"Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) is the one hundred thirty-third episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. As the Mighty Nein tentatively explore the edges of Aeor, they debate whether to delve further into mystery or hold the line and set traps for their rapidly approaching enemies...

Synopsis

Announcements

  • Sam now, on advice of the Critical Role legal team, has to issue a disclaimer before his ad read clarifying that nothing he ever says or does has been approved by the sponsor, HitPointPress, who has no idea what Sam will say, do, smear on his body, or consume through any orifice. None of CR's advertisers condone plant fornication, hair mutilation, consuming wine with yogurt, surfer dudes, astronaut mockery, mouth stuff, hand stuff, feet stuff, football blood, or male presenting nipples. The following skit is not recommended for children under 17, adults over 39... or pretty much anyone else, including cats. Parental discretion is advised. That said, Ashley prepares to William Tell Sam until Matt intervenes to do the actual ad: Big Bads, a monthly booklet of boss monsters for D&D 5e. This month's issue features a vampire pirate. Find out more at bigbads.com.
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Previously on Critical Role

So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein have made their way back to Eiselcross, intent to catch up to or cut off the Tombtakers from their journey into the depths of the Aeorian ruins, the great city of mages from before the Calamity that lies long-buried beneath the ice and snow of the continent.

You convinced Essek Thelyss, the Shadowhand of the Kryn Dynasty, to accompany you along this journey. Upon finding the hidden entrance the Tombtakers had previously utilized, given to you by a successful Divine Intervention,[1] you discovered that other strange magics were afoot nearby as necromantic energies triggered or at least your presence uncovered some undead frost giants. They attacked you immediately, did some battle, but you managed to - aside from Jester - get through fairly unscathed, and begin to delve within the subterranean ruins themselves, heading through the tightly enclosed spaces, the ruined rock and frost, eventually finding a collapsed pit, and at the base of it a long-forgotten ruined courtyard and the first sign in this space of the Aeorian civilization.

Here, you messed around with some brown mold. You accidentally collapsed a tower. You began to plot some possible means of setting some traps for your quarry, and then found your way up a nearby hallway, familiar to some of the previous ruins you had come across. And as you took a moment to break near an intersection to rest, you discovered a creature that had been stirred by your presence, crawling from the ceiling duct nearby, dropping into the ground, and preparing to attack you all.

Part I

The frost salamander is fairly easily dispatched, although its freezing breath attack causes massive damage to Fjord and Caleb. Caleb, perilously close to unconsciousness, Polymorphs into a giant ape. Suspicious that the fight was too easy, Yasha stabs the creature again just to be sure-- and they hear another salamander's cry behind them. The second creature is also killed easily, but drains several more spells and hit points from the party.

They discuss strategy again. Ape-Caleb picks up the injured Essek and shows him to both clerics for healing. Jester resumes casting Commune and Artagan tells her that the courtyard contains no other exits, that the Tombtakers are less than a day behind them, and that Trent Ikithon is intent on them, but not hot on their heels. Ape-Caleb is asked by Matt to roll a perception check and gets a whisper, apparently seeing something during the Commune that the others do not.

Fan art of the Praesidis Ward, by Elaine Tipping.[art 1]

They continue moving onward, in alphabetical order, through the icy-floored hallway. They eventually reach a massive cavern filled with a sprawling, broken cityscape containing scattered tiny blue and green lights: the Praesidis Ward of the city of Aeor. There are hundred of mummified skeletal bodies scattered about and the party takes shelter within a ruined home, noticing one metal robotic body among the others.

They take a short rest, and Jester urges them to set up their ambush soon so they can attempt a long rest before the Tombtakers arrive. Most of the party immediately agree but they decide to first briefly scout from the air. Veth casts Invisibility while Caleb casts Fly on Caduceus and he finds a massive amphitheater holding hundred of bodies surrounding a figure in a stasis bubble on the raised dais at its center.

There is much more discussion of their plans to set booby-traps for the Tombtakers. Eventually, they head back to the first chamber at the base of the pit.

Break

Fan art of the ruined Aeorian amphitheater, by CT Chen.[art 2]

Part II

Back at the first chamber, they assemble the components for the Symbol spell, and Caleb uses the Staff of Power to Levitate Jester to the entrance tunnel where she casts the spell in a hidden space just inside the chamber and sets it to trigger pain on anyone coming within twenty feet of it. Beau, Essek, and Caleb successfully set the Intuit Charges among the rubble at the base of the drop, but Caleb has to activate his Stormrider Boots to get away safely. They all withdraw to the intersection of the corridor leading to the Praesidis Ward.

Fan art of Caleb and Essek on the Ninth Floor, by Roisin.[art 3]

Caleb casts his tower, leaving Frumpkin as a scout outside. Jester immediately begins casting Heroes' Feast inside. Caleb takes Essek up to the chamber of possibility on the ninth floor, where Essek asks him what his ultimate goal is. Caleb replies that he is no longer sure, but what's happening now is more important. He still means to atone, but now believes there may be more than one path to that atonement.

The party all gather for the Heroes' Feast, with Beau and Fjord trading off watching outside to be ready to close the door if they hear cries of pain coming from the trapped chamber. Caleb and Veth then go to set up the dome 300 feet from the Intuit Charges farther back down the hallway. Caleb sends Frumpkin back to the trapped chamber and begins watching through his eyes.

Fan art of Fjord giving the order for the rangers to engage to Essek, by Jolis Ortiz.[art 4]

The long rest passes slowly. After four hours, Essek (an elf) has achieved a full rest and is wandering the tower when he receives a message through the sending stone that Dagen and the Kryn rangers have spotted a troop of five approaching and are asking Fjord if they should engage. After a long pause, Fjord replies, "Yes." Essek relays the message, though he hypothesizes that the rangers won't last long and won't make a dent in the Tombtakers' defenses. Fjord hopes that the skirmish will cause the Tombtakers to be more cautious and take more time, possibly allowing the others to complete a long rest.

In the dome, watching through Frumpkin, Caleb suddenly sees a flash above. There is a thud, three lights, and the connection with Frumpkin abruptly ends. Caleb counts to five and releases the tower, waking those of the party sleeping within it. Veth casts Intellect Fortress on him and begins running at full speed toward the cavern with Caleb proceeding more slowly behind her. Fjord hears Lucien cursing to himself in the cavern and that group runs to the doorway of the trapped cavern. There, they see the bodies of Zoran Kluthidol, Tyffial Wase, and Otis Brunkel lying on the ground, with Lucien and Cree standing above them.[2] Lucien and Cree grab two large backpacks, look up, and see the party.

Beau immediately activates and throws the Arcane Field Generator creating a sphere of arcane motes except within Lucien's antimagic cone, clearly delimiting it. Beau runs in and Jester hits Lucien with Guiding Bolt. Fjord runs to the edge of the antimagic cone, then casts Far Step to jump over the cone to Zoran, and swings at the prone body, exhausting Zoran's death saves.

Fan art of Cree using the Cape of the Mountebank, by Jake Wennik.[art 5]

Lucien uses legendary actions to shift his antimagic cone toward Fjord, while Cree picks up her backpack and moves to Lucien's side. She wraps her Cape of the Mountebank around herself and him and they vanish.

The party quickly finish off the unconscious Otis and Tyffial and rifle their belongings, but the stolen Bag of Holding is not on them. Beau grabs their weapons and the party begins running down the hallway. Lucien's voice creeps into her and Caleb's head, congratulating them on their successful plan. Ahead of them, further down the tunnel, a low rumbling begins as the tunnel begins to shake and bits of rock fall from the ceiling, stopping after a minute to reveal a debris-filled hallway. Lucien's voice returns, telling them he's just putting space between them, and inviting them to come along to see the product of the Tombtakers' hard work. Frustrated, exhausted, and out of spells, they do not immediately pursue.

Featured Characters

The Mighty Nein

Fan art of Fjord finishing Zoran, by Bethany Berg.[art 6]

New

Returning

Mentioned

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 1 Smooth orb Aeorian robot Veth Cloudy, opaque crystal from the chest of a ruined robot.
Converted 200 gp worth Opals Jester Jester Converted into opal dust by Caleb.
Expended 200 gp worth Opal dust Jester Symbol spell Used in a booby trap for the Tombtakers.
Expended 400 gp worth Diamond dust Jester Symbol spell Used in a booby trap for the Tombtakers.
Expended 200 gp worth Residuum Jester Symbol spell Used in a booby trap for the Tombtakers.
Expended 200 gp worth Residuum Caduceus Symbol spell Used in a booby trap for the Tombtakers.
Expended 3 Intuit Charges Beau, Caleb, Essek The chamber
Expended 1 Jeweled chalice Jester Heroes' Feast
Expended 1 Arcane Field Generator Beau The chamber
Acquired 1 Maul Zoran Beau Magical.
Acquired 1 Light crossbow Otis Beau Magical.
Acquired 1 Longsword Tyffial Beau Magical.

Quotations

  • Essek: What is your goal? Ultimately?
    Caleb: I think my priorities have mostly shifted since we last spoke about things like this. I think what's going on right now is more important than my petty earthly grievances. Still very much fascinated with and attracted to ability and skill. And it's not fashionable to say, but to power. Who doesn't feel the tug of such a thing? But [ ... ] If you were to put the very thing that I have wondered about for so many years in front of me, I'm really not sure what my reaction would be. [...] Everything that I worked for, for so many years, was to atone. And I still want that. I'm just questioning if there is only one path to that atonement. I don't fool myself into thinking that I will absolve myself of those things. But I think-- I think that if I do enough, I can at least carry it more easily.[3]
  • Essek: Fjord, the rangers have had a sighting. A troop of five approaching. They're asking if they are to engage.
    Fjord: (long pause) Yes.
    Essek: (into the stone) Engage.[4]
  • Essek: If they are what you say they are, there is no way that ranger troop is going to make a dent.
    Fjord: No. [...] Perhaps if they know the entrance is being watched, or was, they'll be more cautious, take more time.[5]
  • Lucien: Well, this really fucks up my plans a bit. (sighs) But well played. Not going to lie. Well played. Cree, take care of this.[6]
  • Lucien: (to Beau and Caleb) I'm not going to lie, that was inspired. Well thought out. More than I expected. You're brave. But you've also shown to be more of a thorn in my side that I ever gave you credit for, and that's not going to fly. But I'm excited for you to see my handiwork soon enough. [...] Just putting a bit of space between us. You understand. I've got important work to do. But please, come along. I'd hate for no one to see the product of our hard work.[7]

Trivia

  • Matt used the phrase "toothy maw" in this episode for only the third time in Campaign Two, to describe the frost salamander.[8] He used it 15 times in Campaign One.

References

  1. See "A Walk to Warmer Welcomes" (2x124) from 3:42:56 through 3:45:58.
  2. Matt confirmed in a tweet that both Lucien and Cree had saved against the Symbol of pain.
  3. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:28:01.
  4. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:44:43.
  5. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 3:45:30.
  6. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 4:06:31.
  7. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 4:15:44.
  8. See "Hunter and Hunted" (2x133) at 0:20:04.  The previous uses were in "Malice and Mystery Below" (2x119) at 0:09:08 and "The Folding Halls" (2x80) at 2:27:24

Art:

  1. Fan art of the Praesidis Ward, by Elaine Tipping (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of the ruined Aeorian amphitheater, by CT Chen (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Caleb and Essek on the Ninth Floor, by Roisin (source).  Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Fjord giving the order for the rangers to engage to Essek, by Jolis Ortiz (source).  Used with permission.
  5. Fan art of Cree using the Cape of the Mountebank, by Jake Wennik (source).  Used with permission.
  6. Fan art of Fjord finishing Zoran, by Bethany Berg (source).  Used with permission.


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