"The Stalking Nightmare" (2x29) is the twenty-ninth episode of the second campaign of Critical Role. Live from Indianapolis! The Mighty Nein descend deeper into the Sour Nest to rescue their friends, and find help in an unexpected corner… (guest Khary Payton!)
- Brian arrives onstage in the outfit picked out for him by Taliesin, which Brian describes as either "a good mix between Colonel Sanders and Liberace" or "the gay televangelist". Producer Max described Brian as "a pimp from Atlantis".
- If you are at Gen Con this weekend, please stop by the Critical Role booth (Booth #2931): a real-life Invulnerable Vagrant.
- Brian gives a couple housekeeping rules before introducing the cast:
- There will be a break, just like every episode of Critical Role. He asks the audience to try and stay in their seats until then, and then go to the bathroom, get merch, etc. during that break. Brian points out (and those who were here last year will remember) that when someone stands up, the chair sounds like someone waterboarding a pterodactyl.
- The audience is free to laugh, scream, cheer, cry, gasp, and any of that stuff during the show. The only thing that Critical Role asks is that the audience doesn't shout any rules or corrections at Matt or the players. And the only reason why they ask is because (to quote Brian): "IT'S FUCKING ANNOYING!" So keep those to a minimum of zero.
- Today (August 3rd) is our beloved Travis Willingham's birthday. He and Laura couldn't make it to Gen Con this year for the best reason possible: because they just had a beautiful little baby boy, Ronin. According to Brian, "He's such a bud-dee!" Since he couldn't be there in-person, Brian thought he could FaceTime Travis and have the whole audience sing Happy Birthday for him (the Critters already did that before the show, but why not do it again?). Brian had hoped he wouldn't catch Travis in the middle of breastfeeding. Travis and Laura misses the cast and Critters so much. Brian gives Travis his present, and the audience sings. Travis thanks the audience and says they are amazing. He has only one birthday wish...one request for his fellow players: "Mighty Nein, I want you to kick some FUCKING ASS!" Laura states that they'll be watching along tonight. Travis asks if they "earmuffed" Ronin for that? Laura says, "Totally.", as she hurriedly covers Ronin's ears. She insists, "No cussing! Don't talk about dem tiddies!" After the audience says goodbye to Travis and Laura, Brian wishes they could be here...but instead they brought him for some stupid reason.
- Without further ado, Brian introduces the cast of Critical Role:
- Liam O'Brien (dressed as Caleb, complete with scarf and book...though under his coat, he has a shirt of a cat shooting lasers out of its eyes)
- Marisha Ray (dressed as Sam from the Campaign 2 intro, she blows kisses to the audience)
- Taliesin Jaffe
- Ashly Burch (complete with cigarette)
- Hide your kids, hide your wives, hide your faces...it's Sam Riegel (dressed in a pink dragon costume, with butterfly facial makeup, roller blades, streamers on his back, and a giant LED light stuffed into his crotch)
- and your, mine, our beloved Dungeon Master: Matthew Mercer! (who gets a standing ovation as he walks out)
- Matt clarifies he is the "poor, unfortunate soul who had to follow Sam Riegel out onstage". Sam takes the LED light out of his crotch, and Ashly starts to look at it. Matt shouts at her not to touch it: we all know where it's been! Liam shouts, "Don't look, Marion!"
- Matt welcomes everyone to Gen Con 2018 and our live show at the Murat Theatre. So many incredible faces in the audience here, and many of you wonderful people back at home watching us, so welcome to all. Matt has butterflies in his tummy.
- Someone in the audience shouts, "It's High Noon!" Ashly believes time to high noon is in three minutes? Matt (as McCree) states, "Somewhere in the world..."
- We have our fantastic returning sponsor: our wonderful friends at D&D Beyond!
- D&D Beyond did not want Sam to sing a song for their ad at the live show...so Sam has one prepared. D&D Beyond is giving away a Legendary Bundle on their Facebook page, has a new discount 25% off code ("gencon2018") for their online marketplace, and a booth in the lobby for the live show. Sam sings about Gen Con and his ridiculous outfit.
- Matt's second "Fireside Chat", that was unlocked during the 826LA charity drive, will be this coming Tuesday (August 7, 2018) at 5:00 pm PDT. Matt will answer a bunch of your questions and just generally be hanging out with the community for about an hour. Marisha's "Honey Heist 2: Electric Beargaloo" will be this coming Friday (August 10, 2018) at 7:00 pm PDT. Both of these streams can be watched at twitch.tv/criticalrole. If you miss either live-stream, they'll be available on Critical Role's YouTube channel a few days after. A link to the NPC survey for the Fireside Chat (for Critters to create an NPC that will be added to the world of Exandria) can be found on critrole.com.
- Critical Role is excited to finally announce the sequel to their art book: "The Chronicles of Exandria: The Legend of Vox Machina II". This will bookend the second and final half of Vox Machina's adventures. Liam says if you were wondering why Taliesin was losing his mind so much during Molly's death and Liam was privately losing his mind while on vacation in various national parks, it's because they've been working on this art book for the past several weeks. That's what Taliesin couldn't say on Talks Machina: literally his first thought when Molly died was, "I just lost three days off of my art book schedule...OH GOD! OH NO! PLEASE, NO!" Liam says the art book is shaping up beautifully. It's full of beautiful pieces from the Critical Role fan art community that you are probably familiar with. There are some pieces that are new and exclusive to the art book. The cover art was done by comic artist Matteo Scalera (who you might know from the comic series "Black Science"), with coloring by Moreno Dinisio (who does Matteo's coloring for "Black Science" too). Liam has loved Matteo's art for a while now, and the book looks amazing. Liam thanks every artist for the thousandth time for giving back to this show. For more details on the art book going forward, go to critrole.com to keep up to speed on updates.
- A reminder that Critical Role does its Wyrmwood giveaways during the break. There will be one during the intermission for the live show too. When we go to break, jump over to the Critical Role Twitch chat and they'll have a code at the time for you to enter.
- That brings us to the end of our announcements, so Matt says it's time for us to get comfortable, as he starts unbuttoning his shirt. Sam asks if we're taking off our shirts...and then realizes to his horror that Matt has pulled a "Shirtception" by putting one of Sam's awkward faces on his shirt. Sam feels so violated...is this how Matt feels every time?!? Matt coyly replies, "Maybe."
- As we reign in our respective nerves and ridiculousness, Matt thinks it's time to come into tonight's episode of...Critical Role! (the audience cheers and claps along with the intro, cheering especially loudly for Travis, Ashley, and Laura)
Previously on Critical Role
"The Mighty Nein - an intrepid band of adventurers here in the continent of Wildemount - had found three of their members taken in the middle of a night, by a band of kidnappers and slavers they found to be called the 'Iron Shepherds'.
"In trying to hunt down and find where their allies were taken, they ran into a previous member of this team, known as Keg: a dwarven warrior, who herself was on a path to vengeance against these people she previously worked with. Aligning forces, they made their way northward towards the city of Shadycreek Run - which exists outside of the laws and boundaries of the Dwendalian Empire. Along the way, they ambushed the Iron Shepherds, and in doing so, lost one of their allies.
"With Mollymauk fallen on the battlefield, and the rest left to simmer over the decisions they'd made, they continued northward, where they encountered a new friend, north of the city of Shadycreek Run...as Caduceus Clay was pulled from his hermit lifestyle north of the city, within the confines of the Savalirwood, to join them in assaulting the Sour Nest: the keep where the Iron Shepherds call it 'home'.
"They staked out the outskirts of this location, managed to slay some of the guardians who were keeping watch along the outer perimeter wall...not-necessarily-very-stealthily made their way into the entryway, but managed to take out a number of members of the Iron Shepherds: some of their paid compatriots, as well as at least one of their more elite fighters. Along with them, they had met Nila - who was a firbolg who was searching for her also kidnapped partner and son - and using her Druidic powers, aided them in this assault. And in doing so, found and helped her family escape. As she absconded from the location with her family to keep them safe, the rest of you remained behind, trying to find out where the remainder of the Iron Shepherds reside within the Sour Nest and how best to deal with their presence.
"Last we left off, Caleb had sent Frumpkin (his familiar) in the form of a spider to inspect the upper floor of the chamber, and upon feeling a squeeze from Keg, had just instilled her with the speed and alacrity of a Haste spell..."
Caleb and Keg go to the upstairs stairway while Caleb sends spider-Frumpkin to scout the upper floor. Between Keg's clanking armor and the earlier firecrackers and fights, two more guards are awake there and putting on their leather armor. Caleb messages Nott that the guards are on their way downstairs, and their continued exploration show no one else upstairs. Reluctantly, Caleb uses the scroll of Invisibilty that Calianna gifted him, telling Keg he'll stay with her and bamfing spider-Frumpkin onto her shoulder.
Downstairs, Nott runs into (literally) one of the Iron Shepherd lackeys, who pulls out his short sword. Caduceus (disguised as a guard) grabs her by the scruff and lifts her away, telling the guard that they need this one for questioning, joined by the also-disguised Beau, but the guards don't believe them and battle is joined. Beau immediately kills one after her Stunning Strike succeeds. The other one runs for it, meeting Keg at the bottom of the stairs as she comes down. Nott shoots him and Caduceus hits him with a Sacred Flame, and he too is killed. Just then, a strange blur of black streaks by and heads for the basement.
They go back down the stairs to the basement, and the invisible Caleb suggests that just this once, he go first. He stealths into the room where Protto and Ruzza are holding weapons ready, whispering to each other. Just then, a buzzing small dark shape appears and stops for a second. It is a jet black hummingbird with something long and metallic in its beak. Caleb moves into a sheltered spot and sits down, watching as one of the caged prisoners' hands slips out of its chain holding the long metal object. It is Shakäste. The rest of the party creeps closer and the guards are alerted by Keg's lack of stealth.
Meanwhile, Shakäste has gotten both hands free and removed his gag, and casts Spiritual Weapon, which misses, but he is able to pick the lock of his cage and step out. The invisible Caleb slides over to the other cage and looks inside, seeing two unknown prisoners. Ruzza and Protto run through an arch and down a hallway away from them. Ruzza pulls a lever which lowers two portcullises, one from the arch between them and the room where Caleb, Nott, and Shakäste are, and one which leaves Beau, Keg, and Caduceus isolated in the first room.
Keg and Beau begin working on trying to lift the portcullis, while Caleb knocks over a table trying to get it in position to wedge under the gate when they lift it. Protto shoots his longbow through the two intervening portcullises at Beau, but one misses and she catches the other. She and Keg get the gate up and Caleb wedges the table underneath. Suddenly, a bassy resonant voice fills the chamber, saying, "It's rare that the meat carries itself right to your table."
Nott uses Mage Hand to flip the lever on the other side of the remaining portcullis, and it begins to rise. She chases after Protto and Ruzza, who have disappeared further along the hallway into the next room. The still-invisible Caleb follows, sending spider-Frumpkin ahead, who sees another caged, manacled and gagged prisoner in the next room before the guards shut the door behind them. Nott finds the doorway is trapped, but is able to move the trigger out of the way. Caleb sends Frumpkin under the door, and he sees Protto, Ruzza, and a third thug opening another barred gate guarding a stairway leading further down. The guards immediately notice Frumpkin and hit him with an arrow, sending him back into his home dimension and cutting off Caleb's vision. The party hears a clang from that room, presumably the gate falling back into place.
Nott manages to unshackle the prisoner and Shakäste lockpicks his cage open. The bassy voice creeps in again, taunting them, and Keg recognizes it as Lorenzo's, her erstwhile employer, but manages to shrug off the urge to run it induces in her, and bashes the door in. They enter the next room, but the three thugs have disappeared. As Beau approaches the gate, a gout of flame roars out at her, causing damage. She and Keg succeed in breaking the door down, but they both get hit by the brazier fire again. Caduceus casts Dispel Magic on the brazier and the rest of the team passes safely, and Keg gives Beau a greater healing potion. Shakäste sends his hummingbird Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna ahead down the stairs to investigate.
The party heals up a bit at the top of the stairs, while the Duchess looks around downstairs, flying down the narrow stairs into the top of a T-shaped chamber. To either side are redly-glowing furnaces. Ahead is a leather sheet-covered torture table, with chains and torture implements hanging on the walls. At the far end of the room are two prison-barred doors leading to containment chambers.
With Nott providing the Silent Image, and Caduceus supplying sound effects, they create an image of Keg creeping down the stairs, drawing fire from under the table and from a hidden location along the left side of the base of the T. Beau throws a firecracker down the stairs and without further discussion they barrel downward, with Nott, Beau, Caduceus, and Keg entering the room and Shakäste and invisible Caleb staying on the stairs. Nott immediately is hit by a crossbow bolt fired from under the table, and Caduceus comes face to face with Ruzza hiding in a corner. Roll initiative!
Beau manages to take out Protto, while Caleb drops his invisibility to hit Lorenzo with Scorching Ray followed by Fire Bolt, and Lorenzo wounds severely him with his glaive. Caleb retreats to the stairs. Ruzza casts Hold Person on Beau, but Nott almost immediately kills Ruzza. Caduceus and Shakäste investigate the back chambers, whch are holding chained, gagged humanoid figures. Lorenzo appears and casts Cone of Cold, knocking out Beau and Shakäste, and wounding Keg and Caduceus. Caduceus heals Beau, who immediately stuns Lorenzo, and on his next turn heals Shakäste. Caleb casts a Fire Bolt on Lorenzo, getting the How do you want to do this? while frying him. He succeeds on the resulting wisdom save.
Beau runs to the chambers on the back wall and finds an unconscious Yasha chained in one, while Nott finds Jester and Fjord in the other, both also unconscious. Nott runs to Jester, hugs her, and says, "Case closed." She also confesses to Shakäste that she stole gold from him the last time they met, and tries to return it, but he tells her it was a gift and to spend it how she likes. Shakäste takes charge of the other freed prisoners, disappearing while shepherding them outside the Empire to safety.
- Caduceus Clay
- Fjord (Unconscious)
- Jester Lavorre (Unconscious)
- Yasha Nydoorin (Unconscious)
- Caleb Widogast
- Keg: (as Caleb goes invisible) What the fuck?
Marisha: Keg doesn't have object permanence.
Ashly: That is now also canon. Write that in your Wikipedias.
- Caleb: (stuttering) Just this once, I think I should go first.
Audience Member: So brave!
Caleb: Brave. Dead. It's semantics, really.
- Matt: A rapid-fired arrow about that long, I'd say, against a spider would look terrible if it wasn't a fey entity that dissipates into dust as it blinks back into its home dimension.
Caleb: They. Are. Going. To. Die.
- Caleb: (to Lorenzo) You shouldn't have killed my cat.
- Nott: I'll just run over to Jester and give her a hug and just say, "Case closed".
- Keg was aroused twice in this episode, Beau once, and the audience once.