Critical Role sets grim milestone in the latest episode of Campaign 3

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Critical Role informed viewers to anticipate the surprising in Campaign 3, and on the finish of its thirty third episode — greater than 130 hours into the sport — they delivered in a giant, heart-pounding approach.

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for episode 33 of Critical Role’s Campaign 3. The video on demand of that episode will not air until Monday, September 12, with audio-only podcast available on Thursday, September 15.]

The mud hasn’t even cleared but, however because the session got here to an in depth on Thursday night time, two characters — Orym (Liam O’Brien) and Fearne (Ashley Johnson) — lay lifeless, and two extra lay dying. The fifth, a intelligent automaton named Recent Lower Grass (Sam Riegel), was left hiding in an alley whereas the streets of Bassuras exploded throughout them. It appears an terrible lot like Matthew Mercer has created what could also be his most deadly, and presumably purposefully unwinnable, combat in CR historical past.

Picture: Hannah Friederichs/Crucial Function

A satyr with a beautiful face, a staff carved into snakes.

Picture: Hannah Friederichs/Crucial Function

The set was washed with the colours of fireplace and sundown paying homage to Exandria Unlimited: Calamity — a delicate foreshadowing of simply how intense this episode was. The episode was unprecedented for extra than simply its physique depend. At many factors final night time, the solid famous that to have even that many characters unconscious at a given time was unusual.

A tiny silver robot. No legs, just a single wheel.

Picture: Hannah Friederichs/Crucial Function

Episode 33 began in the course of a previous shock fight, because the fortress the social gathering was infiltrating was attacked in the course of a blinding mud storm. Appearing as nominal allies to the fortress’s defenders, Paragon’s Name, the Bell’s Hells break up the social gathering to make use of the quilt of the chaotic battle to finish their meant heist. The primary half was eventful however typically lighthearted, as Chetney (Travis Willingham) missed a tripwire and bounced downstairs “ass over teakettle,” and Ashton (Taliesin Jaffe) and Recent Lower Grass did donuts in a Mad Max-inspired crawler. However the social gathering did take some severe hits, as they got here up in opposition to rival bounty hunter Artana Voe. Whereas they managed to subdue and negotiate along with her earlier than betraying her all in a matter of minutes (Did I point out it was a chaotic episode?), the encounter was simply one of many methods through which the social gathering’s energy was sapped within the first half.

Within the second half of the episode, that they had only one adversary: Otohan Thull, the legendary chief of Paragon’s Name. Whereas non-player characters are not possible to align with participant character ranges or courses, it’s clear that Otohan Thull is remarkably formidable. As Ashton informed the social gathering in Episode 27 about her popularity: “Again after I was a child, if you happen to needed to speak about essentially the most fucked up, loopy, insane motherfucker within the historical past of this city, who simply killed and fucked every thing up, this was the individual. This was nightmare gasoline, this individual.” Otohan lives as much as her popularity, stacked with legendary actions and stiff resistances.

Fortunately for the Hells, additionally they had some clutch magic up their sleeves, courtesy of Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, revealed in December 2021. Silvery Barbs, which each forces an opponent to reroll their assault and provides benefit to an ally — all as a response, which is successfully a bonus motion that gamers can wedge into many conditions. Silvery Barbs has rapidly turn into the brand new go-to spell for high-level play: final night time, it allowed Laudna (Marisha Ray) to diffuse a crucial hit on the social gathering. Ray additionally used Wither and Bloom, a second-level space of impact spell which equally permits allies to reroll hit cube whereas foes make saves. Twice within the night time it allowed Laudna to face up a personality close to demise, a key transfer that meant that Ashton and Chetney have been nonetheless barely alive on the finish of the episode. As Tal’Dorei Reborn co-lead and MCDM managing editor Hannah Rose famous an hour into the second half of the present. “If this session have been happening even 10 months in the past, the Wither and Bloom and Silvery Barbs spells wouldn’t be round, and this fight may very well be going even worse!”

A green man with a glass warhammer.

Picture: Hannah Friederichs/Crucial Function

However it simply wasn’t sufficient. Bell’s Hells have been in fight rounds for practically the complete episode — three hours and half-hour — a punishing combat solely beforehand skilled within the closing episodes of their earlier campaigns Vox Machina and the Mighty Nein. When Vox Machina battled for 4 hours on the desk in 2017, the characters have been firmly optimized for D&D’s capstone fourth tier of play. At Degree 15, The Mighty Nein have been decrease in 2021, however nonetheless close to the highest of tier three. In each instances, the events had additionally collected and powered up a handful of wondrous artifacts. The Hells, against this, are nonetheless on the comparatively modest seventh stage, in the course of tier two and barely thought-about Heroes of the Realm. They only don’t have a bunch of massive, shiny magical objects handy.

However it could end up that many of those characters comprise even larger energy inside. In latest episodes, we’ve found the deadly capacities — sufficient to kill an entire social gathering of adventurers — lurking behind the shiny, chipper exterior of Aeormaton Recent Lower Grass. We now have seen glimpses of the magical energy Launda and Ashton have inside them, and a big a part of the social gathering has connections to Ruidus, the mysterious crimson second moon of Exandria that’s looming massive on this marketing campaign. In latest episodes, these latent powers are bringing the Hells to the eye of very highly effective forces.

Final night time, Imogen (Laura Bailey) was the prime goal. We’ve recognized Otohan intently resembles the girl haunting the disturbing, red-washed desires we’ve seen throughout prior episodes. On this episode, we additionally had affirmation that Otohan was concerned within the mysterious, violent demise of Orym’s husband. Otohan’s objectives are nonetheless unclear, however her strikes on this combat have been calculated to interrupt Imogen. She delivered repeated, pointless coups de grâce to downed social gathering members, even after Imogen repeatedly cries that she’s going to give herself up.

A purple-haired woman, sort of an Indiana Jones type.

Picture: Hannah Friederichs/Crucial Function

However what Otohan needed wasn’t submission, however explosion — and because the episode ended, that’s simply what occurred. The remaining Hells watched because the world round them turned crimson and their light, shy buddy levitated, her pale pores and skin turning crimson & crackling with glowing purple power. As she screams, area warps, buildings flip to rubble, and the world goes white… simply as Mercer calls the session.

The cameras stored rolling for the solid’s reactions, a mixture of confusion (Marisha Ray asking “Am I lifeless or alive?” and Sam Riegel yelping “Did we go someplace? Did she disappear? Are we lifeless?”) and appreciation (Travis Willingham and Ashley Johnson declaring “That was superior!” and Liam O’Brien declaring “That was an excellent sport, Matt”). Mercer had a broad smile on his face on the shocked faces of his gamers. In contrast to in prior character deaths, no participant left the desk, although desk discuss means that that is as bewildering to the gamers because the viewers.

In contrast to the one irrevocable demise of a previous marketing campaign — Mollymauk’s early demise in Episode 26 of Marketing campaign 2 — the Hells do have entry to the sort of magic that may enable for a Revivify — and thru Orym’s connection to Marketing campaign 1 archdruid Keyleth, potential entry to nonetheless stronger resurrection spells. Or that each one could also be pointless: Viewers already speculate that this could be a dream or one thing else past the everyday logics of the sport — not in contrast to the bloody imaginative and prescient that Brennan Lee Mulligan opened EXU: Calamity with.

Many viewers took consolation in the truth that it is a pretty “early” episode (in comparison with the 100+ runs of prior campaigns), trusting in Mercer as DM and storyteller. And Mercer in flip appears conscious of this belief, posting on Twitter, “If it’s worthwhile to take a while to course of, that’s okay. Simply know there may be belief and settlement at our desk for this sport and the challenges it presents. The darkest moments typically result in the brightest epiphanies. Love you all. <3”

For those who’d identical to to observe the Otohan combat, I like to recommend hitting up the stream — which is due out on YouTube Monday, or is on the market to Twitch subscribers now — proper after the mid-game break on the two hour mark. Crucial Function airs reside every Thursday at 7 p.m. PT on Twitch.



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