"The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade" (Sx49) is the forty-ninth special episode of Critical Role. Taryon Darrington leads a troupe of unlikely miscreants through a dangerous journey in search of glory.
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So: the year is 826 P.D., Post Divergence, just over a decade since Vecna's ascension and subsequent banishing by the famed group of legendary heroes, Vox Machina. While the echoes of their deeds slowly settle over the years, life continues on. Taryon Darrington, a heroic crafter of arcane implements and member of the aforementioned Vox Machina, returned to his home in Wildemount, reclaimed the family business, and converted their estate into a shelter for the poor of Deastok. Along with the help of his husband Lawrence, Taryon created the Darrington Brigade, a non-profit adventuring troupe for hire, seeking to bravely tackle the dangers of Wildemount and to help those in need. They also have three rescue dogs.
Even with the release of the first edition of "The Daring Trials and Tribulations of Sir Taryon Darrington," the years have not been without their challenges. Many of the affluent folks of the Truscan Vale treat this bold new direction of the Darrington family with ridicule, making support for their charitable endeavors an uphill battle, while many capable adventurers who joined the brigade began to bristle at the idea of putting their lives on the line for a "non-profit" troupe. That said, the supposed arrests of high-ranking Myriad leaders and the following dispersing of the criminal organization in the Empire still leaves much mistrust and rumor-mongering. Whispers of a growing Xhorhasian threat begin to stoke worry in civilized spaces. In this wake, the need for mercenaries slowly grows, and Taryon has begun putting out flyers across the Marrow Valley, seeking new recruits for this Darrington Brigade, promising adventure, glory, and stories to tell, much like those you can find in a copy of his book, "The Daring Trials and Tribulations of Sir Taryon Darrington."
Now you, the rest of you, have all arrived separately, piecemeal, to the city of Deastok, a smaller, yet quaint, seemingly wealthy borough within the Truscan Vale of the Empire. You enter past the perimeter walls known as the Jeweled Gates as the afternoon sun peeks through the cloud-dappled sky. You walk through the bustling Bursar Plaza filled with quaint shops and bistros, beyond the curling parks of the Garden Grounds, to finally come upon the estate of the Darrington family. Tall gates surround what might have once been beautifully tended gardens and hedges, now leveled to house the rather cramped training grounds, filled with wooden dummies and an open sand pit. The home itself is a beautiful mansion. Although it appears that there's some minor construction on the second floor, the construction appears to be abandoned for the time. You begin to gather, these strange faces, at the gates, before a loud voice suddenly breaks through, catching your attention. "Tary? We have guests!" You look to see a man's head poking through the door and it quickly closes. You have a moment amongst yourselves, if you'd like to talk for a moment.
Part ITaryon greets the group gathering at the gate, accompanied by Doty and Lawrence, and asks them to introduce themselves. They are:
- The Owlbear - fighting Evil while wearing an owlbear cowl
- Farriwen Breeze - coming from a monastery for training and treasure
- Hazel Copperpot - a dwarven one-woman band who's read all Tary's books and plays a pre-recorded audiobook sample of one. She wants to become his biographer, worrying Doty.
- Damian Vadoma - from an underworld family, she wants to try something a little less immoral to see if she likes it
- Buddy - a nine-foot tall ogre with horrible eyesight and a halfling on his back
- Macaroni Samsonite - a high-voiced halfling riding on a board strapped to Buddy's back
Lionel Gayheart arrives, the backup field commander of the Brigade, who also speaks fluent Duck.
Taryon tells them that many members of the Brigade are currently on sabbatical, having found out the non-profit nature of the group, and therefore he's posted flyers around the continent seeking new members. The first step is the initiation. But first, they're provided with branded merchandise, including vision-corrective goggles and a strap-on chariot for Buddy, where Macaroni can ride in more comfort. They are led into a sand pit outside the training area. The initiation rite that Tary learned from Vox Machina consists of one-on-one combat.
First up is Owlbear vs. Farriwen. Farriwen uses her dope monk shit to knock out the Owlbear handily, and Tary says her chances look good. Next up is Hazel vs. Buddy. With his new ability to see, Buddy thinks Hazel's pretty and doesn't quite understand what's going on. Hazel successfully casts Confusion on him, but when he shrugs it off he pummels her. Tary offers that she can opt to end it, and because she made the whole pitch with his voice in it, she'll probably get in anyway, so she heals Buddy and The Owlbear and the fight ends as she and Buddy shake hands.
Last up is Macaroni vs. Damian. Macaroni is able to pummel her, and then successfully casts Banishment, ending their fight with a win for him, and Tary tells him both he and Buddy are in. Taryon then tearfully admits that he's been having trouble attracting members lately, so if they'll have him, they're all welcome providing they perform well in their first adventure.
They all accept, and Taryon welcomes them to the decaying manor and introduces their three rescue dogs, Barrie, Carrie, and Danny (short for Vax'ildan), and they have an economical dinner brought by Mariya Darrington, Tary's mother. Through the window, they notice a green glow as a shooting star crosses the horizon and a dull rumble as it lands.
The next morning, there is a knock at the door. It is an old gnome woman in a finely crafted travel outfit who wishes to hire the Darrington Brigade. Her name is Master Doolan Tversky. Last night, a strange object fell from the sky, crashing in the Cyrengreen Forest south of Deastok. She wants them to retrieve the object or creature (she's uncertain) and bring it to her, and agrees without question to the demand for 10,000 gp in payment. She also has Taryon sign her copy of The Daring Trials and Tribulations of Sir Taryon Darrington, though afterwards Farriwen suggests next time he check for invisible ink before signing anything.
Lionel has not been feeling well since the previous evening, but since the last of the Brigade's horses were taken by departing ex-members, they set off on foot into the immense Cyrengreen, with Taryon able to steer them to shortcuts and around dangers. As day turns into night, they notice the trees are beginning to lose their leaves, and the trunks are leaning in their direction. The forest becomes a flattened landscape surrounding a crater, with dim animal shapes around it that flee as they approach. With the Owlbear in the lead, the party stealths loudly up to the 20-foot deep, 30-foot-wide crater, and the Owlbear, Buddy, Macaroni, and Damian come up to its edge. They notice burnt feathers and duck-shaped shadows seared into its walls - the impact zone was once a duck pond.
Damian notices a handful of glittering slivers in the bottom of the crater, and the track of something heavy being dragged out of it to the southeast. The slivers are coin-sized smooth flakes of clear opalescent rock that faintly glow. The Owlbear brings some up to Taryon in a tinderbox. As they discuss what to do next, they hear a faint growling, and in the faint light of the setting sun see that the animals they'd previously chased off have returned. They are dire wolves, but one has a small shard of the glowing rock embedded in its head, and as they watch its head splits open and a tendril slithers out. The creatures surround the party and leap upon them.
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Part IIThere are four dire wolves; two initially attack the Owlbear, one is on Buddy, and one on Farriwen. The creatures are mutated with tendrils and extra eyes; one grows an extra leg during the fight. Hazel narrates the entire battle into her recording device, attributing the final kill to Taryon, even though it is actually struck by Macaroni. The party manages to dispatch all of the wolves with only Farriwen taking serious damage.
They follow the tracks to a cavern at the edge of the mountains, which descends and eventually reaches a large chamber with a pool of water at one end. In the water is a large (6 to 10-feet across) stone resembling the shards they found in the crater. Buddy bounds towards it and as he approaches, the water begins to ripple around the stone. The others creep in behind him, but the Owlbear accidentally knocks over a stalagmite. The stone rises up, revealing a massive swollen duck-like creature of green feathers and flesh, with four whipping tentacles protruding from its body. The stone is embedded within its back. Its name is Quackthulhu.
Buddy is the tank and soaks up a lot of damage, but at one point is down to nine hit points remaining. Taryon gets the How do you want to do this?, pausing to allow Doty to sketch the final blow and Hazel to record it. Calling out, "I.. am... Taryon!" he jams his sword into the bloated duck, feeling the radiating heat from it as the arcane force explodes within, exploding it into a dull green sludge that coats the cavern and the party. Lionel is released from its control and apologizes.
Damian suggests that they get the weird stone in the duck's ass for Master Tversky. Tary feels a special connection with them all, and makes them full members of the Darrington Brigade and honorary members of Vox Machina. But maybe don't mention that last part if they ever actually meet any members of Vox Machina. Thinking better of everything he's just said, he grabs Hazel's wax cylinder recording and throws it in the pond.
Lionel honors all the tiny souls of his duck brethren who were killed that day by carrying the meteor in a Walk of Remembrance back to Deastok. They deliver it to Doolan and are paid, returning to the Darrington estate. Taryon asks Doty to write out everything that happened so he can record it on a wax cylinder for his first ever audiobook. And that concludes but one adventure... but that's a tale for another time.
- Taryon Darrington
- Doty 5.0
- Farriwen Breeze
- The Owlbear
- Damian Vadoma
- Hazel Copperpot
- Macaroni Samsonite
- Taryon: Welcome, weary travelers! I am Taryon Darrington, founder, owner, and chief marketing officer of the Darrington Brigade, Wildemount's only not-for-profit mercenary group. If there's a dragon to slay, we slay it. If there's a damsel in distress, we unstress her. Our adventures are known far and wide in my bestselling book, copies of which Lawrence will gladly sell you in the gift shop later.
- Taryon: We have a bonafide adventure on our hands, Brigade. Gather your things because we are skipping breakfast and moving straight to the action.
Macaroni I don't know about skipping breakfast - Buddy gets super fucking hungry.
The Owlbear: We're going to have adventure for brunch instead.
- The Owlbear: (on discovering the flattened duck pond) I walk up to Lionel. I put my hand on his shoulder. That thing you're feeling right now in the pit of your stomach?
The Owlbear: I need you to use it. We're going to find what did this and you'll have your revenge.
- The Owlbear: Tonight we feast on evil most fowl!
- Damian: I do nothing, and I look on in sadness.
- This episode was recorded before a live audience at Bass Concert Hall in Austin, Texas on November 23, 2019.