"Divergent Paths" (2x25) is the twenty-fifth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein head down into the Gearhold Prison to destroy the clockwork Gear Warden, and hopefully help a family in need... 

Synopsis Edit

Pre-Show Edit

Sam makes noise from his phone. Critical Role is down two players tonight...because Travis and Laura's baby couldn't wait. There's a new addition to the Critical Role team! Matt is glad that he already worked out a narrative exit for them...that they can't be here for. Seriously, the cast loves Travis and Laura: they're amazing. Taliesin is just saying that Laura could've held the baby for five more hours: then Matt could've shared a birthday with "the new one". Liam is Skype-ing during a visit with his nephew. So much is going on: Liam is having the best day!

Announcements Edit

  • First off, a big thank you to our returning fantastic sponsor: D&D Beyond.
    • Sam didn't know this: the discount code for the Legendary Bundle on the D&D Beyond online marketplace ("826LA") is still active, but it will be expiring soon. The site will be undergoing some maintenance tomorrow (Friday, June 29, 2018) starting at 7:00 am PDT. The site will be in read-only mode for a few hours. Adam Bradford (Product Director of D&D Beyond) will be hosting a live-stream on during maintenance at 9:00 am PDT, with some exciting announcements. Not lost on the fact that Travis, Laura, and Liam are all gone from Critical Role, Sam pays special tribute to "Little Ashley", who will also be leaving for a little while. So he sings a song he composed for Ashley, in the style of her favorite band: Boyz II Men. Ashley may play a geek on NBC, but she's one in real-life with all of them here at Critical Role. Sam hopes that Blindspot will let Ashley play with them when the Mighty Nein visits Xhorhas. Until then, Sam will be hoping every week that this is the episode where Patterson is killed off. Sam discovers that singing is hard to do in a mustache. Marisha thought that the Burt Reynolds costume was just part of Sam's opening gag. Sam declares that this is what he wore in the first campaign for Episode 25, so that's what he's going to do for this campaign! Liam is dumbfounded that on the night when Ashley is about to leave, "Baby Baileyham" has just been born, Liam is in the woods, and Critical Role is about to move to its new independent studio...Sam decided to wear that?!? Sam did not decide: Sam made this a thing, and now he can't unmake it. Taliesin can't remember whether the monkey is Smokey or the Bandit.
  • Because of the move, there will not be a Talks Machina on Tuesday, July 3rd or Critical Role on Thursday, July 5th. The Talks Machina for tonight's episode will be on Tuesday, July 10th at 7:00 am PDT, then hosted by our fantastic host: Brian W. Foster. The following Thursday (July 12, 2018) will be the next episode of Critical Role, where a guest (maybe even two?) will be joining the cast. Sam asks if one of them will be a baby? Matt says no. Despite being a phenomenal Dungeon Master, Matt admits that he's not very good at teaching others how to play Dungeons & Dragons. Also, language is an important barrier to teaching an infant.
  • Critical Role announced on social media the launch of a Kickstarter, in conjuction with Steamforged Games. It is a short-form Kickstarter for Critical Role's line of Vox Machina (including Trinket) and Mighty Nein (including Shakäste) miniatures. They are highly-detailed and super-high-quality plastic tabletop minis. There are Kickstarter-exclusive rewards for Pumat Sol (and his three simulacrums) and Taryon Darrington (including Doty). The Kickstarter will be up for another week, ending on Friday, July 6th at 12:00 pm PDT. If you can't afford the $60 right now to become a full Kickstarter backer and unlock those rewards, you can just donate $1 now and Critical Role will have opportunities for you to purchase those rewards later down the road. For how high-quality and collectable these minis are, Matt admits that $60 is a pretty fantastic package. Help make it happen...more (because the initial fundraising goal has already been blown out of the water). Marisha says the boxing is so cool. Matt hasn't seen the boxes yet, so Marisha decides not to spoil that yet.
  • Marisha is so emotional: so much stuff is going on. Every day feels like a year.

Previously on Critical Role Edit

"So last we left off: The Mighty Nein - in making their way northward towards their eventual goal of Shady Creek Run, to complete their second mission that they accepted from the Gentleman in Zadash - had been traversing the countryside and made their way to the city of Hupperdook: the largely Gnomish-cultural city there of industry and (currently) construction of war machines to send towards the conflict with Xhorhas to the east. There, you saw the very hardy work atmosphere of the Gnomes...and then the evening's *very* crazy *party* atmosphere, in which many of you dove into some hard drinking: a hard drinking contest.

"You won the title of the Blushing Tankard Tavern - beating out their old champions - and woke up with terrible hangovers...and realizing that most of your gold had been stolen. Upon doing some sleuthing around the town, you had bullied a couple of bullies that were pushing Rissa around and had been a problem for a while, sent them peeing their pants and rushing. You spoke with Rissa's father in his kind of tinkering inventor's store, in which you discovered a shiny object: a fantastic, experimental hand crossbow construct of his - that he would be interested in relinquishing without payment, if you do him the favor of correcting a mistake he made a while back.

"Apparently, he crafted (on the request of the Starosta of the city) a powerful gear-keeper: a construct-like entity that was meant to help the Warden within the prison...that went crazy, killed a bunch of people, then they sealed it off, and it's kind of just been there (forgotten) ever since. So, you said you'd take a look at this. Eventually, you discovered that the money you had lost had been taken by four children, who currently are without parents and have been kind of living on the streets here, in the city of Hupperdook...while their folks had been sent to the prison six months before for being caught worshiping unapproved deities within the Empire. You - after having this conversation with them, retrieving your funds, and leaving Kiri with them for the time being for safekeeping - decided to see if you had the possibility to prevent them from being sent to an Empire-run orphanage, in the hopes of freeing their parents in some way, shape, or form from their binds..."
Campaign 2 Tracker Map, Episode 25

Campaign 2 Tracker Map, Episode 25

Part I Edit

It is late-morning/midday, so Nott wants to check out the Gearhold Prison and do some scouting before nightfall. Beau agrees, saying they should plan today, sleep, and then go to the prison tomorrow. Molly suggests calling off the "teenagers". Beau would hate for the Mighty Nein's problems with Fitz and Ashton to affect the kids...also she is still hungover and her words aren't really working right now. Caleb asks if they should try to find them. Molly states that at the very least word can be left with their employer at the Steelbringer's Forge. Beau wants to send Rissa to go talk with them, but Nott points out that Rissa knows the town and might be able to help them scout out the prison. Nott suggests sending Fjord and Jester to go tell their employers, to which Fjord (played by Taliesin) murmurs affirmatively. Caleb asks if Jester can give him her Fantastic Haversack, in case they need it. Jester (played by the DM) refuses, asking why she would give it to Caleb if she's going with the rest of the party? Besides, it's her bag, she paid for it. [A frustrated Liam says it is fairly obvious why, but okay...] Rissa starts to lead the party to Gearhold Prison in the lower tier of Hupperdook ("Lowerdook", as Matt puts it). Jester (played by the DM) sends a message to Fitz using Sending, telling them that they found the ones who took their money, so they can stop looking now. She also tells them to go back to work, but she might have gone over her word limit.

The Mighty Nein are led by Rissa into the Iron Lot, where the conflict with Xhorhas has put Hupperdook's smokestacks and equipment into overdrive. As they walk, Rissa points out more of Hupperdook's sights: the foundries of the Omni-Smelter, the Armavault treasury, the Underbellows, and the Firemark Facility. Upon learning it manufactures firearms, Nott asks if the Firemark Facility is heavily protected. Rissa snickers and replies that most everything is in Hupperdook. Rissa then points to a solid iron door at the mountain's base, towards the southern end of the Iron Lot: the Gearhold Prison. Molly asks what Rissa knows about the machine her father built. Rissa asks if Molly has ever seen an automaton made of stone or clay. The Gear Warden is made of metal and gears...and blades...LOTS of blades. It doesn't have feet: it basically just rolls and cuts. Caleb asks if it is animated by magical means. Rissa admits that it's only partially magical: the rest is locomotion-based clockwork. Rissa's father referred to the type of construct as a "gear-keeper". Nott asks if they need to appear more official to get the prison guards to let the Mighty Nein deal with the Gear Warden. Molly and Caleb think that the guards will just be glad to have someone deal with the problem. Jester offers to forge a letter from Rissa's father. Sam remarks that idea is way too smart for Laura to which Matt warns him that Laura is probably watching right now.] Molly asks if anyone has any blueprints of the Gear Warden so they can make a plan of attack, but Rissa doesn't like the idea of going back to her father. Beau suggests picking up a pie for Rissa's dad on the way home. Yasha suggests making it a meat pie.

The party stops to get a meat pie on the way to the Gearhold Prison, getting caught in the middle of the lunch hour rush. The party returns to the Tinkertop residence.

Break Edit

  • 1980s animated ad for D&D Beyond
  • clip from "Asinine Wisdom" Season 3 on Project Alpha, with guest Brian Wayne Foster
  • trailer for "Loremasters: Legends" on Project Alpha
  • promo for the album "In The Wasteland" by Jason Charles Miller
  • "The Wednesday Club" five-minute one-shot: "The universe gives you a superpower which is least useful to your personality/lifestyle. What is it?"
  • Critical Role fan art reel

Part II Edit

The Mighty Nein have descended down into the Gearhold Prison and reached the slightly-open double doors of this sealed-off section. The doors behind, and in front of, the party (as well as the walls around them) are scraped and gashed with hundreds of blade marks. It looks like whatever is in here has spent a lot of time grinding around either looking for a means of escape or continuing its programmed patrol...over and over again. Parts of the walls have started to erode from the damage, and there is rubble along the walls in this sealed chamber. Marisha suggests that Jester cast Pass Without A Trace, but Taliesin points out that would be Jester's last 2nd-level spell. Jester plans to cast Spiritual Weapon instead, since Pass Without A Trace won't matter once the Gear Warden sees them. Molly uses his Primal Rite of the Frozen to ice up his swords. Nott sneaks over to the prison gate. There are gashes across the set of prison bars, and they are slightly bent inward. She tries to pick the lock, but it's not easy: these are locks designed to keep in prisoners. Caleb walks up to Nott and uses the torch to help see inside the cell. Molly moves further down the hallway to keep an eye out. Caleb determines that whatever scraped up the main chamber, there are none within the cell: the Gear Warden was unable to breach this door. Caleb sees three skeletons decomposing: apparently the prisoners were trying to claw their way out when the Gear Warden was trying to break in, and some rubble collapsed and struck them. They either died from their wounds or slowly starved. Molly sees that the other interior chamber, equally as scraped up. There is also a cell in that one, but those doors have been breached. Another cell beyond that appears to be open. Caleb and the party come up with an elaborate plan to seal ranged fighters inside one of the cells before Caleb realizes that he lacks the material components for Arcane Lock.

Eventually, Caleb decides to send Frumpkin scouting for the Gear Warden. Frumpkin finds it and Caleb just manages to send Frumpkin back to the Feywild before the Gear Warden initiates combat with the Mighty Nein.


BlackSalander Jeseter Kiri

Fan art of Jester and Kiri saying goodbye, by BlackSalander.[art 1]

The Mighty Nein guide Gilda and Wallace back to their home, where they joyously reunite with their children. The Nein ask Gilda and Wallace to take care of Kiri, which pleases the Shuster children. Jester, Nott, and Yasha have emotional goodbyes with Kiri.

The party goes to bed in spite of the raucous partying, exhausted from the day's ordeal. The next day, they stop by Tinkertop Inventions and pick up Nott's new crossbow. They ask Cleff to keep an eye on Kiri for them, and give Rissa their drink tokens.

Featured Characters Edit

The Mighty Nein Edit

New Edit

Returning Edit

Mentioned Edit

Inventory Edit

Quotations Edit

  • Nott: "Do we need outfits or something?" (asking if the Mighty Nein needs uniforms to deal with the Gear Warden)
    Molly: "I suggest we wear shoes and pants."
  • Molly: "I'm a bad example of so many things."
  • Beau: "Can we please just go kill your damn death robot?"
  • Sam: "Does it have a butt, Matt?"
  • Sam: "My mustache is falling off, so I better hold it on with another mustache." (the origin of the Megastache)
  • Beau: "I do want to hurt people...just not people I LIKE!"
  • Beau: "I don't know what this emotion thing is. It's weird."

Trivia Edit

  • Sam's giant flask bears a message in this episode that reads "MAZEL TOV BABY BLAM!"
  • The D&D Beyond stream on June 29 announced the debut of the revamped D&D Beyond character sheet later the same day, which included shareable character sheets. Adam Bradford discussed integrating the public sheets with Twitch in the future.

References Edit


  1. Fan art of Jester and Kiri saying goodbye, by BlackSalander (source).  Used with permission.