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Critical Role Recap: Episode 102 – “Race to the Tower”

SPOILERS for Critical Role Episode 102 (obviously).  Go check out the full episode at GeekandSundry.com!
Our recap of Episode 101 can be found here.

Vox Machina rushes to stop the resurrection of Vecna.

Previously on Critical Role

The group enters the Shadowfell through the black orb bellow Whitestone and uncover Delilah Briarwood’s plot.


They stand among the corpses of the traveling guards. They realize that they need to quickly travel to the tower to stop the ritual. Ultimately, they decide to travel closer to the tower and then rest for a while, so, should they have time to, they can rest before stopping Delilah, the cultists, and Vecna.

As they walk through the streets, they see a large shadow begin to approach them. They see a 10 foot tall monster made up of stitched together hobgoblin parts. It walks in their direction, and they do not know if it is approaching with hostility or not.

They hug the wall as it passes. It avoids the billowing smoke from the censor, passing without issue.

As they walk, Percy looks for interesting-looking buildings. He cannot discern anything of note as they rush past.

Groups of skeletons wander the streets, some clearly with a motive and direction. Still, others simply walk without purpose. Armor clinging to their forms clangs as they bump into each other. Their armor is the dark metal they saw earlier. They hope that the skeletons will be affected by the censor.

As they pass, some of the skeletons begin to approach. Vex blows some of the smoke towards the advancing creatures. When the smoke hits, they begin to lose interest.

Pike and Vax quickly examine the creatures. They notice that the skeletons are at least several hundred years old.

Vex: “These skeletons are almost as old as you, Scanlan.”

Two of the Gloomstalkers above begin to circle the party. One begins to dive. They quickly duck into a building. When they close the door behind them, Keyleth uses gust to blow some the smoke from the censor through the cracks in the door to keep the undead away.

Scanlan creates an illusion in the street of a young, injured human girl running into the building opposite them. The undead and the Gloomstalkers quickly follow the image. The Gloomstalker quickly realizes, however, that this girl is simply an illusion. They are not intelligent, but they are able to see through illusions and glamours.

They decide to escape out the back door. Grog moves the rubble from in front of the door. Scanlan suggests leaving a corpse behind as a further distraction. Grog pulls one from the bag of holding and covers their tracks with dust of tracelessness.

After escaping and getting some distance between them and the Gloomstalkers, they hide in an alleyway. Percy and Keyleth examine the burning leaves inside the censor.

Keyleth identifies the leaf as wilds guide. It is a tabacco-like leaf with few medicinal qualities. It can be smoked, but it can also be harmful to the user. Keyleth notices that the use to keep away undead is not one that is known to other druids and herbalists.

Above them, the Gloomstalker hunts the party. Vex casts pass without a trace again.

When they approach the center of Thar Amphala, they see a 15 foot tall wall sequestering the center of the town. Keyleth notices a possible gate farther over.

The twins sneak over to examine the wall. They notice there is something carved out into the wall. There is a passage wide enough for a single person to walk through. Something above the passage, however, catches their interest. They see a blue stone embedded into the wall. They recognize that it is very similar to the teleportation stones in Sygorn. They realize that these stones could be used to teleport the city somewhere else when the ritual is complete.

Keyleth stoneshapes through the ground and under the wall into a building on the other side. The others quickly rush through.

One of the Gloomstalkers spots them as they climb through. Keyleth is the last one on the surface when it begins to dive. She attempts to turn into a mouse to quickly escape through the tunnel.

Unfortunately, as she transforms, the Gloomstalker manages to grab her. When the Gloomstalker begins to crush her in its claws, Keyleth transforms back into herself. It begins to fly away, Keyleth still trapped in its claws.

Scanlan tries to cast dominate monster. He successfully takes over the mind of the monster.

Scanlan commands it to leave Keyleth on their side of the wall. It drops her down hard, but it obeys. It is under their control for an hour or until it takes damage. Scanlan commands it to tell the others that the hunt is off and to return after this task is done.

They notice on this side of the wall, the buildings are all better maintained.

Vox Machina debates their next move. As they talk, Grog knocks on a door of a nearby building. An elderly man missing an eye answers the door. Grog attacks him and they head inside. Scanlan orders the Gloomstalker to circle around for a while.

They interrogate him about the ritual, but he doesn’t know when it is set to begin. He says that the cultists were simply ordered to “be ready.” Pike notices a bunch of weapons scattered around the building.

Grog, seeing no other information they could get from him, begins to crush the old man’s head. He does not resist, but takes his symbol to begin to pray. Pike takes the necklace to try and get further information, but Grog simply kills him instead.

Ultimately, they decide that they have no time to waste. Vax and Scanlan climb on the Gloomstalker to scope out the tower while the others take a short rest.

Vax and Scanlan circle the tower. They guess that it is at least six or seven stories tall. The strands from the tower connecting to the orbs shift and ungulate. Several figures on the top of the tower seem to control the strands and lead them to an alter.

Suddenly, a shockwave originating at the top of the tower rips through the city. The Gloomstalker begins to drop, but catches itself. The arcane strands disappear. Many of the cultists drop dead, but a few remain. A cloaked figure emerges from the shadows. Scanlan and Vax rush back to the others.

They land and bring the others outside. The rest of Vox Machina notices that the strands are now missing.

After debating if they have time for a hero’s feast or not, they decide to simply have Keyleth and Pike cast earthquake as Grog punches at the structure.

Percy: “Let’s do this. This is a terrible plan.”

They don their cultist cloaks. To make up for the missing cloak, Scanlan hops on Pike’s shoulders, putting him at eye level with everyone else.

They join the cultists exiting the building. One of them whispers to the party about how excited he is for the next steps. Scanlan talks back, somehow not tipping off the cultist that he is two gnomes in a cloak.

As they follow the group, some of the cultists split off and climb up the roofs of the buildings, searching the skies for something. There is a creeping brightness on the horizon. The brightness behind the clouds forms a dome over the city. Snow begins to fall. Thankfully, Keyleth notices that the weather isn’t similar to the weather in Whitestone.

They decide that they have to attack now. As they hide in a building, a disembodied voice speaks to them.

“I would ask you to listen before you humiliate yourselves. I’ve watched you since you stepped into my domain. And, I’m not going to lie: it’s been entertaining. I admire your gumption. It reminds me of others who have tried what you are trying. But, they are dead now, so I leave the choice to you: you can either walk away or you can join me or you will die and join me anyway.”

The others agree that they will continue anyway with a resounding “to the end.” They cast the spell. Dust billows out from the base of the tower. A loud crack rings out from the tower. The tower breaks in half and begins to fall towards the ground. Still, half remains, including the top of the tower, that remains unaffected by the earthquake.

Cultists begin to scatter and run through the street. Dust slowly fades from the sky. The apex of the spire slowly moves down towards them.

With no other choice, they ready themselves for battle.

Grog embiggens himself with the Titanstone knuckles. Several cultists stop, as if to confront the goliath, but as he gets bigger, they all move along.

They surround the remains of the tower. The voice returns.

“I am genuinely impressed. I am excited. And I would like for you to remain to watch my ascension, but far be it from me to rob anyone of a fine death. So come. Come be the next sacrifice for a new age.”

Vex: “You’re a dipshit.”

They fly up onto the battlefield. Scanlan transforms into a beholder. The floor is covered by corpses. On the opposite side of the tower, they see Delilah Briarwood. Floating above them, they see a man dressed in purple and black robes. The skin on his bones seems to be pulled too tight. He is missing a hand and an eye, with green flames coming out of his empty socket. It is The Whispered One, Vecna.

Vecna casts his first spell. Everyone except Keyleth, Pike, and Percy feels their muscles tense and freeze. Vax free-falls from the sky, unable to use his wings.

Delilah points a finger at Vex. Despite not being able to move, Vex manages to brush off most of the damage from the attack.

Skeletons rise up from the floor and begin to attack the party. However, shortly after, other attacks cause them to be destroyed.

The party struggles to move to no avail as they are attacked by skeletons, Delilah and Vecna, and the environment around them. They can simply watch as they take blow after blow and are burned and drained of life. Pike, Keyleth, and Percy do their best to take on the enemies.

Pike casts lesser restoration on Grog, freeing him from the paralysis spell.

As Percy shoots at Vecna, he notices that his unenchanted bullets have no effect. Still, the effects from his Cabal’s Ruin do damage Vecna. He also casts hex on Delilah and shoots at her as well.

Scanlan, losing his ability to concentrate, turns back into himself. He manage to shake off the paralysis and move away.

Keyleth moves over to Delilah and casts mindfire. The spell successfully lands, and Delilah is confused and unable to cast spells.

Only the twins are left paralyzed. Vecna casts fireball towards the cluster of Vox Machina members on the ground. It hits Vax and Keyleth.

Vecna turns his gaze to Vex. He says “sleep” before casting power word: kill. She dies instantly. Vax watches frozen.

Delilah shakes off her confusion. She glares menacingly towards Keyleth while she points at Vax. Green energy shoots out of her finger and rushes towards Vax. At the last moment, Scanlan counterspells the attack, and saves his half-elf friend. The spell dissipates.

Grog goes over to Delilah and unloads all of his attacks on her.

Trinket nervously waits on the battlefield, his master killed, he is grappled by the ground around him.

Suddenly, The deathknight casts a spell that causes Grog to disappear. The goliath finds himself back in the Shadowfell where Thar Amphala once stood.

This time, it is Vecna who casts disintegrate at Vax. The spell, to Vox Machina’s horror, hits. Near his sister, he vanishes into dust, unable to be recovered for a raise dead spell. Only his Deathwalker’s Ward and daggers remain.

With both twins dead, the party quickly decides their next move. Pike begins to cast revivify.

Percy shoots at Delilah. He takes his first shot, then his second.

Percy: “Delilah, even if we die, it’s fucking worth it.”

He shoots out her remaining eye, and she falls backwards, dead.

Percy, seeing the tough battle still ahead, begins to bail.

Pike reaches Vex and successfully casts the spell. Vex takes in a breath. Pike casts healing word on the half-elf to further heal her. Nearby, Scanlan grabs the remains of Vax’s armor.

Keyleth casts firestorm. She levitates above the tower and unleashes the spell on Vecna. However, he manages to counterspell the attack.

Vecna turns towards Pike and points at her.

Vecna: “Join your friend.”

Scanlan immediately leaps into action and counterspells this attack, but his spell isn’t strong enough. Pike, facing certain death, steels her resolve. Though the attack is powerful, she is still standing, though barely.

Grog, back in the Shadowfell stands in a crater. The Gloomstalkers above see him and begin to dive down. Grog, seeing no other option, heals himself.

Four more undead pop up on the battlefield. They attack Scanlan, Pike, and Percy.

Vex shakily stands. She goes over to Keyleth in preparation for a planeshift spell. She shoots a brambleshot at the Deathknight. He burns away the brambleshot, but loses his concentration on his spell. Grog suddenly reappears on the battlefield.

Pike casts mass cure wounds and an additional healing word on Vex before getting into place.

Vecna turns to Pike once again. The ray hits, and she begins to die and fall apart. However, her armor bursts out, bringing her back to life and shoots flames out towards the approaching undead.

Percy runs across the battlefield. He uses a blast of force to push back the knight. He then runs over to Delilah and grabs her before completing the chain.

Keyleth planeshifts to the feywild. Vecna tries to cast a spell, but Scanlan immediately counterspells it.

They are yanked through a tunnel of darkness and appear in the forest of the feywild.

Vex: “Where’s Vax?”

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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