"Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) is the twelfth episode of the fourth chapter of Critical Role. Vox Machina confronts the darkness of Craven Edge and plans to retake Westruun. Scanlan infiltrates the city to set up a distraction and stumbles upon some old friends.
This episode is considered by Geek & Sundry to be the 50th episode, including "Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Tips" (1x12) and excluding "Critical Role Q&A and Battle Royale!" (Sx08). In celebration of the 50th episode landmark, this episode features the premiere of Critical Role's new opening sequence: a live-action cosplay by the actors of the main characters in a dramatic combat scene. After gameplay, the cast opens Critmas gifts from fans.
The following pre-show promotional video was shown on the Twitch stream:
- Felicia Day's Paperback Book Tour 2016: Formatted as a political attack ad against Felicia Day, this video ironically promoted Felicia's upcoming book tour to promote the paperback release of her book, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): [A Memoir], with upcoming stops in:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Portland, OR
- Denver, CO
- Chicago, IL
- Milwaukee, WI
- Cincinnati, OH
- Carrboro, NC
- Albuquerque, NM
- To celebrate the 50th episode landmark, new wallpaper for use on home PCs and such is available on the official Critical Role Twitter and Facebook pages.
- The cast shares their thanks to the people responsible for making the new intro a reality:
- Jan-Michael Losada, Director of Photography
- Pamela Joy, Lead Photographer
- Pamela Joy has done photography for Critical Role from the beginning.
- Loretta Richert, 2nd Photographer
- Misti Dawn Talor, Makeup
- Bianca Appice, Grog/SFX Makeup
- Heather Galipo, 2nd Makeup Artist/SFX
- Jessica Dru, Epic Costume Lead
- Vannessa Walton, Additional Costuming
- Bryan Forrest, Armorer & Goblin
- Bryan Forrest played as the goblins that were shot by Vex'ahlia.
- Jon Enge, VFX Supervisor/Goblin
- Jason Charles Miller, Music
- Geoff Bisente, Sound Design
- Avery Faeth, Percy Costuming
- Specifically, Avery Faeth worked on Percy's coat.
- Kai Norman, Gun/Props
- Anne Valiant, Additional Costuming
- Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball, Special Costuming Thanks
- The Sword and the Stone, Special Prop Thanks
- Ashley Johnson made it all the way from New York and is staying "for a little while"—pushing for a few months at most—before having to return to film Blindspot, much to the delight of the cast.
- For the next two weeks, super-duper-super-duper cozy "How do you want to do this?" hoodies are available for pre-order on the Geek & Sundry store. You can wear them all over the place, be it on a plane, a train, on a boat, or with a goat—at work or on the go. Sam Riegel reminds the audience that this is the content that they demanded.
- Critmas is tonight after the show. A large assortment of gifts await Vox Machina. They intend to keep the session as organized and expedient as possible so they can go to bed at a decent hour, especially for those with 8 AM call times in the morning, like Travis Willingham. Matthew Mercer hopes the audience will stick around so they can watch the cast cry forever.
- Something about posters is mentioned by Matt, but no one was aware of any "posters". Maybe later. 
- Matt announces that he will be in Atlanta as a guest for MomoCon (2016-05-26 to 2016-05-29). He will have talks, panels, autographs to give, cool art, etc.
- Matt also mentions that he and Marisha are announced to be guests at Haven Expo in Mackay, Australia on 2016-07-02. Australian Critters will have a chance to see them at the convention. Ashley makes bad impressions of a horrible Aussie accent. She notes that she knows many Australians. Matt apologizes.
- Revealing secret scientology messages sent to Xenu is checked off the list.
- Rat Queens #16 is coming up with a wonderful cameo from Vox Machina. They have transcended and are now fiction.
- The Kickstarter for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, an isometric RPG video game developed by Witching Hour Studios which Matt plays the lead character Cicero Gavar in, was put up today. It includes voice talent from Jennifer Hale and Dave Fennoy. Matt hopes that people chip in to make the game a reality.
- Liam O'Brien ask for a "critrole" and gives another plug for Wyrmwood Gaming, mentioning the "critrole" code for free shipping and the Kickstarter for this month for their Sentinel Box. He mentions that one can get the Critical Role logo etched onto any box they purchase. He also mentions the snazzy Masterwork Box, which Travis remarks may be one of the Vestiges.
- Matt asks for anything else the cast want to talk about, and since there isn't, he asks that they play the intro again. After the intro finishes (again), Matt remarks that they thought they'd have to cut stuff out, and they ultimately didn't.
Previously on Critical Role Edit
"Vox Machina, a group of adventurers currently on the path to try and usurp and destroy the Chroma Conclave, a collection of chromatic dragons that have torn through Tal'Dorei and currently reign supreme over the partially ruined cities that dot the landscape. The largest of them, and apparently the leader, Thordak the Cinder King, sitting in the main city of Emon, forcing the party to flee.
"They've currently gone about and discovered these artifacts, these legendary items known as the Vestiges of the Divergence—ancient magical weapons and equipment from the last great war, the Divergence—and these seem to be a key in which they can ascertain a level of power and a means of destroying these creatures. Upon seeking information about these, they traveled south to the Frostweald, where they battled a camp of orcs, freeing survivors from Westruun's attack, and managed to walk their way into the deep den of a forgotten Ioun temple, where Osysa the sphinx's mate resides.
"After traversing past traps and puzzles, they made their way to the main chamber, in which the nameless sphinx demanded they reveal that they had earned its name. During this battle, they traveled through portals to other elemental realms to seek out the information to hopefully devise the title of this sphinx before it was too late. During which, Grog had leapt through one of these portals into the Elemental Plane of Air, set adrift without a means of returning, took his Chain of Returning, attached it to Craven Edge, and threw it through the portal. It found purchase and he pulled himself through… face-to-face with Pike, with the blade embedded in her abdomen. The weapon, which had achieved its maximum strength potential from devouring the essence of others, transformed during this battle and has been in its rather intense and dangerous form since.
"The party managed to discover and piece together the name of this sphinx, at which point the battle ended, and it presented to them the information they required. It gave them the information of the Vestiges that still exist to its knowledge, and they were escorted via immediate sandstorm out of the temple and now stand at the edge of the Stormcrest Mountains in the Frostweald forest itself."
Part I Edit
The Darkness of Craven Edge Edit
As the sandstorm subsides and they find themselves outside Kamaljiori's temple in the Frostweald, Vox Machina takes a moment to catch their breaths and digest the knowledge they just received before turning to Pike to check her current state. The gnome cleric of Sarenrae, despite receiving healing from the androsphinx, is still sweaty and breathing heavily, the deep gashes in her armor a reminder of when she was accidentally impaled by Craven Edge. Her wound is closed but she is still in a damaged state.
A concerned Vax'ildan asks if she needs a moment with her god, but Pike shakes her head, claiming that she's fine and good to keep going. Vex'ahlia briefly wonders what time it is before noticing that due to the sky it seems to be midday, about the same as it was when they entered the temple. Grog, still feeling guilty for the accidental stabbing, turns to Pike and apologizes for what he did. Pike assures her "big brother" that she knows he didn't mean to. Grog explains how panicked he was, feeling helpless drifting through the Elemental Plane of Air and how he—in his desperation—threw Craven Edge through the portal only to find purchase when it stabbed his best buddy. Again, Pike assures Grog that she will be fine and hugs him, refusing a healing potion from him.
The party deliberates when would be the best time to camp and take a rest. Keyleth notes that time and nature don't quite work the way she is used to around the temple. Percy suggests that they keep moving for as long as possible until nightfall, and then they make camp. Vex votes for a long rest, the ranger still feeling sore from the earlier battle despite her rapid aging being reversed. The party also notices Vax, Grog, and Scanlan still looking older, Vax being the worst case as he endures old-age jokes from his fellow party members. Pike offers to reverse the effect with Greater Restoration, but Vax requests that his sister get healed first; his condition can wait until tomorrow.
The party eventually comes to the consensus of taking a short rest outside the temple, including a reluctant Grog. The goliath steps away from the group, holding Craven Edge as he takes a moment to relax. The large obsidian blade then begins to shrink back down to its original size and even smaller still. He then hears the voice of the sword, the sentient blade moaning about its hunger. Grog then suddenly feels a strange yet familiar sensation, a sensation not felt since the battle with K'Varn in Yug'Voril, when all the light in the world vanished. Grog feels that same cold sensation from Craven Edge itself, almost as if he was being pulled into the sword. He resists the sensation and is left confused, trying to determine what had just transpired, when the sword speaks again.
Grog then notices the party watching him "talking to himself". He quickly tries to cover it up by mentioning that he is hungry, that his stomach is rumbling. Vex pulls out some chicken from Scanlan's Magnificent Mansion from the Bag of Colding, but all that is there is chicken-scented smoke and mist that vanishes. Disappointed, she then offers boar meat to Grog, who is not one to turn down such delicious food.
The party spends the next half-hour resting and eating. As they finish their rest, the party watches as Grog stands up with Craven Edge in hand, walking towards the forest… and suddenly falling face-first in the snow.
The Melancholy of Grog Strongjaw Edit
Concerned, everyone rushes to Grog and roll him onto his back, checking for signs of life. But there is none; his body is still and cold. Panicked, Pike picks up Craven Edge and, using the Gauntlets of Ogre Power, removes it from Grog's Chain of Returning, tossing it far away from his body. Despite that, Grog is still motionless.
The members of the party begin assuming that the sword itself had killed Grog, having noticed how strange the weapon was being ever since Grog acquired it. Keyleth grabs the sword, intent on breaking it at Vax's request. But Scanlan, being one of only four people—other than Percy, Pike, and Grog himself—who know about the sword's nature, stops her from doing so, pointing out that Grog's soul could be inside it. He reveals that the sword spoke to him while they were scoping out Westruun, that it craves strength from its victims.
Pike begins to panic even more, painfully coming to the realization that Grog Strongjaw, the goliath that she had saved and had grown up with, is dead. The party, aware that time is of the essence, deliberates on what to do about saving Grog, Keyleth lamenting that she didn't prepare any spells for transportation today. Percy suddenly takes Craven Edge and walks away from the group as Vex and Scanlan try heading back inside Kamaljiori's temple, only for the latter two to discover that the entrance is sealed. Pike, having an epiphany, quickly casts Revivify before the window of time expires for the spell to have any effect. Reaching out, she manages to clutch onto the one remaining soul thread keeping Grog's soul bound to his corpse. Scanlan walks over to her and holds her hand, looking into her eyes and pleading to the woman he loves to save Grog.
As Pike struggles to maintain her hold on the thread, the resurrection ritual commences. Vex is the first to step up, offering Grog's cask of ale and pouring it down his throat, being careful not to drown him should he come back to life. As she is doing so, Vax walks away from the group and falls to his knees as he prays to the Raven Queen.
As Vax finishes his prayer, snow begins to fall in the still air. As the first snowflake hits his nose, his vision goes dark. And in the darkness, his body locked in place and unmoving, he sees the familiar porcelain face of the Raven Queen as the goddess steps into view. She brings her hand to his cheek, hearing her voice in his mind saying, "I believe that every death has its place", and then she withdraws her hand and pulls back as darkness fills his vision once more.
Scanlan offers to be the final contributor to the ritual. Remembering that Craven Edge craves strength from others, he pulls out a Potion of Fire Giant Strength. With the intent of giving Grog extra strength, the bard pours it down his throat. The muscles pulse with power due to the potion's effect, with Scanlan hoping that his contribution will be enough. Meanwhile, as the ritual is still happening, Percy takes Craven Edge, sets it down against a tree, and bears down on the sword itself, his glare intense.
A shadowy form begins to bleed from the sword and rise up, angry at Percy's words, but at the same time the gunslinger hears a familiar raging scream from within the blade. Percy remains unintimidated as he summons his own shadowy mist, the two dark shapes having a silent staredown.
Unaware of Percy's dealings with the sword, the party is startled as Grog's arm suddenly grabs Scanlan by the throat, the goliath lifting up and squeezing the life out of him. After a few seconds, Grog's mind begins to clarify, the goliath taking his first breath since dying and his vision clearing. Noticing his hands choking Scanlan, he immediately lets go of his best friend, feeling confused as to why he's on the ground with everyone looking on. Scanlan and Keyleth, trying to discern whether Grog is himself, are able to see that the goliath is indeed so.
As Grog is slowly coming to his senses, the party informs him that he had died. Unable to believe that he had been killed, Grog is asked by Scanlan where his sword is. As Grog notices that Craven Edge is gone, he sees Percy hunched over the blade itself, the shadowy forms still having a staredown. He walks over to collect it, but the party blocks his approach, barring him from the sword. They plead with him to let go of his attachment to the weapon.
Keyleth confronts him, saying that the sword was never his to begin with, but Grog mentions that Percy gave it to him a while back, which Scanlan confirms. All eyes are on Percy, who is still glaring at the dark obsidian blade. Vax is shocked upon hearing this news, as is Keyleth and Vex. Scanlan says to Grog that despite how cool and powerful Craven Edge is, after seeing what it had just done to his best friend, he pleads to the barbarian that he should not have it. Grog, his memory hazy, recalls the battle with the sphinx, the sword transforming, and then taking a rest. When Vex points out that the sword had "pulled him into it", he is then told that Pike was the one who saved him.
As the shadow from Craven Edge recedes, Percy is debating as to whether or not he or Keyleth should touch the sword so that it can be moved, but Vex immediately objects. Scanlan claims that since he touched it before he'd be fine, but Vex suggests that the sword could suck out anyone's soul at this point. Grog offers to at least carry the sword, but his idea is immediately shot down. Vax suggests putting the sword in the Bag of Holding and giving it to Pike, but Keyleth thinks of it as being a terrible idea as she mulls over what options she can bring to the table.
The party asks Scanlan what he thought of the sword, and he answers that it was awesomely powerful yet sounded evil, which generates a complaint from Grog. Vax brings up the fact that Percy knew all along about the sword and asks if Scanlan did as well. The bard claims that he had no idea about what the sword could do, but he did mention that he informed Pike about it behind Grog's back and that she would later look into it. Keyleth and Vex voice their shock at being the only people other than Vax to have been kept in the dark all this time, Percy in his defense claiming that he "suspected". Grog tries to convince the party that the sword can still be a great ally, but his words fall on deaf ears.
Pike offers to cast Greater Restoration on the sword, while Keyleth claims that she can banish the sword with a spell she had not used before: Plane Shift. Grog is offended at the thought of banishing Craven Edge, using the analogy of "getting bumped off a horse and training it up a bit instead of killing it" to try to convince the party that they can "work with the sword". Vex counters with the fact that horses don't try to steal their riders' souls. Vax asks point-blank who had the sword previously and both he and Vex mention that it was once Sylas Briarwood's sword. Keyleth brings up the fact that ever since acquiring Craven Edge, his brutality had gotten a little more out of hand.
Percy tries to make a deal with Grog, that they will deal with this situation as a family, and that they will get him something nicer and less complicated, such as the Titanstone Knuckles that Kevdak possesses. Keyleth again suggests the option of using Plane Shift to banish the sword into another dimension. Grog then mentions that he asked the sword some questions such as whether or not it knew Vecna. Keyleth asks about what the sword told him, and Grog mentions that it is always hungry, drawing a repulsed reaction from Pike.
Vax asks for a show of hands of who is uncomfortable with Craven Edge. All but Grog raise their hands. Vex suggests that they ask the sword a few questions, but Percy tells her that it is a bad idea, they if they interrogate it, they'll have to make a deal. Vax tells Grog that he has to choose between the sword and Vox Machina. Grog lies that he was in agreement about being uncomfortable with the sword, and when asked as to why he's resistant to the idea of getting rid of it, he claims that he doesn't want to just destroy it, saying that he could use it against Kevdak. Vex begs him to not use it against his uncle, but Grog says that if the sword gets hungry again, he'll simply stab his leg to ensure that Craven Edge is fed. He then brings up the fact that Kevdak has the Knuckles and that Craven Edge would be a great help to him against his uncle. Vax, frustrated, brings up Grog's sudden death due to the sword again, with Keyleth claiming that he was already powerful long before he got the sword, that it didn't make him who he was. Unable to sway the others, Grog turns to Pike.
Finally convinced to let go of the sword, Grog drowns his sorrows with the cask of ale.
Keyleth offers once more to banish Craven Edge with Plane Shift to another dimension, which the party agrees with. Keyleth then deduces that she can send it to the dimension of the Dread Emperor since, to their knowledge, no one else lives there. Percy voices his uneasiness about this, offering an idea that sounds iffy but claiming that he is being clever. He suggests sending it to a place where it will be content and not angered. Keyleth brings up the possibility of the Nine Hells. When questioned about the idea, Percy argues that the sword would stay in the Nine Hells, but Keyleth and Vax point out that they had fought many demons from other planes, suggesting that someone could take the sword and just come to their plane.
Grog suggests that Craven Edge's many victims may have had their souls sent straight to Vecna, but he has no proof, only that he only brought it up due to the room within the Ziggurat beneath Whitestone. Scanlan suggests throwing it in the sphere, but the idea is immediately rejected under the possibility that doing so could free Vecna and that the entity would then claim the sword as his own. They once again voice their approval of using Plane Shift on the sword, saying that they could always go back if it turns out to be a bad idea. Percy once again voices his disapproval of the idea.
Pike once more suggests casting Greater Restoration on Craven Edge due to the spell having an effect on Percy's corruption back in Whitestone. Percy continues to voice his disapproval, but Keyleth notes that the sword needs a wielder in the first place. Finally acquiescing, hoping that he's wrong, Percy gives Keyleth the go-ahead. Pike, noticing Grog's weakened state, walks over to him and casts Heal, her fingers shaky but still relieved that her "big brother" is alive. Pike's face then hardens as she clutches her holy symbol of Sarenrae and walks towards Craven Edge with unflinching determination. As Keyleth warns her to be careful, Scanlan inspires her with a "lovely ballad".
Thinking of the song as beautiful, Pike smiles for a moment before hardening again as she approaches the sword. Upon nearing Craven Edge, the shadows around the weapon are dispelled due to her light. She then grabs the sword, telling Keyleth to get ready, and casts Greater Restoration.
As she holds the sword, Pike sees in her mind a sudden vision of an individual. She sees flashes of a clamoring for power, a need for attention and wealth. She sees flashes of a person making a deal with something they didn't understand, of a punishment, the remnants of their eternal soul bound to a blade and cursed with eternal, unending hunger. She then sees, much like the thread that held Grog's soul to his corpse, a dark thread connecting the sword to him. Channeling the power of Sarenrae, she reaches out, clutches onto the thread, and tears it in two. At the same time, Grog is suddenly pushed onto the ground. Everyone worries for a moment, seeing that this was how Grog had died earlier, but the goliath gets back up, breathing and alive. It's then that Grog finally realizes that he was foolish, that the sword was using him all this time.
The blade snarls in Pike's grasp. Wasting no time, Keyleth tells Pike to let go. The blade falls to the ground as Grog shares his newly-found wisdom, much to the exasperation of the rest of the party. Keyleth then takes the sword herself and casts Plane Shift. The sword is only able to get out a few words in Keyleth's mind before she throws it through the resulting portal with the Dread Emperor's floating island in view. The portal then slams shut, the darkness of Craven Edge banished from the Material Plane. Grog claims that a dagger went with it, but soon says that he was joking.
Leaving the Frostweald Edit
With the immediate crisis over, Grog thanks Pike for what she did. The cleric then offers to give Grog his gauntlets back. Despite Grog's protests that he had just given them to her, Pike willingly takes them off. However, Grog proposes a trade: the gauntlets for the Boots of Levitation. Thinking of how advantageous the boots could be in theory, Pike accepts the trade as Grog dons the Gauntlets of Ogre Power once more.
The party continues on back to the door to Scanlan's mansion. Before resting, Keyleth uses what power she has left for the day to cast Greater Restoration on Vax. The rogue is then restored to his original youthful self, with Keyleth remarking that his aged look made him look very distinguished. Vex pops Trinket out of the Raven's Slumber Crystal necklace so the bear can stretch. Percy and Vex head to his workshop within the mansion where he continues his modifications to her broom, the gunslinger surprised at how much of a quick learner she was while helping him. With her assistance, Percy manages to install a tether to the broom to ensure that Vex would not lose the broom should she fall. Percy remarks how constructive the whole thing was, saying to the ranger that they should "do this again sometime".
Down in the training area, Grog pulls out the Firebrand Warhammer and ignites the weapon, the flames emitting from the warhammer feeling like an old friend coming to roost. Still paranoid from dealing with Craven Edge, Grog makes sure of something.
Relieved that the warhammer is normal, Grog goes to sleep as does the rest of the party, the harrowing day behind them. The next morning, the party gathers together downstairs for yet another breakfast of chicken and eggs. Pike asks if waffles are on the menu, but Scanlan says no much to her chagrin. Percy briefly considers making an invention for waffle-making, but shelves it for later. Scanlan spends some of the morning with a quill and paper and writing something.
The party leaves the mansion and, much to Scanlan's annoyance, begin walking north through the forest towards Westruun. Vex hops onto her broom and uses her skills to lead them back. They briefly consider going to where they encountered the nymph from before through the portal that leads into the Feywild, remembering that Fenthras, one of the Vestiges, is there. However, Vax points out to Vex that Syldor Vessar, their father, is there as well as Syngorn. Not wanting to deal with an unpleasant family reunion at this point, they choose to put the hunt for Fenthras aside for the time being and return to Westruun.
Along the way, they attempt to sneak through the forest, but Pike starts falling behind. The party hears a familiar hissing from nearby and notice that the source of the hissing is a basilisk. They quickly run, forgetting about being stealthy, as Pike accidentally catches the basilisk's gaze. She goes stiff for a moment but manages to resist the petrification. The party darts through the forest, Grog picking up Pike, as more hissing surrounds them. After some time, they finally get clear of the Frostweald forest and arrive at the open fields. The danger behind them, Vox Machina continues their trek back to Westruun.
Part II Edit
Plans for Liberation Edit
Vox Machina, having left the Frostweald behind them, continues northward to Westruun. Keyleth wishes to stop by the refugee camp before they go on their way due to the fact that they tend to forget to do such things, with Vex thinking she wants a reward. The party takes the detour to the Foramere Basin where the survivors from Westruun are still camping. Guards pull out their crossbows and relax upon seeing Vox Machina approaching. One of the guards informs the party that the refugees that the party had saved before entering Kamaljiori's temple arrived back safety and takes them to Cornelius. While walking, they notice that the survivors did indeed make it back, the child they saved giving Vex a bear hug.
They reach Cornelius's tent and see the man himself cutting firewood. He notices the party and expresses his gratitude for keeping true to their word. They inquire if Cyrus[spelling?] made it back safely, and Cornelius confirms that he did and he gave a stern talking to his brother. The party asks that he go easy on him due to the torture he endured earlier. Cornelius then mentions that he can get the refugees to Kymal for now. Vox Machina informs him that Westruun is their next stop and that they will send word once the city is liberated. They say their farewells to Cornelius and continue on to Westruun.
In the middle of their trek, they rest within the mansion and go over their plans to liberate the city. Grog notes that he agrees with Percy in that, as opposed to going straight into town, there is worth in being clever. He asks the party for their input in probably making the town come straight to them. Grog notes the amount of innocents still within the city, including the fact that Wilhand's whereabouts are still unknown. He offers the idea of sending in someone to act as bait for their strongest warriors.
Percy asks if his herd are into the idea of trial-by-combat, and Grog notes that trial-by-combat is how the herd lives. The gunslinger and Vex propose that Grog have a rematch with Kevdak. Grog notes that the last time he challenged Kevdak, he was beaten to within an inch of his life. He then proposes the idea of a distraction—be it a trap, an ambush, or even playing mind games—so that the party can get the innocents out of Westruun. Scanlan notes that not everyone in the herd, despite what limited intelligence they may have, will fall for it, but Grog is only hoping for a few. Keyleth notes that it could take hours to evacuate the entire city, time that they do not have. The party then debates possible scenarios for the distraction.
Keyleth asks Grog what would happen if Kevdak were to be slain by him. She then asks who would take over in Kevdak's stead if that were true. If it were Grog, it would be him. She then points out that there may be no need for evacuation if they cut off the head of the snake right then and there. Vex points out that defeating Kevdak is meaningless if the herd does not witness it. Vax notes that this whole situation, like everything else they do, is a gamble. When asked how honorable his people is, Grog shares his thoughts on the subject.
Percy offers the idea of Grog himself walking into Westruun, demanding a challenge from Kevdak. Keyleth notes that Grog being the bait may be their best shot. Percy then notes that while Grog serves as the bait, the rest of the party go in and get the innocents out. Vex worries that Grog won't be safe in the meantime, but Percy and Grog assure her that they will stick to their honor and not interfere. Percy then suggests that if things get bad, the party will step in and get him out. Vex voices her concerns about abandoning Grog to Kevdak while they focus on the evacuation, that she'd rather have Grog's back, a sentiment that Vax agrees with.
Keyleth again notes that by killing Kevdak, they won't have to worry about evacuating the innocents. Vex suggests that they stay hidden so they can provide backup. Grog comes to the realization that the herd believes he is dead, and so he suggests that they make his appearance more theatrical, that he had conquered death—which he did—and came back a completely different Grog with new and unusual abilities, with the party aiding while hidden to further enforce the ruse.
As the party continues to discuss their plan to get the innocents out while Grog is the distraction, Scanlan voices his concern that Kevdak will not fight against a "magical" Grog, with Vex pointing out that it is an issue of pride. Grog assures them that he can get his attention. Scanlan asks if, should the ruse be discovered and that he's been given aid, he will be shamed, Grog tells him that he will not be, that Vox Machina is his family and that his old herd left him to die. Vax brings up that Kevdak would have no right to shame Grog as he is using a gift from the gods and not his own strength. Pike voices her fears about this, seeing as when she had saved Grog before, he was an inch from death, but Percy compares Grog's past with his own, that Vox Machina was there to help him fight his own demons.
Grog points out the best case scenario that Kevdak, his son Zanror, and the herd's best could go after the bait, leaving Vox Machina to get the innocents out. But they are all soon reminded that Westruun is under siege not just from the herd, but from the dragon himself. After more deliberation, the party decides on camping outside the city and keeping an eye out for wyvern patrols and the like, and to wait until the dragon flies by for the plan to be enacted, which includes Keyleth using her Move Earth and Hallucinatory Terrain spells to dig a trench and camouflage it to thin out the ranks of the herd.
Hiking to the outskirts of Westruun, Vox Machina stealth their way through the grassy farmlands outside the city, Vex casting Pass Without Trace to aid in their concealment. They keep their eyes out for any patrols keeping watch, and as they go, the twins and Pike notice a patrol of three herd members in the same area where Grog had killed Horus, the patrol having increased due to a heightened state of awareness. Vax sneaks off to the spot where Horus was concealed while the rest of the party hang back.
Vax arrives at the spot and looks around only to notice that the body is gone. Following the drag marks and tracks, Vax continues to sneak through the crops and notices that the trail stops, the last sign indicating a northward direction. He sees in the distance Reginald's farmhouse and fields and the scarecrow in the center… only to realize that there was not a scarecrow there before. Upon closer inspection, he notices with trepidation that the scarecrow is in fact the corpse of Reginald being pecked apart by crows, the farmer having died between their initial meeting and their return. Not seeing anyone else around, Vax heads towards the body and removes it from the spike and drags it back towards the others, informing them about repercussions.
The party grieves for their friend, Percy coldly telling the group that the herd knows that they are around due to the body being cut down and Vax reminds the group of the lives at stake in this whole affair. Percy says that they need to enact the plan tonight due to Vax cutting the body down, but before they do anything else, Pike casts Speak With Dead to speak with Reginald. The spell is cast and the corpse takes an unnatural breath, greeting the party. Vex apologizes for what happened to him and that they will rescue his daughter, but the farmer reassures her that he knew what he was doing. They begin to ask him five questions.
Grog recognizes the description as matching Zanror's based on their last encounter.
The party soon realizes that to wait until tonight would be foolhardy, that they can wait one more night. Scanlan then asks the final question, from one father to another.
The questions having been asked and the magic fading, the body reverts to its lifeless state. Percy requests that Vax put the body back, despite Keyleth saying that just because it was cut down does not mean it was them specifically. He points out that he will have saved his daughter one last time if he is returned to where he was, and that after they deal with the herd he will be given a proper burial. He thanks Vax for bringing Reginald to them, as his answers were helpful, The rogue returns the body to the field, re-tying it best he could before being forced to hide again, as the patrol passes by without having noticed anything suspicious. The party then decides to set up Scanlan's mansion door while the twins keep watch in the grass for the dragon to fly by.
Featured Characters Edit
- Due to the conflicting statements about the Dread Emperor's realm, it is unclear if the now-banished Craven Edge is now in the Astral Plane, in a pocket dimension, or somewhere else altogether.
- Counting the Critmas session, this is currently the longest episode of Critical Role.
- This episode marks the second time that Grog has died.
- This is the third on-stream death of a player character, and the fourth overall.
External Links Edit
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:00:32 through 0:02:02.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:21:42 through 1:23:04.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:02:31 through 0:02:57.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:03:01 through 0:07:20.
- ↑ See "Shopping and Shipping" (1x14) at 0:00:15.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:08:05 through 0:08:50.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:08:50 through 0:09:55.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:09:55 through 0:10:31.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:10:31 through 0:10:51.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:10:31 through 0:11:12.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:11:12 through 0:11:52.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:11:52 through 0:12:01.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:12:01 through 0:12:35.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:12:35 through 0:13:07.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:13:07 through 0:14:32.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:14:32 through 0:16:35.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:27:33 through 0:27:53.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 0:34:58.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:37:27 through 0:37:58.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:41:20 through 0:41:33.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:53:10 through 0:53:58.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 0:57:18 through 0:57:28.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 1:00:22.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:13:23 through 1:13:38.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:23:04 through 1:25:17.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:25:17 through 1:30:06.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:34:16 through 1:35:47.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:46:04 through 1:46:36.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 1:48:43.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:35:47 through 1:55:20.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 2:05:07.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 2:05:43.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 2:06:42.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 2:07:18.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) at 2:07:42.
- ↑ See "Best Laid Plans..." (4x12) from 1:55:20 through 2:11:17.
- ↑ See "The Story of Vox Machina" (Sx06) at 18:35.
- ↑ See "Into the Frostweald" (4x10) at 0:28:10.