Screenshot of Cognouza in Crit Recap Animated, by Offworld Studios.[art 1]
Full nameCognouza Ward
Geographical information
PlaneAstral Plane
Historical dates
EstablishedThe Age of Arcanum (as part of Aeor)[1][2]
Leader titleThe Somnovem
AffiliationAeor (formerly)

Cognouza was a ward of the city of Aeor. It now drifts through the Astral Plane.

Description[edit | edit source]

In the vision that the Mighty Nein saw after Vokodo's death, they saw the city appearing to move as though it was alive, with towers flicking and bending as though it was organic, and roads pulsing like veins. Within the streets of the city they felt the presence of thousands of minds, but saw no people. The city itself seemed to radiate an aura of malevolence and hunger.[3]

In the Astral Sea, Cognouza appears both beautiful and ominous, as a huge mass of rock surrounded by smaller fragments of landmasses and thin sinew-like tendrils, topped by many tall towers befitting a remnant from the Age of Arcanum. As the city expanded in the Astral Sea, it began to replicate parts of itself and absorb surrounding elements, forming fractal-like patterns of neighborhoods and streets in its sprawl. At first glance, the city appears to be completely empty, with no signs of life in its streets. Upon being telepathically welcomed, however, the streets shift to become fully populated by humanoids, mostly human and elven, in Aeorian dress, seemingly acting out scenes of daily life.

Buildings in the city appear to be a strange combination of stonework and flesh, with veins, teeth, and bulging flesh occasionally appearing as parts of archways and streets. Buildings' interiors contain elements of moving, living tissue as well, though some retain more stone and metal structures.

History[edit | edit source]

The Cognouza Ward was once a part of the city of Aeor during the Age of Arcanum, where it was led by a group called the Somnovem.[4] The Somnovem orchestrated Cognouza's escape from the destruction of Aeor during the Calamity. They betrayed Aeor to ensure their survival.[5] In doing so, the ward of the city was transported to the Astral Sea. According to Lucien, the people of the Cognouza Ward were shortly thereafter hit by a "psychic storm" that "racked every mind and spirit and shattered them, until they became one with their own city."[6] Their leaders, the Somnovem, remained, and when their nine consciousnesses joined together in the Somnovem Omega to speak as one, the minds of the inhabitants combined consciousness with them in a nexus of the minds of all those who once lived in the Cognouza Ward.[7]

The tome found by Lucien described the ward as originally "a region organized by nine philosophers who were dedicated to the ideas of manifestation through dream and imagination with the conduit of arcana, increasingly obsessed with the astral plane, and many of its denizens being able to forge matter from sheer will and idea alone. They were rumored to have been plotting a secession from the convocation — to abscond from the city to their 'beloved plane of dreams and ash,' as it said in some of the notes of other Aeorian denizens that seemed to be 'speaking down' on these philosophers."[8]

The Mighty Nein facing off against Cognouza in the animated opening.

Within the ruins of the Genesis Ward, the party found a report that spoke of the Somnovem having defied programs, breaking approved protocols and research and experimentation and hoarding their findings. As such, studies had been halted within the Cognouza Ward and members of the Somnovem collective were not to be allowed within the Genesis Ward, floors B-3 through B-6, until further notice.[9]

After its transition to the Astral Sea, the now seemingly living city pursued the morkoth Vokodo, who managed to escape by breaking through the boundaries of the planes and landing on the island of Rumblecusp.[10] It was through Vokodo's dying visions, which the Mighty Nein shared, that they first became aware of Cognouza.[3] The Nein followed Lucien and Cree to the city in the Astral Plane, where Lucien set off multiple intuit charges in the Aether Crux (the location where the Somnovem's minds gathered to join together), heavily wounding them before drawing them into himself and becoming the embodiment of the Somnovem Omega.[11] When the Mighty Nein eventually defeated him, they heard thousands of whispered voices thanking them as the souls of the inhabitants of the city were released and dissipated.[12] Kingsley Tealeaf's dreams of his confinement and escape from Lucien included memories of strange, black chains that invisibly wove through Cognouza and were now broken, the sound of them shattering between worlds, and the angry, unknowable, primal, ancient cry being something he could never forget.[13] This imagery of the black chains breaking symbolized the ancient god Tharizdun losing its subtle influence over and investment in the Cognouza Ward.[14]

Known inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The name "Cognouza" could potentially be based on the Latin word "cognosco" meaning "to find out, learn, or know."
  • In Campaign 2 Arc 6: Weird Magic, Cognouza replaces the unidentified dragon at the end of the fourth title sequence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. See Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 7: "Wildemount Bestiary", p. 282. Also see p. 12.
  2. "Dark Waters" (2x98) from 57:06 through 58:57.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Rumble at Rumblecusp" (2x105) from 4:37:55 through 4:39:45.
  4. "Solace Between the Secrets" (2x118) at 2:47:53.
  5. "Solace Between the Secrets" (2x118) at 2:06:53.
  6. "Hell or High Water" (2x136) at 2:35:57.
  7. "Long May He Reign" (2x140) at 9:32.
  8. "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" (2x122) from 1:12:42 through 1:13:20.
  9. "The Genesis Ward" (2x135) at 1:10:49.
  10. "The Ruined Sliver" (2x104) from 36:19 through 40:53.
  11. "Where There Is a Will..." (2x138) at 3:08:13.
  12. "Long May He Reign" (2x140) at 3:49:47.
  13. "Fond Farewells" (2x141) at 6:55:22.
  14. "Critical Role Campaign 2 Wrap-Up" (Mx10) from 2:15:38 through 2:18:59.


  1. Screenshot of Cognouza in Crit Recap Animated, by Offworld Studios (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.