Critical Recap: Exandria Unlimited: Calamity E1 “Excelsior”
Written by Dani on June 1, 2022
Hello! Welcome to Critical Recap! I’m Dani Carr, the Critical Role Lore Keeper. Let’s dive into our recap of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity Episode 1 Excelsior!
THE HISTORY OF AVALIR
First, a short primer on Avalir, the City of Crowns. This flying, magocratic city was once part of the settlement Toramunda on the continent of Domunas. Toramunda began as a druidic temple built over Mt. Ygora, the mountain site of a major battle of the Schism, where the Dawnfather and the Wildmother sealed away two powerful primordials. Eventually, wizards realized that the top of this mountain was made of brumestone and magically lifted the peak into the air, creating Avalir. The city it left behind became known as Cathmoira, the City of Thrones.
The complex magocracy of Avalir is led by the Septarion, a ruling council of seven archmages from the city’s first flight 292 years ago. Next is the Ring of Gold, the fourteen apprentices of the Septarion and the Golden Scythe, in charge of magical resources. The Octothurge is a group of eight provosts who lead each school of magic as well as the Ring of Silver, who govern magical research. The Magisterium and its Magisters rule over magical law, advised by the Owl’s Court, and the Court of Workings oversees magical infrastructure. The College of Guildmasters, the High Tribunal, and the Lower Guilds round out the city’s governing structure.
Avalir is currently preparing for The Replenishment, the month-long period of time when the city returns from its seven year flight around Exandria and docks with Cathmoira. When docked, Avalir releases its stored magical energy, known as Ether, into the land of Domunas. This act results in bountiful harvests, elemental synergy, and even a boom of magical offspring. It is a time of festivities, joy, and reunion. Surely nothing will go wrong.
THE WARRIOR’S DREAM
Zerxus Ilerez (he/him, played by Luis Carazo), a human paladin with no deity and the First Knight of Avalir, is surrounded by fire and destruction. His son, Elias, is fishing in a hole filled with stars and Zerxus can hear the whispered phrase ‘ghor dranas’. A gigantic demonic figure crashes into the ground, clearly heavily injured. The demon apologizes and holds out his enormous hand, revealing a translucent tree. The ghostly form of Evandrin, Zerxus’ deceased husband, approaches the tree and collapses to his knees, saying something is wrong.
Another giant, the Dawnfather, appears and attacks the demon. He says that this sinner is beyond redemption, as he has betrayed his kin. The demon tells Zerxus to ask himself who they betrayed. Zerxus tells the Dawnfather to stop and he vanishes. As Zerxus approaches the surprised demon, he looks up to see the ground approaching fast. Zerxus wakes up in his tower with his magical steed, a starry griffon named Tempus. He adds the dream to his journal.
THE REPORTER AND THE ARCANIST
Across the city, Loquatius Seelie (he/him, played by Sam Riegel), a changeling warlock/bard and Herald of Avalir, is broadcasting the day’s news over the crystal columns and the waterfall of Excelsior Plaza from his studio in the Herald’s Tome. After the broadcast celebrating the Eve of the Replenishment, his assistant Aria updates him on some upcoming elections and tells him that the columns in Evenloft have not been repaired yet. Civic construction led by the Architect Arcane is slowing things down. Since the Architect won’t respond to Aria, Loquatius decides to visit her himself.
Laerryn Coramar-Seelie (she/her, played by Aabria Iyengar), an elven wizard and the Architect Arcane — as well as the ex-wife of Loquatius — works deep within the Meridian Labyrinth on the massive arcane engine, the Heart of Avalir, that powers the city. Helmswoman Akami Rowe contacts her over her magical bracelet to let her know that they should be landing just before sunrise. The Chief Artificer, Calum Staffwright, arrives and lets Laerryn know that the readings on the apogee solstice are much higher than expected.
Laerryn goes to her room to inspect Calum’s work and discovers that he’s correct – the apogee solstice, an incredibly powerful celestial solstice that causes the veil to become so thin that impossible magic becomes possible, has shifted the leylines far more than she expected. Something she has been working on is now possible, but there’s little time. Loquatius’ visit interrupts Laerryn and the two argue before Loquatius reminds her that they were married the last time the city docked. They both soften and agree to be on their best behavior tonight.
Cathmoira is in sight and spell kites have begun to float up towards the city, packages from families in the city below sent to their parted loved ones before tomorrow’s reunion. In the vault of the Golden Scythe, Guildmaster Nydas Okiro (he/him, played by Lou Wilson), a human sorcerer/bard and the Dragon of Avalir, conducts the controlled chaos of automatons and various preparations for the Parade of Beasts. These preparations include a need for 200 wands and an unhappy sphinx named Feromyne. Nydas’ pirate friend, Captain Badran Esparad of the Sailor-Marines, brings the children of the Sorcerer’s University over to meet Nydas, who is the school’s founder.
Nydas works out supply issues with both Badran and Alessander, his bookkeeper, before retiring to his office, where he receives a spell kite from his brother Eaedalus, who has been caring for Elias, Zerxus’ son. A lowly magister, Milus Phren, comes to see Nydas and asks about favors for the higher-ups regarding the supply of Ether. Nydas finds it strange for someone this menial to be reaching out about this topic and rebuffs his request.
Deeper in the city, Senior Sightwarden Cerrit “Pinch” Agrupnin (he/him, played by Travis Willingham), an eisfuura inquisitive rogue, is investigating the magical remnants of a crime scene. Avalir recently visited the city of Vasselheim and received word that Archmage Vespin Chloras had gone missing. Rumor has it that Vespin was trying to recreate the ritual the Matron of Ravens used when she ascended to godhood. The Matron was once a mortal woman who used a ritual to destroy the god of death and take his place as the new god. Upon her ascension, she destroyed the knowledge of the ritual, as well as any trace of her former identity. There are some random items from Vespin’s chambers that made it aboard Avalir and were flagged for investigation by a member of the Ring of Silver. Cerrit examines them in a room that magically projects an image of the inside of Vespin’s sanctum from the items’ memory.
Cerrit examines a corroded piece of metal that was once part of a very large bow, now completely disenchanted in a very powerful magical act. He sees both celestial and infernal glyphs burned away in a summoning circle — something was meant to be bound here and it escaped, destroying everything. He finds it very unusual that there is no trace of Vespin himself. Cerrit keeps the bow fragment and requests that the room be locked down for everyone but himself and the other investigator, his friend Orwyn.
High in the archsept of Avalir, Patia Por’co (she/her, played by Marisha Ray), an elven wizard and the Keeper of Scrolls, meets with Loras of the Weaver’s Mask, an apprentice to the Septarion Eldamir the Wise. Eldamir also meets with Patia, delighted to congratulate her on her record breaking amount of magical research and knowledge. Patia is the granddaughter of Imyr Por’co, the wizard who took Avalir to the skies. Loras tells Patia that the apprentice Volusia has decided to retire, so a seat will open in the Ring of Gold. Loras implies that Patia should have her eye on that seat.
Loras explains that Aeor is planning an attack on Lathras, a smaller flying city, to test something for greater warfare. Loras thinks it might be time to enact Patia’s Ring of Brass. He also tells her that the Hall of Prophecy is closed right now, as the oracles need rest, and mentions the rumor of Vespin’s ritual attempt. Loras asks her to report whatever the Sightwarden finds to him, and thus to Eldamir, before alerting the Octothurge.
THE RING OF BRASS
Night falls and Avalir begins to celebrate the Eve of Replenishment. Patia is throwing a lavish party at the Palazzo Por’co. She is informed that a god’s champion will be attending as a guest of the necromancer Dean Lycretia Hollow. Eventually, Patia’s friends arrive (Loquatius came with a woman named Bolo from Aeor, which irritates Laerryn) and meet at a private table – the Ring of Brass, consisting of Patia, Cerrit, Loquatius, Nydas, Laerryn, and Zerxus.
Zerxus tells them of his nightmare about the Dawnfather and a Betrayer God, how the Betrayer begged him for help. The others translate the whispered phrase, ‘ghor dranas’ as ‘gathering of shadows’. Patia recalls a text from the Schism that spoke of a threat made by the Lord of the Hells during his fall — ‘put me where you will, in darkness I will gather my shadows to me.’ They wonder if the dream is just Zerxus’ anxiety about reuniting with his son.
Cerrit tells them about the reconstructed crime scene and shows them the bow fragment. With their collective knowledge, the Ring of Brass piece together that this is from a solar’s bow, the highest angel, and is made of gold wrought from the heavens. Laerryn realizes that this bow was destroyed by something more ancient and powerful than magic itself. Nothing Vespin did could have caused this, so someone else must have been with him. Laerryn also realizes that this extraplanar bow fragment is the final piece she needs for her secret work.
Nydas wants to go to the oracles, but Patia informs him of their current unprecedented rest. Their conversation is interrupted when the Champion of the Matron of Ravens, Purvan Suul, is announced. Purvan is in Avalir to speak on matters divine to the Septarion. Lycretia Hollow asks about the Matron’s ritual, but Purvan tells her that it was erased because the knowledge was the Matron’s alone. He leaves and Lycretia declares that the Matron was once one of them and she should welcome other mortals to join her in godhood.
Zerxus and Loquatius go to Purvan and apologize for the rudeness. Purvan reveals that he is looking for Vespin because of the attempted ritual. The Matron thinks Vespin didn’t try to recreate her ritual but altered it to something riskier. None of the Prime Deities felt him reach out to them, which Zerxus realizes means that Vespin reached out to the Betrayers instead, but Purvan won’t confirm that. Loquatius asks for an interview and Purvan leaves, fed up with Avalir.
Meanwhile, Laerryn asks Nydas to send four automatons to the Heart right now. She leaves with the bow and he sends the request to Alessander. Nydas dances with Patia, telling her about Milus Phren, the magister who came to Nydas about favors. Patia has no idea who that is, which means her inner circle has been breached. Nydas leaves after Laerryn with four hodmedods – scarecrow-like automatons that do menial tasks – while Patia casts detect thoughts to try to figure out who betrayed her trust.
Patia notices a hodmedod has stopped serving drinks. It looks at her and she hears the whispered thought of ‘ghor dranas’ before the hodmedod collapses into cloth. Cerrit takes it to a side room to investigate, but realizes that someone is invisible in the room with him. He attacks the invisible creature and immediately kills them, revealing a man with infernal runes carved into his face.
Cerrit sees the mutilated face of Vespin Chloras from behind a mirror. He tells Cerrit that they will never reach the Wildmother’s embrace in time and breaks the mirror from the other side. Vespin disappears and Cerrit sees only his own broken reflection looking back at him.
That is it for Episode 1 of Exandria Unlimited: Calamity!
- What the hell, Vespin Chloras!!!
- Purvan Suul actually appeared! We met the original champion of the Matron of Ravens!
- What an INCREDIBLE first look into the Age of Arcanum! Avalir is going to be fiiiiiine.
Anyway, catch Episode 2 on Thursday, June 2nd at 7pm Pacific on twitch.tv/criticalrole and on youtube.com/criticalrole or a week later on our podcast. Is it Thursday yet?