"Perspective" (2x59) is the fifty-ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein engage with the stone giants in the Deepriver Mining Camp, then discover a more sinister danger deep in the Vermaloc...
Previously on Critical Role
"Last we left off: The Mighty Nein had traversed the dangers of Xhorhas, behind enemy lines, in the war between the Empire and the Kryn Dynasty. You made friends with the Bright Queen. In a moment of what seemed to be a dangerous downward spiral, you presented the Beacon, which you had carried since the beginning, and in doing so, gained quite a lot of favor with the Dynasty. You were sent to a place to stay; you were given a direction to possibly prove yourself further within their eyes, and make yourselves strong allies on their side of this conflict.
In doing so, you spoke with Professor Waccoh, of the Marble Tomes Conservatory, and were told of an issue where one of the steelworks that had been developing and designing and building a lot of the war machines for use in this struggle had undergone some sort of a giant-based incursion and had halted production. That was problematic for both her interests and research, and for the overall effort against the Empire. You guys were to go and get rid of these giants, and possibly, along the way for a little bonus, embarrass a rival of hers there as much as possible, the foreman. You proceeded to embarrass him fairly well in that first meeting, thankfully, at the hands of the forceful personality that is Fjord.
You hired a guide, and made your way through the Vermaloc Wildwood, a lush forest of purplewood trees, with vibrant red and brown and maroon leaves all around you. You traveled deep into these woods and discovered the outskirts of the steelworks, which themselves were built and attached to a mining camp that pulls a number of materials out that are then transferred throughout the Dynasty, but largely in the construction of these machines. There, upon stealthing your way through the front gates of the outer perimeter, you seem to have been noticed, or at least Yasha was, by one of these stone giants that reside within the interior.
A boulder was thrown in your direction, which was not avoided. You shrugged off some of it, stopped it in place, and the entity seems to be aware of at least your presence. The rest of you are out of sight, as far as you know, your moorbounders off in the wood not far from you. You can hear behind the wooden perimeter fence of this location the shifting and moving of the stone giants preparing in some way for whatever lurks out there in the wood..."
Yasha decides to distract the giants, and charges towards the fortress wall, quickly joined by the rest of the Nein. Beau, Yasha, and Fjord get within range over the wall, spotting a third giant, and Fjord casts Charm Monster on two of them, charming them. Caleb casts Cat's Ire and attacks the main gate with the giant cat's paw. The parties continue to trade damage, while Fjord tries to convince the charmed giants to stop fighting. However, they don't seem to understand Common, and the attempt fails. Caduceus, in Giant, also suggests they surrender, and a high insight check on the giants gives him a whisper from Matt. The giants appear to be fearful and defensive, and are definitely getting the worst of the fight, when Jester casts Polymorph on their druid spellcaster Soorna, turning her into a helpless killer whale. The party, wanting to try to solve this issue without killing the giants, starts holding their attacks, and Fjord and Caduceus manage to persuade the two charmed giants to stop fighting and sit down. Caduceus talks to them, determining that their leader is Soorna, the now-whale. They tell him that they ran away from their home in the mountains, the Braan, when it was invaded by humming creatures with long faces coming out of the shadows. Eight giants fled and took over the Steelworks - the other five are out hunting and will return any minute.
Jester drops the Polymorph on Soorna, and she confirms that the Braan was attacked by creatures who sucked the life out of her brother and killed him, and drove the other giants away. When they returned, she saw her dead brother smiling at her, undead, and they knew they could not go back. They were chased through the forest to the steelworks, where they fought with and drove out the workers, and took it over as a defense against the creatures invading the Braan. However, if they could reclaim their home, they have no interest in the steelworks. The party suspects they are dealing with undead demons, and Beau remembers reading about something similar, called a chasme.
Soorna agrees to accompany them back to the giants' former home to try to clear it out. They camp at the Steelworks for the night, and Yasha and Jester both eat some of the giant spider brought back by the hunting party when they return. It doesn't agree with Jester.
In the morning, the party sets off on their moorbounders for the giants' home. On the way, Nott talks to Caleb about her insecurities about her reunion with her husband Yeza, asking if she's a bad person for coming adventuring and leaving him in an inn in Rosohna, and doubting if she wants to go back to being a housewife. Caleb tells her that she is working toward something good by helping to make the Empire safe again for her family, and he doesn't judge her, but that she's the one who has to find those answers.
Fjord, riding with Jester, discovers that three glass vials he found in the mining camp are healing potions. They parcel them out, and he tries to give the Greater to Jester. She tells him to keep it, and to think of it as a spell from her when he takes it.
Arriving at the giant fortress built into a mountain, the party immediately encounter bloodstains and other evidence of the battle that took place there, a smell of bile and rot, and two giant bodies. Three babaus, a form of demon, are eating one, and a battle ensues. Caduceus casts Holy Weapon on Beau's fists, increasing her damage output in the fight. A chasme, a more dangerous, flying demon, swoops in. Its necrotic attacks on Fjord cause his maximum HPs to be reduced. The chasme also has a buzzing attack that knocks both Jester and Fjord unconscious. Fjord is saved from death by Caduceus's reducing a critical hit by the chasme, but left in a dangerously weakened state that only a long rest will cure. Landspeaker Soorna lands the killing blow. Jester and Fjord are brought back to consciousness by the pain of further injury.
The party searches, and discovers another rift to the Abyss under a table. Jester's Dispel Magic fails, but Yasha closes it with the arcane powers of the Magician's Judge.
A beautiful little jellyfish drifts into the room, enters the second giant body, and its head turns toward the party with a terrible grin.
- Soorna (why the stone giants ran away from their home): "...At first, before all of this...we didn't know from where the smell was coming. But from the bone pit...a strange...a strange glow was discovered by Oombad, my brother. But we didn't think anything of it...until the small nightmares began to come. We tried to fight, but...our clubs and rocks glanced off of their beastly, horned hides, and...I know better than to know that something small does not make it not dangerous..."
Caduceus (interrupting): "Very wise."
Soorna (continuing): "...So...when they...pierced my brother, and pulled the life from his veins...I gave the command to flee. We regrouped and lost two more as we exited the cave. It was just the eight of us. After we had some time to collect our thoughts and prepare to return, we...walked back to the...front...of Braan...and there I saw my brother waiting. Oombad, he who I saw...die before me, just smiled back. And I knew it wasn't him..."
- Stone giant hunter (repeating a common giant saying to Soorna): "You cannot trust folks smaller than your shoulder."
- Caleb (reassuring that he doesn't judge Nott's behavior): "I think that we are working...towards something very good. And we could just fritter our life away...and just abandon hope...you and I. But you're not: you are working towards something GOOD. And your son needs a world to grow up in, with parents who love him. So...you are feeling poorly, you are doubting yourself. I understand that very well...but I don't share your opinion of you. Or this group."
- Travis (panicking as the chasme dives down from above): "AHHH!!! I DON'T LIKE IT, I DON'T LIKE IT, I DON'T LIKE THIS!!!"
Sam (joking): "If I wasn't so scared in this moment, I would say that that monster looks ridiculous!"
- Dungeon Master (describing a "jellyfish made of light" as it enters the stone giant corpse): "It drifts, and then touches and enters the body..."
Taliesin (frustrated): "No! Goddamnit!"
Travis (confused): "Of who? Of what?!?"
Marisha (stressed): "Of what?!?"
DM (continuing): "The corpse, and you watch the giant's head go..." (the giant's head cracks as it turns)
Ashley (worried): "Uh oh!"
Nott (calling out to the rest of the party): "Uh, guys? Guys?!? We've got a-"
DM (continuing): "...And look right towards you with this terrible grin, that begins to tear...its jaw unhinges, to the point...
Liam (scared): "No..."
DM (continuing): "...Where the flesh tears at the corners into this wide..."
Liam (still scared): "No..."
DM (continuing): "...Twisted smile..."
Travis (terrified): "Nono...nono!"
DM (concluding): "...And that's where we'll pick up next time!"
Cast (freaking out): "NOOO!!!"