Exandria Unlimited: Calamity could be just the beginning of a whole line of Critical Role prequel mini-games exploring an incredibly dark time.
When Critical Role launched the first Exandria Unlimited mini-campaign last summer, it brought all kinds of possibilities to the table. Not only did it offer some variety to the live-streaming Dungeons & Dragons show, but it opened the franchise up to new Dungeon Masters and players while giving gave fans an even deeper look into the incredibly complex world created by Matthew Mercer.
There’s a whole world beyond the main campaign, filled with people and events that not only coincide with but ultimately influence the overall game. The latest mini-series, Exandria Unlimited: Calamity, took a deep dive into one of the world’s most catastrophic historical events that ended with the construction of the Divine Gate and a deep separation of mortals from the deities that once played a much greater role in their world. Calamity was just the beginning of something much larger, disastrous consequence that would not only stunt magical and mechanical progress, but set the world back for centuries to come. With so much story to work with, it could be a goldmine for the franchise to explore in future mini-campaigns.
Across the four-episode Calamity arc, DM Brennan Lee Mulligan led six prominent members of the flying city of Avalir to their end, only for them to discover that it was the Ring of Brass’ own hubris which brought about the events that would put Exandria on the verge of extinction. With one member destroying The Tree of Names, a protective measures set in place by ancient Druids to keep the world safe and a second member holding out a hand in welcome to Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells, destruction struck Avalir hard. The party quickly recovered their wits and did everything in their power to limit the fallout and protect as many people as possible –including the young mages who would carry the magical secrets of Avalir into the future.
The mini-game explored the events that launched the Calamity, but this cataclysmic event spanned hundreds of years before the Divergence brought an end to the chaos and gave mortals another opportunity to grow. That time span leaves plenty of interesting material to explore, including the major battle between the gods and the forging of the Vestiges of Divergence, as well as the fates of those who managed to escape Avalir.
Among Avalir’s escapees was only one member of the Ring of Brass: Travis Willingham’s Rogue Inquisitor Cerrit, along with his wife and two children. That alone is a goldmine of potential campaign material, which includes exploring what became of the lifetime of knowledge and memories Patia (Marisha Ray) teleported to Cerrit’s daughter, Maya. That information come in handy, and it could even include useful information about the Raven Queen’s ascension to godhood. Calamity also brought to life First Champion of the Raven Queen, Purvan Suul, who donned the Deathwalker’s Ward and took up arms in her name.
It’s also important to consider that, along with the destruction and chaos that thundered on for centuries, a good chunk of knowledge and technology were lost to the ages. Even modern day Exandria has yet to reclaim a vast portion of it. Adjusting to a world thrown into epic disaster without the abundant comforts people enjoyed for an age or more would further contribute to the sense of hopelessness and strife. On the other hand, new generations would have been born into this time, listening to stories about the good old days of abundant magic and constructs that once made life easier and more exciting.
There is also opportunity to explore both the Creator and Betrayer gods themselves in greater detail. There was a brief moment during Calamity where Asmodeus managed to convince the party’s Paladin, Zerxus, that his suffering warranted forgiveness and redemption. Later, he threw it back in Zerxus’ face, calling him a fool for believing the Lord of the Hells would ever care for mortals beyond the joy he found in their suffering.
There are also other gods to consider like Ioun, Kord, Melora, and Bahamut. Despite their position as Prime Deities responsible for creation itself, it must have been difficult to distance themselves from their creations behind the Divine Gate. The arrogance of mortals had grown so strong that one of them even dared to raise herself to join their numbers, and it was only a matter of time before others figured out how she did it. It was surely the only solution to a problem that would continue until mortals destroyed everything the gods created and then came after the gods as well. With so much story to mine, one can only hope Critical Role takes advantage of it and continues to produce epic content the likes of which won’t soon be forgotten.
Artist, writer, avid gamer, lover of comics, manga and anime and all around nerd, Jennifer has been creating online content for numerous websites for over 15 years. She can generally be found on Tuesday nights playing Drow Warlock Zaelien Vel’rai in the So Many Levels D&D campaign on Twitch!