Fractures

"Fractures"
Campaign 3 episode
"Fractures" (3x78) thumbnail featuring Taliesin Jaffe and Travis Willingham.
Episode no.Episode 78
AirdateNovember 16, 2023 19:00 PT
Running time4:00:41
Links and related articles
Associated 4-Sided Dive"Shard Candy" (4SDx19)
Episode chronology
Previous
"The Promise and the Price" (3x77)
Next
"To Hurt Is to Heal" (3x79)
List of Campaign 3 episodes

"Fractures" (3x78) is the 78th episode of the third campaign of Critical Role. Bells Hells face interparty turmoil as they grapple with the consequences of choices made and broken trust at a crucial crossroads...

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Pre-show[edit | edit source]

Liam is not at the table today unfortunately, but Laura, Taliesin, and Ashley get to enjoy some extra elbow room... for now. Sam's ad today features the return of the cat, pretending to be a dog.

"Persona 5 Tactica One-Shot" (OSx55) will be aired tomorrow. In Candela Obscura news, the game's core rulebook and "Creating Characters for Candela Obscura: Needle & Thread" (Mx26) were released this week, and "Crafting a Mystery with Spenser Starke" will be released next week. There will be no Critical Role that week because of Thanksgiving, but the week after that will feature a one-shot on Giving Tuesday (November 28) and, again, Candela Obscura Circle of Tide & Bone on Thursday.

Part I[edit | edit source]

Ashton Greymoore lays unconscious at the top of the ziggurat underneath Whitestone, after Fearne Calloway has kicked them. The rest of Bells Hells is shocked that Fearne knew that Ashton was going to take the shard of Rau'shan instead of her. She admits that they discussed it and she did not want it because it scared her. Imogen Temult reminds her of the numerous warnings that the shard may kill Ashton.

Fresh Cut Grass brings him back to consciousness with Cure Wounds. Ashton admits, "I think I might have fucked up a lot." Fearne hits him with his glass hammer, then tried but fails to break it. Fresh Cut Grass stops her and says it is better if everyone talked about their frustrations. Fearne leaves with the Quintessence Array. Laudna, struggling to hold back the dark magic in her chest, asks Imogen why Ashton betrayed them. Imogen uses Detect Thoughts to find he realized that he was violently projecting responsibility onto others and wanted to find someone else to blame throughout his life.

Ashton can feel the dormant earth titan power inside them awakening, and they can sense the mountains and earth around them breathing in sync with them. They then violently cough up a reformed shard of Rau'shan, which has rejected them. (Mechanically, Ashton loses 2 points of Constitution.) Distraught, Laudna admits to Imogen that she is having an irrational thought that Ashton should've died and Fearne could have killed them. Delilah Briarwood urges Laudna to focus on the shard. Laudna feels that she will kill Ashton and turns to go. With some difficulty, she successfully tears her focus from the shard and leaves.

Fresh Cut Grass asks why Ashton did this. Ashton denies being power-hungry; he wanted his family, he doesn't know what, something that doesn't exist. While he was unconscious, he dreamed of his parents and of the cruel and vicious person he was supposed to be, where the ritual at Hishari was successful. Despite the warnings that his parents were not great people, he hoped having a part of his parents through this shard would fix him. Fresh Cut Grass and Imogen sympathize with the desire to fix things or for a closeness with family, but Ashton emphasizes he "wanted to feel robbed" and wanted someone else to blame. Imogen tells him that though what happened here is his fault, he should let go of everything before. Ashton is unsure how, and he can see where he's broken. Fresh Cut Grass wants to know if they care about anyone; Ashton says he cares about them, but Fresh Cut Grass dismisses it. He says that he didn't do this for power but in an attempt to be whole. Imogen sharply urges Ashton to take advantage of still being alive to start again. Fresh Cut Grass asks how he could hurt Fearne specifically. Ashton answers, "The same way anybody hurts anybody: a moment of fucking weakness." He loves Fresh Cut Grass because they know that and he recognized his damage in them. He apologizes for making things worse. The three decide the party needs time to rest and to talk and cannot leave for the Hellcatch Valley and Ruidus today.

Chetney catches up to Fearne in the tunnels leading back into Castle Whitestone. He asks if she's okay (no) and what she plans to do (destroy the array). He reminds her that what happened is not what he and the others expected. Simply, she did not want the shard but Ashton did. He asks if Ashton convinced her or if bargains or trades were made; no, she simply went along with it. After talking to Ashton, she felt that Evontra'vir's warning was maybe a challenge for Ashton to overcome. She admits that she's seen bad versions of herself[fn 1] and was afraid the shard would make her one of them. However, it was the wrong decision, and now she wants to break Ashton's face into dust and maybe her own too. She felt that it was wrong to do, but she likes Ashton and hoped this would make them happy. She agrees with Chetney that she "fucked up". He encourages her to be less afraid of power and reminds her that Bells Hells will support her. He adds that helping someone destroy themselves is not a good way to earn their affection. She didn't think it would actually destroy them. He urges her and Ashton to talk to him if either of them "want out" because he's previously had similar thoughts in his long life: it is not actually that romantic. He suggests the two of them break some windows. First to twenty wins 500 gold.

Laudna assumes her Form of Dread and disappears into the tunnels. Fresh Cut Grass suggests allowing Laudna and everyone to have space before regrouping to talk in the evening. Imogen still goes to search for Laudna but fails to find or contact her. Ashton apologizes to Fresh Cut Grass for being mean about his faith in the Changebringer; Fresh Cut Grass admits he's been trying to force faith in Ashton as well. Ashton thinks that they Changebringer can't fix them. They fear that Fresh Cut Grass will die for her when she maybe should die for them, but they ultimately don't feel qualified to have an opinion on what to do about the gods. Fresh Cut Grass does love the Changebringer and feels she cares about them, and they wish that Ashton did actually care about everyone as much as they say. Ashton cares about everyone, just not himself, and he feared that he and Fresh Cut Grass had that in common.

Fearne and Chetney destroy stained glass windows depicting the founding of Whitestone. Fearne needs to go for a walk. Chetney has her promise not to leave, and he promises to give Ashton a hard time. Gwendolyn de Rolo comes to break windows too, and Chetney entertains her while Fearne goes to the Altar of the Raven. Fearne prays to The Raven Queen for guidance and leaves her postcards as an offering. Outside, she sees two adult ravens bring berries to feed an adolescent raven with one leg. The ravens look at her, then fly away.

Laudna exits the tunnels into the Parchwood Timberlands. She resists the urge to revert to what she once was, but she also finds comfort in walking through the woods, thinking of how far she has come since. Whitestone now is very different from the city she grew up in. It is vibrant, brighter, and full of laughter and hope.

Ashton finds Percival de Rolo looking through the shattered windows. Percival laments how children can be unexpectedly like their parents. Ashton asks if he thinks that's because children pay attention to who their parents are or because it is inherently in them. Percy believes it is a bit of both. Ashton admits that they were very nearly the parents they never met, and they are unsure if they are worth trusting again. Percival advises that everyone, especially those who want to make a difference, makes terrible mistakes. First, ensure nobody sees them. Failing that, do everything to make up for it. Failing that, live in some bushes hidden away from everyone. He offers more serious advice that Ashton can punish themselves, but don't drag others down with them. Ashton observes that Percival wears his own damage well. Percival admits it is because of years of "wearing many things well" and of surrounding himself with better people. He looks to Gwendolyn in the garden, throwing stones at windows. Ashton tells Percival that they owe him a favor.

Imogen fails to find Laudna in the tunnels. She waits in the room that Laudna showed her and Fearne last night.[fn 2] She finally leaves after three hours. She runs into Allura, to whom she apologizes and claims they're not usually like this. Allura reassures her, but she asks if the group is up to the task. Imogen admits that she was sure they were until this morning. Allura is understanding, having been an adventurer in her own youth. She encourages them not to give up, especially because Bells Hells is all everyone has right now to scout Ruidus. Nobody knows how much time is left; they are relying on the party to find that out.

Imogen, Chetney, Ashton, and Fresh Cut Grass regroup for dinner. Chetney uses Grim Psychometry and sees: a pre-Founding kingdom of fire populated by elemental-like being; a conflict, (The Schism) against beings of light and shadow and feels "benevolent frustrations, emotional bursts of anger"; the sealing of Rau'shan underneath a mountain (Toramunda); and his unsealing at the beginning of The Calamity as two halves of a mountain rejoined (Avalir and Cathmoíra). Imogen asks if anyone knows where Fearne and Laudna are. Chetney says Fearne went for a walk but provides no other details. Fresh Cut Grass insists they allow Fearne and Laudna to come back on their own and uses his Coin of the Changebringer to confirm that she is safe.

Ashton tells Imogen that they will do "whatever it takes" to find Laudna. Chetney, picking up on "whatever it takes", tells Ashton to leave and not come back. He insists he's serious. Ashton begins to leave for their room. Chetney yells after them that they can do things for themselves but shouldn't risk the rest of them. He says if he believed he couldn't control his lycanthropy, he would have left, and he does not trust Ashton. They return. Ashton isn't sure if they're staying yet, but they think that mostly isn't their decision. They asked what Chetney did before he thought he could control his lycanthropy, and Chetney says that he killed things and hurt people. Ashton promises that, if allowed to stay, they will help Chetney if he hurts a lot of people for any reason and will not rebuke him for it. As Ashton leaves for their room, Chetney tells them, "That's a lot of words. We'll see."

Laudna asks Delilah if she has ever loved anything that hurt her. Delilah tells her that this is all love is, but sometimes love is more than pain and that is worth everything. Laudna cannot remember what happened this morning. She can only think of how painful love has been for Delilah, Imogen's parents, Orym, Fresh Cut Grass, and Keyleth. Delilah tells her that love is not pain when one is strong enough to fix what hurts. The weak allow themselves to be hurt. When asked if Ashton is weak, Delilah remarks they are still a child. Laudna doesn't want to hurt a child. She wants to create a doll for them and goes to find materials in her old cabin.

Part II[edit | edit source]

In the woods, Fearne uses Plant Growth to re-create her bedroom at Ligament Manor. She thinks of Nana Morri, wishes she was home, and settles down to sleep.

Laudna finds the homestead she used to live in and is surprised that it's been burned down. Delilah assures her they can rebuild, but Laudna believes it's too much for tonight. She collects pieces from the ruin and wedges quartz into a chipmunk skull to create a doll of Ashton. Delilah suggests trading it for the shard and encourages her to take it to empower them both. Laudna refuses, fearful of hurting the others like Ashton hurt Fearne or she hurt Imogen by taking the gnarlrock.[fn 3] Delilah claims there are only two types of people, those who allow themselves to be hurt and those who retaliate, and asks who Laudna is. Laudna answers that she is Matilda, but Delilah says that Matilda is dead and she is something more. She encourages Laudna to rest. Laudna asks her to hold her as she sleeps and cuddles with the Ashton doll.

The sun rises. Fearne briefly thinks she's home in the Fey Realm before she remembers she is in Whitestone. Laudna slowly walks toward the castle, anxiously retreats into the forest, and repeats. Because Laudna has not returned, Imogen wakes Fresh Cut Grass to locate her with Locate Creature. As they descend into the tunnels trying get close enough for the spell to find her, Imogen tells him that they saw Delilah in the tunnels.[fn 2] Ashton and Chetney meet for breakfast. Chetney remarks that Ashton still being there is "a good start", then attacks Ashton in werewolf form to test whether his arm has new capabilities. Nothing special happens, though Ashton feels as if that strength is still locked away. Ashton convinces Chetney to look for the others. Locate Creature finally picks up Laudna, and Fresh Cut Grass and Imogen exit the tunnels and run into Ashton and Chetney as well as Orym. Fearne returns as they exit the castle.

The group finds Laudna pacing in the woods. She sees Ashton and flees, though Chetney runs her down. When Laudna expresses fear that she will kill Ashton, Imogen sends them back to the castle. Laudna informs her that Delilah wanted the shard, and she demands to know if Ashton hurt or manipulated Fearne. Laudna angrily believes that Ashton took Fearne away from the others because Ashton knew this was wrong to do, and she laments that everyone had a nice conversation about how they were a team yesterday morning. Imogen telepathically tells Fresh Cut Grass that it feels as if Laudna has reverted, and Fresh Cut Grass agrees that everyone is struggling. She believes they cannot stay in Whitestone, and Fresh Cut Grass believes they cannot proceed toward Ruidus. Chetney tells Laudna that he feels that Ashton choosing to stay, rather than choosing to cowardly leave, means something. Fearne apologizes for her part in all of this. She also suggests they visit Morri in the Fey Realm, where the different flow of time will allow them to get settled as a group. They agree to ask Allura to send them there.

While waiting at the castle gates, Ashton puts their hand against the ground and feels as if they can almost slip their hand into it, as if into a bath. As the group approaches, Laudna asks where the shard it and says it is good that Imogen refuses to tell her. Laudna presents Ashton the doll: "Dolls are for children, and you're a child." Ashton is grateful because they've never had a doll before. Laudna clarifies she likes children and urges him to find more joy in their inner child. Ashton apologizes to her, then promises to everyone that they will try not to be "that person" because they are tired of that person. They assure the group that, if allowed to stay, they will remember that Bells Hells were the first people who did not make them leave and that they will choose to stay no matter what. Though Laudna is still mad, she is grateful for their apology.

Though Allura is anxious to hear that Fearne's grandmother is Morrigan, she agrees to take them to the Fey Realm. However, the lack of Sending makes it difficult to take them from the Fey Realm to the Hellcatch Valley. She will accompany them and leaves to prepare. Ashton asks to talk to Fearne alone in a corner. After a moment of hesitation, and as the rest of the party watches from a distance, Fearne obliges. He apologizes to her, ultimately emphasizing that he is not seeking forgiveness and simply wants her to know she did nothing wrong. Fearne observes that he did the same as Efterin, whom Ashton rejects as a father. Efterin was a cautionary tale that he did not recognize as one. She does not like him right now, but she promises they'll talk later and is glad they're alive.

Allura returns, having changed into her traveling gear, and Plane Shifts them to Ligament Manor. Morrigan is recovering from helping Bells Hells previously[fn 4] and is being tended to by Birdie Calloway. Oleander Calloway had a vision that warned of an upcoming siege on their hideout, so they and Hondir buried hideout and destroyed Veilscatter Scope, and Birdie and Oleander fled through a gate to the Fey Realm. Birdie leaves to fetch Oleander. Morri is glad to host the frightened Allura and ensure they lose no time upon their return to Exandria. She is excited to learn that the group is visiting for a retreat before they set off for the moon.

Morri shows them how the Bloody Bridge pulls through the leylines, increasingly tangling and stressing the flow of magic between the planes. She is not surprised to hear that Fearne is among those looking to fix it. She explains that affecting fate is limited in certain ways: she cannot always see the ends, and there are taut threads with a powerful destiny that only the Raven Queen can view, cut, and weave. Fearne's fate is uncertain and impulsive. Since Fearne was a child, Morri has been attempting to keep her safe by watching for "any untoward plucking" on it. Fearne's true heritage demanded Morrigan's attention, and she supposes that they are nearing where the string is heading. Fearne tells her fears she will turn into the bad versions of herself she's seen. Morrigan tells her that she cannot give Fearne all her desired answers and urges her to speak to her mother. Fearne shows her the symbol of Asmodeus that Teven Klask burned into her hand.[fn 5] Morrigan coos that she and Birdie are more alike than Fearne knows. She explains that the mark is a promise for an audience and an opportunity to make a trade, though she warns that these trades rarely end favorably. She advises Fearne not to contact Asmodeus except in an emergency.

Everyone makes plans to prepare for the party's stay and for a scavenger hunt that Fresh Cut Grass is planning as a bonding exercise tomorrow.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

New[edit | edit source]

These characters have not previously appeared in Campaign 3 or any other Critical Role work, though they may have been previously mentioned.

  • Vitoren, fey elf who previously reneged on a deal with Morri (via Scrying orb)

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

Quotations[edit | edit source]

Inventory[edit | edit source]

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Un-absorbed 1 Shard of Rau'shan Ashton Bag of Holding Coughed up by Ashton after the shard rejected them as its host
Offered 1 Postcards Fearne Altar of the Raven Created by Morri, who claimed they were from Birdie and Ollie
Crafted 1 Ashton doll Laudna Ashton

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This episode was the first episode filmed after the "The Mighty Nein Reunion: Echoes of the Solstice" (OSx54) live show, which was performed on October 25, 2023 three weeks before this episode aired. This is evidenced by the pattern shaved into Taliesin's hair and Marisha's "HDYWTDT?" tattoo, both of which were present in the live show but not "The Promise and the Price" (3x77).
  • When the cast use their notebooks to roleplay their characters pretending to be perusing books while they watch Ashton and Fearne's conversation from a distance, Sam is actually using one of Ashley's notebooks. He inadvertently picked it up off the floor.

References[edit | edit source]

Footnotes:

  1. In "By the Road" (E1x04), Fearne saw a forlarren version of herself that had taken the Circlet of Barbed Vision. In "A Test of Worth" (E1x05), she dreamed of a similar version of herself urging her to take the circlet.
  2. 2.0 2.1 In "The Promise and the Price" (3x77), the previous episode.
  3. Laudna shattered the gnarlock and unwittingly fed power to Delilah in "To The Skies" (3x23).
  4. In "An Exit Most Fraught" (3x48), Morrigan fought Zathuda and Gloamglut so that Bells Hells could escape following their sabotage of the Malleus Key at the Shiver Keep.
  5. In "Bloody Flowers" (3x67).

Citations:

Art: