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"Punishment and Politics" (2x87) is the eighty-seventh episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Running on fumes, the Mighty Nein face down the new form of their old threat, but it is diplomacy that proves to be an even greater challenge...

Synopsis Edit

Pre-Show Edit

We play Dungeons and Dragons! After two weeks, some of us are still coming online.

Announcements Edit

  • The hacker becomes the hackee: Sam is back as h4x0r BlackWillow73@aol.com, saved by Nord VPN from slicing by the evil Cryptonic Override in his search for the Ultra Codex.
  • Also back is continuing sponsor D&D Beyond, a great online tool for character creation and resource management.
  • Huge thanks to Travis Frederick and to everyone who donated to OSD during November, raising over $44,000.
  • Merch Alert! Brand new Vox Machina hoodies are now available at the U.S. and U.K. critrole.com stores.
  • Darksiders Genesis released today, with our own Liam as War.

Previously on Critical Role Edit

So, last we left off: the Mighty Nein, having sought the answers behind the Cult of the Angel of Irons, uncovered that, secretly, the Angel does not exist, and the cult is actually essentially catfishing its members to the benefit of Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion, one of the most dangerous, mad, hungry gods of the Betrayer Gods. Gathering allies, you found that they were getting close to the final phase of their plan, and making their way towards Rexxentrum, the capital of the Dwendalian Empire. With the aid of Pumat Sol, you made your way there, you did a call for friends, you put some word out to the Cobalt Soul, but at that time it seemed the Kryn Dynasty was assaulting the capital via purple worm burrowing assassins and warriors.

In the midst of this chaos, you made your way through the rain to the Chantry of the Dawnfather, where it seemed one of the shackles that hold the Chained Oblivion at bay resides. You battled your way through the Cathedral, shattered the stained glass windows, freed your friend Yasha from the influence of Obann, and sent him as well as the remainder of his trio below, but not before destroying the now-weakened Laughing Hand. After making your way through the mysteries of the subterranean basement and uncovering the ancient location of where this shackle was located, you did battle with Obann, prevented him from completing the ritual, and left him to die and recover on his side of the planes. But in the final moment before he could be reborn, the Chained Oblivion delivered its punishment for failure, and you watched as his body transformed into a horrible, roiling, pulsing black inky mess of eyes and teeth and tendrils. And that’s where we left off. So as you all look in horror upon this transformed mass before you, I need you all to roll initiative.

Part I Edit

The transformed Obann the Punished in this new, huge, monstrous form is perhaps even a more difficult opponent than previously. The Mighty Nein come into the battle with very few spell slots, and many of them are in very low health as well. Obann is now relatively easy to hit, but has legendary actions, multi-attacks, and an area attack (Storm of Biting Shadow), that does significant necrotic damage and weakens everyone it hits. Caleb goes down under it but Caduceus brings him back quickly with Cure Wounds. Jourrael, the Caedogeist, who was freed from Obann's control when he fell, heads for the stairs to the party's disappointment.

The Nein continues to deal damage to Obann, but his formidable attacks, grapples, and legendary actions cost them health they cannot afford to lose. However, Jourrael has been watching and now enters the fight herself, attacking Obann with her vicious sneak attacks. Caleb is bitten and swallowed by the creature but uses Polymorph to change himself into a giant ape, which causes Obann the Punished to regurgitate him. Caduceus is not as fortunate and is swallowed as well, and Beau is knocked out by a tentacle attack, failing her first death save and losing another to the creature's regained Storm of Biting Shadow which also knocks out Jester. With three of the party now unconscious or swallowed, the Caedogeist moves in. To the group's delight, Matt gets the How do I want to do this? on himself when Jourrael moves in and lands the final blow on the creature.

The Inevitable End - Zulfugar

Fan art of the Inevitable End, by Zulfugar.[art 1]

Caduceus is released but before he can cast his Mass Healing Word, Beau must make a third death save. She succeeds, and Caduceus's Healing brings both her and Jester back to consciousness. Caduceus offers both healing and a hug to the Caedogeist, who refuses both, puts a finger to her lips in a shushing gesture, and vanishes into the wall.

After a few minutes, Fjord reminds them they need to check on Pumat Sol, whom they left in the main cathedral battling cultists and demons. Nott tries a Message but they realize they're probably out of range. Jester then uses Sending but ominously, there is no answer. They ascend the stairs and midway meet a group of Righteous Brand coming down looking for them. The main hall of the Chantry is full of Righteous Brand, both dead and living, and a handful of Cobalt Soul with Archivist Kathedoc.

Kathedoc takes them to the gravely wounded Pumat and Nott immediately gives him her last health potion. Pumat tells them of the battle, explaining that he lost count of how many he killed after the first twenty, but he was being overwhelmed when the Cobalt Soul folks arrived and aided him. He was able to find and destroy the Abyssal anchor creating the rift that the demons were coming through.

Marshal Ishmara, who seems to be in charge of the Righteous Brand investigation of the situation, approaches and tells the party that they are not to leave her sight until the investigation is complete. They share what's occurred downstairs and warn her about the bodies they will find and the still-active and very dangerous ritual. She tells them they are to be brought before the Prime Arbiter to tell what they know. Before they leave, Yasha goes over to the pile of ash that is all that remains of the Laughing Hand and takes a fragment of his cloak to press into her book. They are surrounded by ten soldiers who escort them out of the cathedral.

Break Edit

Part II Edit

Emerging onto the rainy streets of Rexxentrum surrounded by their escort of soldiers, the Mighty Nein notices that there are no longer sounds of battle, although townsguard are still rushing by and they pass several slain fighters from both sides. They are escorted a little north to the heavy gates of the Shimmer Ward and into Castle Ungebroch, the seat of King Dwendal, and left in a holding room with two guards who are far enough away that they can talk a little. Jester, Caduceus, and Fjord put their holy symbols (of forbidden gods) into the haversack.

They go over their story: they were sent by Zeenoth to Rexxentrum to share their findings about the Chained Oblivion, which they were investigating with the permission of the Cobalt Soul. Yasha is confused, and they tell her that the Angel of Irons was actually Tharizdun. They question her a bit about her time under Obann's domination. She was fully aware of everything but unable to choose her actions. Obann had previously found her when she left her tribe, and she is just now remembering their initial time together. She broke free from him that time with the aid of the Stormlord. She suspects that Obann wanted her because she's a little easier to bring back from death than other people. Yasha wants to know why Fjord is now talking with a different accent, and he admits that he had been trying to emulate someone else but now wants to just live as himself.

Empire crest revised - Hierothraxs

Fan art of the crest of the Dwendalian Empire, by @hierothraxs.[art 2]

The door opens and the Marshal takes their weapons and escorts them to the Throne Room where King Dwendal is seated upon his throne. To his right stands Oliver Schreiber, his assistant, and to his left is Prime Arbiter Sydnock Truscan. Around him are High Curator Yudala Fon (the Herald of the Rexxentrum Archive of the Cobalt Soul) and a tall, fully-armored and helmed guard ready to protect the king. The rest of the group around the king is familiar to the party: Allura Vysoren, Oremid Hass, Martinet Ludinus Da'leth... and Trent Ikithon.

Allura has spoken to the king about the Mighty Nein, and Oremid has been researching the Angel of Irons at their suggestion. The king, however, is suspicious of the timing of the Dynasty attack to the cult's efforts to break one of Tharizdun's chains. Caduceus, to his own surprise, speaks up and suggests that some of the attackers possibly were mind-controlled and the attack ceased when the control was released. Yudala shares the Cobalt Soul's espionage suggesting that the cult action was timed to coincide with the Kryn attack, rather than the other way around, and points out that Beau was one of the expositors gathering this intelligence in Xhorhas.

Beau explains that they discovered that Abyssal anchors were being placed both in the Empire and the Dynasty in an effort to weaken the veil between the planes, which Ludinus Da'leth confirms. The king demands the name of the person in the Empire that they know to have been orchestrating the placing of at least some of the anchors, and she tells him: Vence Nuthaleus, Ludinus's annex. Jester shares what she's seen in her Scryings on Vence, and Ludinus immediately tries to use Sending to contact him, apparently without success. He orders an all-points search for him, saying that he had just given Vence a means of protection from divination.

Allura then says that on behalf of the Council of Tal'Dorei, she has reached out to the Bright Queen as a neutral third party to the conflict between the Empire and the Dynasty, notifying them of all the Council had learned about the cult. She reports that the Queen was responsive to trusting the word of the Mighty Nein and she temporarily withdrew the attack so that they would not be inadvertently aiding the cult. The king lashes out at Allura for speaking to his enemy, and is again suspicious, demanding to know what dealings the Nein have had with the Queen previously that the Kryn would withdraw on their word, and Beau tells him the party was perfect cover to get her close to the Kryn during her espionage mission for the Cobalt Soul.

King Dwendal asks, with genuine curiosity, what else Beau has learned in her time with the Bright Queen. Beau's response is succinct: that the Queen really wants her fucking beacon back. The king seems confused, thinking this "relic" unimportant. Ludinus then says that Trent recently "uncovered" this relic, and that perhaps by using the Nein as a mediation tool, they can bring the conflict to an end by returning the beacon, since it doesn't serve any purpose of the Empire's. The king orders the party to work under Ludinus to arrange a parlay with the Dynasty. They may determine the meeting place, but if they fail to arrange this they will be punished harshly. The meeting is adjourned and the participants begin drifting out of the room. Allura approaches and congratulates them on handling the audience well.

Trent Ikithon - Bethany Berg

Fan art of Trent Ikithon, by Bethany Berg.[art 3]

Ludinus tells them they'll meet tomorrow at noon and that they will be lodged at the Camarouth Cottage within the Shimmer Ward for the night. As he leaves, Trent approaches, and says, “Impressive business, isn’t it? You’ve come far from simple sellswords and pit-fighters. Especially you, Bren.” He then continues walking, following after Ludinus.

Featured Characters Edit

The Mighty Nein Edit

New Edit

Returning Edit

Mentioned Edit

Inventory Edit

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 1 A scrap of the Laughing Hand's cloak The Laughing Hand's body Yasha Yasha placed the scrap in her book of pressed flowers

TriviaEdit

  • The party reached Level 11 after the conclusion of the stream, as confirmed by Matt's tweet.
  • This episode marks the third "How Do I Want To Do This?" for Matt. The first two were both by Landspeaker Soorna against chasmes[1][2], although Matt did not say the words "How do you want to do this?" on the second kill.
  • This was the third shortest episode so far in the Second Campaign, behind "The Favor" (2x56) and "Fleeting Memories" (2x14).
  • Obann was defeated on 13 Thunsheer 836.[3]

Quotations Edit

  • Matt: (when Jourrael gets the killing blow on Obann the Punished) How do I want to do this?
  • Caduceus: I’m going to look at the Caedogeist. "Can I get a hug?"
  • Fjord: (on his now-different accent) You’re not imagining things. I had pretended to emulate someone I looked up to very much, and I found, while you were away, that there was no point in trying to be someone else, I should just try to live this life as me. And while this voice had not served me very well previously, I have decided to give it a go, because - fuck it.
  • Beau: I’ve found in my line of work, King Dwendal, if you’re going to learn about your enemy, you need to get close to them. Luckily, traveling with a band of misfits and goblins and half-orcs... and Caduceus...
  • King Dwendal: “What else have you learned in your time with the Bright Queen?” He looks genuinely interested now.
    Beau: She really wants her fucking beacon back.
  • King Dwendal: “I’ve a people to protect, innocents and families who suffer at the hands of this unprovoked war. Nothing is more important to me than maintaining the safety and sanctity of the Dwendalian citizenry. If we can end this conflict and keep to our ends of the Ashkeeper Peaks, then that would be a great victory.”
  • Trent Ikithon: “Impressive business, isn’t it? You’ve come far from simple sellswords and pit-fighters. Especially you, Bren.”

References Edit

  1. See "Perspective" (2x59) at 3:42:45.
  2. See "A Turtle By Any Other Name" (2x60) at 1:30:10.
  3. See CritRoleStats' running game calendar.

Art:

  1. Fan art of the Inevitable End, by Zulfugar (source).  Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of the crest of the Dwendalian Empire, by @hierothraxs (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Trent Ikithon, by Bethany Berg (source).  Used with permission.


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