the Study, where the portrait of Halas has been removed and the room ransacked. The bookcases are empty save for three books, which prove to be chained. When Beau tries to pull one out, it triggers another bookshelf to move revealing a nine-foot-tall clay creature which begins moving toward them. The team runs to the stained glass window, pursued by the creature, and touch the red dot, dropping them into the Dragon Guard Exit. Fjord uses Armor of Agathys to charge the first pedestal, but it opens a rift above them. He runs to the other and activates it as a creature falls through the rift and cuts him off. Beau attacks and stuns it, and the party all run to the now-glowing teleportation orb and touch it, disappearing.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party along with Marion, Yeza, and Luc find themselves in a very hot, dim cavern lit by firelight, lanterns, and the lava pools scattered throughout. The air smells of charcoal and sulfur. They notice a few chairs, instruments on tables and a shelf holding notebooks in one area. The notebooks prove to be made of fireproof silk, and Jester recognizes they are written in Infernal. They discuss the connections between the Planes of Existence, and a slow shift in their structure. Caleb begins ritually casting Leomund's Tiny Hut while Veth explores the single exit, a long dark tunnel, before she returns to the party and gets Jester to come with her. Jester hands Caleb the notebook, distracting him enough that he has to start over casting the Hut, and she and Veth go off down the tunnel.

Fan art of Luc and Caduceus, by Vic Iddstar Hill.[art 3]

Caduceus stays behind and he and Luc have a moment, bonding over the air in the cavern smelling like farts.

Fan art of the Elemental Plane of Fire, by Rezan 'Rez' Gungor.[art 4]

Veth and Jester go to the end of the tunnel, looking out over a painfully hot endless burning broken badlands of distant flaming mountains, a burning orange and red horizon, and distant tornadoes of flame. Veth notices year-old humanoid footprints going in and out. Jester suggests that if they save the world and don't die, they should seriously open a detective agency. While they chat, they are interrupted by a voice like crackling fire, saying, "By what will do you disturb the sanctum? The sanctum must be cleansed." Looming over them is a massive, semi-humanoid feminine figure made of roiling flame. It darts into the tunnel behind them, frantically followed by Veth and Jester.

Fan art of the fire elemental, by @hierothraxs.[art 5]

Inside, the dome is not yet complete. Caleb hears the creature approaching and tells the families to back up, pushing Caduceus away as well, while he remains at the tunnel entrance. He uses the Staff of Power to cast Cone of Cold. Jester tries to modify the elemental's memory but fails. As the creature rushes into the cavern, it sets Caleb aflame and attacks him. Veth shoots it and Caduceus casts Spirit Guardians. Luc shoots at it with his toy crossbow and is drawn back into cover by Marion in the library area, and Caleb joins them there using the Stormrider Boots to damage the creature on the way. Jester hits it with Guiding Bolt.

Damaged, the elemental shrinks in on itself, then explodes outward into an inferno that hits everyone in the cavern and splits it into three smaller elementals. Caleb is knocked unconscious. From behind the bookcase where she and Luc are hiding, they hear Marion scream.

Desperately, Veth loads a Cataclysm Bolt and rolls a natural 20 on her attack, killing one elemental. The Tinkertop Boltblaster fires again, with another natural 20, damaging a second. Veth then leaps across the lava dividing her from her family. Caduceus drops a Mass Cure Wounds into the library, bringing Caleb back to consciousness and healing all the others, but they hear Marion still frantically cry out for help, and Yeza, looking, suddenly dashes towards her.

The fight continues with the two remaining elementals. Veth reaches Marion and Luc, and realizes that Luc is lying dead in Marion's arms - the damage he suffered in the explosion was sufficient to kill him outright. In a rage, Veth kills a second elemental. Jester falls into the lava trying to attack with her handaxe, but is able to get out of it and onto the other side while suffering major damage. Caduceus gets the How do you want to do this? with his Spirit Guardians, as the insects burrow into and suffocate the sole remaining elemental into non-existence.

Break

  • Pusheen the Cat Purrfect Pick Card Game now available.
  • Dungeon of Doom available now at Dwargenforge.com.
  • New episode of Narrative Telephone Round 2 coming this Tuesday, 16 March 2021 at 4 pm Pacific on Twitch.tv/CriticalRole.
  • Dani Carr's Recaps available on CritRole.com every Wednesday.
  • Merch Alert! "Hello, Bees!" long sleeve T now available in Australia; lightweight hoodie in the U.S. and Australia; Vox Machina t-shirt in the U.S. and U.K.; Vox Machina and Mighty Nein Chibi pins in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
  • Pumat Sol invokes the Subscription cantrip to enter the Critical Role Twitch Prime dimension.
  • Critters' art montage.

Part II

Fan art of Veth with Luc, by lalalyssh.[art 6]

Veth begins calling for help from the clerics, and Caduceus first casts Gentle Repose and then Revivify, calling on the Wildmother to let Luc breathe again. As the party watches, Luc's chest begins to rise and fall and his skin is restored from the burns he suffered. Veth apologizes over and over, and Luc reassures her he's okay. Yeza tearfully thanks Caduceus, then puts his arms around Veth and Luc as they sit together. He tells her the Assembly has been a shadow over their family for too long, and that Veth must make them pay for this.

Fan art of Jester and Caleb fixing the collar, by Harriet Bisley.[art 7]

Caleb casts the dome, blocking the tunnel entrance, and Caduceus casts a Prayer of Healing on the party. Jester tells Caleb he should rest, but first, he has Jester help him with the antimagic collar[1] he has been tinkering with, telling her he plans to use it on Trent Ikithon. Caleb casts Fortune's Favor on her, and together they are able to load the power source and make the collar functional. Jester tells him not to blame himself for what happened, and he agrees he'll try. Marion also reminds him that bad people try to make good people believe they are at fault for being victimized, and to focus on the good things he does.

Caleb returns to the notebooks, learning they were written by Planerider Ryn and bear the symbol of the Arcana Pansophical. The Planerider notes a cyclical, months-long, slow surge and recession in low-level magical interference, and wonders if it pertains to "the shifting between the veils."

Caleb summons Frumpkin to go cuddle Luc for the night, and spends a further hour examining the collar as the party takes a long rest.

Yeza cuddles Veth and they have a quiet conversation. She admits she is not all right. This is the worst thing that could have happened, and she did it. By trying to keep one of her families safe, she endangered the other. Yeza asks what her end goal is, and she tells him of the coming of the Cognouza and the Somnovem. Yeza tells her that if this force is a danger to Luc and him, then stopping it is protecting them, and there is no other choice. He bears some of the responsibility for involving their family by his decision to get involved with the Cerberus Assembly. They'll decide together what Veth will do.

In the morning, Team Happy Fun Ball has not yet returned, and the others decide to go to Zadash and wait there. First, Jester casts Sending to Fjord, but the time dilation makes communication impossible, and she fears what would happen if the others returned during the Plane Shift. However, they suddenly realize that the spell can only transport nine people, and they need to return to Exandria quickly while they are still under that number. She casts the spell, aiming for the Evening Nip in Zadash, and they find themselves in an alley on the streets of Zadash on a rainy morning, a few blocks away.

Just then, Yasha, Fjord, and Beau arrive and frantically tell them to close the Happy Fun Ball before the pursuing golem arrives, so Caleb adjusts it and it rearranges itself into a new configuration. As they trade stories of their respective adventures, Team Fire Plane avoids mentioning Luc's death until he pipes up proudly, saying, "I died!"

They begin making their way toward the Evening Nip, but notice Marion having a very hard time. Jester asks Fjord to help her, while Jester goes off slightly and casts Sending to The Gentleman, telling him, "Hey, Dad! Crazy stuff happened! So Mama and Veth's family are going to come stay with you for a while. Super important they need to be kept safe. Help." The response, after a long pause, is a very nervous, "Oh. Boy. Well..."

As they enter the Evening Nip, Marion's agoraphobic nervousness seems to change to butterflies. They are admitted and descend to the clandestine lower level, where the employees are frantically cleaning up. The Gentleman turns, his eyes going immediately to Marion, and says simply, "Welcome."

Featured Characters

Fan art of Luc the Brave, by HeartofPack.[art 8]

The Mighty Nein

New

Returning

Mentioned

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Transferred 1 Blast Scepter Veth Yeza
Expended 2 Cataclysm Bolt Veth Fire elemental
Expended 1 Healing potion Caduceus Caduceus
Expended 1 Healing potion Caleb Caleb
Expended 1 Diamond Caduceus Luc For Revivify.
Expended 1 Pearl Caleb Jester For Fortune's Favor. Pearl purchased in Rexxentrum.
Acquired 1 Notebook Elemental Plane of Fire Jester Written by Planerider Ryn

Quotations

  • The Fire Elemental: By what will do you disturb the sanctum? The sanctum must be cleansed.[2]
  • Caduceus: (during Luc's Revivify) Wildmother, it is not yet time for this one. His destiny has not been fulfilled. His time here is not over. I beg you, let him have another breath.[3]
  • Caleb: (discussing Trent Ikithon) I can't let what happened in here be for nothing. It's time for him to be silenced.[4]
  • Marion Lavorre: (to Caleb) I've met many people, some good, some very bad. The good people are very easy to be misled to think they're at fault for the things that bad people used to victimize them. It's how they stay in power. If they convince us that we are responsible for every terrible thing that comes upon us, they're absolved. [ ... ] Don't forget to focus on the good things you do.[5]
  • Veth: (to Yeza) These people are wonderful. I feel like they're my family, too. But it also feels like if I try to keep one family safe, I'm endangering the other. And I don't know what to do about that.[6]
  • Yeza Brenatto: (to Veth) I can't express how proud of you I am.
    Veth: I just killed our son.
    Yeza: You did not. That thing did, and you stopped it from killing anybody else, and then your friends saved his life. There are many circumstances that you just said are beyond your control, and you feel like it's other people's story, yet you take the blame for all the bad things that happen throughout it? That's unfair to you. That's unfair to everybody. Are you trying to do what you think is best?
    Veth: Of course.
    Yeza: Then what else is there to do? This force you're talking about, is it a danger to me, to Luc, to us?
    Veth: Yes.
    Yeza: Do you think you and your friends can stop it?
    Veth: No.
    Yeza: Do you think anybody else can?
    Veth: No. I think someone has to try.[7]
  • Luc: (to Caduceus) You're really cool.
    Caduceus: You smell like farts.[8]

Trivia

  • This episode originally streamed on 11 March 2021, and Matt noted on the program that 12 March 2015 was Critical Role's first broadcast, marking their sixth anniversary streaming.
  • The initiative rolls for the fight against the fire elemental were all under 10 for the partial party, marking the first time in Critical Role history that has happened.

References

  1. See "From Door to Door" (2x81) at 1:12:46.  Caleb was collared by a golem in the Happy Fun Ball, and he saved it after it was removed from him.
  2. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 1:18:41.
  3. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 2:39:00.
  4. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 2:52:20.
  5. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 2:56:46.
  6. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 3:04:55.
  7. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 3:07:57.
  8. See "Between a Ball and a Hot Place" (2x129) at 3:29:06.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the flight through Nicodranas, by vokhaz (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Team Happy Fun Ball, by Colourcloud (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Luc and Caduceus, by Vic Iddstar Hill (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of the Elemental Plane of Fire, by Rezan 'Rez' Gungor (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of the fire elemental, by @hierothraxs (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Veth with Luc, by lalalyssh (source).  Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Jester and Caleb fixing the collar, by Harriet Bisley (source).  Used with permission.
  8. Fan art of Luc the Brave, by HeartofPack (source).  Used with permission.


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