"Steam and Conversation" (2x09) is the ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein explore Zadash, looking for new jobs, finding old allies, and stumbling upon intriguing mysteries.
- The official sponsor for tonight's episode and all episodes to come (unless they vanish in a puff of smoke) is D&D Beyond.
- Matt reminds Amazon Prime users about Twitch Prime: with a little button press, they can subscribe to any Twitch channel for free.
- Talks Machina, hosted by Brian W. Foster, will be discussing tonight's episode on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:00 PM PST. Matt is tempted to mess up Brian's name every week.
- Daylight Savings Time hits the United States this Sunday, March 11, 2018. For those unsure of whether this will mean Critical Role starts an hour earlier or an hour later (including the cast themselves), Matt asks that you go to wheniscriticalrole.com. Liam says that if you're watching this episode in July 2019: "You're welcome."
- Last week's episode ("The Gates of Zadash") is now available on the Critical Role Podcast for your fine downloadable podcast purposes.
- There will be no Wyrmwood giveaway tonight, but Matt wanted to congratulate them on the success of the Adventurer's Arsenal on Kickstarter.
- "Vox Machina: Origins #5" of the Critical Role comic is now available. Travis thinks the beat-to-s**t Vax on the cover is f**king awesome. Issue #5 can be downloaded from Comixology, the Dark Horse Comics app, and (according to Liam) LaserDisc.
- Matt will be flying out tonight for Lexington, Kentucky, so he can appear at Lexington Comic & Toy Con this weekend. Laura asks if he's leaving right after the show. Matt is actually leaving on a flight after midnight, because he has to run home and pack first.
- merch update from Laura: The Vox Machina tarot cards are back in stock. Two new shirts are available: one inspired by the new Campaign 2 intro, and another that is (as Taliesin put it) "from the darkest timeline". They will be in-stock and ready to buy next Thursday, March 15, 2018.
- Laura is angry because everyone kept talking over her announcements. Travis tries to calm her down, to no avail. Sam jokes, "You did this to me!"
- The whole cast (minus Ashley, who is still filming Blindspot) will be at C2E2 in Chicago, Illinois for panels and autographs. Their full schedule will be released next week.
- Laura announces that she chose only dice that she was given in Seattle, Washington (while she and Travis were at Emerald City Comic Con) to roll tonight. Laura gave a super-cool d20 to Liam, but only because she was "ordered".
- The first episode of Key Question is available now on Project Alpha. Matt Key and Marisha Ray are talking about Deadpool. You can get a free 60-day trial of Alpha with the promo code "QUESTION".
Previously on Critical Role
"Upon finishing [their] business in Alfield, [the Mighty Nein] acquired [their] new cart, new horses, and found [their] way on the Amber Road northward for a number of days, making [their] way toward Zadash. Along the way, [they] had some curious naps. [They] found some cool little landmarks from a war long past. [They] were nearly robbed and instead shooed them off with cries of extreme syphilis, and then entered the gates of Zadash [themselves]. Upon which, [they] briefly met a character named Ulysses, who offered, at a bit of cost, to show [them] around town for the remainder of the day. Unfortunately, the sun set within the next couple of hours, but [they] were led toward the Pentamarket, where [they] did a little bit of shopping, offloaded some things [they] had acquired in [their] previous venture in the mines where [they] battled the gnolls, encountered a purveyor of various magical artifacts named Enchanter Pumat Sol, acquired some baked goods from the market, and then finished up by making [their] way to The Leaky Tap, where [they] had just begun to cross the threshold when we left off last week."
The party enters The Leaky Tap and talks to one of the owners, a dragonborn named Wessek the Trim (he is not trim at all). Nott comments that they share the same middle name. They get three rooms, order some food under the name Nein, and have a seat together after. Jester goes to play cards with some other bar-goers, two of which look much better off than the rest of the patrons there. Jester asks what they are playing and they ask her to leave once they divulge they are playing poker. Jester deceives them into thinking she is no good at the game and that they could take "so much money from [her]." They let her play, and Caleb and Nott help her cheat; Caleb uses Frumpkin's eyes to see their cards, and Nott relays them to Jester with Message. They notice her cheating and finish the game, but call her out on her unfair sportsmanship and take the pot, leaving Jester seven gold poorer.
After this, the group sans Caleb and Nott meets with Claudia Sheed, who also looks very dressed up. They talk to her about getting a job and learn about Zadash. While there, they learn that the people of Zadash must worship one of six approved gods, and that they can find a job by visiting the King's Board. Meanwhile, Caleb and Nott separate themselves from the rest of the party, and we see a moment of fondness between Caleb and Nott; he asks Nott to help him copy spells from the books he bought in Trostenwald into his own spellbook, and Nott agrees to help. Caleb allows her the honor of copying the glyphs, only showing where they go and guiding her hand on the tougher symbols.
After they finish talking to Claudia, they see a group of finer dressed people in the tavern, and Claudia tells the group she's "helping them work through some issues". The strangers and Claudia all go to the basement. The party meets back up with Caleb and Nott (still transcribing) and Molly asks for Frumpkin, which Caleb gives him. Molly tosses Frumpkin in the direction of the basement to spy on Claudia and then explains the situation to an exasperated and confused Caleb ("What do you do with my cat?"). Caleb stutters a bit in disbelief at Molly, then goes right back to helping Nott
Fjord and Beau follow Claudia and have a heart-to-heart about Beau's inability to sound genuine when giving compliments, and Fjord allows Beau to practice complimenting people on him, which she fails in spectacular fashion. She begins by telling Fjord, in a deadpan voice with no body language "You're very attractive." Fjord gives her some pointers and suggests she try smiling, but it does not go much better: after saying he's attractive once more, Fjord immediately replies, "Oh, man, you look constipated." Fjord recommends winking, and Beau's attempts yield no positive results. Fjord says they'll keep working on it, to which Beau responds "That wasn't it? Fuck." Beau thanks him for telling him about it instead of staying silent, Fjord responds that they've known each other long enough that he can tell that she was trying. Ironically, it's the most sincere she's sounded all night. Fjord also realizes this and points a thumb at her with a knowing and elated grin and Beau immediately tries to defend herself: "Genuine! I was being genuine!". And Fjord tells her he got that, that was a good job. They laugh it off.
Jester asks Caleb for twenty pieces of parchment, to which Caleb responds "I'll give you two."
Frumpkin, Beau, and Fjord go to the basement and see a group of people surrounding a well-dressed man named Dolan, the de facto leader of The Knights of Requital. He asks Beau and Fjord to state their purpose, and Fjord says they were looking for some "higher thinking." When asked if the Dwendalian Empire has served them well, Beau bluffs that they were mistreated by the Empire and leaves it vague. They make room for Beau and Fjord in the circle. The party learns that the House of Sutan ruined the reputation of a good friend of Dolan's, forcing them to live in squalor. Another says that his wife was walking home with groceries when she was run into by some bandits who had just committed a stabbing. The Crownsguard came and arrested her. She has been in jail ever since, without any trial or visitors. It continues, many people discussing the unfair living conditions, lack of free or cheap education for most citizens, increased classism within the city walls, the increased military presence in Zadash, and many other social issues that the Empire has had a hand in causing or making worse. Dolan reminds everybody to keep their heads up and that this will have to change soon. The crowd is dismissed soon after, and Frumpkin circles around Beau's legs, which prompts Beau to pick him up and go back up to the group with Fjord.
The Nein discuss what Beau and Fjord overheard, and Nott suggests that if they turn in the group of people conspiring against Zadash, they may receive some coin. Fjord protests that they also gave their names and where they lived, so the townspeople may also throw them under the bus. Beau argues that she didn't tell them her full name, and Nott agrees that leaving out "regard" was quite clever. Nott also says, "And you told them your name was pronounced like "Ford" when really, we all know it's 'Feeyord.' Very clever!"
Caleb retires for the night after copying a new spell. Molly decides to find out if the bathhouse in town is open and is accompanied by Nott (to "make sure [he doesn't] get killed") and Jester (because she "really needs a bath"). Beau and Fjord retire to discuss "the crazy shit [they] just heard." "Yeah, because we're fuckin' spies." "Fuck yeah, man." Beau and Fjord high five.
Turns out, the bathhouse is closed, as are all the other stores on their way to and from the bathhouse. Molly comments on Nott's behavior, always eying things. Nott says she's not stealing right now; Molly responds that "[her] business is [her] business", but that some people need all that they have, and some people would be happier with a little less. Nott asks how she can tell the difference, and Molly replies that's a skill she should try to develop, which is when Jester pipes up with, "If they look like you and Caleb, they probably need what they have." Molly says if somebody is angry and uses their money to hurt people, then they'd be happier with a little less stuff. Then they discuss how poor people can be angry, especially if they're hungry. Jester offers herself as an example of that. Nott asks what kind of angry Beau is, and Molly immediately replies that Beau is an angry rich person, and Nott should take some of her things to make her happier. Once they return, Jester makes pamphlets promoting the following of the Traveler, much to everybody's concern that she will "get us all killed."
The next morning, Fjord asks if Molly could include him in blessing his swords next time (since Fjord slept through this one), to which Molly agrees. A sleepy (and not morning-person-y) Beau greets an excited and wide-awake Jester. Jester tells Beau they need to go to the "Pillow Place" and get money from Jester's mom. Beau is initially skeptical of any money being there, but agrees to go anyway. Since they need to be dressed nicely for the Pillow Trove, they decided to go to the blacksmith before heading to the bathhouse. Fjord asks how Caleb's "homework" (spell-copying) went, and Caleb replies he is a step further today than he was yesterday. Fjord sincerely responds that he's doing a great job. Caleb asks the dragonborn innkeeper for directions to the Archives. The dragonborn goes over the counter, wraps an arm around Caleb's shoulders (which he shrinks inwards at) and physically directs Caleb in the right direction.
Nott gets the Itch again, and Caleb advises her to focus on stealing things that are less noticeable since they're in a much stricter and more public area. Nott responds that she is "only going for grumpy people today!" Caleb asks if that was Nott's idea, and she says it was from a wise weirdo.
While the Nein are walking to the blacksmith, they hear a town crier going on about the deeds of the Mighty Nein's time in Alfield, but instead giving the credit to the Crownsguard. While some are happy with the coin they got from the quest, others lament the loss of potential fame and spread of knowledge about the Nein. Fjord and Jester decide to turn around and correct the crier, and Jester informs the man that Alfield was actually saved by the Mighty Nein. The crier acts amazed, and tells her to inform his boss about it, but then promptly returns to telling his version of the story to the public.
Jester hears Fjord (who is actually just Caleb impersonating him badly) tell her that putting herself in the open about this is a bad idea, and she should return to the group. Jester comments on his change in accent, and "Fjord" responds he has a cough drop stuck in the side of his mouth, then hisses that accents are not his strong suit, which Jester contradicts that they actually are his (the real Fjord)'s strong suit. "Fjord" urges her again to go back to the group and keep from making a scene, before he starts dragging her. Jester talks about how weak Fjord seems to have gotten, but Caleb responds in his normal voice that at least he doesn't smell bad, and Jester excitedly squeals "Caleb?" before he pulls on her ear and once again asks, in a low and frustrated tone, that she should return to the group and keep a low profile. She agrees and timidly requests he let go of her ear, which he does.
He apologizes, and asks if doing this for them was about credit, and Jester responds that she was only doing what Fjord told her to. Caleb says this is a topic for everybody to discuss, not just him and her, and that it will help Caleb decide what he and Nott should do. Molly, Nott and Caleb all seem to want a low profile, and Fjord agrees with that, and thought an anonymous reputation under a team name could help them as a group while remaining individually low-profile. Jester thinks it's genius, since the Mighty Nein only has six members.
After much squabbling, Molly suggests they simply continue their plans to see the blacksmith. Once they finish talking, Molly takes the lead, walks five steps, turns around, and says "I don't know where the blacksmith is." Jester leads them to the blacksmith, Sparkhammer Smithing.
Jester trades all of their used weapons and 25 gold for one hand axe. After that, Caleb notices the tower of the Archives building, and asks if they can go on a brief detour to see it - "just the outside, not the inside". Beau mentions that she used to live here and tries to point him in the right direction, but Caleb notices her unenthusiastic tone and tells her to never mind, he doesn't want to bother her or put her out. Fjord whispers to Beau about enthusiasm, and Beau argues that she doesn't think Caleb likes her all that much, but she tries again anyway.
"Hey Caleb!" "...Yeah?" "RIGHT THIS WAY!" Beau yells this with much force and command, and Fjord and Jester both comment that she sounded pretty scary, much to Beau's dismay. Caleb comments that sometimes it's just a volume thing, to which Beau responds "HE SAID ENTHUSIASM!" Beau sighs and just starts walking Caleb in the right direction.
They pass another town crier, who is shouting about radical groups being brought to peace by the King's Guard. Jester walks behind her and yells "Town Crier has a piece of toilet paper stuck to her shoe!", which the Nein laughs at. The Nein hears about the Harvest Close Festival occurring in four days. They reach the Archive.
While Caleb and Beau inspect and talk about the Archive, Nott feels the Itch strongly and sees a rich and stoic woman and a humanoid and well-off male and tails her to steal something of hers. Caleb and Beau both notice Nott is gone when they return, and Caleb starts freaking out. Beau tries to reassure him that she is a capable adult goblin woman. Beau and Caleb look for Nott while Nott follows the woman. She tries to go into the woman's side satchel and is noticed. The woman turns and glares at pauper children. She continues to walk and Nott follows before trying for another pocket. The mage hand pulls too hard and two buttons are ripped off. The woman thinks it's an apple merchant and slaps him before running off into the city. Nott scurries up and gets the two buttons before returning back to Caleb and Beau, telling them of her journey.
- "This is your brain on spoilers" "Additional Knowledge Acquired" PSA
- Key Question March 6 promo
- Tide Pod "Additional Knowledge Acquired" PSA
- Journal Promo for "We're Alive: Frontier"
- "This is Critical Role. This is Twitch Prime." "Additional Knowledge Acquired" PSA
- How to Play: Sagrada
- "This is your brain on spoilers" outtake
The Nein regather and pass by the King's Hall, noticing the job board. Since there is a heavy Crownsguard presence, Nott ducks away and uses Disguise Self to make herself look like a miniature version of Fjord. Looking over the board, they notice several parchments including a call to turn in information on the Myriad, a reward for information on rebel gatherings, anti-crown rhetoric, or proof of worship of heretical gods, a call to become a member of the Righteous Brand, and a roving beast in need of extermination. Jester notices Leopold Wanstiker's name and changes it to say Wangstacker without the Crownsguard noticing. Nott suggests turning in the group from earlier but Caleb says that he likes that they're against the Empire and that they shouldn't. Beau wants to know why Caleb's against the Empire, but Jester suggests waiting until they're in the bath.
Once they get to the Steam's Respite, everyone goes in and all but Caleb pay to get their clothes cleaned as well as for their baths. When they enter the common room, they find Yasha and an elderly couple. Yasha is holding her sword and Caleb becomes embarrassed because everyone is looking at him, hiding below the water. Nott stays outside the water, looking like a tiny Fjord. They discuss their name and Caleb becomes concerned that people are learning about them. They teach Nott to swim a small bit before Caleb scares away the older couple. Fjord begins to talk about the jobs listed on the board when Nott brings up the fact that there are gods that are allowed to be worshiped and that they could get in trouble for worshiping those outside it.
They eventually decide to take the job killing the roving beast and Jester washes Nott's hair. They talk about how much money they've made, and they go underwater with Nott who does not take being dunked very well. Caleb brings up that they're getting farther into the center of the Empire and want to know how she feels about that. Yasha says that she doesn't really have a problem with it, but that she may get in trouble for worshiping the Stormlord. She explains that she will continue to serve him and do as he asks because he saved her and pulled her from the depths of hell. Jester says that Yasha doesn't have to tell the Nein anything that she doesn't want to. Molly vouches for Yasha and Fjord asks what people do at a spa. Beau flirts awkwardly with Yasha.
Fjord remarks at how wrinkly his fingers are and Jester and Nott jump to the conclusion that he's turning to water. The Nein tells Yasha about Shakäste and how great he was. Jester gets out and gets pretty before Nott gets out and covers herself in a towel proceeding to drop form, revealing herself to have her hair tangling in front of her face. Caleb gets out, gets his silver thread, and ties Nott's hair back in a ponytail. The rest of the Nein get out until only Beau and Yasha remain, playing hot tub chicken to see everyone naked. Eventually, Yasha leaves and Beau gets out.
Jester and Caleb make plans to head off to the Pillow Trove. Jester runs to give Yasha a hug before she leaves, making Yasha uncomfortable. Fjord, Yasha, Beau, Nott, and Molly head back to the King's Hall to see about securing the job from the herald. Beau, for the first time, straightens up her robe to look nice.
The herald comes down and asks for their names. Beau tries to pass them off as the Mighty Nein but the herald insists on their individual names, as they'll be needed to dispense a reward. Fjord gives the name Philbin, Beau says Lawrence, Nott gives Kylre, Molly says Esma, and Yasha says Barry. They get told that they'll have to go down to the sewers, kill the beast and upon proving the death of the creature in the sewers, they'll receive seven hundred gold pieces. The group asked if the writ would let all the members down and were told that only the ones on the sheet, so they came up with Karen and Rothschild for Caleb and Jester. The Nein talk about just passing off the manticore head for the beast in the sewers but Molly convinces them not to.
Jester and Caleb find the Tri-Spire and try to enter. The guards turn Caleb away after seeing the state of his clothes. Jester convinces one of them to walk her to the Pillow Trove, while Caleb ducks into an alleyway and casts Disguise Self to look resplendent. He sends Frumpkin to follow after Jester but the guard kicks the cat, killing him and sending him out of the Material Plane. As Caleb goes up to the gates to attempt entering again, he notices that his disguise has been dispelled, apparently by a spell on the gates themselves.
Jester enters the Pillow Trove and asks if there's been a package delivered for her. The woman goes to look and some time passes before she comes back with no package. Jester tries asking under several different names, but there is nothing there for her. She books a room and goes upstairs to talk to the Traveler. He lets her know that the Ruby will find her if she just keeps doing deeds, causing trouble, and being herself. She shows him the pamphlets she made for him and the Traveler thinks it's adorable.
Caleb tries to get into the other entrance and attempts to bribe the guards with three gold each. He tells them he wants to get into Chastity's Nook and they laugh him away. Jester finds Caleb and lets him know that she didn't get any money. Caleb offers her fifty gold but Jester turns him down, saying that that's not a lot of money. He tells her that's more than his parents made their whole lives, and Jester replies that that's what she used to get for her allowance. And angry Caleb takes some mud out of his pockets and slaps it on his face before storming away back to the Leaky Tap, where Jester tells Molly that she didn't get her package and he assures her it will show up. Yasha also attempts to cheer up Jester. The group then prepares to head to the sewers.
|Relinquised||7||gold||Jester||2 bargoers||lost in a game|
|Transferred||2||pieces of paper||Caleb||Jester|
|Crafted||10||pamphlets||2 pieces of paper||Jester||promoting the following of the Traveler|
|Relinquised||6||short swords||Jester||Sparkhammer Smithing||for a hand axe for Jester and 25 gold|
|Relinquised||1||set of large manacles||Fjord|
|Acquired||1||handaxe||Sparkhammer Smithing||Jester||exchanged for the used weapons and the set of menacles|
|Acquired||2||blouse buttons||lady||Nott||picked them up from the ground after removing them from her blouse|
|Expended||4||silver||Jester||Steam's Respite||for bathing and washing clothes|
|Acquired||1||writ of Lawmaster intent||Voloshin||Fjord||grants entrance to the to the location of where the job is to take place|
|Expended||10||gold||Jester||Pillow Trove||for getting one room key for one night|
- Sam: Because most--not most, but a lot of our audience is located in the United Kingdom, I tailored tonight's D&D Beyond pitch to the British audience. (horrendous Cockney accent) Oi mates! Have a butcher’s and be gobbed by this brand-new D&D Beyond mobile app for your dog and bone! I know my onions on this and I ain’t all mouth and no trousers—it’s a real corker of an app! And you can knick yours on the Apple App Store and—blimey! the bloody Google Play Store too! Are you skint? Tosh! It’s free, and that’s the dog’s bollocks! You don’t gotta be minted to get sorted! There’s nothing bent as a nine bob note about it! You get an e-reader with the beta and character sheets will be added in the future tickety boo! (normal voice) That’s a real phrase that I looked up. (horrendous Cockney accent) So don’t faff a dozy fortnight! You’ll be right gutted if you do! Oh sweet Fanny Adams, don’t wag off! Search D&D Beyond at your App Store and you’ll be jolly good chuffed about it! I know I’m knackered and cream crackered so I’m off to bed f’cho pip pip!
Matt: Thank you Sam. And we're sorry.
- Beau: (workshipping giving compliments) "You look attractive."
Fjord: Oh, man, you look constipated.
- Molly: Groups of people are always idiots. Never trust a group of people.
- Jester: Have you heard of Our Lord and Savior, The Traveler? He sure is the coolest! Everyone should worship him! He's the best guy around.
Taliesin: You're making Tijuana Bibles for your religion!
- Beau: Are we about anything?...Do you wanna be about something?
- Matt: In the hot tub, you see a pale-looking muscular woman...
Yasha: Took you long enough.
- Sam: Seven of Nein?
- The Traveler: The more deeds you do, the more lives you change.
- Caleb: How was it?
Jester: It was really pretty in there. People are kind of stupid, but I did talk to the Traveler, so everything’s cool. Also, I don’t have any money.
Caleb: That’s okay, I have a little bit of money, do you need some? ... I have about 50 gold, do you want me to give you some?
Jester: I mean, that’s about as much as I have now. It’s so stupid, though!
Caleb: That’s a lot of money!
Jester: It’s not, Caleb.
Caleb: It is!
Jester: It’s not!
Caleb: That’s more money than my parents ever made in their entire life.
Jester: That’s what I made, like, every day for my allowance!
Caleb: In full view of Jester, I reach into my pocket and take what’s left of the mud and just–- (wipes it on his face) Then I storm off towards our original shitty inn.
- The episode was originally going to be titled "Nein" as both a reference to the group's name (the "Mighty Nein") and the fact that it is the ninth episode of Campaign 2.
- Sam's giant flask bears a message saying "9" in this episode.
- When the guard kicked Frumpkin, both Travis and Marisha shouted, "You kicked the highlights out of his hair!" which is a reference to the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
- Episode recap by James Haeck at D&D Beyond