On March 12th, the cast and crew of Critical Role gathered for the 99th episode of the second campaign of the wildly successful broadcasted Dungeons and Dragons game. No one knew that it would be the last time the group would broadcast, let alone be together for several months.
Like most #Critters, I have been patiently waiting and ready for the new stuff when the time comes. Like so many things during the quarantine, it has been something we are just dealing with. Thankfully, last week they announced that they were returning to live streaming on Thursday, July 1st!
But it also has given some folks the chance to jump aboard or to catch up with the second campaign of Critical Role. So what should you know if you a new to the show?
First off, the characters are growing and developing. Early on the in second campaign, you could tell that the players were still feeling out their characters and working towards trying to figure out who they were.
That feeling is probably true in any campaign. The difference for us is that we met the Critical Role campaign 1 characters at higher levels and after the characters had played them for many, many sessions.
By episode 99, the players have a good feel and we have seen some real growth and changes in the second campaign characters. [Here is a look at them when they first got started.]
Fjord (Played by Travis Willingham)
A personal favorite, Fjord became one of the centerpieces of the campaign early on and for good reason. His backstory of being a sailor rescued from the depths and given power is compelling.
In game terms, the Hexblade Warlock was fun but over the course of the series, we see Fjord reject the request of his patron, and move over to even take a level or two of Paladin as he seeks to serve the Wildmother, who has ties to another character as well.
Beauregard (Played by Marisha Ray)
This human monk serves the Cobalt Soul, an organization that is dedicated to gathering knowledge. Beau has been a character of significant growth over the course of the campaign as well.
Starting as just a bruiser who wanted to jump in and Stunning Strike anyone and everyone, she has become just as willing to talk her way out of situations and circumstances.
She also tends to be a character who is willing and able to engage other characters in deeper conversations one on one. We gain a lot of insights about what the others are thinking because Beau asks.
Jester (Played by Laura Bailey)
Well, I can honestly say that I have never seen a cleric played quite this way and it is great! As a part of the Trickster domain, Jester is a cleric devoted to the Traveler, whose background as a god is fascinating on a metaphysical level and something I don’t want to spoil here.
Jester has proven to be both a source of silliness, as she loves to draw d!ck pics and eat pastries, but also exhibits stunningly good game play. Easily one of the best moves by a player in the last 15 episodes is when she used a magic item she got a long, long time ago, partnered it with a good spell and walked the team out of a situation that could have gone much, much worse.
Nott (Played by Sam Reigel)
With Sam Reigel at the controls of this character, it isn’t surprising that Nott the Brave has brought some of the most intense emotional moments as well as the most hilarious moments as the party’s very sneaky rogue.
Eventually, we learn that Nott is a cursed halfling woman who was resurrected as a goblin after she attacked the goblins to let her son and husband escape. After being a part of the goblin tribe for awhile, she took off and that is when we meet her in campaign 2, counting on her new magic using friend Caleb to be strong enough to eventually help her undo the curse.
They are able to eventually undo the curse and Nott becomes Veth, a halfling woman. One of the interesting storylines currently is that Veth no longer needs to be a part of an adventuring group but she seems to love it and her husband seems to recognize her desire to continue in it to be a good thing.
Cadueus Clay (Played by Taliesen Jaffe)
Caduceus is the first of the second wave of characters for the second campaign. Player Taliesen Jaffe’s first PC of the campaign was Mollymauk Tealeaf, a rambunctious tiefling Bloodhunter, which is a homebrewed class by Critical Role‘s DM, Matt Mercer. But Molly fell into a bad situation that spun out of control when a couple dice rolls went poorly for him.
In Molly’s wake, we had a group with a renewed sense of purpose to do good in the world and Jaffe created the firblog cleric of the grave domain, Caduceus. Caduceus has proven to be what his stats show initially: wise but not necessarily smart. He is also a fantastic cleric, using his spells wisely and helping the team survive combats.
I appreciate Jaffe’s roleplay as well, as he, like Marisha Ray’s Beau, has an ability to connect with all the other characters on the team. And that connection has only heightened with him and Fjord, who has become a paladin to the Wildmother, at least in some part thanks to Caduceus’ influence.
Yasha (Played by Ashley Johnson)
The next part of the campaign could be all about Yasha for one simple reason. Ashley Johnson, the actress who plays the barbarian Yasha has wrapped the television series Blindspot that she was a regular on, meaning that her frequent need to disappear from the Critical Role games may be done. Which is great because in the short time that she has been able to play, Johnson has built Yasha into an intriguing figure, a barbarian warrior woman who is still deeply touched by trauma that she has experienced in her life.
The trio of her, Fjord and Beau seems to be a nice fighting group but also a group that is growing together as people. And Yasha especially feels a struggle to undo some hurts she inflicted, when she was possessed and controlled for some time by one of the Mighty Nein’s villains.
Caleb Wildogast (Played by Liam O’Brien)
Caleb is an interesting character in part by the excellent roleplaying of Liam O’Brien. He consistently is working out the story of a wizard with a haunted past, trying to redeem both his past and himself as he moves forward as a part of the Mighty Nein. That background helps him be a sounding board for other characters as they all are dealing with their histories and their hopes.
Often times, Caleb will call someone aside for a conversation that helps the audience (and sometimes the PCs themselves!) understand things better. And personally, I like how Liam works in his spell’s components into the roleplay. It makes me appreciate how well a thoughtful player can have fun playing a wizard!