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This wiki contains spoilers for all stories of Critical Role. This includes the story for unaired episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina, as it's based on the first campaign of Critical Role from 2015-2017.


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Ludinus: I'm surprised to see such affection from such a previously cold individual.
Essek: Well, I am surprised myself. Maybe you should try friends sometime.
Essek explaining himself to the Martinet.[22]

Essek Thelyss is a drow wizard and a senior figure in the Kryn Dynasty. As an NPC, Essek Thelyss is played by Matthew Mercer.



Essek's depiction in the animated opening

Essek is a very handsome male drow who holds his head high.[23] He has very short white hair on the sides that come up to a half curved coif to one side.[24] His eyes are violet-blue.[25] He wears an elaborate mantle and deep purple and black robes that almost entirely obscure his body.[26] Under the mantle, he wears comfortable, sleek, well-trimmed Xhorhasian-styled clothing.[27]

Essek moves in a unique way, described as gliding or drifting. His cloak falls to the floor, obscuring his feet. Although in the Mighty Nein's initial meeting with him, they heard and saw his footfalls as he moved,[28][29] later Jester peeked below his cloak and saw his feet weren't touching the ground.[30] Once, when he came to the Xhorhaus, the party scattered ball bearings on the floor, which separated out around his form like there was some invisible force pushing them outward and generating a strange force keeping them at bay.[31] At Mythburrow, he left two grooves in the snow behind him as he moved, from his toes.[32] At Matthew Mercer's Stockholm Comic Con panel, he clarified that Essek can walk; he simply chooses not to.[33] Later, the party learned that Essek floats because when he was young, he used it as a means of impressing people and now it has become expected of him.[34]

During the battle with Cree in the tunnels beneath Cognouza, Essek acquired a red eye on his right shoulder blade.[35] He acquired four more eyes during the final battle with Lucien, one of which was on his throat.[36] Upon Lucien's death, all five eyes on his body disappeared.

In Disguise

When in disguise as Dezran Thain, Essek takes on the illusion of a young, pale-skinned elf with short dirty blonde hair coming to a point at the front. His illusory robes are silver and teal.[37]


Prior to meeting the Mighty Nein, Essek did not get along well with anyone other than his brother and people who were helping him with his interests.[38] He had difficulty trusting people and felt that relationships were an excessive risk.[39]

Essek is quite charming and hardworking; however, he is elusive. He isn't fond of interacting with strangers or giving away information unless he respects the individual or needs them for something. He is arrogant in his abilities.[40] Although he may be concerned about the Mighty Nein, as a person with his training, station, general persona, and how he likes to present himself, he would never openly show that concern.[41]

Essek has expressed frustration with the Dynasty's religious beliefs concerning the Luxon beacons and The Luxon. He feels they are based on myth, interpretation, and assumption, and distract from the effort to pursue the power contained in the beacons.[42] His beliefs cut him off from others of the Dynasty; he does not trust anyone and feels like he doesn't belong. Therefore, he spends much of his time alone.[43]



Fan art of Shadowhand Essek and Taskhand Verin of Den Thelyss, by @JustHustina.[art 2]

Essek is a member of Den Thelyss, one of the three main Dens of Rosohna. He told the Mighty Nein he is consecuted, but has not gone beyond his first life yet[44] and is part way into his second century. He in fact refused to be consecuted,[45][46] though this has not been revealed in-game. He considers that Den Thelyss was very kind to accept one as comparatively young as himself.[47] He holds the title of Shadowhand, granted to spies, mages, or investigators who "focus on the dark mysteries of Exandria" and are specialists in "the dangerous unknown" in fields such as subterfuge or arcana.[48]

Essek has claimed that he believes the worst thing he's ever done is anger his father to the point where he went unprepared into the depths of Bazzoxan and didn’t return. He believed that his father wasn’t a great man and had little aspirations.[49] His mother, however, is the Umavi of Den Thelyss.[50]

Campaign Two: The Mighty Nein

Arc 3: The Bright Queen's Favor

Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by @porzio art.[art 3]

"In Love and War" (2x57)

Essek was in attendance when The Mighty Nein received an audience with the Bright Queen, and returned the beacon to the Kryn Dynasty. When Nott inquired about her husband Yeza's whereabouts, it was Essek as Shadowhand who confirmed that Yeza was in fact in their custody. Before the Bright Queen dismissed the Mighty Nein, Essek was assigned to be their steward while they were potential allies to the Dynasty. Afterwards, Essek took the Nein through the Shadowshire to the Dungeon of Penance where Nott and Yeza reunited. Though coy at first, he did agree to release Yeza after a small interrogation and then continued to show the group around Rosohna, to the Dim's Inn and their new lodgings.

"Agreements" (2x61)

Essek returned to the Nein to show them to their new home, courtesy of Den Thelyss. It was raining, but the raindrops did not touch him, instead falling around him while he remained dry.

"Domestic Respite" (2x62)

Essek dropped by the Xhorhaus and remarked on how the Mighty Nein were settling into their new home. Beau invited him in for drinks, but he declined. After some polite conversation, Caleb asked after ways to learn dunamancy. Essek asked him to demonstrate his magical prowess, and Caleb cast Cat's Ire. Essek then decided to begin teaching him the basics of dunamancy, offering to let him transcribe two spells from his spellbook, Gift of Alacrity and Fortune's Favor.

"Intervention" (2x63)

Essek vouched for the party in their meeting with the Bright Queen sharing information about the upcoming attack on the Ashguard Garrison and the meeting at the Overcrow Apothecary.[51][52]

Arc 4: Swords and Angels

"Causatum" (2x70)

Essek was present for the Mighty Nein's audience with the Bright Queen following their return from Bazzoxan and said he could transport the group to the Flotket Alps.[53] When Caleb sought him out afterwards, Essek agreed to do what he could to see that the captured Scourger's execution was not accelerated.[54]

"Family Gathering" (2x71)

When the Mighty Nein were ready to leave for the Flotket Alps, they sent to Essek to come to the Xhorhaus, where they introduced Dairon as their house sitter.[55] After a brief mishap, Essek successfully transported them all to the Greying Wildlands.[56]

"Manifold Morals" (2x74)

The Mighty Nein Sent to Essek asking him to Teleport the party to Mythburrow and he agreed. When they returned to Rosohna, he also helped Caleb by using Dispel Magic on the stolen book page, unlocking its contents, and told Caleb he had been able to delay the execution of the Scourger for two weeks. Reani found him very attractive and was overawed and shy around him. Essek then successfully Teleported all of them to Mythburrow.

"Rime and Reason" (2x75)

When Essek moved away, Jester saw that instead of footprints, he left two grooves in the snow from his toes dragging.

"A Tangled Web" (2x77)

Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by Vicious Mongrel.[art 4]

Essek escorted the party to the Dungeon of Penance to interrogate the captive Scourger, and when she attacked Caleb, Essek used magic to lift her still-living body off the ground and magically crush her central torso inward, killing her instantly and mangling the body. Essek later taught Caleb two new dunamancy spells, Immovable Object and Resonant Echo.

"Through the Trees" (2x79)

Essek transported the party to the Lotusden Greenwood, but there was confusion over their intended target and they then asked him to teleport them further south in an attempt to intercept or get ahead of Obann. He was extremely reluctant. When Caleb placed his hand on his forearm and apologized, he pulled away. However, Essek agreed and teleported the party deeper into the forest. When Beau asked if he was mad at them, he said he was just ready to leave, reiterated that he had not forgotten that the party now owed him a number of favors, and told them to be careful and safe. He exited by casting a spell that sent him flying up through the canopy.

"The Folding Halls" (2x80)

Essek met with the Mighty Nein to discuss the break in that occurred the night before and his work being done researching the Angel of Irons cult.

"Bathhouses and Bastions" (2x90)

Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by Elliott.[art 5]

The party returned to Rosohna and met with a weary-looking Essek, who told them of the captured Adeen Tasithar, and that Adeen had been being interrogated for two days. Essek agreed to taking a disguised Fjord into the prison to see if he could learn anything further. When the party told Essek they thought Adeen was mind-controlled, Essek went to check if he had a mark on his neck similar to Yasha's. He was insight-checked on his return by Nott, who later told Caleb that Essek seemed "funky".

Sam Riegel later revealed that, on that insight check, Matthew Mercer had whispered that Essek was being weird and was lying about something about the prisoner, and that he was "completely not himself."[57]

"Stone to Clay" (2x91)

Essek accepted the Mighty Nein's invitation to dinner at the Xhorhaus. He was the most open and honest with them he had yet been, removing his floor-length mantle for the first time and explaining to them that he began levitating when he was young in an effort to impress people. He told them a little about his family and asked them about their own goals, sharing his frustration with the religious interpretation the Dynasty puts on the Luxon beacons.[58] Caleb gave him the vial of dunamantic power the party recovered in the cellar of the Brenatto Apothecary in Felderwin. Essek offered to help Caleb with his research into Halas's notes on transforming bodies permanently, and the next day, the party went to Essek's home where he, Caleb, and Nott were successful in creating the Transmogrification spell. The spell ultimately failed because of the lingering curse on Nott.[59]

Arc 5: Family Ties

"With Great Power..." (2x94)

Essek Teleported the party to the Whitedawn Lagoon. After Jester saw him flinching at the bright sunlight, she created a parasol for him using her magic paints. Essek was very grateful and touched by this gesture, and he brought the parasol back to Rosohna with him.

Fan art of Essek, by Eleonora Nascimbeni.[art 6]

"The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97)

In Nicodranas, Caleb discovered Essek secretly meeting aboard a ship of the Cerberus Assembly. The Mighty Nein soon confronted Essek, and he confessed that he stole the Luxon beacons from the Dynasty[60] and for research purposes gave the beacons to certain members of the Cerberus Assembly (Ludinus Da'leth and Trent Ikithon, with Vess DeRogna commanding the research),[61] setting off the war. Essek claimed that, when the Mighty Nein returned one of those beacons, he tried to stay close to them to lead them away from the truth, but he grew to care for them. Now that the Assembly had a freshly unearthed beacon, the conspirators were content to return the remaining stolen beacon to the Dynasty and continue studying the new one, sharing their research with him via correspondence.[62] Essek claimed he and his co-conspirators were trying to ensure that "outside interests" did not disrupt the attempt to return the beacon and end the war.[63]

"Dark Waters" (2x98)

The discussion between Essek and the Mighty Nein continued on their ship. Essek confirmed that the plot concerning the beacons had been going on for three years, and urged the party to reveal as little as possible, particularly to Da'leth. He was released by the Nein to resume his disguise as Lord Thain.[64]

"High Seas, High Stakes" (2x99) In his illusory form as Lord Thain, Essek joined the Mighty Nein on the deck of the Balleater in order to observe negotiations between the Dynasty and the Empire.

Arc 6: Weird Magic

"The Tortoise and The Dare" (2x117)

On the island of Foren on Eiselcross, Jester used Sending to contact Essek about their dilemma with the Tombtakers, and it turned out Essek was fortuitously already near Foren, at the mobile Vurmas outpost.[65]

Fan art of Essek in Eiselcross, by saturdaysky.[art 7]

"A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124)

The party stayed in touch and met up with Essek at a Kryn Dynasty outpost at the ruins of Aeor. They shared almost everything they knew about Lucien, the Tombtakers, and the Cognouza. They withheld information about the eyes on Caleb's shoulder and Beau's hand. Essek told them he feared his life was in danger from the Cerberus Assembly since he was no longer of use to them and knew too much. He seemed ashamed and could not meet the party's eyes, particularly Caleb's. He suggested a possible link to Aeor for the Luxon beacons and the possibility of using a beacon to manipulate time to "undo mistakes". He urged them to seek more information and help from knowledgeable allies.[66]

"Into the Eye" (2x131)

The Mighty Nein reconvened with Essek. They suggested an alliance with Trent Ikithon, and Caleb and Beau revealed their eye tattoos. Essek was worried that Trent would take the powers of Cognouza for himself, and feared that his own involvement would make the alliance messy. He offered to follow the Mighty Nein and Trent from a distance to give more indirect aid. After a discussion, the Nein decided to ally with Essek rather than Trent. Essek was moved by the Nein's trust, and joined them as they continued their journey.[67]

"Aeor" (2x132)

Essek accompanied the party to the entrance to Aeor, where he gave Dagen a Sending Stone with which to warn the Mighty Nein of the Tombtakers' approach. Essek nervously joined the battle against the frost giant zombies, and later used Ray of Frost to repel the Brown Mold in the Aeorian ruin and carve a path for the party.

"Hunter and Hunted" (2x133)

Essek continued to assist the Mighty Nein, setting one of the Intuit Charges used to trap the Tombtakers. He was invited into the Nein-Sided Tower, where he and Caleb discussed their goals and mistakes. While the party rested, Essek’s rangers alerted him via Sending Stone of the Tombtakers' approach. At Fjord's prompting, Essek ordered the rangers to engage the enemy.

"The Streets of the Forgotten" (2x134)

Essek accompanied the party further into Aeor in pursuit of the Tombtakers. He was wary of Charlie, and warned against trusting anything within Aeor.

"The Genesis Ward" (2x135)

Essek kept watch while Caleb raided the records room in the Genesis Ward, and told him that he was worried about the increasing eye markings on him and Beau. He urged Caleb not to become distracted from their goal.

Later on, the Mighty Nein came across the Rejuvenation Chamber, within which Essek and Caleb sensed dunamis energy. Essek inspected the purple gem on the cylinder marked "Terminal RE 02" and called Caleb over, pointing out that within it appeared elements of space and drifting possibilities, like a smaller, weaker Luxon beacon. Essek then used magic to destroy the damaged cylinder, releasing the diamond-shaped dark purple gem, which he gave to Caleb.

As the party fled downward through the crater, Caleb "showboated" as he Flew past Essek, prompting the latter to also cast Fly and showboat along with him.

Essek in Crit Recap Animated

"Hell or High Water" (2x136)

Essek was fascinated by the Temporal Dock discovered on floor B-9. He found the possibility of changing time and correcting mistakes alluring, though dangerous, and suggested that he and Caleb return later for further study. He successfully escaped the fight with the leviathan guarding the Immensus Gate, traversing the portal to the Astral Sea along with his friends.

"Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137)

As the Mighty Nein explored Cognouza, Essek joined Veth's investigation of one of the buildings. He incinerated a screaming Cognouza resident before it could become a threat.[68]

"Where There Is a Will..." (2x138)

During the battle with the transformed Cree, the fractal patterns flashing across her body made a red eye appear on Essek’s right shoulder blade. When the Mighty Nein were concerned about having no time to rest before facing Lucien, Essek suggested using dunamancy and the crystal from the Rejuvenation device to create a skip in time, granting the group the benefits of a long rest. With Caleb’s help, Essek completed the spell, destroying the crystal and reinvigorating the party.[69]

"Rebirth" (2x139)

As the Mighty Nein prepared for their final confrontation with Lucien, Essek thanked them for trusting him. He was Charmed by Gaudius during the battle, but Caleb freed him with Dispel Magic before he could be forced to harm the party.

"Long May He Reign" (2x140)

Despite being struck by Luctus and wracked with grief for his crimes, Essek continued to fight for his friends and survived the battle with Lucien. He was distressed when the initial attempt to resurrect Mollymauk failed, saying that it was unfair after the Nein had come so far. After Molly was successfully resurrected, Essek returned to the Material Plane with the rest of the Nein.

"Fond Farewells" (2x141)
Thank you, Mighty Nein. I could never return the favor... for what you've done for me.
Essek saying farewell to the Mighty Nein[70]

Essek stayed with the Mighty Nein as they rested in the Blooming Grove. He turned down Jester's offer to paint new clothes for him, though he accepted a new parasol and rose-printed gardening gloves. Though frightened by Trent Ikithon’s arrival and resistance to damage, Essek helped to subdue him. He then spent some time helping in the Clays’ garden. With Trent captured, Essek was free to return to Vurmas Outpost to take care of his responsibilities there, since the Scourgers would no longer hunt him. He decided to travel back by way of Uthodurn and perhaps visit Reani. Essek bid the Mighty Nein a grateful, emotional farewell.


Months later, Essek and Caleb returned to Aeor together. After travelling to the Genesis Ward, they both decided against using the T-Dock to change their pasts. Essek eventually had to leave Eiselcross after the Dynasty began to suspect him, but found ways to make a new life using illusions and multiple false personas. He and Caleb shared a romantic relationship for some time, and a lifelong friendship. Essek stayed in close contact with all of the Mighty Nein.[71]


Caleb Widogast

Fan art of Caleb and Essek, by shalizeh7.[art 8]

Caleb and Essek are lifelong friends, and are romantic partners after the end of the campaign.[72][73][74] Their friendship began after the Mighty Nein were assigned to Essek’s stewardship, and Essek agreed to tutor a curious Caleb in dunamancy.[75] A connection soon sparked between them thanks to their shared passion for magic.[76][77]

Their relationship became complicated after the revelation that Essek had given the beacons to the Cerberus Assembly.[78] However, Caleb saw deep similarities between their mistakes, and encouraged Essek to make amends for his crimes.[79] When they reunited at Vurmas Outpost, Essek showed new regret for his actions, and couldn’t make eye contact with Caleb at all.[80][81]

The two wizards rebuilt their bond during their time in Aeor, discussing their past sins and working together.[82][83] Some months after Lucien and Trent were defeated, they returned to the Temporal Dock in Aeor. Essek said he didn’t want to change a thing about his past, since his mistakes had led him to be here with Caleb. Caleb destroyed the T-Dock, and the two later began a romantic relationship. While they eventually separated due to the differences in elven and human aging, they remained close friends for the rest of Caleb’s life.[84]

Jester Lavorre

Main article: Relationship between Jester and Essek

Fan art of Jester greeting Essek, by heidzdraws.[art 9]

Jester and Essek are friends. Soon after meeting Essek, Jester told him he seemed like "a really cool guy" and that she hoped they could be friends.[85] When Essek presented the party with the Xhorhaus, Jester thanked him with an awkwardly long hug.[86]

Jester regularly cast Sending to Essek during the party’s travels, asking for information and assistance. Essek accepted the Uthodurnian cupcake Jester gave him on one visit to Rosohna.[87] He was, however, uninterested in her offer to teach him her own magic.[88]

Jester was "really happy" to have Essek visit for dinner. He was interested in her goals and called her desire to find where she fit in "very noble". [89] Essek was touched and grateful when Jester created a parasol with her magic paint to shield him from the sun after he teleported the party to the Whitedawn Lagoon.[90]

While disguised as Dezran Thain, Essek flustered when Jester spoke to him and made awkward attempts to lie to her.[91] She later held his hand while he confessed to his crimes.[92]

After learning of Essek's presence in Eiselcross, Jester continued to Send him updates on the Mighty Nein's progress, sometimes adding friendly compliments to her messages.[93] She ran to hug Essek immediately on reuniting with him at Vurmas Outpost. Essek was startled, but told her it was very good to see her again.[94] Jester suggested that the party take Essek with them after defeating the Tombtakers and alter his appearance with Transmogrification to protect him from assassins.[95] She was open about still trusting Essek.[96] When Essek joined the party to travel through Aeor, Jester tried to make him feel welcome and included.[97]

When Essek parted ways with his friends after the defeats of Lucien and Trent, Jester promised to cast Sending to him every day. Essek said he would welcome her messages.[98]

Verin Thelyss

Fan art of Verin with Essek, by Giulia Valentini (kurocyou).[art 10]

Verin is Essek’s younger brother. He was the only familial bond Essek had prior to meeting the Mighty Nein, since he alone understood and got along with Essek in a family that Essek was otherwise at odds with.[99] Essek named him as one of the potential allies he would trust to assist with fighting Lucien.[100]

Character Information

Notable Items


Essek lives in a gated community within the Firmaments District of Rosohna. His home consists of three towers of different heights connected by walkways. At the top of one tower is a weather-vane type mechanism that tracks the shifting ley lines. It is built of slightly iridescent grey brick.[108]


Essek is a self-proclaimed "prodigy" of dunamancy,[109] and a graviturgist, a person who specifically focuses in dunamancy's study of gravity.[110] His spellbook is apparently kept in a pocket dimension, and apparates into a hand when needed.[111] Essek's demonstrated abilities and limitations make him a 15th- or 16th-level wizard,[112] and has abilities consistent with both the Graviturgy Magic[113] and Chronurgy Magic subclasses.[114]

Miscellaneous Abilities

  • Essek can magically levitate a few inches above the ground at will. This doesn't impede his ability to move across the ground, as the spell Levitate would.
  • Essek falls slowly, similar to the effects of Feather Fall.

Elf Abilities

Official art of Essek mini in winter gear, by Eldritch Foundry and Ian Phillips.[art 11]

  • Darkvision
  • Keen Senses
  • Fey Ancestry
  • Trance
  • Subrace: Drow
    • Superior Darkvision
    • Sunlight Sensitivity
    • Drow Magic
      • Dancing Lights cantrip
      • Faerie Fire spell
      • Darkness spell


Wizard Abilities

  • Arcane Recovery
  • Ritual Casting
  • Spellcasting (Intelligence-based ability)
Graviturgy Abilities
Chronurgy Abilities

Wizard Spells

Fan art of Essek casting Magic Missile, by Kiyoko.[art 12]


Fan art of Essek casting Haste, by Giulia Valentini (kurocyou).[art 13]


From the Eyes of Nine

During the Nein's fight with a mutated Cree, Essek was exposed to the "Pattern" of the Somnovem.[153] Over time, he ended up with unnatural boons bestowed by the red eyes. These abilities disappeared with the eyes after Lucien's final defeat.

  • First eye: Mild telepathy with others bearing eyes (120 feet) - unused
  • Second eye: Darkvision - unused
  • Third eye: Ability to see through illusions - unused
  • Fourth eye: Ability to see into the ethereal plane - unused
  • Fifth eye: Ability to scry into the "eye" of another - unused

Appearances and mentions


Essek's Munchkin card

  • "The Luxon is the basis of how we've been able to free ourselves from the binds of the lineage the Betrayer Gods left for us and to carve our own fates, choose our own paths and sidestep these destinies placed upon us nonchalantly by gods that use us as playthings." (Essek explaining the significance of the Luxon to Dunamis power)[154]
  • "Time is one of my specialties." (When asked why he isn't affected by the dunamantic time distortion in the Dungeon of Penance)[155]
  • "I think religion is a....I would say a crutch to some spaces. I mean the Dynasty is so focused on this Luxon, this religion, and the possibility of what it means, but it's distracting them from what other good things they could do with the time and focus, maybe."[156]
  • "The Dynasty-- I've lived here my entire life, and while there are benefits and there are other places that are much more challenging to live in, I find it frustrating at times. I find that the obsession with this Luxon entity belies what the truth may be, that these artifacts, I theorize, have nothing to do with a divine being but are just perhaps artifacts designed in the Age of Arcanum that have been misread. In which case, it is being misused or at least only the surface has been scratched of what's possible. So. My interests leave me not trusting anyone, not feeling like I, in some ways, belong. And as such, I spend a lot of my time in solitude."[157]
  • "Maybe you should try friends sometime." (explaining himself to the Martinet)[158]
  • "I've never really been trusted and so I did not trust. And I never let anyone close. I have been clouded in my judgment many times for a lot of my life. When I- when you gave me trust, it gave me a perspective that was so agonizingly striking. So easy to see that I refused to acknowledge it at first, even. I would be lying if I said that our paths crossing hasn't shaken me to the core. And I'm appreciative." (explaining how the Mighty Nein have changed him)[159]
  • "I spent my entire life studying the intent to not let things like this happen to chance." (Essek's response to the unsuccessful ressurection of Mollymauk.)[160]
  • Essek: What have you done? This world was so much easier when it was black and white.
    Beau: But it's so much more beautiful in all the shades of colors.
    Essek: Thank you, Mighty Nein. I could never return the favor... for what you've done for me.[161]
  • "I have spent my life in the pursuit of the ability to control one's future, and that path has led me to making many mistakes. And my shift begin to wander the possibility of fixing one's past, and since we found this, I've thought of it often. A possibility of retracing one's lifeline. Adjusting things. But such pursuits are selfish. For the more you understand time, understand you cannot see the ramifications of changing such things. Were I have found this before I found you, perhaps I may have done some incredible, terrible things with it. But I accept my regrets, my faults now, and I'm here today with this knowledge, in this moment with you, because of those mistakes. And as much as they hurt me, I don't want to change a thing." (spoken to Caleb in the T-Dock chamber in Aeor)[162]


  • Essek's favorite foods are simple soups and stews.[163]
  • Essek created the spell Resonant Echo.[164]
  • Essek has been confirmed to be both attracted to men and either demiromantic, demisexual, or both by Matt Mercer on Twitter.[165][166]
  • Essek appeared on a card in the Critical Role release of the Munchkin tabletop game, although his surname was misspelled "Theyless". The misspelling has been corrected in more recent editions.
  • Essek has the highest intelligence score out of all the members of the Mighty Nein (including Caleb).[167]
  • The ninth floor of Widogast's Nascent Nein-Sided Tower is inspired by his dunamancy lessons with Caleb.[168]
  • During a charity fundraiser after the Campaign, Matthew Mercer was asked to relate an anecdote from Essek's childhood. His response, in character as Essek, was: "Well, in certain childhoods, it can grow a bit... challenging having a brother. Especially one who is a bit rambunctious and does not necessarily appreciate your studious studies. So, when you go to read to yourself silently in the morning, before-- not playing with the children that avoid you in various open play spaces, and you find that your study book has been filled with jam, it's a bit frustrating. And when you find out, or assume, that it is your brother Verin who did so, and you go and tell him, 'Please, do not put jam into my books,' and he turns to you and says, 'Well, that wasn't me. That would be ridiculous. What do you think? That's so funny nyah nah nah.' I still hate him. I still-- I don't really hate him. He's sweet, and a bit misguided. But nevertheless, I think back to that, and to this day, I realize that that was where I began my appreciation for jam. Not that I like the flavor, but because it reminds me of my brother. We've been apart for some time, so when I have the opportunity, I will thank him for it."[169]
    • In a different moment of the same video, Matt spoke a bit as Essek describing his accent and personality, and stating that after the events in Campaign Two he's thinking about his past and possibly picking up knitting.

Art gallery

For more images, see Category:Images of Essek Thelyss.


  1. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 0:18:01.
  2. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 0:45:01.
  3. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 1:03:29.
  4. See "The King's Cage" (2x69) at 4:07:58.
  5. See "Manifold Morals" (2x74) at 3:25:32.
  6. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 3:49:17.
  7. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 4:41:21.
  8. Essek has used both the Arcane Abeyance feature of Chronurgy Magic (See "Rebirth" (2x139) at 0:36:41), and multiple Graviturgy spells as well as Matt stating that Essek is a Graviturgist at the Stockholm Comic Con panel. As an NPC, Essek does not need to follow normal player rules.
  9. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:32:22.  Essek describes himself as "close to" 120 years old.
  10. 10.0 10.1 See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 41.
  11. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 41. Essek's given alignment in the book assumes he doesn't meet the Mighty Nein.
  12. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:23:07.
  13. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:25:06.
  14. See "Through the Trees" (2x79) from 0:20:42 through 0:32:32.  Essek casts Teleport twice but also indicates he can't do it a third time. This means he has one 7th- and one 8th-level spell slots, but doesn't have a 9th-level slot or a second 7th-level slot. This makes him a 15th- or 16th-level wizard.
  15. See "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) at 1:42:42.  Essek expends his highest available spell slot, 8th-level. He did not cast a 9th-level spell during this long rest prior to this, confirming that an 8th-level spell slot is the highest he has.
  16. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 3:33:28.  Although Elves are canonically immune to Sleep spells, Matt appeared to look at Essek's HP to determine that the Manacles of Stasis, with a 15d8 roll of 73, would fail to put him to sleep.
  17. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) at 1:24:39.  Essek's Dexterity score is 16, therefore his AC is at least 13 while unarmored.
  18. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 3:17:39.
  19. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) at 1:24:39.
  20. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) at 3:00:04.  On the Astral Plane, where movement is based on a creature's Intelligence score, Essek moves slightly faster than Caleb, whose Intelligence score is 20.
  21. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 3:17:39.  The DC to resist Essek's spells is 19. This DC, per the Player's Handbook, is calcuated as: 8 + spellcasting ability modifier (Intelligence) + proficiency bonus (5, as he is either level 15 or 16) + any special modifiers (none indicated). For this to add to 19, his Intelligence modifier must be +6, meaning his Intelligence score must be 22 or 23.
  22. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 1:05:55.
  23. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 17:17.
  24. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 47:56.
  25. Matt confirms Essek's eye color in a tweet.
  26. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 17:17.
  27. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:20:58.
  28. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 47:56.
  29. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 2:36:56.
  30. See "Agreements" (2x61) at 3:19:43.
  31. See "Family Gathering" (2x71) at 3:12:31.
  32. See "Rime and Reason" (2x75) at 0:13:08.
  33. Matt discussed Essek at the Stockholm Comic Con panel.
  34. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:21:36.
  35. See "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) at 1:18:59.
  36. See "Long May He Reign" (2x140) at 43:32.
  37. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 0:43:29.
  38. See "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap Up" (Sx56) at 1:16:36.
  39. Twitter logo.png Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) on Twitter: "I personally feel Essek is MLM, though hasn’t been involved with anyone in a loooong time. His guarded persona makes for mistrust, and relationships are a risk not worth taking ...well, until he met this one wizard." (2021-06-04).
  40. Matt discussed Essek at the Stockholm Comic Con panel.
  41. See "Talks Machina #137: 'Lingering Wounds' & 'Bathhouses and Bastions'" (TMx137) at 1:00:13.
  42. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:37:37.
  43. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 1:20:37.
  44. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 1:09:24.  "Interestingly enough, while I am consecuted, I have not gone beyond the first life yet."
  45. See "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount Q&A and Fireside Chat with Matthew Mercer" (Sx53) at 1:30:23.  Matt revealed that Essek is not consecuted.
  46. See "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap Up" (Sx56) at 1:17:41.  Matt clarified that Essek had refused to be consecuted.
  47. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 1:09:51.
  48. Twitter logo.png Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) on Twitter: "Shadowhand is a title granted to those who focus on the dark mysteries of Exandria for the Bright Queen. This includes both subterfuge and arcana (like a specialist in the dangerous unknown). Spies, mages, and investigators that reach a certain station can be granted this title." (2021-10-12) — in reply to @DaydreamDeuce: "Mr @matthewmercer sir the people wanna know so bad. Was Shadowhand just a fancy title for "spymaster"?? Like what did Essek even DO for a living?? Besides ya know, be hot and float obviously"
  49. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:58:37.
  50. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:23:07.
  51. See "Intervention" (2x63) at 33:47.
  52. See "Intervention" (2x63) at 40:37.
  53. See "Causatum" (2x70) at 2:50:51.
  54. See "Causatum" (2x70) at 3:24:31.
  55. See "Family Gathering" (2x71) at 3:12:59.
  56. See "Family Gathering" (2x71) at 3:17:47.
  57. See "Talks Machina #144: 'The Fancy and the Fooled'" (TMx144) from 42:00 through 43:11.
  58. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 19:05.
  59. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 3:49:45.  Caleb tries the ritual on Nott inside of Essek's tower, but the spell fails.
  60. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 3:53:57.
  61. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 4:06:57.
  62. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 4:03:06.
  63. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 4:05:55.
  64. See "Dark Waters" (2x98) from 10:30 through 11:45.
  65. See "The Tortoise and The Dare" (2x117) at 2:33:13.
  66. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) from 2:23:37 through 3:28:39.
  67. See "Into the Eye" (2x131) from 3:32:25 through 4:12:45.
  68. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) from 2:41:45 through 2:43:45.
  69. See "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) from 1:32:00 through 1:44:07.
  70. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 4:45:31.
  71. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 6:47:30.
  72. Phrased as "would be together for a while."  See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 6:46:23.
  73. Liam confirmed that they were in a romantic relationship on twitter
  74. Matt confirmed that they were in a romantic relationship on twitter
  75. See "Domestic Respite" (2x62) from 1:49:46 through 1:50:46.
  76. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:39:02.  Essek says he sees a "similar spark" of curiosity in Caleb.
  77. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 1:37:10.  Caleb remarks that he and Essek share interests.
  78. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 1:14:19.  Caleb feels foolish for having trusted Essek.
  79. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) from 3:57:13 through 4:00:15.
  80. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:26:25.  Essek admits to being "sorry for a lot."
  81. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:54:53.
  82. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) from 3:26:25 through 3:33:00.  Caleb and Essek discuss their sins on the Ninth Floor.
  83. See "Hell or High Water" (2x136) at 51:44.  Essek and Caleb study the T-Dock together.
  84. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) from 6:40:00 through 6:46:25.
  85. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 1:19:08.
  86. See "Agreements" (2x61) at 3:22:22.
  87. See "Manifold Morals" (2x74) at 4:00:29.
  88. See "A Tangled Web" (2x77) at 2:06:42.
  89. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) from 0:46:52 through 0:57:38.
  90. See "With Great Power..." (2x94) at 3:24:55.
  91. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 3:23:36.
  92. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 4:01:32.
  93. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:17:40.
  94. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:23:57.
  95. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:54:20.
  96. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:53:06.
  97. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:22:03.  Jester asks Essek what his favorite food is while preparing her Heroes' Feast.
  98. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 4:44:46.
  99. See "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap Up" (Sx56) at 1:37:30.
  100. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:24:30.
  101. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 17:33.  Noted to be similar to the armor of Lythir VaSuun the graviturgist, but much more elaborate
  102. See "Domestic Respite" (2x62) at 1:52:20.
  103. See "With Great Power..." (2x94) at 3:24:55.  Made from Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments.
  104. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 1:08:09.  Jester makes Essek another parasol using her Marvelous Pigments.
  105. See "Into the Eye" (2x131) at 3:32:39.  Essek is given one of the Mighty Nein's spare amulets.
  106. See "Into the Eye" (2x131) at 4:09:11.  Essek has an orb affixed to his side that drifts above his hand, creating a radius of warmth around it.
  107. See "Aeor" (2x132) at 0:46:43.  Essek produces a pair of Sending Stones from a Secret Chest.
  108. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 1:34:36.
  109. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 1:09:38.
  110. Matt discussed Essek at the Stockholm Comic Con panel.
  111. See "Domestic Respite" (2x62) at 1:52:20.
  112. See "Through the Trees" (2x79) from 0:20:42 through 0:32:32.  Essek casts Teleport twice but also indicates he can't do it a third time. This means he has one 7th- and one 8th-level spell slot, but doesn't have a 9th-level slot or a second 7th-level slot. This makes him a 15th- or 16th-level wizard.
  113. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 3:46:40.  Essek uses Adjust Density.
  114. See "The Genesis Ward" (2x135) at 3:03:41.  Essek uses Arcane Abeyence.
  115. See "Hell or High Water" (2x136) at 3:29:42.
  116. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 3:46:40.  Essek makes 50 pounds of clay weigh half as much.
  117. See "The Genesis Ward" (2x135) at 3:03:41.
  118. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) at 2:22:56.  Essek casts Fire Bolt.
  119. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 4:13:13.
  120. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:45:03.
  121. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 0:46:34.  Essek demonstrated using Prestidigitation to style hair into a point.
  122. See "Aeor" (2x132).  Essek casts Ray of Frost.
  123. See "Domestic Respite" (2x62) at 1:52:20.  Essek conjures his spellbook from thin air, matching the description of the spell.
  124. See "The Streets of the Forgotten" (2x134) at 1:32:32.  Essek examines Brashaar's stasis bubble, and this arcane-focused investigation is later described at 1:38:46 as "this seemed to be his version of the Detect Magic" spell.
  125. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 1:06:58.  Essek uses an illusion spell to disguise himself as Dezran Thain, consistent with this spell.
  126. 126.0 126.1 See "Domestic Respite" (2x62) at 1:52:40.  Essek allows Caleb to copy two dunamancy spells from his own spellbook.
  127. See "Into the Eye" (2x131) at 3:32:50.  Essek casts a spell which appears to reveal the nature of the amulet he is given, consistent with this spell.
  128. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 0:24:33.  Essek casts Magnify Gravity.
  129. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 0:44:24.  Essek casts Magic Missile.
  130. See "A Tangled Web" (2x77) at 2:01:13.  Essek casts two more dunamancy spells while teaching them to Caleb.
  131. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 0:46:34.  Essek teleported away precisely 30 feet, consistent with this spell.
  132. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 3:15:02.  Essek casts a spell to search for a Scrying sensor, consistent with this spell.
  133. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 3:16:57.
  134. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:27:45.  Essek states he would be able to 'see a picture in somebody's mind' on the morrow, as he didn't have the spell prepared.
  135. See "Manifold Morals" (2x74) at 4:01:22.  Caleb recognizes the spell cast as Dispel Magic.
  136. See "The Genesis Ward" (2x135) at 3:40:31.  Essek casts Fly.
  137. See "Aeor" (2x132) at 1:17:24.  Essek casts Haste on Yasha.
  138. See "The Genesis Ward" (2x135) at 3:05:10.  Veth releases a Lightning Bolt that Essek stored with Arcane Abeyance.
  139. See "Bathhouses and Bastions" (2x90) at 2:38:18.  Essek casts a spell that Jester recognizes as Sending.
  140. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 2:58:17.  Matt says Essek can cast Confusion, but decides to cast something else.
  141. See "A Tangled Web" (2x77) at 1:16:00.  Essek casts a spell somewhat resembling Gravity Sinkhole.
  142. See "The Streets of the Forgotten" (2x134) at 3:17:00.  Essek casts Gravity Sinkhole.
  143. See "Aeor" (2x132) at 0:46:32.  Essek casts a spell consistent with the description of Leomund's Secret Chest.
  144. See "A Tangled Web" (2x77) from 2:02:11 through 2:04:54.  Essek casts two more dunamancy spells while teaching them to Caleb. Level initially inferred from the 300 gp total cost of paper and ink to transcribe the two new spells. Since Immovable Object has been confirmed as 2nd-level, Resonant Echo must be 4th.
  145. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:33:00.  Essek casts a spell that makes the door to his chambers silent, possibly activating a property of Private Sanctum where 'Sound can't pass through the barrier at the edge of the warded area.'
  146. See "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) at 0:57:46.  Essek casts Hold Monster.
  147. See "Aeor" (2x132) at 0:11:06.  Essek casts Seeming on himself and the Mighty Nein.
  148. See "Clay and Dust" (2x72) at 18:53.  Essek transports himself back to Rosohna, consistent with the mechanics of the spell.
  149. See "Manifold Morals" (2x74) at 4:00:34.  Essek moves a cupcake from Jester's hand to his cloak, matching the spell description.
  150. See "Rebirth" (2x139) at 1:36:20.  Essek casts Gravity Fissure
  151. See "Long May He Reign" (2x140) at 1:00:17.  Essek casts Tether Essence.
  152. See "Family Gathering" (2x71) at 3:17:47.  Essek casts Teleport.
  153. See "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) at 1:19:02.
  154. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 0:29:59.
  155. See "In Love and War" (2x57) at 1:17:12.
  156. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) from 31:06 through 31:27.
  157. See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 0:47:22.
  158. See "The Fancy and the Fooled" (2x97) at 1:05:55.
  159. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) at 2:51:36.
  160. See "Long May He Reign" (2x140) at 4:20:04.
  161. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 4:45:31.
  162. See "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 6:39:58.
  163. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:22:15.
  164. Matt stated in a tweet that Resonant Echo was "a unique Essek specialty" because time and space limitations had left it on the cutting room floor for the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount.
  165. Twitter logo.png Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) on Twitter: "I personally feel Essek is MLM, though hasn’t been involved with anyone in a loooong time. His guarded persona makes for mistrust, and relationships are a risk not worth taking ...well, until he met this one wizard." (2021-06-04).
  166. Twitter logo.png Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) on Twitter: "Aye, Demi as well, now that I think about it!" (2021-06-04).
  167. See "Welcome to Cognouza" (2x137) at 3:00:04.  On the Astral Plane, where movement is based on a creature's Intelligence score, Essek moves slightly faster than Caleb, whose Intelligence score is 20.
  168. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:26:50.
  169. See the Twitch VOD of Voiceapalooza! on the chadfallout76podcast channel, broadcast 26 June 2022.


  1. Essek Thelyss, by Minttu Hynninen (source). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Shadowhand Essek and Taskhand Verin of Den Thelyss, by @JustHustina (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by @porzio art (source). Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by Vicious Mongrel (source). Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by Elliott (source). Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Essek, by Eleonora Nascimbeni (source). Used with permission.
  7. Fan art of Essek in Eiselcross, by saturdaysky (source). Used with permission.
  8. Fan art of Caleb and Essek, by shalizeh7 (source). Used with permission.
  9. Fan art of Jester greeting Essek, by heidzdraws (source). Used with permission.
  10. Fan art of Verin with Essek, by Giulia Valentini (kurocyou) (source). Used with permission.
  11. Official art of Essek mini in winter gear, by Eldritch Foundry and Ian Phillips (source). 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.
  12. Fan art of Essek casting Magic Missile, by Kiyoko (source). Used with permission.
  13. Fan art of Essek casting Haste, by Giulia Valentini (kurocyou) (source). Used with permission.
  14. Essek Thelyss, by Minttu Hynninen (source). Used with permission.
  15. Fan art of Essek Thelyss, by Rammaru (source). Used with permission.
  16. Fan art of Essek with one of the miniature rejuvenation beacons, by saturdaysky (source). Used with permission.
  17. Fan art of Essek, by Giulia Valentini (kurocyou) (source). Used with permission.
  18. Fan art of Essek, by Cristina Anaya (source). Used with permission.