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The Shearing Channel from Andy Law's map of Tal'Dorei

Close-up on the Shearing Channel and nearby features in a map of Tal'Dorei by Andy Law from the Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting

The Shearing Channel is the ancient divide between the continents of Tal'Dorei and Wildemount where once was a land bridge, which was destroyed by the catastrophic forces of the Calamity, leaving nothing but a broken landscape of jagged rock, winding rapids, and heavy winds that is near impossible to cross. Many ships that have tried to cross have never been seen again; it is said that great monstrosities (such as krakens) live beneath the ancient waves.[1][2]

The story of how the de Rolo family settled Whitestone started with just such a wreck as their ship crossed the Shearing Channel from Wildemount.[1]

As of 836 PD, there are rumors that pirates of the Revelry use mysterious safe routes to pass through the channel.[2]

Stonecage Cliffs[]

While the coast of Tal'Dorei in the Shearing Channel has its own dangers, with the Salted Bluffs swarming with harpies,[1] the coast of Wildemount has the Stonecage Cliffs, engulfing the entire northeast of the mainland peninsula.

This range of coastal mountains and cliffs is craggy and nigh-impassable, and has long given the peoples of Wildemount and Tal'Dorei difficulties in communication; furthermore, the Stonecage Cliffs enclose the Lushgut Forest, a dangerous terrain on its own, making any attempt to establish settlements in the region difficult, keeping it wild and infested with monsters. The cliffs themselves have been eroded by water and wind and present multiple caves, often inhabited by fearsome flying and climbing beasts that make only the bravest and/or stupidest explorers try to approach these lairs.[3]

Proposed bridge[]

The Briarwoods proposed the construction of a new bridge across the Shearing Channel to create a much faster trade and communication route between the two continents.[4] Seeker Assum Emring said the bridge would somehow connect to the edge of the Alabaster Sierras,[5] which surround the city-state of Whitestone in the northeastern part of the continent of Tal'Dorei. The Briarwoods claimed that the de Rolo family, who had ruled Whitestone, had been discussing the construction of such a bridge, and that the Briarwoods were hoping to talk about pursuing it as a joint venture, when the de Rolos were wiped out by disease and left Whitestone to the Briarwoods.[6]

However, the proposal, which would have had to overcome steep cliffs,[7][8] heavy winds, strong ocean currents, and miles of open sea, was never a serious one; it was merely an enticing ruse to secure an in-person meeting at which Sylas Briarwood could magically influence Sovereign Uriel Tal'Dorei II.[9] (The Briarwoods even proposed naming it "the Uriel Bridge" to flatter him.) The ruse worked; Uriel instructed Seeker Assum to invite the Briarwoods to a feast in Emon celebrating the agreement to build the bridge,[10] and Sylas used the opportunity to charm Uriel.[11]

After Vox Machina removed the Briarwoods from power, Percival de Rolo suggested that discussions about the construction of the bridge could continue with the new leadership in Whitestone, to which Uriel replied that the kingdom would pursue that discussion with the powers of Wildemount.[12]

Between Campaign One and Campaign Two[]

In both the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting and the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, the epic-level adventure hook Scion of Oblivion involves a kraken from the channel, mutated by the residual power that Tharizdun left in the ocean while being pursued by Pelor, that has been haunting the region, mutating sailors, ships, and sea creatures into terrible abominations, and causing the clouds over the channel to rain a heavy black fluid; apparently this powerful monstrosity has been gathering an army for some kind of attack.[1][2]

Sometime before 836 PD (if the rumors are true) the famed paladin sailor Shirkuh Marín outran a juvenile kraken in the Shearing Channel as well.[13]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 48.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 74.
  3. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 76.
  4. See "The Feast" (1x24) at 2:27:03.
  5. See "The Rematch" (1x23) at 3:04:43.
  6. See "The Feast" (1x24) at 3:25:49.
  7. On the Wildemount side are the towering Stonecage Cliffs, with the deadly Lushgut Forest just beyond. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, p. 76.
  8. On the Tal'Dorei side are the harpy-infested Salted Bluffs, marking the outside of the Alabaster Sierras, despite the appearances on the official map. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 48.
  9. See "Thar Amphala" (1x101) at 1:25:51.
  10. See "The Rematch" (1x23) at 3:06:12.
  11. See "A Musician's Nostalgia" (1x37) at 1:03:42.
  12. See "A Musician's Nostalgia" (1x37) at 1:08:06.
  13. See Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, p. 174.
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