‘Critical Role’ 3×53: “Ripples” recap

The Bells Hells make it to Uthodurn but the ripples of the solstice are felt here too

Critical Role’ recap: Campaign 3, Episode 53 “Ripples” Aired March 23, 2023

Morning after

Chetney returns to the Bells Hells the night after nearly tearing FRIDA in two, and is feeling more than a little ashamed. After all, wasn’t this what he was training with the Gorgynei to prevent? (3×41) Perhaps the effects of the Apogee Solstice are rippling into the white moon, Catha too? 

There aren’t any answers to be found, but FRIDA isn’t holding the fight against Chetney, calling it a bonding experience. (I guess we’ll have to see if they feel the same way should they become infected with the werewolf curse too? lolol). Packing up their things, they head for Uthodurn, but things are far from calm in the underground city. So much so that Chetney (who may very well be a wanted man) probably doesn’t need to worry about being spotted by the authorities. They’ve got bigger problems.

Ancient spells which light the roads are faltering and those aren’t the only spells failing. And even more ominously, the temples in the city are all closed. Every. Last. One. What could it mean for the Bells Hells who are trying to find a way back to the Hellcatch Valley?

Nothing good. 

Vellum Steeple

FRIDA and Deanna take their new friends to a library called the Vellum Steeple, because not only might they have answers about the solstice, but they could also have transportation magic that could send the Bells Hells home. But the moment they walk in, it’s clear chaos… or as much chaos as tightly-wound librarians can manage. 

After giving the Scribewarden a bare bones explanation about what went down with the Ruby Vanguard, they are told that Divination magic is beginning to fail here in Uthodurn– completely cutting them off from the outside world. In addition to magical communication spells (like sending) breaking down, other magic has also broken. Things like: clairvoyance, scrying, auguries, and many supposedly permanent enchantments like the lights and little things that keep prisoners, you know, imprisoned.

You can guess what else is broken: the teleportation circles. FRIDA wonders aloud if what powers them as an aeormaton could power the teleportation circle too (kind of like a magical jump starter for a car) but before they can untangle the how to that possibility, the city begins to shudder and ripple around them.

…earthquakes can’t be a good thing for an underground city.

Ripples of earth and chaos

Like moths to flame, the Bells Hells follow the sound of chaos to the source of the commotion. People are pouring out of the quickly closing gates of the Grand Disc (just where the king and queen live, no big deal). Many wounded people are streaming out, while guards try to calm everyone down– which would probably be easier if there wasn’t something (or someone) pounding on the barred doors. 

Thanks to a quickly used fast friends from FCG, the Bells Hells are able to talk their way through the gate to the source of the commotion– a decision which nearly fractures the group. Because why are they trying to confront whatever monster has caused all this chaos? It’s FCG, the moral center of the group, who points out that if the gods are gone, it’s up to people like them to step up and do the right thing. (Insert slow clap here.)


On the other (and arguably wrong) side of the gates, they see a giant bull-like creature walking down the street toward the palace. Apparently, whatever this creature is, it used to be a giant statue in the palace before it burst to life and rampaged through the town. Imogen rushes toward the palace, hoping that the plinth on which the statue used to stand will give them a clue as to what this thing is. 

Of course the plaque is in a language she can’t speak, but she does pick up some thoughts from the creature: anger, confusion and longing. The beast is obviously lost. And afraid. When it lets out a very pitiful sounding wail, the Bells Hells are goners. No way they’re going to be able to fight this overgrown fur-baby. 

Between Fearne casting dominate beast and FCG using tongues, they’re able to find out that the bull is lost. All he wants is to go home. Deanna, who can read the plaque, sees that the bull was brought from Molaesmyr, a lost elven city that once occupied the Savalirwood to the south of Uthodurn. 

Its a direction, but now for getting a giant, terrifying bull out of the subterranean city?

A walk to remember

The Bells Hells, having successfully won the bulls trust, say that they will do everything they can to get him out of the city… but he has to walk quietly and not attack anyone. Fine by the bull– the people attacked first anyway. Thanks to many rounds of calm emotions– cast on the townsfolk– the Bells Hells walk the bull straight out of the city.

It might be one of the most understatedly cool way that the Bells Hells have ever “won” an encounter. D&D parties are often shoot first, ask questions later kind of people, so it’s always interesting to see the ways that the Bells Hells break this mold.

Plus it’s one hell of a way to introduce themselves to the city leadership. Maybe they have enough juice to get to (and experiment with) a teleportation circle?

We’ll find out on the next Critical Role


Watch Critical Role Thursdays at 7pm PST on Twitch and YouTube! Check out last week’s Critical Role recap here, or watch me talk about all the highlights and theories here!

Critical Role Episode 53 Highlights

  • Imogen brought up a very interesting point– if divine magic is failing, and Laudna was brought to life through divine intervention, what happens to her if the gods are devoured? Will Laudna to be devoured??? EEK!!
  • I love Aabria, but going full Karen at the Vellum Steeple probably wasn’t the best play. 
  • FCG winning the day with the power of friendship might be the most FCG thing in the world.

Greta Kelly

Greta Kelly is (probably) not a witch, death or otherwise, but she can still be summoned with the Horn of Gondor or the promise of a ride in the Tardis. She loves all things fantasy and is the author of THE FROZEN CROWN and THE SEVENTH QUEEN, and her third book, THE QUEEN OF DAYS will be out in 2023. Find her on Instagram or Twitter at @gretakkelly to geek out about literally anything.

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