The Return of Liam

"The Return of Liam"
One-shot episode
"The Return of Liam" (OSx08) thumbnail depicting Liam O'Brien, by PettyArtist.[art 1]
Episode no.Episode 8
AirdateSeptember 1, 2016 19:00 PDT
Running time4:55:47
Game systemDungeons & Dragons
Laura Bailey as Devan Bluebutton
Ashly Burch as Dren
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Delweth
Sam Riegel as Obby "the Rat"
Travis Willingham as Tarvis
Liam O'Brien as the Dungeon Master
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
"Liam's Quest" (OSx07)
"CelebriD&D with Joe Manganiello" (OSx09)
Airdate order
"The Streets of Ank'Harel" (1x65)
"A Traveler's Gamble" (1x66)
List of one-shots

"The Return of Liam" (OSx08), also known as "The Screw Job", is the eighth one-shot episode of Critical Role. In this one-shot Dungeons & Dragons adventure created by Dungeon Master Liam O'Brien, several members of the Clasp set off on a heist in Emon's recent past.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In Emon, before the assault of the Chroma Conclave, Spireling Shenn set up a crew of heisters with a mission to retrieve an emerald from Adelaide Bluebutton, better known as the Shrew. Earlier that year, Adelaide acquired an emerald as big as a cantaloupe, named Tagmut's Eye. However, the true objective of their mission was to steal Adelaede's secret records, "containing the name of every shady character the Shrew has ever dealt with in Emon, including traitors to the throne". Only Tarvis, the leader of their group, was privy to the actual intentions of the heist.

Part I[edit | edit source]

The party waits at the Diamond Nest for Spireling Shenn to give the signal to start the heist. Garthok arrives and gives the bat signal, so the crew rolls out with their prisoner - Devan Bluebutton - in tow. They speak with Shenn one last time in his office where he informs the gang that The Shrew has left on a trip to Vasselheim and her house is empty - easy pickings. Their target is Tagmut's Eye, an emerald as large as Obby's head, which is quite large.

The party travels through the sewers to The Shrew's home in the Graveyard District of Emon. They find the pipe leading up to the Shrew's home is flooded due to the heavy rainfall recently. Tarvis and Delweth take a moment to threaten Devan in case she tries to run while Obby teaches everyone why exactly people call him "the Rat".[1] Obby spidermans his way up the pipe, but Delweth notices some loose bricks at the sewer wall nearby. Devan pulls the bricks free, revealing a curled up rat sigil, the sigil of the Shrew. Devan cuts her hand and applies her blood to the sigil to activate it, revealing a secret door.

The conga line of coldhearted clasp criminals pass through the secret door and follow a dark winding passage for a while until Tarvis steps on a trap.[2] The crew concoct a brilliant plan to disarm the trap, but Obby panics and runs ahead of the party, triggering another trap and showering the party in acid. Eventually Obby finds another Sigil of the Shrew and attempts to activate it with his blood. Only blood relatives of the Shrew such as Devan can activate these sigils, so Devan activates it and reveals another door.

The party finds a storage room full of crates and a halfling desk in the corner. Dren searches through papers on the desk and finds a contract to surveil General Krieg Tristan.[3] The party heads to the basement and are attacked by several mimic chests.

From the basement they head upstairs to the first floor, into the Shrew's office and find about five dog beds. Devan doesn't recall her grandmother having any dogs though, so these must be new. The crew proceeds to the front of the mansion to the spiral staircases leading to the second floor. Through the windows they spot three guards posted outside the mansion and proceed stealthily. Upstairs, Obby and Dren search the library finding some porn books. Obby recommends that Dren keeps them and practices with Devan later. Meanwhile, Delweth and Devan investigate the tea room and Devan opens up about wanting to make friends[4] and Delweth promises to protect Devan.

Devan shows the crew her old room, which has been emptied and is now used as storage for some old furniture covered in sheets. The crew ransack the place hoping to find backstreet boys posters, playing cards, and any sign of Devan's childhood trauma, to no avail. Finally they leave Devan's childhood behind and head to the Magic Fun Room.

Part II[edit | edit source]

Upon entering the Magic Fun Room, Devan tells the team to lift up a shield which is on a side of the room. Obby obeys, but nothing happens. Devan figures her grandma must have changed some stuff in all the years she hasn't been around. Devan warns the party not to touch anything aside what she tells them to. They start looking for a wall sconce to pull out, but it isn't where Devan remembered it to be. Tarvis reaches for a carpet on the floor and lifts an edge, discovering what seems like an arcane scrawl underneath it, which goes further under the carpet. Delweth recognizes the scrawl as a magic sigil that if activated will turn gravity haywire. She tells the party not to step on it. The room is filled with manic crap, and Obby picks up a big gorgeous wasp he sees on one armoire. It's as big as a bird, and as soon as he picks it up, the wasp sticks its stinger into Obby's wrist. Devan leads the way, but as the party walks through the room she suddenly vanishes, and finds herself submerged in water, and she can see nothing, her hands still tied behind her back. She immediately feels multiple poisonous bites all over her body. The party starts searching for her, and Delweth finds another sigil behind a painting on the side of the room. They seem unable to identify it, when they hear a sound coming from one of the other rooms to the right. They bolt down to the door. Daren tries to open it, but as soon as she touches the handle, she gets electrocuted. Nevertheless, the door opens: inside, they see a large fish tank with Devan inside struggling against the urge to breathe and the poisonous fish. Delweth casts Acid Splash on the fish tank but it's just too thick. Dren hits it, while Devan, seeing the light coming through the door that the party has just opened, swims towards it. While the party tries to break the fish tank, Devan casts Misty Step and appears next to Dren and Delweth, drenched and coughing. The party questions her guidance capabilities, and Tarvis refuses to untie her. Dren manages to stealthily feed her a greater healing potion.

Coming out of the fish tank room, back in the magic room, Devan spots another sigil of the Shrew across the room, but Tarvis don't let her hands free to activate it. Delweth lifts her, and with a bit of contortionism the sigil is activated, and a wooden door opens.

They enter in a perfectly round room, all made of metal, 30 feet high. Obby notices in the center of the floor a circle a foot and a half wide, and he figures it's the same size as the brass column they saw earlier in the basement. He goes to investigate it, suspecting there might be something under it. Meanwhile, Devan and Dren plan how to get away with the jewel they'll find. Dren gets to loosen Devan's ropes. At that moment, they all hear a sort of clank high above them, and they notice metal doors have slammed shut behind them, sealing them inside the room. In their head, they all hear a voice saying they're not supposed to be there. Suddenly, four angry blink dogs bamf in their vicinity, with one of them, a white one, bigger than the others. The battle rages, with the dogs teleporting continuously from one side to another. Devan cast Chromatic Orb at the big dog biting Tarvis, but misses it. After a few hits have been exchanged between the blink dogs and the party, the voice returns as a bulbous green entity comes down from the tower. It attacks Delweth with a beam of blackish light, but misses her. Devan gets flanked by two dogs, and casts Burning Hands on them, killing one. Then she heals a bit with a potion. Delweth continues her duel with the entity, casting Sleep on it, but fails. Meanwhile, Dren kills another dog. Delweth guesses the entity looks like a "baby beholder". Devan burns the third dog to death and takes another potion. Tarvis, who has been fighting poorly throughout the mission, takes out his whip and tries to take a strike at the last dog, but only manages to hurt himself. Dren heals herself with a potion, then finishes off the last dog standing. Obby is hit by a ray from the bulbous creature, and goes slack. Eventually, Delweth manages to end the large entity, which falls limp on Tarvis. Devan activates the sigil for the next room, which reveals itself to be just a little treasure closet where the party sees the jewel they're looking for laying on a pillow, a green ledger, a dark medallion with an eye etched into it, and a pair of panpipes made from children's bones. Devan, who is the first to go in, casts Minor Illusion to make an image of a twin emerald next to the other. Tarvis reaches for the green book noticing mostly rows of amounts and short-form code in Common with single letters, anagrams. The back page has a list of names, including "Quiver", "Quinton Puck", "Shortstack", "Grimthorne", "Sandwich", "Wynan Joy", "Whisper", and "Riskel Daxio". Devan catches the actual jewel and passes it to Dren, while Delweth reaches for the fake one, passing through it. She figures this is another trick left behind by the Shrew.

At this moment, Tarvis has what he came for, and tries to slit Devan's throat, but she notices him, and the showdown is on: Devan casts Mirror Image, and three other Devans appear next to her, then she starts running to the doors (which are still shut since the dog fight) along with another Devan. Tarvis and Obby both take a shot at them, and Obby manages to hit the real Devan, while Dren steals the green ledger from Tarvis and rushes for the exit as well. Devan manages to blind both Delweth and Obby. One by one the Mirror Images are taken down.

Dren steps up, and forces everyone to stop the fighting, revealing she loves Devan, and threatening to destroy either the book or the jewel if the party won't let her and Devan get away safely. It seems like a Mexican standoff, where Dren is trying to bargain the emerald for the lives of her and Devan. Tarvis refuses to negotiate, and the battle resumes. Delweth casts Burning Hands on the two halflings. Devan casts Minor Illusion of the emerald rolling across the floor. Dren and Tarvis keep dueling, and Tarvis heals a little. Devan casts Ray of Frost at Obby. Eventually, Delweth and Tarvis manage to get Devan. Obby stabs her, then steals her healing potions. Dren runs to her love, laying unconscious on the ground, and feeds her a potion. The situation is desperate for the halflings, and Devan goes unconscious again under Delweth and Tarvis strikes. Obby search Devan's body, and Dren desperately tries to pry open the sigil that controls the doors. Tarvis kills Devan. Dren screams. Delweth attacks her, then sneaks behind Tarvis. Obby takes the jewel from Devan's corpse, then throws a dagger at Dren. Dren knows this is her final stand, incapable of fleeing and cornered, she rips up the ledger, and says her final haiku. Tarvis, extremely upset for the loss of his true objective, the green book now shred to pieces, chokes Dren with his whip. Dren dies, joining her beloved Devan once again. Tarvis collects the ledger's pieces, and along with Delweth and Obby finds three levers in the room. Obby cuts off Devan's hand, while the other two pull the levers. Obby and Delweth get electrocuted with electricity running through the floor as soon as Tarvis pulls a lever. They instantly fall unconscious. Tarvis manages to feed them an healing potion, then they hear a fizzle behind them, where they now can see a little old woman standing in the closet where the book and the jewel were. She raises a staff, and a transparent cage appears around the three thieves. The Shrew kills them all, drying out all the moisture in their bodies. So ends the suicide mission.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Player characters[edit | edit source]

New[edit | edit source]

Returning[edit | edit source]

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

Quotations[edit | edit source]

  • Tarvis: Give Obby a hug for checking out that dangerous pipe for you.
    Delweth: He's covered in number one.
    Obby: It's okay, I am frequently used as punishment.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

When preparing for this one-shot, Liam asked Matt for help, inquiring about Exandria and going over the game idea together.[5]

Liam designed this one-shot to be chaotic and to end with everyone at the party turning on each other. They could have exited the room, but if anyone had, Adelaide Bluebutton would have been sitting quietly amongst the dolls near the entrance of the long hallway, waiting for stragglers. Liam had this ending in mind right after he got an idea of running a heist, which made him consider why each person would turn on another party member. He spent a week thinking about their motives. Travis, Laura, and Sam were chosen for the one-shot from the beginning and Liam focused on their roles in the story first, then he came up with a loose idea for two other players to make the story work, but didn't have anyone specific in mind. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn joined almost immediately, but Liam had to go through his "short list of fun players before the slot Ashly Burch filled was set". However, Yuri Lowenthal was "a hair's breath away" from taking her spot. Liam was rooting for the halflings, but the dice weren't in their favor.[6]

Liam prepared several curiosities and cursed items in the hallway of the Shrew's mansion. The party inspected around 20% of them.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Return of Liam" (OSx08) at 28:40.
  2. "The Return of Liam" (OSx08) at 43:14.
  3. "The Return of Liam" (OSx08) at 58:32.
  4. "The Return of Liam" (OSx08) at 2:09:44.
  5. Liam O'Brien AMA on Reddit (September 2016).
  6. Reddit AMA with Liam (September 2016).
  7. PAX Unplugged 2017 - Critical Role at 16:17.


  1. "The Return of Liam" (OSx08) thumbnail depicting Liam O'Brien, by PettyArtist (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.