Clasp

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Clasp
Official art of symbol of the Clasp, by Conceptopolis from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, page 34.[art 1]
Organizational information
TypeCrime syndicate
BaseThe Grotto, Emon[1][2]
GoalsMake profit through illegal means (kidnapping, assassination, smuggling, black market trade, etc.)[1]
Preserve the function of civilization, so that it remains profitable[1]
History
EstablishedDuring the rule of the Kingdom of Drassig[1]
Membership
LeaderTriumvirate of Spirelings lead each sect
DemographicsMultiracial
Associated classesRogues, Fighters, others
Relationships
EnemiesThe Myriad

When night is come and darkness falls;
Locks help not, nor do stone walls;
Slinking and hiding, like poison asp;
Close tight thy eyes, see not the Clasp.

— Childhood rhyme in Clasp-infested towns[1]

The Clasp is a guild of thieves, assassins, black merchants, and contract dealers built upon the ruins of the old Winksman Thieves Guild founded under the rule of Drassig in Tal'Dorei. It operates on a relatively amoral code of honor and respect.[3] Their influence is easily enforced, as most people know of the dangerous myths surrounding them, and they maintain an extremely high success rate on contracts taken.

The Clasp was also the driving force behind the plot of "The Return of Liam" (OSx08).

Activities[edit | edit source]

The Clasp pride themselves as the 'clasp' that "holds society together—understanding that," reasoning that "an organized criminal syndicate requires a functioning, civilized economy".[4] The Clasp is involved in thievery, blackmail, assassination,[5] sabotage,[6] and various kinds of trafficking.

There is a variety of illegal drugs in Tal'Dorei trafficked by the Clasp.[7] Oloore root — a heavy psychedelic originally used by druidic cultures.[8][9] Trafficking oloore root is a major source of income for the Clasp.[8][10] Suude, refined from arcane residuum; causes head rush and enhances senses/magic.[9][11] Zeal — a contact drug that briefly enhances strength and instills courage. It is made from the ichor of demons.[7]

Based on the Clasp's contract with Berin Abenard, it is implied that the Clasp has at least some business in the kidnapping and trading people for forced labor or sexual slavery.[12][13]

Contracts[edit | edit source]

To summon the attention of the Clasp for a contract, one must ask around until they find someone who has already dealt with them and persuade them to reveal the contract request drop-point.[3]

Organizational structure[edit | edit source]

Depiction of a cutthroat (left) and an enforcer (right) from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, page 233.[art 2]

Leadership[edit | edit source]

Leaders of the Clasp are called Spirelings.[3][14][15] They are masters of networks and information. Spirelings wear a gold[12] or silver[16] signet ring engraved with the symbol of the Clasp.[12][16] Spireling Shenn is the leader of the Clasp in Emon.[17]

Emon Spirelings[edit | edit source]

Stilben Spirelings[edit | edit source]

Westruun Spirelings[edit | edit source]

Membership[edit | edit source]

One does not apply to join the Clasp; worthy candidates are invited.[3] The main positions at the Clasp are the cutthroats and enforcers. The cutthroats are the efficient thieves and assassins of the organization — patient and precise. Clasp enforcers spread the dreadful reputation of their organization with their intimidating presence, blackmailing or reminding liable people of their obligations to the Clasp.[4]

Non-canon[edit | edit source]

In a non-canon one-shot entitled "The Return of Liam" (OSx08), several of the player characters were members of the Emon's Clasp branch (Delweth, Dren, Obby "the Rat", and Tarvis) and were tasked by Spireling Shenn to pull off a heist.

Locations[edit | edit source]

Emon[edit | edit source]

Official art of Clasp's hideout beneath Emon, by Olivia Samson and Diana Sousa from Vox Machina Origins III 6.[art 3]

The Clasp had a subterranean base located beneath the Graveyard District in Emon, with a secret entrance leading to it from the Diamond Nest Tavern.[30] There was another entrance from the north end of Abdar's Promenade,[31] but it was destroyed by the Clasp after talks for an alliance with Vox Machina broke down.[32] An entrance from the Temple District was blocked after the Chroma Conclave's attack on Emon.[31]

In 811 PD, the Emon Clasp was under the control of Shenn, Spireling of Secrets; Warren, Spireling of Blades; and Zilloa, Spireling of Shadows.[1]

Over the following decades, there was sporadic gang warfare between the Clasp and the Myriad in Emon. But they held a tenuous peace as of 836 PD. By that time, the Clasp had a much-improved reputation in Emon for having saved lives and held the city together during Thordak's occupation. Its Spirelings showed themselves in public and sometimes openly did business with the Tal'Dorei Council.[22]

Around 840 PD, the Clasp and the Myriad in Emon came to blows, and according to Poska, "no one really knows who won." She said that the Nameless Ones were those who were left.[33]

Jorenn Village[edit | edit source]

Around 807 PD,[34] Vax'ildan was contracted by Spireling Gideor of Westruun to steal a ring, Fracture, from the Shadewatch of Jorenn Village.[35] He discovered a notebook in Shademaster Derowen's office that contained evidence of the Shademaster and her brother, Spireling Culwen, skimming profits off silver they smuggled for the Clasp.[36] Vax learned that Gideor was concerned about Culwen's power following an incident in Kymal, where he made a bargain for Derowen's life.[37][38] To protect his assets, Culwen killed Derowen, and shortly after, Vax killed the Spireling.[39][40]

Westruun[edit | edit source]

Around 807 PD,[34] a Westruun nobleman (presumably Lord Berin Abenard) put out a Clasp contract to kidnap Vex'ahlia.[12] Vax'ildan foiled Lyre's attempt to fulfill the contract, and asked to be brought to Spireling Gideor.[21] He negotiated a new contract: he would join the Clasp and fulfill a contract for Gideor in Jorenn Village. In exchange, Gideor would find a solution to the contract to kidnap Vex, and would provide work in the future.[41] His solution was to turn Lyre, who had messed up one too many contracts,[42] into a copy of Vex'ahlia using a stick made of human tongues, and to hand him over to the nobleman.[27] During this time, Spireling Culwen was absent from Westruun, and was killed by Vax'ildan in Jorenn Village.[40] When Vax'ildan later returned from Jorenn, he was initiated into the Clasp by Gideor and Kal with a brand between his shoulder blades.[29]

By 812 PD, the Westruun Clasp was under the control of a new trio of spirelings: Fetch, Spireling of Secrets; Gholesh, Spireling of Shadows; and Oalan, Spireling of Blades.[1] By 836 PD, Fetch and Gholesh still held those positions, but there was a new Spireling of Blades, Melchior.[22]

Stilben[edit | edit source]

By 836 PD, the Clasp had been struggling with the Myriad for control of Stilben for three decades, and the port town had been thoroughly corrupted in the process.[26]

History[edit | edit source]

In 809 PD, the Clasp was responsible for sending the blue crystal that contained Skysunder to Westruun.[43]

Several members of the Clasp ambushed Pike and Vax'ildan in Emon, knocking them unconscious in an alleyway and taking them back to their headquarters. Spireling Modeth spoke with them, explaining that the Clasp had been watching the home of Sir Gregory Fince in order to stay aware of Emon's political climate. When they saw Vox Machina leaving the building, they decided to bring them in to interrogate them. Vax then revealed that he was a member of the Clasp sect in Westruun. Seeking to gauge their skills and intent, Modeth forced Pike and Vax to fight a chained chimera in the Clasp's arena. Although the two of them managed to slay the creature, Modeth was still not convinced and decided to detain them overnight. However, Vax and Pike managed to escape that night and reunited with the rest of their group.[44]

Vox Machina later returned to the Clasp's headquarters and ended up fighting Spireling Modeth. After killing him, they discovered that he had been keeping four strange glowing crystals, which they then took for themselves. As the party tried to leave, they were stopped by a group of Clasp members and another Spireling. Scanlan managed to convince the Clasp to let them go safely and Vox Machina left before their deeds could be discovered.[45]

Quotations[edit | edit source]

  • "Once the Clasp fastens on to you, you're through." (popular Clasp saying)[46]
  • "[B]etrayal is all too common to many of us, but an organization such as ours cannot flourish if we do not trust one another. We cannot be successful without loyalty." (Spireling Gideor)[47]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Clasp's name comes from the group's reputation as the "clasp" that holds civilizations together (often acting as a shadow government and black market in cities where the group operates).
  • Vax'ildan's initial run-in and membership with the Clasp was part of the plot from a one-on-one session between Liam O'Brien and Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer after Liam missed a regular game session with the rest of the group.[48]
  • Ashton Greymoore has a patch with the symbol of the Clasp on the left thigh of their Campaign 3 character art.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 34.
  2. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 92.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Some of the information on this page was imported from Matthew Mercer's Vox Machina Wiki article, "The Clasp".
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 6: "Allies and Adversaries of Tal'Dorei", p. 232.
  5. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 131.
  6. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 53.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 3: "Tal'Dorei Gazetteer", p. 85.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Marisha Ray and Matthew Mercer inform the rest of the cast that oloore root is one of two illegal substances traded in Emon, that the Clasp makes a lot of money from it, and that Keyleth has used it like "an ayahuasca tea" to have a vision: "Critical Role ComiCon Panal" on YouTube
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 55.
  10. From Matthew Mercer's Reddit comment on oloore root.
  11. From Matthew Mercer's tweet on Tal'Dorei drugs.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 48.
  13. "Dangerous Dealings" (1x42) at 2:25:36.
  14. Spirelings were referenced in Matthew Mercer's background story provided to Critical Role Transcriptions.
  15. "In Ruins" (1x41) at 1:00:55.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 293.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Dangerous Dealings" (1x42) at 2:37:42.
  18. Vox Machina Origins I #3, p. 4.
  19. "A Cycle of Vengeance" (1x58) at 2:08:30.
  20. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 294. See also p. 351.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 42.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 54.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 46.
  24. "In Ruins" (1x41) at 59:25.
  25. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 351.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 3: "Tal'Dorei Gazetteer", p. 68.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 54.
  28. "The Story of Vox Machina" (Mx04) at 10:01.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, pp. 352–353.
  30. "A Musician's Nostalgia" (1x37) at 1:48:30.
  31. 31.0 31.1 "In Ruins" (1x41) at 1:02:11.
  32. "Dangerous Dealings" (1x42) at 2:58:36.
  33. "The Nameless Ones" (E1x01) at 1:11:51.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Critical Role (@CriticalRole) on Twitter: "Check out our updated timeline featuring ALL of our epic adventures throughout Exandria -- including Campaign 3! ⚔️" (October 28, 2021).
  35. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 60.
  36. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 295.
  37. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 294.
  38. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 317.
  39. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 318.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 320.
  41. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 49.
  42. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 52.
  43. "The Story of Vox Machina" (Mx04) at 5:47.
  44. "The Story of Vox Machina" (Mx04) from 9:26 through 10:36.
  45. "The Story of Vox Machina" (Mx04) from 12:39 through 13:13.
  46. Vox Machina Origins I #3.
  47. Vox Machina — Kith & Kin, p. 351.
  48. From Liam O'Brian's Q&A on Reddit (source).

Art:

  1. Official art of symbol of the Clasp, by Conceptopolis from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, page 34. 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.
  2. Depiction of a cutthroat (left) and an enforcer (right) from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, page 233. This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  3. Official art of Clasp's hideout beneath Emon, by Olivia Samson and Diana Sousa from Vox Machina Origins III 6. 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.