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Critical Role Recap: C2E21 – “Stalker in the Swamp”

Spoilers for Critical Role Campaign 2 Episode 21 (obviously). Check out the recap for Campaign 2 Episode 20 here.
Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!

The Mighty Nein investigate the safehouse in Labenda Swamp.


The Mighty Nein leave Zadash in the wake of the coming war. The Gentleman offered the group two contracts, both of which they accepted. The group headed east to Labenda Swamp to investigate a safehouse that had recently become unresponsive. When they arrived, they found The Gentleman’s contact and learned a bit about what had been going on.


After resting for the night, they wake up, ready to head to the swamp with Fabron.

They go back upstairs, and they are greeted by the bartender. Jester asks for so much of whatever they have for breakfast. Much to their chagrin, the bartender estimates it will take an hour to prepare.

Jester notices a hooded figure approaching the table where the group was planning to sit. Jester rushes over and sits down. Beau lays her staff on the benches across from Jester, further claiming their seats. The cloaked figure stops for a moment, but still continues to approach.

When she arrives at the table, Jester informs her that the table has been claimed by The Mighty Nein. The mysterious figure explains that she overheard their conversation last night about heading into the swamp. She asks if they know anyone who wears creepy dragon masks, but they all say that they haven’t.

Their new acquaintance, Calianna, takes particular interest in Kiri. She also asks if Nott is Fjord’s daughter. Stopping herself from getting too distracted, she reveals that she may have found a smuggler’s safehouse. She says that an item she wants may be inside. The people in the dragon masks seem to want it. She wants to make sure it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. She says it’s a bowl used for rituals.

As they get a closer look at Calianna, they see that she is hiding black scales on her face and tucking one of her arms away.

She notices the symbol of The Platinum Dragon on Molly’s coat. Calianna decides that this is evidence of the group’s trustworthiness. She says that the followers of The Scaled Tyrant are after the bowl. She explains that they aren’t good people. They’re the ones who bought it.

Caleb asks about her scales. She pulls her cloak out of the way and shows that her left side is covered in black scales. Her left arm is more dragon than half elf. She says that she isn’t cursed, but rather she has black dragon ancestry. Fabron announces, to everyone’s discomfort, that he finds this sexy.

Cali asks for their names.

Kiri: “Welcome to The Mighty Nein!”

Cali: “That’s a long name!”

Cali and Kiri go back and forth trying to figure out who is Cali and who is Kiri.

Nott: “Only 56 more minutes until breakfast is ready.”

Eventually, breakfast does arrive. Jester displeased by the absence of sugar.

Cali asks if they will help her get into the swamp. Kiri begins to imitate a crocodile. Frumpkin goes over and purrs until Kiri purrs back.

They ask Cali about the swamp. She says that she hasn’t been very far in, but has never fought before. Nott tells her that Caleb can teach her all about magic.

They finally introduce themselves to Cali. Nott gives her a fake name, and Jester says her last name is Fancypants. Everyone else says their real names.

Yasha asks if Cali can shoot fire out of her nose. She says she has some ability over fire, but she cannot breathe fire. Cali pulls out out her clawed hand to show them. Fabron declares that she’s still foxy.

The Mighty Nein agrees to lead Cali into the swamp, but they warn her that they are not liable for her death or injury, even if it comes at the hands of one of The Mighty Nein. Jester illustrates a contract for her to sign, drawing all possible scenarios of maiming and bodily harm.

Caleb points out to her that they’re a pack of assholes, but she still signs the contract. Jester happily welcomes her, and Kiri imitates it.

After gathering their things, they exit the tavern, ready to start their journey.

The morning is foggy. Fabron assures them that the fog will wear off throughout the day.

As they walk, Kiri practices with her dagger. Jester tells her to kill the fog, and the kenku takes off running, dagger in hand. She swings wildly until Jester calls her back. Jester warns her that running off could mean she meets a beast that could hurt her. Kiri runs behind Yasha, still brandishing her dagger.

In the distance, a group of people are huddled together.

Caleb asks Calianna about her magical specialty. She explains that her magic comes from within rather than from a god or study. She says that her magic is mostly related to fire and acid. She can also drain life forces. She asks Caleb about the type of magic he specializes in. He says that there’s some overlap with her abilities.

Fjord and Beau take the lead while Molly and Yasha take up the rear of the group. Fabron insists he will guide them, but he will not be in the front of the group. Jester carries Kiri on her shoulders.

Their feet sink into the swamp floor as they walk away from the city. As the day continues, the fog burns off, but remains present overall. The swamp becomes increasingly visible as they travel.

Fabron stops them, unsure of if they’re going the right way. Molly asks if he needs to be drunk to find the way. Fabron quickly agrees, and Nott brings her magical flask over.

Fjord hears a quick puff of air. Suddenly pollen-like spores surround him. Ahead of him, the others see a cloud of pollen that seems to have emitted from a fern-like plant. Fabron tells them to just avoid it.

Cali offers to burn the plant away. She casts a spell, and a green orb shoots over to the fern. The plant and the area around it erupt in flames. The plant snaps its maw shut and begins to shift towards him.

The group begins to launch spells at the creature. Caleb sends a fireball over, but it continues to move forward. Fjord casts witch bolt. The plant bubbles up for a second before exploding and splattering across the swamp.

Cali apologizes, saying that she thought she would kill it on the first try.

Jester hears a chiming noise on the wind. Caleb sits on the ground and, seeing through Frumpkin’s eyes, sends his cat forward. Frumpkin sees that the chimes are from wind chimes. They notice that the chimes are made from hollowed out bones.

Frumpkin climbs up the tree. On the tree, Caleb notices that there is a hole in the tree covered by a scaled leather material, not dissimilar to the crocodile they skinned the day before. Frumpkin goes up to the opening and pokes his head in.

Within the hole, he sees a wide variety of bones, the rot of the inside of the tree, and a matted something in the corner. Frumpkin poofs back to Caleb. He tells the group what he saw through his cats eyes.

As they go, Fabron sets off another burst of pollen from a plant. Beau quickly tries to pull him away from stepping on the plant. Cali magically picks him up in the air and Beau pushes him away with her staff. Jester draws Fabron as a balloon.

Caleb asks Fabron if he’s being honest about going through this swamp many times. He casts suggestion on their guide, but Fabron notices the spell and doesn’t appreciate it.

In the distance, they see a shadow. They fan out, with Yasha, Molly, Beau, Fjord, and Cali approaching it. Something lumbering moves easily in the swamp. Beau cautiously approaches. She sees a bulbous humanoid creature with a green-blue skintone and long black stringy hair. Around its neck is more bones. She guesses it’s a troll.

Beau tries to sneakily throw a handful of ball bearings in the other direction to distract the troll from The Mighty Nein. The troll looks back, but still looks in the direction where they once more. She makes her way back to the group and tells them what she saw.

Through their conversation, they ask Calianna about her relationship with the people trying to steal the bowl. She admits that she’s an ex-cultist.

Behind them, the troll stalks them, keeping pace as they move through the swamp. They discuss a potential plan.

Jester gives Kiri over to Fjord, who picks the kenku up by the scruff. Jester and Nott yell at Fjord to hold her nicely, and he drops her. She brandishes her dagger at Fjord before running over to Nott. Cali admonishes Fjord, who doesn’t care.

They trudge deeper into the swamp. Jester pulls out the last of her pastries. She invokes duplicity. She sends her duplicate skipping over to the troll.

The duplicate dances around a tree. The troll lunges for it and chases it away. Fjord asks if they should chase it, but they decide to just keep moving forward.

Fabron tells them they’re getting close to the safehouse. He points ahead to a cluster of trees. They smell rotting flesh. A human man is propped up on a spear. His stomach is bloated, his skin is gray, and his jaw hangs open. They see other corpses scattered along the path ahead. Fabron says that this is the warning he was talking about.

Jester tells the others that The Traveler has taught her how to speak to the dead. They go over to one of the corpses. Nott introduces Jester. Jester pulls out her symbol of The Traveler. She casts her spell, telling the corpse that she wants to talk for a little bit.

The corpse reanimates. Kiri throws her dagger, but misses her target. Jester asks what killed them. The corpse explains it was a “swamp fish man from under the ground.” She asks how many swamp fish men there were. The corpse does not give a specific number but says there were many. The corpse died a few weeks ago. The creatures can be hurt by traditional methods, but they quickly overwhelm their target.

Nott looks back to check on Fabron. He is standing about 20 feet back. Nott yells at him to come closer, but as she does, the troll grabs Fabron and begins to run away. They quickly throw spells and attacks at the troll.

Jester casts toll of the dead. The spell lands, hurting the creature.

Nott moves up so she is within range of the troll and fires her crossbow.

Beau moves up and attacks the troll. The troll attacks her back. She sees that Fabron is dead in Fabron’s grasp. Beau gets hit again and is knocked unconscious.

Caleb casts haste on Nott.

Yasha goes into a rage and gets into the troll’s face. She yells at the troll to drop it, trying to intimidate the monster.

Jester casts healing word on Beau, bringing her back to consciousness.

Cali magically lifts Beau and sends her over to a nearby tree.

Nott casts Tasha’s hideous laughter. The troll immediately falls prone, laughing at Nott’s bad joke.

As they fight the troll, they realize that the troll is healing, even as they fight him. They give up on the fight and let the troll flee. Jester remembers she still has one question left on her spell. She apologizes for getting distracted, and she asks for directions to the safehouse. The direction the corpse points in doesn’t seem to have a safehouse.

Fjord expresses concern that the safehouse may no longer be above ground.

As they discuss what to do, Cali reveals some more information about her past. She says that the priestess who raised her would torture others and do horrible things in the name of cult. Cali explains that she feels obligated to stop them to repent for what she was once complicit with.

They go up to the base of a tree. Nott grabs a teal faded scarf tied to a branch. She pulls on the branch. Jester looks for knots on the tree underneath the ribbon. She finds a piece of weathered driftwood pressed between some of the roots. Nott quickly checks for traps. Finding none, they push the wood to the side to see a hidden entrance.

Fjord enters first. He enters a chamber. Exploring it a little, he sees a way to get further into the safehouse.

Beau searches the corpses for any goods. Caleb casts dancing lights to light in front of her.

Nott reaches into the dodecahedron and accepts the gray mote into her chest. She takes a swig of her flask and goes down the hole in the chamber they entered. Nott tries to climb down, but slips and slides down the tunnel. Suddenly, she is airborne. She quickly casts featherfall and lands gingerly on her feet. She finds herself in a rock chamber. Around a corner, she hears a shifting sound. Something clatters to the ground out of sight.

She uses message to tell Caleb what she sees. She silently slips around the corner. She sees three humanoid torsos covered in patchwork armor. Four tendrils dangle from their chins and a fin adorns the tops of their heads. The lower halves of their bodies are giant fish tails, like nightmarish mermen. They tear into the body of a crocodile, eating it. Around them, crates and goods are scattered.

She sends another message up to the group, saying what she sees. Caleb drops Frumpkin down the shoot. The others start tying a rope to propel down to where Nott is.

Eventually, they all make it down. Jester tells Kiri to stay in the corner unless something chases her.

They shuffle over to Nott and examine the situation. As they try to assess the situation, The Mighty Nein jumps out of their hiding place.

Fjord casts hunger of Hadar on the group of sahuagin.

One of the sahaugin slips out of the spell’s range. It attempts to throw its harpoons at Fjord. One of the harpoons hits Fjord. The sahuagin pulls Fjord back to him via the harpoon. It bites into Fjord.

Caleb sends Frumpkin forward to see what’s going on. He casts enlarge on Beau.

Nott fires her crossbow into the group of creatures. She rushes over to Mollymauk after.

Jester invokes duplicity. Her double rushes over to Fjord.

Cali brushes her hair out of her face. A sickly green beam shoots out of her eye and over to the monster fighting Fjord. The beam finds its target and poisons the sahuagin. She calls out to the others to kill the monsters. The others notice that she has become slightly more draconic.

Beau, in her enlarged form, smashes her quarterstaff into the sahuagin fighting Fjord. She kills the creature.

Beau: “It’s fish kabobs!”

She flings the corpse into the darkness, but she doesn’t hit any of their enemies.

Another sahuagin arrives on the battlefield. It harpoons Fjord and tries to pull him in again.

Beau makes a sentinel strike on the passing fish monster. She cracks him in the face. Still, it manages to pull Fjord in. Fjord fends it off with his sword while it tries to bite him. However, he still falls unconscious.

Yasha strikes one of the sahuagins. She thrusts her blade into its chest, killing it and preventing Fjord from being dragged underwater.

Nott’s crossbow bolt finds its target again. This one dies as well.

Jester sends her duplicity double to Fjord. She casts cure wounds on her half-orc friend. The enlarged Beau looks over him as well. Jester uses her spiritual lollypop to hit the sahuagin in the back of the chamber.

Cali sprays more acid on the last sahuagin. Beau hits it with her staff. Fjord unleashes two eldritch blasts on the creature, finally killing it.

As Beau shuffles through the bodies, Cali yells at her that it’s her kill. She immediately apologizes and thanks them for looking out for her.

Kiri comes around the corner with her dagger. She stabs the corpses and announces that she killed them.

Nott helps Caleb search. She finds a well crafted marble bowl covered with dragon designs. She quickly hides this from Cali.

Cali frantically searches for the bowl. She unhappily tells the others that she may have been defeated.

Cali: “Maybe I missed it. Maybe I messed up.”

Nott: “Probably!”

They find random assortments of bones, but they search fruitlessly for the bowl.

They discuss their next options. Nott pulls Caleb aside and asks him to look over the bowl. Caleb sees that it’s magical and used as a communing device. It requires blood for a ritual to communicate across the divine gate to, presumably, the Scaled Tyrant.

Nott asks if they should give it to Cali. Caleb says it isn’t of any use to them.

Fjord swims underwater. He swims deep and feels a moment of fear, flashing back to drowning. He manages to push through and swims further. He swims upward and surfaces in a new location: a large, darkened chamber.

In the peripheral of his vision, he sees more of the sahuagins. In the distance, he sees a glow around stacks of objects. Old pieces of stone structures have crumbled in as the earth has shifted. He takes a deep breath and goes back underwater.

He swims back to the others and tells them what he saw. He suggests resting and then luring them back through the tunnel to take them out one at a time.

Cali sadly tells them that she wants to help, but she has to leave to find the bowl. The bowl is too important. Caleb asks what she intends to do when she finds the bowl. She says that she intends to destroy it.

Caleb backs up, making sure that there are several people between him and Cali. He shows her the bowl. He says he would like to help, but the bowl is powerful, and he doesn’t know her very well.

Cali asks if she cares about his friends. He says that he does. Cali explains that the cult will come after them. Caleb says that they should wait the night and magically discern her intentions in the morning.

Beau snatches the bowl from Caleb. He angrily exclaims to the group that they should wait. They discuss perhaps simply destroying the bowl right now, which Cali agrees to, but she admits that it likely won’t work.

Cali says she won’t resist any spell they want to cast on her to make her tell the truth. Caleb casts a spell and asks about her intentions with the bowl. She truthfully says that she wants to destroy it or hide it away where the Cult of the Caustic Heart can’t find it. She promises Caleb that her intentions are only to do good and make up for the evil she has done.

Beau drags Caleb away and tells him that he can’t use his own want to repent to judge others.

Cali says that she wishes she could help more, but she has to move along quickly. They decide, before she goes, they should try to break it.

Yasha pulls out her magician’s judge sword. She uses it to first dispel the magic. Then, she quickly swings her sword down, smashing it.

Cali tells them that she must leave, as the cult will likely be watching her more closely now. She gives Nott a scroll of invisibility as thanks for Caleb’s help.

To be continued…

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About the Artist: Nick Uroseva (@Nick_Uroseva)

Nick is a professional graphic artist from Youngstown, Ohio. He has a BA in Multimedia Technology. When he isn’t doodling for one thing or another, he spends is his time writing and Dungeon Mastering several D&D games, enjoying craft beer, shooting zombies with Nerf blasters, and tweeting about #CriticalRole. Buy him a coffee!

Fiona L.F. Kelly (@FionaLFKelly)
Fiona L.F. Kelly is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She has published numerous articles about all things gaming and pop culture on websites all across the internet, was also a writer for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant 2e, and has been published in books and magazines. She is an editor for the pop culture and media website GeekGals.co. In addition to her writing and editing, she has also been a guest and host on several podcasts. She hosts the Project Derailed podcast Big Streaming Pile, produces and performs on Fables Around the Table, and plays the githyanki pirate Rav’nys on Tales of the Voidfarer. Buy her a coffee: ko-fi.com/fionalfkelly

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