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Critical Role Recap: C2E6 – “The Howling Mines”

Spoilers for Critcal Role  Campaign 2 Episode 6 (obviously). Check out the recap for Campaign 2 Episode 5 here.
Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!

The party investigates the mysterious gnoll attacks in Alfield.


While traveling northward on The Amber Road towards Zadash, the party came across a small village, infested with gnolls. Watchmaster Bryce offered to pay the group for their help in ridding the town of gnolls. After saving the town from the attack, they considered an offer to stay and look into the cause behind the increase in gnoll activity.


Caleb, Nott, Fjord, Jester, Molly, and Beau wake up the next morning feeling refreshed.

Fjord asks Molly if he has done his rituals with his swords. Molly stammers that everything is fine, and he only has to keep them clean. Fjord explains to the group that he saw Molly perform a whole ritual while they shared a room.

Jester asks if the swords need to feed. At this point, Molly begins to tell the others the truth about his swords. He explains that his family wasn’t priests, as he originally claimed. Instead, they were meant to be sacrificed and stole the swords when they ran away. He says this occurred somewhere east. His bloodline specifically, he explains, activates the swords.

Nott asks Fjord if he plans on vomiting sea water this morning. Fjord pretends to gag, but doesn’t do anything further. He tells the others that he had no more dreams.

Sufficiently caught up with one another, they discuss the previous night’s events. They agree that the money is too good to pass up.

The group heads downstairs, seeing if the tavern owner knows any more information about the gnoll attacks and recent events in the town.

Krut, the tavern owner is serving an ashen, dirty townsperson. Krut informs them that the wait for breakfast will be an hour. Molly and Jester offer to help in the kitchen.

They quickly prepare some meals, and then they go to explore the town.

Though the fires are now put out, smoke still rises from the ashes. The town tries to carry on, despite the destruction.

They come across the tavern where they fought the gnolls the night before. Molly offers to help pick up the remains of the tavern, and the owner accepts the offer.

The group starts up a conversation with the owner. He explains that he’s owned the tavern for twenty years. Before the attack, he was just washing dishes. He sadly tells the others that he lacks the gold needed to rebuild the tavern. Jester offers to write to her mother to see if she will send gold.

The owner adds that, oddly, none of the valuables were taken from the tavern. Instead, the gnolls focused on taking the food.

Caleb asks about the rest of the village. The owner says he hasn’t looked around to the other businesses, but he knows that some of the townspeople were taken from their homes. Only a few buildings have been destroyed. He thinks that the butcher may have been ransacked as well.

The butcher’s is still standing, but it has sustained a lot of damage.

Caleb asks the tavern owner if he knows where to buy incense. He is directed to The Broad Barn.

They tell the tavern owner to not lose hope just yet. They announce that they are investigating the issue and will be going after the gnolls. Jester adds that they may even find the thousands of gold needed to rebuild the tavern. He is excited that the town may still see some revenge for the destruction.

Jester hands him a moldy donut.

Jester: “Be well, child. The Traveler is with you.”

Caleb advises the tavern owner to take everything slow. He says he doesn’t have much of a choice.

Beau goes over to Fjord.

Beau: “Question: if you were a crazy, ravenous dog-human-person-thing, what would make you really hungry all of a sudden? I didn’t phrase that question very well.”

Fjord understands her, however, and clarifies that she’s asking how the group can attract gnolls to their location. He speculates that they could use meat, but it’s all gone now.

Beau points out that Kylre was also hungry seemingly out of no where. They aren’t sure what to make of this.

The group leaves the smoldering tavern and heads down the road to The Broad Barn. Outside of the large building, they see many people with cleaning supplies. They also see crownsguard along with armed volunteer civilians in a loose huddle. In the center of the huddle is a gnome in maroon and gold robes. He’s shouting at the crownsguard surrounding him, specifically to Watchmaster Bryce.

As they approach, they hear that the gnome is yelling that, now that the town lacks a Lawmaster, he must take up the mantle. Bryce tells him that it will be weeks before reinforcements arrive to deal with the problem. They suggest sending trained hands to retaliate. However, the starosta angrily reiterates to them that no forces will be spared. He says instead, there will be a perimeter to deflect further attacks.

Bryce brings up hiring mercenary forces. The starosta says that this is fine, but he will have no more of his citizens dying.

The gnome starosta dismisses the group and storms off.

Bryce turns around and sees the party approaching. They smile at the group. Beau whispers to Jester that they should try to look heroic.

Bryce apologizes for starosta Kosh’s high-strung tirade. They thank the group again for the aid provided the night before. They look back at Kosh as he walks away.

Bryce: “Fucking Dwendalian political bullshit.”

They say that the city has needed more forces for weeks. However, the town is too far south, and the bulk of the Dwendalian forces are focused on the bluffs. The forces are not adequate though, and the town is feeling the effects of their failure. They ask if the group is still interested in mercenary work.

Fjord asks how long they are going to need mercenary replacements. Bryce is unsure. They add that scouting groups have so far not returned, so they aren’t even aware of the problem’s full extent. They are hopeful that Zadash and Bladegarden will send reinforcements soon.

Caleb asks how much money they can expect in return for their help. Bryce tells the group that 30 gold per ear price remains. They also offer a reward for the missing Alfield citizens. They speculate that the group will find more information to the east.

Bryce tells the group what little information they know about the gnolls. They reveal that the gnolls worship an entity: Yeenoghu. Molly recognizes this name as a feral, starving demon that leaves destruction in its wake.

Bryce excuses themself and leaves.

The group walks into Broad Barn. A few others are shopping, clearly buying materials to help with cleaning or burns. They walk up to a shopkeeper. Jester asks for pickles. He rummages through a paper bag and pulls out a mason jar with two pickles. He offers them for three copper. Jester rummages through her pockets, searching for copper pieces. Molly offers to lend her two copper in exchange for one of the pickles. Jester finally finds a copper piece and exchanges the money for the pickles.

Caleb asks if he would be able to purchase around 20 gold worth of fine incense. The shopkeeper brings over a bundle of incense and begins to examine the goods. He counts out the gold and gives it to the shopkeeper.

Molly asks the shopkeeper if he has any poisons. The shopkeeper shows him a small vial. Nott recognizes it as a weak potion that’s best used to kill crops or insects rather than large creatures.

Nott sees the ingredients to make acid and buys them.

When they leave The Broad Barn, they discuss their next steps. Caleb asks if they have time for him to change Frumpkin back into a cat. Jester sarcastically responds that people are being eaten and dying, but they can spare an hour.

Nott suggests luring the gnolls out with a barbecue contest and the group dealing with the issue while she runs away. However, Fjord points out how long barbecue takes to make.

They discuss other ways to attract the gnolls, considering getting what little meat is left in town or capturing one of the buffalo.

Fjord tries to convince one of the crownsguard to give him a horse. However, the attempt is unsuccessful, and he is directed to another stable in town. Caleb offers a silver for the horse, and Molly uses charm person on the guard. The guard, Reggie, rushes off to get them a horse. Reggie makes them promise to bring back the horse.

They lead the horse over to their other horse and cart. Caleb sits in the cart and lets Frumpkin fly above them, seeing through his bird instead. They travel in the direction they saw the gnolls run off the night before. They quickly find gnoll tracks to follow.

After tracking the gnolls for an hour, they come across the Rillway Road. They pass it, and enter into rolling fields of tall grass. Beau loses the gnolls’ tracks.

Jester tries to stand up in the cart to look out into the grasses. Beau puts Jester on her shoulders to give the tiefling a better view.

From this vantage point, Jester sees carts in the distance.

They pull the cart over to the side and park it while they go over to investigate the abandoned carts.

They sneak through the tall grasses. As they approach, they see that the carts are outside of an entrance to a mine. They notice that the carts are splattered with blood. Three hyenas are licking the blood from the wood and fighting over the remains of a corpse.

Fjord casts minor illusion and creates a slightly injured bunny to distract the hyenas. The hyenas notice the bunny and begin to form around it. Suddenly, they bolt and try to jump on it. As the first hyena pounces, the group comes out from their hiding places in the grass and kills all three hyenas. Jester tosses their bodies into the grass.

They examine the carts and workshop left unattended outside of the mines. The hyenas have been disturbing the area for a while. They see an interwoven net of grasses. Pulling it aside, they see a mine shaft entrance.

They look down the mine and wonder how they should next proceed. Nott suggests imitating a hyena call to bring whatever was waiting for the hyenas outside. However, the others fear that they might become overpowered if they are unaware what’s inside the mines.

They realize that Frumpkin is still a bird. Beau suggests sending him down into the mine.

Beau: “A canary in a gnoll mine.”

However, Frumpkin cannot see that well in the dark in his current form. Nott, in her nervousness, takes another swig from her flask and becomes intoxicated. Braver in her drunken state, she offers to scout ahead. As she offers this, Caleb sends Frumpkin down into the mines. However, Frumpkin is unable to see and hits the ceiling of the mine as the tunnel begins to descend. He falls to the ground stunned.

With fewer options, Nott goes into the mine. She puts Frumpkin in her pocket so she can communicate with Caleb.

As soon as Nott enters the mine, she activates a trip wire. A log, previously affixed to the ceiling swings towards her. However, she easily dodges out of the way.

She goes further into the mines. Finding some bag, she begins to rifle through them. Behind her, she hear sniffing. She turns to see two gnolls grabbing their spears.

Nott yells out for help and shoots her crossbow. The others, alerted by Caleb, begin to run into the mines.

As the gnolls attack Nott, the group, now in the mine, attacks the gnolls. Caleb casts  dancing lights so he and Beau can see in the darkness of the mine.

Through the attacks, Nott kills one of the gnolls with her crossbow. Beau takes staff and kills the other gnoll.

Jester cuts off the ears and puts them in her empty pickle jar.

Looking around, they find untapped barrels, a hooded lantern, a sledgehammer, a crowbar, and a small rod with waxed twine from one end. The others aren’t sure what the last item is, but Caleb recognizes it as an explosive.

Jester begins to play with the explosive. Nott says that someone more responsible should hold onto it. Fjord takes it and tucks it into his belt.

Nott, still drunk searches both tunnels, finding one trap.

She comes back and describes what she saw. They decide to go down the path to the right.

Down the path, the shaft winds for another 150 feet before slowly leveling out into a chamber. The mining veins are splattered with blood, flayed skin, and bones. Six gnolls stand around an alter. A smaller figure places stones on the alter. As they sneak closer, they see that the smaller figure is a humanoid person wearing gnoll armor. They also notice that they are not stacking stones at all, but hearts. All six gnolls begin to eat the hearts. The humanoid orders that more hearts be brought to them.

Corpses are dragged into the room, and the gnolls begin to eat them as well. Jester casts cure wounds on Nott. Hyenas wait nearby for the gnolls to finish eating.

They whisper to one another, wondering what their next move should be. Jester wonders if they should use the TNT, but Nott says that they’ve got the situation handled. Fjord casts Armor of Agathys on himself. Jester casts mirror image of herself.

Nott sneaks forward. She casts mage hand and grabs a shoulder bone being devoured by one of the gnolls. She throws it at a different gnoll, but none of them seem to care.

Caleb sends Frumpkin into the chamber. One of the gnolls notches on arrow. It takes a shot at Frumpkin. It dissipates as the arrow pierces it. The hyenas search around the arrow for the bird.

Jester summons her lollipop spiritual weapon and swings it at one of the gnolls. She casts sacred flame as well.

Now getting involved in the assault on the gnolls, Fjord casts eldritch blast on the gnolls. He summons his falchion as well.

Beau lets loose a bag of ball bearings. She goes into her defensive position, waiting for an assault.

Caleb casts firebolt on the gnoll Fjord hit with eldritch blast. The flames consume its body, and it kills the gnoll.

Nott fires her crossbow to kill yet another gnoll.

The gnolls pull out their bows and aim at Beau. The arrows are loosed, but only one is on target. Beau grabs it from the air and drops it. Another runs up to her with a spear, avoiding the ball bearings covering the floor. However, Beau still dodges the attack.

The hyenas rush forward as well. Some slip on the ball bearings, but two manage to attack Fjord, but are both instantly killed by the cold of his Armor of Agathys.

Fjord moves his hex to a nearby gnoll. He swings his falchion at the gnoll, hitting twice.

Molly uses a blood maledict to bind an archer gnoll.

Jester casts toll of the dead on an undead gnoll. It’s eardrums in both ears burst. Beau uses the opportunity to snap its neck from behind.

The gnolls begin to flee. The hyenas notice this and start to retreat as well. Molly and Fjord swing at the hyenas as they retreat, and they kill both. In celebration, they clang their swords together.

Nott sees one of the gnolls has a fearful expression. She runs as fast as she can at the gnoll.

Nott: “Hey, you! If you spend all day in a well, well that’s a day well spent.”

She casts hideous laughter on the gnoll. It rolls around on the floor, unable to stop laughing.

The others go over to the laughing gnoll, but it manages to avoid the majority of their attacks. Finally, Nott comes over to the gnoll, draws her sword, and thrusts downward, killing the gnoll.

Jester goes around putting more gnoll ears in her jar. She wonders if the hyena ears could pass as baby gnoll ears. She puts them in her jar as well.

They search the chamber and find a chest that the gnolls have tried to bash open. Nott opens it to find two healer’s kits, some disinfectants, and a hand pack with a greater healing potion. Nott gives the healing potion to Caleb and gives the healer’s kits to Jester.

They wonder how much noise they made during their attack. Molly points out that the gnolls are likely very loud anyway, but Caleb worries that they’ve caught the attention of others deeper in the mines. Beau goes 20 feet down the hall and listens for incoming forces. She hears echoing in the distance, barks, and a deep growling. In the distance, there is a deep impact.

She looks for any papers or anything intelligible from the humanoid figure. She finds fresh flesh spread over the alter. Tanned into the skin is a symbol of a jagged smile. The same symbols are on the walls of the chamber. The symbol is associated with Yeenoghu.

The party discusses what their next move should be. Suddenly, there is a voice in the distance. A woman yells out “No! My baby!”

The party, unable to ignore the call for help, runs deeper into the mines.

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.

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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