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Episodes 1 - 23: Kraghammer and VasselheimEdit

BRIAN: Are we on the internet?

(cheering)

BRIAN: Good evening, and welcome to a very special Thursday-evening edition of Talks Machina. For those unfamiliar, my name is Brian W. Foster, and I will be your host for most of the evening. Tonight, we will be discussing episodes one through 115 of Critical Role: The Adventures of Vox Machina, with the entire cast of Critical Role. We're going to laugh. We're going to cry. We're going to wonder why we said what we did tonight on Talks Machina. Porter, do the thing.

[upbeat music]

BRIAN: Welcome back. And welcome to the cast of Critical Role.

SAM: Hi, Brian!

BRIAN: It's like deja vu, isn't it? It's like the first time we've ever done this. Everyone looks so beautiful and in the holiday spirit. I don't know why because no one's wearing anything Christmas-related. The spirit of the holidays is among us.

LAURA: She's in green!

BRIAN: Oh, you are wearing green, aren't you?

MARISHA: It's festive.

BRIAN: Well, we did film this on St. Patrick's Day, so. Before we get into discussing all those wonderful episodes of Critical Role, we do have some announcements on this wonderful Thursday evening. First up, tonight's episode is sponsored by Hearthstone. Their new expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs, is out now. Check out the link on the screen to learn more. Also, the cast of Critical Role did a special Kobolds & Catacombs themed one-shot a couple weeks back, which was super awesome and fun. Pretty rad. You can actually check that out now on geekandsundry.com if you missed it. Also, this Tuesday night will be our Critmas episode. So tune in at 7:00pm Pacific for our special Critmas episode of Talks Machina, where we open gifts sent in for the cast members and Sam throws up usually about 30 minutes in from public drunkenness.

SAM: Starts throwing up.

BRIAN: Starts. Begins the process of throwing up. It's sad. You were going to say?

MATT: It's a lot of things. I couldn't decide.

BRIAN: Also, there is no Critical Role next Thursday, the 21st of December, but we are pleased to announce that Critical Role will be back with a brand new campaign starting January 11th. Yes! You guys have a lot of homework to do and a lot of stats to think about.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

LIAM: I'll have to figure out how Assassinate works.

BRIAN: Some of you could start learning the rules of the game.

MATT: That'd be nice.

BRIAN: Well, stay tuned to the G&S socials for all those details. So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let's begin. Now, the way that we have decided to break this up is we're going to discuss the entire adventures of Vox Machina. However, we know that it didn't begin with Critical Role. Vox Machina actually began at a home game, which was a version of Pathfinder. And then for Critical Role it transferred into what you guys are somehow getting away with calling Dungeons and Dragons. So we have broken up the show into five major arcs, beginning with the first arc, which will cover episodes one through 23: Kraghammer and Vasselheim.

[musical crescendo]

BRIAN: All right. Our first question for the first arc of the show is for anyone who wants to answer, except for Matt. This comes from @nerdyscotsman-- Yes it is. You can still say something if you want. You're just not allowed to answer the question. "Why did you all trust a mindflayer more than a holy paladin?"

LAURA: Because we're Vox Machina!

MARISHA: We were such assholes. Yeah.

TALIESIN: She's not a polite paladin.

LAURA: Well, everyone likes the underdog, right? I mean, that's why.

TRAVIS: It's called the Underdark.

LAURA: I mean, he had been, you know, shunned by the rest of them, so we thought he wanted to get even.

TRAVIS: Plus you guys were super happy about what you found.

LAURA: Yes, very much.

MARISHA: That was a good moment, man.

LAURA: But it didn't mean we didn't trust Kima! We just also trusted (whispers) Clarota. Yeah.

SAM: He charmed us with his handsome good looks.

BRIAN: That's happened a few times over the campaign, I think.

LIAM: We thought he was the diamond in the rough. We thought he was the one, the one that was different than them all.

BRIAN: Travis, tell me your thoughts. You're shaking your head violently.

TRAVIS: I think I wrote, five weeks in a row on my legal pad, "I don't trust Clarota. I don't trust Clarota."

MATT: Before you started chasing people with a mallet? Yeah, sounds about right.

BRIAN: Matt, question for you from Jesse. "Was there anything in the Underdark areas you made that the players missed or passed up? Encounters, puzzles, or any other areas of interest?"

MATT: Yeah, there was the dwarven city around-- or the duergar city around the Emberhold, which you guys managed to circumvent for the most part. That had some possible encounters there and social elements. Then within Yug'Voril itself, the cavern there, you saw the shimmer of a portal to the Far Realm.

LAURA: Oh yeah, that's right!

MATT: The Far Realm is the place beyond known space, where weird creatures come from.

LAURA: Could we have gone into that realm?

MATT: If you stepped through. That might not have ended well.

LAURA: And we all would have just died!

TALIESIN: We would have gone so Star Trek or something.

MARISHA: Would we have just died, or would it have been a whole totally other campaign?

MATT: You know in Event Horizon, when they--?

LIAM: Was that in the little side cave where we saw that?

MATT: Yeah, it was around the northern side of the cavern of Yug'Voril. And then there was the actual city around the pyramid. I had all this stuff planned for you guys making your way through the city and then multiple layers for the actual pyramid, this upward dungeon crawl into the top with the battle of K'Varn at the end. And you guys went, "Let's just fly over and drop a giant on it!" So, that happened.

BRIAN: Incredible.

MARISHA: That was our little Polymorph trick, right? We Polymorphed the giant and then dropped it? That was fun.

BRIAN: Such babies then. I have a feeling there's probably a lot of areas where stuff was missed and they didn't get to.

MARISHA: Plus we had that flying carpet, which I know you just hated.

LAURA: You didn't want us to have the carpet?

MATT: No, I gave it to you guys. And then I took it away. And then I gave it back.

BRIAN: The DM giveth and the DM taketh away. That's a T-shirt, right? It should be. Put Matt Mercer's face on it and give me 10%. Our next question is for Liam O'Brien, the actor most known from this show for playing Vax. This is from @animLae. "What info did you get from insight checking Keyleth?"

LAURA: Do you remember?

LIAM: I do. I do a little bit, yeah. The DM told me that Keyleth seemed unsure and scared, if I'm remembering right, and feeling cut off from topside. And it might've been the first time-- Like, the twins, all throughout the home game and the beginning of the show, I think our most common shared response to a lot of your decisions was, like-- And it was the first moment where I stopped doing that.

MARISHA: Interesting.

BRIAN: Stopped insight checking her?

LAURA: No, stopped questioning.

LIAM: I don't know. Something about being on the show and the way Matt-- Whatever he phrased into my ear made me look at your character in a new way.

MARISHA: Aw, felt bad for little derpy Keyleth? Felt a little bad? Just a little? What was the turning point? I don't think I've ever asked you this question. What was the turning point when you were like, oh, maybe Vax has a crush-y?

LIAM: It might've been that. I don't know if it was that. It was after that. I stopped being so snarky 100% of the time, which allowed me to have different, I don't know--

MARISHA: Like every other adolescent male, you stopped being an asshole and then realized--?

BRIAN: At what age do you stop being that? Because I still am that, I'm pretty sure. Travis, you and I are the prime examples of that. Marisha, save us from Travis's face with an answer to this question from Synchroraven. "Can you delve into your own and Keyleth's insights on that vision she spoke of having when she met the Earth Ashari?"

MARISHA: Okay. My insights?

BRIAN: Your own and Keyleth's insights, if you can.

MARISHA: Well, that was right after I killed the kid. Yeah. The first one.

SAM: You never forget your first.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Because that was also one of the first big character-type changing moments that happened in our pre-stream game. I remember talking to you about it and you were like, "You should probably think about how this is going to affect Keyleth. You snapped a kid's neck." And I was like, aw, shit. Now I've got to own this. And so she basically was really depressed after that and had lost herself and had continued on into her Aramente, where she went to the Earth kingdom and was having a hard time basically functioning or fighting or doing any type of magic or nature-shifting. So the vision ended up being my way of writing in her own epiphany. And it was more or less to represent the consequences of inaction. In that vision, I considered her to see her death. At the time it was so early that it was supposed to be a-- not meaning to be something to ever come to fruition ever, but yeah. It was supposed to be her lesson to herself that you figure it out or die.

BRIAN: One of the first of many lessons like that, I think, she was going to have. What was the biggest difference, switching from the home game to streaming? Did you guys change anything about your characters? Obviously you changed the ruleset and stuff like that. Was there anything about your characters in the home game that you didn't want to bring into the stream, or you chose not to, or that you changed? Or did it pretty much just, smoothly, you carried everything over?

TALIESIN: Yeah, I didn't feel anything.

LAURA: I feel like, that was one of the biggest things when we switched over and we started filming the show, was we didn't want anything to change from the home game.

BRIAN: It was important to keep that?

LAURA: Yeah.

MATT: Some abilities changed from the systems a little bit. A little bit of re-learning elements of the classes and stuff like that.

MARISHA: And we changed our name.

LAURA: Yeah, from the S.H.I.T.s.

BRIAN: Biggest regret so far? Changing the name from the S.H.I.T.s?

MATT: Technically, Vox Machina, the name was taken during the ceremony in which Sovereign Tal'Dorei had a giant parade for you guys.

LAURA: We had a reason for it because we knew we were going to be starting this stream.

TALIESIN: I think we would've changed the name anyway because we were making the noise of, "Do we want to be known as the S.H.I.T.s? Because we have to start making a decision." But even in-game we were like, "Are we the S.H.I.T.s or are we--?"

BRIAN: Did anyone vote to stay the S.H.I.T.s?

SAM: I wanted to stay the S.H.I.T.s.

BRIAN: My man.

MARISHA: Yeah, it ended up being more of an RP thing from Taliesin and Keyleth-- or, Keyleth and Percy's perspective, because we both were the ones from royalty. I had a goal.

MATT: They were asked, "We're going to present you before the people of Emon as the celebration and thanks for you helping us through this difficult time. How would you like to be announced?" And it was that moment of, "Give us a-- We need to talk."

TRAVIS: It was Pike, Scanlan, and Grog were the ones who were like, "That's a good name. We'll keep it that way."

TALIESIN: And it was the two of us who were going, "Absolutely fucking not."

LIAM: There is a little bit of a historical record of it, though, because there is that video floating around of you breaking the news to us. And your question after he finishes telling his story is, "Do we have to change our name from the S.H.I.T.s?" And you have Travis from off going, "No deal! No deal!"

MATT: Yeah, that might've been right around that same time when all that went down.

BRIAN: That's hilarious. Matt, question from TiamatZX. "What ultimately made Clar-ah-ta turn on the party?"

MARISHA: Clar-ah-ta?

BRIAN: I'm joking. Remember earlier when I asked for the correct pronunciation so that I could do the opposite? "What ultimately made Clarota turn on the party? Was it already planned or was there a chance he wouldn't, only for his free will to be overridden by the Elder Brain?"

MATT: It would've had to have been a lot of work to try and appeal to Clarota and convince him that his separation from the Elder Brain and his people is a permanent thing and now he could accept new society, new friends. But that would've taken a lot of role play.

LAURA: He's like Hugh in Star Trek, from the Borg! I loved Hugh.

MATT: Kind of, I guess you could say! But it would've taken a lot. It was possible, but because at the time it was, well, he'll help us and then push along! For him, it was just survival. I mean, him even allying with you guys was purely out of your initial social confrontation with him and being like, "Whoa, we're okay! We're not going to hurt you!" And he's like, "Okay, I can survive with these guys. I will convince them I'm a friend. They will take me to where I want to go and maybe, if I free my people from this influence and free the Elder Brain from the influence of K'Varn, they'll take me back."

LIAM: And you've got to imagine being linked into that Elder Brain system probably feels real good.

MATT: Oh, yeah. Well, an alhoon, which is an illithid who has arcane capabilities like that, is shunned forever, and is told you can never be part of the Elder Brain connection again. It's like being unplugged from your hive mind. And so for him, once he reconnected, it was-- yeah. There was no coming back.

BRIAN: It's like when I left Scientology. Taliesin...

TALIESIN: You left?

LIAM: You think when you left. You think.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Oh, man. I cannot wait just to see the art of Liam's beard. Every time Liam grows a beard, Tumblr goes insane. It's the best. I spend way too many nights on there looking up all the fanfic of Liam's beard. Taliesin, question for you from @JoustingJose... (laughter, cheers)

TALIESIN: Solid name.

BRIAN: "Did Percy worry about 'flashing' his name, knowing that the Briarwoods were still around? How come the Tal'dorei council didn't connect him with Whitestone, having heard that he is a de Rolo?"

TALIESIN: He was flashing-- again, Percy spent almost the entire game in the midst of an intense nervous breakdown. And he was specifically flashing his name almost like running around saying, "I'm Superman!", looking for Lex Luthor. So he was kind of trying to put feelers out there to let people know who he was and what was happening. Whitestone... I feel like they knew that he came from Whitestone. I just felt that news of what had happened in Whitestone hadn't really processed through the kingdom.

MATT: Yeah. Everything that happened to the de Rolos was kept close internally. Information got out about the Briarwoods currently running the space, there was that the de Rolos got very ill, the family all died off, and these friends came to power to continue their legacy. And that was the story that was suffused throughout Tal'Dorei, beyond the city's limits. So whenever they heard "de Rolo," either they think, "Well, he's crazy," or maybe he's a relative. But they weren't very politically connected.

TALIESIN: They wouldn't even necessarily know that... who knows the name of the royal family of Nova Scotia? Unless you need to.

BRIAN: Well, Sam does. Right? It's the Berkin? The Berchins...

SAM: Scotians.

BRIAN: The Scotians. Ah, yes.

TALIESIN: The New England Scotians.

SAM: Daryl and Hannah Scotian.

MARISHA: Wait, Daryl and Hannah?

BRIAN: That's what he said!

TALIESIN: Daryl and Hannah. That's pretty fantastic.

LIAM: Just a skosh.

TALIESIN: Yeah, it was intentional, and he was fine whether people believed it or not. It was more for him than it was for anybody else, just to build himself up into this notion of a superhero.

BRIAN: Yeah, absolutely. And it worked.

TALIESIN: Too well.

BRIAN: Too well, yeah. Ashley! Stay awake with an answer...

(laughter)

BRIAN: Thank you for joining us right after a very long day working on ABC's Blindside. See that every Sunday at 2 p.m. on CBS. Make sure to watch that show. Ashley: this question comes from VexMeUpBeforeYouGoGo.

(laughter, singing along)

BRIAN: "I don't think you ever went into detail about what Pike had been doing on her time off, just that she was on the seas. Can you elaborate on that for us?"

ASHLEY: Oh, boy. Well, I knew that after... I guess when we found out that when we were going to start streaming the show and after Pike had died in our home games, I had talked to everybody about wanting to have Pike be a little bit stronger and get a little bit more strength, so when she was in battle she could fight and offer a little bit more to the fight than just healing, which is still important. So I think-- this is a roundabout answer, but I think I wanted her to spend some time at sea and on the Broken Howl and on a boat just basically doing simple boat work. Getting her strength.

BRIAN: Maybe some of you guys know this, but Ashley lived on a boat for a while as a kid, so she knows her way around a boat, too.

MARISHA: I didn't know that!

BRIAN: Yeah, they lived on a boat for a little bit, out in the marina. She knows how to tie a couple different... Windsor knots? I don't--

(laughter)

TALIESIN: Can you do a monkey's fist? That's my favorite knot.

BRIAN: I'm terrified of water. I'm not allowed to go anywhere near the boats.

TALIESIN: You sprout more Brians if you get wet, is that it?

BRIAN: I wish! Set up a franchise, take over, then host all the aftershows. Ashley, was there more you wanted to add to that, or do you feel--

ASHLEY: That's pretty much it. Honestly, it was one of those things where when we knew we were going to be on the stream, I was like, Okay, this was what I wanted to have done on my time off, and because of my background on boats, I was like, "Let's make her a little bit of a sailor!" But honestly, I don't think she had a very exciting life on the boat, other than getting pretty swole.

LAURA: How'd you get the scar, though? You had a scar on the boat.

SAM: Yeah, the scar!

ASHLEY: Was the scar from that time?

LAURA: Yeah!

ASHLEY: I thought I'd already had it!

LAURA: No!

SAM: Also, didn't you fall in love with some dude on the boat?

ASHLEY: No!

SAM: Oh.

MARISHA: She fell in love before, and then went on the boat.

LIAM: Next question...

SAM: I didn't know that. Get to the good stuff. Forget the boat stuff, Brian, get to the love stuff.

BRIAN: We're going to get there, we're going to get there. I don't want-- the people will tune out the second they get those answers, so we're going to tease them a little bit. Because that's why people came here. Laura, question for you from @frankelstein_. "Constantly Percy had to craft more bullets, but never did we see Vex fletch arrows or go out and buy them. Why was that? Was it just an assumed-between-episodes thing? And if so, why not the same for Percy?"

LAURA: No, that happened before the stream. We just had--

MATT: Well, two reasons on this. One, bullets don't exist in this world, really, outside of Percival and eventually some elements, so you have to make them. There's no other way to get them. Whereas arrows, you can buy them anywhere. But even before the stream happened, once you guys got hold of a Bag of Holding, you went and bought... I think it was a thousand arrows and just threw them in the bag. And at that point, I was like, "All right, don't worry about it. We're fine."

LAURA: I think towards the end of the campaign you were like, "You may be running low on arrows."

MATT: Yeah.

LAURA: "What?!"

MATT: But yeah. At that point they were so cheap, and you guys had enough money in the bank that it was like, "I'll just not have to worry about this ever again."

BRIAN: Liam, you touched on this earlier, but @shardee asks, "You've said before that the first time Vax realized he had feelings for Keyleth was during a moment in the Underdark. What was that moment?"

LIAM: Well, I don't really know. The ball might have started rolling from that whisper. I think that's probably likely. But I don't know where it happened. I do remember-- what's going on, Laura?

SAM: She's picking your nose.

LIAM: (exaggerated sneeze)

(laughter)

LIAM: I do remember the months, though, playing the game and having that secret. It was a home game, it was a secret. I wasn't thinking of telegraphing it or leaving breadcrumbs or tipping anybody off. And I didn't know if I was going to admit anything, so I thought, "Well, I'll just do the little things that I'm doing here, quietly, and then either someday spill it or not." And I wasn't going to let anything out as soon as I did, but when that thing with the Briarwoods happened, I thought he was gone. So I was like, "Well, he's dying. So I'm going to let it out here. Oh, he's not dead. Uh--" (sucks in a breath) And I'll pull it back in.

MARISHA: Plus, you know, Kash kind of beat you to the punch a little bit.

LAURA: Yeah, he did.

LIAM: Sure, and again, still had all that stuff brewing in my head for months after the Kash kiss, and didn't want to show my hand.

TALIESIN: Kash kiss.

SAM: Good reality show.

BRIAN: Supposed to be Cash Cab, yeah.

MATT: (announcer voice) Season three of Kash Kiss, on TLC.

(laughter)

BRIAN: You might have just gotten your job as the narrator.

MATT: Oh, God. Yes.

BRIAN: Travis. Question for you from... (mispronounces) Myrnorunshot? Whatever. "We never heard about Grog's mother? Did he know her at all? Is she dead or alive?"

TRAVIS: Oh. Grog has no idea Yeah. I mean, Grog's idea of family, I think, growing up, was just his father, Stonejaw Strongjaw...

(laughter)

TRAVIS: ...and like the herd. The herd was the family as a whole. And in my mind, the Herd of Storms was just kinda like, free love, man. You just hook up with who you hook up with, and then you get kids, and then you just teach them how to fight, and send them out into the wilderness, and they eat a deer with their bare hands, and then... you just move on to Tuesday. Yeah, he just never really... I don't think he ever really figured out who Mom was, and I don't think it was until he met Pike and everything and understood what a loving, nurturing, caring family was about that didn't involve knuckles in your face, that he might have even started to wonder, "Hey, who gave birth to me, and why did I never have a nurturer?" It never really occurred to him.

BRIAN: Yeah, interesting.

ASHLEY: I forgot that was your dad's name.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: Stonejaw Strong...jaw!

TRAVIS: To be fair, I didn't make that-- did you make that? Did I? I did make that name up.

MATT and SAM: You made it up!

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's right.

MARISHA: But I think it was before you had a last name, right?

MATT: No, because he had a last name, but I think when he made up the name of his dad, they weren't using last names a lot in the game. He said it once at the beginning, and it never came up for a long time, and so then Stonejaw came out, and eventually the two points connected and marvelous times were had.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's right on course.

LIAM: And we had to go deal with Stonejaw--

TRAVIS: That's right, you dealt with him when I wasn't there! That's right.

LAURA: Yeah, we had to deal with--

TRAVIS: Thanks for that. He was a bitch.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Thanks for that help all those years ago. Matt, something that a lot of people wanted to know, from Shandraa: "Who was the anonymous person who took out the contract on the rakshasa?"

MATT: Oh! Interesting. That would have been, I believe, one of the members of the Arcana Pansophical. Which member was it?

TRAVIS: I don't know what he just said.

MARISHA: That was most definitely a thing in our game. That definitely was a thing.

(laughter)

MATT: I've mentioned it a couple of times, but the only person you've really dealt with from the Arcana--

LAURA: Was the guy with the purple hair, right? Was he Arcana Pansophical?

MARISHA: Yeah, we've dealt with a few people from it.

MATT: Yeah. Well, Allura's a member.

ALL: Oh yeah!

LAURA: Obviously! (laughs)

MATT: So was Drake Thunderbrand and a few other people. But it was one of the members there. And the idea was they were working on developing some sort of a portal that connected to the Hells and they needed demon parts and they'd found there was a rakshasa that was in the space of the area, and was kind of a twofer deal. Weed it out and also harvest parts from it that I could use as part of this ritual. Not really understanding or caring that whoever killed it would be locked into a cycle of revenge with whoever it was. But that's why you pay people to do it for you, because now the vengeance isn't on you!

BRIAN: Absolutely.

MATT: Oh, mages.

TALIESIN: Money well spent.

BRIAN: I have to say we are going back not just a long ways in time, but a long ways in the journey of these characters and I'm surprised at how well everyone's doing with remembering a lot of this stuff!

MATT: So are we!

BRIAN: I didn't want to send everybody the questions beforehand because, you know, the FCC and we've all seen Quiz Show. Popular 1994 film directed by Robert Redford. Now Matt, you brought up Allura a second ago. MishapMaster13 says, "When Kima was introduced, was the relationship with Allura already planned out, or did that evolve in response to the party and the community?"

MATT: No. That was part of the character's plan to develop them, as far as a past history. I didn't know if it was going to become a reconciliation, or like we once had a fling, but now we're just friends doing our own thing. And the first time you guys even heard of Kima was maybe the second session when you were looking for Grog in Westruun. And back then I was like, she would have had this past history with this mage character I'll introduce down the road during the campaign. But when I developed the whole Underdark arc I was like, Okay, they're still good friends, they still care about each other even though their lives are separate, and then that reunion was what re-sparked it. You guys retrieving Kima, and the idea of losing one another on her pilgrimage was what began to rekindle that process for the two of them.

BRIAN: Did you have any idea that those two characters would become as beloved as they have been to the fan base?

MATT: No, I had no idea! And once again, you don't know what to expect, what magical combinations of characters and people make for good storytelling, and what people will cling onto. And they became as important to a lot of other people as they were to me, as it progressed. I didn't expect them to be so impactful to me, either. You know, Allura eventually became, as we all realized, a self-insertion into the story at times. And yeah, it was cool to just watch it evolve.

BRIAN: Yeah.

LIAM: Gosh, I mean, two shopkeeps are beloved on this show, Gilmore and Victor.

BRIAN: Yeah, that's true.

LAURA: Good ol' Victor.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Marisha.

MARISHA: Yes.

BRIAN: Question about Keyleth's antlers. Before I get to that, did you ever have any idea that that would be such a thing? That that would become such an iconic, sort of--

MARISHA: No, not at all.

BRIAN: Well, Smokeontheraze wants to know: "Keyleth has had the antlers since day once and never took them off, sometimes getting defensive about them. Is there a story behind the antlers?"

MARISHA: She had a circlet, in our home game. She had a circlet that I kind of looped into-- was one of the last relics from her mom and her Ashari tribe that she took with us-- or, with her. You get what I'm saying. And then Kit was the one who drew it as the antlers. I told Kit, I was like, She's got a dope circlet. And that was about all I told Kit. And then it came back with antlers, and I was like, Oh, I love this!

LAURA: Yeah. So much of the original characterizations came from Kit. Like the feathers? That wasn't me, that was her.

BRIAN: Oh, interesting.

LAURA: All these little things that ended up becoming so--

BRIAN: Iconic.

LAURA: Yeah. With our characters.

LIAM: Yeah, a lot of little things came up just by chance or from art, and then we wove them backwards in time into the story. So much happens by accident. And that's the magic of the game.

BRIAN: Taliesin, did Percy have glasses in your mind, or was that--

TALIESIN: Uh, yes. Yes he did, although they weren't quite as complicated as when Kit came out with the four-lens. That was like, oh wow, that's wonderfully complicated and impractical, I love it!

(laughter)

BRIAN: Makes for such cool cosplay, though, and art. Matt.

MATT: Yes?

BRIAN: Ickulus wants to know: "I believe you mentioned that the Thunderbrands were supposed to end up as allies or a bigger part of the story if the initial encounter had gone differently. What did we end up missing there?"

MATT: (laughs) Yeah, the Thunderbrands I designed to be kind of an ally in the journey into the Underdark. The idea is when you converse with them, there is a story with a family member who is lost in the Underdark, and if you guys had brought it up and discussed with them, like we're going down there, it's dangerous, can you be of any aid, they would either provide some equipment and possibly send somebody along with you who would be kind of a guide into the Underdark. One of the Thunderbrand mages.

LAURA: Oh man!

TRAVIS: Liam would have probably killed that--

(laughter)

LIAM: No no, that lost relative went on to be the nothic that I shanked underground.

(laughter)

MATT: Yeah, you eventually found the necklace that was part of that thread, which was eventually returned to House Thunderbrand. But yeah, instead of that, you guys and Tiberius-- and once you guys walked out to the front of the house, and attacked their wards with spells, and then got in their face at the door, and then Scanlan turned invisible and snuck inside for no reason, and--

(laughter)

TRAVIS: Yeah, that's right!

LAURA: That was the first time you went invisible!

TRAVIS: You went invisible and we were like (screams).

MATT: So that thread didn't continue (laughs).

BRIAN: Yeah.

LAURA: Wow.

MATT: But yeah, it would have been just, like, an alliance that would have led to some possible bonuses in equipment options and possibly an ally to guide you through the Underdark, but...

LAURA: Damn.

MARISHA: Whoops.

LAURA: I wonder how many times we've fucked that up. Like, different relationships, huh?

TRAVIS: Every week?

TALIESIN: Every week.

MATT: (laughs)

LAURA: A lot of times.

BRIAN: Every single time.

TALIESIN: Every week is a friend we never will make.

LIAM: Next campaign will be better, next campaign will be better.

OTHERS: Sure! (laughter)

TRAVIS: We'll get it all right.

BRIAN: We're going to be saying that for the next couple of weeks. Matt--

LIAM: Optimized, our combat decisions will be optimized.

SAM: Yep.

MATT: Sure...

LAURA: Next campaign, still a bunch of dicks!

BRIAN: Streamlined!

MARISHA: Yeah.

BRIAN: After we roll initiative everybody knows what they want to do. Matt, Payattention007 asks--

(laughter)

BRIAN: "How did a sphinx come to be hidden beneath Vasselheim?"

MATT: That's an interesting point. So, Ioun and the Knowing Mistress and the following there is a belief that knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge is of paramount importance to elevate and teach people about history, about lore, about truth. And when she was wounded and when her following was largely culled during the Calamity, and then shortly after the Divergence, they had to go into hiding. So the followers of Ioun outside of the Cobalt Reserve, which are like the most prominent members of them but they are well protected by the governments, including Osysa, they had to go into hiding and in doing so kind of-- I imagine almost like those truth groups that find secret information and then disseminate it to the press: this is the truth about this, and kind of reveal and whistle-blow certain things. That's kind of how a lot of Ioun's followers have to work in society. Because if they reveal themselves, there are a lot of darker elements that will hunt them down and try and destroy them. Followers of Tharizdun, the Chained Oblivion, and other individuals that want to see this wounded god eventually taken away. So Osysa has long been an agent of Ioun's will and they needed a bastion of that in Vasselheim, and so the creation of the Slayer's Take was all a cover, in a way, of ingraining that within Vasselheim society. And Osysa needs to stay hidden to be that heart of the information network for the followers of Ioun in that part of the countryside of Issylra.

BRIAN: Can you believe he holds all this in his head?

(murmured agreement)

TRAVIS: That just blows my mind.

BRIAN: Watching Travis's face I'm like yeah, that's how I feel, that's how I feel.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Last question for this arc and then we're going to move on. Matt, from Telepickups, "Where was the other Horn of Orcus, and could the players have found it?"

TRAVIS: Good question!

LAURA: Wait, can we know that? We can't know that!

MATT: Actually, you shouldn't know that, because it's still in the world!

LAURA: Ah!

BRIAN: Oh, wow.

MATT: There might be some questions that I can't answer because they might-- and I'm not saying they will pertain to the next campaign, but they might. The other Horn of Orcus does exist in the world, as there are a number of other artifacts and vestiges that--

LAURA: It's underneath Dalen's Closet.

MATT: Yeah. It's right in the sand there. It's two feet deep, some kid's going to find it on vacation.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Just need a metal detector. Beep beep!

BRIAN: Yeah, just a retired guy with a metal detector. At the end of each arc, we're going to give some CritRoleStats that cover the whole campaign, given to us by our friends at CritRoleStats. Up first, we're going to talk about rolls. The total rolls for the campaign: 10,819.

MATT: That's crazy!

MARISHA: The fact that they counted them! How?

BRIAN: And they all have real jobs and real lives. It's not like they're just sitting at home doing all this. They're just really smart. Total nat 20s including Doty's Matt crit, 548.

TRAVIS: Damn!

BRIAN: Nat 20s. Yeah. Taliesin only cheated on a few.

TALIESIN: Only a few.

BRIAN: Total nat ones. Do you think it's higher or lower than nat 20s?

LAURA: Lower.

SAM: Way lower because some of us--

LAURA: We have advantage and Luck.

BRIAN: 497 versus 548. It's really close. What was that, Liam?

LIAM: You get to reroll things. What was it? Burning a grit or something?

MATT: He gives himself advantage on attack rolls.

LIAM: That's still rolls.

MARISHA: He eventually critted on a 19.

MATT: You did have Indomitable where you can reroll saving throws as well.

LIAM: So Luck is all-purpose, but that was like a more-limited version of.

BRIAN: Per player. Let's look at the most nat 20s. Oh no. Top two. Vax: 107. Percy: 104. Beat you by a few. Most nat ones: Vex. 76!

LAURA: Oh shit, really?!

TRAVIS: That's what you get for having all of those fucking dice! Time to cull the herd.

BRIAN: Followed not too far behind by her delicious brother with 61. Yes.

LIAM: They walk alike, they talk alike.

MARISHA: You guys are rolling a lot more, too, because you have three attacks. Right? Or do you have two attacks?

ALL: Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack.

LAURA: Dagger, dagger, dagger, dagger.

BRIAN: That is all the time we have for the Kraghammer/Vasselheim arc. We will now move onto a big fan-favorite arc of the show, episodes 24 through 38. This arc saw our heroes dealing with a darker, more sinister and more personal beings than they'd ever faced before: The Briarwoods.

[musical crescendo]

Episodes 24 - 38: The BriarwoodsEdit

BRIAN: All right! Briarwoods! Let's get into it.

TALIESIN: You made it weird, man.

BRIAN: We're going to discuss the Briarwoods arc now.

TRAVIS: Fill in the story from what happened before that.

BRIAN: No! Nope! Let them wonder. Matt, question from @saraheliz135. "What was Seeker Asum's plan to investigate the Briarwoods before Vax threw a wrench into it?"

MATT: He was trying to find some sort of proof that they perhaps didn't have the political power for the promises they were making to build the bridge between the Shearing Channel and Wildemount. The whole ordeal of the dinner was this meeting of the strange, mysterious, and somewhat secluded Whitestone society and the Council of Emon in hopes to bridge this gap with the Briarwoods who represented interests from Whitestone. They seemed to have connections and boasted a lot of knowledge of Whitestone, political connections. Asum was reading something off about them. He was trying to seek some element of proving or catching them in a lie about them being able to do so, and as such, save the Council from anything negative. I don't think he really knew how deep it went, obviously. He didn't trust that their politics were in line.

BRIAN: Interesting. Threw a wrench in it.

LIAM: Oh well.

BRIAN: Oh well!

LIAM: Great episodes.

BRIAN: Vax's got to Vax. Travis, question from Mike Garcia. "How close were you to murdering Liam when you destroyed the pencil? How close was Grog to doing something more regrettable to Vax? Cask of ale destroyed close?"

TRAVIS: Wow. Well, Mike, that was a pretty hot moment, shaving ole Groggy's half-beard while he was asleep. That was a new level. The mechanical pencil bends to rage really easily. That kicked off months of me trying to get you back, actually.

LIAM: But it wasn't the beginning! It was a midpoint!

TRAVIS: It was a new echelon. A new world order had started. That's when I realized how damn slippery you are because I could never get my damn hands on you to do some shit! I kept trying to pants him or trip him or whatever, but I kept failing. It was pretty gnarly.

BRIAN: Liam, what was that like on your side of things?

LIAM: I don't think I realized in the game how furious Travis was.

TRAVIS: Could you not feel the 100 degrees Kelvin pouring off of my person?!

BRIAN: You couldn't feel the leg violently shaking under the table as all the violence went to that leg?

TALIESIN: Trucks going by all the time.

LIAM: It was magical, I figured it would just come back! He'd already fucked with my shit plenty of times. I thought it was just tit for tat. I was wrong.

BRIAN: Matt, question from @settiai. "Just who was the woman in her late 40s/early 50s that Percy saw with his nat 20 roll in 'The Sun Tree', the one with the wolves outside Whitestone?"

MATT: That was a hunter. That was a denizen of Whitestone who was out hunting with the wolves at night. If they had seen you, it could have been either an opportunity for you to learn things about the city and its current state, as opposed to wandering in and figuring it out as it happens. Or if it went poorly, someone who could try and escape and go back and relay information to the Briarwoods in hopes of not being killed or getting some possible favor with the overlords. Out of fear. They weren't a follower or a toady. They were just a person who lived there and wanted to survive and would have done so if they didn't feel you could help them.

BRIAN: Interesting. I know.

LAURA: That woman's haunted me for a while, actually. I think about that one a lot.

TRAVIS: Really?

LAURA: Yeah.

BRIAN: Is she wreaking havoc in your guest bathroom and doing all kinds of stuff in your house? Liam, Zombie_Caddies has a question for you. "I actually cried when the Briarwoods killed Vax, with his last thoughts going through his head being his friends and Kiki. What was your inspiration for that moment?"

LIAM: For making that happen? I thought I was out just like I thought I was out in the Raven Queen's tomb. There were things that I wanted-- the game, because we were playing it so often, it was already evolving heavily. I hadn't worked up the gumption to say anything in the story to Keyleth. So I was like, I'm getting it out here. Also at that point, it was starting, but Vax's world was still 98% his sister. I don't know, it was just a chance to vomit out my inner monologue before exiting the game, I thought.

BRIAN: Yeah. You did a great job.

SAM: Good vomiting.

LAURA: Great vomit.

BRIAN: It says that on his CV. Professional vomiter. Question from @argentumlupine for Sam. Sam! Thank you for coming!

SAM: Hi, guys! I was late.

BRIAN: He's so close to Ash in my eyeline, that every time I go to ask him a question, I just want to look at her.

TALIESIN: We all have that problem.

ASHLEY: Hey!

BRIAN: I like to see her on a screen. Hey! Sam, what tipped you off that Percy's gun needed to be destroyed?

SAM: Because he did crazy shit with it all the time and weren't you marking things off the gun at that point?

TALIESIN: Yeah, but--

SAM: That's weird! Scanlan is not very perceptive, not very wise, so it took a long time to realize that something was wrong with it. I think, Matt, was there a roll associated? Did I ever insight it or something?

MATT: There may have been and I don't recall the specifics of that.

TALIESIN: There was a roll to get me to give it to you, which I was not pleased about.

MARISHA: Wait, did he use Friends?

SAM: I did.

MATT: I'm pretty sure you figured that out on your own. I don't think I made you roll to figure that information.

SAM: It was pretty apparent. I sat next to Taliesin for most of the campaign, so I feel like I saw him more, but I guess I didn't.

LIAM: There's also no mistaking Taliesin/Percy's utter shock and dismay at that happening. It was not manufactured, it was real.

TALIESIN: I was not happy! Don't do this, please don't do this!

SAM: I did not think that he would be upset with me at all! I thought I was doing him a big favor, getting rid of the bad thing! And he'd be like, "Aw, thanks, Scanlan!" No! He hated that!

MARISHA: He would have done that himself way sooner!

TALIESIN: Built it in a fucking barn! Two mystical elements involved! Nope. Nothing.

LAURA: How much did that gun cost?

TALIESIN: It was priceless and I never managed to build another one!

LAURA: I know you didn't! You were magic weaponless the whole rest of the game!

TALIESIN: Because it was impossible to recreate!

SAM: I just thought it was a good gun, I did not know it had any of those things associated with it!

TALIESIN: So pristine. Two magical elements welded into-- oh lord!

MARISHA: And you were going for the trifecta. Yeah, you were going for it.

LIAM: That tesseract thing, you can make another one of those, right?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: But it was cursed, apparently, so there was that.

MARISHA: Would there have been any other way to break him from that?

MATT: The only way to break it would have been to physically kill Orthax. Go to where Orthax would reform in the Abyss and then destroy him there. Or destroy the implement in which the curse had bound him in, so honestly it was the better choice.

TALIESIN: Orthax is still out there, though.

MATT: From what you know, yeah.

TALIESIN: Yeah? Cool. All right.

BRIAN: Matt, are you keeping track of some of this stuff from the campaign, since the new campaign is going to be set in the future of the current world? Are you having to keep notes of what-ifs, and are you trying not to tie the two too closely together?

MATT: Well, both. Well, now, yes. I don't want the new campaign to tie too strongly to this campaign. I want it to be its own thing. I want the story to be something wholly unique and new and not feel like it's living in the shadow of or trying to connect directly to the last game. It's a very different part of the world. There will be choices that were made and things you guys did in this campaign that have affected the world and will effect elements down the road, per se. But I don't want it to be a continuation directly, I want it to feel new and different. So I'm keeping track of it all for my own internal consistency, and for answering questions for people who are playing their own games in Tal'Dorei and beyond, but that's my idea.

BRIAN: Okay, that makes sense. Matt, actually, if you could, Arthur Ornelas asks, "Could we get a little insight into Sylas and Delilah and the life choices they made that led to Vecna. How much of that was Tal's notes and how much was your brain?"

MATT: Taliesin, you just told me the Briarwoods came and murdered your family.

TALIESIN: I tried to hand you nothing I wouldn't have known. Everything I gave you about Whitestone was all. I remember you specifically going, saying like, if you have anything else to add, do it now.

MATT: Yep.

TALIESIN: Yeah. I didn't know anything about them so I didn't write anything about them.

MATT: Which I think is a great tool for players when you're creating character backstories. Write in as much as your character knows because it gives the DM room to create in that space and surprise you and, you know, create things behind the scenes for them. It's like, in this perspective, with the Briarwoods, I'd created a scenario where they were not like super powerful lord and lady in the Dwendalian Empire, but they had some renown, some power, some connections, and they existed a comfortable life out there. She was a lesser mage, working with an academy out there, and her husband had gotten sick. The disease that had begun to take him they couldn't find a cure for, so she went out to try and find a way of curing it, trying to find somebody who could concoct a means of doing so, and did, and returned too late and he had passed. She was so distraught by it that she began to just delve into her meditation, delving into her magics, trying to find something to stop him, just screamed into the Astral Sea her fury, and a voice whispered back. And it said, "I can help you." And that was Vecna. She didn't know that at the time, but these whispers started to come to her in her dreams, and began to give her elements of information. And in her grief, she began to just follow them blindly, and eventually it led her to one of Vecna's old laboratories, with an old servant of his that forgot his name for ages. He's so old that he doesn't know his name, just kind of this undead servant, this powerful creature that watches over it, and that's where she found, through the whispers, the rites of vampirism. And he was like, "I can give you the secret to bring your love back to life, but then you owe me. You're mine." And so she said, "Whatever it takes." The resurrection of Sylas as a vampire was a fraction of Vecna's power that tied them to him.

LAURA: That makes them even cooler!

TRAVIS: We shouldn't have killed them.

LAURA: No.

MATT: However, because of her toying with necromancy, which is outlawed in the Dwendalian empire, and people were seeing her acting weird, she was pursued, discovered to have been toying with necromancy, and there was a hunt out for them both. They were both arrested, they got away, and there was a hunt to find them and have them executed. And so they fled the Dwendalian empire, went to the Menagerie Coast, which is where Port Damali is, which is kind of like the last major port town on the way western to Tal'Dorei, and that was where they ran into Ripley. And Ripley had her own thing she was fleeing from and they both were like, hey we're both fugitives from the Dwendalian Empire with really no direction, let's work together. And that's where they had heard about this place of Whitestone, and they began to talk and get in with the family and began to make these trips from Port Damali to Whitestone to build a relationship with them, to take their guard down. Made some alliances there, turned some people who worked in the castle with this whole plan of just completely gutting this family that had, for the most part for their own intention, cut themselves off from the rest of the world politically so no one would really know or care if they went missing or died.

LIAM: Not gonna lie, I wouldn't mind playing in their campaign.

TALIESIN: Weird note on the Briarwoods, also, in my head when I wrote them for myself I gave them no supernatural elements whatsoever in my head. But I was reminded of a married couple from New Orleans. There's an old ghost story in New Orleans, that they do on the haunted house tour of a house that had a fire, and when the fire brigade went in they went upstairs and they just found disastrously mutilated bodies of people who were obviously kept alive for way t-- were still alive. Like a torture chamber of just awful and weird. And as they were trying to figure this out the rich couple just got into a coach with their stuff and left and were never seen or heard from again. They were just out. And I find it interesting that they kind of had a similar, like, "Later, we're out of here."

MATT: Yep, that's kind of how they done it. That's funny, I didn't know that.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, I'll find the story, it's a really big New Orleans ghost story.

BRIAN: My parents had a similar story.

TALIESIN: Explains a lot.

BRIAN: It does! Laura, @GloriaRokicki would like to know, "Did Vex have feelings for Percy at this time, and how did watching this darkness bloom in him affect her?"

LAURA: Oh yeah, the "Darling, take the mask off." That was definitely starting around then. I don't know. I think it attracted her to him more. How fucked up is that?

(laughter)

BRIAN: Got a nice fist in the air for that one.

LAURA: Yeah. Sorry.

MARISHA: Was it like a, "Ooh he's broken, I can fix him!"

LAURA: "I can help him!" No, it's just like, edgy.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Amazing.

BRIAN: Thoughts?

TALIESIN: He didn't know the voice in his head was real. He literally thought it was-- He was in the midst, again, it was a very nervous-breakdown-y reality for him. His hair went shock white, he woke up on a boat in shock for months, and just didn't talk to people until he did. And yeah, the dream he thought was just--

LAURA: I mean, smoke came out of his body!

TALIESIN: Well, that was the first time that it ever happened though. That's the thing, is he had had some weird dreams and was like, "I'm going to build this weird thing." But it had not connected that that was actually a real thing at all until that point. It had just been like, "maybe I'm just having a really bad time."

LIAM: Also, can anybody correct me if I'm wrong, I don't remember any whiff of any of that from the home game at all. It just percolated under the surface until we started the show.

MATT: Even the story that Taliesin gave me was just, he had a dream where some dark entity showed him how to make a gun. And that was it. And the way I developed it was Orthax was not going to begin to manifest itself until the moment of possible vengeance arose. The minute that he allowed that fury to see someone who he intended to kill before him as part of his list, that was when the demon would begin to manifest itself. So it didn't until the Briarwood arc.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah, no. It was entirely possible from what I handed. I very specifically was like, if you decide that that isn't anything, it doesn't have to be anything, it could have just been-- had a weird dream one day, woke up, and built something awful.

BRIAN: Yeah. You seem not too attached to some ideas. I know you've mentioned that before on the show, where there's some stuff where you leave it to Matt's discretion. Do you guys all feel that way? I know you get uncomfortable when I say this, but because Matt is like a one or two star DM out of ten or whatever, do you find that it's easier to trust him with stuff, does that make sense?

LAURA: Well that's half the fun, is going halfway with it and letting him take the rest, because you don't want to know all the mysteries, you know? The fun is discovering it.

BRIAN: And he's going to also spin it into a beautiful story with a bunch of different layers and things too, as we're learning.

MATT: It gives me the opportunity, and like anybody out there who has DM-ed a game can agree with me--

BRIAN: Don't look at me.

MATT: --gives the opportunity for the DM to play--

(laughter)

MATT: --gives the opportunity to collaborate on the backstory element, too, and surprise the players. That's the thing. It's really cool as a player to play through a game and not have all the answers to your own story, and then to have things surprise you and change your perspective, and then it becomes more intriguing to you as a player. So the more you outline, the more you detail specifically the elements of your history as a character, the less you have to look forward to to surprise you down the line, in my opinion.

BRIAN: You guys have to be so excited about the prospect of sort of hitting the Etch-a-Sketch and starting again with that.

SAM: It's going to be so exciting. Nerve-wracking. The first session is going to just be us--

LIAM: Who are you? Who am I?

SAM: Yeah, like why is Travis talking like that?

(laughter)

TALIESIN: (Swedish Chef voice)

TRAVIS: (high-pitched voice) I will speak with this--

LAURA: See, he's joked about this multiple times. I think it might actually be honest.

TRAVIS: (high-pitched voice) Hi-ya!

BRIAN: 115 more episodes of Travis talking like that? Marisha, question for you from Blangadager--

LAURA: That's awesome.

BRIAN: I know, it's great. "Considering where Vox Machina was at during this time point, had Vox Machina continued to kill with extreme violence without concern of moral consequence, would Keyleth have left the party?"

MARISHA: That is such an extreme way of putting exactly what they were doing. It's very accurate. She was. I had a weird crisis with Keyleth for a little bit. For a while, I was like, I can't stay! What I am I doing here? Your friends will be the first people to drag you down. They're bad influences.

MATT: I remember you talking to me about that. We were discussing what would happen if you decided to go that route. We were like, well, Keyleth just leaves and you make a new character. And maybe she'll come back, maybe she won't.

MARISHA: And also at that time, I think it was about that time I kept repeating: I have to continue my Aramente. I feel like I'm just dicking around at this point. I still have work to do. I got to go. You were also going through a character-- there were a few character crises.

LIAM: I'm real glad you didn't make a new character.

MARISHA: Yeah, me too. I mean, Keyleth was pretty boss there at the end. I almost left.

LAURA: Pretty freaking boss.

MARISHA: Respect the antlers. (laughing) Practically goldfish.

BRIAN: Matt, this is a really interesting question from TheOodSigma, "What would have happened if they had left Ripley in the cell?"

MATT: Ripley probably would have either found a way to escape or once the Briarwoods were freed you would have to go back down to deal with that. But the minute she had any chance of escape she would have, or probably try and work her way into your wiles. If she was purely unable to escape the prison and you knew who she was, and you had defeated the Briarwoods, and Whitestone was yours once more and you just had her prostrate in a cell with no weapons, and you intending to murder her, she would have done everything in her power to be as sly and convincing that she was as used as anyone else. As Cassandra was, and to get in your good graces and the first chance she had to abscond with any of your technology, gone.

BRIAN: Wow. Really?

LAURA: What a bitch.

TALIESIN: I imagine her as the evil version of the librarian character from The Mummy.

MATT: That's a good point of reference.

TALIESIN: The psychotic Joker version of that character.

MATT: Yeah, very much so. Definitely.

BRIAN: The Brendan Fraser Mummy franchise or the newly minted-- now Matt, follow-up question for you-- watched it on a plane, as God intended-- this is from Maxvsthegames, "What happened with the bodies of the de Rolo family? Were they buried or did Vox Machina end up fighting their skeletons in the streets of Whitestone?"

MATT: No. To get a little dark here-- No. The Briarwoods, in order to cement their rule, they needed to instill absolute fear of fleeing or any sort of rebellion. So you don't just murder the family, you leave them in public as a sign. So those bodies you saw hanging from the Sun Tree weren't the first to hang from that tree.

TALIESIN: I had that vibe.

MATT: In fact, I never got to tell you, because it never came up and nobody would have told you at that time, but when you saw the Vox Machina hanging from the Sun Tree, those were almost the exact same arrangement as Percy's family were after Whitestone.

TALIESIN: I assumed. I like the way you think.

LIAM: Can you imagine Percy 30 years in the future being an old, happy fart and just going out to the window and seeing beautiful Whitestone, beautiful tree, and just the invisible imagination of that.

TALIESIN: Oh yeah. Never gone.

TRAVIS: What the fuck, man? The power of Christ compels you. Get out of here.

TALIESIN: It's a very blood-laden family to begin with. At some point, I'll write a little bit of the stuff I've scribbled down. It's just one more ghost story for that bloody castle. There's a lot of them. It's highly appropriate for Whitestone.

BRIAN: D-Roll me away, baby. Hey, Ashley? Cure our darkness with a 9th-level--

MARISHA: I thought that was the handle at first.

BRIAN: No, I wish. The handle is much better, and it's SerPounce_a_Lot. "Is Pike's ability to astral project across great distances to help her friends a sign that she is special to Sarenrae?"

ASHLEY: (high-pitched) Um.

(laughter)

SAM: Or just a sign that you live in New York for most of the year.

ASHLEY: I would like to think that that's the reason why, but I believe it's because I live across the country. So I know Matt found a way around that, which I'm so thankful that he did. And here I am, still an astral projection.

BRIAN: But at least you're in high definition.

ASHLEY: A high-def astral project!

LIAM: She brought Sarenrae's faith back to the continent, didn't she?

MATT: She was one of the main figures that began to restore the knowledge of the experience.

BRIAN: Okay, okay. I can't not say it when I hear it. It's one of those things; when I hear it, I say it. Matt, FrostDragon85 wants to know, "What would have happened if Lady Briarwood's ritual succeeded?"

MATT: It did. She succeeded the ritual, but she didn't know what she was looking for. Like all things piecemeal with Vecna, she was told to prepare all these things to succeed. And when it succeeded, it triggered the siphon, which became this tiny dot that did nothing from her perspective. And so she went from "All right, this grand ceremony!" to "That's it? We failed." It was too early, they were pushed to do it, and they were already afraid it wouldn't have functioned, but the idea was they succeeded entirely. And if you guys had prodded it enough over time, began to delve into the research and make that a big point, you might have discovered that it was a successful ritual, but the fact that you didn't made it more fun for me to play in the background anyway. As far as Delilah was concerned, it failed, but when she was killed the first time and then recovered in her clone body and began to reconnect with the whispers of Vecna, Vecna was like, "No, you did good. And now to move onto the next one, now to prepare for the next siphon to be triggered." And so that was the background progression of her arc while you guys were battling the Conclave and everything.

BRIAN: It stresses me out that it's so layered and involved because you guys have to face a whole other campaign, and he's even better now than he was at coming up with this stuff. I'm just trying to make you guys nervous and scared. Travis, Lizlevelup wants to know, "Percy gave Grog Craven Edge in this arc (episode 36). When you first got given the card, what did you expect from the sword? Did you have a "what have I done" moment when you read the card fully?"

TRAVIS: Oh, man. I didn't even know what a sentient weapon was, I had never even heard of that. He just described it as some big, gorgeous greatsword, and I was like, "I can wield that, I'll take it." And Percy's reaction of reading the first few lines of the card and showing a little dismay having just been cured of his current curse, I was like, "Give it to me, it'll be fine." So when Matt started talking, it was a total shock. Reading it was only half of the story. What did we have to do? Identify, or we had to do something else--

MATT: You had to attune to it to reveal it all or Identify it in advance.

TRAVIS: Yeah, the rest of that card is super important. That's a big part of it. So I think he was enjoying this new friend that talked to him and helped him shish-kebab people really well.

BRIAN: Turned out great. Talk about no strings attached. Matt, question from Jessie Lewis. "How did you intend for Vox Machina to get out of the acid chamber?"

MATT: I didn't. No, there were a number of ways. They could have attempted to focus all their strength towards the residuum wall that was blocking them off. They could have tried to block up or destroy the chutes in which the acid was being delivered to the chamber and bought some time. I believe the way you got to the button--

LIAM: I used the Cloak of the Mountebank.

MATT: Yeah, the Mountebank to teleport through. There was a way of opening the door, but it was elsewhere in the chamber. There was a possibility of waiting for the Briarwoods to leave and then fiddle with the buttons, but... kind of jumped the gun on that one.

LIAM: Yeah, I thought I was hitting the door open button.

MATT: No, you were not. But that, once again, wonderful D&D moment.

LIAM: Yeah, that was a rug yank moment.

MARISHA: How did we end up getting out of that?

MATT: You didn't. The rest of the campaign is a dream!

BRIAN: It's kind of like that TV show about the plane crash and the island. Sam. Cast True Resurrection on your career with an answer for this person. Oh, it's also Blangadanger back for you! "Had Scanlan learned of his daughter before Kaylie confronted him, what would he have done differently?"

SAM: Say that again, I wasn't listening as is frequent with this show.

BRIAN: People talk. "Had Scanlan learned of his daughter before Kaylie confronted him, what would he have done differently?"

SAM: Not try to get with her?

(laughter)

BRIAN: That's all the time we have for tonight!

SAM: I don't know, probably would have run away from that information. That's scary information, and not seeing her in the flesh, if he had just heard, "You got a daughter out there, she's looking for you," he'd probably be like, "Let's go to another town."

BRIAN: I have a tendency to not ask a lot of questions when I'm drunk.

LIAM: Don't Try to Get With Her: The Scanlan Shorthalt Story.

BRIAN: And the problem is that if she resembled him, he would be even more attracted to her because she--

SAM: I feel like that was part of the problem.

BRIAN: That was part of the problem. Taliesin. Gornuk23 wants to know-- can you believe there's 23 of them? "Who was the final, unnamed barrel on the List meant for?"

LIAM: Reveal it.

BRIAN: This is the episode where you can reveal everything.

TALIESIN: I think it's going to be slightly disappointing. It was not meant for him, which I know a lot of people thought it was for himself. It was his acknowledgement that the List was not the end, and his acknowledgement that the minute he started this, that this was going to be an unending cycle of awful. And so that barrel was meant to be a fresh start for a brand new List. And it was going to be once you hit that, it was, "They're all dead, it's time to find the next six people, and this is who you are now." I know I've said this a lot and people hate it, but I want to make this clear. The reason I give Percy a lot of crap is because when he started building this thing and going on a revenge run, he was acutely aware of what he was doing. There was no surprise, and the first time he saw a gun in the wild, it wasn't, "Oh no," it was, "That went a little more slowly than I expected." He was expecting Ripley to have guns, he was expecting all of this to go horribly wrong because he knew it would. And so he was like, "I really want to kill these six people, and I'm excited to help thousands of other people in my lifetime die this way as well. It's worth it. Trade done." And that was the line of, "I know what I'm becoming, I know what I'm doing, and I'm doing it anyway even though it's really dumb."

LAURA: He was a pretty bad guy.

BRIAN: He was. What does it say about you for falling in love with him? Laura, question for you from Buzzrock1. "How did Vex get Vax's snake belt back?" Do you remember?

LAURA: How did his snake belt go missing in the first place?

LIAM: It went missing when I--

TRAVIS: Threw it at the--

LAURA: Oh, I went and flirted with the guards. I talked to Matt about that--

SAM, LIAM, and TALIESIN: Classic.

LAURA: Yeah, I went and flirted with the guards and got it back for him.

MARISHA: Was it one of those cases where you saw one of the guards wearing the belt and you were like, "Dude, for real?"

LAURA: I think there was a lot of winking involved.

MATT: Yeah, it was a lot of, "Hey, I lost this thing, could you please go get it for me? Please?" And he went, "We'll see."

LIAM: That physical belt buckle is sitting on my treasure shelf.

LAURA: I saw another snake belt this weekend and I almost got it for you. I was like, "He doesn't need another snake belt, now it's going to be another sort of thing." It was a really cool snake belt though! If I hadn't gotten you the other one, I would have got you this one.

BRIAN: We had a few questions about Cassandra for this arc. We only have time to get to two of them, but Matt, from Tilia-cordata. "If he had failed the saving throw, would Percy have been forced to kill Cassandra? Had you always planned for her name to appear on the gun?"

MATT: I had planned if they had encountered her... yeah, I guess I did always intend for her to appear on the gun based on the encounters as they were going to reveal-- unless there was some way in which they met Cassandra, they had snuck into the castle and came across her room beforehand and managed to break her of her cycle of mental abuse with the Briarwoods-- possibly it could have been averted but for the most part, it was designed to be one of those crux moments where it's a point of showing Percival how deep this terrible choice and deal he made can go.

BRIAN: Somebody had asked what would have happened to Percy had he shot everyone on the list including Cassandra. What would have happened to Percy?

MATT: Oh, six more names would have appeared.

TALIESIN: Thank you.

MATT: Yeah, which is why I think it's so interesting that you say that because I didn't know that. And the intent of Orthax's revenge curse is that it's continuous. Once you've made that deal, you take those six names out, well now there's six more people you have to kill. And if you don't have anybody you need vengeance for, let's go find people.

TALIESIN: Percy wouldn't have even blinked. He would have been right into it.

LIAM: What would have happened if he had blinked? What if he had tried to fight that deal?

MATT: That was when the will contrast comes. The List is still there, the creature is always there. It just means that if it lost the current battle, it would bide its time and come back stronger again until eventually he loses the will to resist.

LAURA: Go Scanlan.

SAM: I knew all of that.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Marisha. Our final question for this arc is for you from RaibDarkin. "It was during this time that Keyleth made two of her most impressive moral stands. The first: refusing to have Vox Machina send the young roc to Whitestone, and the other by refusing to let the skeletal army overrun it. Is this where she began to realize she could be a leader?"

MARISHA: Oh. No. Probably not. 100 percent no. No, she was still suffering from crippling self-loathing. Yeah, just no. She still didn't believe in herself and still was dealing with insecurity issues. It took her awhile. I think Keyleth still didn't fully believe it until she was getting that mantle put on her over in the final ceremony. I remember one of the bigger turning points of stepping up and making sure she was a leader was the kraken fight. I put a lot of responsibility on Keyleth and conversely myself for not stepping up and forcing a better plan on us. It was my task that almost got everybody killed. We almost TPK'ed that one, and we could have done that way better, and I think that was when she was like, "Oh, once again, those moral lessons of inaction. Someone's got to fucking herd cats."

TRAVIS: And we almost got rid of Tary.

LAURA: So close.

LIAM: Such a strong, decisive leader moment at the end of that though, when you chose to get out with as many as you could, and the way that you did it.

BRIAN: So foreshadowing of later leadership qualities, which probably were there the whole time, but needed to be fermented, and you needed the experience and the trials.

MARISHA: I forgot about that. That was probably the exact turning point, that moment.

BRIAN: Anything else from the Briarwoods arc that you guys want to talk to Matt about or ask or ask each other?

MARISHA: I have a question. Had I not rolled a natural 20 when I stuck my hand into the ziggurat, anything under the natural 20, what would have happened to Keyleth?

LAURA and BRIAN: His eye twitched!

MATT: A natural 20 was pretty close to what you needed, or a high roll. I think the DC was an 18 to try to resist the impact. You saw what happened when they put anything through it. That would have been Keyleth. She would have gone through, taken a shit ton of damage, and either died, or if she survived, thrust out into the Shadowfell, seriously jacked up on the outskirts of Thar Amphala. And you would have found a lot earlier what the Vecna tie-in to the story was, and it would have changed a lot of the story at that point if Keyleth had survived. I can't recall the exact amount of damage, but the average was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 to 150 damage.

LAURA: You didn't have that many hit points at that point.

MARISHA: No, not at all.

TRAVIS: Ain't none of us coming in after you.

MARISHA: No one even knew I was down there. Everyone was asleep and I didn't even tell anybody. You would have woken up and Keyleth would have been gone.

TALIESIN: That would have been dark and weird.

MARISHA: How crazy would it have been it if I would have come back like Robin Williams in Jumanji and come back 20 years later and I'm like, "The shit I've seen!"

LAURA: What would have been crazy is we would have gone to Thar Amphala and then we would have fought you undead.

MATT: Few things would have been more fucked up in the game-- I thought about it afterward-- than having the success of this arc and then your character, out of curiosity, dead. And then me having to tell you, "I'm sorry, Keyleth's gone, and they don't know where you are."

SAM: We would have been like, "Did we say something? Grog, did you say something?"

LAURA: Maybe this is too much for her. I don't know!

MATT: And if that was the case, then whatever new character that would have come along would have progressed from there. And when you finally got into Thar Amphala, there would have been an undead Keyleth probably under Vecna.

TALIESIN: That would have been so fucked up.

BRIAN: I would have been so into some undead Keyleth art for sure. Speaking of damage, our next round of CritRoleStats for the Vox Machina campaign is about damage. The party together has dealt a total of 50,074 damage. The most damage taken? Who do you think took the most damage?

SAM: Vax. Oh wait, maybe Grog.

BRIAN: The answer is Grog with 5,646 damage taken. Who do you think dealt the most damage though?

TRAVIS: Keyleth.

BRIAN: Okay, Keyleth is your guess. Anybody else?

LIAM: Yeah, also Keyleth.

SAM: Pike!

LAURA: Maybe Vax?

BRIAN: Well, you're correct. The answer is Grog. Most damage dealt: 10,038. My man, that's right!

LAURA: And we dealt 50,000, that's so much percentage of our damage dealt.

BRIAN: Damahge. Yeah, stanima. That concludes our round of questions for the Briarwoods arc. Let's move on to discuss episodes 39 through 83 and the dangerous alliances, questionable party decisions, the items of power and mystery that led our heroes into the path of the Chroma Conclave.

[musical crescendo]

Episodes 39 - 83: The Chroma ConclaveEdit

BRIAN: All right, we will now discuss the Chroma Conclave. Beginning with Matt Mercer. Question for you from Hadley DiForti, "During the Conclave attack did you plan who you would kill off for story purposes or did you roll the dice on their fate?"

MATT: I decided what made more sense. The Sovereign I wanted to die because I wanted it to be a transition into the Council, the Republic of Emon and Tal'Dorei, and I wanted it to be a central figure that had previously become the highest ally you had attained. To have them slaughtered immediately would be one of those giant wind out of the sails, you're on your own type sensation. I decided on that and I thought of which members of the Council would be the most brave and resolute and probably throw their lives away in trying to attack this unassailable force that had just arrived. So I decided on those based on what the narrative made sense for.

BRIAN: Interesting, seems like a good choice. Liam, question for you from @CommanderClay. "Would Vax have left Vox Machina if the Chroma Conclave had not attacked?"

LIAM: That's interesting, I'm not sure I know the answer to that. He definitely wouldn't have left without his sister. I think the challenge and the fun of it would have been having to come up with a reason despite-- it was similar to your moment. The way I thought of it was, I'm really going to have to do some tap-dancing to figure out why I'm still here. I think he would have been conflicted and dealing with it. I guess eventually it would have reached a breaking point. There was a lot of butting heads at that time in the lead-up, too, and I think part of it was off the stupid prank war. I don't know, and I often get questions like, "What would have happened if this hadn't happened?" I don't know, that's the fun of this game.

MARISHA: Would you have ever gone with him? Would you have ever left with your bro?

LAURA: Yeah. If he talked me into it, I would've left. I would've fought him about it. But if he made that decision and he was going to go, I would've gone with him.

BRIAN: Interesting, sounds like family. Matt. Question for you-- why does everyone laugh when I say something nice?

TALIESIN: It's so surprising and out of character.

BRIAN: Matt, @coelki_king asks, "Did Vox Machina bring the dragons down on Emon because they messed with the orbs or did this event just happen to coincide with that?"

MATT: No, the event just happened to coincide. The plan that the Conclave was still intending to happen, it was still geared towards the conjunction set upon by the Winter's Crest and Thordak's escape from the Fire Elemental plane-- this was all long-planned by Raishan and the council. However, because you had been noticed through the orbs, it gave a face, so now there was an element of recognizing who you were, these meddlers to a certain extent. When you did arrive, when you did confront certain members who may have been aware, it also put you on Raishan's radar very heavily, which led to Raishan finding information very quickly, ascertaining your location in Whitestone once things had gotten a little rough with the Conclave, and trying to find a strong position going forward.

LIAM: May I ask a follow-up question for Matt? Was it always your plan from when we were at home to get to that, and playing every six weeks, would we have gotten to that Conclave attack this weekend?

MATT: Probably, yeah. It was my plan when I introduced the orbs and I introduced Krieg and Brimscythe, that was all going to be a lead up to the attack of the Conclave back then. I intended that to be an event down the road, and that was the tease to it. But going at the pace we were playing at home, we would have gotten to that by about now.

BRIAN: Yeah. Taliesin, question from Heather Johnson. "What was Percy's plan to take out Grog "in the workshop over the skull? He seemed very sure of himself in a tight space with a raging goliath."

TALIESIN: My thoughts were several. A, I can give him disadvantage on every attack, every round, and B, I know what is in every one of those bottles, and I had a working kiln. I thought I had enough stuff around there that I could have had him bathed in acid, knee-deep in sodium, and probably set on fire pretty quickly and kept out of his reach and kept keeping back, pushing back, and giving him as much disadvantage, blinding him. It would have been keeping lots of status effects.

TRAVIS: See, I heard a great comparison on el Twitter, which was the Game of Thrones fight between the Mountain and the Sand Viper, staying on the outside and all of that stuff until I get a hold of you and then I squish your head like a pumpkin.

TALIESIN: I was of the opinion I could probably ride that out a long while.

LIAM: I love Freddie, he is a darkly fascinating character. I think Grog would have turned him into a skid mark.

TALIESIN: Kept that skull away from you, man, didn't I?

(laughter)

BRIAN: Matt, question about everyone's favorite NPC from @coelki_king, "How close was Gilmore to dying before Vox Machina found him under his shop?"

MATT: He was really close. It was a choice, it was whether or not you pursued the treasure, the money, gold and items that had been shifted away from the Clasp and looters, or go directly for Gilmore. And you had that choice, Vex and the rest of you, as you were looting your way through, and the idea was going to be if you chose to go for the money, for the treasure, Gilmore would have been dead when you found him. Mind you, you could have possibly Resurrected him, or not, depending on what the timing was, but that still would have been the knowledge going forward that you were responsible for his death. It was meant to be one of those crux choices of learning what it meant in moments of crisis to fight against your own greed and self-serving ideas versus the greater good and/or friendships you made.

LAURA: But we did it!

MATT: You did it!

TRAVIS: We saved him.

LIAM: I also think it's important to say that the last time we had dealt with death was way back before it was a show. We were in our home game, and it was that and then Vex dying in the tomb were our first real brushes with death in the game, so we didn't know how likely it was. We didn't know the rituals were this strange thing-- I thought it was just this one-time thing that happened for that moment, I didn't realize it was going to be this mechanic that you implemented into the game, so both finding Gilmore and when Vex went down, at least for me, I was like, "Oh my god, this is the end, it's all over!" And when I went unconscious, too. And we got more used to it as a game mechanic. I don't want to say we got used to it because every time was rough, but it was very new and unsettling in the beginning.

MATT: Good.

BRIAN: Yeah, just what you want to hear. Laura, question for you from Kuributt. "What did Vex find under Gilmore's bed when he sent them to Marquet?"

LAURA: Oh, have we not answered this before?

BRIAN: I don't believe we have.

LAURA: Oh, man! I found a bunch of love letters from Gilmore and his first boyfriend.

BRIAN: Oh really? That's awesome.

LAURA: So that's why I didn't tell anybody, I just put it back because it seemed like, okay, this is personal. It was a good confirmation though that we were actually in Gilmore's bedroom. Because up until that point, we didn't know for sure.

TRAVIS: When did something being personal ever kept you from snagging something?

LAURA: It was letters, what good was it going to do? If it had been letters gilded in gold, I would have kept them. But they were just letters.

LIAM: Was there a name for the old beau?

MATT: Oh, for his original--?

LIAM: That she would have found on the letters?

MATT: I believe it would have been...

LAURA: I don't remember that.

MATT: I don't think I told you the name at the moment. But it would have been--

BRIAN: Taryon Darrington.

MATT: Tie it all together. No, it would have been another Marquesian boy, and I would have had to come up with a name on the spot.

LAURA: Purvan.

MATT: No, we're going to leave that name to the annals of history to never be brought up ever again.

BRIAN: Next question. Matt. Crepuscularious wants to know-- I haven't been in Latin for a while. Do they have Latin class? "Matt, what were the horrible possibilities the team sidestepped with Kashaw's resurrection of Vex? Was invoking Vesh as much of a razor's edge as it appeared?"

MATT: Vesh, the threat and the belief that Kashaw holds in Vesh, was very powerful. And Vesh is a dangerous entity on the scale that you guys were dealing with at the time, definitely. I don't think it was so much a razor's edge, but it would have piqued her interest. Essentially, an entity that had been, for the most part, kept at the shadows and primarily focused on Kashaw's journey would have been forced to turn an eye to Vox Machina and meddle in those affairs. And in a weird way, the deal with the Raven Queen circumvented that. So much of the story changed the moment that Vax stepped forward. The Raven Queen's tomb, the thought had approached me of having Vesh appear in that circumstance, but because it was the Raven Queen's tomb, I think she would have overridden that circumstance and what little glimpse Vesh would have had would have just piqued her curiosity. She wouldn't be able to be there or exact any sort of immediate strange occurrence. It's hard to look back in the moment because some of that was improvised, some of it was just trying to feel it out. Yeah, Vesh isn't necessarily a god, though she likes to put herself in that form and say that she is. Kashaw definitely believes she is, but she's not a god.

BRIAN: Okay, interesting. Practically gods. Ashley, question for you from TheHollyPhoenix. "How did Pike feel knowing that going and getting her armor probably made the difference between Daxio being destroyed and not?"

ASHLEY: Uh.

(laughter)

ASHLEY: You know, I think very happy about it. What am I trying to say here? I would say it's a good thing, always a good thing.

LAURA: Wait, so we went and got Pike's armor and Fort Daxio got destroyed? What happened? I don't remember.

BRIAN: There was a choice, right? Between going and getting your armor probably made the difference between Daxio being destroyed or not. That was the Chest Piece of Gloriousness.

MATT: Plate of the Dawnmartyr.

BRIAN: Thank you.

MARISHA: I like Chest Piece of Gloriousness.

TRAVIS: You used it a billion times.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Getting that was huge. I mean, I don't know how many times that I went unconscious in battle after that, but--

LAURA: A lot.

ASHLEY: A lot. And, you know, getting that vestige was such a huge part of Pike feeling important in battle. Getting the courage to go out and be in the middle, and knowing that it would be okay if she got knocked out a couple times, and she'd be fine.

TRAVIS: (as Grog) It is not okay if she gets knocked out!

MARISHA: Hey, Ashley, can I ask you a question?

ASHLEY: Yes.

MARISHA: What does the banner behind you say? Because it looks like it says "boobs are magic."

ASHLEY: Books are magic! But both are true.

SAM: Can I ask you a question? Who was the guy you were in love with?!

BRIAN: Hey, we're going to get to that.

SAM: We are?

BRIAN: You can ask her. I want you to ask her instead.

ASHLEY: Sorry, I initially was trying to figure out what question you were asking, Brian. Sorry.

SAM: She's ignoring me.

BRIAN: Did you hear Sam's question to you?

ASHLEY: Oh, I did. I'm just not acknowledging it.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Matt Mercer, a question for you from someone with three names, Stephen David Dugan...

LIAM: Can I ask a connected question to the armor, to Matt? Senokir's box?

MATT: We're also going to get to that.

LIAM: That's later? Okay.

MATT: I hope we are! I hope we're getting to that!

LAURA: Is that a later arc? Or is that the same time?

BRIAN: Fucking let me do my job! I will get there, goddamn it! Matt, Stephen David Dugan wants to know-- you guys are keeping Stephen waiting-- "How did Kevdak come to have the Titanstone Knuckles? What were his aspirations beyond being a dragon's lackey?"

MATT: I envision he got the Knuckles by beating to an absolute bloody pulp the previous owner. It could have been a chance meeting. It wasn't something that he sought. The previous owner was moving through the countryside in Tal'Dorei, got waylaid by the Herd of Storms, and unexpectedly was bludgeoned to death, and took them, and once connected with these gauntlets, was like, "Oh. I can rise to prominence in this." Kevdak was not the leader at the time, and then brutally worked his way up to become the person helming the Herd of Storms. This would have been a young Kevdak. He had no aspirations beyond that and just expanding the herd, and taking what he wanted. Once the Conclave came and destroyed most of what was society, protected society, at that time, that was when he saw the opportunity. Like, "These guards cannot repel us. They are disorganized. They are focused on this other foe. Now's the time for us to finally live like kings." That was when he convinced the herd to charge Westruun with him. They were unprepared for them, with a smaller number of very focused and very powerful warriors, and a populace where much of their guard had been slaughtered or scattered, they carved right into the heart and center and took over the city. That was when they made the deal with Umbrasyl, in which case at the time, he was like, "I will work with you." But of course, once you have that taste of power, and having the gauntlets as long as he did, he fully saw himself down the road destroying Umbrasyl or bending Umbrasyl to his will, and then being, like, Dragon King Kevdak. I don't know if that would have ever happened, but that's definitely where he saw himself. It was a fast power ramp in his mind of where he wanted to go once he saw what he could do.

BRIAN: Wow. So no dragon lackey for long.

MATT: No, not for long with that scenario.

BRIAN: Ashley, you had a question for Matt. What was that?

ASHLEY: What's in the box?! That is the one question that I had this whole entire evening.

BRIAN: She told me before the show. I told everyone, if you guys have questions for Matt or questions for each other, interject, those are the most important ones. Ash was like, "I have one question, and it's 'what's in the box?'" What was in the box of Senokir's wife's ashes?

ASHLEY: Yeah, it still drives me crazy. And when we were coming back for the last part of the wrap-up, and when we all met up and were like, okay, this is what we did in our time off for the last games, I was going to go look for the box and I forgot to tell you that when we were all in to figure out what we were doing. We started the game, and I was like, "Shit!"

MATT: Do you really want to know, Ashley?

ALL: Yes!

SAM: Another, smaller box.

MATT: Practically. No, it was his wife's ashes. He was completely, 100 percent honest.

TRAVIS: Ah, no kaiju! No nothing, growing out of the tree!

BRIAN: Was it the voice that made you guys uneasy? For me it was the voice.

LAURA: He had that weird, like... (uneasy noise)

MATT: Not every NPC is out to fuck you.

SAM: He was so squirrely and weird!

LAURA: I liked him. I really liked him.

TALIESIN: He was one of my favorite NPCs.

MATT: Oh my God, I don't know where he came from.

TRAVIS: You almost desecrated a grave, Ashley.

ASHLEY: I still don't believe you.

TRAVIS: Can't let it go! Yes, he is real.

TALIESIN: He made the jewelry I gave everybody.

LIAM: It's the other Horn of Orcus. That's in there, man.

BRIAN: Liam. CainhurstCrow wants to know, "Were you intending to multiclass into paladin before the events of the Raven Queen's tomb?"

LIAM: I was strongly considering it. I hadn't made up my mind, but I was leaning that way, because I was already forming this new branch of friendship with Pike, and being fascinated with the things that she did, and I was feeling like such a-- the same Vax who was saying, "What the fuck are we doing here? This is stupid. There is no purpose to our lives," he saw that in Pike. First, people were like, "I think Liam's going to go cleric!" and I was like, "Nah. This is just part of the story." But then I started believing it myself. And then, when everything... eh.

MATT: Yeah, because you'd even strapped a symbol of Sarenrae to your hand at one point. You were starting to push that direction of a faith follower of Sarenrae.

LIAM: And without dragging everything out of the store, rough time in my life, and when that happened, I remember we had a meeting. The group got together like a week later, and I was not happy about how that went down.

LAURA: You were so mad.

LIAM: I wasn't interested in the armor, I didn't want the armor. With everything going on for me, I was like, "This is so heavy, on top of my heavy." And it turned into this, I don't know, I wouldn't trade it for anything at this point. But boy, it was a tunnel.

MATT: I'm sorry.

LIAM: No! None of us know what we're doing.

MATT: It's just where the narrative went. I didn't expect any of that to happen. I didn't expect you to die, I didn't expect there to be a ritual, I didn't expect it. And it was one of those things where because it was in the Raven Queen's temple, it would be any place where she would reveal herself as part of this ritual, or an image of herself, an avatar of herself. And then when you made that decree, it was like, "Oh. She'll accept." This changes the whole direction of the character and where that story for you was going, on just one series of chance moments.

LIAM: Follow-up question. Fate-touched. Always going to be a thing, or do you think that just sprang out of that moment?

MATT: No. To be perfectly honest, I decided on the fate-touched thing because I knew you were going through some hard stuff, and I wanted to give some little special light to you.

SAM: Oh, Matt!

MATT: I didn't know when it was going to come up...

BRIAN: Oh, buddy. Don't go under there.

LAURA: I saw spiders.

BRIAN: Wow, that's really special.

MATT: I didn't know when it was going to come up. I thought it might be more of a late-campaign reveal, like once things got more epic in scale, and you were working with divinity, someone would recognize and point that out, and would be like, "Oh!" But that moment made complete sense, when you made that decree to the Raven Queen. And with her being the purveyor over fate, I was like, "Well, this is the moment where it would come up."

LIAM: This fucking game.

LAURA: I have a similar follow-up question. Are there any more cookies? Because I really want a cookie.

BRIAN: You can go get them at the break.

LAURA: Yes!

BRIAN: You can absolutely have cookies at the break. Travis: "During the Kevdak fight," CainhurstCrow wants to know, "did you initially go in thinking you could win head-on against Kevdak? Or did you always intend for Vox Machina to come into the fray?"

TRAVIS: I had no idea. I just know I wanted to face him head-on to start with. Even if it was going to go south super fast like it did, I just wanted to get an idea. And I was woefully unprepared, especially when Matt was like, "You realize that he is not taking as much damage as you think he should." I was like, "Oh, shit." It was nice that everybody had taken up positions and everything, and then I knew it would be a good chance to just call in arms, and just trying to set a little bit of a trap. But he got to face him on his terms, and that's all I really wanted.

MATT: I was really rooting for you in that fight. There was a possibility that Grog could have won that one-on-one, but if I recall, the dice just did not go in your direction--

TRAVIS: The rolls were not happening. He pinned me on a spike, disarmed me. I only hit two times out of five turns. Yeah, it was not going well.

MATT: I had considered both sides of it. If you managed to take him down in one-on-one combat, it would have been a very different scenario. Then it would have turned into a temporary, very tense diplomatic conversation with the herd. But then when you guys had finished the fight and destroyed him and his right-hand man, it was like, all right, we need to reevaluate this.

TRAVIS: And we were learning what the Knuckles did. I remember Matt saying, "You remember seeing Kevdak reached out and crushed a guy's skull with his bare hands." And I had no idea he would Enlarge, that the bloodaxe would also add all of this stuff, and I was just like, "Oh, god, what did I step into?"

LIAM: Such a ride though, that night.

MATT: It's one of my favorite moments in the game.

TALIESIN: The toothpicks alone, those toothpicks made me so happy.

BRIAN: Question for Laura from Aegis_of_Ages, "When you found out you had been assigned a new alignment did you change the way you were playing Vex?" I only ask you this question because you just rudely put food in your mouth during an interview show.

LAURA: I don't think I deserved that change in alignment!

BRIAN: Why?

LAURA: (chewing) Because it wasn't that bad!

BRIAN: What do you mean?

LAURA: (chewing) All I did was steal a broom.

BRIAN: All you did was what?

LAURA: Steal a broom.

BRIAN: That's all you did? How come it's still brought up to this day if it was all you did was steal a broom? Lots of people--

LAURA: I was going to give him a whole bunch of dragon scales, but he walked away too fast!

BRIAN: I didn't understand a word of that, we're going to have to move on.

LIAM: On my sister's behalf, I'm shocked that Vex's alignment changed and Percy's did not, because this guy is a fucked up motherfucker who did fucked up shit left and right!

BRIAN: That's true.

MATT: You can have fucked up thoughts, and not necessarily act on them completely.

LAURA: He did though!

LIAM: He gave a sword to this dude, he shot a kid through the hand! He's a lunatic!

MATT: Well the shot to the hand was--

TRAVIS: The sword is a gift, how is that bad?

LAURA: I think it changed because Matt misunderstood my motivations for things.

BRIAN: Matt, do you feel like you misunderstood Laura's motivation for things?

MATT: It's possible. But I considered a lot of Laura's-- motions going in those specific moments and a lot of things that had happened going towards a series of selfish things that didn't necessarily toward the betterment of other people--

LAURA: Hey, that's a good point.

MATT: --and that is the calling card of a chaotic neutral character. If you had stolen the broom for a greater good or a necessary purpose to save people or--

LAURA: No, it was just because I wanted to fly.

MATT: It was purely because you wanted to fly. And there had been a number of moments like that where I had kind of been considering it for a while, and that was a big moment where I was like, "All right, I'll knock you down." But once again, alignment doesn't make a huge difference. I don't think alignment should be a guide for the roleplay, I think it should be reactive to the roleplay. And more of an indicator. I agree with elements of alignment in games, and I disagree with elements of it. I keep it in because it's a relic of the times and it works as a decent guide here and there, but it's not a big deal.

BRIAN: Yeah. Sam?

SAM: Yessir?

BRIAN: Question for you from Karraxx. "What was in the letter that Scanlan gave to Pike?"

SAM: What was in the letter that Scanlan gave to Pike?

BRIAN: Yep.

SAM: I'll just read it to you.

TRAVIS: (incredulous) Oh, you got it? Oh, the old digital device.

SAM: Let's see, mm-hmm. Okay.

LAURA: You just have it right there?

SAM: I figured this would come up.

(laughter)

SAM: Ahem. Dearest Pike, my entire life, I've been half a man. Not in stature, nor confidence, nor certainly not in reputation, but you see, even though my heart has pumped blood for these 69 years, it has done so only as half a heart. The moment I first saw you was not a choir of angels singing, nor silly butterflies fluttering in my chest. No, the moment I met Pike Trickfoot-- I haven't read this in a year-- the moment I met Pike Trickfoot was the tragic moment I realized that my heart, my soul, would be forever incomplete without you. For years, I've strived to mend to mend my incomplete heart. To join it with yours and find true bliss at your side. Though it may not have seemed so, everything I've done these past years has been to impress you, please you, protect you. I knew early on it was a futile effort, I'm not stupid. The entire world may be mad, but that doesn't nullify the laws of reality, one law being that you are, and will always be, too good for a poor penny-singer like Scanlan Shorthalt. But even though I would not win you, your love, I could never stop trying. Does the sun stop rising when the clouds blot it out? No. Like me, it knows its purpose. To illuminate the world so that mortals can witness such beauty as you.

TRAVIS: Oh my god.

SAM: Jesus, this is good.

(laughter)

TRAVIS: You're getting laid tonight. By yourself!

SAM: But now, as the sun sets on my life--I guess I was dying?

TRAVIS: "You can't open it unless you die."

SAM: Oh, that's right! Okay, good. But now, as the sun sets on my life, I have discovered something new. I have a daughter whose heart beats my blood and whose life is my own. And she, unlike her father, can be good and right and one day worthy of your love, which is why, on my deathbed, I leave her to you. Don't you see? This whole time I thought I was chasing a lover, but instead, I have been chasing a mother for my child. You, Pike Trickfoot, are the savior to Kaylie that I could never be. Your wisdom and honor and goodness can give her the chance at redemption that I never had. Pike, take my daughter as your own, show her the light of Sarenrae. Guide her to be a kind-hearted gnome. Teach her to be everything her father was not. That way, in death, my-- oh, man, I'm going to cry!

(laughter)

SAM: That way, in death, my heart will be complete. And it will beat inside Kaylie, by your side, like I always dreamed it would. With love and respect, Burt Reynolds, Esquire.

(cheering)

MARISHA: How much is Scanlan repurposing that for his vows?

LIAM: Dani Carr just ascended straight to heaven off camera.

(laughter)

BRIAN: That was fantastic, well done.

SAM: I haven't read that since I wrote it. That's really good!

(laughter)

BRIAN: It'll be hanging in several Critters' houses soon, probably.

TRAVIS: Ashley, did you feel bad for reading that early?

ASHLEY: Nope!

(laughter)

LAURA: Wait a minute. You wrote 69 in that thing. And then in the wrap-up episode, you said you were in your forties or fifties.

SAM: No, 70.

LAURA: Really?

SAM: Yeah.

LAURA: Okay.

BRIAN: Matt, EvilGeniusReborn has a question. "In your head, what vestiges did you intend to go to which player?"

MATT: I had some vestiges that were definitely geared towards specific players, like Mythcarver for Scanlan, the Titanstone Knuckles for Grog, and the Spire for Keyleth. But when it came to the Deathwalker's Ward, the Cabal's Ruin, those were a little more open. It was going to be between the three of you guys. And there was the possibility of someone doubling up on vestiges. With Fenthras, that was probably going to go to you, but depending on who wanted to focus on what, it was either the opportunity of people swapping them, or one person was better with a single vestige or multiple vestiges, that could be decided. I didn't know who was going to take Deathwalker's Ward, but it was the first vestige you had encountered, and it was probably going to be one of you five who would use leather consistently. Other than those few that were very specifically tailored for those classes, I left the others open for choice and who wanted to adopt them. And then once you had made the choice with the Raven Queen and the temple, it was like, "Well, I feel like that choice is definitely made."

LAURA: Yeah, but it didn't go to you right away.

LIAM: No, you took it initially.

LAURA: Yeah, and then I gave it to him.

MATT: That's right.

LAURA: Yeah. And then I found out it fucking had wings. Mother--

LIAM: A lot of disappointments in this game, Laura.

TALIESIN: Did we exalt all of the vestiges?

TRAVIS: Everything that we had.

MATT: Everything that you had.

TALIESIN: Okay, just curious.

LAURA: I like that there's other vestiges in the world for the next campaign.

MATT: Oh yeah, there's plenty of vestiges, good and bad vestiges. They're everywhere.

BRIAN: Taliesin. A lot of people were interested, and you didn't want to talk about it at the time, but if this is the time and place, question from @phorsi, "What did the party have to say to convince you to come back from the dead?"

TALIESIN: Oh god, it was less what they had to say and what they could have said that would've made him say no. There were certain appeals that they could have made that I would've ignored.

MATT: I feel like religion was a big one.

TALIESIN: Religion was a big one. I was prepared for any attempts to call upon a god to bring him back, he would have been like, "No, no, no." But it was all about finding reasons to come back. I was really happy to let it be a 50/50 flip. I could have gone either way. That could have been a great end to that character.

MATT: It would have been a great end to Percy's story. I had made peace with that end for him, and we had talked about other character possibilities. I think elements of your character in the next campaign started as your alternative character for Percy and decided to go.

TALIESIN: Absolutely.

MATT: But when Vex dropped that bomb in the middle of the--

TALIESIN: Yep, that did it.

MATT: It was like, "Well, that's going to be a hard press for Taliesin to talk that one away."

TALIESIN: Yeah, that did it.

BRIAN: Matt. Concerning the dragons, Charlie John Boychuk wants to know, "What would have happened had Vox Machina permitted Raishan her time with Thordak's corpse?"

MATT: So what Raishan was doing with Thordak's corpse was an ancient variant of Speak with Dead. Now when you cast Speak with Dead, you rise the spirit up and you can ask it questions, and it can decide whether or not it wants to answer truthfully or answer at all. What she was concocting was a more intense version of that that actually tortures and forces information out of his soul. What she was trying to do was be given a moment where she could extract information from Thordak's soul. And the information she wanted was the location of Opash's lair and what he wanted: what was the secret, the secret to her-- it wasn't Opash's lair, it was what was the secret to her getting rid of the disease that she knew, she saw in his eyes, that he was truthful about from the very beginning. And that information was Opash's lair, and when you interrupted her, she sealed you guys off, continued with the ritual, got enough information to get out of there to Opash's lair, teleport there, and then got the rest of the information she needed when she had absconded with it. So that's why when she left and she put the force wall there, it was just to keep you at bay, just to give her enough time to get the information she needed to know where to go, and then took his corpse with her so she could get the last bit of information when she had found herself there.

BRIAN: What were the significance of the eggs?

MATT: Oh, Thordak was mutating, Thordak was becoming something new.

BRIAN: Yeah. Was the sickness real, or was that a power play thing?

MATT: No, the sickness is very real.

BRIAN: Okay, okay. So the eggs--

MATT: The soul curse on Raishan was very real. And Raishan was very, very desperate to find a way as it began to-- it was continuing to spread as the years went on and she knew her time was limited, and she needed to find a way out. And she, as a natural deceiver, can see through lies at an instinctual basic level, and when her first battle with Thordak led to Thordak saying, "I can help you with that. I know a way to stop that," which was his eventual plan of becoming a dracolich.

BRIAN: Wow. And then the eggs?

MATT: And the eggs were an unexpected circumstance. When they had put the soul anchor within Thordak and kept him in the Fire Elemental Plane, the sheer force of elemental chaos began to change him and shift him. And eventually, he began to, in a Jurassic Park kind of way, no longer be a particular sex, just began to become an entity that gave birth to create progeny.

TRAVIS: Life finds a way.

MATT: Life finds a way. So the eggs were, and are, a representation of a new species, a primal elemental dragon.

LAURA: And we killed them all?

MATT: You killed them all, as far as you know.

BRIAN: I hate that term.

TRAVIS: What does that mean?

MATT: That means that's an invitation for anybody who's playing a campaign in Tal'Dorei! That's for any of you guys out there that are playing in the game, that could be something.

LAURA: Fuck, we should have kept a baby dragon.

BRIAN: That is all the time we have to discuss the Chroma Conclave. Now, we are trying to focus tonight's discussion on, obviously, you guys talking to each other and also discussing things that haven't been talked about yet, either in panels ad nauseum, or on previous Talks Machina episodes or whatever. So if there's something you feel like we didn't touch, we are now in where we started Talks Machina, so you can go back, suffer through the first few episodes, and then find joy later in life towards episode 53, which was, I believe, last week's. Character stats, as we end arc three. Grog rages: 86 total.

TRAVIS: 86 rages?

BRIAN: 86 rages.

SAM: Almost every session.

BRIAN: I would've thought more, right, but yeah, almost every session. Pike healing: 3,658 HP.

TRAVIS: Dang.

BRIAN: Vex arrows: 474.

LAURA: Oh, see? So I had plenty left.

SAM: Well, there were some off-screen, I assume.

LAURA: Meh.

BRIAN: Now, I have to check with Andrew at CritRoleStats to make sure this means what I think it means, but it says Percy misfires: 36.

TALIESIN: That sounds about right.

BRIAN: DM facepalms? 264.

MARISHA: He did that more than you raged!

LAURA: Oh my god!

MATT: That's what you guys do to me. That's your fault.

MARISHA: Sorry.

BRIAN: Keyleth Beast Shapes: 110 times. What do you think the most used was?

LAURA: Eagle.

TRAVIS: Planetar.

MARISHA: Earth elemental?

BRIAN: You're correct, 15 earth elemental times. Scanlan inspirations? 136. And every one of them fucking gold.

(laughter)

BRIAN: And Vax one-shot kills: 21. One-shot kills.

TALIESIN: 21 friends we never got to make.

(laughter)

LIAM: Those were 21 headaches I saved you all.

TALIESIN: 21 accents Matt didn't have to make.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Dagger? And then it ends there. That ends our discussion on the Chroma Conclave. We're going to take a break here. When we come back, I will sit down with some of your favorite guest stars from Critical Role. See you in a few.

(cheering)

BreakEdit

MALE VO: A man in search of adventure. A woman in search of her true self. A roguishly handsome kobold king in search of that woman. A bard in search of a tuning fork. From Blizzard Entertainment comes an adventure of togwaggling proportions. An epic saga of danger, love, talking skeletons, terrifying catacombs, kobolds, and thrills so supreme they'll take both your candle and breath away.

BARD: Don't take it!

MALE VO: Written by King Togwaggle, directed by King Togwaggle, starring King Togwaggle, and some humans, and some other kobolds. This Groundhog Day, don't pay for a whole theater seat: you'll only need the edge. Kobolds & Catacombs.

WHITNEY: Okay! If you're receiving this, I'm in the apocalypse and you're watching Thrashtopia! Thrashtopia is the only show in the wasteland that has Whitney, weird technology, advanced AI friendships, incredible sound effects, very special or very scary guests, heavy metal, cool art, your past coming back to haunt you, apocalyptic educational videos, and a lot of other cool stuff!

JASON: Whitney! Remember that talking to a camera is not an appropriate substitute for real human interaction. While talking to a camera may feel like speaking to an actual person, in reality, you are alone. Alone. Alone.

[heavy metal music] [eerie music] [ticking] [eerie music and ticking]

BECCA: Get out them fancy clothes, light some candles, and pour the absinthe. We're sampling secret societies with Illimat from Together Studios. This cunning card counter pits two to four players against one another in a race to 17 victory points tracked on each player's side of the game mat. Set up begins with a hearty shuffle and three cards dealt into each of the four fields of play. The dealer is chosen randomly and players are then dealt a four-card hand. Except for the player to the dealer's left; they only get three. That's the price you pay for going first. The remaining cards become the draw pile. Next, four Luminary cards are randomly dealt face-down and placed in the corner of each field. The bottom of the game box, known as the Illimat, is placed center, and four Okus Tokens are placed on top. Align this box so the arrow is pointing to the dealer. Illimat is played over a series of rounds, usually two to three per game. Points are tallied at the end of each round after players have harvested cards from the mat. Here's the scoring system. Four points to the player who harvests the most cards. This is called the bumper crop. Two points for harvesting the most Summer cards. Minus two points to whomever harvested the most Winter cards. Each Fool card, Luminary, and Okus Token are each worth one point. Gameplay starts to the left of the dealer. Each turn, a player must play one card from their hand and perform one of the following actions. Harvest: by playing one card from their one hand, a player can collect one or more cards with the matching value from a field. In addition to taking single cards, a player can also collect combinations of cards from a single field that add together to equal the value of the card from their hand. They then add the cards to their personal harvest pile for points at the end of a rond. Sow: a player may discard a card from their hand into a field. Stockpile: by placing a card from their hand onto an existing card on the field, a player can create a single stack for future harvesting. This stack acts as one card and cannot be separated. Stacks can either be multiple instances of one value, or individual cards combined together to create a higher value. If a stack has multiple instances of one value, it's considered locked on that value and cannot be added to as single cards. In order to do any stockpiling, a player must also have a card in their hand that matches the value of the stack. Within these three actions, some other effects may occur. For instance, if a face card was played on a turn, rotate the Illimat so the season of the field matches the season of the played card. Any face cards from the star suit mean a player can choose where to rotate the Illimat. Seasons also have different effects on the field they face. Winter means no harvesting over there. Autumn: no sowing. Spring denies stockpiling. Of course, in Summer, anything is possible. When harvesting, if a player clears a field by removing the last card, a number of effects can occur. First, if any Okus Tokens remain on the Illimat, the player gains one. If the Luminary card in the field is face down, flip it and resolve its effects. Effects are listed in the rulebook. I'm not going to go over all of them here, but they include things like forcing the seasons to change and allowing players to use two cards in a harvest instead of one. If the Luminary card is already face up, the player adds it to their harvest and resolves any of its reward effects. The field is then reseeded with three cards from the draw pile, unless the draw pile has less than three cards or the Luminary is already face up. Ooh! A Fool of Summer! A Fool card can either be a one or a 14, depending on what you want it to be. If you harvest a Fool card, you get an additional one point at the end of the round. At the end of their turn, players draw back up to four cards in their hand and play passses to the left. This continues until all the cards from the deck and the players' hands are gone, then points are totaled for the round. Once a player reaches 17 or more points, they win! And that's Illimat! I should mention this game was commissioned by the band The Decemberists. That's why I'm having Chris Funk and the game's creator, Keith Baker, to play Illimat on a special Game the Game on December 6th. You can watch this live on twitch.tv/geekandsundry or projectalpha.com. Come check it out and keep playing games!

[music]

Guest StarsEdit

BRIAN: Welcome back, and please welcome some of our favorite guest stars from Critical Role's journey thus far: Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Will Friedle, Darin De Paul, Jason Charles Miller, and Noelle Stevenson. Thank you guys for joining us. Thank you for coming.

WILL: Thanks for having us.

MARY: We're not dead!

BRIAN: Well, there's still time. Before we get into a few questions, we have to do a round of quick plugs because you guys, you know, there's so many people in the Geek & Sundry and Alpha family now. Darin and Amy do a morning show every Monday at 8:00am.

DARIN: Monday morning at 8:00am. Really early on Alpha. We do stuff. We have a couple episodes left and we're really excited.

BRIAN: It's been awesome.

DARIN: Yes, it's been an absolute dream. Amy Vorpahl is a wonderful partner and makes me laugh harder than anyone I know. And it's just joy.

BRIAN: Some of the producers, Sean and Dani, were telling me how much of a joy it is to get up at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday nights to-- No, but everybody says, "If you have to come in early and do an early show, Darin and Amy are the best people in the world to--"

DARIN: We're very happy people, and also awful people for being that happy, that early in the morning.

BRIAN: Yes, absolutely.

WILL: She's really cool.

DARIN: She's really cool, and a great D&D player as well.

BRIAN: Indeed, yeah. Indeed. And Painter's Guild is coming back?

WILL: Season two, Painter's Guild, January 8th, yeah. We're bigger and better this year so it's very cool.

BRIAN: Because you've been lifting weights? I'm confused.

WILL: No, because before, where we had a table in a hallway, that was literally it. So yeah, we are--

BRIAN: Oh yeah, that's true. Yeah. There's a set?

WILL: We have a big old set and we're interviewing guests and meeting some cool painters, some cool artists, so yeah. It's a cool season.

BRIAN: Jason, you've got Starter Kit too?

JASON: Starter Kit every Thursday and Thrashtopia every Wednesday.

BRIAN: My god. And Noelle and Mary are unemployed currently, have nothing-- No, we were just talking, you guys both have several projects but you can't talk about them.

MARY: Can't talk about any of them. We've got the Kingsman chip in our necks. Our heads will explode.

WILL: I can tell you what they are. I've signed no such forms.

MARY: I know everything, therefore--

BRIAN: It is funny to think about going back to the beginning of Critical Role coming onto Geek & Sundry, and now thinking about the three of you who have been on the show and now have your own shows here, and how beloved you are from the community-- and the two of you as well. When we sent out and said, "Who do you guys want us to have on as guests?" And everyone said Joe. No, I'm kidding.

WILL: I figured. It would've been us sitting here like this and you would've just seen the torso.

BRIAN: The tweet, Joe replied and said, "Everyone better say me or I'll come after you."

WILL: He's a large fellow.

BRIAN: He is, yeah. Not next to Travis, though. I was told I had to say that. What has been, for you guys, the biggest difference between coming on a show like Critical Role and playing D&D at home or maybe even a event stream or one-off or something like that? What's been the biggest difference between stepping into this behemoth than doing something at home?

MARY: Well, it was my first behemoth. I mean, I learned on the show. I'd never played before. I had no idea what I was doing and it was just trial by fire.

WILL: Me too. Exact same thing, I'd never played. First time I played was on camera.

BRIAN: Going back, would you prefer to be thrown in the deep end like that or-- Yeah?

WILL: I liked it, yeah. I mean, if you're going to play.

DARIN: I liked being the character that I'd played years and years ago. Because ultimately, it's acting. It's what we do. It's a big improv scene. It's "yes, and." So getting to work with fabulous performers and creating a character and creating an adventure, that's pretty cool.

NOELLE: I think the biggest difference is that people actually care about your character, which, if you play a home game and you're like, "Oh my god, let me tell you about my sorcerer character," or whatever, and they're like, "Yeah, all right. I don't know you. What are you talking about?" But then all of a sudden, everyone's like, "Oh, I saw your character! I love your-- Here's a drawing of your character!" I'm like, "This is like a dream come true! This is so amazing! I didn't know that this was allowed to happen!"

WILL: It's like what they say with fantasy sports. They say there's nothing more interesting than your own fantasy team and nothing less interesting than somebody else's. So that's what it's like with D&D. People come and tell you about their home games and until I really played, I didn't care. And now you kind of hear it and you're like, "Oh, what are you doing?" And so you do. You want to listen. You want to hear and all that good kind of stuff.

NOELLE: It's like having a dream and someone is like, "Tell me more about that!"

DARIN: Here's the thing. I'm breaking it down for you. I'm getting real. When you play at home, you don't get fan art. End of discussion.

MARY: With this, we're part of a community now that is a continually expanding community of positivity and positive, world-creating building, improvisation. It's creativity. And in times of darkness, to create something is a wonderful source of light, right? And it's a great community to be a part of.

WILL: It's like when you go to a convention and you walk around, you go, "Oh, there's millions of me." Because you think you're the only one that paints minis or reads comic books in the dark and then you walk around, you go, "Oh, other people are dressed up too." It makes everything great.

DARIN: You're home. And it kind of feels that way, coming on to Critical Role. It's like, sharing a time with everybody, "Oh, I'm home."

JASON: I think playing the game with Matt as the DM, it's a great game. But then what happens afterward, that's really the difference of the fan art, the people that are interacting, that are talking about your character, that know your character better than you. That's really the big difference in playing a home-brew game and playing it here.

BRIAN: Everybody who's come on the show, even for just one appearance, has said that that exact thing has been one of the biggest impacts on them afterwards, besides the amazing fan art that ends up happening. Mary and Will, for you guys, what was it like being on the show in the early episodes versus coming in and being in the later episodes? What was the biggest difference for you? Besides not shooting on what looked like the bedroom of a five-year-old.

WILL: And sharing a bench with somebody, half your ass-cheek off one of the benches as Travis needed space?

MARY: Well it was weird because I'd never played before and there's Felicia Day and everything, and I was terrified. Steve's whole philosophy of parenting is just, "Keep your kids alive until they're 18." So my whole philosophy about D&D was, "Don't kill the team. Don't kill Vox Machina." And I was more terrified about that than anything, you know? But to be there, sandwiched between Laura and Travis, I was home already. So I felt safe and I felt inspired to fail, to screw up and to dive in unabashedly and bravely.

WILL: My philosophy was smile, nod, and shift your papers around like you know what you're doing. The old shifting that-- all I was doing was shifting my papers because again, the improv, I didn't have a problem with. But then you get into rules, and you get with somebody like Matt. I mean, the perfect example was one of the episodes that we did. We're there with Wheaton, who I think knows a thing or two about D&D as well. And at one point it was apparently my cleric, I had no idea you could Turn Undead. So at one point he looks at me and he goes, "Turn Undead!" And it was like, "I don't know what I'm doing! Give me a break here!" So it was that moment of just keep your mouth shut, smile, be funny, and shift your papers around until we figure out what to do. And you're trying to figure out the spells and all that stuff. It's a very in-depth game and when you jump right in the middle of people who know what they're doing, it can be really disconcerting.

BRIAN: Just shout what you're supposed to do to your other players! D&D 101!

MARY: But then later on, when we came back, we would get together and be like, "Okay, what are we going to do? Let's team up!" And I think that's what sort of birthed their relationship.

WILL: When we teamed up, everything kind of changed with playing because you and I formed a bond and it was like, let's just go from there. So that was helpful.

BRIAN: That's true, and that was a bond that the community really resonated with.

DARIN: That was my first time actually on set here.

MARY: That was the first time I met you!

DARIN: Yeah! We met for the first time-- we were watching and you kissed--

WILL: Oh, that was the kiss scene. Kash kissed Keyleth, yeah.

DARIN: And I was just going, "I wonder if I'll ever be part of this world!"

MARY: "I just got into town! I like voice-over! What's your name?"

WILL: That's when I realized how big the community was, when Kash kissed Keyleth. I was like, "Okay, two fictional characters kissed, no big deal." And then artwork and everything, and it was like, oh man. Yeah, it was a big deal. I didn't know that was going to happen. It was kind of fun. It was like, yeah, just kiss her and walk out.

MARY: But that's the fun.

WILL: Yeah, it's great.

BRIAN: It is. That's improv, I mean, too.

MARY: We made up the pregnancy right before we came on stage.

WILL: Literally right before we came on stage she looked at me and she goes, "Zahra's going to be pregnant." I was like, "Oh, you've got to do that!" And that was it.

MARY: Hiding behind the paint cans like--

BRIAN: Oh yeah, you guys were hiding back here by the paint cans because the cast didn't know you were here. Jason, in addition to doing the most epic theme song of all time--

ALL: Yeah! (applause)

BRIAN: I have a question for you, but before that, we had a moment in the office where I saw Jason before we started taping and his phone went off. And he has the Critical Role ring tone. I was like, hey, hell yeah, dude! That's a badass song! You should have that as your ringtone! So for you, going back, what was it like to play a character who wasn't really on the same side as the players? Wasn't necessarily on the same side as the players?

JASON: Well, I mean, the problem really was I can separate myself to a certain extent, but I love everybody already. So I wasn't on the same side, but luckily there was a uneasy truce because we were all trying to survive at that point. And maybe if he had continued, there might have been some foul play, but at least for that moment we were relatively on the same side, I'd say. Yeah.

BRIAN: What surprised you the most about that episode?

JASON: There weren't really too many. Actually, what surprised me was I was sitting next to Liam and he had the chatroom open. And I remember that in combat, I called out that there was an attack of opportunity for my character. And then chat just went crazy, like, "Oh yeah, this guy knows how to play this game! He knows about attack of opportunity!" So for me, it was the instant commentary of every single move that I made in that combat was immediately on Liam's phone. So I thought that was pretty cool.

BRIAN: That's so weird. And what's crazy is Liam was in a total chatroom that wasn't for Critical Role at the time. He's a part of several of those.

WILL: Fetish what?

BRIAN: I knew you would have one for me. Noelle, talk to me about jumping into such an intense episode, because you actually ended up being part of the Nine Hells.

NOELLE: Yeah.

BRIAN: Why did you choose to play another prisoner versus a plausible demon that lived there?

NOELLE: Well if I could have, I would've played a shopkeeper or another shopper who might have been maybe introduced in the episode a little sooner.

BRIAN: You got to answer a lot of emails, though, before--

NOELLE: Yeah, it was like, "Okay, all right, no, by all means, carry on." But no, that was actually something that Matt told me that night, that I was going to be a prisoner and they were going to meet me, because that was part of my backstory. But it was. It was really intense. I was playing Tova as a burner character a little bit, where it's kind of like, if she dies, it would be okay. It's the only time I'm ever going to play a character where, maybe I do want to go out in a blaze of glory. A lot of it was trying to have fun, play the game, but also try not to step on any of the really big moments that were happening with the team and try and help them get to their next big thing. So I'm really glad I got to be there for that last scene. It felt really important and, even though Tova didn't end up going back with them, it was a really moving moment. It was cool to see.

BRIAN: And she survived, too, as we found out.

NOELLE: Yeah, canonically. It's true. She's alive. She's, what, running a bear society? Not entirely sure.

BRIAN: Some sort of weird bear-land type thing. Yeah. I am interested, what's more nerve-wracking or terrifying: starting the show at the beginning, or waiting for your character to come in in the middle of an episode, how some of you were introduced? The waiting is really hard, right?

NOELLE: My heart was going so fast! I was like, "Is that me? No, that's not me."

BRIAN: Oh yeah, whenever Matt says, "And you turn a corner and you see--" Like, (nervous yelling).

WILL: Well, it's the difference in starting at the beginning of the river, where you can get on the boat slowly and go, or just jumping into the raging part. So there's times when they're in the middle of something huge and it's like, "Oh, and then here comes--" And you walk in like, "Oh my god, we're right in the middle of this."

MARY: What if we screw it up?

WILL: Yeah, you're going to die because of me. Because you said something interesting. There are times you do go, all right, I'm a guest star. So if I die, that's kind of okay and might be a cool way to go. And you do have that moment. And then you're thinking, "Oh my god, what if I take one of them with me? Oh my god!" So it's pretty horrifying as well.

MARY: We talked a lot about doing a Thelma and Louise.

WILL: We thought about trying to go out in a blaze of glory.

MARY: Well just, if somebody was on the verge, we're just like, "All right, gun it."

WILL: But then I think I rolled a natural one and we were both thrown off the cliff. That was the end of that. There we go. "Thanks for coming, now leave."

BRIAN: That final Vecna battle episode, where we had a few guests here, you were hidden from the cast and we were in the back room and stuff. And then Joe had this backpack with his Wyrmwood and his player's guide and all this stuff. And then at one point, we're all sitting in the back, and he wasn't trying to hide it all. He grabbed all his shit and was like, "Well, see you later, guys!" And then he walked out and onto screen and we were like, "Well, there goes that surprise."

WILL: We were trying. Mary was like, "I have to go to the bathroom!" And then five minutes later it was like, "I have to go to the bathroom!"

BRIAN: You guys did great. And then I think everybody caught on and it was like, screw it.

WILL: Did we tell everybody that, while we were in the back room, we had a death pool going?

BRIAN: Yeah, we did. We talked about it. I think we tweeted pictures of it, too. Darin--

DARIN: Hi, I'm Darin.

BRIAN: Yes, we should really start the show, by the way. Your storyline really dealt with redemption and that seemed to be embraced by the fans in a really intense way that not a lot of other, even characters or even some of the more beloved NPCs that had longer, drawn-out storylines were identified with. I think a lot of that has to do with the sentiment that you had played 37 years ago with Matt's mom in a game and all that stuff. Talk to me about the experience of playing a character who ultimately, I mean, lost everything in one episode, only to find a purpose with Ioun. Talk to me about that experience.

DARIN: Coolest thing ever. Again, I thought that when he was shot full of arrows, that was it. I went, "That's a great way to go out." And then we got better and better and better and I love that he had redemption. Originally I thought of him as Fagin, that he was going to steal everything he could. But the goodness about everybody brought out the goodness in him. Playing as an actor, I would look over and Liam's face was in such delight that it was a joy to watch. And I'm like, "Oh, well, we're just going to have fun with this!" And that he is still alive, that he's still up there, and that he had this wonderful exit, just arguing with Ioun, that's kind of cool. It was a good little thing to play. I love playing funny characters who are also tragic. I think there's a lot of depth in that, and maybe that's what resonated with the audience, that this utter goof got to have his hero moment and got to cry with Keyleth. I do that.

BRIAN: And looked so good while doing it, Darin.

DARIN: Thank you! Has anyone else worn fancy clothes when they're playing?

MARY: I wore a white tuxedo jacket for the final battle.

WILL: That's right, you did! I had pants on.

MARY: I had a She-Ra shirt on under it.

DARIN: So two of us.

NOELLE: I wore my fancy flannel. You guys got the good ones.

JASON: I wore my favorite hat!

BRIAN: There's a shocker.

WILL: We have to beg you to wear a shirt during our home game.

MARY: I'm just hoping you wear pants.

BRIAN: Mary put a sign on the door that says, "No shirt, no pants, no Brian."

WILL: We're only doing that because you roll so poorly.

BRIAN: Wil Wheaton and I roll terribly. What is something from your experience on Critical Role this past year and a half that you guys will definitely take with you? I know we talked about the community, but what was something about being on the show? It could be something hilarious that was said, it could be a sentiment, or perhaps a hidden crush on one of the cast members.

WILL: You weren't supposed to tell Travis.

BRIAN: I didn't. He can't hear; he's in the cone of silence.

MARY: What's amazing is we're role-playing, but there are these unbelievably emotional moments. We brought Laura's character back to life. Just crying! And it was like: I'm playing D&D on the internet and I'm crying! It's so moving. It's great to just completely invest yourself in something that you're making up as we go. I talked to Laura about this a lot at a convention. I'm not a writer, so this is the one thing that I've created with the help of Matt as mine. With everybody else, we create our character's ensemble. It's amazing. Unique experience.

BRIAN: When you guys are out and about, going to conventions or events, there's people everywhere who come up and talk about this show.

WILL: Dress like our characters!

MARY: They named a puppy Zahra! I mean, come on!

WILL: It's nuts.

BRIAN: And still making art and everything else. It's crazy.

DARIN: They'll come up and be in tears. No, this was as special for all of us as it was for you and thank you for embracing these characters. Taking them to here and here.

JASON: I was playing a concert in Baltimore and someone yelled out, "We love you, Garthok!" Okay, awesome!

WILL: It's crazy!

MARY: That's amazing.

WILL: I have to say, what I will take away, as much as I love the game and it's completely transformed certain aspects of my life because we have our home game. I knew Matt well because we did Thundercats together, but I knew Travis and Laura, I'd met all these people, but I didn't know them well. So getting to know them and becoming close to them and friends with all of them, that's what I'll take away. I feel like I've gotten all new friends of out this-- you and Mary! I've got a whole new set of friends out of this, which is something I'll take with me forever. D&D is amazing. Critical Role is amazing. The relationships it's formed is something I'll never forget.

BRIAN: Our game is one of the hundreds or more started because of this show.

DARIN: I knew working with Matt in my episode was going to be delightful and I wanted to have a moment with Marisha. That was my aim because I think she's a wonderful actress, capable of so many things. That was my favorite thing. When she thought she had killed me and we were just weeping and in tears and going, "It's okay!" We're just there and we couldn't touch and it was just-- this is acting, this Broadway, this is a scene! I hope you appreciate it because it's really good!

BRIAN: You know when you feel it. You go, I hope it's coming across as strongly as I feel it.

DARIN: You hope that the picture you're painting in your mind other people are because it's so vivid and wonderful. I would sit home and watch these guys on the show and marvel in it. I was a huge fan before I even got the opportunity to go on.

BRIAN: I remember one of the first nights of Talks Machina, I come on the set and Darin is taking pictures. I go, what's going on? He goes, "Sorry, dude! Can I take some pictures?" I'm like: Yes, dude! I'm so honored to meet you! What the fuck?! He just showed up and he's geeking out over all the trinkets we have. No pun intended.

DARIN: I'm just mouth-stupid. I told Matt: it's my theater, coming from theater in New York. I was like: this is what I watched on Thursday for the story and characters. And it was theater for me. I loved how it evolved and the tragedy, the comedy.

WILL: Good story's good story. I don't care what medium it comes in. Good story's good story, plain and simple.

NOELLE: There's a universality-- what am I trying to say? Universal nature to D&D that is all the stories are different. Every game is different. Every DM runs things a different way, but there is this familiarity to everything. We were talking about this before. When Mary and I met for the first time, and it was like, "Okay, we're going to work together. What's that going to be like?" I think she was wearing a d20 necklace, so I was like, oh you play! She's like, "I'm a tiefling warlock!" and I was like "I'm a tiefling warlock!" And that was all we talked about for the rest of the day! Everyone else in the room was like, "What the fuck's going on?"

MARY: Do we now want to keep talking about the show?

NOELLE: The job? The show? And it's like, oh no, hang on. What about that infernal? There's something that you recognize and everyone's experience with it is different. I was pretty new to D&D, too, it was the second character I'd ever played on Critical Role. But it was the community and the way that people connected with that because it was familiar, it was recognizable in some way. That was what elevated it. It's not just about you and your character, it's about contributing to this much bigger thing. Even outside of Critical Role, to the wider D&D world. That's what people see themselves in. That's something that's really special. That's something I'll take away and continue to treasure about D&D in general.

WILL: Anything positive in this world is so beautiful!

BRIAN: I completely agree.

WILL: It's such a wonderful thing. We need more of it. If it comes with you and your friends sitting down and playing a game, that's what you do.

NOELLE: Collaborating with people to create something like a story, it means something.

BRIAN: I want to live in a world where we continue to engage the imagination in a way that doesn't involve us simply being a participant.

MARY: Or an observer.

BRIAN: Yeah, that's what I meant. Watching TV versus being the story.

MARY: Watching people play games or whatever, it's getting involved! Make your own game!

WILL: Waking up every morning and saying, "I will create."

DARIN: That's what happens with this game with these performers is total commitment to character. It's not, I'm a joke character with a joke name and I'm just here to add some jokes. No, I am in this world 100% and I want to convey that.

BRIAN: And all of you did beautifully. Thank you for joining us for this special wrap-up.

DARIN: We should really start.

BRIAN: We're going to as soon as I've had my coffee. Thank you guys for joining us so much.

MARY: Is that it? I had a whole thing on what the Moon Hammer was about. Another time. We'll get to it another time.

NOELLE: I wrote a song and a tap dance. Do I get to do that?

JASON: I brought Garthok's lineage.

DARIN: That's the song.

BRIAN: The song is a musical version of Garthok's lineage.

DARIN: (singing) Garthok's lineage! It's a thing that we do when we're old! Garthok's lineage! He was a thief! He was really bold! Garthok's lineage!

BRIAN: And that's canon, folks, Matt just confirmed off-screen for me. Thank you to our guests for joining us this evening. We're going to take another quick break, show a commercial, and be back with the casht-- Kasht? No, you got to leave. You got to go home and start doing pushups for tomorrow night.

MARY: We're puppets!

BRIAN: I know! We're back with the cast to finish discussing arcs four and five. See you in a few.

BreakEdit

MATT: Legends tell of a vast, underground world and the countless treasures that lie in store for worthy adventurers. (singing) You've signed up the best. You're on a great quest to find the mighty motherlode. There's treasure galore, but peril's in store and construction that isn't up to code. Trespass with care, there should be something rare, you can grab all the loot that you can handle. Such riches you'll own, but leave one thing alone.

KOBOLDS: You. No. Take. Candle!

MATT: (singing) And if you steal their light, you then must take flight, eluding each hazard and each trap. It's a chaotic race as the monsters give chase, and all the while you're trying to follow the map. They're gaining on you, your options are few, and you fear that you're never going to get home. You sought after wealth, but you lose all your health to kobolds & catacombs! It's Kobolds & Catacombs!

GILMORE: Hello Tal'Dorians! We have an exciting new product we want to share with you today on Gilmore's Glorious QVC. What you see here is a beautiful major arcana tarot deck featuring some of the most prominent figures of "who's who" in picturesque Tal'Dorei, painted by the brilliant Lady Ioana Muresan. Printed on the finest cardstock parchment with glittering gold foil imported from the mines of Kraghammer, this is truly a showstopper for any high society soiree. You're not just telling their fortunes, you're bedazzling their future. Now today we're offering this beautiful purple and gold deluxe edition as well as... that's it, actually. I wouldn't offer anything other than the finest edition in my store. The going market retail price of these cards is four platinum, or forty gold pieces, or four hundred silver pieces, or four thousand copper pieces, but today, we are giving you the special Gilmore's Glorious QVC value of-- Sherri, no, we're still filming those. Please! You're getting them all smudgy. The special Gilmore's Glorious QVC value of 24 gold pieces and 99 copper. That's right. Just two and a half platinum pieces! But that offer only lasts until the disclosed amount of seconds runs out on the timer in the corner. Scry now! Or come down and visit me, Gilmore, at Glimore's Glorious Goods. In the Abdar's Promenade District of Emon.

BOOK: Hey. Hey. Psst! Hey, over here! Yeah! Here I am! You caught me! You caught me being beautiful over here! Come on! (yelling) Hey! Hey, don't you turn away from me! I've got so much art! I'm so fucking pretty!

TALIESIN: Shut up! Everybody knows you're beautiful! Just shut up, damn it!

DANI: Introducing the first-ever Critical Role art book. The Chronicles of Exandria Volume One: The Tale of Vox Machina. Standard and deluxe editions available now. Order your art book today at the Geek & Sundry and Alpha online stores.

[deep chanting music] [electronic music]

MUSIC: I run and hide.

MALE VO: How do you want to do this?

MUSIC: You're inside. Yeah, you can always save me. We run and hide. Yeah, you can always find me.

MALE VO: How do you want to do this?

MUSIC: You my boomerang, boomerang, boomerang! Yeah, you my boomerang.

MALE VO: How do you want to do this?

MUSIC: You my boomerang, boomerang, boomerang. Yeah, you my boomerang, boomerang.

MALE VO: Smelling like an adventurer isn't easy.

MARISHA: You can certainly try.

MALE VO: CR. The new perfume from Critical Role. You cannot buy this, it's not a real product.

Episodes 84 - 99: Taryon DarringtonEdit

BRIAN: Welcome back, everyone! The fourth arc in the tale of Vox Machina featured many surprises, none of which more hilarious and surprisingly heartwarming than episodes 84 through 99, the adventures of Taryon Darrington.

ALL: Hey!

[musical crescendo]

BRIAN: Our first question is for Sam. This comes from @_quietbatpeople. "If Revivify had been successful in the second fight against Raishan and Scanlan hadn't had to go through the res ritual, would he still have left Vox Machina? Was it the act of dying or the circumstances surrounding the ritual (Kaylie, etc.) that were more influential?"

SAM: This is so exciting! For me! It was the act of dying that pushed him over the edge. He was not present for the revivify ritual, so he does not know what happened in it, not really. He heard distant voices.

LAURA: Only the ones that succeeded.

SAM: Yeah. Sorry, Travis.

TRAVIS: That hurts.

SAM: No, it was the dying. There was a long buildup to him leaving. He had discovered his daughter. It brought it front and center that he was a shithead for most of his life. The gang didn't really listen to him that much. He was doing stuff with drugs, or trying to, anyway. Then he had this terrible streak. Didn't he die twice in a row? Or get knocked out a bunch of times? He didn't even have that any more. He didn't have his mojo. Pike had said no. It was a whole big bunch of stuff that was not going well for young Shorthalt. Then to get knocked down again. He can't even help his people in battle! What use is he? He's nothing. He should have walked away. And then they made fun of him when he woke up! Oh my god! Terrible!

BRIAN: You would've done the same, though!

SAM: Oh yeah.

TALIESIN: I was waiting for that! Thank you!

SAM: Yeah, but in the moment it seemed particularly bad.

MARISHA: Sure.

BRIAN: "Matt: regarding the kraken," @hawaiianxngel wants to know, "could Vox Machina have had the chance of killing it (even though they weren't supposed to)? What would have happened if the kraken died?"

MATT: They totally could have. If circumstances allowed them to or if they decided to. If the kraken had died, the lodestone sources that both prevent the expansion of the rift between the water elemental plane and the ocean there would have been lost. The lodestones do slowly degenerate over time. They also keep Vesrah aloft above the ocean. It would've begun to sink.

MARISHA: That's why I kept screaming, "Don't kill the fucking kraken, Grog!"

MATT: It wouldn't have been immediate. It wasn't like all of sudden it dies and it collapses. Over the next five or so years when they began to degenerate, and they wouldn't have had a source. The would have had to find another kraken and either continue to farm in that area or lure one closer to the rift. It would have fucked up their entire ecosystem and would've had to find a new way to do it.

MARISHA: Go find another kraken. Giant squid. Go find a second one.

BRIAN: Plenty of krakens in the sea, as my grandmother used to say. Ashley, a question for you before bedtime from Shackleface. Which is technically Ashley's pet name for me. "You've mentioned that if you'd been able to be there for Scanlan's departure, Pike would've had a few things to say to him. What sort of things would you have said?"

ASHLEY: I feel like I got into that as we played some games with Scanlan again. I think Grog and Pike were so hurt. I think me as a player was-- hi. I think me as a player, I was bummed because I was gone so much and then he left while I was gone and then there was this new guy. I mean, Taryon was great, but come on, I want to play with Scanlan. I know I said a lot of the things in one of the later games after he came back. Once Pike got the courage. I don't know. That's one of those things that you never know that maybe-- I don't think Pike would have been able to stop him. He was going to go no matter what.

BRIAN: Sam, any thoughts?

SAM: She could've probably stopped me.

MARISHA: She would've been the only one, right?

SAM: She's probably the only one who could've stopped me.

MARISHA: I remember deep into that conversation, I remember all of us reaching this point of, "We're talking in circles, you're going to leave."

SAM: You helped! You changed the trajectory of what I was going to do. I was just going to go off and then little Vexy said, "Why don't you go spend some time with your daughter?" And I was like, "Oh, that's a good idea."

BRIAN: Matt, question for you from @Luap82517. "What would have happened if Keyleth had failed her Aramente trial. Would she have been able to try again?"

MATT: No, actually. In failing the Aramente, Keyleth would've stepped aside. She could still join whatever small council there is to the Air Ashari alongside her father, Korren. But somebody else would've been chosen to take on the Aramente to become the next leader.

LAURA: Damn, that would've sucked!

MARISHA: It's not meant to be redone at all.

MATT: It's not always blood-related. Classically, it's a generational thing. But it also can go to whoever is the most worthy and willing to take the Aramente.

MARISHA: You have the choice to tap out.

MATT: You can say no if you don't feel like you want to.

MARISHA: Once again, Keyleth got close several times to being like, "Fuck this!"

BRIAN: Laura, question for you from ThisTinSoldier. "This arc is where Vex saw the true face of wealth in Tary's arsenal and his pomp and attitude. Was this one of the deciding factors that mellowed her money-grubbing tendencies?"

LAURA: Nah.

BRIAN: Matt, question for you.

LAURA: No! I mean, no. Once she got money, that's what mellowed her out. Once she became rich enough that she didn't have to fucking worry about paying for things anymore, she was like, "Okay. This is what it's like."

SAM: Yeah, we all know that when rich people get rich, they stop. They're like, "I'm good!" and they just are good people from then on.

BRIAN: I have reached the number I told myself at five would satiate me, and yeah. Our next question comes from JornCener. So close to John Cena. "Matt: What was the plan for Hotis, assuming Vox Machina--" Hotis was the pit fiend. I don't need to remind you. I should remind the audience.

MATT: The rakshasa.

BRIAN: I'm like, "Matt, if you don't remember." Let me Mattsplain something to you.

MATT: Incorrectly.

BRAIN: Wait, wasn't Hotis the--

LAURA: The rakshasa.

BRIAN: Goddamn it! Wait! What was the pit fiend's name?

MATT: Utugash!

BRIAN: Utugash. I'll turn in my notice, "Matt: What was the plan for Hotis," the rakshasa, assuming VM hadn't ended him? Would have have shown up in the final arc, or would he have been left as a lingering threat for the next campaign?"

MATT: He wouldn't have been a lingering threat for the next campaign. The rakshasa's bent on vengeance towards the one that killed him. Otherwise, it goes about their own business, their own plans and plots. So Hotis would have eventually acknowledged at the end. By the time Hotis would've come back, the campaign would've been over. So it would have been a post-credits scene, if you will, where his vengeance against Vax cannot be acquired because he's no longer around. It would instead turn towards Ashley, towards Pike.

TRAVS: (as Grog) No, you can't!

LAURA: Good thing she's so powerful. She would've taken him down. No problem.

MARISHA: We're bosses by that point.

MATT: Hotis, at this point, knows what he's up against, and would not just go up against you by himself. A rakshasa, upon realizing what you can do, especially if you killed him once or twice, is going to instead go after the people you care about. I'm glad it worked out the way it is, it made for a better end point. That would have been a recurring nightmare for Pike until she dealt with it once and for all as was.

LIAM: Follow-up question. Did Tova live?

MATT: You've already asked this question.

LIAM: But it was in a bear context.

MATT: It was in a bear context. Yeah, Tova lived.

BRIAN: Honey Heist is canon. We already established that.

MATT: Tova did live. The only reason Tova survived is because of the ring of invisibility. It was just enough of a tool to enable her to get around the smaller dangers and avoid the bigger ones that could see through invisibility and find a way out. Unfortunately, she didn't recover any of her allies, but she survived.

BRIAN: Sam, question for you from Hakumen_narukami. "You mentioned before that Tary was only meant to stay for a couple of sessions. When was Scanlan meant to come back before the one year break?"

SAM: No idea. I assumed it would be a two or three episode dalliance and that everyone would grow tired of Taryon and he would die. Probably. He was pretty weak. Then I'd have to figure out a way to get Scanlan back. But turns out Taryon was so dashingly charming that everyone fell in love with him instantly!

LIAM: Those three episodes was how long it took for us to chill the hell out.

SAM: There was no finite plan for how to bring Scanlan back, right? He went to go do his thing.

MATT: I wasn't sure how long you wanted that to be. We had just discussed his--

SAM: We discussed his goals. So when he went back to Ank'Harel, he went for revenge. Matt explained to me that he didn't just get revenge right away. He had to lie in wait for those two guys who wronged him to come back into town eventually. Plot and figure out a way to destroy them in some way. So he took their counterfeiter away from them and ruined their business. Shamed them. Created this Meat Man character to shame them and intimidate them in front of all the underworld and chased them out of town forever. We had to roll for all this stuff, too.

MATT: Yeah, we did a whole series of rolls to see about successes and failures. By the end, you had their counterfeiter, you knew their underground, and there was a power vacuum in this small scale of what business they were running.

SAM: I had been sitting there waiting for them for months and months.

MATT: I asked you what you wanted to do, and you said:

SAM: I guess I'll just stay.

MATT: "I'll invite Kaylie and the two of us will take over the business." That's where that happened. It naturally went that direction.

SAM: It was a fun year.

MARISHA: What kind of a counterfeiter? Like a money counterfeiter?

SAM: Furniture. Art pieces. Antiques.

MATT: Expensive antique furniture. Things that you'd sell to the upper lordship.

MARISHA: That's right, I do recall that. Yeah.

SAM: Fine art pieces.

MARISHA: Yeah, that's crazy.

TALIESIN: Peter O'Toole.

BRIAN: Peter O'Toole?

TALIESIN: That's what I think of when I think of high-class counterfeit art.

MARISHA: Yeah, sure.

BRIAN: Matt. Save us from Taliesin with an answer to this question from ForsakenGrundle. "Is there anything the soulstones from Dis could have been used for?"

MATT: The soulstones from Dis? Other than the quick high and perhaps the ingestion of one right before battle giving a temporary advantage to initiative, maybe. Not really. They're not designed as sustenance for human beings. The benefits are generally gained by devils and entities that can subsist and gain power from souls. It's a whole different ball game. But for these chuckleheads in Dis it basically meant you got a brief headrush and realized you devoured something once living.

LAURA: I still have one in my inventory.

MATT: For one of those special nights.

LAURA: Yeah.

TALIESIN: What would happen if a tiefling ate one? Would that change things?

MATT: Might be a stronger brief headrush.

TALIESIN: Curious.

BRIAN: Taliesin. Jacob Thomas Bush wants to know, "There was a moment after Percy used the Scrying Eye that felt like he wanted to kill Scanlan, but Vex talked him out of it. If she didn't intervene, what would've happened?"

TALIESIN: I'm happy to answer. He wouldn't have killed him. He was going to find him. Again, under the rules of this world, I understand how this works. Sneak in, cripple him, take all of his stuff and tell him never to come back again. I was not happy with him having a vestige. I knew that he had taken shit from the house and I wanted to send a message that we were not happy. I didn't feel that he was responsible enough to have a lot of the stuff he had. I would've just snuck in, kneecapped him, taken his stuff, and say, "Don't come back."

TRAVIS: Use your words.

TALIESIN: That would've been the end! I was ready.

BRIAN: So what you're saying is, you didn't really have much of a plan in mind.

TALIESIN: I didn't have any plan in mind.

LIAM: Neutral good, folks, neutral good.

BRIAN: Travis, save yourself from your own crippling boredom with an answer to this question from Melzy89. "Grog has come close to finding lady love (or at least infatuation) on a number of occasions. Do you consider any of the women Grog encountered 'the one that got away'?"

TRAVIS: No.

SAM and LIAM: Follow up!

BRIAN: Please!

SAM: Did you boink the nymph?!

ALL: (chanting) Nymph!

TRAVIS: So the only people in the room that know the answer to this is Matt and I and the answer is: No.

(gasping)

TRAVIS: I didn't, no! She was very genuine in the conversation we had. Grog was super meek when confronted with this super hot naked nymph creature.

MATT: It was suggestive, a little bit. I remember she pushed you onto this slab and straddled you. And you were like, "What's going on?!"

MARISHA: Yeah, we'll call that "suggestive."

MATT: It was her bequeathing the heart to him.

LAURA: Yeah, that's what you do. You straddle somebody when you give them your heart.

MATT: It was ceremonial from her perspective, but it was also trying to make Travis uncomfortable. As I'm describing this to him in his kitchen.

TRAVIS: He has gentle tendencies underneath! I think he just wanted to let you guys wonder for five years.

MATT: Yeah. Nothing happened.

LIAM: Grog did or Travis did?

TRAVIS: What's the difference?

BRIAN: Question for anyone that this might be applicable to from TiamatZX. "Were there any other small things that the group did together on their year off that have not yet been revealed?" Did everything pretty much come out?

TRAVIS: I think it came out during previous Talks and the show.

TALIESIN: The only thing was the eloping and that eventually came out.

LAURA: We didn't talk about how we broke up. We broke up and then got back together and then we got married.

BRIAN: You're that couple?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: How was the wedding?

LAURA: It was very private.

TALIESIN: It was quiet and personal.

LAURA: Trinket was there.

LIAM: Where was it?

LAURA: It was in front of the Sun Tree.

TALIESIN: This is right.

MARISHA: Was it really?

SAM: Were there any witnesses?

TRAVIS: I was there because I'm super important.

(laughter)

BRIAN: Matt, DerAlpi wants to know, "What were the consequences of being caught listening to theatre in the Feywild?"

MATT: Ah, okay. If you are found to be listening to the theatre and you are not a member of the theatre, they converge on you and make you a member.

LAURA: They kill you.

MATT: They pull your soul to join the theatre. Which means you either have to flee or fail to flee and become a member of the theatre. Begin as an audience member and the longer you're there, eventually you're pulled into one of the various performances or troupes that cycle through there.

BRIAN: The Phantom of Vox Machina.

LAURA: So everybody that was there got caught.

MATT: Got caught or was a spirit that eventually wandered into the theatre and found a home there.

MARISHA: Exactly like getting Taft Hartley-ed is what you're saying.

MATT: Essentially, yeah. You must join after your third show.

BRIAN: Speaking of everyone's third favorite couple. "Laura & Taliesin," @T_fallenangel_T wants to know, "can you share with us the marriage proposal (who asked who & how), why did you not tell Vox Machina, who married you (was it Pike?), and did Tary know?"

LAURA: Oh, how did we say this happened? I think it was we were out on a walk and then we were talking about marriage.

TALIESIN: The whole notion was very punk rock from the top to the bottom. I think it was also a "God, I do not want to be a couple like your brother." Was a big part of it. Let's not be your brother and Keyleth at all.

LAURA: Let's just do it. Let's just go for it. Yeah.

TALIESIN: I thought it was a good reflection of "life is complicated and we could die at any moment."

LAURA: It was very spur of the moment. It's not like there was a proposal and then we had a whole thing. It was like, "Should we do this? Let's fucking do this." And then we did it.

BRIAN: Who performed the ceremony?

MATT: The Tal'Dorei Vegas wedding.

LAURA: Did we say you asked as a joke, or I asked you as a joke and the other said yes?

TALIESIN: Yes. It was like I double-dog dare you and--

LAURA: We should probably get married, then, huh?

TALIESIN: It's just doing it then, huh?

LAURA: Yeah.

BRIAN: Who performed the ceremony?

TALIESIN: Was it the priest from, I'm trying to remember.

LIAM: Taliesin Jaffe.

TALIESIN: I marry everybody, to be fair.

BRIAN: Did Tary know? Was the last question.

LAURA: No, Tary knew before anybody else did, though because he was in the house.

BRIAN: He was there? Okay.

LIAM: Oof.

LAURA: Yeah. Sorry, bro.

LIAM: Probably one of the biggest heartbreaks of the entire campaign. Massive. If circumstances had been anything other than they were, he would not have known what to do with himself. There was just too much going on. Massive heartbreak.

LAURA: You were going to get told.

SAM: Doesn't it warm your heart to know that Tary knew and could give her the support she needed?

TALIESIN: Oh wow.

LAURA: Yeah, everybody's going to hate me now.

BRIAN: Now? Sam, @snickerdoodle65 asks, "Was Scanlan close enough to hear Pike with the earring whenever she tried to talk to him?"

SAM: She was always in Whitestone, right?

MATT: I think you were too far out of range.

SAM: I got out of there fast. Well, I spent some time in the--

MATT: You spent some time in the Turst Fields, but even that was too far. The range on the earrings is like 1000 feet.

SAM: Yeah. So no, never heard Pike. But Scanlan did do a fair amount of praying to Sarenrae while he was on his Aramente.

BRIAN: That's hilarious. Matt, this is a really interesting question from @HeidiDobson2. "After the year break, it was said that no one found Scanlan when they searched for him. How many actually found him, but had Modify Memory cast on them?"

MATT: None. He didn't want to be found, and there were a few attempts. I asked you guys this when we were over the break, and everyone said, "Nope. If he wants to do his thing, let him do his thing."

LAURA: Not everybody. Ashley really tried.

SAM: Yeah.

MATT: That's right. Ashley really tried.

TRAVIS: And I really tried.

MATT: The two of you went to try and find him. You're right; thank you for correcting me on that. The two of you, unfortunately, didn't know where to go, didn't know what to look for.

TRAVIS: I don't know why, we're a bunch of big brains.

MATT: You'd expected him to still be nearby or on Tal'Dorei. You asked in Emon, you asked in Westruun. You looked around for any sort of sign, but he was in Marquet the whole time so there was no chance of finding him.

TRAVIS: What a dick.

TALIESIN: I tried to tail him briefly.

MATT: You did.

SAM: He was doing awesome stuff.

LAURA: Making fucking forfeit counterfeit furniture!

SAM: He was making money!

LIAM: He was reconnecting with his daughter. No?

SAM: Sure, that was part of it.

TALIESIN: Did Scanlan ever shoot the gun?

SAM: He shot the gun once.

TALIESIN: That was the only time?

SAM: Yeah.

TALIESIN: He just had it.

MARISHA: I don't think you gave him any bullets.

SAM: I had 15 bullets.

TALIESIN: He had 15. Oh, then technically shot, but not bullets. You had 15.

SAM: He never had cause to shoot the gun.

TALIESIN: Did you just pose in the mirror with it and try to look cool with a towel like a cape?

BRIAN: Commissioned paintings with him holding it in different poses hanging up over the fireplace.

LAURA: As a gnome, wouldn't it have been a two-handed weapon for him?

TALIESIN: Ooh.

BRIAN: He has another one of those, doesn't he?

LIAM: Shoulder-mounted.

BRIAN: Liam, TalaTag has a question for you. "What would Vax's reaction have been had he found out about Vex and Percy's wedding before everything went down with Vecna and the Raven Queen deal, after Vex herself had specifically told him not to get married in secret?"

LIAM: Wait, go through it again. You lost me.

BRIAN: "What would Vax's reaction have been had he found out about Vex and Percy's wedding before everything went down with Vecna and the Raven Queen deal, after Vex herself had specifically told him not to get married in secret?" Basically, telling you not to do the exact thing that she ended up doing.

LAURA: I don't even remember telling you not to get married.

LIAM: I super hardcore remember it. Hardcore remember it.

MARISHA: So we're back to the wedding.

BRIAN: Do you think he would have said, "You hypocrite," or it would have been "I understand why you had to do this."

LIAM: He would've done neither of those. He just would have asked why.

BRIAN: Seems very Vax of him to do.

MARISHA: It all hit at a really inopportune time.

LAURA: It was a bad time for all of it to come out.

MARISHA: If anything, it's kind of what you said about you guys not wanting to be like your brother and Keyleth. I mean, it kind of paid off in the end. It ultimately is a good lesson. Fuck it, don't wait! If you love somebody, don't wait! Go marry them! Tell them! You never know what could happen! Let them know!

MATT: After a responsible period of time.

MARISHA: Yeah, don't be like creepy about it.

SAM: The first time you think you want to marry someone, you should definitely marry them.

LIAM: It would have been different, even though Laura doesn't remember it, if she had not so specifically said, "Don't go off to Zephrah and get married without me there." I know! But I do! And factored it into all of my thinking. What am I supposed to do?

BRIAN: Those statements happen so often; it's hard to keep track! Marisha, Futureshocking wants to know, "At the temple of Melora, after burying Senokir's wife's ashes, it seemed like they really wanted their Spire of Conflux back. Given that at the time the Chroma Conclave was defeated, did Keyleth ever consider handing it over?"

MARISHA: You know, I thought about it, but nah. We worked really hard for that.

LIAM: Loot drop!

MARISHA: It's mine. It would be better used in my hands, ruling my people, than in a museum somewhere.

TALIESIN: It tied the outfit together.

LAURA: It really did. It looked so good.

MARISHA: I know! Anyway, I did think about after the arc had ended and we were talking about what we were going to if I was going to go back to Melora's temple and give the staff back. Then I was like, "Nah, I just like it too much." Really pulls the whole Voice of the Tempest thing together.

BRIAN: It makes the art even better. Ashley, question from Legotti. "Would you have wanted to play an evil Pike had her family's tales of the curse been true? What were you expecting through this bit of story?"

ASHLEY: That would have been very fun. That goes back to all of us giving Matt a little kernel of something and him taking it with his amazing storytelling. I just knew that my family was going to be tricksters and thieves and that whole thing, hence the last name. I didn't know any of that was going to happen, obviously, but I would have gone with it if it would have happened. That would have been fun, to see an evil Pike.

MARISHA: It's kind of crazy, because at that point in time it seemed like all of the ghost stories that we had been dealing with were real, and then hers-- yours wasn't.

TALIESIN: Scooby-Dooed, so hard.

LAURA: Yeah, we were Scooby-Dooed.

ASHLEY: We were very Scooby-Dooed.

BRIAN: Ash, how does it feel to be on a pedestal? Right where you belong? That was a question from @BrianWFoster. Our last two questions for this are, Matt, first up for you, @AlwayzB_. But they don't say what to always be, I don't know what to always be! Always be closing? "If Sam hadn't rolled so well, using his fate die no less, to convince Lord Darrington to back down, how did you see things going?"

MATT: Not well for the Darrington family. The way it had gone back and forth leading up to that final roll, if he had rolled poorly and didn't have that die roll or that die roll rolled poorly, that would have been the end of the family unit. It would have been an unfixable divide between him and his father. He would have been probably cast out of the house indefinitely. His mother would have had to choose between. It would have just sundered the whole family.

SAM: I'm a loner, Doty.

MATT: It would have made for a very different and a very interesting story arc for Taryon at that point, and then the-- honestly, that might have been more of an opportunity for him to stay with Vox Machina if he wanted to.

SAM: There's still a chance, guys, to take him back!

MATT: Yeah, for a little while longer, at the very least, because he didn't have a family to try and help right the story for. I was really worried for him. I had forgotten about the fate die at that point, and when you rolled so poorly I was like, "Shit, there it is." And then you had just won the Battle Royale and got that die and I was like, "Well that-- if you can't--" You can't call it a fate die more than that fucking moment! That was ridiculous.

LAURA: Can I ask you a question that does have nothing to do with that but the fate die kind of reminded me of it?

MATT: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Did you have plans for the hag cashing in the favor? From Vax?

MATT: I did, but by the time it had come around to where I was planning to maybe pull it in, other story threads were prominent in the front and it just would have made things messy.

TRAVIS: His life was already fucked.

MATT: Yeah, the way things had gone-- a hag who liked to play with fate and toy with the soul of another, but when that soul already belongs to the goddess who is the goddess of fate and the transition of death, the hag can sense that and be like, "Nah, I'm good."

SAM: She doesn't want her 75 gold?

MATT: Yeah, no. At that point it was like, "Okay, I invested poorly, I'm going to cut my losses and run."

BRIAN: It's what I'm going to do after this show. Travis, @roadrunner032 wants to know, "How long did it take for Grog to get truly angry with Scanlan for leaving? Would he have been as angry if Lionel was not a barbarian as well?"

TRAVIS: No. I was not mad at-- or, Grog was not mad at Scanlan until he came back. With the illusion, and the wearing the disguise and everything. It was instantaneous rage from Pike and I. A, that he had to pretend. B, we had been worried about him. And then C, brought this jackass that was like a half-orc imitation of Grog. An idiot, a barbarian, and Grog had the biggest jealousy issue of all time. I was ready to pick Scanlan up and just smash his brain into jelly and just paint on the wall.

BRIAN: What would you have painted? What phrase, or perhaps image?

SAM: He can't spell.

TRAVIS: Yeah, I don't know! Anything, just (noisy crying) tears.

BRIAN: It would have been, "use the code (mumbles)..." Yeah, never mind.

ALL: Critrole!

BRIAN: Use the code "Hearthstone!" Okay, our final round of CritRoleStats for the Vox Machina campaign is "most cast spell per character." I want you to guess what your most cast spell was that you did. So, Keyleth, we'll start with you.

MARISHA: My most cast spell?

BRIAN: Yeah, you cast it 43 times.

MARISHA: Call Lightning?

BRIAN: Close. Transport via Plants. Scanlan. 47 times you cast which spell?

SAM: Bigby's Hand?

BRIAN: Healing Word.

SAM: Oh, that's a spell! That's right! I am the healer of the group.

BRIAN: Percy. 27 times you cast this.

TALIESIN: I already know, but I knew going in. Hex. I only have three spells.

BRIAN: I know, but you still had a one in three chance of guessing right, and you did correct. Vex, 80 times you cast what?

LAURA: I would go Hunter's Mark, but I think it's Pass Without a Trace.

BRIAN: You are incorrect. It is Hunter's Mark with 80.

SAM: You can't even get that Hunter's Mark right!

BRIAN: You couldn't even remember that!

LAURA: I really thought it was Pass Without a Trace!

BRIAN: Vax, 25 times you did what?

LIAM: Smite doesn't count because it's not a spell.

TRAVIS: Luck.

BRIAN: No, Luck would have been the tens of thousands.

LIAM: Bless?

BRIAN: Close. Lay on Hands.

LIAM: Lay on Hands is not really a spell. It's like a feature.

MATT: It's an ability. We'll let it slide.

BRIAN: Pike? Can you guess? 40 times you cast what?

ASHLEY: Guiding Bolt up the butt?

SAM: That is the full name of the spell.

BRIAN: That is correct.

LAURA: From here on out, it's Guiding Bolt Up the Butt.

BRIAN: Nope. Cure Wounds up the butt. Cure all the up the butt Wounds.

MATT: I would hope it would be Cure Wounds, as a cleric.

ASHLEY: Me too.

BRIAN: Grog. 18 times.

TRAVIS: I cast something?

BRIAN: You cast something via the Titanstone Knuckles.

TRAVIS: Oh! Enlarge. Thank you.

BRIAN: As if he needed it.

TRAVIS: I forgot, yeah, I had a spell.

BRIAN: That's all the time we have! There we go! That's all the time we have to discuss-- Jesus Christ. That's all the time we have to discuss Jesus Christ! That's all the time we have to discuss the adventures of Taryon Darrington. Our fifth and final arc dives deep into the reality that with great power comes great enemies with ramifications that shook the very foundations of their world. In episodes 100 through 115, Vox Machina made their way into perhaps the darkest dungeon they would ever face, the mind of Vecna. Coming up next.

[musical crescendo]

Episodes 100 - 115: VecnaEdit

BRIAN: All right. Our questions for the final arc of Vox Machina's journey begin with you, Matt, as we always do. Question from @AlwayzB_. I guess the end of that is Always Be Asking Matt Questions! "How many other gods could Vox Machina have talked to? Related, how many trammels or boons were possible to get?"

MATT: Possible? From each deity they reached out to, they could have acquired a seed or a spark that could be created into a trammel. But they went to all the gods they knew were closest to them. Those were the fast tracks to the ones that would have the closest connection and the easiest, most fine-tuned challenges to what you're able to do. Other deities that you didn't have a strong connection to, you'd have to research what they're about, where they are, how to get there and then each one of those experiences would have been a much longer, protracted, and challenging endeavor. That's more time that would have added to the progression of Vecna's power. If you had gone to a fourth deity, there probably wouldn't be a Vasselheim standing, Vecna would have performed the miracle, would have begun to understand abilities beyond the avatar form. If you'd gone to two more trammels, the expansion of power would have gone past the ocean into Tal'Dorei and Marquet. I had a scaling element to his power based on how many things you went for. Had you gone beyond those core deities that you already had connections with, it was going to get more challenging down the road.

TRAVIS: We did good.

LAURA: It was a scaling sort of thing.

MATT: It was a good balance. You guys got the ones that were close, quickly, and then went there before things got too out of hand.

BRIAN: Sam, Nuclearwhale94 wants to know, "Why did Scanlan choose Ank'Harel to go back to? We know he got scammed out of some gold, but why did he stay longer than just long enough to get his revenge?"

SAM: As I said in the previous segment, it took some time to get his revenge. Those guys who wronged him did not live there. They were traveling assholes. He had to sit and wait. As he sat and waited, he got used to living there and got a little taste for the power! The crime power! Taste of furniture!

BRIAN: What's it taste like?

SAM: It tastes like pleather.

BRIAN: Ashley, question for you from Baylaust. "Was there a specific moment when Pike's feelings for Scanlan began changing? If so, what was it that made her reconsider?"

ASHLEY: Yeah. I think it-- well, I don't think, I know. A lot of it started in the letter. Even in our home games, I think the two of us would flirt a little bit. Sorry, babe.

BRIAN: I don't give a shit. You think I view that as competition? Look at this beard and then look at that beard, that's all I have to say.

LIAM: I have a name. How dare you.

TALIESIN: That was so good!

BRIAN: I love my life! Continue!

ASHLEY: She didn't take it very seriously because she didn't think that he was very serious about it. As you guys heard, that letter is very intense. When he left, she realized how much she cared for him and missed him. When he came back, he was different and a little bit more mature and she thought the time had passed. That is not so! It was this slow climb after the letter.

BRIAN: I could see that having an impact.

SAM: Brian, when you write things, ladies like it.

BRIAN: I wouldn't know, man! Not much of a words guy, myself. Matt, question from Brooke Casey. "Where did Vecna keep his phylactery?"

MATT: I know where. No one else is going to fucking know that. That's not campaign information; that's world lore information!

BRIAN: He's right behind you! Is it on the bottom? Does it say? He's right over your shoulder. We did that on purpose.

MATT: That miniature is his phylactery. No, you have no idea. Brian Foster and the internet: You don't know.

BRIAN: Laura, TiamatZX wants to know, "Did Vex take the name de Rolo after her marriage?"

LAURA: Yeah.

BRIAN: Great. Matt, @MsMaggie357, "The Titanstone Knuckles vibrating seemed reminiscent of Mythcarver vibrating in the slave market battle. What were the Knuckles trying to tell Grog?"

MATT: A couple of things. They were resonating because they were close to the source of which they were carved. The earth titan that was raised is what the Titanstone Knuckles were forged from. The vibration when you got there was a key to that and a possible other key to tackling the conflict with Vecna. Because of the siege elements of it and the resonation between it, the gauntlets gave a bonus in structural damage against the interior of the titan. There were other ways to slow it. If you decided not to the stealth topside element, you could also begin to damage around the legs, knee structures, and cripple it from the inside. That would have stopped the titan from moving. It would have been slowly regenerating, but you would have slowed it down or stopped it for a period of time. That would have also notified all of Thar Amphala that you were there. It would have been an upward fight through the armies. There were benefits to all the different choices you made, but that was one option that you could have made.

TRAVIS: We didn't want to ring the dinner bell. That was one thing, we were trying to be as stealthy as possible.

MATT: The gauntlets were a nudge to that if you wanted to explore that, the gauntlets could help you.

TRAVIS: Interesting option, though! Ooh!

MARISHA: That would have tapped us out by the time we would have gotten there.

MATT: You could've been quick and let them bypass, hide as they went past. There were a lot of ways you could've tackled that.

TRAVIS: Between that and the one if I had punched Thordak in his jewel in his chest, knowing that would have shattered afterward I was like, "Oh, I've got to explore these things better."

BRIAN: Those were some awesome Knuckles in the art, too. Really beautiful.

MATT: They really ran with that. Made it cooler than I ever imagined.

BRIAN: Looked like cooler Infinity Gauntlets. Taliesin!

TALIESIN: Speaking of cooler Infinity Gauntlets.

BRIAN: Yeah, you're mine. Taliesin, @amun1221 wants to know, "Was Percy troubled by the escape of Sylas?"

TALIESIN: No.

BRIAN: Why?

TALIESIN: He had transferred a lot of his angst over that whole process to other people by that point. I feel certain that if he comes back, we can deal with him. We had ruined him already. He had shifted his anger and frustration at the world onto other people by that point.

LAURA: Sylas has a pretty shit existence at this point. Which is nice.

TALIESIN: Again, it was never about Sylas on a certain weird level.

LIAM: Delilah seemed like the brain.

TALIESIN: Yeah.

BRIAN: Imagine being married to that conniving of a woman. What must that be like, I wonder?

TRAVIS: Why are you looking at me?

BRIAN: I wasn't, I was looking right past you to our producer, Max. Matt, question from @DavidMoMahoney. Could always use mo' Mahoney. "Who was the death knight?"

MATT: Oh! Actually, this ties into what I answered earlier. Remember when I mentioned that Delilah had found one of Vecna's laboratories and there was a nameless servant there that had been keeping it? That was the servant. As it grew closer to Vecna's ascension, this servant was rewarded for centuries and centuries of undead vigilance, looking over and keeping hidden these spaces in Wildemount. He was elevated to death knight status and became one of the great warriors of Vecna's return. Doesn't even know his name. He's been old and held in that space alone for so long that has no recollection of the living life before and only understands its existence at the behest of Vecna.

LAURA: Harold! His name was Harold.

TALIESIN: He's like the roommate from What We Do In the Shadows. He's like the fourth roommate.

MATT: Kind of, yeah! Totally!

BRIAN: The one that stares in the basement that's a little too turnt? Yeah! Liam, @Oatey_Goat wants to know.

LIAM and LAURA: Oatey_Goat!

BRIAN: Oatey_Goat! "Is there anyone that you wish you'd had time to say goodbye to before the Raven Queen took you?"

LIAM: Oh, that's a huge question.

BRIAN: That's why I saved it for when your beard was at maximum growth.

LIAM: Thank you for that consideration. If he had a week to go on a tour and see people, he would have tried to make an awkward peace with his father. He would've said goodbye to Korren at that point.

SAM: The food, corn.

LIAM: The band, Korn.

BRIAN: He knew he would never again be able to listen to his Korn cassettes.

LIAM: He listened to Elvis Costello, thank you. He would've said goodbye to his friend, Gilmore. Everything was so quick, his little sister he barely had any moment with before he was gone. I think that's it. These are the most important. Maybe I'm forgetting somebody, but these are the most important people in his life. It's his family. 100% his family. Not even like, "This is my family, this my other." This is his only family.

BRIAN: Damn straight. Marisha, ForsakenGrundle has returned to us with a question.

MARISHA: And thank God he did.

SAM: Or she.

BRIAN: Or they! I know, there's no image attached for me to see how blessed of a person this must be. "Do you feel Keyleth was ready to lead her people by the end of the campaign?"

MARISHA: Yeah! I think it still would have been a learning process getting into it, but I think she had made peace that she was ready to do that and retire from adventuring because she was pretty exhausted by the end of that. She was pretty done. Ready to move onto the next chapter in her life.

BRIAN: Heavy is the head who wears the antlers.

MARISHA: Especially when they keep growing. Like, jeez.

BRIAN: I read that in a Danielle Steel--

MARISHA: I will say, when we cosplayed and did our opening title sequence and I was wearing those things, there's no practicality in that shit. It was awful.

LAURA: Those things were in the way!

MARISHA: They were always in the fucking way.

BRIAN: Some of the great Keyleth cosplay they are even more extreme.

MARISHA: We all suffer as one! Impractical antlers!

TALIESIN: Keyleth and Loki cosplayers are really upset.

BRIAN: All the Hela cosplayers are going to be in on that, too.

MARISHA: Yeah, I stabbed everyone that day.

BRIAN: At least once. Matt, @Marion_Avalon wants to know, "Did you know what Sam had planned with his level nine spell to save Vax?"

MATT: Vax, you mean.

BRIAN: That's what I said. I said it very lazily.

MATT: I knew that you had an inclination because you came to me and asked, "What can this spell affect?" It's such a broad spell. I outlined some vague ideas. It's powerful because it has so many things that it can do, but there are limits to its power and what it can achieve, so it's important to consider timing, scope, specific words. I knew that you had possible interest in using it. I tried not to outline too specifically and give you the space. I knew it was a possibility, but also it's a clutch spell for battle, it has so many great uses. I didn't know if it was going to show up at all at that moment. So when you said that as the Counterspell in the final battle, it hit me: all the conversations we had, it all hit at once. You can see it on my face on the episode. I'm just like, "Oh. Shit. Okay! Oh, god." Yeah. For some reason, I knew that was a possibility, but that moment was when it hit me, the ramifications of that choice and that moment. It's one of my favorite moments of the game.

SAM: Me too. It was great. Awful.

BRIAN: Sam, I have to primer you. This question may sound aggressive or perhaps-- it's a little rough. But bear with me. This is from Cardamonelaw. I understand what he's saying, I'm not saying he said it fuckerdly. "Scanlan went toe-to-toe with a god, and between True Polymorph and Wish, can potentially do almost anything... except save or bring back his friend. How do you imagine he--" It gets worse.

MARISHA: Oh god!

SAM: Also, you're ugly.

BRIAN: No! Nothing nearly as--

SAM: In real life. The question is--

BRIAN: "How do you imagine he reconciles being both all-powerful yet completely powerless in his retirement?"

SAM: I mean. He can't. Reconcile? I think he feels like it was a big opportunity lost and that he ultimately failed, but probably as he gets to be in his older age and surrounded by people he loves that he realizes that it's okay to fail. You don't have to succeed in everything to make a difference in people's' lives who you care about. He'll just try to be a hero for his wife and his kid. And that's it. He still might use Wish every once in a while to see if maybe he can get a message to or from old Vax, but I don't know if it ever works. Probably not.

LIAM: Vax would never see that as a failure. Never see Scanlan as a failure.

MATT: I imagine out of that standing guilt that a lot of stories, a lot of tales told about the deeds and memory of Vax'ildan and the great things he did. I don't know.

SAM: Also, I think part of his maturing process over the whole campaign was learning it's okay not to be the center of attention. It's okay not to be the best at everything. It's okay to just do what you do if you do it for the right reasons.

BRIAN: I agree completely. Wow. That's a much better answer than I was anticipating. Laura, how great is this question for Matt? This is from Myrynorunshot. "What was on the opposite side of Entropis from the lab the party passed through?"

MATT: Oh! In the tower Entropis. The side you guys went up had the bodies, the torturing devices and such. The opposite side you didn't go up had a bunch of ancient holy relics that had been sundered and destroyed. It was the research laboratory for the creation of the seed that ascended Vecna. One side was the torture, mutilation, gathering of information from the flesh. The other side was the desecration, destruction, and tearing of information from ancient relics past. The two together is what eventually led to preparation for the Ritual of Seeding, which allowed his ascension.

MARISHA: Wait, which side did we go up?

MATT: There were two sides to the tower.

MARISHA: Yeah, which one of the--

MATT: You went up the side where you found the bodies and the torture devices. You saw familiar faces.

MARISHA: The other one would have been the relics? Okay.

SAM: For next time.

TALIESIN: Temple Run.

BRIAN: Taliesin. Cat1832 wants to know, "What were you originally envisioning for Percy's ending?"

TALIESIN: Percy was going to save Vax. Percy was going to make a deal at the last minute and sell his soul, get the punishment he felt he deserved eventually when death came. Even though he understood that that contract would go horribly wrong, he would've convinced himself that it didn't matter where he went when he died anyway. He was of the impression, "I'm going somewhere awful already. Why not get something out of it?" And then once doubt crept in, it became that weird moment of: what am I doing with my life and why am I making all these poor decisions?! I don't know how I lied to myself to convince myself that was going to work, but somehow it worked.

MATT: To be fair, if you had called in the last part of the contract and been granted the wish, if it was carefully placed, you could've found a way to alter or adjust it because the deal hadn't been closed. The same way that Scanlan was going to, but once again at the cost of your own personal soul. I don't know, it's interesting. That moment for Percival, that whole sequence leading up to and after that was my favorite Percival moment.

TALIESIN: I was not okay for days after that.

MATT: I watched you break. It was wonderful.

TALIESIN: It was rough!

LIAM: Also, to both of those questions: if either of them had tried to get the Wish spell off, I don't even know how it would have played out. It's complicated because in my mind as a player, the only way I was going to live is if the Raven Queen said, "You pass the test. Go. Live. Be happy and have a handful of years." That was the only way in my mind.

BRIAN: Did any part of you anticipate that happening?

LIAM: No, I thought it was a 5% chance.

BRIAN: So you're saying there's a chance. Travis. We're close to the end here. @Aegis_of_Ages wants to know, "What was Grog thinking about when he decided to seek an education?"

TRAVIS: Oh. I think he just wanted to get smarter.

BRIAN: That's pretty good. Matt. @PhoenixHeart815, "What was Syldor's reaction to Vax's death?"

MATT: Grief. Though they were estranged for many years, he regrets the treatment of his two twin children and has been spending a large part of his life thereafter trying to reconcile the choices he made as a father to them. Beyond the grief and sadness there, there's a lot of pride in the things that he's learning that his son accomplished, and his twin daughter has continued to go into. He's learned a lot of lessons about the issues in Syngorn's society and acceptance of other races, cultures. He's doing the best he can, within his own lower political position, to try and influence future generations and politics between the nations to be a little more open.

BRIAN: Yeah. On a related note, Laura, from @GloraiRokicki, "Did Vex's relationship with her father change after she saved Velora's life?"

LAURA: Yeah, that's one of the things that we talked about. Later in life, they made peace with each other. She worked to rebuild that relationship. That came from having five kids with Percy and going: Oh, this is what family means. This is what having children means. It suddenly became very important in a different way to reach out to Syldor.

BRIAN: Yeah. Our final round here. This is from @Zelda_CR_Fan, "What happened with Vax and the Raven Queen after his death? Did he keep her company as she once mentioned or did he simply have a peaceful afterlife?"

MATT: I don't want to answer too much of this because I like to leave the ethereal essence of these questions to interpretation. I think a little bit of both. As part of that process, Vax was able to reconnect with the spirit of his mother, even if temporarily or occasionally. But also, as was decided and discussed between the two of them, prevent an element of loneliness in that transition for her. The small section of mortal self that she maintains takes solace in keeping the champions close. Ever watching and doing the work she needs. I don't want to go any deeper than that because I don't think I need to.

BRIAN: I understand. Also, Cardamonelaw wanted to know, "Was there any other means of stopping the Titan other than binding and slaying Vecna?"

MATT: That was one of the things we mentioned earlier. The Titanstone Gauntlets. Destroying it from the inside, hobbling it from the interior. Those were really the only means that would have functioned. The exterior was too powerful. It could only be damaged from the inside. It's serious business.

BRIAN: Wow. Titans are no joke. Our last few questions are perhaps the most potent. Marisha, @BrandieFree wants to know, "Would Keyleth ever cast Speak with Animals on the large raven that visits her every day?"

MARISHA: I think she would've hesitantly tried. Yeah. I don't know if she would've gotten the results that would've wanted, which is why she would even be so tentative to doing it in the first place. Almost better to keep the illusion it for sure is Vax than the confirmation that it might not be at all.

BRIAN: What if you did and it was like, "I'm Gary!"

MARISHA: Totally! I was like: Oh, fuck you, bird.

TRAVIS: It's been 300 years!

MARISHA: Yeah! I think she might eventually, but I don't think she would right away.

LAURA: I'm Gary!

MATT: I like your hair!

MARISHA: Feed me!

SAM: I come everyday because you feed me!

MARISHA: Aww.

BRIAN: Man, what a beautiful answer. Travis, Xarkost wants to know, "What were the final contents of the bag of holding?"

TRAVIS: Oh man. There was a shitload of silverware. There were some candles, stones. I had a shitload of caltrops and handcuffs.

LAURA: Dried poo in there.

TRAVIS: Yeah. The dried poo disc broke, though. I had a nice, solid cow frisbee patty. There was some armor. The big black sapphire I gave to Scanlan to get married to old Pikey-poo with. A shitload of expensive-ass bottles of wine. Basically a bunch of other random shit. It was like a busted-up Home Depot at the end. Percy probably could've made something from it all. I was just randomly collecting shit.

LIAM: (singing) And a troll dick in some mage robes.

LAURA: Forever, I have the Kevdak skin in the bag of colding. Just a big piece of skin.

TRAVIS: There's 10,000 pieces of platinum in the bag.

LAURA: Shut--!

BRIAN: Liam, F3ntin wants to know, "How does Vax feel about his ending? Is he a little bit bitter about how soon it was or is he only concerned for his friends and accepts his fate gladly?"

LIAM: In the final moments? I don't think there's an answer for after. This is similar-- mystery is better. But in the last moments? No, he was not bitter. It was very heavy. He felt very full as well and knew that his sister was taken care of.

(laughter)

BRIAN: She lived to annoy you.

LIAM: I don't know what to say.

BRIAN: I get it. Yeah. Ashley, this brings us to perhaps our most-asked question for this entire wrap-up episode. @IfThenAnderson was the lucky person got their version of the question chosen. "Who was Pike's other love interest, and how did she come to reconcile those emotions with her ultimate choice of 'extremely settling for' Scanlan?"

ASHLEY: Well, for a very long time it was Percy. I think that--

MARISHA: Get it! Getting all the Vox Machina ladies! All three of us.

ASHLEY: I think she saw through her faith and the light that she carried within her that he was a marked man. She could see the weight on his shoulders and the darkness that he carried with him. She did so much thinking and praying for his soul. I think all of that time spent on him was confusing to her. Obviously, it never would've worked! But in the end, it was always Scanlan. I think there was some time there where she was a little taken by the dark side.

MATT: She wanted to fix him!

TALIESIN: Way to dodge a bullet there, Ashley! He was oblivious, man.

SAM: Even Taryon fell in love with that guy!

LAURA: True! What the fuck!

SAM: Everybody loves Percy, and he's like the worst!

MATT: Don't let anyone ever say that humans aren't a good race to choose in D&D because you're going to get all the folks up on you.

TALIESIN: Percy didn't have a fucking clue, either. Last to know anything.

BRIAN: Just a clueless teenage asshole. Our final question of the night, my favorite, could really not have come from a better screen name and that is the PragmaticBeaver. Thank you, whoever you are out there. This is for everyone to answer. We don't have to go in order, if you feel compelled, if you think of something, just answer. "When your characters look back at their time as world renowned adventurers, what memories stand out the most as moments they will never forget?"

TRAVIS: Dropping on Kevdak from the necklace. Bar none.

LIAM: Saying goodbye.

MARISHA: Yeah. Cherry blossoms in the tree in the Voice of the Tempest ceremony.

LIAM: Cows.

LAURA: Oh, cows!

MARISHA: God, so many.

LAURA: Talking to Trinket for the first time!

SAM: Trying to kill Trinket. For the first time.

LIAM: Gilmore stabbing me.

LAURA: Flying. Fucking flying.

MARISHA: The hanging tree. That one stuck with me.

TALIESIN: Letting go when Ripley shot me. Actually, on the other end of that, realizing that Percy was in love with Vex was pretty impressive. I've never had that kind of PC character interaction before. That was a strange moment.

BRIAN: Matt, some moments for you that you're going to remember beyond however many other games you play, or even this next adventure?

MATT: Everything they've mentioned here and so many more. It's hard to pick, it really is, there's so many.

MARISHA: They feel like real memories.

MATT: They do. They are.

TRAVIS: They are!

MATT: It's the magic of this.

SAM: I always figured Scanlan would tell their stories or whatever. And he will and he'll try to and everything, but I thought about this, actually, while we were playing. For him, anyway, it was not the epic stories of glory and saving the world. He would have liked just impressing his friends and healing them or inspiring them. Just the friendship. That was his favorite moments from the epic journey.

TALIESIN: Eventually, you produce a rap/hip-hop show based off of our adventures. It's a huge hit.

MARISHA: Remember the cannonball competition in the pool? That was great.

LIAM: Vax was pretty impressed, I was pretty impressed in that last fight when we realized you'd been fighting with your hand tied behind your back the whole time, saving that spell.

SAM: I almost did it, too!

LAURA: Scanlan was pretty impressive the whole fricking time, let's be honest.

TALIESIN: Your fight in Whitestone was pretty intense.

MATT: Can I say, as a man who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons and continuously being told that bards were the worst class and that charisma was a fucking dump stat and fighting that because I knew the potential for storytelling with that kind of a character. Even though older editions didn't do them service, they've done better as they've gotten out. I'm so thankful that you stepped up to the challenge of the "worst character" and "worst race" and shown just how amazing it can be.

TRAVIS: Hear hear!

SAM: Well, I will do the opposite in the next campaign.

BRIAN: Ashley, any memories that stick out to you?

ASHLEY: It's all just a little bit more personal. I think it goes back to my first game. That changed my life.

TRAVIS: Yeah!

MATT: It changed all our lives, dramatically. I mean, we have this family now.

BRIAN: Yeah. Indeed. And an extended one, too. Matt, I'm interested from your perspective, having some of these people never even touched D&D before, and here we are at the end of this thing, and not only are they moderate to low-level okay D&D players-- But to see how they've woven story and character and improv and the D&D system. Five years later and at the end of this arc of these characters, you must be not only proud, but just excited to continue on now that, to some extent, most of them outside of Sam know what they're doing now.

MATT: It's true. It's weird. It's very strange to look at myself as a 35 year old man who has spent his entire life trying desperately to do something with his life, and to genuinely believe that the greatest thing I've accomplished is with you guys, in this. I mean, that's the truth. That's the truth. I am so proud and so happy to have been part of this with you guys. And we get to make a new one soon!

TRAVIS: We get to go back to the beginning!

BRIAN: I will end with a sentiment that might sound cliché, but I've been thinking for weeks, and trying to sum up my feelings in some way about this whole thing, only coming in-- I've been with it since the beginning, but coming into it in an official capacity a year ago and halfway through the thing has been incredible, and I will leave you with the words my grandfather used to say, which sounds so cliché, but he used to say, "When God closes a door, he opens a new campaign January 11th." And that is all the time we have--

(laughter)

BRIAN: For this wrap up of Vox Machina's adventures. Make sure to tune in to our very special Critmas episode of Talks Machina this Tuesday night at 7:00pm Pacific. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, everyone who's watched. Thank you to our wonderful cast, our guest stars, our crew. Thank you, crew, so many wonderful people. And most of all, you, the community. We will see you Tuesday for Critmas, we'll see you in January for the new campaign of Critical Role. Don't forget to love each other, and don't worry. Jesus, it's Christm-- It's Thursday. It's almost Critmas. Stay turnt, my friends. [music]

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