"High Seas, High Stakes" (2x99) is the ninety-ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Slowly recovering from the midnight attack, the Mighty Nein continue their course for the long-awaited peace talks between warring nations...
We play Dungeons & Dragons... for five years! Things are crazy right now. Stay healthy and take care of yourselves and let's make tonight both a celebration and a distraction.
- The first sponsor is The Griffon's Saddlebag, maker of 5e illustrated and game-ready magic items. Their first book is available now. In their actual saddlebag, Sam finds a picture of Liam, cash, a bottle of fine wine, and a song.
- Second sponsor as always this campaign is D&D Beyond, an awesome online digital tool for tracking your character and building your campaign.
- Explorer's Guide to Wildemount releases 17 March 2020. Also available at D&D Beyond.
Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off, the Mighty Nein had made their way to Nicodranas. They had discovered some secrets in regards to one of their allies, Essek, and his involvement with much of the events that led to the current war between the Kryn Dynasty and the Dwendalian Empire. After a deep discussion, you had left business in Nicodranas, gathered your ship, and made your way with the armada towards the meeting point where the negotiation between these two factions is to take place.
After some days at sea, a storm began to brew, dreams were had, invoked by an element of divinity and one’s path to embrace who they are and whatever this path may be. As well as being awakened by a pained nightmare become reality, as Fjord found himself under attack by what was immediately obvious to be agents of Uk'otoa, seeking the still-hanging elements of his unveiling and freedom. A battle took place where these various deep sea creatures, these mutated and altered entities here under the will of Uk'otoa, stormed the ship, crawling through its many decks to assault you, as Fjord fought valiantly to keep them at bay. And you managed to come and support him in dire need. During the final moments of this climactic battle, in the midst of the rolling seas, the flashing lightning, curling thunder, and the waves of rain battering down upon the deck, both Orly, the bard tortle, and your friend and companion Fjord, lay slain before you dealt the final blow to the assailants. And that was where we left off. Mighty Nein, as you gather here on the wet decks of the ship, still rolling with the ocean as the storm batters onward, you look down upon the scattered bits of blood, and your unmoving allies.
Caduceus casts Gentle Repose on the unmoving, rain- and blood-soaked bodies of Fjord and Orly, and then Detect Magic on Fjord, but sees nothing within him. At Jester's frantic urging, he then casts Revivify. The diamond he uses turns to dust and congeals in the bloody chest wound, before vines grow from the wound and wrap Fjord's torso, turning bright green before withering and decaying. After a tense moment, breath returns to Fjord's body. Jester kisses him on the forehead and immediately successfully casts Revivify on Orly as well.
Almost immediately, there is the sound of an arriving Dimension Door and a brief incantation, and all of the party save Fjord, Caduceus, and Caleb find themselves paralyzed. A woman appears, whom they eventually recognize as Lady Vess DeRogna of the Cerberus Assembly. She noticed the commotion on their ship and came to investigate. They tell her that they were attacked and show her the dead creatures, but deny knowing why the attack took place, very convincingly. She tells them the Martinet speaks highly of them, and suggests that when all of this is over, if they're looking for work, there may be possibilities for them to work together "in the north". In Zemnian, she suggests to Caleb that there is plenty of time on the sea to speak of this, says good night, and Dimension Doors away. The other ships that have moved closer to investigate begin to move off.
The party notices that the three deep scions that were killed have begun to shift and change form into a human fisherman, a female elf, and a goliath. Jester slices open the chest of the now-fisherman, who had appeared to be the leader, but does not find an orb within him, although he bears a tattoo of one on his chest. Fjord is now sure the orb - the third and final key to the unlocking of Uk'otoa - remains within him and was not destroyed when he threw the Sword of Fathoms into the lava of Kravaraad. Caduceus confirms this with a Locate Object, although Jester is unable to find it by feeling Fjord's chest thoroughly. She casts Commune and Artagan in his Traveler form assures her it is within her skill set to remove the orb from Fjord.
They decide to try Greater Restoration, using some of Veth's powdered residuum as the component since they're out of diamond dust. Jester holds Fjord's hand while Caduceus casts the spell, sending Fjord into intense, horrible pain until he begins to vomit and the cloven crystal rolls onto the deck. Caleb puts it into his Vault of Amber where it will presumably be unlocatable. They throw the bodies overboard and retire to the gun deck where they sleep together under Caleb's Tiny Hut and Alarm spells.
The next morning, they use Speak with Dead to interrogate the deep scions, learning that they were willing followers sent by Uk'otoa to recover both the orb and Fjord. Jester disguises herself as the dead female elf to speak to the former leader, pretending to be confused about what to do now that they were defeated in the battle, and he suggests speaking to Uk'otoa for guidance, and that she should find "the betrayer" (Fjord) and take him to the temple of the final seal.
That evening, Caleb checks in with Yasha who is staring out at the ocean. She is intrigued by the fact that Fjord had a dream where he swallowed an orb and then it was actually there. She admits that she's recently had strange dreams herself, good dreams, and that she's feeling steadier lately, surrounded by the party.
The next day, at Beau's request the previous day, Caleb casts Fly on both of them and they fly to the Wind of Aeons, being met by Martinet Da'leth and asking to see Lady DeRogna. Ludinus seems surprised when they tell him she visited their ship, but Sends for her to join them. Caleb asks to inspect the beacon as was previously discussed, and they agree, taking them below to a magically secured entrance leading to a room where they all take tea. Beau brings up Lady DeRogna's offer of work in the north, again to Ludinus's apparent surprise. They agree to discuss it further if the peace negotiations are successful. Ludinus apparates a chest holding the beacon, which appears to be the one stolen from the Dynasty. Testing it, Caleb stares into its infinities and gets a fragment of possibility. Satisfied for the moment, Beau and Caleb return to their ship.
- D&D Beyond animation - except it's Ashley's a cappella vocal track recorded last week.
- Each of the cast recorded a celebration and thank you to fans for five years of Critical Role. We meet Dagon!
- Marisha is here with no juvenile prop humor, cheap costumes, putting employees in embarrassing positions, Brian W. Foster edgelord jokes, or Sam re-creating an obscure commercial. Also definitely no green screens or Matt in cosplay, or complicated B&W Taliesin Jaffe parody promos to get Critical Role Twitch subscriptions. Nope, not today. No weird graphics or puppet murder, no Sam Riegel, just Marisha and sweet simplicity.
- Doom Eternal One-Shot will air Monday, 16 March 2020 at 7 p.m. PDT on Twitch, available the following Wednesday on YouTube.
- Sam, Liam, Noelle Stevenson, and Satine Phoenix get beautiful on All Work No Play 17 March 2020 at 4:00 pm PDT on Critical Role's Twitch channel.
- Clips from "Talks Machina #145: 'Dark Waters'" (TMx145).
- Critters’ art montage.
Beau and Caleb report to the rest of the party that the beacon appears to be the one given to the Empire by Essek rather than the one they were shown at the Vergesson Sanatorium that was recently unearthed in the archaeological excavations at Pride's Call, and that nothing seems wrong with it. They also share the apparent tension between Ludinus and Vess DeRogna.
Jester grows bored with making repairs to the ship, and goes to the crow's nest to try unsuccessfully to contact the quickling she had tasked with delivering cupcakes to Isharnai. When that fails, she Sends to Isharnai directly, asking if she got them, and the ominous-sounding response is, "I did. They were... tasty." Jester then attempts to Scry on the Traveler, but realizes too late he's actually the one who grants her the power to do this. His response is simply, "Curious." She falls asleep under the sun. That night, Caduceus casts Guardian of Faith to help guard Fjord. Beau goes looking for the missing (and now sunburned) Jester and they all go to bed in the dome.
On the tenth day of travel, they see on the horizon the purple wood ships of the Kryn Dynasty armada, under a veil of midnight darkness. The two fleets meet and the Blue Heaven of the Empire and the Everstorm of the Dynasty are linked by a broad platform on which the negotiations take place, helmed by Lord Zeddan Graf (with Ludinus at his shoulder) on the Empire side, and Dusk Captain Quana Kryn for the Dynasty. Mirrors are brought and placed facing each other, so that the Bright Queen and King Dwendal can speak face-to-face.
In his "Dezran Thain" guise, Essek joins the party on the Ball-Eater, saying he just wants to keep an eye on the negotiations. Throughout the tense day, the Mighty Nein and Essek watch from a distance as the talks proceed until at early evening they end for the day. Jester uses Sending to contact both the Bright Queen and Ludinus for progress reports, and they are both cautiously optimistic. Essek returns home to his tower for the night.
Veth reiterates that when this is over, they will punish Essek for everything he's done, and Beau agrees that would be justice. Caleb is deeply disturbed by their vehemence and remains alone on the deck after the rest of the party goes to bed.
The next morning, Caduceus bakes a mushroom cake for Jester and the talks resume. At mid-morning there is a flash from the location of the negotiations. They see that the beacon has been brought out and presented to the Dusk Captain. After thorough inspection, it is taken below decks and the prisoners, Vence Nuthaleus and Adeen Tasithar, are brought out in chains and exchanged. A horn blares and blue flags are raised signifying the successful completion of negotiations. The two fleets begin disengaging and sail away from each other. Essek tells the party that he needs to take care of a few loose ends and that he and the party can still do good things together, if they're interested, and Teleports away.
The Mighty Nein linger in the area for a bit, watching the ships depart and waiting for another shoe to drop, but all seems well. Beau awkwardly hugs Caleb, as "Empire kids" together celebrating the fact that they have ended the war for the time being. They set sail for Rumblecusp island and TravelerCon. On about the fourth day of their voyage south of the Inkclaw Reef, Caduceus notices what seems to be a small island, following them. Fjord recognizes it as a dragon turtle chasing the ship.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Veth Brenatto/Nott the Brave
- Yasha Nydoorin
- Orly Skiffback
- Gallan Westman
- Marius LePual
- Vess DeRogna
- Essek Thelyss
- Ludinus Da'leth
- Isharnai (via Jester's Sending spell)
- Emissary Lord Zeddan Graf (Empire emissary, from a distance)
- Dusk Captain Quana Kryn (Dynasty emissary, from a distance)
- Leylas Kryn (via Jester's Sending spell)
|Expended||300 gp||Diamond||Caduceus||Used to cast Revivify on Fjord.|
|Expended||300 gp||Diamond||Jester||Used to cast Revivify on Orly.|
|Expended||100 gp||Residuum powder||Veth||Used to cast Greater Restoration on Fjord. 700 gp worth remaining.|
|Expended||2 sq. ft.||Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments||Jester||Used to paint a false Fjord head.|
- Ludinus: The key to preparing for interference is not letting all of your plans be known. But trust and be assured, I have taken precautions.
Caleb: Trust comes slow.
Ludinus: If at all.
- Jester: Was it Yussa that said wizards have a hard time working with each other because they’re very powerful? Or was that Halas?
Caleb: No, it was Yussa. And... ego plays a great part in it as well.
Jester: Do you think, as you get more and more powerful, you’ll become egotistical, Caleb? Instead of nice like you are now? [ ... ]
Caleb: I don’t know.
Jester: I think you should stay like you are.
- Matt: (As Jester is trying to Scry on the Traveler) Okay. As you sit down and set up your ritual, and begin concentrating on the divine gift–
Jester: This is kind of hard because he grants me my power.
Matt: --granted you by the Traveler, you beseech him to take your vision to show you the Traveler, and as you sit there and complete your incantation, all you hear in your ear is, “Curious.”
Jester: Oh, shit. I wasn’t really thinking about that one.
Artagan: “No, you were not.”
- Veth: After all of the Empire folks have been punished and killed by us team ninjas, then we will punish Essek, or at least see that he gets some sort of– I don’t know. There has to be some sort of... We can’t just let it go.
Caleb: Well, add him to the list.
Veth: He can be at the end.
Caduceus: We’ll be at the end.
- Caleb: You have removed types of curses before, have you not?
Jester: I mean, yeah, I mean Greater Restoration, but does that remove a ball from somebody?
- This episode streamed on the fifth anniversary of the broadcast of "Arrival at Kraghammer" (1x01), the first episode of Critical Role.
- This episode also marks the first time Fjord has used a paladin spell (Cure Wounds) since he multiclassed in "Refjorged" (2x76).
- The use of two 300 gp diamonds in this episode leaves the party with one 500 gp and two 300 gp diamonds.
- The peace talks successfully concluded on 11 Unndilar 836. At the end of the episode the in-game date was 14 Unndilar 836, twelve days away from TravelerCon.
- This was the last episode broadcast before the long hiatus caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
- The party leveled up (to level 12) at the conclusion of the episode, and rolled hit points several months later at the tech rehearsal for Episode 100 in a YouTube video released 1 July 2020.
- Under Matt's resurrection rules, the spell DC for Fjord's Revivify was presumably a 10, and Taliesin rolled an 11. See Matt's tweet explaining his rule set.
- See "Stone to Clay" (2x91) at 2:54:09. At this point, Jester had two 300 and one 500 gp diamond, and Caduceus had two 300 gp ones.
- See CritRoleStats' running game calendar.
- Fan art of the aftermath of the battle, by Omegasama art (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Fjord's Revivification, by HeartofPack (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Fjord with the Cloven Crystal, by Omegasama art (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of fragments of possibility, by BlackSalander (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the Guardian of Faith, by Riquezadilla (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of peace hugs, by Zoe Roellin (source). Used with permission.