"How do you want to do this?"Critical Role is a weekly tabletop gaming-based web series. As the name suggests, it's a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, albeit with a slight twist: the dungeon master and players are all well-known voiceover artists. With a cast of talented actors playing out every role in the game, you know you're in for a good time.The game was originally a one-shot campaign developed by Matthew Mercer as a birthday present for Liam O'Brien. However, it was so well received by the group (most of whom had never played D&D before) that it grew into a regular game played on their own time for over a year, gathering more players along the way. Eventually, Matt was invited to livestream the game as part of the Geek & Sundry web channel, creating the show we know as Critical Role. While the original game was played using the Pathfinder game system, Critical Role saw the group convert to a home-ruled version of D&D 5th Edition.Proving an instant success due to the big names behind it and the charm of the show itself, Critical Role has become one of the biggest draws of Geek & Sundry programming. It has spawned a huge fandom and inspired others to try out Dungeons and Dragons for the first time, thanks to it showing just how fun and imaginative tabletop gaming can be.
—The DM, letting a player know they just landed the killing blow on a boss or equally significant opponent.
The cast is as follows:
- Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master
- Liam O'Brien as Vax'ildan, half-elven rogue and twin brother of Vex'ahlia
- Laura Bailey as Vex'ahlia, half-elven ranger and twin sister of Vax'ildan (accompanied by Trinket, her bear companion)
- Ashley Johnson as Pike Trickfoot, gnome cleric
- Travis Willingham as Grog Strongjaw, goliath barbarian
- Taliesin Jaffe as Percival "Percy" Frederickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III, human gunslinger
- Marisha Ray as Keyleth of the Air Ashari, half-elven druid
- Orion Acaba as Tiberius Stormwind, dragonborn sorcerer (Left the show after episode 29.)
- Sam Riegel as Scanlan Shorthalt, gnome bard and Taryon Darrington, human artificer (accompanied by Doty, his construct companion)
The first campaign is divided into the following eight chapters:
- Chapter 1, "Beneath the Mines of Kraghammer" (Episodes 1-16), picks up where the home game left off as the party arrives at the dwarven city of Kraghammer in search of a missing paladin. Their investigation takes them to the Greyspine Mines, from which horrendous monstrosities have been emerging to attack the city. What secret lies in the deepest, darkest and most deceptive depths of the caverns beneath Kraghammer, and can Vox Machina put a stop to it?
- Chapter 2, "Adventures in Vasselheim" (Episodes 17-23), finds Vox Machina in Vasselheim after managing to seal away an evil artifact retrieved from the depths of the Underdark. While in town, they break the laws of the city through an unsanctioned slaying of a hydra. In order to escape punishment, they must become certified members of the hunter's guild, the Slayer's Take. This season prominently features four Guest Star Party Members, played by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Felicia Day, Will Friedle and Wil Wheaton.
- Chapter 3, "Battling the Briarwoods" (Episodes 24-38), has Vox Machina learning that the Lord and Lady Briarwood are coming to their home city of Emon - and that one of their own has a very personal debt to settle with the noble couple. As it soon turns out, the Briarwoods are indeed vile, violent, and incredibly vicious. Vox Machina is soon convinced to take the fight to the villainous power couple and plan a revolution in the city of Whitestone, but just how far will they go to see that justice— or revenge— is done?
- Chapter 4, "Attack of the Conclave" (Episodes 39-56), sees the past adventures of Vox Machina begin to catch up with our heroes. As old sins become present dangers, Vox Machina finds their home city of Emon under attack by the draconic "Chroma Conclave". This has the party embark on an epic journey to gather the fabled Vestiges of Divergence and save Tal'Dorei from these fearsome foes.
- Chapter 5, "Venturing for Vestiges" (Episodes 57-69), picks up after Vox Machina's first major victory over the Chroma Conclave, but the battle is not over yet. More of the dragons still rule over the ruined cities of Tal'Dorei, and Vox Machina must continue to band together — as friends, as family, and even as something more for some — in order to find any hope in an increasingly bleak situation.
- Chapter 6, "Fall of the Chroma Conclave" (Episodes 70-84), has Vox Machina making an uneasy alliance with one of their foes, leading to a climactic showdown with the rest of the Chroma Conclave and the aftermath of what remains.
- Chapter 7, "Daring Deeds, Deals and Destinies with Vox Machina" (Episodes 85-99), has Vox Machina wrapping up what loose ends remaining as the end of their adventures draws ever nearer following a one-year Time Skip.
- Chapter 8, "The End of Vox Machina" (Episodes 100-115), has our heroes learn of a sinister threat arising in the Shadowfell: of an ancient being who would become a living god upon Exandria. The "God Wars" have begun, and Vox Machina must fight to save their entire world from a future of darkness.
Life needs Tropes to live.
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- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Episodes 20 + 21 is an example of this.
- Acting for Dozens: In-Universe, which is to say real life. As the Dungeon Master, Mercer plays a wide variety of NPC roles. Impressively, each one has a fairly distinct voice and mannerisms. A recent favourite is Victor, the crazy old man that Percy purchased gunpowder from in Vasselheim; Victor is best experienced rather than explained.
- Shortly before episode 100 aired, fansite CritRoleStats put out an infographic with various fun facts about the past 99 episodes. Over the course of those 99 episodes, Matt has apparently played five-hundred and fourty-four NPCs.
- In episode 99, Sam had to play both Scanlan and Tary when Scanlan returned to Whitestone.
- Liam and Laura often share responsibility for playing Pike, including dialogue, when Ashley can't be present.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: A lot of the episodes are well-balanced in this way. Episode 22 is a good example, because it contains Keyleth's explanation of her vision of her death, which is a heavily dramatic moment, sandwiched between two pretty epic fights.
- A Lady on Each Arm: Invoked/Parodied by Percy, Keyleth, and Vex while entering the Luck's Run Casino in Marquet. They keep it up for all of five minutes before Keyleth gets caught cheating and is literally kicked to the curb.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Let's see...
- Gilmore is in love with Vax, who ends up turning him down because he (Vax) is in love with Keyleth. Keyleth herself has been in love with Vax for a long time, but never thinks to act on those feelings. In the days after the Chroma Conclave attack, Keyleth has been getting more acclimated to Vax's companionship and seriously considered loving him. But Vex's death and Vax's deal with the Raven Queen causes the bond between them to become a lot more difficult to handle, and Keyleth finds herself unable to allow herself to love due to her fears of watching Vax and the rest of the party die, as becoming the Headmaster of the Air Ashari will effectively make her The Ageless. It's not until Episode 65 where she finally makes her choice, allowing herself to confess to Vax her true feelings for him.
- Scanlan is in love with Pike, who Ashley's playlist insinuates is in love with a not-Scanlan member of Vox Machina. He even proposed to her but rescinded the offer some time later and gave up the chase, realizing that he was more in love with the idea of Pike than Pike as an actual person.
- Tiberius was in love with Allura, who Matt's playlist insinuated had some great life-altering not-Tiberius love in the past (who may or may not have been Kima of Vord) that didn't end well since she's now living in her Ivory Tower alone and all. Things got better for Kima and Allura as they end up getting married during the Time Skip.
- Ever since receiving her first custom arrow from Percy, Vex'ahlia has been feeling something for the gunslinger due to his numerous acts of kindness, affection that she had been lacking growing up in Syngorn, but never considers telling him how she truly feels.note Percy, on the other hand, definitely has feelings for her which at times leads to said acts - creating said custom arrows, calling her his "favourite", addressing her as "dear", and even making her a noble just to help her with her confidence issues and spite her father - but he never acts on them and instead chooses to push those feelings deep down within himself because he sees himself as being unhealthy for her. Due to that, Vex and Percy flirtatiously dance around each other for over fifty episodes without making a move. In Episode 69, during Percy's resurrection ritual, Vex confirms she's in love with him despite Percy not hearing her confession, but thereafter suffers from a serious case of Cannot Spit It Out, and it's not until after he is resurrected that Percy starts truly considering reciprocation towards her. The slow burn of their relationship is resolved in Episode 72, as Percy gives Vex a Big Damn Kiss to end the episode.
- Aside from the aforementioned Vax/Keyleth, Percy/Vex, and Kima/Allura couples, the only happy reciprocated relationships we've seen were the Briarwoods, King Murghol and Queen Ulara, and the borderline case of Osysa and Kamaljiori, two sphinxes who consider each other "mates" but live across the world from each other. Even Uriel and Salda had the marital strife of Demonic Possession and, later, Uriel's death.
- All There in the Manual: Since the campaign had been running for two years prior to streaming, everything from small details to major plot elements are explained somewhere outside the recorded shows, as are backstory elements of the characters themselves. Some questions have been answered either on Twitter or in the Q&A episodes, and the group also did an online summary.
- The Tal'Dorei campaign guide naturally has a ton of info about the setting not explored in the show.
- Ancient Artifacts: The Vestiges of Divergence, powerful weapons and armour pieces from a previous epoch. After the Chroma Conclave attack, Vox Machina learn that these devices may hold the key to defeating the dragons. Initially only knowing where two of them are, they head out to find out where the rest may be found. As of Episode 76, all of their Vestiges have been retrieved: the Deathwalker's Ward for Vax, Mythcarver for Scanlan, the Titanstone Knuckles for Grog, Fenthras, Wrath of the Feywarden for Vex, Cabal's Ruin for Percy, Whisper for Vax, the Spire of Conflux for Keyleth, and the Plate of the Dawnmartyr for Pike. In fact, they can be awakened or exalted for even more power.
- And I Must Scream: Implied to be the fate of the victims of Orthax. When Percy is killed by Ripley in Episode 68, he spends twenty-four hours trapped by Orthax as the shadow demon feasts upon his soul. After he's freed and revived, he reveals it was not a pleasant experience, and he has no sense of how much time has passed.
- Grog temporarily gets his soul stuck in a gem in the last episode due to a bad deck draw.
- Anyone Can Die: Absolutely. Matt has no qualms about killing players, if that's where the dice fall. In fact, all of the original eight members of Vox Machina have died at least once during the campaign, though all but one have been brought back. The best part is that Matt is actually a Nice Guy, so he always feels both really bad about it and really relieved that they lived afterwards.Matt: (to Pike) I was so worried you were going to die again!Matt: (after Grog's resurrection) Stop dying!
- Art Evolution: The character avatars are given an upgrade in episode 32. Kit Buss discussed how much she's improved on drawing them in 6 months.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: During the Trial of the Take arc, Kashaw gives one to Vax.Kashaw: Oh, you have a sister?Vax: I have a twin, yes.Kashaw: What does she look like?Vax: (points at himself)Kashaw: Oh...
- Though to be fair, fraternal twins (which a brother and sister would be) aren't any more likely to look very much like each other than other siblings, aside from being the same age.
- The Atoner: All of Vox Machina (save Percy) in Episode 26, after they realize their actions in Episode 25 may have been getting too brash. Scanlan even lampshades it, pointing out that their foes are getting good treatment because they're trying to be nicer.
- Audience Participation: Occasionally Mercer will open a poll up to the live audience allowing them to vote on what enemy the group will face, such as the boss in episode 8.
- It came back with a vengeance in episode 18, causing a legit double take from Percy when he read that their trial bounty head is an adult white dragon.
- Both of the Slayer's Take contracts were determined this way. The Behir they face in episode 28 was the loser of one of these polls.
- The second part of the Vox Moronica adventure had an interesting variation — $500 donations changed where the story would go, though Zac implied afterwards that a lot of them were from the moderators.
- Following up on a promise from a charity stream, Matt held a special livestream during which he worked with the Twitch chat to create an NPC and a battle encounter for the show. The results were K'ryyn the drow baker/bounty hunter, who wanted to bring Taryon home and is linked somehow with a ziggurat, and Symphior the tiny celestial, who had high charisma and used terrain-based abilities.
- Badass Baritone: Thorbir and Grog. Matt sometimes puts one on for villains, such as Sylas Briarwood.
- Badass Beard:
- Sam had one up until Episode 9. True, it doesn't make him any less badass, but the audience did mention it looked weird not seeing him without one. He grew one again starting in Episode 37. It's also been stated in the chat room that with his beard he bears an uncanny resemblance to Tim Curry.
- In-game, Grog is trying so hard to grow one, with the help of a magical belt. A true feat, as goliaths have no body hair. Once he grows it, it stays for the rest of the story.
- Thorbir the Dwarven Fighter, by default.
- Kerrek has one in the style of his player's.
- Badass Boast: Remarkably common. The most frequent users of them are Grog, Tiberius and Percy.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Episode 80. Raishan escapes alive with Thordak's corpse and two of the dragon eggs, with Vex and Scanlan both temporarily dying due to the fight, Keyleth nearly dying instantly from falling in a river of lava, and the entire party overall having been thoroughly outmatched despite their numbers against her.
- Episode 102 — Vecna is revived successfully, and upon realizing they have no chance against him Vox Machina Plane Shifts to the Feywild.
- It seems like Episode 24 is all set to be a confrontation with the Briarwoods. Instead, the entire first half is just Vox Machina screwing around in the week leading up to their arrival. Episode 25, however, makes the wait worth it.
- In Episode 43, Matt makes it sound like the party will be saddled with proving their worth to a champion of Bahamut that they've never met. Then Lady Kima knocks him out from behind, and insists that she'll go with them instead.
- Guest star Arkhan (played by Joe Manganiello) prepares to destroy the hand of Vecna after the final fight. No, wait- he cuts off his own hand and attaches Vecna's to it, then teleports away, setting up the possibility of a future villain for the next campaign to face.
- Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Vex's companion, Trinket. Well, unless you're one of the party's enemies.
- Big Bad: K'varn, for the first arc. Thordak for the fourth, as it's made clear he's the de-facto leader of the Chroma Conclave.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Lord and Lady Briarwood, in the third arc.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Hotis and Rimefang (a Rakshasa and a White Dragon) serve as the two "final bosses" of the Vasselheim arc for when the group is split and share no other connection.
- Big Damn Kiss: There are a lot of friendly or funny kisses on this show, but at least three are played as romantic and dramatic enough to warrant the title:
- In Episode 21, Kashaw kisses Keyleth as he leaves the Slayer's Take.
- Episode 33 sees Vax kissing Keyleth after he nearly dies during the fight with Professor Anders, complete with an abrupt Love Confession.
- Episode 72 has Percy kiss Vex right as the episode ends.
- Big Eater: All the players to an extent, but Orion/Tiberius actually streamed buying doughnuts from a Krispy Kreme nearby the studio.
- Bittersweet Ending: Vox Machina defeats Vecna after a long and hard battle, saving the world. However because the group couldn't find a way around Vax's deal with the Raven Queen, Vax dies for real, and Arkhan had attached Vecna's hand to his body and gotten away, with Matt already confirming that the story will have a follow-up down the road. On the bright side, most of members of Vox Machina get a happy ending to some degree, including Pike and Scanlan finally getting together, and Vex and Percy having children. It's bittersweet for fans as well, who've watched 115 episodes and now have to say goodbye to Vox Machina.
- Black Comedy: After coming across The Sun Tree in episode 28, where the Briarwoods hung seven people (and a bear) who look like the team from the tree, using a child to represent Scanlan, Sam's question? "Was he handsome?" (He didn't realize he was talking about a kid until Matt pointed it out, after which Sam's reaction says it all.)
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Pike, Vex and Keyleth respectively - also, Ashley, Laura, and Marisha, since their hair colors match those of their characters.
- Bolivian Army Ending: In Episode 78, Zahra and Kashaw stay behind to fight two fire giants and elementals so that Vox Machina can get into Thordak's lair unimpeded.
- Arkhan stays behind to fight a Death Knight in episode 113, which he beats in time to join the others in the fight against Vecna the next episode.
- Book Ends:
- Episode 16 is Keyleth's first mention of the Fire Ashari, and is the episode where Pike leaves the party. In Episode 22, Pike returns and Keyleth completes the Fire Ashari's trial.
- Episode 17 is when the party remains in Vasselheim and Grog has a match with the current champion of the Braving Grounds and loses. In Episode 23, Grog has a rematch with the champion and wins, and they finally leave Vasselheim and return to Emon.
- Before leaving Emon, in Episode 14, Percy tells the council to keep him notified if the Briarwoods should return to the city in order to "surprise" them. Upon returning to Emon in Episode 23, Percy's notified that the Briarwoods are indeed returning within a week, and thus he begins planning for his "surprise". In Episode 15, immediately after he learns about the Briarwoods, Percy mentions that he's thinking of making a tazing implement. He finally builds an electro-gauntlet named "Diplomacy" in Episode 24, which is the episode in which the Briarwoods arrive. The first time he uses Diplomacy in a fight is against Sylas Briarwood in Episode 34, which is also the Episode where both Briarwoods are defeated, although Delilah doesn't die until Episode 35. The next time he uses it in a fight is against Kynan Leore, during a fight with the last person on his List, Dr. Ripley.
- In Episode 35, in Whitestone, Vax decides to give Keyleth the time she needs so that she can determine her answer as to whether or not she can allow herself to love due to her fear. In Episode 65, in Whitestone, Keyleth finally gives her answer and admits that she loves Vax, that her fears were ultimately unfounded due to being based on a future not set in stone yet.
- In Episode 42, Vox Machina ultimately abandons Emon to search for allies and the Vestiges of the Divergence so they can defeat the Chroma Conclave. In Episode 78, they return to Emon much more powerful than before to finally take the fight to Thordak himself.
- The episode immediately preceding the Chroma Conclave arc is called "A Musician's Nostalgia" and has Scanlan deal with the discovery he has a daughter. The episode immediately following the Chroma Conclave arc is titled "A Bard's Lament" and is another Scanlan focus episode, where he dramatically leaves Vox Machina to spend time with his daughter.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In episode 45, Grog asks a sleep-deprived Percy if he'd like a coffee or an enema, followed by Keyleth suggesting a "coffee-enema".
- Breather Episode:
- The lighthearted D&D tutorial episode came between the battle with K'Varn and Clarota turning on Vox Machina, forcing them to escape Yug'Voril. After the latter came another breather episode, half of which was spent shopping.
- Episode 36 was a well deserved breather from the very dark Whitestone arc, and doubled as a Christmas episode.
- Episode 43 provides some much needed relief after the Chroma Conclave destroys Emon. The party has arrived in Vasselheim and encounters some old friends, and hilarity ensues.
- Episode 56 is right off the heels of the climactic fight with Umbrasyl, the ancient black dragon lording over Westruun, and is noticeably less tense than the previous few episodes.
- Episode 65 picks up right after the events of the previous episode which detailed the aftermath of the destruction of Draconia and the discovery and burial of Tiberius Stormwind. Right out of the starting gate, we have a Love Confession and a Relationship Upgrade, some lighthearted infighting between Vax and Grog, and the party's long-awaited journey to Marquet in search of the next Vestige. Aside from plot moments, utter hilarity ensues throughout including a walk of shame, Scanlan seeking a "drug deal", and Keyleth and Percy getting instantly day-drunk due to sampling a local drink.
- Episode 72 is the first real break after Percy's death and the subsequent fight against Vorugal and involves a lot of looting of shiny objects, Vax getting drunk on Scanlan's wine, Keyleth turning into an elephant and wrecking part of Scanlan's magnificent mansion, and it all ends with a long-time-coming Big Damn Kiss between Percy and Vex.
- Episode 81 serves as a welcome respite from the battles with Thordak and Raishan before Vox Machina moves on to finish things with the Diseased Deceiver. Cards are drawn, drugs are smoked, surprises happen in the bath, and a haircut is given.
- Episode 95 begins with a one-year time skip after completing the Aramente and ending Hotis for good. The entire second hour is spent detailing Beach Episode shenanigans, notably Vax's Shakespearean "exit pursued by a bear", then Pike's family visits and starts making their own messes.
Vex: I should have told you. It's yours.
- In episode 19, Grog goes into a Rage to counteract Rimefang the white dragon's fear-inducing roar, encouraged to kill a dragon like Pike did, referring to when the cleric killed a dragon of the same ilk some time prior to the start of the stream.
- Also, in the same episode, Scanlan masquerading as "Burt Reynolds" gets one as well.
- Tiberius "encourages violence" in Episode 6, which leads to Grog absolutely slaughtering a duregar torturer. In Episode 23, Tiberius "encourages violence" again, and Grog immediately charges off to face another opponent - Kern the Hammer.
- Vox Machina has used the codeword "Jenga" four times to indicate that something's going horribly wrong. Vax first does it after being caught by the Briarwoods in Episode 25, again in Episode 33 when he sees Professor Anders about to slit Cassandra de Rolo's throat, again in Episode 55 when he ends up bumping into the invisible form of Umbrasyl the Hope Devourer, and again in Episode 58 when he found himself cornered and without his usual armament against a reincarnated Hotis.
- The boss of episode 44 is a Beholder. Cue Mass "Oh, Crap!".
- In Episode 42, before leaving Greyskull Keep behind after their failed negotiation with the Clasp, Vax goes to Keyleth's door saying that he doesn't want to be alone for the night, and then she lets him in after saying that she feels the same way. Then in Episode 64, after mourning the death of Tiberius, it's Keyleth who goes to Vax's door in Castle Whitestone, asking if she could spend the night with him, and then he lets her in without a word.
- Vex refuses Saundor's offer in Episode 63 because her "heart is someone else's". In Episode 69, she reveals who it is when she speaks to Percy during his resurrection ritual:
- In Episode 44, Percy uses shards of residuum (condensed whitestone) to aid in bringing back Vex'ahlia when she died, although his attempt fails. And then, in Episode 69, Vex does the same for him during his resurrection ritual (and even confesses to him and kisses him) and succeeds with a Natural 20.
- In Episode 42, before abandoning Greyskull Keep, Percy assures a distraught Vex that they will return home one day. And in Episode 78, they do return.
- Episode 89 is full of these during Vax's resurrection ritual:
- Vex'ahlia brings up the battle with K'Varn in the Underdark in Episode 11 and the book she obtained that is about the Raven Queen and her feud with Orcus in Episode 44 in addition to the deal her brother made to spare her life.
- Keyleth brings up her hand to match the scar of her handprint that she placed on Vax's back in Episode 42, mentions the promise she and Vax made to return to Zephra together in Episode 81, and even echoes his original confession to her from Episode 33: "You know I'm in love with you, right?"
- Grog reminds Vax of what he had said to him in Episode 25: "No one kills you but me." He also remembers Vax saying how much he loves Grog in Episode 84, and replies in kind, "I love you, too."
- The Caper: The one-shot adventure The Screw Job, created by Liam O'Brien has this as its premise.
- Caper Crew: Of course, the players in said Caper fall into these roles.
- Tarvis serves as The Mastermind, and the Coordinator, being the leader of the group, and the one in charge of directing everyone else to their roles.
- Obby the Rat is The Partner in Crime, and The Pickpocket. He's fiercely loyal to Tarvis, and handles most of the steady-handed tasks.
- Delweth is The Burglar, being the one in charge of checking for locks and traps. She might also count as a fantasy equivalent of Gadget Girl due to frequent use of her Mage Hand.
- Though not exactly new to The Clasp per se, Dren fills the role of The New Kid, as she seems to be the least experienced member of the group and is the one taken least seriously by the others.
- Devan (The only party member who is not one of The Clasp) is The Inside Man, being the granddaughter of The Mark, and therefore knowing her way around the manor. She also tends to be the first one sent into potentially dangerous areas to trigger any traps the group happens to miss, making her double as The Fall Guy.
- On the NPC's side, Spireling Shenn is The Backer, being the person the team is ultimately working for.
- See the page quote above. "How do you want to do this?" is the line Mercer delivers whenever someone finishes off a particularly tricky opponent. He then follows up with a beautifully-detailed description of the kill.
- Matt also occasionally says, "You can certainly try," when the party wants to pull off something tricky (or ridiculous).
- Also from Matt "Perhaps" multiple times per episode, there's actually a drinking game based heavily on him saying this.
- Occasionally forgotten, but starting once the show found its stride, Matt signs out with a wink and the Critters' rallying cry: "Is it Thursday yet?"
- Grog's "I would like to rage", stated with varying degrees of emphasis depending on the situation at hand. Occasionally modified, replacing 'rage' with some other action.
- "Hi! I'm Tiberius Stormwind, from Draconia!" for... well, you know. The current record is eight times within a single session, five of those within the span of eight minutes.
- See the page quote above. "How do you want to do this?" is the line Mercer delivers whenever someone finishes off a particularly tricky opponent. He then follows up with a beautifully-detailed description of the kill.
- Central Theme:
- Family. Both the one you're born with and the one you make of your friends and loved ones matter, and only misery and solitude await those who shun both.
- Vengeance as a concept is a deeply flawed one that only serves to make monsters of people who seek it. The true path to redemption lies in turning away before you become what you hate.
- Character Alignment: For each member of the group, according to the second Q&A session.
- Vax: Chaotic Good
- Vex: Neutral Good until Episode 46, at which point she shifts to Chaotic Neutral after selfishly stealing a flying broom from a friendly guest. In episode 75 she shifts again to Chaotic Good, with her display of sympathy towards a pair of aasimar slaves being the act that finally causes the change.
- Pike: Chaotic Good
- Grog: Chaotic Neutral
- Percy: Chaotic Good
- Keyleth: Neutral Good
- Tiberius: Chaotic Neutral (changed from Chaotic Good after Episode 25, when he uses an improvised telekinetic buzzsaw to execute an enemy who had already been rendered unconscious by Scanlan's casting of eyebite while she was attempting to flee. An old woman at that.)
- Scanlan: Neutral Good
- As for non-player characters, K'varn is, unsurprisingly, Chaotic Evil according to his character sheet. Kevdak, Grog's uncle, is Neutral Evil, and according to a brief glimpse of Matt's notes in a DM Tips video, Saundor is Lawful Evil.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- In episode 2, Travis mentions a stash of platinum in the Bag of Holding he forgot about. 12 episodes later, he puts it to proper use at Gilmore's.
- In episode 22, Grog ends up trading a lot of dragon pieces for a potion of Stone Giant Strength (he actually trades more than what the peddler asked for, much to the chagrin and frustration of Vex'ahlia). In the next episode, it proves to be the right choice in hindsight since it gives Grog a boost in strength so that he could take on "The Hammer" in a rematch and win! Bonus points; the team actually gains (after bets were placed) 1,570 gold from the whole convoluted exchange.
- Remember the reward that was promised in Episode 2 in Kraghammer if Vox Machina had solved their little monster problem? They finally go back to get it in episode 24.
- Clarota's metal skullcap is first mentioned in Episode 3. It comes back in Episode 27, when Vax gets it magically identified at Gilmore's. Turns out it protects the wearer from mental influence which is useful, considering that Vox Machina is heading out to face vampires.
- Similarly, Sherrie identifies a potion that Scanlan picked up "like a year ago" as a potion of fire breath in Episode 24. In Episode 31, Scanlan is charged with burning down a house in Whitestone as a distraction. He has no fire spells, but at the last minute, he remembers the potion of fire breath and uses it to torch the house (and a couple of guards).
- In Episode 3, the party takes a Wand of Magic Missiles off a defeated duergar, which goes into Scanlan's inventory and is apparently forgotten until it is finally put to use for the first time in Episode 30.
- Vex takes a Potion of Flying from Doctor Anna Ripley once they arrive at her room in Castle Whitestone. Said potion gets used in Episode 34 which helped in surviving the acid trap beneath the castle and against the Briarwoods in conjuction with her Skirmisher Stealth skill. It lasts long enough to finish the battle — until the failed ritual in the Ziggurat resulted in an anti-magic black hole that instantly nullifies the effect of the potion, resulting in her falling.
- Pike retrieves a necklace from her room in her house in Westruun in Episode 53 and later gives it to Percy in Episode 58. Said necklace's function is triggered in Episode 68 when Percy is shot dead and is revived, causing the necklace to shatter. It doesn't save him the second time, though.
- In Episode 96, Taryon gives Vex a coin with Revivify cast into it. It's not needed in the next battle, but comes in very, very handy in the next episode, when Keyleth tries to swan dive dramatically off a cliff and dies instantly, and Vex is the only one who sees this happen and the only one with any chance of getting to her body before the tides wash it away.
- Chekhov's Gunman:
- Episode 14 makes a passing mention of something connected to one of the backstories: the Briarwoods — who had killed Percy's family — had recently passed through Emon. Percy picks up on this and tells the person responsible to keep him updated. He gets one in episode 23.
- Dr. Dranzel, Scanlan's mentor, was mentioned in another backstory and makes a proper appearance in episode 37.
- In Episode 39, when Thordak appears, Vox Machina realize that most of them narrowly stealthed past the exact same dragon in the Fire Plane during episode 22.
- Hotis, the Rakshasa that Vax slays in Episode 21, returns in a very sinister way in Episode 57 to exact his revenge on the rogue.
- Vox Machina fanboy Kynan from episode 23 returns in episode 68... but allied with Dr. Ripley. Orthax has also formed a pact with Ripley, and is bent on revenge.
- Kynan becomes a literal gunman in Whitestone as one of its riflemen.
- Chekhov's Skill: Just before the party heads off to Whitestone to take on the Briarwoods, Vex asks Seeker Asum to teach her a new skill. He does so and teaches her how to use Skirmisher Stealth. She puts said skill into practice against the Briarwoods in Episode 34 in conjunction with a Potion of Flying.
- Citadel City: Vasselheim, the ancient city of faith, is extremely well fortified.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Kashaw and Keyleth have a talk about their First Kiss. Kashaw states that while he was glad it happened, he was sorry that he stole it. Keyleth in kind informs him that he didn't have to apologize, and that she didn't want to hurt him, emotionally.
- Clear My Name: The third arc begins with Vox Machina attacking the Briarwoods, a pair of villains with good publicity, at "their" castle and murdering an old woman, and as a result they are ejected from the Council of Tal'dorei and placed under surveillance. They're not actually arrested or exiled, but their reputation certainly needs some work. Uriel apologizes for the whole mess and returns the team's status in episode 37, though Percy, the guy who wanted the Briarwoods dead to begin with, admits that they had acted a bit rashly themselves.
- Co-Dragons: Now with literal dragons! It seems that the other members of the Chroma Conclave report to the ancient red dragon Thordak the Cinder King. There are three such subordinates: Vorugal, an ancient white dragon; Umbrasyl, an ancient black; and Raishan, an ancient green.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: When the group finally finds Lady Kima, it seems she's been subjected to this for longer than any living being should have to endure. Impressively, she's not only still alive but has plenty of fire left in her.
- Percy does this to a servant by shooting off a few of his fingers in Episode 25.
- Combat Sadomasochist: Kern, the Vasselheim pit fighting champion, positively enjoys getting his face smashed in by Grog. Just as much as he enjoys returning the favor.
- Companion Show: The infamous Talks Machina, hosted by Brian W. Foster on Twitch and Alpha. Brian and the cast are great friends in real life, and he is dating Ashley Johnson (Pike Trickfoot), so the show has an incredibly informal atmosphere. Viewers on Twitch can ask questions of the guests regarding the previous episode of Critical Role, and Alpha subscribers get an extra section at the end dubbed Talks Machina After Dark in which they can ask their own questions. Many revelations about character intentions and motivations have been revealed on Talks. It even has a similar sign-off - "Don't worry, it's almost Thursday" to match Matt's "Is it Thursday yet?" on the main show.
- Convection Schmonvection: Vox Machina hangs out next to rivers of lava throughout the Kraghammer arc without issue. Vax actually gets lava splashed on his foot and survives.
- Cool Shades: Travis Willingham dons a great pair while Grog is catatonic in the third episode.
- Corpsing: With this group, there's no way it won't happen.
Liam/Vax: I'm going to stand over here and fail to keep in character!
- Special props when Rimefang was addressing Burt Reynolds.
- Everyone during Percy's encounter with Victor the black powder merchant. Happens again when he returns in episode 43, which is immediately lampshaded.
- Everyone again during Gilmore's first entrance.
- Episode 30 took place shortly before Halloween. Everyone wore costumes which spawned many a case of the giggles, at one point Liam O'Brien had to hold his turn in battle because he was laughing too hard to play.
- Episode 35 is one of the best examples. Near the end, Keeper Yennin is giving a heartfelt speech when Ashley brushes against her mike. Matt as Keeper Yennin passes the noise off as a fart and everyone except Taliesin loses it one by one until even Matt can't keep a straight face.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Shale (Chris Perkins) and Jayne (Liam O'Brien), along with about half of Matt's characters.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Matt grants the HDYWTDT to the entire group when they kill Anna Ripley, in vengeance for Percy's death. Keyleth strings her up with vines, Vax cuts off her arm, Scanlan carves the de Rolo crest into her forehead, Vex shoots her through the heart and in the mouth, and Grog slices her in half.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Four in favor of the party:
- Episode 18, the group blows through an ambush of orcs with minimal effort. This is also the battle where Percy rolls three crits in two turns. The dice were very much in their favour that day.
- Episode 25, they slaughter The Broker and his cronies after taking barely any damage.
- Episode 29, the group ambushes Sir Stonefell in his home - which means Vox Machina gets a full round of attacks before their enemies can do anything, and they wreak havoc.
- Episode 41, Vox Machina fights off looters raiding the ruins of Gilmore's shop after the Chroma Conclave destroyed Emon. Poor bastards never stood a chance.
- Episode 102, has Vox Machina on the receiving end of one of these. Vecna utterly trounces the party when they confront him in the Shadowfell. He first casts Hold Person to paralyze nearly half of the party, uses Power Word Kill and Disintegrate to instantly kill Vex (later revivified) and turn Vax to ash respectively, nearly kills Pike when he tries to use Disintegrate on her (and she would have died were it not for her armor) and all the while barely taking any damage, and able to dispel several of their powerful spells with barely any effort. Vox Machina quickly realized that they stood no chance against him, and plane shift to the Feywild the moment the opportunity presents itself. The only reason they succeed is because Scanlan was able to counter Vecna's Counterspell, and even then they left with Vax still a pile of dust.
- Darkest Hour: Arguably, they've had two:
- Episode 39, narratively speaking, in which the Chroma Conclave arrive to take over Tal'Dorei. Cities are destroyed, thousands of people (including some vital allies) are dead, and the path to defeating the dragons and reclaiming their home is unclear. The next thirty-plus episodes are spent dragging themselves out of this situation.
- Episode 68, emotionally speaking. Anna Ripley, assisted by Orthax, attacks the party, nearly causes a TPK, and kills Percy. Vox Machina defeats Ripley, but they are hundreds of miles away from anyone who could resurrect Percy, and unlike Vex and Grog, who are resurrected almost immediately, Percy is still dead by the episode's end.
- Episode 102, which makes sense since it's the start of the Grand Finale. Vecna is reborn and utterly trounces Vox Machina. Killing Vex, disintegrating Vax, and trying multiple times to do the same to Pike. Our heroes have no choice but to flee.
- Dead Man Writing:
- In Episode 50, Scanlan gives Pike a note, saying to only open and read it if he should die. Pike reads it the moment Scanlan is out of sight. It's not revealed what it says, but judging from Ashley Johnson's reaction, it was emotionally powerful.
- Having predicted his demise at the hands of Anna Ripley, Percy has a note on his person for the rest of the party.
- Vax's note to Vex, hidden in his armor: "Take these wings and fly." Also, his letter to Scanlan in Episode 81, which basically said, "You were right".
- Death Is Cheap: Averted. In the campaign, when characters die, as opposed to simply spending money for the required components, each usage of resurrection magic is treated differently with a DC being assigned to represent how difficult it would be to bring the soul back, the use of money still being a factor. Matt Mercer has posted his variant on resurrection rules here.
- Did They or Didn't They?: In Episode 42 Vax calls at Keyleth's door at night saying he doesn't want to spend the night alone, and is let in. That's all we ever see. It's certainly implied they had sex, but we may never know for sure. The end of Episode 64 is set up as a Did They or Didn't They? cliffhanger, but Episode 65 immediately starts with Keyleth telling Vax she's ready to love him, and Vax tackle-hugging her onto the bed.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A comedic example in episode 10. Tiberius' response to Vax giving him a silly nickname is to cast a silence spell on him.
- Down to the Last Play:
- The pit brawl between Grog and Kurn the Hammer in episode 16 goes down to the last hit point. Kurn wins, largely because Travis Forgot About His Powers and Matt didn't.
- Happens again in Episode 23 during their rematch where Grog wins this time!
- Dragon Rider: Several of them in episode 15.
- Due to the Dead: Vox Machina gives Tiberius a burial in the ruins of Draconia in Episode 64 after finding his frozen and impaled corpse outside of Vorugal's lair.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Most of Vox Machina, save Tiberius and Vax. Vex/Percy and Scanlan/Pike marry, Grog lives with his two best friends, Keyleth continues to lead her people and eventually becomes one with the land, and Tary not only fixes his family's name but he also finds Lawrence.
- Epic Fail: In Episode 29, due to several very poor rolls, when the group of Percy, Vax and Scanlan try to enter the temple of Pelor through the front door (prevented from being opened only by a simple, if large, bar of wood) they spend several minutes trying to open it. In the process, Scanlan actually gets injured and also wastes three spells before the door is finally opened.
- Everyone Can See It: A more literal example than usual. Every member of Vox Machina is present when Vex confesses her love for Percy during his resurrection ritual. This means that everyone knows about her feelings except him. Though Percy does later admit to Vex that he heard her as well, which was why he reciprocated by acting on his feelings for her.
- Exact Words: Garmelie wants "a piece of a Syngorn threshold crest", meaning a fragment of the magical devices that allows the whole city to travel between the Material Plane and the Feywild, but never explicitly specifying it as such. What Percy gives him is a pice of a crest which Keyleth molded out of the threshold of the door to their guest room in Syngorn, using the Stone Shape spell. Much to Garmelie's dismay, he has to accept this deal as fulfilled.
- Facepalm: The reaction of Taliesin/Percy to... pretty much everything that the others do.
- Failed a Spot Check: With a Rogue and Ranger in the party constantly scouting ahead and checking traps, you wouldn't think this would happen at all... Vex suddenly dies from a trap from the Raven Queen protecting its legendary armor in episode 44 when Percy interrupts her while she's checking for traps.
- Family of Choice: Invoked. Vax refers to Vox Machina as family on many occasions, and most of the players have very few others to turn to. Vex, Vax, Keyleth and Scanlan have Missing Moms; Grog has been exiled from his Goliath clan; Pike only ever mentions her grandfather; and Percy's entire family is dead. (Tiberius still has siblings and both parents, but he would doubtlessly agree with Vax's chosen term.)
- Fantastic Racism: Grog experiences this first-hand from the refugees in Episode 48. Somewhat understandable, since their city had been ransacked and occupied by a horde of Goliaths very recently.
- Once it was discovered she was a Tiefling, Sovereign Uriel didn't really speak of Lillith kindly. It's probable it was partly because she had been disguised as one of the castle servants in her attempt to evade her sisters though.
- The tailless Ravenite Dragonborns were enslaved under the tailed Draconians until the fall of their country.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Percy is the only character seen with a gun, which he designed and built himself. Eventually, Dr. Ripley copies his invention, and sells his designs to a handful of other tinkerers.
- The Farmer and the Viper: The Fire Ashari are on the receiving end of this with a young woman they took in as one of their own. She was actually Raishan, the ancient green dragon, using them to get close to the Fire Plane and free Thordak.
- Fingore: A couple of examples:
- Percy shoots the fingers clean off the Briarwood's carriage driver's hand in Episode 25.
- Keyleth gets her hand crushed by a roc in Episode 26.
- Finish Dialogue in Unison: The infamous "Hello, I'm Tiberius Stormwind! I'm from Draconia." line was repeated so much that Sam and Marisha would finish it in conjunction with Orion.
- 5 Bad Band: During the Briarwood arc we have Delilah Briarwood as the Big Bad and Sylas Briawood as The Dragon, with Sir Kourian Stonefell as The Brute, Dr. Anna Ripley as the Evil Genius, and Professor Anders as the Dark Chick.
- Forgot About His Powers:
- Travis had never used Grog's Goliath racial ability Stone's Endurance, allowing him to shrug off up to 16 points of damagenote before episode 22. It costs him against both K'varn (though fortunately not permanently) and Kern the Hammer.
- Also occasionally happens with the rest of the party as well - Laura constantly forgets to use Hunter's Mark and Taliesin, once Percy learns it, keeps forgetting to use Hex. Sam has also been known to forget to direct Scanlan's bardic spells through his Handcone of Clarity, which would make them more effective.
- A pre-series example in the form of General Kreig who the party eventually discovered to be the Blue Dragon, Brimscythe. A secret cavern connected to Kreig's home contained a room with four strange orbs which seemed to be some kind of communication devices. More than a year later, the players (and the audience) learn just who Kreig was speaking to: The Chroma Conclave, an alliance of ancient Chromatic Dragons.
- Episode 8 has Lady Kima drop the first syllable of Thordak's name before stopping herself and saying referring to him as "that scourge dragon when talking about how long she knew Alura.
- While it may or may not have been planned, Vax'ildan has been shown to possess a strangely powerful connection to the Gods. This begins cropping up as early as the Whitestone arc where he utilizes a symbol of Sarenrae sewn into his glove to summon an avatar of Pike. Later, after the party acquires the Deathwalker's Ward, his Sarenrae symbol cracks and the Raven Queen begins to take particular interest in him. This leads to his eventual acceptance of his fate as the Queen's champion, coupled with a multi-classing into Paladin.
- Matt's unusually downcast demeanour when the group goes to Draconia, Keyleth being unable to scry on Tiberius in Episode 64, as well as the fact that Lockheed isn't with him, are all signs that he's dead. If you watch their faces, about half the party figures it out - most obviously Laura.
- Seeker Asum's story when he returns to the party in Whitestone after the attack of the Chroma Conclave has a few holes in it. Namely, he mentions the name of a minor character ( Brom Goldhand) who is confirmed to be dead and speaks as if they are alive, and also claims to have taken a teleportation circle to Whitestone when there are no teleportation circles in the city. It's because Asum, at this point, is actually Raishan in disguise. Oh, and Brom Goldhand is actually Not Quite Dead.
- A pre-series example in the form of General Kreig who the party eventually discovered to be the Blue Dragon, Brimscythe. A secret cavern connected to Kreig's home contained a room with four strange orbs which seemed to be some kind of communication devices. More than a year later, the players (and the audience) learn just who Kreig was speaking to: The Chroma Conclave, an alliance of ancient Chromatic Dragons.
- For Want of a Nail: As of Episode 35, it looks like Percy's whole backstory and the entire Whitestone Arc happened for one reason: Sylas Briarwood died, and Delilah made a deal with Vecna to resurrect him. The price of that deal was conducting the ritual under Whitestone, so had that deal not been made, the Briarwoods would have had no reason to seek out the ziggurat, and the de Rolos would still be alive.
- Fortune Teller: Percy, Vex and Keyleth visit one in Ank'Harel. He's a card reader, and he makes four predictions for them, all of them laden with juicy Foreshadowing:
- Percy asks after Cabal's Ruin first. The fortune-teller says the garment in question is "moving". This is because Anna Ripley has taken it from its previous owner, and she's sailing North for Glintshore.
- Percy then says they are searching for the man who has Cabal's Ruin. The fortune-teller claims it is not a man they seek. They're looking for a woman. At first, it appears to be Mistress Asharu, but eventually it's revealed to be Dr. Ripley.
- Then, Percy asks more generally about the "inevitable conflict" they run towards. This one hasn't really occurred yet, but the fortune teller claims "the path will change".
- Finally, Vex asks if she "made the right choice" in refusing Saundor. The fortune-teller says she created an opportunity for "unity and a new dawn," and turns over a card depicting a sun rising over a mountain range. It's possible this refers to her relationship with Percy. In Episode 72, she explains that Percy's decision to forgive Ripley led Vex to try and forgive herself for her shortcomings, and others for their betrayals, which had been bothering her since speaking with Saundor (making this a "new dawn" for her as a character). In the same scene, Percy kisses her, ending many, many episodes of romantic tension with a new kind of "unity". In addition, the symbols of the sun and the mountains are recurring motifs of Whitestone and the de Rolo family. In this case, unlike the others, it seems that Matt merely predicted where their subplot could lead, instead of giving hints towards answers he already had.
- Funny Background Event:
- Episode 9 has a Call-Back on the blackboard that refers to Scanlan pooping on the bed from a few episodes before.
- In episode 10, the blackboard says Hunter's Mark to remind Laura/Vex'ahlia to use her ability of the same name.
- As Scanlan talks about his fondness for hats in Episode 60, the rest of the group mimes putting on their various hats behind him.
- Forgotten Birthday: At the end of episode 15, on the part of the VA who had one coming up in a few days. Cue a completely blindsided Dungeon Master.
- Gargle Blaster: In Episode 65, Grog purchases two bottles of highly expensive alcohol from a merchant in Ank'harel, but lets Percy and Keyleth have the first sips. The effects are powerful, to say the least. Grog is later horrified to learn that the it's made using excreted fluids from an ankheg (a giant, acid-spewing insect), and decides to hold off on drinking it himself.
- Genki Girl: While all of the players are geeks (and thus pretty excitable), Laura definitely takes the cake, and it sometimes bleeds through to her character, Vex'ahlia.
- Gladiator Games: The first half of Episode 17 was Grog challenging Kern in a pit fight. The first half of Episode 23 is the rematch.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: The divine pantheon of Exandria essentially work this way, so minor deities like Sarenrae aren't quite as powerful as the big hitters like Pelor. Ioun reveals that the gods are essentially formless transcendent beings whose true essence resides in the hearts and faith of their worshippers. With enough followers and believers, a god can form themselves into a divine domain that exerts influence upon the fabric of reality itself.
- Gorn: Matt frequently describes combat damage and kills rather... vividly.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Orcus, the god of undeath. His horn indirectly caused the entire catastrophe with K'varn in the Underdark, and a second horn still exists in the world somewhere. However, being a god, it's unlikely the party will confront him directly.
- Vecna the Archlich may also fall under this as of the Whitestone arc. He's revived in episode 101, becoming the final Big Bad of the campaign.
- Orthax, the entity with which Percy made his vengeance pact three years before the stream started. Comes to a head in Episode 35, but had been pushing Percy towards revenge and slowly corrupting him for years before he realised his dream wasn't just a dream.
- Guest-Star Party Member:
- Clarota the illithid, who temporarily aligns with the party to stop a common threat. Lady Kima as well, once they rescue her and convince her and Clarota to work together for the moment.
- Played more literally after the team is divided up, as the guild members who joined them for their bounty hunts were played by other actors — Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Felicia Day for Vex's team, Wil Wheaton and Will Friedle for Vax's.
- Episode 25 has Kit Buss, one of the official artists, guest starring as her artist avatar Lillith.
- Jason Charles Miller appears in episode 41 as a Half-orc member of The Clasp thieves guild.
- Mary and Will return in episode 43, to much rejoicing. Later in the episode Kima also rejoins the party, just as badass as ever.
- Episode 46 has Chris Hardwick join the group as a candle making necromancer who travels around with his undead thralls (Carol, Coral, Fatty Arbuckle, and Stimpy).
- Episode 55 has Chris Perkins playing Shale. A tougher-than-nails Goliath crone who was once part of Grog's herd.
- Patrick Rothfuss joins the fun in Episode 56 as Kerrek. A blacksmith/community leader with the patience of a sage, that Vox Machina comes across outside the gates of Westruun.
- Kerrek returns about 30 episodes later in time to join the heroes in defeating Raishan.
- Noelle Stevenson in episode 93 as Tova, a Dwarven Blood Hunter separated from her team.
- Jon Heder in episodes 99 and 100 as Lionel/Chod, a Half-Orc ducklingual Bard-barian that unintentionally gets on Grog's bad side due to being employed by a returning Scanlan.
- After a brief cameo at the end of episode 21, Darin De Paul makes a proper guest appearance in episode 105 as Sprigg Brokenbranch, a Gnomish Arcane Trickster who is the key to Ioun's domain.
- Episode 113 and 114 sees Joe Manganiello join the party as the Red Dragonborn Paladin/Barbarian Arkhan. Him, combined with Travis/Grog...
- Gun Twirling: The first thing Scanlan does when he gets his hands on Dr. Ripley's gun is to twirl it, which promptly results in the rest of the group deciding it's a bad idea to allow him to handle a firearm. note
- Half-Human Hybrid: Being a D&D world, these are a given. Three of the party are all the half-elven flavor of this trope.
- He Knows Too Much: Desmond, the Briarwoods' carriage driver. Vox Machina is fully aware of this, and take extra measures to protect him. The Briarwoods do send a pair of invisible stalkers after Desmond, but Vox Machina manages to kill them.
- He Who Fights Monsters: In Episode 25, there were a number of... acts bordering upon excessive violence, to the point where Keyleth called the entire group out on it at the beginning of Episode 26. They're even pulled off the Emon Council by Uriel for their actions. As the Whitestone arc continues, it worsens, with the team executing prisoners, torturing them or cutting them down as they run away.
- High-Altitude Battle:
- Episode 5 gives us one of these, though it doesn't end in the best circumstance. Nevertheless, any one that you can somewhat walk away from, isn't a failure.
- Episode 10 gives us a flying creature, called a cloaker, chasing a boat with our heroes in it.
- Episode 15 has one atop an airship surrounded by wyverns and a griffon (all with riders).
- While not quite a battle per se, the attack on Dr. Ripley's boat in Episode 67 does qualify.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Liam indulges in this occasionally as Vax. Every so often, he says he'll play "tiefling's advocate" or, when trying to choose something, recites the rhyme "Eenie menie mynie moe, catch a druid by the toe."
- Holy City: Vasselheim in the second arc. Of the Multi-Deity flavor. The deities within the city are:
- Bahamut, the god of metallic Dragons, justice and nobility and Lady Kima's patron deity.
- Kord, The god of Strength, Warfare, and Storms. A traditional D&D god.
- Erathis, the goddess of civilization and the muse of great invention, founder of cities, and author of laws.
- Melora, goddess of the wildlands and seas.
- The Raven Queen, goddess of Death and Vax'ildan's patron deity after he became her champion.
- Ioun, Mistress of Knowledge, has a hidden temple where Osisa resides and guides the Slayer's Take.
- Finally, there's Sarenrae, Pike's patron deity, and a deity of healing, the sun, and protection. Interesting in contrast to Kord, as she's from Pathfinder's setting.
- Percy's hometown of Whitestone is revealed to worship the sun god, Pelor. Whitestone is also home to a temple of Erathis. Percy later arranges for the creation of a shrine to the Raven Queen for Vax.
- The Platinum Sanctuary High Bearer was initially concerned that the Chroma Conclave's attack on Emon was caused by Tiamat, sister and rival of Bahamut.
- Hopeless Boss Fight: In Liam's one-shot special, the fight with Demogorgon was designed to be impossible for characters of their level.
- Hope Spot: In at least two episodes:
- Episode 68 has Percy die, but be revived with Pike's necklace. A second KO follows, but he's once again healed. However, Ripley has been focusing on him the entire battle, and finally kills him a second time. Notably, this is the first onscreen death that wasn't resolved the same episode, and the players are visibly unable to keep themselves together.
- Episode 102 has Vax outright Disintegrated by Delilah's spell, but Sam successfully argues for a couple of retroactive checks to allow Scanlan to pull off a clutch Counterspell. However, Matt just has Vecna use his next action to Disintegrate Vax anyways, leaving no body to revive.
- Hot Springs Episode: Episode 56 "Hope" starts as one of these, as Scanlan decides his version of Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion contains a working hot spring, in which the party relax after their lengthy battle with Umbrasyl, as well as having a Mundane Made Awesome cannonball competition.
- House Rules: The campaign has several, some of which stem from the conversion to D&D from Pathfinder. For example, Percy's "Gunslinger" class does not exist in D&D, so Matt made a special homebrew version for him. Other house rules are designed to speed along gameplay (a "Short Rest" lasts fifteen minutes instead of an hour) and in general the game leans more towards what makes a good story rather than the letter of the rule book.
- Hungry Weapon: Craven Edge, Sylas Briarwood's sentient greatsword, perpetually hungers for the blood of its victims. In the final arc, the group recovers the Sword of Kas, which is sentient and always seeking to be bathed in blood as well as hungering for the death of Vecna specifically.
- Implied Death Threat: Percy (in disguise) tells the Briarwoods about how Vox Machina killed a previous ally, an Illithid, for betraying and attacking them. He's obviously alluding to the fact that the Briarwoods betrayed and slaughtered his family, and that they'll one day meet the same fate as Clarota.
- Indy Escape: The mini-dungeon under the Velvet Cabaret in episode 20 features the classic sloped tunnel and rolling boulder.
- Interesting Situation Duel: During Scanlan's solo mission to cause a distraction during the group's assault on the new nobles of Whitestone he has a brief but impressive confrontation with Count Vekmire: A gnome fighting a goliath on the roof of a burning building during a thunderstorm!
- Ironic Echo:
Vax: (to Percy) Your soul need not be forfeit, Percival.
- In episode 24 at the feast with the Briarwoods, the trope is used interestingly - a disguised Percy, after getting some key information, proposes a toast to "gracious hosts". It was as their hosts threw a feast in their honor that the Briarwoods began the brutal massacre of Percy's household and family, and the information he obtained was the story of how they made their "inheritance" of the castle and lands look legitimate.
- The carriage driver, during his interrogation in Episode 26, claims that "an enemy of an enemy doesn't necessarily make a friend." Keyleth's response is "no, but it can make them allies." It's not word for word, but Keyleth is actually echoing Clarota, of all people. And we all know what a great ally he turned out to be.
- Vax gives one to Percy in Episode 29, parroting his "Your soul is now forfeit!" killing blow from Episode 25:
Keyleth: Percy! You have a sister!Percy: (clearly irritated) Oh, god, I do.
- Percy excitedly telling Vax "Vax? I have a sister!" in Episode 32 gets echoed in the next episode, after the party finds and rescues Cassandra, and she proves to be an Annoying Younger Sibling:
- Cassandra de Rolo betrays the party in Episode 34, saying that because she was left for dead by Percy, she's a Briarwood now. However, in the next episode, as a dying Delilah Briarwood is staring up at Cassandra and says "You could've been my daughter," she retorts with a cold voice, saying "No. Cassandra is a de Rolo. And you took them away from me. And now I'm taking everything away from you," and stabs her dead.
- Vex makes the joke in Episode 30 that "only one person" would know how to say Percy's Overly Long Name in full - Percy himself. Percy asks if anyone else in Vox Machina can do it, and they all get it wrong, including Vex. In Episode 35, Vex does remember his full name, and says it to stop him from being possessed by Orthax.
- In Episode 40, Vax asks Vex to "not go far from him", even if she's out of earshot, out of fear of losing her. She momentarily heads off from getting Vax out of a pit to inspect a sarcophagus in Episode 44, only for Percy to trigger a trap accidentally that ends up killing her. She gets better thanks to Kashaw, but it still happened.
- Percy's infamous line to Ripley in Episode 33 ("You are the luckiest woman in Whitestone, do you know why? Because you're at the bottom of my List") receives an pseudo-echo from Ripley herself, who says "another name off the List" when she kills Percy in Episode 68.
Keyleth: But she's at the top of my list.Percy: I don't recommend lists.
- This same line gets echoed again by Keyleth in reference to Raishan, with Percy turning it around for her:
- Tiberius coins the phrase "I encourage violence" in Episode 6, and it becomes something of a Running Gag. All the way in to Episode 72, it comes back as the complete opposite when Scanlan decides to make "I encourage peace" the epitaph on Tiberius's memorial.
- Episode 39, when Scanlan, Percy, and Keyleth are talking about how she should travel to Whitestone to talk to Allura about the skull, she complains that she'd be wasting a sixth-level spell just to be a glorified messenger and Scanlan retorts that she wasted one for no reason, referring to the Wind Walk fiasco. And then in Episode 78, Scanlan ends up doing the exact same thing when the party returns to the occupied Emon and his Seeming spell was dropped in order to convince the Clasp that they were allies who could kill Thordak, complaining that he wasted a fifth-level spell for no reason.
- Irony: When Percy interrogates the carriage driver in Episode 25, he begins listing off the names of his family members to confirm their deaths, because Delilah's taunt, "be nice of you to visit your family once in a while", makes it sound like they might still be alive. The only name Percy doesn't say is Cassandra de Rolo, because he believes he watched her die. In reality, Cassandra is actually the only other living de Rolo, and she's exactly who Delilah was referring to.
- It's Personal:
- Not that Vox Machina lacked for reasons to hate the Chroma Conclave, but when they discover Tiberius dead where he fought to defend his homeland from the Conclave's attack and was killed by Vorugal the Frigid Doom, it's obvious the group is struck to the core by the loss of one of their own.
- Also applies individually to Percy towards the Briarwoods, Keyleth towards Raishan the green dragon as her actions led to Thordak's release and the destruction of Pyrah, and to the twins towards Thordak for their mother having been killed and their hometown having been razed.
- It Will Never Catch On: The cast was unsure how "nerdy-ass voice actors sitting around playing Dungeons and Dragons" would be received, and Matt said in a Q+A that he was going to give it until about Episode 6 and then go back to playing at his house. Naturally, the show became incredibly popular incredibly fast, to the cast's continued amazement and thankfulness.
- Karmic Death:
Scanlan: Percy's killing you right now. Not us.
- Anna Ripley's. After she pursues vengeance against Percy and kills him, the rest of Vox Machina take their own vengeance immediately afterwards.
Keyleth: You should know, Raishan, I've stepped on plenty of anthills in my day. Those that don't die, revolt. And guess what? There's some pretty nasty stings from some ants out there. The strength of a colony is stronger than the individual of one great, diseased foot.
- Raishan's. For someone who compared Vox Machina and all of Exandria to ants, she clearly underestimated them all as she suffered a twofold death: the death of what defined her (her intellect, cunning, and pride) due to Keyleth's Feeblemind, and the death of her own physical body at the hands of Kerrek, who represented the very people she mocked. And as icing on the cake, Keyleth strikes her corpse with the Spire of Conflux, accelerating and finalizing Raishan's disease, completely destroying what remains.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: After killing Sir Stonefell in Episode 29, the group decides to let his lackey Vook live — but not before Percy brands him with a red-hot gun barrel and Grog rips out his tongue. Vook was, by his own admission, part of the coup against the de Rolos, and Vox Machina first encounters him oppressing the peasantry on the Briarwoods' behalf, so it's really hard to feel sorry for him.
- Kill It with Fire:
- The duergar queen attempts this on the party when things start going south, by blowing open the ceiling and letting magma pour into the room. The party manages to escape without losing anyone, but Vax is wounded badly enough to require several episodes of magical healing.
- Tiberius to the Hydra in episode 17...unfortunately, he also blasts some of his own by accident.
- Keyleth also pulls it off in Episode 42 with her 7th-level Fire Storm spell, managing to kill a majority of enemies in one battle.
- And she pulls it off again in Episode 77 with the Spire of Conflux, using two castings of Fireball to roast twelve lizardfolk.
- Scanlan is able to pull it off after gaining a Wand of Fireballs, albeit it did kill two innocents during the battle with Kevdak.
- Pike's Flame Strike spell. It was used at her highest level to immolate Hotis.
- Attempted by Dr. Anna Ripley when she tried to send a Fireball spell towards several clustered party members, but narrowly avoided thanks to Scanlan's Counterspell.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Every spy sent to Whitestone has either resigned or vanished, presumably because the Briarwoods don't want any information about their activities leaving the town.
- Kicked up a notch in Episode 27, where they send a pair of invisible stalkers to kill their carriage driver, who is in Vox Machina's custody. Luckily, Vox Machina foils the attempt.
- Kill the God: With Vecna's revival in episode 101, the story transitions to this for the final arc. There is also a deal in place to kill Orcus when the time comes, though it seemed to have been forgotten since.
- Knight, Knave and Squire: Percy, Grog, and Scanlan fit this trope pretty well.
- Percy (Knight): Insightful, well-read, Blue Blood.
- Grog (Knave): Kills without much forethought, Blood Knight, morally and ethically ambiguous.
- Scanlan (Squire): Most light-hearted during tense situations, rarely uses physical weapons, typically surprised when getting a killing blow.
- Vax'ildan most identifies with the Knave, as befitting his Class.
- Land, Sea, Sky: Not an obvious example, but Vex'ahlia represents Land, with her favored terrains, Pike represents Sea, having spent time after her pre-stream death on the Broken Howl to toughen herself up, and Keyleth representing Sky, as that she is an Air Ashari Princess.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- The duergar torturer who had been subjecting Lady Kima to the Cold-Blooded Torture noted above gets this when Grog rushes him onto a rack of his own tools, impaling him. Unfortunately for the dwarf, that's only the beginning of what Grog has in store for him... and then the victim he was torturing escapes and grabs a weapon...
- King Murghol ends up subject to this when he's decapitated by Scanlan, whom he'd previously felled. He didn't stand on his head, so Scanlan took it.
- For turning on the team and trying to eat Scanlan's brain as soon as K'varn was defeated for good, Clarota gets his own brain blasted out by Percy.
- The Rakshasa in episode 21 threatens to kill the second group's loved ones (Vex'ahlia, Keyleth's father Korren, House Stormwind, and Thorbir's daughter) and then attempts to escape his demise... only to have his Plane Shift spell neutralized by Tiberius' weaker Counterspell. He then attempts to flee the room only to plummet down thanks to a dagger thrown by Vax and then gets his throat slit, preceded by Vax telling him "Talk about my sister again..." And then after its pieces are harvested, Thorbir stabs the demon's empty eye socket with a jeweled dagger, saying "You will NEVER... harm my daughter".
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting sourcebook spoils a number of major plot points from the campaign, canonically starting sometime during or after the one year Time Skip, mentioning events such as Scanlan being the one to kill King Murghol, the Chroma Conclave's attack on Emon and Sovereign Uriel's death, Vox Machina's Enemy Mine with Raishan, the eventual defeat of Thordak and the Chroma Conclave, Vex becoming a noble of Whitestone and its rebuilding after the Briarwoods defeat, and Keyleth completing her Aramente.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Happens a number of ways:
Keyleth: Tiberius is working on it... I have a feeling deep down inside.
- Occasionally, the group will make reference to someone who exists in Real Life, only to explain them away with in-universe allegories. This includes notorious warrior Mah Choman Rand Savage, renowned wizard Venn Diagram, and Jesus, "that nice carpenter the group met in Vasselheim"
- Metagaming, where a player tries to make an informed decision based on something their character should not know. This includes situations where (for example) a player intuits a lie but the character fails the relevant skill check to disbelieve. Since metagaming is against the spirit of the game at best and outright cheating at worst, it is actively discouraged.
- Vax trying to find his lost snake belt in Episode 26, because "it's on all the fan art, so it really makes sense to have it."
- Libation for the Dead: Grog pours one out for Tiberius in episode 64, but uses water instead of alcohol because Tiberius was The Teetotaler.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Episode 18 and 19, Grog and Percy were the only two without access to spells. Averted somewhat, since Grog and Percy are still rather nasty with their damage dealing. This is no doubt in large part thanks to D&D's 5th edition combat Power Creep in various ways.
- Literal Metaphor: Victor the crazy old black powder merchant measures a hogshead of powder by filling a literal hog's head with it.
- Possibly just an example of Matt simply not knowing what a hogshead, as a unit of measurement, actually is. The hog's head Victor offered was smaller than a barrel, while a real hogshead is significantly larger.
- Love Potion: Vax'ildan slips a Love Potion into Scanlan's Drink in Episode 109. Unfortunately, Percy is the target of his affections. Fun was had by most.
- Magic Carpet:
- The group acquired one before the show started. Unfortunately it can carry neither Grog nor Trinket. It is lost in episode 21 due to passing through a pair of anti-magic sigils and then taking a dunk in an acid pit. They were able to make it into a carpet again, but the enchantment is gone. Re-enchanting the carpet is now something of a sidequest for the party.
- After defeating Thordak and narrowly surviving their battle with Raishan, the party began to loot Thordak's underground lair. Among the vast amounts of loot was a new flying carpet, even better than the one they lost previously.
- Moe Greene Special: Vax frequently goes for his opponents eyes. Vex and Percy also score kills this way, occasionally.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Episode 24, twice. It starts with Percy's tearful recounting of his backstory, then jumps almost immediately to three hours of Vox Machina comedy shenanigans...and then ends with a tense dinner scene with the Briarwoods.
- Foreshadowed in the title of Episode 26, "Consequences and Cows". Begins with Keyleth playing The Conscience and lecturing them about Tiberius killing an unconsciouss old woman and Percy torturing a prisoner, goes on to them being summoned before Sovereign Uriel, being read the riot act, divested of their council seats and effectively being put on probation then peaks with their prisoner, the coach driver for the Briarwoods, giving a heartrending tale of what life in Whitestone is like under the Briarwoods and their henchfolk. Then Tiberius gets hilariously drunk followed by...Vox Moochina.
- In Episode 34, Keyleth disintegrates Sylas Briarwood with a Sunbeam, and Vox Machina starts celebrating. Vex calls out "How's that feel, Lady Briarwood?" Then Matt describes her screaming for her husband and bursting into tears, and the whole table falls quiet.
- Most of episode 44 is mostly silly and lighthearted character interaction...and then we find out what a tribe of Kuo-Tuas have been worshipping. Things get worse when Vex suddenly dies after the battle, and Kashaw pulls an apparently risky Revivify to bring her back.
- The second event is especially abrupt. One moment, everyone is goofing around and teasing Vax because he's stuck in a hole. Less than a minute later, Vex is dead on the ground, and Vax is the last to find out because everyone is too shocked to help pull him up.
- In episode 45, after Keyleth tearfully recounts to Vex the events that led to her revivification, we smash cut to Scanlan and Grog, cheerfully goofing around before Grog decides to have a shit and talk to his sword.
- Episode 64: The beginning has a humorous aftermath that comes from coming back from the Feywild. The end has the discovery of Tiberius's death.
- Episode 66: For most of the episode, other than the battle with a cobalt golem, the party is enjoying themselves in Ank'Harel. And then at the end of the episode, they discover that Mistress Asharru is dead, Cabal's Ruin has been stolen, and the perpetrator... is Dr. Anna Ripley herself.
- Episode 69: It begins with Percy being taken back to Whitestone, Vex confessing her love to him (even though he may not have heard her), and the resurrection ritual managing to bring him back to life. Then, celebration occurs with the party getting shit-faced in a tavern where heartwarming talks and letter reading is done. And then the episode ends with the reveal that Raishan had been among the people of Whitestone all this time under the guise of Seeker Asum, and now she seeks an alliance with Vox Machina to slay Thordak.
- In the middle of grieving for Vax in the final episode, Grog decides to pull a card from the Deck of Many Things. He draws one of the worst possible cards he could get (The Void), which results in the five remaining members having an offscreen trip to Pandemonium to get his soul back.
- Morton's Fork:
- The party is faced with this in episode 27 — stay in Emon as ordered to find evidence but likely end up guilty, or attack the source of the problem in Whitestone with an equal chance of them becoming outlaws. They ultimately choose to do the latter.
- It happens again in Episode 81. They either go in to fight and kill Raishan while both sides are wounded and spent where there is a higher risk of people in the party dying, or wait until they are fully rested and then go in the evening and hopefully catch her unawares before she herself fully recovers. Keyleth ends up being the one who has to make the choice for the group. She chooses the latter.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- The arm-wrestling contest in Episode 36 - Matt plays the regular battle music to go along with each bout.
- The cannonball contest in Episode 56, which sees every member of Vox Machina breaking out absolutely ridiculous tactics to win. The victor is Percy, who wins by diving into the water with a kettle full of raw sodium.
- The Necrocracy: Whitestone is run by the Briarwoods (one of whom is a vampire, and the other a powerful necromancer of some flavour) and policed by six stone giant zombies as well as a number of unidentified undead minions. Also, the entire town, down to the soil, has been polluted by some kind of undead corruption.
- After episode 17, the homebrew rules for Quicken Spell received a noticeable downgrade (now only casting up to 2nd level spells). Considering the damage Tiberius had done to the Hydra at full power, quite justified. This is still a more powered up version than the one you'll find in the Player's Handbook, which only allows for a cantrip to be cast as a Quickened Spell.
- This also applies to Percy as his Trick Shot was quite overpowered as shown during the battle with K'Varn and over time, his archetype was given several tweaks to make him more balanced.
- Never Split the Party:
- Episode 3, The team debates whether to explore an apparently dangerous side route. Vex and Keyleth are in favor, but the rest of the gang opposes. The ladies decide "the hell with it" and go off on their own anyway, as the others assume this trope is about to hit in full force. The two actually end up discovering Clarota, who shortly after becomes an ally.
- Episode 17, Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia are very apprehensive when they are forced to split to create two teams. Being how they're twins, and have been together most every day of their lives, this was bound to happen.
- Episode 25, Vax's decision to sneak up on the Briarwoods by himself nearly gets him killed.
- Episode 30, Scanlan splits off from the party to set up a distraction, while the other players attack a different opponent across town. Subverted, in that Scanlan's solo rampage turns out to be one of the greatest (and most successful!) things that has ever happened on Critical Role.
- Episode 33, Percy calls Vax out for going off on his own again, because Vax acting on his own nearly leads to Cassandra's de Rolo's death. Despite Matt later revealing that the attempt on her life was a trick, it still counts as Vax himself nearly died yet again at the hands of Professor Anders, a dominated Grog, and two Helmed Horrors.
- No One Gets Left Behind: In episode 88, Tary is struck down as the group is in the process of fleeing the kraken after a grueling battle. Grog, the only other one left in the Water Plane, looks behind him and sees Tary fall...and swims through the portal. Furious at him for leaving an ally (and a MacGuffin) behind, Percy casts Friends on Grog to make him go back and retrieve Tary. It nearly kills Grog, but both he and Tary make it out, and Tary is quickly given a healing potion to bring him back to consciousness.
- Noodle Incident: Many, considering the campaign had been going on for two years before the show began. For example, we still don't know the context in which Scanlan summoned a pony so Grog could decapitate it. Other incidents — like Keyleth killing a child or the reasons for Percy's imprisonment — have been de-noodled as the show goes on.
- Official Couple:
- Sylas and Delilah Briarwood, a murderous and married vampire and necromancer respectively who madly love each other.
- Vax'ildan and Keyleth as of Episode 65. It took them 2 months in-game consisting of 30 episodes (from Episode 35: Denouement to Episode 65: The Streets of Ank'Harel) but it finally happened with Keyleth confessing to Vax.
- As of Episode 72, it seems that Percy and Vex may follow suit, as she's confessed to being in love with him and he's given her a Big Damn Kiss. Episode 78 flat-out confirms it when they spend what may be their last night together.
- Although they were a couple before the campaign ever began and they had separated for reasons, Lady Kima of Vord and Arcanist Allura Vysoren rekindled their love for each other off-screen after they were reunited. They even get married during the one-year time skip.
- Despite Kashaw technically being married to his own god, he still falls in love with Zahra.
- Scanlan and Pike and Taryon and Lawrence at the very end.
- One Steve Limit: Averted - there are now three Non Player Characters named, respectively, Shaun, Shane, and Shauna.
- One-Woman Wail: Used as background music when Vox Machina recover the body of Tiberius.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
Grog: No one kills you but me.
- Played for Laughs with Vax and Grog in Episode 25:
- Played a little straighter with Vax and Percy, in Episode 24 - when Vax offers to help Percy get his revenge, he promises he'll let Percy deliver the final blow.
- Overly Long Name: Greetings, I am Percival Frederickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III (but you can call him Percy).
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Percy, fittingly, delivers a moving one to Keyleth in Episode 56, as he justifies rebuilding Westruun rather than simply relocating the survivors.Percy: This place is the human soul. It's what we have built with our tiny moments. To lose a place like this... We don't feel it immediately, but it would ruin everyone, in small ways.
- The Power of Friendship:
Groon: Where do you get your strength?Grog: From my friends.
- Episode 22 is chock full of this trope.
- Played with by Percy in Episode 30. Keyleth asks if his quest in Whitestone motivated by revenge, altruism or friendship, and Percy says that any answer that was not revenge would be a lie. Still, he later implies that Vox Machina's friendship is the only thing stopping him from becoming as bad as the Briarwoods.
- Played straight by Earthbreaker Groon in Episode 43, during his fight with Grog:
- Power Glows: In a world of magic like D&D, many active magical effects are naturally accompanied by "flickers of arcane energy", or "glowing radiant energy".
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
Grog: I would like to rage!
- While perhaps not exactly a one-liner in the truest sense, Tiberius gives us this gem in Episode 6. "I encourage violence!"
- Basically anything Grog says, most notably his Catch-Phrase.
- Primal Scene: Two instances of this occur in Episode 89, with Doty sketching Vax and Keyleth as well as Vex and Percy while the two couples are in bed.
- Public Execution: The Sun tree in the middle of Whitestone proper is a once beautiful, but now dead symbol of the Sun god, Pelor. Now, it's simply used to hang seven people (and one bear) who are dressed up and painted to resemble the members of Vox Machina. Most likely to call attention to what fate would befall our intrepid heroes.
- Pun-Based Title: In addition to the title of the show, a few of these pop up in episode titles.
- Episode 72 is called The Elephant in the Room, which refers to both a metaphorical elephant in the room (whether or not Vex will address her Love Confession during Percy's ritual) and the fact that Keyleth literally turns into an elephant in Percy's workshop.
- Episode 81 is called What Lies Beneath the Surface, referring to not only Thordak's lair beneath Emon, but also Vex hiding beneath the surface of the water in a bathtub that was also being used by Percy.
- Put on a Bus:
- Pike had to leave after episode 16 as Ashley Johnson was cast in Blindspot on NBC in New York.
- Tiberius had to leave after episode 29 as Orion Acaba had to leave for personal reasons. He's given an official sendoff in episode 37...which turns into a Bus Crash when the Chroma Conclave destroy Draconia.
- In episode 85, Scanlan leaves Vox Machina after his resurrection to spend more time with his daughter. However, Sam Riegel stays on the show playing his new character Taryon.
- Putting the Band Back Together: After four episodes, in Episode 22, Vox Machina is finally back together. And there was much rejoicing.
- The Queen's Latin: Despite the actors being American, all of their characters have quite prim Received Pronunciation, apart from Keyleth who retains Marisha Ray's usual voice most of the time, Pike who uses a cutesier version of Ashley Johnson's regular accent, and Grog who has a bit of London Gangster about his voice. Many of the NPCs voiced by Matt Mercer also have various British Accents or Irish Accents.
- Ragtag Band of Misfits: Three half-elves, two gnomes, a goliath, a human, and a dragonborn (plus a bear) make for an odd, if effectual, group. Add in an illithid and a halfling, albeit temporarily, as well as the myriad of interesting characters that cross their paths, and this is taken even further.
- Reality Ensues:
- As it turns out, the leaders of Emon are pissed when Vox Machina attacks two nobles — the Briarwoods — during a formal event in their name, causing civilian casualties and property damage. The team as a whole is stripped of their position on the Council of Tal'dorei as a consequence. They're later reinstated after the Briarwoods' defeat in Whitestone due to Uriel having been under the effects of a charm spell.
- Similarly, as it turns out, Scanlan has at least one illegitimate child because of his frequent casual sex in a medieval-based, contraceptive-less setting.
- As Vax and Keyleth learn pretty harshly in episode 80, trying to take on an Ancient Green Dragon right after everyone has burned most of their more powerful resources taking on a red dragon means that Raishan is easily able to hold them off long enough to escape, even with the aid of several allies.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Keyleth delivers a very scathing one to Raishan in Episode 70.
- Scanlan also delivers one that really hits Vox Machina where it hurts in Episode 85.
- Retirony: Sovereign Uriel steps down in Episode 39, claiming the city will be safer in the care of the council. Literally while he is making his retirement speech, four ancient dragons swoop in and start tearing Emon to shreds. It was unknown if Uriel survived their attack, until Gilmore later confirmed that he saw Uriel die.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Debated in the first part of Episode 30, in Whitestone. Scanlan and Grog think violence and intimidation are called for; Vex and Percy agree to a point, but think the violence has gotten out of hand; and Vax and Keyleth really don't want to go down that road.
- Rewatch Bonus: In Episode 64, you can see exactly when Taliesin learns about Tiberius's fate. Taliesin is visibly saddened, but keeps quiet for about twenty minutes.
- Running Gag:
- Vox Machina and doors don't get along. On several occasions, doors prevent the team from accessing areas, in some cases even causing damage. Put to rest with extreme prejudice in Episode 95:Taryon/Sam: *demonstrating his chime of opening* I can open any fucking door.Laura: *pose of rapture*
- The servants in Scanlan's extra-dimensional mansion serving whole chickens for every meal.
- Vox Machina and doors don't get along. On several occasions, doors prevent the team from accessing areas, in some cases even causing damage. Put to rest with extreme prejudice in Episode 95:
- Scenery Porn: Being a tabletop RPG, this is a given, but my god Matt Mercer takes it to a level unimaginable by mortal men. It also doesn't hurt he's a professional voice actor bringing characters to life.
- Secret Identity:
- Group 2 of the Trial of the Slayer's Take adopt these to speak with a very powerful business man.
- Scanlan Shorthalt, on many occasions.
- Sequel Hook: At the end of the final battle with Vecna, Arkhan steals Vecna's severed hand and attaches it to his arm after severing his arm, and teleports out before anyone can stop him. Given Matt has already stated his intent to continue the story a generation later, the sequel already has a Big Bad lined up.
- Serial Escalation: Makes sense for a D&D campaign. Each arc (counting the first four: the Underdark, the Trial of the Take, the Whitestone arc, and now the Chroma Conclave arc) manages to outdo the previous in terms of enemies, danger, and emotional investment on the part of the heroes. The escalation can basically be summed up in a single contrast between Episode 19 and Episode 39. How many dragons in Episode 19? One adult white dragon. How many in Episode 39? Four ancient chromatic dragons. The villain of the final arc? Vecna, a literal god.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Doors. Scanlan in particular mentions that "me and doors don't get along really well."Scanlan/Sam: These fucking doors in this kingdom!
- Something Completely Different:
- Episode 12: Dungeons and Dragons Campaign Tips: Mercer's first D&D Workshop features Matt Mercer going over "Dungeon Mastering 101" and playing a funny campaign with Salty Pete, Snuggle-Lord, and Ufgar.note Marisha, Orion, Taliesin, and Liam were also there as spectators and to help with character creation, much to their amusement.
- On the second week of hiatus between episodes 16 and 17; Laura Bailey, Orion Acaba, Taliesin Jaffe, and Liam O'Brien played party games with Zac, and treated the Critters to a mini-Q&A.
- Episode 20: Trial of the Take, Part 3: It begins differently compared to the first team's hunt, as it turns into a murder mystery, complete with questioning of witnesses and going undercover.
- Matt also took over the time slot of Geek and Sundry's "No Survivors" one time and ran a special Pathfinder one-shot game with Taliesin and Marisha, the show's own GM, Ivan Van Norman, and voice actors Ashly Burch and Phil Lamarr, where they all played as goblins.
- The first week of a two-week hiatus between episodes 43 and 44 had a Q&A with Matt, Marisha, Travis, Mary, and Will. The latter four then proceeded to have their characters duke it out in an AU Battle Royale. And then they have another one in-between Episodes 54 and 55.
- In the interim between Episodes 58 and 59, while Matt and Marisha were away in Australia to attend a convention, there was originally no plans for any D&D games, but thanks to a fluke occurrence where Liam O'Brien's schedule was free, he decided to run a one-shot that the fans affectionately called "Critical O'Brien" where Sam, Laura, Travis, and Taliesin all played as themselves during a normal day of work that quickly went to hell... in more ways than one. A brief Q&A soon followed with the five of them.
- Not long afterward Liam was the DM for another oneshot between episodes 65 and 66, this one set in Emon (before the current arc) but focuses on members of The Clasp — an all-Rogue session where everyone had hidden motives that could lead them to stab each other in the back at any time.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Episode 24 was meant to give Percy his Day in the Limelight with the history of his character brought to the forefront; however, the rest of Vox Machina occupied most of the screen time with zany adventures during the pre-break.
- Standard Evil Organization Squad: The Chroma Conclave, the four ancient dragons who attack Emon at the end of Episode 39.
- Status Quo Is God: A minor example, Pike summoning an Angelic Deva to fix Greyskull Keep, restoring it to a polished luster, after Vorugal's attack.
- Tactical Withdrawal:
- The High-Altitude Battle in Episode 10 was caused by Vax calling a retreat, the withdrawal in episode 13 was confirmed later by Matt to be required — Vox Machina had to get out of Yug'Voril.
- Episode 39 has the team fleeing Emon as the Chroma Conclave launch an assault.
- Episode 102 — the team Plane Shifts the heck out of the Shadowfell to the Feywild when it's clear they're no match for Vecna.
- One last time in episode 112, when cornered by the Briarwoods after having retrieved the Sword of Kas. Getting back from this situation (which was on a time limit) involved parleying favor from Artagan.
- Take a Third Option: After being thrown off a dragon in mid-flight, Vax and Grog are plummeting through the sky. Scanlan, clinging to a hovering Bigby's Hand nearby, only has time to save one of them. In true Scanlan fashion, he figures out a way to save them both - by grabbing Grog, polymorphing him into a giant eagle, and diving peregrine-style after Vax.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Played with — players will occasionally get repercussions for doing this.
- Talking to Himself: Matt by necessity, as he is the DM. Sam gets some of it in when Scanlan and Taryon meet, much to the other players' amusement.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While the group convinces Clarota and Kima not to try to kill each other for the moment, it's clear that their alliance to take out K'varn is this. Ultimately, Kima's paranoia proves correct.
- Tempting Fate:
Matt: I will kill all of you.
- Episode 7. When the first attack roll Vax'ildan makes is a natural 20, Marisha makes mention it was going to be a good day. And then, many more Natural 20s get rolled, much to Matt's frustration. Turns out he was true to his word, because by the end of the episode... it turns out less than good.
- In the same episode, Pike decides to slit an unconscious duergar's throat with her mace. When she tries to justify what she did and ask if Sarenrae would get mad at her, Matt simply says, "We'll see." And then in the next episode, her holy symbol gets a crack in it, signifying that her deity is indeed mad at her.
- The first Q&A has Marisha wonder if they're ever going to face a Beholder. It was planned before that, but six episodes later one was revealed as the Big Bad of that arc.
- During Percy's shooting rampage in episode 18, Taliesin commented that so many bad things are going to happen to him after the battle (which causes a nod to the camera from Matt). Rimefang comes very close to killing Percy in the next episode... and then his backstory comes into play in Episode 24, which indirectly leads to many bad things, including Vox Machina being thrown off the Tal'Dorei council and Percy beginning to lose his grip on stability. It's like he's still paying for it.
- In episode 19, Vex is frustrated that the other group was handed the flying carpet to use. Her fears are justified in episode 21, when the carpet loses its enchantment following a dip into an acid pit.
- Matt reminds Vox Machina that they've got a dungeon in their keep in Episode 24, should they ever need to take anyone prisoner... which they do in the very next episode.
- Just like K'Varn, planned beforehand (for about 2 years!), but a strange coincidence that a few large dragon minis were sent to Matt the week before Emon is attacked by a bunch of them. Even made more ironic when Vax rants to Vex about him not having a purpose in life... only to find one after the Conclave's attack through becoming the Champion of the Raven Queen.
- In Episode 44, almost 10 episodes after the Whitestone arc ends, Percy mentions that he's finally starting to imagine and work towards a better version of himself. A few hours later, he accidentally kills Vex by touching an artifact without checking for traps first. He's... got a bit of an uphill battle ahead.
- Similarly, Kashaw makes a wisecrack the group frequently makes when they find themselves messing with unknown objects: "...and you die instantly [upon touching the thing]". He definitely didn't suspect that to be exactly what happened.
- In episode 97, Keyleth says "We're golden gods!" and then jumps off a cliff and instantly dies.
- Theme Twin Naming: Vex and Vax.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
- Percy to The Broker in episode 25, to the tune of unloading every remaining bullet he had into the guy's chest and blowing a hole clean through, trying to continue firing even after the gun empties and jams, then reaching to pull out Bad News before reclaiming his composure.
- Zahra scores the killing blow on a Beholder in episode 44 with a Natural 20 5th level Witch Bolt when it was only several HP away from dying anyway.
- Invoked in full force anytime Grog gets a kill.
- The entirety of Vox Machina minus Percy to Dr. Anna Ripley, in retribution for Percy's death. She has her arm severed by Vax, the de Rolo crest carved into her forehead by Scanlan, is bisected across the navel by Grog, throttled by Keyleth's Grasping Vines, and for the final blow, Vex unloads one arrow into her heart and a second into her throat. Matt doesn't even have them roll for damage.
- The Three Faces of Adam: Grog, Vax'ildan, and Percy loosely fall into this:
- Grog (Adventure): Cares little for authority, or much anything else if it isn't the two great loves of his life: Combat, women, and Ale.
- Vax'ildan (Authority): Usually takes point when faced with combat situations (sometimes to the chagrin of everyone else), and usually takes a leadership role with Vox Machina.
- Percy (Wisdom): Book-learned, quieter and more thoughtful than his male counterparts, very utilitarian in his combat style.
- Scanlan actually has shades of all three faces, more balanced in him than the other three.
- The Three Faces of Eve: The main female characters loosely fall into this:
- Time Skip: It happens. Usually in the name of keeping the game moving.
- An entire year passes between Episodes 94 and 95.
- Took a Level in Badass: This being a role playing game, all of the player characters are literally leveling up on a regular basis, increasing their stats and giving them access to new, more powerful abilities.
- Also applies to NPCs as well as Kern multiclassed to Monk before his second fight with Grog. Tiberius lampshades this when he first assumes a dodging stance, yelling that "He Monked up!".
- Total Party Kill: Attempted by the duergar queen Ulara in episode 7, but ultimately avoided despite Vax having his foot dipped in lava, and Tiberius and Kima petrified. Also tends to be a common chant among those in the Twitch chat room, as if they're predicting that the party will be wiped out.Liam: TPK~ TPK~
- Totem Pole Trench: Done by Pike and Scanlan with a cultist robe in Episode 102.
- Triang Relations: Gilmore (A) is in love with Vax'ildan (B) who is in love with Keyleth (C) who isn't sure about Vax, and presumably doesn't have feelings for Gilmore, making this a Type 5 which eventually skews into a Type 4.
- True Love's Kiss:
- Invoked by Vex'ahlia kissing Percy after confessing her love as part of the ritual to bring him back to life. And she rolled a Natural 20 to boot.
- Likewise invoked pre-stream by Scanlan during the ritual to revive Pike, albeit it is still unrequited in terms of Pike towards Scanlan...at least until the epilogue.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: At the end of episode 17, the group is divided into two teams to be used in this way in the following four episodes.
- Underground City:
- Kraghammer in the first streamed story arc.
- There's also the duergar city and the illithid colony of Yug'Voril deep in the Underdark.
- Understatement: At one point, when asked why he looked so uncomfortable upon hearing the name 'Briarwood', Percy says "I've had dealings with them before. I find them... untrustworthy."
- Unusual Euphemism: Scanlan asks Kashaw about his...ahem...'preferences' by asking whether he'd go for "the rogue or the ranger." * The Critters ran with this, with bisexual fans claiming they "multiclassed" and asexual or aromantic fans calling themselves "clerics."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Some of the characters have more strained friendships than others. Tiberius and Scanlan tend to clash, as do Vax and Grog. Despite that, they're still utterly loyal to each other and everyone else in Vox Machina.
- Voiceover Letter: In Episode 69, courtesy of Patrick Rothfuss.
- Weapon of Choice: Several characters have their own preferred weapons, such as daggers for Vax and bows for Vex.
- Wham Episode:
- Episode 7. The team, still aided by Kima and Clarota, storm Emberhold's throne room. They manage to kill the duergar king and most of his troops, but are forced to escape when the queen floods the room with magma. On top of this, one of the mind flayers and the queen teleport away - and worse, the queen took a mind-controlled Grog with her. Oh, and Tiberius and Kima are currently petrified thanks to the king's basilisks.
- Episode 10 gives us the big reveal about K'varn — he's a Beholder, and he's been experimenting on himself in much the same way he'd been creating the monstrosities our heroes had been facing up to this point.
- In Episode 16, the party successfully seals away the Horn of Orcus, then learns that a new holy path has been revealed... to a lost temple of Sarenrae, which Pike stays behind to help rebuild.
- The end of Episode 17. As if having to say goodbye to Pike in the last episode wasn't enough, things get worse. When Vox Machina agrees to undergo a test to gain membership into the Slayer's Take to avoid being persecuted for the illegal slaying of a Hydra (which was already claimed by one of the guild's hunting parties), Huntmaster Vanessa Cyndrial decides to split the team into two separate groups to test how they fare with working with different people. This comes as a shock to the whole party, most notably Vax and Vex who had never been apart longer than a day since their birth. They try to ask the Huntmaster to reconsider, but she refuses. While Vex was able to mostly deal with the separation (or at least act like it), it's Vax who was the more broken of the two, as evidenced in Episode 20.
- The end of episode 23. Percy is told that the Briarwoods are coming to Emon in a week's time.
- The end of episode 24. The Briarwoods arrive in Emon. Through a series of mishaps, they manage to trap Vax alone with them in their room - and Matt's last line implies that they are a pair of vampires.
- All of Episode 25. Vax is knocked unconscious by the Briarwoods, and his last thoughts are of Keyleth and his sister. Tiberius is hit with Feeblemind, which turns him into a primal lizard. Lady Briarwood possesses insanely powerful magic.note Percy goes Ax-Crazy and shoots the hand off a servant of the Briarwoods. Kit's character Lillith appears, and she's awesome. And, of course, the Briarwoods have escaped.
- Episode 34 hurts. Cassandra betrays the party, the Briarwoods charm Vax over to their side, Cassandra's name appears on the List, Keyleth kills Lord Briarwood, Vex is nearly killed (as in, she avoids death by a single hit point) by the Finger of Death spell, and Lady Briarwood performs some kind of ritual that stops all magic from working around the Ziggurat.
- The end of Episode 39 single-handedly blows every single other episode of the series out of the water in the sheer scale of its wham. Sovereign Uriel abdicates and hands power over to the Tal'dorei Council... only for a quartet of ancient chromatic dragons to descend upon Emon and begin to lay waste to the city. Vox Machina is beset first by an ancient green dragon that grossly outclasses them, then an ancient black dragon, and finally the single largest ancient red dragon they've ever seen. Within seconds of encountering the dragons, Vox Machina realizes they have no option but to flee, and teleport back to their keep... just as the episode ends.
- Episode 40 continues where the last left off revealing Thordak, the Ancient Red Dragon leading the destruction of Emon, is the same dragon who killed Vax's and Vex's mother when they were children. He was also the dragon they encountered in the Elemental Plane of Fire. To make it even whammier, Thordak's escape from the Elemental Plane utterly destroyed the Fire Ashari village, leaving the fate of its people unknown. Oh, and the other three chromatic dragons have moved East and destroyed Westruun.
- Episode 43. While learning where they should head next, Vox Machina is informed that the dragons are moving east again and then get a live, as-it's-happening report of the Conclave's attack on Draconia. The attack leaves the country's armies utterly defeated and, to make matters worse, the floating islands upon which the country rests are pulled down by the Conclave, leaving the fate of Tiberius and his people unknown.
- Episode 44: A Beholder appears out of nowhere during a fairly standard dungeon crawl - and that's not the worst part. After the Beholder dies, Percy sets off a trap that instantly kills Vex. It doesn't knock her unconscious - she just immediately dies in front of him. Thankfully, the party does manage to resurrect her.
- Episode 54 at the very end. Despite managing to pull off a successful trap against Umbrasyl, the black dragon still manages to break free, liquefy many members of the Herd of Storms, and flies away towards his lair within Gatshadow far out of reach of the party... with Vax and Scanlan inside him due to the rogue drinking a potion that shrunk him and Scanlan using Dimension Door to teleport into the dragon's body in order to attack him from the inside. And even worse, they are slowly getting crushed or digested. Oh, and Grog is dangling off the Bloodaxe embedded in Umbrasyl.
- Episode 64. At the very end, Matt reveals that Tiberius died fighting Vorugal.
- The end of Episode 66. Dr. Anna Ripley has returned, and she's killed Mistress Asharru and stolen Cabal's Ruin.
- Episode 68. Not only had Ripley formed a pact with a vengeance-fueled Orthax, she also recruited Kainan to her side. By the end of the battle, Percy is dead.
- The end of Episode 69. After Percy having been resurrected and Vex'ahlia having confessed her love for him in front of everyone earlier in the episode, it ends with Raishan revealing herself to have been masquerading as Seeker Asum ever since they returned from the Feywild. And now she seeks an alliance with the party to slay the Cinder King.
- The end of Episode 76. After a grueling battle with a pit fiend, the party manages to annul their enslavement at the hands of a fire giant, obtain Pike's Vestige, and are given the ashes of Senokir's wife so she can be buried in Vasselheim. And then they Plane Shift home... only to see Fort Daxio, the place where they were planning to gather allies, under attack and falling. And they are still weary from their battle in the City of Brass.
- Episode 80 is just one massive downward spiral. Raishan completely overwhelms an exhausted Vox Machina and friends, Vex and Scanlan are killed and resurrected during the battle, Vax and Keyleth both nearly die with no chance of revival, and worst of all, the Diseased Deceiver manages to escape with Thordak's corpse and a couple of dragon eggs in tow. They only survive due to Devo'ssa making their appearance, forcing Raishan to flee.
- Episode 85. Scanlan leaves Vox Machina after giving them a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and at the end Sam introduces a new character, Taryon Darrington.
- The end of Episode 88. The party just barely survives and completes the Aramente trial for Keyleth. But in the process, Vax dies.
- Episode 102. Vecna is reborn and Vax is killed, possibly forever.
- Episode 106. Vox Machina gains the knowledge and materials needed to seal away Vecna, but that's the only good thing that happens; Lady Briarwood has come Back from the Dead again and Vecna completes his ascension to godhood.
- Wham Line: There tends to be moments within episodes that just cause everything to change with just one sentence or a few.
Matt: Also, [Grog] takes 8 points of Intelligence damage, technically...you immediately fall unconscious.
- Episode 2:
Keyleth: ...K'varn's a Beholder.
- Episode 10:
Matt: So, on K'varn's turn-Scanlan: What?Matt: - black energy begins to pull into the horn.
- Episode 11, after Vex gets the "How do you want to do this?" deathblow on K'varn:
Matt: ...Clarota, now reconnected with its people, your purpose serving its end — you are about to be swarmed by the rest of the Mind Flayers. Roll initiative, guys!
- Episode 13:
- Episode 14 (and Taliesin plays it like a physical blow to the chest):
Keyleth: (after describing how her predecessor never returned) It was actually my mother.
- Amusingly, close attention to the episode reveals Matt tried to drop the same subtle wham a few minutes before that, but due to loud party chatter the player concerned wasn't able to act on it despite visibly hearing it.
- Episode 16:
Percy: (reading their contract with The Slayers' Take) The Quarry: One adult white dragon - one adult white dragon?!
- Episode 18:
Keyleth: Why did [Vesh] spare you?Kashaw: Because I'm her husband.
- Episode 21:
- Kash drops the biggest bombshell regarding the god he worships.
Matt: The Mending Wheel comes to a stop, the spokes of it collapse inward, and the carpet unfurls, a seemingly untouched piece of material. (long pause) A mundane carpet.
- After Tiberius tries to repair the magic carpet.
Keyleth: I've actually seen a vision of my death.
- Episode 22:
Seeker Asum: A dinner is being held [in Emon] within a week. This venture is helmed by one Lord and Lady Briarwood of Whitestone.
- Episode 23:
Lord Briarwood: (to Vax, gripping his shoulder) Don't worry. You look delicious.
- Episode 24:
Lady Briarwood: At the very least, I think you should come visit us sometime, Percy...be nice of you to visit your family once in a while.
- Episode 25:
Matt: A voice whispers in your ear, Percy. No one hears this -Percy: (to Vox Machina) If you're with me -Matt: Vengeance...vengeance...Percy: If you're with me, we can be prepared for them this time. note
- Episode 27:
Matt: [Taliesin,] I want you to mark on your sheet: one point of corruption.
- Episode 29:
Matt: You get the feeling there are more than just Lord Briarwood who have become creatures of the night.
- After Vex uses Primeval Awareness to detect vampires in the area:
Stonefell: (upon seeing a disguised Percy's gun arm covered in black smoke) ...Ripley!
- Also from that episode and carrying equally ominous implications...
Archibald Desnay: With you here, Percival, we've two de Rolos spearheading our uprising.Percy: Who... who else survived?Archibald Desnay: ...Your sister Cassandra lives, Percival.
- Episode 30:
Matt: Percy, be mindful that when you strike to kill, you strike to torture before you do.note
- From that same episode, but with a markedly different tone:
Marisha: Oh my God, it's Ripley.note
- Episode 32:
Vax: (to Keyleth) You know I'm in love with you, right? (as Liam) And I kiss her.
- Episode 33, after the fateful battle with Professor Anders:
Cassandra: I have a new family. I am a Briarwood.
- Episode 34:
Matt: Percy, you notice a flash of purple and black energy course up the front of your Pepperbox. You look down at the previously empty barrel and a new name is emblazoned across it. It says Cassandra de Rolo.
- And the result of that:
Vex'ahlia: What did [Vecna] give you?Lady Briarwood: He gave me my Sylas back.
- Episode 35:
Kaylie: You know, I've heard most of these stories [about Scanlan]...from my mother.
- Episode 38:
Travis: 19 to hit.Matt: 19 misses.
- Episode 39, as the group starts to realize exactly what they're up against:
Matt: You all take 66 points of poison damage.
- And a few minutes later:
Allura: Byroden, gone.note
- Episode 40, as Allura is naming the list of places that Thordak razed):
Matt: Both Vex and Trinket suffer 56 points of necrotic damage.Laura: I'm unconscious.Matt: Does that bring you below 0?Laura: ...Yeah... (her eyes go wide as she realizes what he's implying)
- Episode 44:
Gern: Oh, I forgot to tell ya. [Rapidly] I sold out my own kind because I was enslaved by dragons who had tails and considered themselves royalty and therefore better than me and I don't have a tail and so I spent my whole life trying to figure out how to turn scales into weaponized candles. Anyway, gotta go, everyone have a great time!
- Episode 46, Played for Laughs at the time, but it foreshadowed a story arc that would come into play later.
"Gilmore": You hurt me deeply. It continued to hurt. Agony for weeks...months... Pain I had never experienced. It's all I can think about.Liam: Can I make an insight check?Matt: You would if you had time.
- Episode 57:
Percy: You're going to have to amend that one name. It's Lady Vex'ahlia.
- Episode 60:
Matt: There, locked in the moments of valiant defense of his city, frozen and lost: the remains of Tiberius Stormwind.
- Episode 64:
Keyleth: I love you, Vax. I have for a long time. And I'm sorry for being me and that it took me this long to say it.
- Episode 65:
- Episode 68:
Ripley: (before killing Percy) Another name... off... the List.
- And then:
Vex: (to Percy) I should have told you. It's yours.
- Episode 69:
Raishan: I need your help. I wish to kill the Cinder King.
- And later:
Taliesin: As I walk away [from Vex'ahlia], I walk up. I kiss her. (as Percy) So we'll talk later. (as Taliesin) And I walk away.
- Episode 72:
Taliesin: I walk around the table, and I stab Asum three times in the back with my sword.
- Episode 73:
Matt: You see an empty tunnel. No Raishan. No Thordak corpse.
- Episode 80:
Marisha: I'm gonna cast my one eighth-level spell... and I'm going to attempt to Feeblemind [Raishan].
- Episode 83, with this statement leading up to one of Keyleth's finest moments:
Kaylie: You comin'?Scanlan: Yeah.
- Episode 85:
Sam, now as Taryon: You there! You lot! Hello!
- Also from Episode 85:
Uncle Ogden Trickfoot: We're here now... We're here now... To protect you... From the curse...
- Episode 95:
Vex: It's not real! They're fucking us!
- Episode 96:
Lionel: I'm with this guy. He's pretty big in our parts. You've heard of The Meat Man?
- Episode 99: A half-orc approaches Vox Machina to ask them for their help, telling them that he came with their long-lost companion, The Meat Man, AKA Scanlan, whom he is working for.
Matt: For a brief moment, before the grin crawls across her face.....You see the face of Delilah Briarwood
- Episode 100: An old foe mysteriously appears from the dead...
Matt: He's going to cast Power Word Kill.Also, Vecna: I do hate leaving things unfinished. Matt:He casts Disintegrate at you, Vax.
- Episode 102: Vecna isn't playing around.
Ioun (with a visible expression of horror): And then there was one more.
- Episode 106:
Matt: You glance up and look, and it's Gilmore, standing in the middle of the room.
- Episode 113:
Joe: It's time to destroy this thing once and for all. I kneel down. And I place the hand on the ground. I raise my axe above my head, and I say a prayer to Tiamat... And I bring the axe down and chop my hand off, put Vecna's hand on, use my healing pool to heal, and teleport out — I'm sorry, it was just business. Until we meet again.Marisha: Wait... WHAT??Liam: See you in the next campaign!
- Episode 114, after defeating the Big Bad, proving it's never too late for a Wham Line:
- What the Hell, Hero?:
Vax: Percy, you are clever. (Percy: I know.) It doesn't mean you're always right.Percy: I know.Keyleth: And you have this terrible habit of liking to push problems on other people.
- Tiberius and Vex call Vax out on his Cruel to Be Kind attitude towards their fanboy Kynan in episode 23. They turn out to be completely right, given that this led to Kynan being manipulated by Ripley.
- Keyleth is so shocked by Percy's displays of Ax-Crazy in Episode 25 that she breaks her concentration spell and skips a turn.note
- The next episode, Tiberius is called out by at least three characters for killing incapacitated enemies and not really showing much remorse for it (though they do acknowledge they all do this from time to time). He seems to finally get the point when Allura made it clear she was disappointed in him.
- Vax to Grog in episode 39 after he knocks Vax unconscious trying to rescue him inside a Purple Worm with Craven Edge. Grog refusing to back down and apologize combined with Poor Communication Kills about the portal causes Vax to leave for several hours, possibly losing faith in his ability to lead.
- The episode after that, Keyleth calls out everybody due to said Poor Communication Kills leading to an in-party scuffle.
- And then Percy returns the favour in Episode 42, after her inflexibility (and, in Percy's opinion, her ego) costs Vox Machina an alliance with the Clasp. Keyleth, however, doesn't back down and outright claims the exact opposite.
- And then the shoe's on the other foot in Episode 50 when Percy gets called out on already knowing about Craven Edge and not keeping the party in the loop and with how his "cleverness" has led to bad situations in the past.
- Everyone to Percy for attempting to stab a disguised Raishan in the war room. Even if she was merely projecting herself to their location and she was then forced to reveal important information, it was still a very risky ploy.
- Scanlan has a misguided one towards the rest of Vox Machina in episode 85 about him being brought back from the dead a second time and bringing Kaylie to possibly give her last respects despite promising her that he'd live, convinced the team doesn't care about him.
- Vex to Vax, Grog, and Keyleth in episode 86 by sending Trinket to Cannonball them after they haze Taryon.
- Literally the entirety of Vox Machina to Scanlan in Episode 99, but particularly Pike.
- Will They or Won't They?:
- After his surprise confession, Vax and Keyleth spend about 30 episodes awkwardly negotiating their feelings and dealing with numerous complications before things are finally settled between them with Keyleth's confession in Episode 65.
- Ever since the first custom arrow, Percy and Vex's Ship Tease had been going on for anywhere between twenty-four and fifty-four episodes * before Vex declares her love for him in Episode 69. As of Episode 72, They Do, as Percy gives Vex a Big Damn Kiss in the forest outside Draconia.
- Won the War, Lost the Peace: A minor and subverted example: the end of the Chroma Conclave Arc. Vox Machina successfully collects all of the Vestiges of Divergence, kills all four members of the Conclave and liberates both Tal'Dorei and Draconia from their tyranny. However, at the end of it all, they inadvertently lose the trust of their beloved bard Scanlan Shorthalt, who then officially leaves the party to live a quieter life with his daughter Kaylie. In the grand scheme of things, this is undoubtedly a decisive victory for the free peoples of Exandria with little to lose for it, but Scanlan's departure is a nearly unbearable personal loss for Vox Machina.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Beginning around Episode 100, Matt begins to more consistently refer to copyrighted gods by non-copyrighted titles, in order to avoid any potential legal trouble that comes with publishing a Critical Role campaign setting. This doesn't apply to the players, however, who use the copyrighted names as much as they wish.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Everybody assumes that Vax will turn into a vampire, since he's been bitten by Sylas Briarwood. Vox Machina drags him off to be blessed by a priest, who explains that vampires only turn their victims if they kill them with a bite. What makes it hilarious is that Vax plays up the effects of injury the entire time, so that when the priest explains that he's fine, he comes across as a bit of a hypochondriac. It also happens often at times with the rest of the party.
- You Mean "Xmas": The Winter's Crest festival serves as the campaign's Christmas episodes. The first one celebrated is summarized in comic form, and episode 36 has one in Whitestone (a much-needed Breather Episode).
- Zorro Mark: Scanlan kills a naga and efreeti in Episodes 1 and 46, respectively. Both times it's with the Lightning Bolt spell. And both times their bodies are branded with an "S".
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