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"Critical Role Extra – The Return of Liam!" (Sx15), also known as "The Screw Job", is the fifteenth special episode of Critical Role. In this one-shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure created by Dungeon Master Liam O'Brien, several members of the Clasp set off on a heist in Emon's recent past.
Hey there, friends. Let me ask you something: Chroma Conclave got you down? Aw, sure it does. That's a heavy scene, man. Remember when things were simpler? When the biggest threats around were an eyeball under a mountain and a Bohemian power couple? (sighs) Good times. Hey, what do you say we turn the clock back a bit? Welcome back to Emon, before the dragons came.
Anyone in the mood for a heist job? Okay, let's go over what we're doing tonight. Everybody remember this gentleman, Spireling Shenn? Yeah, I like the look of this guy. You probably recall him attempting to reach a business arrangement between the Clasp and Vox Machina in the days after Emon fell. It didn't really pan out, and that's okay. He's always been a busy guy, has multiple irons in the fire on any given day, and on this cold and rainy evening, he simply needs something retrieved for him. Something important. Only trouble is, it belongs to someone else. Someone who'd rather not part with it.
This is Adelaide Bluebutton, better known as the Shrew. Adelaide is a rather successful businesswoman here in Emon. She buys and sells exotic curiosities from all the far-flung corners of the world, mostly on the black market. Oh, and she's really good at money laundering, too, which the Clasp would know; they've used her extensively in the past. Had a bit of a falling-out in recent months, though. The Clasp invited her to join them, but Adelaide wasn't interested, and with her business growing the way it was-- well, the Clasp prefers people they can control. And by the way, if you're by any chance wondering how she came by the moniker "The Shrew," she earned it. Bluebutton is as mean a son of a bitch as you will ever meet. A visiting merchant once tried to get the drop on her and steal her wares. She ripped his arms off without lifting a finger. But a mark is a mark, and Spireling Shenn wants something specific. Earlier this year, Adelaide acquired an emerald as big as a cantaloupe: Tagmut's Eye. Priceless. That is a substantial amount of capital that the Clasp could bend to its purposes. That's where these guys come in.
This is Tarvis. Yes, that is the name Travis went with. He's an assassin-- a good one. Tarvis is the lead on one of Shenn's many teams here in Emon. He's also being groomed for more responsibility by his higher-ups, and is entirely devoted to his masters. His instructions: lead his team into Adelaide Bluebutton's private residence, find the gem, and get the hell out of Dodge. Simple.
Actually, I should probably confess something here. All of our players tonight? They've been given secrets, and they all think they're the only ones. Tarvis's secret? The gem is actually a cover Shenn has given him, specifically, to keep the rest of his team from knowing the mission's true objective: the Shrew's secret records. Shenn has told him to find a green leather-bound ledger containing the name of every shady character the Shrew has ever dealt with in Emon, including traitors to the throne. Valuable information. But according to Shenn, intelligence indicates that the book will most likely be found in the woman's basement or possibly in some sort of vault on the second floor, it's not clear. He's to find the book and keep it secret from his team.
You know what? I'd better hurry this along. We've got a house to break into.
This fellow here is Obby the Rat. He's quick with his hands and quicker with his mouth. He's the break-in guy. Hasn't met many locked doors that can slow him down. Obby has known Tarvis for years. They used to play in the streets together as kids, and Tarvis saved him from enough ass-kickings that he is fiercely loyal to the half-orc. Loves that big guy. Also, I gave him no secrets, just because I thought it would be funny.
Next, we move on to Delweth. Good with a blade, knows a bit of magic, just as easily kill you as look at you. She's pretty badass. Also, just between you and me: she secretly loathes Tarvis. She's been with the Clasp for years, and is itching for advancement, but instead of her, they fawn over the half-orc instead. So she's decided tonight is her chance to solve that problem. That's her secret: once they secure this gem, Tarvis is a dead man. Hell, probably the whole team. What happens at the Shrew's stays at the Shrew's. And as far as the Clasp will know, they all died doing what they loved.
And this is Dren. She may be small, but trust me, she can wreck your day. Although lately, she's been doing a lot of babysitting. See, the team actually has an outsider in tow tonight: someone who knows Adelaide and knows the house almost as well as the Shrew does. Dren has been assigned to guarding this turncoat for close to two months now. The Clasp has kept her under house arrest, and Dren has been the one to bring her food, keep her from bolting, pass the time with her... In fact, probably too much time. See, she and her charge have fallen in love. Or lust. You know what? It's complicated. But Dren has revealed to her prisoner that despite their word, the Clasp intends to kill her as soon as the job is done. So the two have cooked up a plan: once the emerald has been secured, they kill everyone, take the gem, and live happily ever after in another city.
Which just leaves us with Devan. Devan is... well, a gambling addict, mostly. She's pretty good with magic, too, but losing money is her real gift. Three months ago, Devan drunkenly shot her mouth off at the wrong card table and boasted that she knew the Shrew, and what's more, she knew the lay of the old hag's house like it was her own. And she was even telling the truth. See, Devan is the Shrew's granddaughter. Well estranged granddaughter. All right, they hate each other. Grandma Adelaide once trained Devan as she came to master the family's innate magical talents. Only for a few years, though, when she was younger, after the kid's mother cut and ran. But for some reason, it didn't end well, and the old woman kicked her out on the street. What can you do? Well, before she could blink, the Clasp had promptly bought up all her gambling debt, and now they have her under their thumb. They gave her a choice: guide Tarvis's team through her grandmother's death trap of a house or take a dirt nap in the sewers. Now, remember, bringing Dren back into the story, the two halfling lovers have hatched a plan: once the gem is procured, they kill the others and run off into the sunset. There's just one thing: Devan doesn't love Dren. She's playing her. Once the others are down, she's taking out Dren, grabbing the emerald, and splitting town on her own. Nothing personal.
So there you have it. Thanks for tuning in tonight, and welcome back to Emon.
The party waits at the Diamond Nest tavern waiting for Spireling Shenn to give the signal to start the heist. Garthok arrives and gives the bat signal, so the crew rolls out with their prisoner - Devan Bluebutton - in tow. They speak with Shenn one last time in his office where he informs the gang that The Shrew has left on a trip to Vasselheim and her house is empty - easy pickings. Their target is Tagmut's Eye, an emerald as large as Obby's very large head.
The party travels through the sewers to The Shrew's home in the Graveyard Distrct of Emon. They find the pipe leading up to the Shrew's home is flooded due to the heavy rainfall recently. Tarvis and Delwen take a moment to threaten Devan in case she tries to run while Obby teaches everyone why exactly people call him "the Rat". Obby spidermans his way up the pipe, but Delweth notices some loose bricks at the sewer wall nearby. Devan pulls the bricks revealing a curled up rat Sigil, the Sigil of the Shrew. Devan cuts her hand and applies her own blood to the sigil to activate it, revealing a secret door.
The conga line of coldhearted clasp criminals pass through the secret door and follow a dark winding passage for a while until the eponymous Tarvis steps on a trap. The crew concoct a brilliant plan to disarm the trap, but the sagacious Obby panics and runs ahead of the party, triggering another trap and showering the party in acid. Eventually Obby finds another Sigil of the Shrew and attempts to activate it with his blood. Only blood relatives of the Shrew such as Devan can activate these sigils, so Devan activates it and reveals another door.
The party finds a storage room full of crates and a halfling desk in the corner. Dren searches through papers on the desk finds a contract to surveil General Krieg Tristan. The party heads to the basement and are attacked by several mimic chests.
From the basement they head upstairs tothe first floor into the Shrew's office and find what looks like 5 dog beds. Devan doesn't recall her grandmother having any dogs though, so these must be new. The crew proceeds to the front of the mansion to the spiral staircases leading to the second floor. Through the windows they spot 3 guards posted outside the mansion and proceed stealthily.
Upstairs, Obby and Dren search the library finding some porn books. Obby recommends that Dren keep it and practice with Devan later. Meanwhile, Delweth and Devan investigate the tea room and Devan opens up about wanting to make friends and Delweth promises to protect Devan.
Devan shows the crew her old room which has been emptied and is now used as storage for some old furniture covered in sheets. The crew ransack the place hoping to find backstreet boys posters, playing cards and any sign of Devan's childhood trauma to no avail. Finally they leave Devan's childhood behind and head to the Magic Fun Room.
- Tarvis: Give Obby a hug for checking out that dangerous pipe for you.
Delweth: He’s covered in number one.
Obby: It’s okay, I am frequently used as punishment.
- Fan art of the characters from "Critical Role Extra – The Return of Liam!" (Sx15), by Thomas Brin (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Delweth, Obby, and Tarvis attempting to kill Dren and Devan, by David Rodrigues (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Dren's final haiku, by Truffery (source). Used with permission.