critical role broke the internet with its deadliest episode yet. The latest episode shows how they will pick up the pieces.
In case you missed it, in the last two weeks critical role set the internet on fire. The antics of the group of adventurers known as the Bell’s Hells resonated painfully in the community. In episode 33, the bloodiest episode to date, three player characters fell.
And not just down, but dead, down. Characters to which the fans seemed more attached than the players. But! As critical role DM Matt Mercer tweeted, all hope was not lost. Sometimes the darkest moments lead to the brightest revelations.
As many expressed shock at the sudden bloody fight. Or others dismayed by the apparent lack of tactics and cohesion against the party, everyone was eagerly awaiting the next installment. Last Thursday we saw how a party acting together can make all the difference. Spoilers abound. Be warned.
critical role Episode 34 – Replenishing the Internet, Spoilers Ahoy
In Episode 34, things picked up speed at the end of Episode 33’s cliffhanger. Imogen, upset, pushed beyond her limits by the deaths of Fearne, Orym, and Laudna at the hands of Otohan Thull, relents to the explosive energy that shakes her. body.
After enduring a “cosmic mass of vibration and power”, the world seems to explode into a psychic storm. All the other characters in the group experience visions of their past. And in an instant, their enemy is swept away with a single attack, retreating into the distance.
Soon after, we see how much of a difference healers can make. With two characters able to revitalize and enough diamonds worth 300 gp, you can even turn around to kill a total party. In fact, the Aeortamaton known as Fresh Cut Grass played by Sam Riegel revived Fearne, who in turn had a terrible decision to make.
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With only one spell slot and two dead PCs, Fearne opted to bring one party member back.
Orym, played by Liam O’Brien, has returned from the grave. And the group licked their wounds at an inn, retrieving yet another incredibly powerful magic item from hiding which they then quickly acquired a lead box for. Echoes of Campaign 2 abound. But perhaps more importantly, a Gentle Repose ritual casting means it may also be possible to bring Laudna back from the dead. The party has powerful allies.
And all of this illustrates that player character death isn’t a permanent thing in D&D 5th Edition.
Character death and moving forward
It’s an interesting time to critical role. Because it highlights the incredible work you have to do to establish stakes. A big part of why the last two episodes were so tense was because of the uncertainty.
Both in terms of what might happen in the game, but also how the characters would advance. It’s not the fact that Laudna and Fearne and Orym were all dead it was distressing, but fans didn’t know how things would turn out fixed. There is something to be said for playing with these stakes.
Mercer knows the level of his party and what he is capable of. That’s why he’s not afraid to go all out with the right kind of bad guys. Otohan Thull is probably one of the best villains he’s created, and a lot of that has to do with his ability to win the fight. But the villain winning and getting what he wants (Imogen’s awakening of powers) doesn’t mean the game is over.
This is a prime example of how to fail. Now the party has lost 600 gp of diamonds and will need to find more if they are to bring back future fallen friends. The stakes and complications are underpinned by real-life mechanical and fictional in-game consequences. That’s what makes campaigns like this exciting; For the best or for the worst, things happen. And then it leads to some weird places when you answer “what comes next?”
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