Critical Recap: Critical Role C2E122 “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained”
Written by Dani on January 27, 2021
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Critical Role Episode 122 Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!
After their confrontation with Lucien, Caleb sets up the dome while Lucien invites everyone to have a drink with him and the Tombtakers by the fire, seemingly eager to prove his ‘no hard feelings’ stance. Lucien asks the Nein for stories and Fjord tells him of Uk’otoa’s hunt for him every time he goes to the ocean. Pacts and all. Fjord asks Lucien if there is a specific reason he is in a rush to get to Aeor – no rush. Just an impatient desire to get to his goal.
Lucien asks what the Nein’s goals are and explains more about the Somnovem – they’re mad, but have power over matter in the Astral Realm. They were great imaginations that have become a being without focus after a thousand years of suffering. Veth would have the Somnovem focus on the conflict between the nations, while Jester wants to domesticate unicorns. Yasha is unsure of her goals right now. Fjord would like to end things with Uk’otoa on his own terms. Beau has achieved most of her goals, so she’s focused on the present. Caduceus wants to save a soul. Caleb reveals little, but there is much he would like to do.
Caleb asks why Lucien thinks he can control the Somnovem, but Lucien simply has something to offer – some mutually beneficial ideas. If the Nein stick around, maybe they can question the Somnovem themselves. The Nein return to the dome and Veth reveals her conspiracy theory – Lucien is going to use the Nein’s bodies in a ritual to bring back the Somnovem! Beau and Caleb think that actually makes some sense. They parse out Lucien’s timeline – first Lucien, then Lucien/Nonagon, then Molly. They can see Molly in him, in small ways. He’s clearly superstitious, judging by his reaction to the tarot reading.
Tomorrow, they’ll just keep trekking to Aeor and try to get Lucien to hand over the book. They could kill the Tombtakers now, or they could follow this road to the end. Fjord is in favor of killing now, while Jester and Yasha want to restore Molly. Beau still has the Cobalt Soul searching for answers, so Jester messages Yudala Fon – some information on Aeor has been uncovered but it requires a longer conversation. Yudala says Beau can come by and then they can share. Beau bemoans this development.
NO HARM EVER CAME FROM READING A BOOK
In the morning, Lucien surprises the Nein by bringing the book over for Caleb and Beau to look at, to satisfy his own curiosity. The two examine the book, which is a cipher written in Undercommon. It collects an arcanist’s notes as they traveled across Eiselcross, researching Aeor. The mage eventually found a subterranean labyrinth (like an excavation site) as well as a text which read ‘the philosophers abandoned us. The cursed plotting dreamers took their whole ward with them. Curse them. May they rot in’ before cutting off, as though the writer perished.
Another entry contains information about some of the Aeorian wards – the Praesidis Ward, the Ars Ward, and the Cognouza Ward. Cognouza was run by 9 philosophers dedicated to the idea of manifestation through dream and imagination, via an arcane conduit. They were obsessed with the astral plane and many of the people in Cognouza could forge matter through sheer will. They were rumored to be plotting to separate from Aeor and enter the Astral Plane itself. The next entry speaks of the mage’s intention to project themselves into the Astral Sea and search for survivors, since it seems likely that people escaped.
The book’s following pages are then filled with nonsense, scratches and designs and symbols and detailed patterns without sense, like they’re broken and scattered. It’s a hypnotic nightmare on a page that Beau and Caleb spend five minutes examining in a trance. Lucien closes the book – if they can make anything of it, let him know. Even with Keen Mind, Caleb can’t recall the book’s details – just dreams on paper. The best he and Beau can suss from it were constant, repeated, different patterns of nine. Chaos out of a numerical sequence. Jester tells them to be careful – this is a pathway, so Lucien might be showing them this on purpose.
THE UPPER FLOORS
Before they begin their trek, Lucien demands to see the crest, to make sure they still have it. Fjord pulls out the amber, handing it to him – Lucien can just see the crest (and Vess’s body) inside. Though tempted to simply take the crest now, he hands the amber back, reminding them of their agreement to give him the crest at Aeor. An ice fog rolls in, getting the party lost again – Lucien forces them to keep going, but gives up when they find their earlier tracks. Caleb sets up the tower, inviting the Tombtakers inside and giving them the guest room.
Jester is worried about Dagen and messages him – he’s not too far off, but he requests no more lava. While making tea, Jester and Veth ask Caleb about the two upper floors that he hasn’t shown them. Though hesitant, Caleb agrees to take them all up there. He speaks a Zemnian phrase at the opening to the 8th floor and leads them into a chamber with 9 doors. He tells them to pick three. Veth chooses door 4, Beau picks door 9, and Fjord picks door 1. Behind door 4 is a bedchamber from the Soltryce Academy – Astrid’s room. Beau deduces that this room is a memory, that all of the rooms are memories. This one was a good memory. Behind door 9, they recognize the Nestled Nook inn tavern, where the Nein first met.
Behind door 1 is the inside of a tiny cottage – Caleb’s childhood home. Jester asks why he put this at the top of his tower. For the same reason the tavern is there. Wherever he goes, they are with him. Caleb’s not sure if it’s a good idea to have these rooms but it’s just his way. He doesn’t believe he’s allowed to forget it. Cad doesn’t think he ever does and that this room doesn’t change that. He and Jester think it’s more of a punishment for him. Caleb argues that if it exists here, it exists somewhere. Veth asks if Caleb still wants to undo it. Of course. Caleb changes the subject and leads them to the 9th floor – this is a sea of stars, mimicking the experience of peering into the beacon. Beau is fascinated by the conflicting principles between the two floors – preserving the past and endless possibility. Caleb thinks those ideas don’t have to be exclusive.
They head back down to find Lucien and the Tombtakers waiting in the dining room. The Nein try to get to know the Tombtakers better over dinner, but the members are clearly not fond of personal questions. Fjord changes the subject, asking how they’ll be getting into Aeor. Lucien is an improviser and knows of a secret entrance to the northwest. He’s not sure if it’s still secret but it’s his current plan. Beau tells Lucien the story of Yeenoghu and the gnolls. That was the first cult they killed, but it wasn’t the last. The Tombtakers head to bed.
The Nein head to the salon to discuss things more. Caleb summons a bunch of the cats to cover their conversation with kitty singing. They discuss the fighting tactics of the tower – could they trap them on a floor? Tomorrow, when Caleb reassembles the tower. Fjord casts See Invisibility, noticing a scrying orb over their heads – he nixes the conversation. The orb is focused on Yasha. After a few minutes, it vanishes, then reappears over Fjord. Caleb addresses the orb, asking what they are to do without mutual trust. Are they having fun? The orb vanishes.
They discuss options, like polymorphing away in the night. Jester messages Essek, telling him they’ll be there soon and asking for his help. Essek can tell she’s upset. He’s at the southeast outpost but they must come to him. They wonder if they can convince Lucien to go south. Caleb wants to know why they are going to Essek – will he even join them? Every option is a gamble. Caduceus casts Commune, confirming that Lucien’s entrance is to the northwest, but that Lucien does not need the Nein alive for his plans or when they arrive in Aeor. They ponder these answers. They still don’t know what to do. Veth thinks they need to just make a decision.
Beau, who has been stressed about Yudala’s information, has Jester message them again and ask for pertinent information over Sending. They respond, saying that an operative has more info on Cognouza. Beau is relieved to have that information already. They sleep together in Yasha’s room for the night. Jester notices Lucien wandering around and, with his permission, turns them both into cats to explore the tower for a while before Frumpkin appears, sent by Caleb to retrieve Jester.
As everyone rests, Caleb and Beau dream, finding themselves in a dark, cold space. A faint red glow begins to warm in front of them, burning into a bright flame. A glowing red eye inspects them. They feel a sense of fear and desperation that begins to ebb as they hear voices saying ‘welcome’ repeated over and over. They hear a humming, like bees buzzing. They begin to see scratches and flashes, like the book’s pages. They realize the humming noise is the sound of screaming. The eye closes.
Caleb and Beau shoot awake and Beau grabs her notebook, trying to copy everything down from memory. As she does, Caleb sees a red eye tattoo on the back of Beau’s left hand. He quickly undresses, and Beau finds a similar red eye on his right shoulder. They look at Beau’s notebook, where she has drawn scratches and lines and patterns – a nightmare on paper.
That is it for Episode 122 of Critical Role!
- Holy shit y’all! Caleb and Beau have eye tattoos now! What does this mean for our two bookworms? What is going to happen to them?
- Veth still has that cursed dagger that no one has noticed she’s very possessive of, so that’s not good either.
- There is a whole lot of bad happening right now with no clear solution and I have a lot of worries for our intrepid heroes. FRIGGIN EYE TATTOOS.
- Oh Mighty Nein.
Anyway, catch Episode 123 on Thursday, January 28th at 7pm Pacific on twitch.tv/criticalrole or a week later on our podcast. Is it Thursday, yet?