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Orthax is a powerful shadow demon who makes pacts of vengeance with mortals in exchange for souls.

In both Critical Role and The Legend of Vox Machina, Orthax is played by Matthew Mercer.

Description

Appearance

When Orthax manifested before Vox Machina, its black smoke coalesced into a humanoid form that continued to grow until it reached the roof of the twelve-foot-tall tunnel they were in.[3] Its bird-like beak inspired Percival's mask.

Biography

Background

Orthax appeared to Percy, in what he thought was a dream, and offered him vengeance against those who destroyed his family. It was with Orthax's inspiration that Percy designed his first gun.[4]

"Whispers" (1x29)

While on the hunt for the Briarwoods, Percy began to act increasingly more erratic and violent due to Orthax's influence. Dark smoke began to emerge from Percy's body and envelop him during these moments.[5]

"Denouement" (1x35)

When Percy tried to sever his ties to Orthax, it appeared and fought Vox Machina. As a precaution, Scanlan threw Percy's pepperbox pistol into acid, in hopes that that would sever its tie to him.

"Cloak and Dagger" (1x68)

Fan art of Pike battling Orthax, by Viktor Engholm.[art 2]

Orthax reappeared when Vox Machina caught up to Anna Ripley, as she had made a similar pact with it, and assisted her in the fight against Vox Machina on Glintshore, which led to Percy's death at the hands of Ripley. Vox Machina was able to fell the demon, however.[6]

"Passed Through Fire" (1x69)

Even after being defeated, Orthax remained in the Material Plane through its attachment to Ripley's pepperbox, Animus. It used this attachment to grab hold of Percy's soul, preventing his resurrection until Keyleth managed to sever the thread connecting it to Animus through the use of Greater Restoration.[7]

The Legend of Vox Machina

Relationships

Percival de Rolo

Fan art of Percy and Orthax, by Toby Sharp.[art 3]

Orthax made a pact with Percy after his family was slaughtered by the Briarwoods. Orthax offered inspiration for Percy in designing his deadly firearms; in return, every target that Percy killed in revenge was offered as a soul to Orthax. Percy eventually bucked the deal and expelled Orthax, with some help from Scanlan.

Anna Ripley

After being rejected by Percy, Orthax sought out one of his former revenge targets, Anna Ripley, who had been trying to create firearms of her own after Percy's design. Orthax offered the same pact to Ripley as it had to Percy, and she accepted.

The List

Each person Orthax made a pact with kept a list of people who had wronged them. Every time one of the people on this list was killed, that victim's soul was taken by Orthax to consume.

Abilities:

Fan art of Orthax, by Joma Cueto.[art 4]

Orthax had the usual characteristics for a shadow demon drawn from the Monster Manual[1] with significant homebrew from Matt:

  • Light Sensitivity: Orthax has lower AC while exposed to a bright light[8] as well as disadvantage on Perception and attack rolls usual for shadow demons.[9]
  • Orthax can teleport from one shadow to another within a certain distance without using his movement.[10][11]
  • Mark of Vengeance: Grants him advantage on attacks[12] +2d6 psychic damage on marked target. The Mark can be moved to another creature as a bonus action.[13]
  • Rampage Pulse (recharges based on a die roll): Creatures within 20 feet of Orthax who fail a Wisdom saving throw (DC 17) immediately attack a nearby creature, even if it's an ally; on a success they take psychic damage.[14][15]
  • Shadowy Escape: When Orthax is reduced to zero hit points, he becomes a small pile of shadow[16] and attempts to return to his host.[17][18]
  • Claw: Orthax's claws has 10-foot reach,[19] doubling the usual stat for shadow demons, dealing 2d8 (plus an unknown modifier) of psychic damage[20] or 4d8 when he made attacks with advantage.[21]
  • "Grasp an element of your willpower" (triggers in the course of a multiattack): On a failed Wisdom saving throw, Orthax does something that presumably dominates the target.[22]

Appearances and mentions

Trivia

  • When Taliesin created Percy's backstory, he left it up to Matt to decide whether Percy's dream vision of a smoky entity was real or just a dream. The appearance of Orthax in the story was as much of a surprise to him as the rest of the players.[23]
  • Interestingly, Orthax is a shadow demon but is able to create pacts with at least two people (Percy and Anna). Fiends with the ability and propensity to create pacts or contracts are almost always in the domain of the lawful evil devils of the Nine Hells which are, in traditional D&D lore, in eternal conflict with the chaotic evil demons of the Abyss. Orthax being a shadow demon belongs to the latter.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 See D&D: Monster Manual, 5th ed., p. 64.
  2. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 4:14:27.
  3. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 1:00:33.
  4. From Percy's intro.  See "Arrival at Kraghammer" (1x01) from 5:58 through 6:07.
  5. See "Whispers" (1x29) at 3:01:40.
  6. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 4:18:00.
  7. See "Passed Through Fire" (1x69) from 1:08:12 through 1:09:15.
  8. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 1:44:52.
  9. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:56:34.  See also at 3:26:23, at 4:03:02, and at 4:06:06.
  10. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 1:13:07.
  11. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:44:39.
  12. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:25:47.  See at 3:29:42 for explanation of advantage.
  13. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 4:00:29.
  14. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 1:57:39.
  15. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:45:12.
  16. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 4:17:54.
  17. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 2:02:55.
  18. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 4:20:49.
  19. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:57:35.
  20. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:30:25.
  21. See "Cloak and Dagger" (1x68) at 3:30:25.
  22. See "Denouement" (1x35), part 1, at 1:42:22.
  23. See "Critical Role Q&A and Battle Royale: Take II" (Sx10).

Art:

  1. Screenshot of Orthax from "The Darkness Within" (LVM1x12). 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.
  2. Fan art of Pike battling Orthax, by Viktor Engholm (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Percy and Orthax, by Toby Sharp (source). Used with permission.
  4. Fan art of Orthax, by Joma Cueto (source). Used with permission.
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