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"The Night Before Critmas" (Sx41) is the forty-first special episode of Critical Role. Special guest Julie Nathanson joins the cast of Critical Role for a hilarious "slay" ride through Dungeon Master Liam O'Brien's "The Night Before Critmas".
- Liam is very excited: he's been sitting on this one-shot idea for two years!
- Talks Machina will return after the new year on January 8th and Critical Role will return on January 10th. On January 3rd, a marathon of the entire first season of All Work No Play will air.
- Reminder that new shows have been announced: Pub Draw, MAME Drop, and the second season of Between the Sheets.
- Liam throws a quick shoutout to Hero Forge, Iron Tusk Painting and Jay from Emerald Knights for supplying the minis used in this game.
It's Christmas Eve at Santa's workshop, in the final hours of toy production. The North Pole has been hit by a violent strain of flu this year, and for the first time in centuries, almost all of the denizens of Christmas Village are down for the count. A small crew of seven remaining healthy elves has been put together at the last minute to finish making the toys. The group includes two regulars on the assembly line: Arthur Fizzlebottom, a troublemaker who got this job as an effort from his father to drill some responsibility into him, and Chutney Chocolatecane, one of the oldest elves in the village, who still misses the good old days when toys were made of wood and metal. They are joined by Klaus Prigman, the hard-boiled leader of village security; Bundlestein Sprucenberg, a worker from the reindeer stables; Cranberry Stockings, a lumberjack and timber sports olympic champion; Ellory Jinglegumdrop, workshop fangirl and bundle of joy; and Nutmeg Gingersnap, back in the North Pole after years of intelligence work at Macy's in New York.
With thirty-five minutes left on the clock, Bigsby Quimberump, an elderly elf and Santa's right-hand man, comes to check on the workshop. He assigns the group with making a batch of Vox Machina figures while he fetches them hot cocoa. The toys are assembled with sub-par quality by most of them. Bigsby comes back, and notices the star at the top of the tree has fallen down. It's the Star of Pure Intent, golden cogs ticking quietly behind the latticework design of its outer shell,with a large ruby set at its center that is pulsing subtly. Bigsby orders Arthur to climb up the tree and put the star back in place, when a medallion on his belt alerts him of intruders in the area. Klaus immediately wants to go check it out, but Bigsby argues that he can handle it. He tasks them with building figures of the Mighty Nein, and leaves to investigate the alarm. With the Star of Pure Intent back in place, they have advantage on toy creation and the results are much better. Bigsby comes back in, this time to order a batch of bear toys. He picks up a magic fiddle and plays it, causing the other elves to work at an extremely fast pace, but the results aren't too good, and so he pulls out a Wand of Mending and fixes up the toys. With that, the understaffed crew has finished the toys for the year.
The doors blast open and in walks Santa himself. He congratulates the workers and grabs his bag of toys before heading back outside. The elves hear him call out to the reindeers, but he is interupted mid sentence by a loud whomp! The elves go outside to investigate. Santa has disappeared. They see his sleigh tilted on its side, and tracks made by something with three-toed feet. Looking in their direction, they can only catch a glimpse of a bathtub with a big sack in it moving rapidly through the trees. Before the elves can do anything, they hear a voice call "The fat man is ours!" from the roof of the workshop above them, where they see a pale-skinned hag of a woman wearing a tall, purple-ish hat and filthy purple robes. Off to the sides, in the treelines, are a red bearded devil and a corpse-looking man carrying scary looking weapons.
The elves fight the three creatures, with help from the power of the Star of Pure Intent, and manage to take down the devil and corpse. Beaten and on the ground, the witch says "We tried to serve--" but can't finish her sentence. Cranberry casts Command on her, asking her to tell them who she serves. The witch answers "Wormsack" and Arthur finishes her off.
Bundlestein approaches Blitzen, who was hiding in the trees, terrified. He calms the reindeer down and asks him where Santa went. Meanwhile, Chutney loots the devil's body and takes his weird tentacle weapon, and Arthur climbs back onto the tree to put the Star of Pure Intent in his pocket. Cranberry investigates the sleigh, where she finds a big bag full of toys, but it's much too heavy to lift even with Nutmeg's help. The elves consider looking for Santa, but Chutney suggests they take over for him instead and rule Christmas. Klaus is against the idea; he tells Chutney that even if he wanted to, none of them could lift the toy bag anyway. Chutney grabs the bag, and his frail old body somehow manages to lift the bag of the ground, to everyone's surprise. A few of the elves seem to agree with Chutney, but Ellory insists that they look for Santa. The group investigates the three-toed tracks they saw earlier, but they don't match any of the creatures' feet. Klaus tastes the snow around the track and discovers that they taste like fecal matter, which makes them wonder if these creatures have anything to do with the recent flu outbreak.
The elves get in Santa's sleigh and Blitzen pulls it into the sky. They follow the tracks for an hour until they reach a ring of five perfectly spaced trees at the top of a small hill. As they get closer, they notice that every tree has a door of a different shape on the trunk: a colorful egg, a turkey, a shamrock, a heart, and an orange pumpkin. The pumpkin door is slightly ajar, and the tracks lead right up to it. The elves open the pumpkin door and are sucked into a spinning vortex of orange and black filled with skulls and pumpkins, and lose consciousness.
- Chutney Chocolatecane
- Arthur Fizzlebottom
- Nutmeg Gingersnap
- Ellory Jinglegumdrop
- Klaus Prigman
- Bundlestein Sprucenberg
- Cranberry Stockings
- Bigsby Quimberump
- Mrs. Claus
- The Hallow King
- Liam O'Brien (describing Klaus' attempt at toymaking): You built the Caleb but you left out the crippling guilt, so he's barely recognizable.
- Bundlestein Sprucenberg: Be honest with us. Is the naughty list a hit list?
Klaus Prigman: Well, there's the nice list, there's the naughty list and there's the naughty list.
Nutmeg Gingersnap: So there's two naughty lists? How do you know which is which?
Bundlestein Sprucenberg: What if you make a mistake?
Klaus Prigman: Well, that's only happened twice. We have precautions now in place.
Nutmeg Gingersnap: Mistakes were made.
- This one-shot was inspired by The Nightmare before Christmas, a stop-motion animated movie featuring a character from Halloweentown who finds a circle of trees leading to different realms based on popular holidays and becomes enamored with Christmas.
- The Nightmare before Christmas was named after A Visit from St. Nicholas, a poem most commonly known as The Night Before Christmas. It may also be an inspiration for this episode's title.
- The title is also a reference to Critmas, an event established during early streams of Critical Role, where the cast opened presents sent by fans.
- When Klaus angrily wraps one of his sub-par toys, he says it's for Sam Hogg, the artist who illustrated the cover of Issue #4 of Vox Machina Origins Volume 2.
- Due to Laura missing the stream as she was feeling sick at the last minute, Bell didn't appear in the episode