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"The Search For Grog" (Sx42) is the forty-second special episode of Critical Role. After pulling a card from the Deck of Many Things, Grog's soul was stolen and trapped in the Plane of Pandemonium. This is the story of Vox Machina attempting to find and rescue their big buddy, Grog...

Synopsis

Pre-Show

  • When picking his outfit for tonight, Brian asked himself: "What do the drug dealers in Beverly Hills dress like?" Tonight will be a MasterClass in "Remember how to play a character after more than a year". There is a strict NO SPOILERS policy tonight: tonight's show is going to be recorded and released next month. It will be released at a much higher quality than your phone, and the Critical Role team is watching each house of the theater to immediately eject anyone caught photographing or filming the show. According to Brian, they will also shave and poison your cats to make an example. As a general rule, don't be a dick...that's Brian's job. Tonight, you can cry, laugh, cheer, scream, gasp, and more. The only thing the cast asks is that you don't shout any rules, suggestions, or comments. It's really shitty, and neither the cast nor the viewers at home will be able to hear you anyways.
  • Without further ado, Brian brings out the cast of Critical Role (all dressed in outfits inspired by their Vox Machina characters).
  • The crowd starts to sing "Happy Birthday" to Taliesin (it's a little out-of-sync...the balcony seats couldn't hear what part of the song the orchestra seats were at).
  • Oh, if you only knew the adrenaline pumping through Matt's veins. Matt welcomes everyone to the Ace Hotel Theatre and apologizes to anyone who has never watched Critical Role before. Matt appreciates everyone who traveled to LA from entire states or even entire countries away to be here tonight.

Announcements

  • First and foremost, we have our fantastic and epic 'sponsor' for tonight's live show: Wyrmwood Gaming! They have been friends of the show for quite some time. They made our fantastic table that the cast plays on in the studio, and they made this awesome DM screen that Matt gets to use tonight! Liam claims it's for one-time only. Matt insists that this screen is coming home with him. They are giving away a $25 gift card to anyone who makes a merch purchase in the lobby. So if you haven't already bought something, there's a gift card waiting for you if you buy something during the break.
  • Sam complains that not all of the fake candles are lit: Marisha forgot to turn hers on. Travis wonders why Taliesin doesn't just snap to turn all the lights on. Sam clarifies that when Taliesin snaps, someone in the audience gets pregnant. Taliesin apologizes to Travis and Laura. Sam has noticed that Ronin is a little pyramid-shaped.
  • Laura is going to throw up. The nerves are still there for Matt. Roll the old Vox Machina intro!

Previously on Critical Role

"So, the band of adventurers known as Vox Machina had come together as friends, family, compatriots, and then eventually as some of the greatest heroes known to the current age of Exandria. In standing up to the force of the ascending god Vecna, managed to through guile, skill, and THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP, seal his essence away on the other side of the Divine Gate, where he could not trounce and destroy and mold the Prime Material Plane to his will. In the process, fulfilling a deal made by their compatriot, Vax, saw him step into the grasp of the Raven Queen and vanish for good."

"In that sorrowful combination of loss and victory, seeing the relatively robust remains of Vasselheim that you saved from the massive incursion of the risen Primordial Titan that was serving as the delivery method for Vecna's city of Thar Amphala, you gathered your things and returned to Whitestone to just ruminate on the events that had just transpired."

"That brings us only a couple of days later from this climactic battle, still fresh in the throes of the immensity of what has happened and what you've achieved, we come to Whitestone. As the rest of you kind of scatter off for a moment to deal with your own processing and digestion of this mixture of emotions, Pike, after taking some time in the Parchwood forest, the timberlands that surrounds Whitestone, you begin to ascend the stairs to the base of Whitestone Castle."

Fan art of Grog pulling a card, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 2]

"Out of the corner of your eye, in the center of the courtyard you see your best buddy, Grog - the massive goliath Barbarian Berserker from the Plains of Tal'Dorei, champion of the causes you've fought together since your childhood - pluck a card from the Deck of Many Things. And in a brief, euphoric moment of surprise and excitement on his face, his eyes go dead and he falls forward face-first onto the ground."[1]

Part I

Pike tries to shake Grog awake, even backhanding him a few times. Pike checks his breathing and heartbeat and confirms he's definitely alive but unconscious. Pike sits him up, but there's still no response, so she tells him she's going to go get help and to stay there and not move. Pike runs into Castle Whitestone, shouting for help! Percy, Keyleth, and Scanlan hear her and come to investigate, and Keyleth then goes to fetch Vex from the woods just outside the city. The party determines that Grog still had the Deck of Many Things, and Percy inspects the card Grog had pulled, which is now blank.

At this point Sam Riegel requests the entire party be present; Maxwell James wheels out a skeleton in a black cloak meant to be representative of Vax.

After some discussion among the group, as they do not know what had occurred with the card, Percy remarks that Vasselheim owes Vox Machina a favor and that they should go there to get answers and assistance. Pike attempts to pick up Grog but is unable to; Vex puts Grog in the Raven's Slumber instead and Keyleth uses Transport via Plants to teleport everyone to the Abundant Terrace in Vasselheim. They quickly decide to try to find Allura or Gilmore for advice, and begin making their way towards the Platinum Sanctuary. As they travel through Vasselheim, Vox Machina notices small celebrations and many residents and volunteers cleaning up from the battle, though there is still smoke and destruction in the city.

Upon reaching the Platinum Sanctuary where the leaders of Vasselheim are gathered, Vox Machina are greeted by High Bearer Vord. Percy asks for help, as the party has already experienced significant loss. Vex expels Grog from the necklace onto the floor of the sanctuary, and Percy hands over the deck of many things to the High Bearer. An arcane practitioner identifies the deck for what it is, and after Vord admonishes Vox Machina for permitting Grog to have it, he summons Allura to the chamber. Allura is able to determine that Grog's soul is missing and must be reunited with his body for him to return to consciousness, but she is unable to locate it. Scanlan attempts to wake Grog up again by whipping him, but then tells Allura, to her surprise, that he has the Wish spell and can possibly find where Grog's soul has gone.

Scanlan casts Wish and is granted a vision of a landscape with ceaseless wind and no light, and a tower with a small plateau on which sits a red gem in which Grog's soul is trapped. A voice tells him this is the plane of Pandemonium, and Grog's soul is on the Howler's Crag, in Cocytus. Allura provides more information to them of the dangers of Pandemonium, and Vord calls for members of the city to aid Vox Machina.

The first person to volunteer is Bertrand Bell, a man in his late 50s to early 60s who is standing next to Curtis Uleas, Curator of the Quadroads, the portion of Vasselheim dedicated to Erathis. Sir Bell says he is an expert on Pandemonium, and tells Vox Machina of his own achievements and skill as a fighter. While Bertrand states that he had envisioned his role more as an advisor, Vord sends him along with Vox Machina to be their guide. The second volunteer is Lieve'tel Toluse, a priestess from the Raven's Crest. While Keyleth is somewhat displeased given Lieve'tel's association with the Raven Queen, and Scanlan and Keyleth realize that Bertrand is likely lying about his experience in Pandemonium, no other volunteers are to be had.

The party decides to rest for several days so Scanlan can recover his strength after being sapped of it by his casting of Wish and the rest can prepare for the trip, and Allura offers to send the party to Pandemonium when they are ready. Lieve'tel in turn offers to return them to Exandria when they have completed their mission.

During their downtime Vox Machina seeks out Gilmore. They find him in the Quadroads, entertaining some young children with simple magic. He is glad to see them, and when they ask offers a little advice about the dangers of Pandemonium. Gilmore realizes the implications of Vax's absence as he speaks to the party. Keyleth, Vex, and Scanlan comfort him, and he embraces them and tells them that once they've retrieved Grog, they should get together and reminisce, but for now he is going to help the residents of Vasselheim displaced by the Titan.

They reconvene, after this time, in a hallway at the Platinum Sanctuary to go to Pandemonium. After realizing that with Grog in the necklace, it may become dangerous for Trinket, Vex casts Speak with Animals to see what Trinket wants, and he offers to carry Grog on the journey. After one final check with Vox Machina and their two new companions, Allura Plane Shifts them to Pandemonium. They find themselves in the dark, with the heaviest wind any had ever experienced battering them with small bits of sand and dust, and around them they can hear a cacophony of screams.

Break

Part II

The party immediately finds themselves in the roaring, incredibly loud and stinging wind, without light; even the party members with darkvision only have visibility for about 15 feet due to the debris in the air. Bertrand claims to recognize the winter winds of Pandemonium, but that he had only ever been to the plane in other seasons. Pike casts Light on her finger so that Percy and Bertrand can see, although even then the constant and frigid maelstrom obscures everyone's vision.

Keyleth attempts to use the Scrying Eye to locate the gem in which Grog's soul is imprisoned, but the strength of the wind interrupts her concentration. The party discusses finding shelter so they can try again, but Bertrand insists that if they continue on, they will find it, and walks off from the group. After Percy criticizes him for being "the most pompous, egotistical arsehole [he's] ever met" while out of earshot, Vox Machina and Lieve'tel catch up to Bertrand, whose face is now covered in sand and dust. Keyleth conteracts the constant wind with the Gust cantrip, which acts as a minor shield against the wind; Bertrand also raises his own Shield of Expression but it is mostly ineffectual.

While it is difficult for the group to hear each other against the wind, Lieve'tel volunteers to scry on the gem. Shielded from the wind, she is able to discern the direction in which they need to travel, which is not the direction Bertrand had initially led them. She also sees a blurred, large figure and hears a scream in her scry, of some massive but difficult to identify creature.

The party continues on for an hour in the storm, which fluctuates in intensity but never ceases, along the hilly but sandblasted ground, and takes a small amount of damage. Percy and Pike additionally take a point of exhaustion as they travel. Lieve'tel takes the opportunity to tell Vex that she had met Vax before, to stay close by, and casts Death Ward on her. Vex is initially brusque, but seems touched by the gesture.

Shortly after, the party encounters another person in the storm, who addresses them. The stranger has yellowish skin, pointed ears, an elongated head, facial tattoos, and a small, unkempt beard. His head reminds Vox Machina of the skull they had found at General Krieg's house in Emon, and he asks them if they have any presents. Bertrand demands he identify himself, but the traveler is unable to remember his name. Vex calls him "Bob". Several party members ask Bob for directions to the tower, and while he seems familiar with a tower, Bob requests presents but does not threaten the group. Keyleth Druidcrafts him a bouquet of flowers which are immediately destroyed by the storm. Bob tells the group that they will lose friends here, just as he lost his. When Pike asks him how long he has been here or how many friends he lost, he is unable to answer, and speaks only of the "roiling anger that visits" and "the big voice, the big, dark one". Bob then wanders off from the party, thanking them for their gifts. As Bob leaves, Scanlan realizes that Bob was a Githzerai, and had likely been badly affected by Pandemonium.

The party continues on, with Lieve'tel using her Rod of Alertness as she and Keyleth lead the group. They find themselves following the curve of the cavern, but they do not feel a difference in the gravity despite the change of grade; the gravity on this plane seems relative. After another hour of travel during which Bertrand begins to become exhausted, they come upon a series of rock formations and caverns that are in line with both Scanlan and Lieve'tel's visions. As Vox Machina and their companions try to decide whether to enter the caverns, and if so which one, they hear the howling, screeching voice again. Lieve'tel casts Detect Evil with the rod, and nothing is within range initially but she soon begins to sense presences. The party rushes to the nearest cavern, only to see a number of howlers, creatures that appear canine, but over 6 feet tall and with gray, leathery scaled skin and spiky tendrils along the spine. Lieve'tel casts Beacon of Hope shortly before they attack.

The four howlers are able to stun Percy, Pike, and Bertrand and attack Bertrand as well, though not before he makes his first attack. Vex gets the first How do you want to do this?, and Keyleth significantly damages the other three with Chain Lightning before turning into an earth elemental. Scanlan further damages them with Thunderwave, and both he and Lieve'tel heal some of Bertrand's damage. Vex gets a second HDYWTDT on her second attack, and Percy gets a HDYWTDT with his sword against the howler who had been attacking him and another with Retort, ending the fight.

The party quickly retreats inside the cavern to rest and recover; Keyleth, still in elemental form, blocks the door, and Pike casts Heroes' Feast. As they eat, Pike questions Bertrand's credentials given that he had claimed to have killed great wolves before. Bertrand asks if he can be credited as a member of Vox Machina; the party declines but do offer him a discount at the Slayer's Cake, and Keyleth gives an Inspiring Leader speech. Lieve'tel and Keyleth both notice that the cavern system is complex and forking, and Lieve'tel casts Find the Path to prevent them from getting lost. Vex casts Pass without Trace as well to help them hide from other dangers. Bertrand joins Lieve'tel at the front, and she flirts with him.

Vox Machina, Lieve'tel, and Bertrand make their way through the cavern system with little issue until a group of five bugbears suddenly tear off Percy's arm. Bertrand chases down the bugbears, and Keyleth casts Regenerate to regrow Percy's arm, which finishes growing just as Bertrand, having slayed the bugbears, returns with Percy's original arm.

They all continue, Bertrand becoming still more exhausted, up the tower. They successfully sneak past more howlers, and eventually reach a chamber near the top of the mountain in which they can see a faint red glow. Bertrand continues on. The rest attempt to stealth, and in the process of preparation Lieve'tel realizes that her component pouch containing the finger bone of Purvan Suul is missing, having been taken by Bob.

Percy and Lieve'tel notice that the runes along the wall, as they approach the red glow, do not appear to be from any language they recognize. They also see that the source of the glow is a large demonic being with wings and horns, carrying a whip and sword and drawing pictures on the wall. The party is able to sneak past, though they take significant fire damage from the balor as they do. Lieve'tel casts Mass Heal to bring everyone up to full health as the approach the spires of the tower where Grog's soul gem is kept. The party hears a growling voice say "Father" as they approach the summit, and are able to make it to the top undetected, any sounds masked by the still-howling wind.

When they reach the top, they see a 25-foot tall humanoid but god-like figure with jet-black skin and red eyes, horns on his head and four spidery legs protruding from his back. He is wearing armor and bracers, and carries a huge hammer with glowing red runes. Vox Machina and their allies can also see the gem embedded in the tower, and realize the Empyrean is in some way bound to this place.

Fan art of Grog delivering the final blow to the empyrean, by BlackSalander.[art 3]

Bertrand attacks first with his Gambler's Rapier, hitting it several times; Lieve'tel casts Planar Ally, and Keyleth Shapechanges into a goristro. Scanlan casts Otto's Irresistable Dance, which forces the forgotten empyrean to remain in one place and grants everyone advantage on their attacks. The empyrean is still able to attack and do significant damage to much of the party and to the tower on which they stand with both his legendary and regular actions, and Lieve'tel is knocked unconscious after several attacks. Percy scores a critical hit, dealing a record-breaking amount of damage in both the attack and over his entire turn. Keyleth deals damage in her goristro form, and a barely-standing Bertrand also successfully hits the empyrean several times. The next attack from the empyrean knocks Bertrand unconscious and kills Lieve'tel, but her planar ally continues to fight it. Vex sends Trinket, carrying Grog, over to the stone, and when he reaches the stone Grog immediately wakes up. Vex makes her attacks and Scanlan heals Bertrand from unconsciousness and inspires Grog. The empyrean attacks again, knocking Bertrand back into unconsciousness. Grog jumps into the fight and gets two critical hits in a row, getting the HDYWTDT immediately. Matt reveals this empyrean had been the child of the Raven Queen's predecessor, who was supposed to have only been imprisoned briefly but was forgotten after his father's demise.

The party then retrieves their possessions from Bob, resurrects Lieve'tel, and returns home...but that is a story for another time.

Featured Characters

Vox Machina

New

Returning

Mentioned

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes

Quotations

  • Grog: I don't really know what's been going on, but this amazing movie has been playing and it's about time you all got here. Vox Machina... FUCK! SHIT! UUUUUP! And I would like to RAGE!
  • Percy: (sarcastically) No, it'll be fine. I'll sit here and do 1d8 damage for the rest of the bloody game. That'll be fine.
    Keyleth: You've got a gun! Isn't that like...like fine?!
    Percy: For four times and then I have to reload it with something! AND THAT CAN GET COMPLICATED...
    Taliesin: ...WHICH IS WHY THE JOKE ISN'T FUNNY!! I've explained this!!
    Sam: Wait, wait, I immediately pictured you reloading it with your feet but I think the audience pictured you reloading it with your dick!
  • Matt: I'm just letting you know that you've taken 23 points of damage and are continuing to bleed out because you're missing an arm.
    Vex: OH MY GOD!
    Scanlan: CAST THE SPELL!! KEYLETH, DO SOMETHING
    Keyleth: (Angrily) OKAY!!
    (The audience and cast roar with laughter)
    Liam: Grief takes many forms!
    Marisha: It does.
    Keyleth: I'll Regenerate your arm! I'll bring that back, I guess!

Trivia

  • This episode was originally filmed live in Los Angeles on January 19, 2019. The VOD was later made available on Twitch and YouTube on February 22, 2019.
  • During this episode, Percival set a record for highest damage in a single turn targeting only one creature at a time by dealing 197 points of damage against the Corrupted Empyrean, before Hemorrhaging Critical. Unlike as stated during this episode, Arkhan did not hold the previous record: Percy did, with 172 points in "Umbrasyl" (1x55). With this turn, Percy also set the then-second highest damage in a single attack with 104 points before Hemorrhaging Critical, which was later knocked to third by Jester Lavorre in "Malice and Mystery Below" (2x119); with Hemorrhaging Critical, the 156 total points would be the greatest amount of damage dealt in a single attack.
  • Unlike most one-shots, this one is considered canon as the events that took place were mentioned during the finale of Campaign 1.
  • The final roll in "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) was a natural 20 by Travis as Grog. The final roll in this one-shot, and thus the final Vox Machina roll, was also a natural 20 by Travis as Grog. He began Campaign 2, which started before this one-shot, with a natural 20 as well.
  • This is the sixth episode in which one player plays multiple characters, following "A Bard's Lament" (1x85), "Masquerade" (1x99), "Unfinished Business" (1x100), "Thar Amphala" (1x101) and "Race to the Tower" (1x102) (Scanlan/Taryon) in the first campaign, with Travis playing both Grog and Bertrand Bell.

References

  1. See "The Search For Grog" (Sx42) from 12:11 through 15:41.

Art:

  1. The thumbnail for "The Search For Grog" (Sx42), featuring Grog, by Hugo Cardenas from "The Search For Grog" (Sx42). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of Grog pulling a card, by Lap Pun Cheung (source).  Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Grog delivering the final blow to the empyrean, by BlackSalander (source).  Used with permission.


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