Well, that escalated quickly.
Episode 42 ended on a fiery, tension-filled cliffhanger, leaving us all wondering where The Mighty Nein goes from here. Let’s examine what we know about Darktow and its inhabitants, and how that impacts the Nein.
The Politics of Wildemount
Remember back when The Mighty Nein meandered around the Dwendalian Empire (DE)? The Dwendalian Empire, with its strict religious policing, its taxing, its Crownsguard, and its war with Xhorhas? Ah, the good old days. The Nein haven’t been within the boundaries of the Empire for 25 days! They first traveled to Nicodranas, a city within the Menagerie Coast. The Menagerie Coast (MC) stretches beyond mainland Wildemount into the Lucidian Ocean, encompassing a variety of islands. The MC and the DE reached an agreement to help each other without trying to take each other over, called the Clovis Concord (CC). The CC also acts as a governing body overseeing that agreement, including the import and export of goods.
About 40 years earlier, various merchant guilds got fed up with the CC overtaxing them in an attempt to price them out and seize total control of all imports and exports for the Menagerie Coast and Dwendalian Empire. These guilds led an uprising over the far western island of Darktow, which had been a very convenient destination for CC ships to stop before traveling towards Tal’Dorei or Marquet or continuing their journey towards the mainland Menagerie Coast.
Successful in their coup, the new pirates agreed to a loose partnership under the banner of the Revelry, helmed by a Plank King who resides on Darktow. The current Plank King got his position by challenging the former Plank King, killing him, and scalping him. As for rule of law on the island:
Plank King: Only law here is no trouble coming between pirates while within the reef. You cause trouble on land, I judge you. You've seen a few judged on your way up here. Trouble outside the reef, well, you'll either return to explain your cases, and I decide what's fair, or in need of punishment, or if you don't return, I just assume you're guilty. Them's the big ones, you understand?
Jester: Does this just include harming other pirates, or stealing from them too?
Plank King: Depends on what the other one thinks. If the other one doesn't want to be harmed or stolen from, well, that's breaking the law.
Fjord: What if the other one isn't around to lodge a complaint?
Plank King: Well, hard for me to hear that you broke it.
To be clear, though, while everyone on the island is a member of the Revelry, not everyone on the island is a pirate that sails the seas. Many folks live there full time, running businesses and whatnot. Darktow doesn’t have an organized military unit like the Dwendalian Empire, though it does have folks who keep an eye out for trouble like guards.
We don’t know if there are any particular deities worshipped on Darktow, but we have seen that everyone thinks Avantika’s obsession with following her dreams from Uk’otoa is daft. Sorris described her search as “cloud-chasing.” The Plank King half-joked that the Nein had gotten together with someone who is a “dream-chaser, “crazy,” and “f***ing nuts.” However, his accusations proved more serious when he offered coin to Beau to tell him if Avantika threatened the Revelry.
The Diary Heist
The goal of the heist was straightforward: Find any evidence of Avantika’s knowledge of the other temples of Uk’otoa or cloven stones and/or any evidence of her plotting against the Plank King.
The execution, of course, could never be straightforward. The Nein did their best to ensure that all of their bases were covered for not getting caught sneaking onto the Squalleater. First, they verified that Jester could successfully Dimension Door her and Nott onto the Squalleater, directly into Avantika’s office. Second, they had backup on the docks in the form of Caleb, who was disguised and could cast Message as needed, and Beau, who had eyes on the boat for how many crew members to look out for and was being stealthy and somewhat nondescript with her brown coat. Third, they had Caduceus and Yasha in the Bloated Cup to keep an eye if anything changed or someone made moves towards the docks. Finally, they had Fjord on Avantika distraction duty.
We’re not going to recap the entire heist, but the important points to remember are these:
Nott and Jester were never seen as Nott and Jester at the docks, only potentially seen as Keg and Molly.
Beau had an altercation with a guard, and dropped Avantika’s name.
Caleb was never seen at the scene of the crime.
In her diary, Avantika mentioned, ”Finding others that begin to also learn of the joys and the promise of ruling the sea. And how, no matter how much Darktow is the center of the Revelry, and the power of the Plank King, who can possibly not choose to bend the knee to those who control the oceans they sail on.”
Caleb has Avantika’s diary and a cipher for decoding it on his person.
There is currently a Wall of Fire separating the Nein from the rest of the Squalleater crew on board.
The Squalleater’s a Burning Wall of Fire
The Wall of Fire that Caleb cast is a concentration spell, lasting up to one minute. One side of the wall deals damage, the other side does not. The wall is opaque, and while projectiles can pass through it, previous experience in campaign 1 indicates that a person firing has to make the attack at disadvantage. A wooden projectile also has a high chance of burning up upon passing through the wall.
While Caleb could have cast a ring around the party, the straight line, up to 60 feet long, 20 feet high, and 1 foot thick, allows a higher chance of escape. What we don’t know about the spell is how much of the wall stretches to below deck. There’s an awful lot of gunpowder on the Squalleater, though all of it is on lower decks with the cannons.
The Nein broke the one and only rule on Darktow: No causing trouble between pirates within the reef. Stealing something from a pirate that they didn’t want to have stolen is specifically cited as breaking that rule. It’s also pretty safe to assume that destruction of one’s ship would qualify as trouble.
However, two factors are at play: the Plank King confirmed that if the offended party isn’t around to speak up, the Plank King can’t hear that they had a problem. Further, the Plank King is specifically interested in getting evidence that Avantika means harm to the Revelry. The Throne Roost, the Plank King’s chambers, is on the western end of the city, up a steep 250-300 feet tall cliff. The Mighty Nein need to ensure that:
They escape with their lives;
Someone gets the diary and the key to the Plank King;
The law-abiding sailors of The Mistake can be taken to safety and are not used for collateral;
Avantika doesn’t have the opportunity to complain to the Plank King that her ship was broken into and she was stolen from;
Or, assuming she does, the party has a way of pinning the crime on someone else, or they present a much worse crime as justification for their actions.
We aren’t going to speculate on the myriad of ways they could go about accomplishing these tasks, but it’s worth noting that, except for Caleb with his point of exhaustion and casting of Wall of Fire and Disguise Self, everyone is full up on health, spells, and abilities… including the crew of the Squalleater.