"Duskmeadow" (1x57) is the first episode of the fifth chapter of Critical Role. With Umbrasyl defeated, the Herd of Storms beginning a new chapter as part of the Rivermaw Tribe, and the city of Westruun restored to its people, Vox Machina journeys to Vasselheim as Vax'ildan confronts the heavy price of a bargain for his sister's life. After a short stay in Vasselheim, the party travels to Whitestone to meet old friends... and an old enemy?
Before this episode aired on Twitch, a couple promotional videos aired. It is unlikely that they will be included in the final YouTube video of this episode.
- Geek & Sundry promotional video, "17k and Ivan Breathes Fire", featuring Ivan Van Norman breathing fire as the reward to the channel's community for completing the challenge to reach seventeen thousand subscribers.
- While the show was late to begin, a video aired that showcased the iam8bit art in the Geek & Sundry Twitch studio with a reference to iam8bit.com.
- No Survivors promo on the canine-themed RPG Pugmire, featuring "Be a Good Dog" sung and performed by the No Survivors cast and guests.
- Late due to traffic in LA and E3.
- Love, support, and solidarity with the victims of recent violence in the United States and the LGBTQ community.
- LootCrate's dystopia-themed box will be shipping soon, so use the lootcrate.com/criticalrole to subscribe to LootCrate now.
- Critter T-shirts will be made using designs from an upcoming contest.
- Battle Chasers successfully kickstarted, and it was promoted on Critical Role in previous episodes. The creator (Joe Madureira) made an exclusive art poster for Critical Role, which is being sold with cast signatures on pre-order for two weeks at Geek and Sundry's shop, and unsigned for three weeks. The signed version costs $200, and the unsigned version costs $40.
- Taliesin will be at a con.
- Laura and Travis voiced characters in Batman.
- The live-action opening sequence that premiered in "Best Laid Plans..." (1x50) was played after the announcements.
Previously on Critical Role
"Vox Machina, the growing troupe of heroic misfits, having recently felled their first recent member of the Chroma Conclave, Umbrasyl the Hope Devourer, as well as destroying the current incursion of the Herd of Storms in the city of Westruun. They met with the remaining people of the town and began to decide a plan for its continued existence and the recovery of those that were displaced in these recent conflicts.
"Part of this process was meeting an individual named Kerrek, who was a blacksmith who had been in the town for a while, who unwittingly became part of this discussion. Grog had spoken with the remnants of the Herd of Storms that had essentially been disbanding from the name and moving west to join with the Rivermaw, which had stepped off from the Herd not too long ago.
"Vox Machina had a hot springs episode in the mansion. Scanlan had made his way back to Kymal, in which he, along with the aid of a few of his friends, figured out a plan in which the people who had been displaced could eventually return to Westruun, and also found Kaylie and spoke with her, and had his somewhat tearful reunion there. The party began to construct a subterranean portion of Westruun that would be protected from future dragon incursion, renovating and restructuring within the sewer system beneath the city.
"After this process was complete, they decided the next level of their trek—the next direction they would travel—would be towards the far northwestern continent of Othanzia, specifically the city of Vasselheim that they know oh so well. All of them stepping through a tree portal presented by Keyleth, they immediately step out into the snowy exterior of what seems like the outside of the Quadroads in Vasselheim."
Vox Machina arrives in Vasselheim and Vax wants to head to the Raven Queen's temple, telling the others that they are free to run errands if they don't want to come with. Percy says that he has some errands to run. They notice that there is construction on the walls, and decide to check in at the Slayer's Take first, taking rooms there. Vex asks one of the members (Loran) about the construction in town and he mentions that they are upping security after the dragon attacks. He says that the town isn't too concerned about it.
They also say hello to Vanessa. Vex'ahlia asks if she would be interested in buying some dragon parts but Vanessa says the only dragon they have a contract for is a bronze dragon. She suggests they hold onto the black dragon materials. Vex tries to barter and Vanessa shuts her down. Vanessa directs them to the Duskmeadow District to find the Raven Queen's temple. The group worries about almost filling capacity for the Bag of Holding, and Percy mentions that they do have Whitestone Castle as a place where they can leave things if necessary. Vax says that his visit shouldn't take long and they can head back to Whitestone when he is finished.
Since Percy's re-stocking mission takes him to the Braving Grounds District, he splits off with Grog and Scanlan in tow. Before they leave Percy gives Vax'ildan his mask in case he needs to feel brave. Percy heads to Victor's house to stock up on black powder. The house is currently being repaired since Percy last saw it. Victor isn't home and the workers on the roof say he has been gone for a couple of hours. Percy opens the door gingerly and doesn't see Victor. Scanlan suggests paying via the honor system which Percy disputes when they hear thuds from beneath a trap door. Percy opens it and Victor pops out, apparently having trapped himself inside his mining building by accident.
Percy also sees that Victor no longer has any fingers on his right hand. Grog pulls him out of the hole. Victor impatiently asks if they are all going to keep asking him questions. Percy offers to trade some kind of mechanical hand for black powder. Scanlan asks if he knows if there is a hat shop nearby and Victor fashions a crude one out of a sack to give him. Percy asks if Anna Ripley has been back. Victor will trade him for some black powder and Scanlan questions if they should get Keyleth or Pike to try and restore his real hand. Percy goes to find the blacksmith and rents the forge for the day.
The other half of the group head through Duskmeadow. Vax talks nervously on the way, mostly to Trinket. The group sees that the catacombs of Vasselheim are located here with various protection charms against undead, which also prevent vegetation from growing in Duskmeadow. Vex apologizes for putting her brother in this place and agrees to not go into the temple. Vax assures her that she did not put him in this place and reassures her that everything will be okay. They say their goodbyes and Vex'ahlia jokes that he might have a new girlfriend in the Raven Queen like Kashaw.
An individual in dark robes and a shroud appears at the door when Vax turns from his sister, and beckons him forward. Vex asks Keyleth to keep Vax'ildan safe and she says they will all get out alive. Pike also reassures her that she'll keep him safe. The trio is lead inside and the figure closes the door behind them. They realize they can actually see outside through the building as though it is glass. Pike is able to remember a few things about the Raven Queen, particularly that she was once a mortal who ascended. She replaced a previous god who used death as tyranny with a natural transition. Due to a lack of trust from the other gods, she only has control over death itself and not the afterlife.
A follower of the Raven Queen greets Vax'ildan and she says she can take him to communion. He is told he must enter alone. He kisses both Keyleth and Pike on the cheek and they tell him they'll be right outside the door and to call them if something goes wrong. He enters a chamber of stained glass, and steps into a pool of ice-cold blood, sinking beneath the surface. He inhales and for a moment he cannot breathe, but suddenly it transitions to something warm. He sees a spark of white and it widens to be the mask of the Raven Queen as she approaches him. He realizes he is being held by her in the endless plane.
Vax'ildan asks if this was always supposed to happen, but the Raven Queen says that he guides his own path. She calls him "fate-touched" and says that he was interesting to her because of how he bends his own destiny. She says that he is interesting to many and she was the one who seized the opportunity. The Raven Queen knows of his hatred and fear of her, but she dismisses that as most hate her due to lack of understanding. Vax agrees to learn to understand and serve. She explains that her gift is to safeguard the passage between life and death - a charge that Vax'ildan now shares. She warns him to be careful with his own bending of destiny and rebukes those who would try to live indefinitely like undead and wayward necromancy. But she understands that an individual may not always be meant to die in one moment and that their destiny goes beyond one death.
Vax'ildan accepts that this is his cause. She tells him his dual nature is what interested her; half recklessness and half instinct. She believes that he has been preparing for this his entire life, unconsciously. She sets him down and they are suddenly in the room where Vax left. For a moment Vax sees her as the woman she was before she was a god and she removes her mask. She kisses him on the forehead in parting.
Vax awakens in the pool and claws his way out into the chamber. The woman who brought him in helps him out. A follower wraps a robe around him and they lead him back downstairs, covered in blood still. Pike runs over and Keyleth stands, staring. Vax'ildan says that he has more questions now even with the answers he got, but one of the followers says that is the nature of death. They ask if he trusts her and Vax says he does. They leave the trio alone. Vax tells them he spoke to her and asks Pike if she speaks to Sarenrae. She says she does but tells Vax they will never entirely understand as they are not gods.
Vax says he believes and that he feels this is fate. Keyleth asks if that is what the Raven Queen told him but Vax protests that she didn't; he says he felt it inside. Keyleth doesn't know what to think of fate, but she assures him that he was special way before the Raven Queen found him. Vax'ildan confirms that everything that just happened was real and he is on board with it. They exit and returning to Vex'ahlia who fusses over her brother, who is still covered in blood. Vex helps him get on Trinket as he is still weak and takes a nap. Pike and Keyleth fill Vex in on what happened, heading back to the Slayer's Take.
Meanwhile, Percy has sent Grog and Scanlan with a shopping list and 100 gold. They find the items and decide to take a side journey to find a hat shop. They meet Deirdre, the owner of the shop, who is very loud and boisterous. Scanlan is looking for a black pointed hat and Deirdre says that, while they don't carry any like that, she could make one; Scanlan pays 20 gold in advance. She tries some hats on Grog. Grog gets one that has a point on it.
They return to the others and Grog shows off his hat. Pike tries it on and ends up falling down the stairs as it covers most of her face. Vax laughs hysterically at this and asks a guild member to direct him to the baths and heads off to get clean. Percy finishes his project for Victor with some inspiration from Scanlan. He delivers the hand to Victor who is very excited at the demonstration. Victor offers Percy some tea with gunpowder in it. He asks again about Ripley. She bought quite a bit of powder when she came by and she only came by once.
Percy walks by the Raven Queen's temple. He looks inside and doesn't see anyone inside. He walks in to take a look around. He calls out, asking what he has to do to fix this and with no answer, he turns to leave when a light illuminates the next chamber. He sees a pair of feet going up the stairs and follows them. He knocks on the door upstairs and it opens. Percy says that something terrible has happened and needs help fixing something. A voice calls out and asks if he is trying to fix himself or something else. He says he wants to fix something in the world. The voice tells him to step in and have faith. He takes off his clothes and he enters the pool, swimming to the bottom. Percy begins to panic when he can't reach the surface and he hits his head, filling his lungs with the blood.
He enters the void and sees the white porcelain face of the Raven Queen. Percy asks if they can stop it. She tells him to ask the right questions. He asks if he was chosen because he was broken or if it broke him, (likely referring to Orthax). She tells him that he was always broken and was preyed upon. She says that his deeds will determine whether he can be fixed. He asks for help in getting rid of it and she says she has already helped. The Raven Queen tells him that he has to watch himself or he may stray from their side. He asks if he can look for healing. She tells him that life is broken from the start and there is no perfection, that finding ways to better yourself before the end is what gives life purpose. She assures him that mortals can achieve great things, just like she did.
Percy awakens in the temple and uses his sword to scrape off the blood, using the back of his shirt to clean off his hair. He takes a vial of the blood and dresses. He casts Hex on himself and walks home, lifting it before he enters. Vex has been gathering hot water for Vax's bath. She notices a bit of blood behind Percy's ear and the look on his face.
Scanlan reads his leadership book, not sleeping, and Vex reads some of her Raven Queen book as the party ends the night.
- An updated Critical Role fan art video played during the break.
The party awakens in the morning to a clearer morning. They debate whether going to the Feywild, Whitestone or Marquet. They decide to make a pit stop in Whitestone before heading off to Feywild to find the vestige there. Keyleth says that she can Plane Shift the group into the Feywild opposed to having to find an entrance. The half-elves all have some basic knowledge of the Feywild but they aren't too sure about the particulars of transport. They also discuss the Ozmit Sea as there is a vestige there as the Water Ashari, Pike knows about the ship that sunk from her sailing days. Grog thinks that his new hat is enough to take Thordak. Percy and Scanlan still refuse to let go of the airship despite everyone else shutting them down
Keyleth opens up a tree and teleports them through. She says hello to the Sun Tree. Whitestone has some more life to it and they can see the city is recovering. Grog tries to call for Galdric but gets no response. Vex'ahlia goes to find Zahra who is reading in the castle. She tells Zahra she used her arrow and they've killed Umbrasyl. She says the Kashaw is off brooding somewhere. Zahra was reading up about the history of Whitestone. There is a defense being set up around the city to draw attention away from it. Vex asks if she could make another dragon slaying arrow and she says she'll work on it if she can get some resources from Percy.
Vax and Scanlan both go to find Gilmore. A guard tells them that GIlmore is underneath the city at Ziggurat. The entire party heads downstairs. They find the Realmseer and Gilmore in conversation. Gilmore looks quite healthy thanks to Kima. They are still working on trying to figure out what the orb does. Gilmore greets and hugs each of the party individually. Gilmore tells them that dinner should be happening soon and they should all catch up over food. The girls take this opportunity to bust out their formal wear. The girls also talk to Pike about Scanlan's proposal. She admits that she had feelings for someone else for a while and she still doesn't know exactly what she feels about Scanlan. Percy has some of their things stored in the vault.
Everyone gathers for dinner with the party including Eskil, Gilmore, and Cassandra. Allura arrives with Kima in tow, out of her armor for the first time. She's wearing a gold dress and looking unhappy about the formal wear. Kima complains that Grog isn't wearing fancy clothes and Allura tells her it was just a suggestion. Kima darts off to change and comes back in a shirt and pants. Cassandra welcomes everyone and Allura starts to fill them in on what they know about the Ziggurat. It appears to be on a ley line as well as the Sun Tree. Anything they have thrown in the orb is devoured, not destroyed, and is asking like a siphon. Grog suggests using a person to go through and Keyleth says she was already almost pulled in.
They also say that they are working on fortifications and there has been no sign of the dragons. Vox Machina suggests that they try to keep their names from getting out, in attempt to not draw attention to the town. Allura provides some more information on where to find the Bow in the Feywild. She's also done some research on the different chromatic dragons and their personalities. White dragons usually keep to themselves, less intelligent than the others, so it is particularly odd that it is a part of the Conclave. Green dragons are manipulative liars by nature and will play subservient. She knows Raishan is particularly skilled with arcane arts and could pass as a druid.
Thordak himself sees himself as the rightful ruler of all. Allura says that they originally trapped him by having one of their allies work under him as a follower. They lured him into the fire plane weakened him and used the heart-stone he had taken to keep him on the plane. Vex asks if it could still be inside of him. Gilmore says that he did see something heart-like on Thordak's chest when he faced him. Grog asks if he the Titanstone Knuckles could be dangerous to transport and Allura says that it only has a small portion of the power a true heart-stone has. Allura has been keeping an eye on Emon and Thordak has been re-shaping the land with fire. No one is sure where Vorugal is nesting.
Allura feels a little guilty about the information dump and says she is glad to see them all. Kima wished she could have come with and asks how Westruun is doing. She asks about her house which seems to be gone. Grog tells her that she should stay in her armor. She and Allura head out. Gilmore and Eskil also bid them goodnight.
Keyleth goes to meditate and speak with the Sun Tree. The tree is doing better and Keyleth asks about the tree in the Feywild. Sun Tree doesn't know anything about it. She asks about the ley lines and how far they stretch and the Sun Tree says it is a long way. Sun Tree confirms that Pelor placed it here. Vex asks Vax how he is and checks that he got all the blood off. She walks over the Percy and whispers that he still has blood behind his ear. Percy asks her to take a walk.
Percy and Vex'ahlia walk around the town, going by the temples as well as the graveyard recognizing the Anders family crypt. Percy takes Vex back to the castle to find Zahra who is asleep in the library. He assigns her to take the Anders crypt and convert it a small shrine for the Raven Queen. He gives her the vial of blood. Vex asks who this is for and he says it's for her brother so he can stay with them. She kisses him on the cheek. Vex says she won't tell Vax or the others about his visit to the Raven's Crest. He also says he'll talk to Cassandra about getting Zahra the resources she needs for the Dragon arrows. Percy also does some tinkering and makes sachet using the raven skull, filling it with myrrh, opium, and dragon's blood sap.
Grog makes the jug fill with oil and pours it on the hall in front of Vax's room. Vax waits for Vex to return from her walk with Percy. He tells her to keep both eyes open and Vex says she is very perceptive. He asks her to be careful around Percy. Vax heads up to his room and immediately sees the oil that Grog spilled. Vax uses the oil to write on Grog's door 'Grog smells like farts and poo' and Vex walking by comments that Grog can't read. Vax says he chose those small words for that very reason. He also leaves a butt print with oil as well. Scanlan goes back to his reading after complimenting Pike.
During the night, Vax'ildan's door opens slightly and there is a knock. Gilmore pops his head in. He gives Vax a robe and asks for him to walk with him for awhile. Vax changes into the robe and they walk arm in arm. Gilmore says he has been watching him and still doesn't know so much. They walk out to a balcony. Gilmore says that there are new threats but the true pain does not heal. He says that Vax hurt him and he has been in agony for months and that's all he can think about. Just as Vax tries to glean what is wrong with Gilmore, he stabs him with a knife and he manages to shake off the poison. Gilmore's form changes and Vax sees the fur, whiskers and claws.
- Geek & Sundry promotional video, "17k and Ivan Breathes Fire", featuring Ivan Van Norman breathing fire as the reward to the channel's community for completing the challenge to reach seventeen thousand subscribers.
- Percival de Rolo
- Scanlan Shorthalt
- Grog Strongjaw
- Pike Trickfoot
- Unnamed construction worker on Victor's roof.
- Unnamed servant of the Raven Queen.
- Deirdre: Proprietress of the Sore Socket Haberdashery.
- Loran: Human member of the Slayer's Take. Also named Voran or Oran, as variably remembered by the DM and players.
- Vanessa Cyndrial
- Cassandra de Rolo
- Shaun Gilmore
- Zahra Hydris (DM-controlled)
- Lady Kima of Vord
- The Raven Queen
- Realmseer Eskil Ryndarien
- The Sun Tree
- Victor: All of the fingers on Victor's right hand are now gone—freshly gone.
- Allura Vysoren
- Fan art of the Raven Queen, by NLN4 (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Raven Queen in mortal form, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Grog's new hat, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Percy at the pool of blood, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Vax with Gilmore, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.