The Chroma Crisis[1] was a large-scale conflict in which four ancient dragons invaded and subjugated the Kingdom of Tal'Dorei, as well as the nation of Draconia in Wildemount. The crisis began on 26 Duscar, 810 PD, and came to an end on 12 Misuthar, 811 PD, nearly two months later.

Background

Sealing of Thordak

Around 794 PD, the ancient red dragon known as Thordak rampaged across southern Tal'Dorei, destroying towns such as Byroden and Port Udall. An adventuring party including Allura Vysoren and Kima, helped by the Arcana Pansophical devised a trap that could, they believed, permanently seal Thordak within the Elemental Plane of Fire, preventing him from ever returning to Exandria. To trap him, they bound him to an artifact called a soul anchor from the salvaged heart crystal of a primordial fire titan, which could not be removed from the Fire Plane.[2]

Forming the Conclave

During his imprisonment, Thordak was approached by Raishan. The ancient green dragon had been cursed by a druid and was slowly dying of a horrific disease. Thordak claimed to know of a cure, but refused to share this knowledge with her until she found a way to release him, and help him conquer the city of Emon to enact his revenge. Raishan proposed an alliance of powerful dragons to aid them and left to prepare, gathering three other dragons, Brimscythe, Umbrasyl, and Vorugal, who were promised rule over a city of their own. This alliance would be named the Chroma Conclave.

Brimscythe's Demise

The young blue dragon Brimscythe had infiltrated the Tal'Dorei Council, taking the guise of a human named General Kreig and the position as the Master of Law. As General Krieg, Brimscythe thwarted an assassination attempt against Sovereign Uriel Tal'Dorei III in early 810 PD, which was carried out as part of a demonic incursion. It is unclear what part Brimscythe played in this incursion and whether he was directly involved. During their investigations into this incursion, the adventuring party called The S.H.I.T.s, later known as Vox Machina, investigated General Krieg's house, finding a teleportation circle leading to Brimscythe's lair in the Cliffkeep Mountains.

Art of an unknown dragon looking through one of the orbs on the wall of Brimscythe's lair, by Wendy Sullivan Green. From "The Story of Vox Machina" (Sx06).

There Brimscythe confronted them, but was slain. Within the lair, Vox Machina found four orbs that the Chroma Conclave used to communicate with each other. They touched one of the orbs, alerting a member of the Conclave, who proclaimed that "I know your face now. He is a fool, and so are you, insect."[3] Ultimately, Brimscythe's death was convenient for the Conclave, as the overly ambitious blue dragon was vying for control of Emon. Thordak wouldn't've allowed that, and was planning to kill the younger dragon himself.

Thordak's Release

Main article: Thordak's release from the Plane of Fire

In 806 PD, Raishan infiltrated the Fire Ashari village of Pyrah, which is built around a portal to the Plane of Fire. There, she took the guise of a young humanoid girl, and was accepted into the Ashari. There she researched the Plane of Fire. In order to facilitate Thordak's escape, Raishan formed an alliance with a number of fire giants ousted from the City of Brass. With their help, they encased a bit of the Fire Plane, called the Ember Seed, into the soul anchor in Thordak's chest. This is what would allow him to leave the Plane of Fire. She planned to wait until a Celestial solstice to enact the plan, but seeing Thordak's deteriorating mental state due to the Ember Seed now embedded in his body, she accelerated the plan.

On 20 Duscar, 810 PD, the day of Winter's Crest, Raishan widened the rift to the Plane of Fire in Pyrah. Thordak, the soul anchor embedded into his body, tore through the rift, razing Pyrah as he went. Leaving the devastation behind, he and Raishan rendezvoused with the other members of the Conclave, and set their sights on Emon.[4]

Invasions

Claiming Emon

Main article: Attack on Emon

Fan art of the Chroma Conclave attacking Emon, by Thomas Brin.[art 2]

The Chroma Conclave arrived in Emon at dusk on 26 Duscar, 810 PD. Uriel Tal'Dorei III was delivering a speech, attended by Vox Machina, in which he was abdicating the throne and transferring power to the Tal'Dorei Council. Vex'ahlia saw the dragons first, Thordak and Umbrasyl ducking between clouds, as Vorugal landed on the Ivory Tower, breathing his frost breath and destroying it as he kicked away. At that moment, Raishan arrived at the stage, breathing her poison breath into the crowd, and was quickly joined by Umbrasyl and Thordak. Vox Machina escaped by the use of Transport via Plants, fleeing to their keep, Greyskull.[5] There they did battle with Vorugal, as fleeing civilians took refuge inside the keep. Thordak interrupted the battle, ordering Vorugal to continue east. The red dragon then returned to Emon, projecting his voice to proclaim his rulership over the city.[6]

Uriel was killed in the initial attack by Thordak. His family, however, was rescued by the sorcerer Shaun Gilmore, along with Seeker Assum Emring and Guardian Tofor Brotoras of the Tal'Dorei Council. Gilmore personally did battle with Thordak, but was injured and retreated to his shop, along with the Tal'Dorei family. Arbiter Brom Goldhand was thought to have been killed by dragonfire, but was later revealed to have survived.

By the next day, much of the city was in ruin, having been burned, melted, and frozen by dragon breath, and many civilians were killed. Thordak's army, the lizardfolk of the Scions of Flame which he previously ruled in the Ashen Gorge,[7] had moved into the city, patrolling the streets on the backs of wyverns. Raiders who submitted to the dragon were looting the streets to bring treasure back to Thordak, who had taken residence in the ruins of the Palace of the Sovereign.[8] The red dragon's presence within the city opened portals to the Plane of Fire, allowing fire giants loyal to Thordak, as well as rampaging elementals, to enter the city.

Claiming Westruun

Main article: Occupation of Westruun

After invading Emon, the members of the Conclave, save for Thordak, flew east. The dragons reached Westruun within a few hours. They attacked the city, destroying many buildings, including the Cobalt Reserve. The dragons then left, continuing to the east.

The Herd of Storms, a barbarian tribe of goliaths led by Thunderlord Kevdak, saw opportunity. The herd had recently conquered the Rivermaw Tribe, and incorporated their numbers into the herd. On the advice of the tribe's seer Greenbeard, Kevdak led the Herd of Storms invade Westruun. There they set fires and pillaged the town. Kevdak killed the margrave of the city, Atrix, and claimed his mansion. Days afterward, the black dragon Umbrasyl arrived and demanded fealty from Westruun, including the Herd of Storms that had swept in. Kevdak proposed an alliance: that they would act as Umbrasyl's enforcers within the city. The black dragon then made its lair in a cave high in Gatshadow Mountain, which overlooked the city from across the Bramblewood Forest. Between the two attacks, many civilians fled the city, taking refuge in Kymal and around the Foramere Basin.

Claiming Draconia

Main article: Fall of Draconia

Fan art of Ruins of Draconia, by Kent Davis.[art 3]

A few days after destroying Westruun, on 29 Duscar, 810 PD, the dragons had flown to Wildemount, across the Lucidian Ocean and the Menagerie Coast, reaching the Dreemoth Ravine within the Ashkeeper Peaks. There they attacked the flying dragonborn city of Draconia. The city had been tracking their movements, and was considered to be a priority target for the Conclave.[9] During the attack, the dragons destroyed the brumestones holding the city aloft, causing it to crash down into the ravine. Tiberius Stormwind, companion of Vox Machina, was killed in the battle while defending a number of ravenites from Vorugal.

In the wake of Draconia's fall, the ravenites enacted a slave revolt against their draconblood masters. While the revolt was largely successful, Vorugal soon returned to claim lordship of the fallen dragonborn city. The presence of the white dragon's lair caused the normally tropical climate of the ravine to grow cold.

Syngorn's Retreat

The elven city of Syngorn had quickly caught word of the rampaging dragons. Taking no risks, the Wardens of Syngorn activated the threshold crests that surrounded the city's walls, Plane Shifting the entire city into the Feywild. Caught in the middle was Warmaster Mikael Daxio of the Tal'Dorei council, and a number of regiments from Fort Daxio who had been in the city on a diplomatic mission to aid Syngorn in driving back an army of lizardfolk that had been advancing north. Unbeknownst to either nation, these lizardfolk were loyal to Thordak and were marching to Emon.

Razing Serpent's Head

For reasons unknown, Thordak briefly left his roost in Emon and traveled north to the village of Serpent's Head. Most of the villagers had already evacuated to Kraghammer after hearing about Emon's fate. When Thordak arrived in the village, the dragon burned it to the ground, killing any remaining citizens. In the process, the dragon transformed the small mountain that the village was built on into a small volcano, opening a portal to the Plane of Fire.[10]

Vox Machina's Intervention

Aftermath of the Attack

Fan art of Grog and Percy fighting over the skull, by Thomas Brin.[art 4]

Immediately following Vox Machina's retreat to Greyskull Keep, an argument broke out over the potential use of a githyanki skull they had recently found, which claimed that a Wish would be granted to the one who destroyed it. Grog Strongjaw believed that it could be used to wish the dragons away, while Percival de Rolo felt that it was too much of a risk. Arcanist Allura Vysoren arrived at that moment, having been in Whitestone investigating the ziggurat that Vox Machina discovered beneath it, along with her friend and colleague Drake Thunderbrand. Allura explained her personal history with Thordak, informed them that Westruun had likely been attacked at that very moment, and urged Vox Machina to act in order to defeat the Conclave. She and Drake then Traveled via Spark to Westruun.

The next day, 27 Duscar, 810 PD, they snuck into Emon to seek surviving members of the Tal'Dorei Council, making an alliance with Garthok, a member of the Clasp, along the way. They made their way to Gilmore's Glorious Goods, which they found destroyed. Inside, they found an injured Gilmore, his employee Sherri, and the remaining members of the Tal'Dorei Royal Family. Gilmore told them that the council members he rescued, Assum Emring and Tofor Brotoras, left to search the city for more surviving council members. Vox Machina took Gilmore and the others back to Greyskull. Pike Trickfoot and Keyleth Scried upon Vasselheim, Whitestone, Zephrah, and Syngorn, finding the first three untouched and a crater in Syngorn's place. Percy surmised that it had been Plane Shifted to the Feywild.

Knowing that Whitestone was safe for the moment, having been liberated from the Briarwoods, they evacuated the refugees there using Transport via Plants. Percy traveled with them to inform his sister Cassandra of the Conclave's attack, as well as Eskil Ryndarien, who was in town helping to research the ziggurat. Percy then teleported back using one of the gate stones. The party went to speak with the Clasp in their hideout beneath the city, attempting to make an alliance and ensure that they would aid the surviving civilians in the city. However, the deal fell through. The next day, Vox Machina sent the rest of the refugees to Whitestone, abandoning Greyskull Keep for the time being and setting up base in Whitestone Castle.

Missions in Othanzia

On 29 Duscar, 810 PD, Vox Machina used Transport via Plants to teleport to Vasselheim across the Ozmit Sea in Issylra, knowing that it was untouched by the dragons. There they met with the Slayer's Take and reunited with Zahra Hydris and Kashaw Vesh. They sought aid from the Take, speaking with their leader, Osysa. The sphinx told them about the Vestiges of Divergence, powerful magic items from before the Calamity, and shared the location of her mate, who knew where to find some of them. Osysa encouraged the party to seek the Vestiges in order to gain the power necessary to defeat the Conclave. It was also at that moment that Osysa received a vision, telling Vox Machina that the Conclave was attacking Draconia at that very moment.

After spending some time collecting supplies and taking some much needed respite from the stress of the past few days, the group went to the Platinum Sanctuary. Highbearer Vord told them that he was aware of the Conclave's attack, but didn't believe they were acting at the behest of Tiamat. While the Highbearer didn't offer them the help of an army, he did give them an escort, their friend and ally Lady Kima of Vord. They then went to the Trial Forge, where Grog, aided by Vax'ildan and Scanlan, dueled with Earthbreaker Groon. Following his, the Earthbreaker offered them information on two Vestiges known to him: the Deathwalker's Ward, buried in a sunken tomb in the Marrowglade Loch, and the Titanstone Knuckles, whose location was unknown to him.

Fan art of Gern's thrall helping to seal Fire Plane rift, by Thomas Brin.[art 5]

Vox Machina and their companions traveled to the sunken tomb of Purvan Suul, champion of The Raven Queen, where they retrieved the Deathwalker's Ward, as well as a magical necklace called Raven's Slumber, after battling with a beholder. Vex'ahlia was killed by a trap, but was Revivified when her brother Vax offered his life to the Raven Queen in her place. They briefly Transported via Plants back to Whitestone, dropping off their allies in the city. They spent the next day inspecting the armor and necklace retrieved from the tomb, and Scried on Allura Vysoren, who at that moment was collecting books from the ruined Cobalt Reserve in Westruun, accompanied by Drake Thunderbrand. The two then Traveled via Spark out of the city, presumably going to rendezvous in Whitestone.

After this, on 32 Duscar, 810 PD, Vox Machina returned to Issylra, arriving at the Cindergrove to assist the Fire Ashari of Pyrah. There they were surprised to find Keyleth's father, Korrin, who had come to Pyrah the previous day with other members of the Air Ashari to assist their sister tribe. They also encountered an eccentric ravenite named Gern Blanston, a necromancer and chandler. With his help, they were able to fight back against the rampaging fire elementals and stabilize the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Scanlan created his Magnificent Mansion for the first time and invited the Ashari inside for the night. Keyleth had a conversation with Cerkonos, headmaster of the Fire Ashari, who revealed to her Raishan's past infiltration into the Ashari.

Rescuing Refugees

The next day, 1 Horisal, 811 PD, Vox Machina Transported via Plants to the Bramblewood Forest outside of Westruun and used Wind Walk to scout the city unseen, where they learned that the Herd of Storms had taken over the city. They decided to travel south to the Frostweald, hoping to learn about more Vestiges of Divergence.

On the way, they encountered a refugee camp near the Foramere Basin. The refugees had been denied entry into Kymal due to the city being filled with other refugees from Westruun. Vox Machina sent some of the refugees to Whitestone, using Transport via Plants. They were told that a number of the refugees had been kidnapped by a band of orcs and taken into the Frostweald, and encountered Drez Vina and his employer, Quall, who hired them to retrieve something that he had left behind in his home in Westruun. It was at that time that Pike Trickfoot joined the party, teleporting to them using the gate stone that was left in Whitestone.

While in the Frostweald, Vox Machina rescued the cartographer Tyriok Gadsworth, who had been petrified by basilisks, as well as the refugees who were kidnapped by the orcs. They continued onward to the Cavern of Axiom, leaving Tyriok to guide the refugees back to camp.

Liberation of Westruun

Main article: Occupation of Westruun

Having learned the locations of other Vestiges and having been gifted Mythcarver from the sphinx Kamaljiori, as well as riding themselves of the cursed sword Craven Edge after Grog Strongjaw was killed from abusing its power, Vox Machina traveled back north to Westruun. They arrived outside the city and rested within Scanlan's Magnificent Mansion, devising a plan to face Kevdak.

On 7 Horisal, 811 PD, Vox Machina enacted their plan. Keyleth used Move Earth to dig a covered pit outside of Westruun's west gate, while Scanlan walked Invisibly to the center of town. To draw the Herd of Storms to the gate, he cast Thunderwave in the middle of a group of barbarians, but forgot that his Invisibility would drop. He then Dimension Doored into a temple of Erathis, encountering a group of civilians, as well as his old mentor Dr. Dranzel and his daughter Kaylie. Salvaging the plan, Scanlan and Kaylie created an illusion of the head of Grog's father, Stonejaw, telling the Herd to go to the west gate. He then cast Seeming on the civilians to disguise them as members of the Herd and led them to the city's sewers to hide.

Meanwhile, the rest of Vox Machina fought with a number of Herd members at the West gate, who had been alerted to an attack by Scanlan's disturbance. Most of the Herd members fell into the pit that Keyleth dug, while Grog fought and killed a goliath named Suda. Vox Machina then entered the city, traveling along the rooftops. During this, barbarians of the Herd of Storms were pulling people from their homes and gathering at the center of town. The party rendezvoused with Scanlan and rested within an abandoned house. There, they made a plan for Grog to challenge Kevdak in single combat, while the rest of the party would wait nearby to give backup if necessary.

Grog strode into the streets alone, shadowed by the rest of the party, and was approached by a group from the Herd who brought him to Greenbeard. Greenbeard initially ordered the Herd members to kill Grog on the spot, but Grog convinced Greenbeard to bring him to Kevdak. In the center of town outside of the Margrave's mansion, Grog called out to Kevdak and challenged him to single combat, berating the Herd for bending the knee to a dragon. While Kevdak refuted Grog's right to issue the challenge as he was no longer a member of the Herd, he accepted, temporarily reinducting him into the Herd.

Fan art of Grog Strongjaw landing the killing blow on Kevdak, by David Rodrigues.[art 6]

The Herd created an arena for the fight, surrounded by barbarians holding civilians hostage. Grog dueled with Kevdak, who used the Titanstone Knuckles to enlarge himself. Grog began to lose ground in the fight and called out for Vox Machina, who were waiting hidden on the rooftops, to join the fray. In response, Greenbeard and a number of barbarians joined as well. The ensuing battle was bloody, and a number of civilian hostages were killed. Grog was nearly felled, but was rescued by Vex'ahlia capturing him inside Raven's Slumber. She flew into the air on her broom and released Grog from the necklace, where he fell and cleaved Kevdak from shoulder to waist.

Claiming victory, Grog called out to the Herd to help Vox Machina defeat the dragon Umbrasyl. He also called for Zanror, who had been imprisoned for previously defying Kevdak. Greenbeard brought him out, and gave Grog Kevdak's Bloodaxe and Titanstone Knuckles to give judgement. Grog pivoted and beheaded Greenbeard, and proclaimed that Zanror would be the new Thunderlord of the Herd. Zanror accepted Grog's proposition to kill Umbrasyl, and a tenuous alliance with the Herd of Storms was achieved.

Planning at Dawn

After the battle, Vox Machina went to the Red House of Trickfoot to confirm that Pike's great-great-grandfather Wilhand was safe, and searched the home of Master Quall. There, they found a Circlet of Golem Control, as well as the stone golem that it controlled, which they named Fassbender.

The next day, the party returned to the Margrave's estate to speak with Zanror, and convinced him to wait one day to prepare to kill Umbrasyl. At that meeting, Ivon the Ironwilled of the Rivermaw Tribe proclaimed that his people would split from the Herd of Storms and not take part in the fight with the dragon. Zanror sent a scouting party up Gatshadow Mountain to Umbrasyl's lair. Vox Machina then set a trap for Umbrasyl at the location where the Herd of Storms presented loot from the city. Percy, with the help of some Westruunian citizens, built a spring trap at that location, hidden beneath a small amount of treasure. Keyleth used Move Earth to create a trench in which the goliaths would hide in wait.

Grog searched the Iron Stocks prison, and among the people imprisoned there by the Herd he found Abjurist Noja, a wizard and proprietor of Beyond the Veil. Grog and Scanlan recruited Noja to help fight Umbrasyl, and helped him find his spare spell book. Keyleth set Fassbender at the trap as well to aid with the fight. In preparation for the fight, Vox Machina and the warriors of the Herd of Storms ate a Heroes' Feast.

Slaying Umbrasyl

Fan art of Umbrasyl's retreat, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 7]

On 9 Horisal, 811 PD, the party to slay Umbrasyl awoke early to hide in wait at the trap. Umbrasyl arrived and was caught in Percy's trap, and the goliaths sprung from the trench and threw hooked chains over the dragon in an attempt to keep it earthbound. The dragon, however, broke free and breathed acid onto the goliaths, killing most of them. As a backup, Scanlan and a Reduced Vax'ildan Dimension Doored directly into Umbrasyl's body and set an immovable rod within, though they trapped themselves in the dragon's gullet in the process. Grog threw the Bloodaxe into Umbrasyl's body, attached by the Chain of Returning. Battered by Vox Machina and recognizing the fight was turning against him, Umbrasyl ripped free of the immovable rod and retreated toward his lair in Gatshadow, taking Grog, Scanlan, and Vax with him. Scanlan and Vax cut themselves free mid-flight and escaped on Grog, who Scanlan Polymorphed into a giant eagle.

Fan art of Grog killing Umbrasyl, by Viktor Engholm.[art 8]

Vox Machina hiked through the Bramblewood. On the way, they met Shale, a goliath who was part of the scouting party Zanror sent. With her, they traveled up Gatshadow and made their way to the cave in which Umbrasyl made his lair, where they found the rest of Shale's scouting party had been killed. Inside the cave, Umbrasyl had recovered from the fight and was waiting for them while under Greater Invisibility. Vox Machina and Shale resumed the battle with the dragon. Keyleth caught Umbrasyl with Faerie Fire, allowing Percy to deal massive damage using the Dragon Slayer Longsword. Ultimately, Grog dealt the final blow by driving the Bloodaxe into Umbrasyl's skull, slaying the dragon.

Rebuilding Westruun

Vox Machina rested for the night within Umbrasyl's lair, sleeping in Scanlan's Magnificent Mansion The next day they hiked down the mountain and met with the remainder of the Herd of Storms, who had burned their dead. Zanror told them he had disbanded the Herd, and was setting out to make amends with and join the Rivermaw Tribe. Vox Machina then met Kerrek, a retired adventurer, blacksmith, and respected community member in Westruun. He had gathered a group to go up the mountain to find out what had happened with the dragon. The party told him that Westruun's plundered wealth was left in the cave, and Kerrek sent a group to retrieve it over the next few days. Kerrek and Vox Machina went into town to announce Umbrasyl's defeat, and the town celebrated.

The next day Vox Machina gathered the remaining citizens in the town square to discuss plans for rebuilding and returning refugees to the city. Over the next three days, Keyleth retrofitted a bunker into the Westruun sewers using Move Earth. She also sent Scanlan, Pike, and Kerrek to Kymal using Transport Via Plants to tell the Westruunian refugees there that they could return home.

After spending a day in Vasselheim to gather supplies, Vox Machina returned to Whitestone on 17 Horisal, 811 PD. There they met with the resistance leaders they gathered in the town: Eskil Ryndarien, Shaun Gilmore, Cassandra de Rolo, Allura Vysoren, and Kima. They had dinner and discussed the ziggurat beneath the city, the Vestiges, research on the types of dragons they had left to face, as well as plans to create an illusory field over Whitestone in order to hide the city from the Chroma Conclave.

Syngorn's Plan of Attack

While on a mission to recover the vestige Fenthras, Vox Machina entered Syngorn, which was still in the Feywild. There they spoke with Syldor Vessar, an ambassador of the elven city and father of the twins. He told them that Syngorn had been preparing its troops to go to war with Thordak, and that they had been gathering intel on the dragon. The plan was that upon returning to the Material Plane, the Verdant Guard as well as those of the Tal'Dorei military that were stationed in Syngorn would meet with the remaining forces of Fort Daxio.


References

  1. Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 134.  The event is identified as the Chroma Crisis.
  2. See "Desperate Measures" (1x40) from 2:36:18 through 2:42:03.
  3. See "The Story of Vox Machina" (Sx06).[citation needed]
  4. See "The Family Business" (1x47) from 47:31 through 49:32.
  5. See "Omens" (1x39).[citation needed]
  6. See "Desperate Measures" (1x40).[citation needed]
  7. Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 72.
  8. See "Desperate Measures" (1x40).[citation needed]
  9. See "Talks Machina Fireside Special: Q&A with the Critical Role Cast" (Sx33) at 1:40:45.  Matthew Mercer explains each member's motivation and the reason for the loose alliance.
  10. Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 70.

Art:

  1. Fan art of Vox Machina facing the Chroma Conclave, by Alika Gupta (source).  Permission needed.
  2. Fan art of the Chroma Conclave attacking Emon, by Thomas Brin (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Ruins of Draconia, by Kent Davis (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Grog and Percy fighting over the skull, by Thomas Brin (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Gern's thrall helping to seal Fire Plane rift, by Thomas Brin (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Grog Strongjaw landing the killing blow on Kevdak, by David Rodrigues (source).  Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Umbrasyl's retreat, by Lap Pun Cheung (source).  Used with permission.
  8. Fan art of Grog killing Umbrasyl, by Viktor Engholm (source).  Used with permission.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.