Podcast / Critical Hit

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They get them sometimes.
"Until next time, listeners, here's hoping all your dice rolls are... Critical Hits"
Stephen Schleicher, at the end of each episode

"Uh... whut?"
Torq

If you came looking for the Game Mechanic which results in high damage, that's over here.

This page is for a Spin-Off of the Major Spoilers Podcast, in which the hosts and a couple of their friends play in a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign. The team is made up of gamers who are completely new to Dungeons and Dragons, those who have been playing since Third Edition, and even one guy who’s been playing since the AD&D days.

The plot of the campaign follows a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits as they try to stop The Void, a group of Insane Gods, from invading their plane of existence. The first and second seasons had them racing to keep the Moon from smashing into the Earth, and in the third season, they've been recruited by a Higher Power to help cleanse a part of the Astral Sea of the remaining Lunar Monsters. For the fourth season, the party heads to the Feywild, Orem's home plane, in order to restore the balance tht was upset by the unnatural lunar activity of previous seasons. The group includes Orem Rivendorn of the Eladrin, Halston Thorkelson aka "Torq", Randus du Thane, and Smith the Sorcerer, who has since been replaced by Ket H'zard the Half-Elf Warlock. In Season Four, they're joined by an elf ranger, Trelle. Season five sees them joined by Little Sparkle and Sekhar Obleea replacing Torq and Trelle.

It does take occasional breaks to answer listener questions, and Stephen and Rodrigo have created a set of podcasts which focus on Game Mastering 101, with its own set of characters. (Episodes 58-62). There was even a Fate style game ran during the break between seasons 4 and 5.

The show itself is a delightful pastiche of learn-by-example play, nerd humor and old-time radio serials. It is a great way to introduce people to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Editions and Role Playing Games, enjoyable to both old and new players or people just interested in a good fantasy story.

You can find the episodes here, or download them from iTunes.

This Series Provides Examples Of:

  • Achievement In Ignorance: The only thing Torq is trained to do is fight. However, Matthew often rolls incredibly high on skill checks, so this is the result.
  • Affably Evil: The Thing That Shatters the Sky.
    • Ma and Pa also get a namecheck as this, from Brian
  • A God Am I: The Thing That Shatters The Sky pulls this on all the other Gods of The Void.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The game master put the party through it several times in How The Other Half Lives and How The Other Third Lives segments, each time providing them with the characters that differed from their main ones in key aspects
  • Arc Words: Ket: "I hate this place...", always under his breath, always punctuating an occurrence or explanation of something insane that is standard procedure in the Feywild.
    • Also for the Lords of Feywild arc: "And they were never heard from again"
  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: The players can declare that their attack merely knocked the enemy out instead of killing as they land a final blow, at no penalty and regardless of the type of attack
  • Audible Sharpness: Invoked with the Hogba's Black Mistress battleaxe.
  • A Wizard Did It: Well, technically some Insane Gods did it - the moon is explained to be livable only due to the will of The Void.
  • Promoted Fangirl: Adriana listened to Critical Hit a lot before she was invited onto the show by Rodrigo in season 4. The guys often joke about the extensive notes that she has on previous episodes, and she usually recalls details the other players have long forgotten.
  • Action Girl: Five examples, two of which are friendly NPCs, and two PC.
    • The Queen's Rebellious Daughter is a scientist who uses resonance to zap things. She's pretty handy in a fight.
    • Bao Bel-Bina is a tiefling Avenger who serves Erathis.
    • The third is Trelle, an elf ranger that joined the party in the feywild.
    • Fourth is Orem's sister Kammis, an Eladrin wizard specializing in familiars.
    • Little Sparkle is a Tengu rogue who recently joined the party
  • Adventure-Friendly World: The world is being attacked by insane extraterrestrial gods, who send their monstrous creations to attack, as well as having built towers on the Earth and the moon to draw them together. And even after that's been dealt with, there are plenty of quests they're needed for.
  • Adventure Towns: Moonhold, The Exilarchy of Cogs' city, Diamond Throne, Sha Lai
  • Alien Sky: Two: One happens after The Void's first attempt to smash the moon into the Earth, described by Rodrigo as constantly red, filled with clouds and roiling lightning. The second is when the heroes are transported to the moon, described as a bubble surrounding the atmosphere with a blurry view of the planet itself.
  • All Just a Dream: Used to devastating effect, not once but twice, in the Demonweb .
  • All There in the Manual: Rodrigo was kind enough to do an interview after the first story arc, another interview about the second, and a third after Lords of the Feywild. He also answers questions about Critical Hit in the same forum, and has a series of world building articles posted [1]
  • An Adventurer Is You: It's a D&D Game.
  • An Axe to Grind: Torq's Weapon of Choice is a Great Axe.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Thoney's Airship floats because its hull is coated in "Astral Brine".
    • Later on, many of Randus' ship designs are heavily powered by "Elasma", which can be vented, etc.
  • Badass Adorable: Biium is a tiny, brightly colored colibri that can and will make the room explode. The Bravest Rabbit in his natural form is a small and rather adorable rabbit - and a competent fighter in his humanoid form.
  • Badass Family: The Rivendorn/Grayborn family from which Orem hails. Both of his parents and his sister are extremely competent spellcasters, and that is to be the case for the generations before him. This is the reason why the family name carries some weight.
  • Badass Normal: Torq definitely counts, being nothing more than incredibly tough and strong in a party of magic users. At least initially, until he multiclasses into a cleric and becomes a magic user in his own right. Trelle also qualifies
  • Bag of Holding: Technically, the gang has a Handy Haversack, but it's basically a bag of holding in backpack form.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When the Torqletones shut down the tower in Episode 7.
  • Big Eater: 17 Funnel cakes, to go!
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Void are gods who see no problem with creating and destroying entire races at their will, and constantly vie for dominance over one another, not caring who gets in the way.
  • Body Horror: Plenty of examples, which is to be expected in a campaign full of Insane Gods.
    • Some of the cultists who worship The Void allow themselves to become hosts to creatures from the moon that do this.
    • There's also the little white creatures Orem and Smith fight - their eyes are misshapen, and their limbs are all different sizes, to the point where some walk on one hand and one leg because those are the two limbs who touch the ground.
    • Smith himself, randomly spawning magic items from various points on his body. Painfully.
      • D&D Brian namechecks this trope when the Torqletones fight the Candle Heads for the first time.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: At the end of Season 4. It takes a Time Skip and several episodes to put the party back together. And some of them are gone permanently
  • Brick Joke: Torq is now a priest of Corellon. They joked about him multiclassing to Cleric back in season one.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Torq is a half orc fighter with almost no skills... except killin' things. In this he excels.
  • Buffy Speak: Matthew has a habit of calling things "frammistats" when he can't immediately think of the word he wants. There's also a lot of terms like "fighty fighty" and "talky talky", usually from Torq's direction.
  • Camp Straight: Orem often falls into this, with him paying close attention to his appearance, and the softness of his hair.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Stephen constantly plays Orem as disdainful of Elves and condescending towards all non-Eladrin. No one seems to be disturbed by this. This is explained early in the show as a hypertrophied version of the trope when Rodrigo describes the Eladrin to Stephen for the first time: "Eladrin are to regular elves as elves are to humans."
  • Catch Phrase: The main one is Torq's "Uh... whut?", but Randus' "Indeed" is a close second.
    • In the third season we appear to have Ket's "I don't cheat; I very rarely bluff" as a new one.
    • Rodrigo often has NPC's say "I see" in response to the party's shenanigans.
    • Torq also seems to have taken a shine to "I duck." in response to any attack made against him. It usually doesn't work.
    • Trelle's Stare.
    • Rodrigo has 'Anyway' when trying to get everyone back on track.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Season 3 takes place in the goddess Erathis' City in the Astral Sea, which is definitely run by bureaucrats
  • Cliffhanger: Episodes frequently end that way
  • Combat Medic: Randus, who has a Magitek crossbow and some offensive spells.
  • Cool Airship: Thony's Proud Baroness.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Bahamut the Platinum Dragon teaming up with Gruumsh the orcish god to fight She Who Slumbers In Agony the world-destroying Eldritch Abomination. Personally and up close.
  • Critical Hit: Torq scores these often, interestingly enough, and Matthew is one of two players playing by remote. He gets paranoid that people will think he's cheating and has offered to have the DM roll for him.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Smith "suffers" from some unique side-effects of the moon nearly crashing into the Earth.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Whenever the party successfully deals with the monsters as a part of skill challenge
  • Deal with the Devil: In season three, Asmodeus tries to strike a deal with Ket, Torq, Seven Owls Wise, and Albrecht Ghostbeard. Asmodeus makes a different deal with Ket, becoming his sponsor in the Kobold Alley competition.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The End of Season 2 has our heroes defeat The Thing That Shatters the Sky.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Rodrigo says this word-for-word to Matthew on at least one occasion.
  • Dumb Muscle: Torq.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The party is tasked with averting this on at least 2 separate (though related) occasions
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Void are a group of insane, evil Gods who inhabit the Campaign World's moon, plus the countless number of creatures they create and destroy on a whim, often sending them to fight the heroes.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: There are evil gods and other antagonistic forces in the series. However, when the Void, while not technically evil, are going to destroy the world as we know it, nobody is pleased by such development, including the forces of evil.
  • The Fair Folk: All over Season 4, which takes place in the Feywild.
  • Five-Man Band: As of Season 5
  • For Science!: Evoked by Randus occasionally, and The Queen's Rebellious Daughter.
  • Forest Ranger: Trelle, friend to all nature right up until it's killing her horribly.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Trelle's interactions with all living creatures, Adriana refers to this as Trelle "Disney princessing it"
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted viciously, as per Dungeons & Dragons rules. Torq in particular has lost count of how many times he was set on fire by his allies, but he is far from the only one to be on the receiving end of an ally's area of effect spell.
    • Interestingly, Sekhar joined the Critical Hit crew with a hefty fire immunity
  • Game Master: Rodrigo, Stephen and Rob.
    • Matthew, while an old-school Game Master, has outright stated that he doesn't expect to ever run a game for Critical Hit, partially due to rules issues and partly due to trying to stand in Rodrigo's long shadow.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Randus and Thony.
  • Genre Savvy: The players, for sure. Not so much their characters.
  • God of Evil: Five of them. Interestingly enough, none of them is the Big Bad of the series.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: A big chunk of season 3 consists of this. Unusually for this trope, the allies players are trying to recruit are of less than savory kind, as the players need help of all the gods, including the evil ones, in order for their plan against the Void to succeed.
  • Good with Numbers: Rob (and by extension Ket) definitely is, and correcting the math of the other players is what he does.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Ket employs Torq as his support in this from time to time when trying to get information from others.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ket is a Half-Elf, and Torq is a 3/4 Orc (his mother was a full Orc and his father a Half-Orc).
  • Healing Factor: One of the side effects of Smith's... issues is that he regenerates while bloodied in battle. A misreading of the rules in an early fight caused it to go Up to Eleven for that fight, rendering him nigh-unkillable. Various monsters the party encounters also have regenerative capabilities
  • Healing Potion: It is a Dungeons andDragons game, after all. Potions seem less potent than the characters' own healing abilities, though
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Poor Smith Also, as of the end of season 4 Torq
  • High-Altitude Battle: With the Lunar Dargon in Episodes 27 and 28.
  • Hit Points: Since this is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, absolutely.
  • House Rules: Rodrigo has his own house rules when it comes to Skill Challenges.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The first fight with Spud. This was one of the most controversial things Rodrigo had done, with a wide range of reactions from fans. He later defended his choice, stating that you couldn't manufacture the "soul crushing defeat" he was aiming for in any other manner.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Orem.
    Orem: (drinking nectar infused with soda water) "It gives me a lot of pep, see?"
    Orem: (presenting fruit pods enchanted to hold recordings of their adventures) "Behold these pods, that I have cast."
    • When Ket gains feathers over his body the puns span multiple episodes.
  • In and Out of Character: There's a lot, especially when the guys go off on a tangent. Matthew usually does a voice for Torq, at least.
  • In-Series Nickname: Introducing the Torqletones!
  • Indy Ploy: The Torqletones are really just making it up as they go along.
  • Innocent Bystanders: Sometimes present during the fights, and add an additional complication. If they are present, expect at least a couple to get eaten
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Mother Mantis is fond of wearing a fancy Renaissance-style dress. And of tearing enemies apart with her bare hands while wearing said dress
  • Killed Off for Real: Smith at the end of season two.
  • Killed Offscreen: Bao Bel Bina dies when her ship is destroyed by She Who Slumbers in Agony. Thony dies of old age sometime before episode 239.
  • Kiss Diss: Orem shares one with an Eladrin named Simmy in episode 84.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A lot.
    Innkeeper: "Sorry, that was my lampshade going off...."
  • Last Name Basis: Ket usually addresses the characters by their last name while giving orders in battle, in a marked contrast with everybody referring to the party by their first names in other situations.
    Ket: "Thorkelson, hit it with a axe!" (too many times to count)
  • Large Ham: Matthew, Torq's player, is this 9/10ths of the time. Stephen also qualifies when playing Orem, and ESPECIALLY as a DM. GM Rodrigo has been known to ham it up a bit with some NPCs.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Torq has pulled this once or twice.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Orem, in spades
  • Lunacy: The Void is a collective of insane moon gods, which fits the trope.
  • MacGuffin: The Four-Facet Key for the first story arc.
  • Magic Knight: Orem is steadily moving in this direction, even though he remains relatively squishy
  • Magitek: While not ubiquitous throughout the setting, there is definitely some of this stuff, from Randus' crossbow and familiar to The Exilarchy of Cogs.
  • Malaproper: Torq malaprops multisyllabic words at LEAST once an episode.
  • Meaningful Echo: Orem's sword saying "Kill your Friends!" becomes painfully meaningful during the first fight with Spud.
  • Mooks: The Lizard-Monkeys, our first introduction to lunar monsters.
  • Mr. Fixit: Randus has to retool a lot of stuff, including himself which crosses over with his role as Combat Medic - just with spanners as well as syringes.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The names of some of the Lunar Gods: She Who Slumbers In Agony, The Thing That Shatters The Sky.
  • Never Live It Down: Even over 200 episodes later they keep bringing up trying to diplomacise the horses during an early skill challenge.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Orem accidentally breaking a small town's protective spell with an overuse of Prestidigation.
  • One of Us: Aside from obviously being gamers and geeks of a variety of stripes, the players often reference tropes.
    • In fact, this very page was referenced in a Q&A session.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: GM Rodrigo loves taking monsters from the books and changing what they look like in order to give them an Eldritch Abomination feel.
  • Overly Long Name: "Sekhar Avata-Sokichi of Obleea, Lord Baron in absentia of The Shores..."
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Smith goes through various states of wolf, but most notably when bloodied in battle.
  • Power Fist: Randus early on loses and arm and replaces it with a metal one, it becomes his melee weapon.
  • Pregnant Badass: The queen of the Diamond Throne will not go down without a fight
  • Previously On: "Last time on Critical Hit."
  • Professional Gambler: Ket, who gets his powers by gambling for the souls. Aside of the magical applications, gambling is his favourite pastime, but he is not addicted to it and is exceptionally good at it
  • Proud Scholar Race: The Eladrin of the Feywild, or downright snotty in case of young graduate Orem Rivendorn.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Many NPCs qualify, especially Bao Bel Bina, who functions as a helpful and competent handler for the player characters through the majority of the 3rd season.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Trelle and Ket often act as red and blue oni respectively towards each other in most of their scenes together. With Trelle favoring impulsiviness, openness and emotion vs Ket favoring caution, decorum and observation. Trelle and Kammis also fall into red oni/blue oni (with Trelle yet again being the red) to a lesser extent. Elves and eladrin in general can be seen as a case of Red Oni, Blue Oni on the scale of the nation as well
  • Religious Bruiser: Halston Thorkelson, newest anointed priest of Corellon. The cast of How The Other Third Live has those in spades too, especially Brenzin the Bold and Seven Owls Wise
  • Robot Buddy: Randus's assistant and Thony's raven.
  • Rules Lawyer: Rob is a Lawful Neutral example, pointing out all the rules that apply, all of them, whether it is to the benefit of the party or not
  • Rule of Cool: Referenced by name as the reason why the Game Master allows some things and not the others
  • Running Gag: Torq jumping out windows.
    • "Uhhhhh, funnelcake?"
    • "Listen to these pods I have cast!"
    • Matthew rolling 20's and Brian rolling like crap.
    • "That was my one."
    • "Last time on Critical Hit."
  • Shipper on Deck: Orem for his sister Kammis and Trelle.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Thony casually hands one of these to Orem. Well, it was casual until Rodrigo hung a lampshade from it.
  • Shout-Out: Considering this is a show with 5-6 nerds, pretty much every episode contains a few references to movies, whether it's something one of the players say, or something within the campaign itself. Matthew is particularly egregious.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's Randus. Not Randice, Randis, or Randace. Also, it's The Thing That Shatters the Sky, not He Who Shatters the Sky.
    • Halston Thorqelson's nickname is spelled T-O-R-Q.
    • Notably it's not just the fans who mess these up. Stephen's descriptions have contained both of these errors.
  • Straight Gay: Trelle. She used to date Orem's sister Kammis, who this trope would also apply to.
  • Taken for Granite: One of Ket's powers, which he uses in combat to sometimes great and sometimes disastrous effect. Petrification is not supposed to be permanent and usually lasts a few turns at most
  • Take Your Time: Averted rather brutally in season 4. First the party accidentally wasted several months because of the time-manipulating Greater Fey. Because of that, the party's mentor concluded that their quest is lost, and succumbed to despair, which led to his death. Which, in turn, led to his own best friend going mad with grief and almost taking over the world. Second, at one point the party has about a year to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Having to do it on tight schedule and having to decide which Side Quest to accept and which to abandon provides much tension through the season, as the party cannot afford to stop and save everyone.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: As per Dungeons & Dragons rules, it is. The characters do not usually abuse it and restrict themselves to a few shot sentences (and if they don't, then the Game Master will step in). The players, however, are another matter, with quips, references and tactics discussions spanning the majority of the combat time
  • Talking Weapon: One of Orem's swords, that he never uses well until he has to. Because all it does is tell him to kill his friends.
  • Title Drop - As the quote at the top of the page says, it's at least once an episode, plus whenever someone (Torq) scores an actual Critical Hit.
  • Tropes Are Tools: Referenced by name several times (especially by Matthew) in the question and answer sessions
  • Unexpected Successor: Orem becomes this in the eyes of Torq when Moonhold's entire town guard with the exception of Torq die.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: A rare heroic example, as it is the source of Ket's powers
  • What Measure Is An NPC: Joked about in the fight to save a bunch of panicky gnome villagers.
  • Wizarding School: The Cerulean Academy of Magic.
    • Discussed and averted with the Sha-Lai University - Orem and the party assumed that it was a Wizarding School which it was emphatically not, and in fact focused on civil engineering. Too bad that the party unwittingly led a bunch of monsters there hoping for a backup...
  • Weapon of Choice: Each of the player characters has at least one.
    • Orem: At first he uses a Magic Wand, but later decides to opt for a Cool Sword, appropriate as he's the closest thing the party has to a leader. Interestingly, he only started actually hitting people with it after some coaching by Torq.
    • Randus: A Crossbow, with lots of crazy attachments and gizmos. Lately, he's also been using his Robotic Arm as a weapon.
    • Torq: A Great Axe, fitting his status as The Big Guy.
    • Smith: Daggers, though he doesn't fit the trope as he uses them to channel his magic rather than cut people.
    • Ket: A Whip, fitting his status as a swashbuckling rogue.
    • Trelle: Uses two types of weapons; either longswords, or bows.
    • Sekhar: Duel-wields a matched pair of swords.

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