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Caduceus Clay

Played by: Taliesin Jaffe

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/caduceus_clay_lvl_10.jpg
"I could fill a book with what I don't know."
Click here  to see Caduceus before level 10.
Race: Firbolg
Class: Cleric (Grave Domain)

A serene and affable worshiper of the Wildmother who tends a graveyard outside of Shadycreek Run. The Mighty Nein run across him searching for help saving their friends from the Iron Shepherds. Over the course of his travels with them, Caduceus has become something of a moral center and confidante for the other members of the Mighty Nein, as well as their designated cook.

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    Tropes A - H 
  • Affectionate Nickname: The party has referred to him as Cad, Caddy, Deuces, and Deucey, and Nott refers to him as Mr. Clay. He seems to take it in his stride.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Fjord accidentally calls him "Molly," immediately realizes his mistake and proceeds to swear profusely.
  • Alliterative Name: Caduceus Clay.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Considering how easy it is for him to become distracted and/or fall behind in conversation, many fans would argue that Caduceus is AD(H)D.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Beetles. He wears iridescent, chitinous armor that looks like it could have come from a large bug, and he carries a Staff of Swarming Insects that allows him to summon beetle swarms. Fittingly, many beetles (particularly from the family Silphidae and Dermestidae) are scavengers that feed on carrion, which aligns with Clay's role as a Grave Domain cleric to encourage a natural progression of the cycle of life and death.
    • To a lesser extent, sheep. As seen in his artwork here, his ear shape, pronounced jawline and flat, wide nose all combine to give him a face like an extremely humanized sheep. The spiral-shaped earrings he wears even look like the curly horns associated with the stereotypical ram.
  • A Spot Of Tea: How he's introduced. He has his tea ready, then apologizes for only having three other teacups. Tea is his Trademark Favorite Drink and while it may not cure all ills, it is at least cure-adjacent whenever he finds someone suffering.
  • Badass Baritone: Taliesin drops his voice down to portray Caduceus.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The only thing so far to rouse Caduceus to actual anger is the presence of The Undead; he's uncharacteristically hostile to Jamedi Cosko, and contemptuously disposes of a ghost in the Diver's Grave. Grave Domain clerics believe that death is a natural part of the cycle of life, and see the presence of undead beings as an affront to that order; Clay is no exception.
    Caduceus (to Jamedi): Pull. Your. Weight.
    • An additional one is desecrating holy ground. In the final episode he loses it at Eadwulf for setting fire to the Blooming Grove, magically enhancing his voice, giving himself blackened eyes as an illusion, and reminding him in no uncertain terms that the gods have a very "special" place for those who burn temples.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Caduceus is easily one of the most patient, kind and moral members of the Mighty Nein, acting as a listening ear for the others whenever they feel lost in their own issues. He's also proved, time and time again, that he is not one to be crossed- he singlehandedly managed to intimidate an enemy pirate ship into parleying with their crew, and when the group found themselves engaged with another ship, he was able to use Control Water to sink the entire ship in one turn.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: According to Taliesin, Caduceus is more concerned with "natural vs unnatural" than "good vs evil".
  • Brutal Honesty: He's very insightful, and tends to confront people with the inner struggles he knows they're experiencing, usually without being prompted.
  • Caring Gardener: He transforms the top of the Xhorhaus into a garden, which includes a giant oak tree that he sets up special sunlight spells to provide light for.
  • Catchphrase: He has a tendency to pepper phrases like "That's nice," or "This is great," into conversation at regular intervals.
  • Character Death: He's accidentally killed by Nott's explosive bolt in episode 55, but a quick Revivify from Jester brings him back.
  • Combat Medic: Caduceus is essentially designed to be the groups main healer, especially thanks to the group realizing how badly the lack of one ended up costing them with Molly's death. He is still a capable fighter, but unlike the more damage-oriented Jester, Caduceus focuses more on keeping his allies in the fight.
  • Comically Missing the Point: How Taliesin plays up the fact that Caduceus has an Intelligence of 9, the lowest of the Mighty Nein. A lot of the complexities of social interaction seem to fly over his head, like the initial implication of Marion Lavorre's suggestion that the Gentleman might be Jester's father. This gets played for comedic effect, of course:
    Caduceus: "Oh my god, your mother knows the Gentleman, that's so cool!"
  • The Comically Serious: When it's Caduceus's turn to be the Butt-Monkey, he reacts with stoic exasperation. Nicely summed up by his reaction to being accidentally banished to the Astral Sea by Jester:
    "What? Oh, for Pete's—" (vanishes)
  • The Conscience: Seems to be this to the rest of the Nein. He has a calm way of dispensing his own brand of advice and serves as a sounding board for the more 'morally ambiguous' members, like Beau.
  • Creepy Good: Clay is a friendly and unambiguously good-aligned guy, but his habit of addressing the flesh-eating beetles in his staff as "my children" is more than a little unsettling. Also, when he wishes not to be disturbed, he uses Thaumaturgy to turn his own eyes pitch black. This works to great effect, as nobody dares to approach him.
  • Due to the Dead: As a cemetary caretaker, this was essentially his profession in the Blooming Grove. He states that he's been to a lot of funerals and typically shows reverence towards human(oid) remains, particularly when using the Speak With Dead spell.
  • Dull Surprise: The man reacts to pretty much everything with a flat expression and tone, even when he is clearly excited by something. The only time he breaks from this are rare moments like meeting Pumat Sol, or when he decides to be a bit more Creepy Good.
  • Dumb Is Good: Caduceus has an Intelligence of 9 (below average for sentient humanoids) yet is the most unambiguously good-hearted member of the Mighty Nein. That said, he's not stupid - he's an incredibly insightful and perceptive individual, even though he lacks knowledge of the world beyond the Blooming Grove.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Nott starts by calling him Deuce as part of her Running Gag. Marisha picks it up as well, to Taliesin's dismay.
  • Friend to Bugs: Particularly the beetles who live in his staff. As a Firbolg, Caduceus can talk to most animals, including insects.
  • Fish out of Water: He's spent his entire life up to this point living in the woods outside of Shadycreek Run, and has little experience with the world beyond. He has apparently never had alcohol before, which surprises the rest of the Mighty Nein.
  • Gentle Giant: As a firbolg, he's over seven feet tall. Also as a firbolg, he's very gentle in his manner. That being said, he can easily dip into Creepy Good at times.
  • Going Commando: Not only does he not wear any underwear, he apparently doesn't even know what underwear is.
  • Green Thumb: His healing spells have plant effects; when he heals Beau's crossbow wound in his debut, moss and lichen sprout from it to knit it together before turning gray and crumbling away.
  • Healing Hands: His specialty as a Cleric.
  • The Heart: One of Caduceus' main functions within the Mighty Nein is to act as a moral compass for the rest, and he is often the one that the others defer to for solving internal conflicts in the group due to his calming presence and insightful observations.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes through a minor one at the beginning of Episode 36 after the Nein's attempt to speak to Marius goes very wrong, leading to them killing the crew of a ship that they subsequently steal. He's seriously hurt in the fight, coming worryingly close to death, and then the party almost leave him behind on the dock. Once he catches up to the ship he spends several minutes slumped on the deck staring into space and wondering if leaving his cemetery to join them was the right decision. Jester is eventually able to bring him around with a pep-talk.
    Tropes I - P 
  • In Harmony with Nature: Comes part and parcel with being a worshipper of the goddess of nature.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Caduceus doesn't have a mean bone in his body, but he also has a pretty blunt manner of speaking about what he intuits about other people. This sometimes makes him come across as bull-headed and insensitive, although usually he's just trying to help.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: Most of the teasing he gets from other members of the party rolls off his back, even though he doesn't understand all of it. But the implication that he snores does get on his nerves.
  • Jumped at the Call: It didn't take much convincing for him to join the Mighty Nein. He admits he'd wanted to leave his cemetery for a while, but was waiting until the right people came along as it wasn't entirely safe to travel the area alone. Despite some misgivings over the group's shadier actions, he's pretty happy with his decision.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Caduceus could be the poster boy for this trope. What he lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in empathy and heart.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Caduceus has officially been in more episodes than Mollymauk, and has been featured in the animated intro since episode 40.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Downplayed. According to Taliesin in the campaign wrap up, this is how Caduceus interprets fate. In-universe, if he stumbles upon something, it's because the universe put it on his way for him to do something with it. Out of character, this is just Tal acknowledging that Matt is giving the player a new story thread.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Because of the way firbolgs are portrayed in the show, his overall form is humanoid, but the shape of his jawline, nose and ears are rather ovine.
  • Making a Splash: Knows the Control Water spell. He uses it to great effect to capsize an opposing pirate ship that saw the Ball-Eater as an easy mark.
  • Magic Staff: His weapon is a gnarled wooden staff with a pink crystal on top, which allows him to summon a swarm of insects.
  • Meaningful Name: The caduceus is the traditional symbol of the Greek god Hermes, and is often used as a symbol of medicine: a fitting name for a Cleric. It's also often associated with passage into the underworld, which is equally-fitting given that Caduceus' clerical abilities are centered around the grave.
  • Mellow Fellow: Probably the most straightforward way to describe Caduceus. He's perpetually calm and relaxed; even when he's severely distressed (such as in the aftermath of the shipjacking in Episode 36) he remains low-key and somber rather than hysterical or angry.
  • Nerves of Steel: Caduceus keeps his mellow demeanor even in the face of danger, though he's not immune to slipping into a Heroic BSoD after the danger has passed.
  • Nice Guy: By far the most outwardly kind member of the Mighty Nein. He is extremely affable towards all strangers they meet at first, and typically maintains a very easy-going demeanor. Only Jester is possibly as openly nice as he is, and even then he lacks her mischievous and prankful nature.
    Beau: Caduceus is the only one good at being good.
    Jester: He's really good at it.
  • No-Sell: One of the benefits given to him by way of being a Cleric of the Grave Domain is that if an ally within 30 feet is hit by a natural 20, Caduceus can negate the 20, meaning that while the target still gets hit, it no longer does critical damage.
  • No Social Skills: Though not as obvious about it as certain other members, Caduceus has spent almost his entire life in isolation from the rest of the world and it shows.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: After Fjord is killed by an agent of Uk'otoa, Caduceus is so pissed that he focuses on attacking the enemies rather than acting as healing and support. Generally speaking, anytime Caduceus starts to dish out the hurt with necromantic spells, it's a sign that he's getting pissed.
  • Odd Friendship: He gets along surprisingly well with Beau, despite her prickly, hotheaded manner and deep fondness for both alcohol and sex seeming to be the complete opposite of Caduceus's mellow, affable nature and utter inexperience with traditional vices. Nevertheless the two bond over their mutual desire to take care of the people around them, and Taliesin even says that Caduceus considers Beau his best friend within the Nein.
  • Oracular Head: Caduceus knows the spell Speak with Dead, meaning that he can interrogate corpses to get the information they used to know when they were alive for as long as their heads are intact. He usually performs it on full bodies, but he uses it on beheaded heads too when the situation calls for it.
    Tropes Q - Z 
  • The Prankster: Downplayed trope. It only comes out around his family, but when it does it comes out with a vengeance. One of the first things he does to his older sister Calliope is Jump Scare her into a pool with his bone flute.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers a measured and polite, but absolutely blistering one to Trent Ikithon, in his own dining rooms. It's bold enough to sufficiently impress Eadwulf.
    May I say, before you go... I think perhaps you are one of the most powerful mages that I've ever had the pleasure to be in the presence of, and for this I would offer a gift, which I think it has been a long time since anyone has pointed out to you that you're a fool. Pain doesn't make people. It's love that makes people. The pain is inconsequential. It's love that saves them. And you would know that, but you have none around you, you said so yourself. You surround yourself with lies and deception, and... I wish for you in the future to find someone who will mourn you when you are gone. Respectfully.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Firbolgs are quite uncommon on the continent of Wildemount; apart from the Clay family, the Nein have only met five others in their travels note  and as such Caduceus tends to turn heads wherever he goes. As with everything, he takes it in stride, even when people like King Bertrand Dwendal use it as an opportunity to be rude.
  • Sherlock Scan: Being a Wisdom-focused character played by Taliesin "Anti-Wheaton" Jaffe, Caduceus tends to have a knack for Perception and Insight rolls that veer into this kind of territory. His Insight check on Gustav in Episode 32 makes Caduceus look downright psychic, and ten episodes later, he needs to make a Perception check with disadvantage and still rolls a 22.
    Taliesin: I love this, this is the best character ever!
  • Sibling Rivalry: With his older brother Colton. It goes both ways, as Colton is irritated that Caduceus is the one to save the family.
  • Simple-Minded Wisdom: Having 9 Intelligence and 20 Wisdom, the lowest and highest scores for each respectively of the group (until Jester increased her Wisdom to 20 at level 8), Caduceus fits this trope to a T. Despite often being ignorant about the workings of the world and lacking in knowledge on many topics (see his quote), Caduceus has a natural affinity for being empathetic towards and discerning the true nature of the people and situations the Nein come across, and often makes extremely insightful observations that constantly throw the party for a loop.
  • So Proud of You: In Episode 105, the entire party helps talk Jester through a Crisis of Faith regarding the Traveller... except for Caduceus. Not because he doesn't care, of course, but because he doesn't feel he needs to, with the rest of the Nein around— and he tells the group that he's very pleased with how wise and mature they've become since he met them.
  • Stealth Pun: As a Firbolg (bovine humanoid) Cleric, Caduceus is something of a holy cow.
  • The Stoner: Clay's danger-defyingly mellow persona, hippie-like affinity for nature, and slow, gravelly voice all lend themselves to this image, even without actual drugs being involved. Fjord actually assumes this of him upon first meeting him.
  • The Swarm: He's able to summon a swarm of flesh-eating beetles from his staff.
  • Team Chef: As of Episode 30, he's begun to take up cooking duties for the Mighty Nein, starting with fashioning omelettes using ingredients from the Iron Shepherds' kitchen after the Mighty Nein killed them all.
  • The Teetotaler: He's never had any alcohol before, and doesn't like the taste of it. Unlike Jester, he doesn't like milk either.
  • Tranquil Fury: The few times Caduceus is genuinely angry or upset, he instead displays it through being shorter and tonally sharper with his words and with passive-aggressive actions.
    Caduceus: I hate to raise my voice, but... (voice volume is exactly the same as usual)
  • Vague Age: He gives an estimate of 100 seasons, but he really doesn't know. All Taliesin will say is that he's between 80 and 100 years old (meaning that he is still in his early-to-mid 20s in firbolg's age).
  • Walking Spoiler: His existence spoils the fact that Mollymauk, Taliesin's previous character, has died.
  • Warrior Therapist: His family, followers of the Wildmother, are in charge of maintaining the temple and graveyard in the Blooming Grove. This office has given him experience counseling people and while he's a bit of a country bumpkin, he has almost supernatural insight into people, which he serves with kindness and cups of tea. (In D&D stat terms: high Wisdom, low Intelligence.) He is not a frontline fighter and will seek peaceful solutions where possible but is not a pacifist (as Nature is often violent) and knows his way around offensive spells when he isn't being the party's main healer.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A more subtle example. In Episodes 35-36, he quietly displays quite a bit of displeasure at the Nein's actions that resulted in them killing most of a ship's crew and stealing it, and almost leaving him for dead. Fortunately, Jester manages to snap him out of his Heroic BSoD.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: He's got a pink mohawk. He eventually reveals that pink his not his natural color, it's the result of the pink moss that also grows on his armor.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Being a later member of the group and the one with the least past trauma and emotional baggage, Caduceus is often exasperated by how distrusting and suspicious the group is of others, and how often they assume their actions will result in their punishment, regardless of intent. He does his best to remind them that he believes they are all ultimately good people trying to do the right thing.
    Caduceus: Am I the only here who doesn't instantly assume that they're the bad guy? I mean, has anybody else here actually had any experience being trusted, and doing the right thing? Is this so alien?
    Beau: I mean, yeah. I think [it is] for a lot of us, Caduceus.
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