Talks Machina Episode 2 Highlights: 1-76

Tonight’s guests are Matt Mercer, Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray, and Sam Riegel!

  • Sam on the fight: “I had a good ninth inning.” Matt: “What’s an inning?”

  • Ashley on having to Skype in: “There’s really not a nice way to put it—” Marisha: “You won’t hurt Skype’s feelings.” Ashley: “It sucks.” She points out that the nature of D&D is playing with friends, and that separation makes it tough to connect. She can only really hear what the people at her table are saying, and doesn’t want to interrupt with a bunch of demands to repeat. Her improv muscles also get a bit out of practice, and it’s harder to take the plunge into something a bit riskier.

  • French horns start playing out of nowhere. Such is the magic of Talks Machina.

  • Matt reiterates how delighted he is to be able to bring in particularly dangerous (and intelligent!) enemies now that the party’s at such a high level. He points out how important it was for the party to have essentially immobilized their enemies in that first round; if they’d had initiative, the enemies would’ve focused down Vox Machina one by one. The pit fiend would’ve forced them into a reactive position, and the poison would’ve prevented healing.

  • Marisha had forgotten that she still looked like Vex during Vax’s kiss… until Brian texted it to her. Matt: “Somewhere Garmelie’s circling something in his book going, ‘Called it!’”

  • Gif of the Week: Pondering the age-old question: where’s Larkin?

  • This Ghurrix encounter is the longest IRL encounter to date at 2:37:12! Brian: “Probably because, at the end, Sam had to congratulate himself for one and a half minutes.”

  • The battlemap took about two hours for Matt to design and build. He also wants to bring in more light filters moving forward. He points out that a complex map helps players stay in the moment with their strategizing. After the previous episode, he went home and expanded it even more, knowing it was probably going to be a big thing.

  • The erinyes’s name never came up. Matt points out that it wouldn’t have come up naturally: “There is power in names, especially when it comes to entities from other planes.”

  • Matt didn’t think the party would know enough about pit fiends to be able to gauge how hurt it was (and not mentioning when the pit fiend was “looking rough” helped build tension, as a bonus).

  • Biggest oh-s*** moment of the fight? For Sam, it was not being able to heal Pike. Sam: “Usually, when I sing, things happen.” Marisha was nervous when the Feeblemind didn’t work, because she knew the pit fiend would be focusing on her after that.

  • Matt points out that the guard in the city are 50,000 strong. “It was probably going to end with you guys being taken away in chains… it was a downward spiral at that point.” The choice of Modify Memory specifics was also key: undermining the Sultan was one of the few things that would’ve worked in that situation. “I don’t think Sam realizes that he just saved everyone from that.” Sam: “I don’t realize many things.”

  • Matt points out that a lot of the Vestiges are tied to a character’s personal growth. Mythcarver’s Awakening “was a moment of character growth and conviction” in Scanlan stepping away from his friends to stay alive for Kaylie. Sam talks about how over the last few months of episodes, Scanlan has decided that he isn’t allowed to die anymore. “He can’t behave how he usually does.”

    • Matt points out how it’s not just a selfish mindset: “For Mythcarver, coming from a long line of bards, the idea is, no one can tell a tale if they don’t survive.”

    • Sam was mostly hesitant to use Mythcarver because Scanlan (and Sam!) doesn’t know how to use a sword. Sam mostly assumed it was just going to help with his spells.

  • Ashley was worried about the party going after the Plate of the Dawnmartyr. They were also all sort of thinking there might be some sort of Voltron moment if they all got their Vestiges.

  • Sam on Daxio’s burning: “Maybe it’s a big rave or something, it’s all a misunderstanding.” Was it a good idea to leave Daxio? “It was probably stupid, but then again, we’re always stupid.”

  • The Vestiges, as a mechanic, are designed as items that level up with characters (rather than having to constantly cycle through new items). Some of the Vestiges were already Awakened when they found them. For DMs using them in their own campaigns, Matt suggests erring on the side of giving players Unawakened Vestiges and then bringing in their stronger elements as you become more comfortable with balancing for them.

  • On Cenokir: “Scanlan has low wisdom and accepts that at face value.” All of the players are nervous, though. Sam: “What if we bury it and it becomes a dragon that kills us? ‘I just needed the soil!’”

  • Fanart of the Week: the legendary “HOW U DO DIS” Matt face.

  • The group’s text thread without Matt is titled “Clusterf***”. They’re nervous about Thordak. Ashley: “He’s got an 80-pack.”

  • Marisha on Pike: “You’ve become the older sister who comes back from college for the holidays and no one wants to upset you.”

  • They used to swap around their seating arrangements early on, but now they’ve settled into their routines. It does strongly affect which conversations are most likely to happen. Sam to Marisha: “I talk to you the least of anyone in the game because Taliesin’s gigantic head is in the way.”

  • The group doesn’t especially want a leader. Sam: “Unless it’s Ashley.” Ashley often hesitates to bring up her ideas, because she feels like the rest of the group will come up with better ones.

  • A theory is advanced that Matt is killing off all the NPCs at Daxio to make his life a bit easier. Sam: “Anyone with a difficult accent? Gone!”

  • Sam has cracked the code: “Ask Talks Machina” = “Stalk Sam a.k.a. China”.

  • The show’s soliciting videos from fans about what Critical Role means to them; a compilation will air on December 20.

  • Brian: “The fucking French Horns, I swear to god.”