The Trail and the Toll

"The Trail and the Toll"
Campaign 3 episode
Episode no.Episode 3
AirdateNovember 4, 2021 19:00 PDT
Running time4:08:41
Special guest
Robbie Daymond as Dorian Storm
Links and related articles
Associated 4-Sided Dive"Silken Secrets" (4SDx01)
Episode chronology
"Trial by Firelight" (3x02)
"On the Trail of a Killer" (3x04)
Airdate order
"Trial by Firelight" (3x02)
"On the Trail of a Killer" (3x04)
List of Campaign 3 episodes

"The Trail and the Toll" (3x03) is the third episode of the third campaign of Critical Role. While investigating a series of thefts at the behest of their potential patron, the group stumbles onto something much more dangerous than they anticipated, with lasting consequences...

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Announcements[edit | edit source]

  • First sponsor tonight is Hit Point Press's new campaign setting Fool's Gold: Into the Bellowing Wilds, where you can explore the world's deadliest wilderness and get the world's largest (and scariest) "mini" terrasque. Sam fondly remembers his Broadway musical ad for it two episodes ago... although his memories are slightly different than the rest of the top table's.
  • Second sponsor is Ravensburger's Echoes, an immersive audio series where players use illustrated cards and audio cues to solve a mystery, either as a group or solo.
  • Critical Role livestreams on Twitch and YouTube, but the moderated community live chat is on Twitch.

Part I[edit | edit source]

Team Back Door is growing impatient waiting, and Laudna persuades Dorian (the only remaining member of Team Full Frontal) to join them in back. Although Ashton wants to go inside, when Laudna Messages Orym he convinces them to continue waiting outside for now.

Meanwhile, Imogen and Sir Bertrand continue to pursue Danas through the darkening streets, but she notices Imogen and nervously confronts her. Although Imogen soothes her paranoia, she now has to follow from a distance. Bertrand follows Danas to the Weary Way Tavern where she vanishes into the crowd, but he eventually spots her in a booth. When Danas notices Imogen in the bar, though, she disappears again, and Imogen and Bertrand go back to the warehouse.

There, the outside team has decided to go inside, but Orym is unable to unlock either the front or back door for them in the darkness inside. Laudna manages to pick the front door lock and she and Dorian join Orym inside, joined a few minutes later by everyone else except Bertrand who offers to stay outside and caw like a raven if someone comes.

The inside group investigates the offices and finds letters and a ledger: evidence that Danas was covering up the ongoing pilferage from the warehouse stock. They decide to head back to the Weary Way and see if Danas is still there, "disguising" themselves with clothing from the warehouse. Their appearance outside startles Bertrand who raven-caws as their pre-arranged signal for the appearance of strangers.

The entire group arrives at the tavern. One of the musicians, for a silver, tells Dorian a gnomish woman matching Danas's appearance just went upstairs, and they all head there. They find hallways filled with closed doors, but FCG is able to sense the thoughts of those behind the doors and eventually they find a room filled with many presences along with Danas herself. Orym is able to hear her voice through the door, nervously explaining that people have been asking questions at the warehouse and she thinks they have been found out.

A sinister voice responds, suggesting that it was because Danas couldn't keep her mouth shut or handle herself, putting him in danger himself. They will need to adjust their supply lines, and he will no longer require her services. There is a gasp and a gurgling sound, and Orym kicks the door frantically, joined by Ashton. They eventually manage to batter it down.

Seeing no one, Ashton rushes in and smashes the wardrobe. From the splinters he sees movement and hears skittering throughout the chamber, and the creepy voice, from behind him, says: "Oh, interesting. I wasn't expecting more visitors." It comes from a black-cloak-wrapped, sallow and pale dwarvish figure in the dark shadows of the corner.

Break[edit | edit source]

Part II[edit | edit source]

Roll initiative!

Dorian, Laudna, Fearne each run in and attack the dark figure, doing minimal damage. Orym succeeds in making him drop his rapier but he immediately picks it back up and counterattacks, wounding Orym severely. As the fight continues, the figure calls out, "Children?" They hear tiny feet and scraping claws as from underneath all the furniture seven small cloaked grey creatures, called shade creepers, emerge and attack. They are easily hit and have low hit points, but there are a lot of them each doing piercing and necrotic damage. Under their attack, Orym is knocked unconscious, but FCG immediately uses his last spell to cast Healing Word on him.

The party for the most part concentrates on taking out the shade creepers, learning that as they die they explode in slightly damaging flames. Laudna succeeds in significantly wounding the dwarf with an Eldritch Blast and he becomes afraid of her thanks to her Form of Dread. Fearne wild shapes into a constrictor snake with hair and blindsight. Bertrand, freshly arrived from downstairs, manages to kill another of the shade creepers, but the dwarf casts Darkness around himself that no one (except Fearne's snake shape) can see within. Striking blindly and recklessly, Ashton nevertheless manages to hit him for significant damage but is seriously wounded as he retreats. Imogen takes a bad hit from one of the shade creepers which FCG halves, and Laudna takes a hit from another.

The party are almost all significantly wounded at this point. FCG hits one of the shade creepers with his grappling arm and dumps the damage he took from Imogen into it as well, killing it. Dorian heals Laudna a bit with Cure Wounds while the rest of the party kills all the shade creepers outside the zone of magical darkness hiding the dwarf. Bertrand runs into the darkness blindly, running into Dorian and wounding him, then backs out. Inside the darkness, Orym is hit again and brought within an inch of unconsciousness, but Dorian heals him and Fearne in snake form eats the last of the shade creepers.

The darkness remains, but there is no sign of the dwarf creature anywhere. Imogen finds Danas's body under a table inside the darkness-- her throat has been slit. They also find a foot-wide hole in the wall under the desk. There is a knock at the door: two bouncers from downstairs investigating the noise. Imogen answers giggling, she and Dorian apologize for their exuberance and promise to keep it down, and the guards believe them and leave. The party leaves via the window, dropping Danas's body out first, and they make their way to Lord Eshteross's estate where they are admitted.

They show him Danas's body, the ledger, and the papers they found in the warehouse office, describe the pale dwarf she was working for, and tell him about the brumestone residue. Lord Eshteross is impressed. He asks them how they feel about what has transpired, and when the response is that they wish they had been able to save Danas and still want to find the dwarf, he offers them a contract to be signed in the morning. As such, he will notify them of interesting work that comes in. Evelyn pays them and they celebrate with a carrot cake he has baked himself. He asks about the party's name, and tells them to think about it when they can't come up with one quickly.

Dorian asks about Lord Eshteross's past, and they learn he was once a mercenary. One of his employers was Mistress Prudaj, who taught him true values and showed him the existence of evil among both the power structure and the criminals of the city. When she died, she left him everything, and he is continuing her work.

The party heads out to the Spire by Fire tavern where they drink and talk a bit, agreeing to meet in the morning. Ashton and FCG head home. Bertrand buys the drinks and pays for rooms for the Tal'Dorei members of the party, and gradually everyone goes either home or to their rooms as Bertrand continues to celebrate with multiple drinks. Dorian stays with him to take care of him.

When they reach home, Ashton goes to see Milo Krook and throws a bag of money in their face. Ashton asks Milo to find out everything possible about Lord Eshteross, mentioning, "You know what happened last time." Milo asks if "she" has come around recently, and no, she hasn't. Ashton would like to cement this before anything weird happens.

Back at the bar, Bertrand is becoming drunker and more loquacious as the evening progresses. Eventually, he decides to go for a walk and sends Dorian to bed.

Asleep at home, Imogen dreams of walking through the green fields of her home village of Gelvaan. At the same time, Bertrand is wandering through the streets of the Core Spire and ducks into a side alley to relieve himself. He notices a shadowed figure standing there, which slowly approaches. Bertrand draws his rapier as the pale dwarf's voice tells him to move deeper into the alley. When he declines, in a flash of unnatural speed the dwarf moves, stabbing Bertrand twice. Bertrand lets out a "Caw!" and falls unconscious.

As he does, Imogen's dream changes and she sees the horizon entirely consumed in a red swirling lightning storm that rapidly swallows her. She stands frozen until a female voice urges her to run. She sprints toward her home, darkened by the storm following her. As she reaches and opens the door, she turns and sees the figure of an older refined man standing where she had been, walking proudly into the tempest before he disappears.

Lying bleeding in the alley, Bertrand's vision blurs as a coldness and peace settles over him, and the dwarf wishes him a good night.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

Main player characters[edit | edit source]

Guest player characters[edit | edit source]

Returning[edit | edit source]

These characters previously appeared in Campaign 3 or any other Critical Role work.

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.

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

Quotations[edit | edit source]

  • Imogen: You gonna made me cuss.
  • Ashton: Does no one crime?!
  • Orym: Has the plan changed? What are we doing?
    Laudna: You know, I'm not entirely sure what the plan was--
    Dorian: I don't think we ever knew what the plan was, no.
    Laudna: --from the beginning. So it just feels like we're making it up as we go.
  • FCG: The problem that I find with-- not the problem, I don't want to be insulting or anything-- but the issue that I find with some of you soul-touched creatures is that you always know what you want, you know? But you don't always see what you need.
  • Lord Eshteross: I thank you for your candor, for enjoying this cake with me, and hopefully this is the beginning of a wonderful relationship. And if you cross me and are lying, I will have you destroyed.
  • FCG: When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with puppy smooches.
  • Orym: (to Dorian) Thanks for not letting me die on the floor there. That's one I owe you.
    Dorian: No debts between us.
  • Sir Bertrand: Every once in a while, you need to see the sunrise. It might be that night for me.
  • Sir Bertrand: This is wonderful. I have to tell you, I haven't always been this in demand, but in Jrusar, this is going to change things for me. It's been a while. A lot of travel, a lot of adventures. It's exciting. It feels like a new day.
  • Sir Bertrand: As my vision fades, I just say, (gasping) "Lieve'tel."

Inventory[edit | edit source]

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Acquired 200 each gold Lord Eshteross The party 150 gold each plus a 50 gold expediency bonus.
Expended 4 silver Bertrand Spire by Fire Inn Paid for drinks.
Expended 2 gold Bertrand Spire by Fire Inn Paid for rooms.
3 Spire by Fire Inn Paid for more drinks for other patrons of the tavern.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Both Laura and Taliesin rolled a 16 for initiative, then discovered they had identical dex scores of 15. They played "Rollies" to see who would go first, and both rolled natural ones. Finally on a second roll-off, Taliesin won with a 15 against Laura's 5.
  • The titular "toll" can be understood to refer to Bertrand Bell's apparent death in three different ways. It is the toll the group paid as the cost of their investigation, the resulting casualty is a death toll, and it is a pun on his name referencing a death knell as in the famous "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee". Additionally, the death knell was historically the second of three bells rung at death.

References[edit | edit source]