"The Genesis Ward" (2x135) is the one hundred thirty-fifth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. The Mighty Nein plunge deeper into both Aeor's ruined depths and its endless mysteries as they continue to chase after the elusive remaining Tombtakers...
- Sam time-travels back to the CB radio craze of the '70's, with his 18-wheeler full of Ghostfire Gaming's Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire, a 5e supplement with over 400 new dark fantasy-themed monsters. In his rush to deliver, he throws E.T. under the figurative bus and uses every trucker-slang term searchable on the internet.
- Second sponsor tonight is Square Enix and their release of SaGa Frontier Remastered available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4, iOS, and Android. The free-to-play mobile game Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe has special rewards and game events going on right now. Check it out at bitly/CRSaGa.
- D&D Beyond is the official toolset of D&D 5th Edition and Critical Role, and includes the master tier subscription, which allows the DM to share all their books with everyone in the campaign.
- Critical Role is now livestreaming on both Twitch and YouTube, but the moderated community live chat is on Twitch.
- Ashley wants to thank everyone for their support of the Critical Role Foundation... but since they're pre-recorded she can't give an actual update on their latest project. Get updates by following @CriticalRoleFDN on Twitter, and donate at criticalrolefoundation.org.
- Merch Alert! Boulder Parchment Shears, Chaos Crew, and Caduceus Clay t-shirts, and Critical Role 3-pack of socks available in all four Critical Role shops; Mighty Nein lightweight hoodie available in the U.K. shop.
Previously on Critical Role
So, last we left off: The Mighty Nein, after setting a trap for the Tombtakers shortly into their descent into the ruins of Aeor, you waited and were rewarded, it seems, as they stumbled into your trap, immediately wiping out three of the five of them. As you attempted to close the distance on the two surviving members, Lucien and Cree, they managed to escape beyond the tunnel where you were going to travel and collapse it behind them.
You slowly crawled your way through, pulling some of the loose rubble aside enough to leave yourselves a way in. You began to experience and wander through the Praesidis Ward of Aeor. Within, you discovered information about some of the layout of the city. You decided not to investigate the interior of a necropolis. You went into an auditorium and brought to consciousness an Aeormaton, some sort of synthetic being that was created during the era of Aeor, named him Charlie, and are carrying him via a 3PO backpack on Jester.
You then began to follow the trail of bodies left behind as the Tombtakers, the two remaining members, are now fighting what's ahead of them before you, and found yourselves suddenly beset upon by strange creatures you've never seen before. You did battle with some of these Aeorian abominations, and after this extremely exhausting struggle, decided to bed down to rest your weary selves for the night. After a brief check-in, you were able to Scry upon Cree and gather some information that they themselves are also struggling a bit in their journey but are still ahead of you in their trek. You all went to sleep comfortably within the dome, but Beauregard and Caleb seemed to be visited in their sleep by Lucien himself, as well as the sound of thousands and thousands of screams and laughs.
In the morning, after an uneasy night for the whole party, Caleb and Beau find additional eyes on their bodies. Beau has a new one above her sternum, in addition to the one on the back of her neck and the back of her left hand. Caleb has one on the palm of his left hand, in addition to the ones on his right shoulder and upper back.
Fjord disguises himself to restore his lost hair, and Caleb's previous casting of the dome results in wild magic creating the smell of his mother's apple tarts. Fjord and Veth fail to force open the heavy doors leading onward, but Jester and Yasha succeed. They all move out into the Genesis Ward, another now-buried industrial-appearing neighborhood pushed up from beneath as though by a giant explosion. As they go forward, Caduceus hears running water from the crater, and Beau discovers it is a mile-wide deep hole torn through dozens of levels of broken subterranean floors, with multiple small waterfalls flowing into it.
The party follows Beau up the crater wall to its edge. Jester notices about three or four floors down is the same yellow-orange industrial light that surrounded Lucien and Cree when she Scryed on them earlier. With the aid of their ropes, they manage to climb down into the first subterranean level of the crater. It holds a large hall filled with burned furniture and dozens of ancient semi-mummified bodies. Veth finds a storage room holding simple spell components labeled "Component Keeping and Dry Storage" and another room labeled "Records 104" holding books, vials of liquid, and fine paper and ink.
Although Jester is frantic to move on to the room below where she sees the orange light, Caleb takes five minutes to investigate the contents of the records room. He finds notes speaking of growing proof that mortal minds and imagination gave form to the gods, not the other way around. He also finds a report that speaks of the Somnovem breaking approved protocols in research and experimentation and hoarding their findings, and as such, studies had been halted within the Cognouza Ward and members of the Somnovem collective were not to be allowed within the Genesis Ward floors B-3 through B-6 until further notice. Another document refers to the "Factorum Malleus Project" (in Common, "Hammer of Creation"), and another to an individual named "Athodan" who made the inspired find of "The Relic" and was working in rejuvenation. Caleb starts the ten-minute ritual for his Vault of Amber, telling the others to move ahead while he works. Yasha and Essek stay with him
The others slowly work their way down on ropes (which fray badly, almost snapping) to an incinerated room. Caduceus investigates and finds a glimmer of purple, which proves to be a security bracelet on a charred corpse. Charlie reads the signs above the hallways leading out: "Elemental Energy Funneling". Veth Messages the rest of the group to join them just as Caleb finishes casting the Vault.
Before they join the others, Essek tells Caleb he is concerned about the eye markings on Beauregard and Caleb. When Essek asks which is more important, Trent Ikithon's pursuit of Caleb or the party's pursuit of the Tombtakers, Caleb responds that if they don't stop the Somnovem they can't take care of the problems in the Dwendalian Empire. Essek is worried that Caleb is being distracted by what's around him, and urges him not to investigate any more of its intriguing mysteries.
No one warns Caleb about the badly frayed rope, and when he starts down it promptly breaks. He Polymorphs into a sparrow. When Yasha slips while trying to descend, she bamfs out her wings and ferries the rest of the party down a further floor to level B-3. Essek floats down.
Jester recognizes this as the room she saw Lucien and Cree camping in. It appears to be a tunnel which is part of a laboratory or magical factory. They notice a small, but fresh, spray of blood indicating the Tombtakers moved inward from here, and they follow into a partially collapsed chamber holding cloudy glass columns and three apparent exits labeled "Rejuvenation Experimentation, Team Athodan admittance only", "Repair Terminal", and "Maintenance".
They debate the wisdom of repairing Charlie, and decide to proceed to the damaged Repair Terminal. When Jester places Charlie within it, its door close and strange grinding and whirring noises begin. After five minutes, the sound stops and the doors open.
- Grim Hollow, a grimdark fantasy TTRPG 5e setting from Ghostfire Gaming, now available.
- The Dungeon of Doom set is now available at Dwarven Forge.
- Clips from Narrative Telephone Round 2 Episode 7 with Travis (as Chutney), now available on YouTube.
- Dani Carr's Recaps available on CritRole.com every Wednesday.
- Merch Alert! Chaos Crew, Caduceus Clay, and Boulder Parchment Shears t-shirts, and Critical Role 3-pack of socks available in all four Critical Role shops; Mighty Nein lightweight hoodie available in the U.K. shop.
- Pumat Sol uses the Subscription cantrip to reach the Twitch Prime Realm.
- Critters' art montage.
A bit of mist and smoke dissipates, and the aeormaton emerges, clean, whole, and repaired. He introduces himself as Devexian, a much more confident and assured being than Charlie. Devexian at first doesn't remember what happened to the city, but then recalls the experiment that the gods must have deemed too dangerous: the Factorum Malleus. It doesn't translate to the "Hammer of Creation." It translates to the "Creator Hammer". Devexian is dismissive of the Somnovem, calling them a cabal of buffoons, and saying, "If Cognouza is what remains of Aeor, that in itself is a very cruel joke of history."
Caduceus and Beau ask if he's willing to help in the fight against the Somnovem, but while he is willing to answer questions, he has better things to do. He does know that if the Tombtakers are using threshold crests to bring the Cognouza back from the Astral Sea, they are most likely heading to level B-9 and the astral tethers around the Immensus Gate. The quickest way to reach it would have been the "brume elevator", but that seems to have been destroyed. Jester suggests they go back to the crater and just drop straight down to B-9 rather than following the Tombtakers' path. Meanwhile, however, Devexian opens the locked door leading onward, calling the opening a parting gift although he has no idea what lies behind it.
Devexian warns them while on level B-9 to keep a keen eye out for deeply-set grooves or strange language around floors and doorways. The Immensus Gate (one of the larger waypoints between the planes within the city) itself has an intricate pattern for initiation, and they should have the most trained eyes upon it.
Fjord and Caduceus immediately head through the now-open door into a large room with two empty platforms at the center-back encased in cylindrical glass labeled "Terminal RE 01" and "Terminal RE 02". One is heavily cracked. There is a purple crystal at the base of each. There are also four Aeorian corpses. Essek senses dunamatic energy pervading the room.
Caduceus casts Speak with Dead on the best-dressed of the corpses, who tells them he was security personnel for the project. The machine was a mostly-successful effort to condense near-instantaneous rejuvenation. They are looking at the fruits of this labor, and require the proper clearance to use it. The party then loots the bodies and finds a strange metallic stringless hand crossbow, which Veth tests out and likes, and another security bracelet, this one with a turquoise gem, which Beau keeps.
Caduceus uses his amethyst bracelet on the purple crystal on the undamaged terminal, which opens. Shouting, "Give me my hair back!" Fjord runs into it and it closes and the gem begins pulsing. Neon purple light fills the cylinder revealing the skeletal outline of Fjord's body within. The light goes out, and Fjord feels... refreshed. The door opens, revealing his hair is back, but his filed teeth are unchanged. He gets the benefit of a long rest, and the aura of dunamis in the chamber increases strongly as time was accelerated within the cylinder. Caleb enters the cylinder but it appears to be out of power. Essek inspects the purple gem on the cylinder and calls Caleb over, pointing out that within it appear elements of space and drifting possibilities, like a smaller, weaker Luxon beacon. Essek then uses magic to destroy the damaged cylinder, releasing the diamond-shaped dark purple gem, which he gives to Caleb.
They return to the previous room and notice a horrid stench in the air from where the glass tubes have now lifted up from the floor. They hear growls from around them. Caduceus throws a celebone and Jester throws some chuckle dust into the repair room as a distraction. A creature shifts out of hiding toward the noise and light, but notices the party and stops.
Essek uses Arcane Abeyance before the battle begins to store a Lightning Bolt, which he hands to Veth and she utilizes. Jester tries Polymorph but the nullifier Counterspells. Veth tries her new crossbow but misses and swaps back to the Tinkertop Bolt Blaster 1000. As the fight proceeds, the creature takes significant damage and only Yasha takes serious damage in return. Jester tries using the Wand of Smiles but it fails, and when she moves she sees a second creature: a large, bulldog-like fleshy creature (probably a canoloth). Caduceus casts Banishment on it, and Fjord manages to kill the nullifier with Dwueth'var. The party immediately run back to the crater and jump. Fjord and Caleb Fly, Essek floats, and Veth casts Feather Fall on the rest. In response to Caleb showboating, Essek casts Fly on himself and begins to showboat as well as the party descends.
- Beauregard Lionett
- Caduceus Clay
- Caleb Widogast
- Jester Lavorre
- Veth Brenatto
- Yasha Nydoorin
|Acquired||1||Small rock||Genesis Ward||Caleb||Wrapped in paper identifying it. To be used for a Teleport spell.|
|Acquired||7||White pearls||Genesis Ward storage room||Caleb||For casting Fortune's Favor.|
|Transferred||3||White pearls||Caleb||Essek||For casting Fortune's Favor.|
|Acquired||1||Small rock||Records room, Genesis Ward||Caleb||Wrapped in paper identifying it. To be used for a Teleport spell.|
|Acquired||Books and papers||Records room, Genesis Ward||Caleb||Placed in the Vault of Amber.|
|Acquired||1||Security bracelet||Body on Level B-2, Genesis Ward||Veth
|Electrum, holds an amethyst. Veth gave it to Caduceus.|
|Acquired||1||Hand crossbow-type weapon||Body on Level B-3, Genesis Ward||Veth||Appears to be made of sleek slate-colored rune-carved steel, has no string.|
|Acquired||1||Security bracelet||Body on Level B-3, Genesis Ward||Beau||Holds a turquoise-colored gem.|
|Acquired||1||Dark purple gem||Rejuvenation Terminal, Genesis Ward||Caleb||The gem is diamond-shaped and when gazed into reveals the same space and drifting possibilities as a Luxon beacon.|
|Expended||1||Celebone||Caduceus||Used unsuccessfully as a distraction.|
|Expended||1||Chuckle dust||Jester||Used unsuccessfully as a distraction.|
- Essek Thelyss: (looking at the crater in the Genesis Ward) This-- I cannot fathom what would cause this level of destruction.
Caleb: Maybe the tip of a mountain punching up from below. Or the fist of a god punching up from below.
- Devexian: Ah, I remember. I guess they found the experiment. [...]
Fjord: What was the experiment?
Devexian: There were means of protecting Aeor from the divine destruction that was raining upon and sundering Exandria. One such experiment, we assume, was considered too dangerous to be allowed, and as such, the city was struck.
Beau: What was the experiment? [...] Is it this Hammer of Creation? [...]
Devexian: (correcting her pronunciation) The Factorum Malleus. It's not the Hammer of Creation. It's the Creator Hammer.
- This episode marked the 250th episode of Critical Role: 115 in the first campaign, and 135 in the second.
- Fan art of the crater, by Cers @Cersonality (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the repair terminal, by Clara (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Devexian, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of the rejuvenation chamber, by Clara (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Yasha fighting the nullifier, by Kieran Slate (source). Used with permission.