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Byroden is a town on the northwestern edge of the Mornset Countryside, bordering the Gladepools to the north. It marks the first stop for any traveler endeavoring to traverse the Rifenmist, which gave Byroden its name for its convenient location, for being "by the road".
Byroden is a mostly self-sufficient town: it has abundant farming, artisans, miners, and fishers of the Gladepools, giving the residents everything they need to survive. Byroden exchanges their surplus of goods for luxuries, trading with other Mornset Countryside communities or with the trappers and artisans of the Verdant Expanse.
In 795 PD, the ancient red dragon Thordak attacked Byroden, which led to a society-wide vigilance against threats. Most citizens became armed at all times and ready to immediately respond to the designated War Ringer's call and prepared to form a communal militia. Their paranoia continued to be fueled in part by rumors of the Iron Authority's expansionary drive northward into the Rifenmist Peninsula.
Probably in response to these threats, by 842 PD the road from Emon ended at a massive 30-foot fortified tower, with soldiers in heavy plate guarding the walled-off city. In the center of town was a beautiful fountain and a statue of two of the most notable former residents of the city, Vex'ahlia and Vax'ildan.
Points of interest
The chasm is referred to officially as Deercrest Ravine, but is known to most of the superstitious folk in town as Hillmaw Chasm. In about 806 PD, an earthquake split open what was then Deercrest Hill a few miles north of the center of Byroden. Thereafter, the locals stayed as far away from it as they could, until a group of adventurers about four years later found large gold and iron deposits within it. It was soon swarmed by eager Byrodian miners who found there both earth elementals and "slimy creatures of the dark", prompting the miners to hire armed escorts.
It holds frequent festivals, feasts, and fairs throughout the year, including the Forever Byroden pageant, a competition for the title of Gem of Byroden, and midsummer Peachiest Pie bake-off. Forever Byroden is an annual festival, first held in 820 PD. It consists of an interview, a talent show, and an evening wear exhibition. Persons who won in previous years may re-enter in later years to potentially win the title multiple times. Though the competition is primarily held for residents, those from out of town may also enter; entry is open to all genders. Other festivities during this pageant include a presentation of pies during the day, which are also judged in a competition, and a presentation of barbecue and smoked foods at night.
By 836 PD, Byroden's population had grown tenfold to 8,050, likely due to the mining rush in Hillmaw Chasm. The majority remains human (45%) and half-elf (21%). The town now has a significant goblinkin population due to refugees from the Iron Authority (12%). The rest are halflings (8%), gnomes (8%), and other races (6%).
|Elaina||NPC||Human mother of Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia.|
|Vax'ildan||PC||Half-elf twin brother of Vex'ahlia and son of Syldor Vessar, rogue/paladin member of Vox Machina, Champion of the Raven Queen|
|Coinmistress Vex'ahlia de Rolo||PC||Half-elf twin sister of Vax'ildan, ranger/rogue member of Vox Machina, wife of Percival de Rolo, Baroness of the Third House of Whitestone, Champion of Pelor, and Master of Commerce on the Tal'Dorei Council|
|Opal||PC||Human twin sister of Ted, warlock member of the Crown Keepers in late 842 PD|
|Ted||NPC||Opal's twin sister|
|Ruby Lee Beckfort||NPC||Wife of the War Ringer of Byroden and mistress of ceremonies for the Byroden Forever Pageant|
|Cinna Brightbow||NPC||A dwarven jeweler and daredevil|
|Lisle Vester||NPC||A pageant contestant and rival of Opal|
|Olivancer Fields||NPC||Winner of the 21st Annual Byroden Forever Pageant|
Around 792 or 793 PD, Thordak began to raid caravans and the autonomous villages of the Mornset Countryside, at the edge of the Tal'Dorei Council's influence. The people of the area asked the Council for armed assistance, describing a "nightmare of fire and malice," but Sovereign Odellan Tal'Dorei found the rumors too vague to justify the great expense of sending a regiment.
While Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia were away in Syngorn around 794 or 795 PD, Thordak destroyed half of Byroden and killed a third of the population, including the twins' mother Elaina. By that time he had bent the Outerfolk of the Countryside to slavery and claimed dominion over the land. Emon finally sent its forces from Fort Daxio, but in a terrific battle south of the Stormcrest Mountains they were thrashed. Allura Vysoren, Kima, Drake Thunderbrand, and the rest of their adventuring party also failed to stop Thordak and had to fall back. With the help of the Arcana Pansophical, and after losing several of their compatriots, the party finally managed to seal Thordak in the Elemental Plane of Fire.
By 812 PD the town had been rebuilt, but around this time, there were separate crises of people going missing: some drowning themselves in the Gladepools, others disappearing into the chasm and appearing in locals' dreams asking for help.
Behind the scenes
Aimee Carrero stated that her first question when creating Opal for Exandria Unlimited was "What's the Exandria equivalent of Laredo, TX?" She felt that "Opal needed to be from a place like this: flashy, a little curious, and full of rich culture." Through discussions with Matt Mercer, Aabria Iyengar (the DM for Exandria Unlimited), and other members of the creative team, it was ultimately decided Byroden was such a place.
With this decision, Aabria felt she needed to build a path to visit Byroden in Exandria Unlimited because a place with both little established canon and significant ties to Vox Machina was "a treat". The generational gap allowed for exploration of how changed the world was by the events of the first Critical Role campaign, and from that, the "three Ms of Byroden" were developed. Aabria described the Byroden that Opal knew as "meaningfully different than the one that raised Vex & Vax because of the events of C1" but also wanted to create "a place cozy & lovely enough to add a bit of retroactive sting to the twins' loss". She pointed to the town's eagerness to rebuild as coding it as the American South rather than the Midwest and cited the film Drop Dead Gorgeous as inspiration. Aabria directly acknowledged the inspiration of Laredo in "By the Road" (E1x04).
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 3:18:31. By 842 PD, Cinna Brightbow's family has lived in Byroden for about 100 years.
- See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 114.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 4:18:50.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 77.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 2:56:12.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 3:15:27.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 3:00:46.
- See "The Oh No Plateau" (E1x02) at 48:24.
- In "By the Road" (E1x04), set in 842, the 22nd Annual Forever Byroden pageant is held.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 3:16:28. The festival takes place over most of the remainder of the episode.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 2:58:10. In 843 PD, Byroden was described as having "fewer than 10,000 people."
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 11.
- See "Desperate Measures" (1x40) from 2:38:22 through 2:38:36.
- See "Desperate Measures" (1x40) at 2:36:36.
- See Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 11–12.
- See "In Ruins" (1x41) at 38:19.
- This is the first tweet of a thread discussing Byroden in Opal's backstory and the inspiration of Laredo, Texas.
- This is the first tweet of a thread discussing the development of Byroden for Exandria Unlimited.
- See "By the Road" (E1x04) at 3:11:12.
- Official art of Byroden, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
- Official map of Byroden and surrounding areas, by Andy Law from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.