For Crucial Purpose, 2022 has been about breaking the timeline. Exandria, Matthew Mercer’s campaign setting, has obtained new daily life this yr. Exandria Unrestricted: Calamity, which kicked off in May possibly, tells a story about the conclusion of that earth, countless numbers of decades in advance of Vox Machina at any time wandered Tal’Dorei. Campaign 3, on the other hand, is the place previous and existing people have begun to collide. Now the past is having even much more room to breathe many thanks to a model-new novel about a rather shocking character. Essential Function: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes of Lucien explores the lifestyle of Lucien, just one of Crucial Role’s most memorable antagonists.
[Ed note: This article spoils key elements of Critical Role’s second campaign, which concluded in June 2021.]
In contrast to the to some degree cut-and-dried villainy of earlier Vital Part villains like Vecna, Lucien posed a specific dilemma for the celebration in the course of his tenure, which officially began in episode 111, “New Properties and Previous Good friends.” His overall body experienced earlier hosted a player character, Mollymauk Tealeaf, played by Taliesin Jaffe. Even right before Mollymauk’s loss of life early in the campaign, many non-player figures in the recreation globe mistook Jaffe’s character for Lucien. Soon after the Mighty Nein buried Mollymauk, they returned to his grave only to find Lucien in home inside the freshly resurrected overall body, now played by Matthew Mercer as an NPC.
Initially Lucien shared things of Mollymauk’s character, but it quickly turned obvious that he was a distinct man or woman entirely. He was ruthless, cruel, and arrogant. The player characters’ interactions with him were being appropriately fraught, as they had been compelled to weigh the atrocity of Lucien’s actions in opposition to the preciousness of his system.
The author of the new novelization, Madeleine Roux, is no stranger to adapting Dungeons & Dragons stories, owning penned the Dungeon Academy novels. But when I spoke to Roux about the task, she was energized by the willingness of Matthew Mercer, Taliesin Jaffe, and the Important Job team to experiment.
“Those are not the variety of phrases that get thrown about in these meetings — ever,” Roux mentioned in a new interview with Polygon. “You’re encouraged to be like, Here’s the brand name, let’s be safe and sound — let us continue to keep this as whatever supporters require to really feel warm and fuzzy! While this meeting was like: Okay, how can we make this a totally bonkers nightmare patch?”
In bringing Lucien’s story to everyday living, Roux had a exceptional set of issues to function with, well outside of the issues inherent in adapting Mercer’s sprawling globe and figures. Specially, she had to balance the entertaining factors of Lucien’s character with his part as the villain.
“He’s not a superior dude,” Roux claimed. “That was actually one of the ideal difficulties of the ebook. How do you flesh this human being out and how do you describe their lifetime devoid of excusing their habits? How do you make in these ways the place he has all these alternatives to do the correct issue, change for the improved, self-reflect in a way that could shift him down a far better path?
“Showing that there were being ways out and displaying that it wasn’t just a foregone summary that he was heading to be a villain, but often producing it a choice that he’s producing, to do the selfish thing or to do the much easier issue,” Roux continued. “That was type of my tactic — we have to continue to keep his feeling of humor. We have to keep his sort of smugness. We have to continue to keep these indelible points that make him a entertaining villain. You know, the monologuing and the sort of wickedness that he has. Individuals points have to continue to be. But normally maintain in mind, at the stop of the day: I do not want this to be an apology.”
Jaffe’s tiefling blood hunter Mollymauk Tealeaf emerged as a lover favourite in the early episodes of Campaign 2, thanks to his irreverence and charm — components that have been echoed in Lucien the 1st time he appeared for the duration of a livestream, played by Mercer. According to Roux, the interweave of Lucien and Mollymauk in the novel was an inevitability.
“I do not assume you can do it appropriately if you do not choose into account that this particular person is an amalgamation of these distinctive souls that end up inhabiting this a person physique,” Roux reported. “And what would that do to you, and does that necessarily mean that there’s crossover? You try out slipping in juicy minimal hints listed here and there. It’s possible they’re all meshed jointly in some perception — or it’s possible when the spell was solid they were being broken aside.” She relied on Jaffe’s effectiveness and Mercer’s improvisation and dialogue to nail down Lucien’s persona. A person of the largest throughlines she identified was Lucien’s reliance on theatricality.
“It’s just effectiveness all the time,” she said, “and how exhausting that is and how draining that is, and how finally it is variety of what sales opportunities to his isolation.”
The splintering that comes with a shared body also played a substantial part in the reserve, according to Roux, who credits her qualifications in horror as a reason she was approached for the project.
“It’s rather tough — we’re gonna scare you a minimal bit. We’re gonna freak you out,” Roux said. “When we were in these initially meetings, they introduced up Household of Leaves. And I was like, We can go there. There’s some quite bizarre stuff in this ebook. I required it to really feel as disorienting at sections as it was for him. Clearly his body is fractured, but also his brain at factors. I was trying to demonstrate that in the textual content, visually as effectively as psychologically.”
By the time most readers get there at the new novel, they are pretty much undoubtedly likely to be aware of Lucien’s eventual fate — in the way of Dungeons & Dragons villains, he fights the heroes and loses, his grand schemes crumbling to dust. Reexamining his tale signifies excavating a character whose ending is properly identified, much like EXU: Calamity did with the Ring of Brass. Not only that, but it implies unpacking a villain’s narrative from his possess standpoint.
The storytelling at Crucial Role has been finding delightfully weirder around the decades, in the sense that the crew has seemingly been willing to acquire even larger dangers — not just in form, but in the depth and complexity of the stories that they tell. Lucien is a fantastic illustration of that progression. In the present, his connection to Mollymauk created his existence alone a tangled, messy entice for the Mighty Nein, which was only heightened by the earth-shaping mother nature of his ambitions. He was also deeply entwined with Aeor and the malevolent impact of the Somnovem, which enthusiasts have been observing more of all through EXU: Calamity and the 3rd marketing campaign. Getting to explore his story in a novel meant that Roux got to flesh out Lucien’s link to the Somnovem and how he became the Nonagon, as very well as the sinister effect that those people adjustments have on his psyche and his entire body.
“What would it truly feel like, to stumble throughout anything like this that has its individual magical sway in excess of you?” Roux mentioned. It also intended reshaping the founded understanding of other villainous NPCs, which includes the Tombtakers and Cree, the catfolk who Lucien seemed to be closest with in the genuine perform.
Roux acknowledged that crafting a tale with a foregone conclusion — a tale where beloved protagonists appear in completely reframed roles, and antagonists travel the plot forward — produced some exciting tensions as she was writing.
“He did not arrive out of the womb monologuing,” she claimed. “I imagine what you are making an attempt to do is uncover tiny nuggets of surprise and revelation that you have together the way, so it doesn’t experience like a retread of what’s on display screen. You can’t get away from it, but I needed to remain away from [that] as substantially as possible simply because it is not a book about the Mighty Nein. They are the antagonists of this e book in a feeling. Despite the fact that I would argue that it’s mainly [Lucien] himself, it’s person as opposed to person, gentleman as opposed to inner dialogue.
“But, you know the ending, ideal? You have to construct in surprises,” Roux said. “And not just outside of this new biographical details, which is enjoyable and excellent. I feel what men and women want to see is: What tends to make this dude tick? And how did we get here? How did we get to this position? Let us by no means reduce sight of what people want out of this, and what is exciting. But I consider just [biographical] info is not automatically compelling. I assume we want the heart of him and the heart of his romance with Cree — she’s the most steady presence in his everyday living. And finally the other Tombtakers as effectively.”
Involving the novel’s variety and the team’s willingness to investigate all the twisted, weird avenues attainable in Lucien’s story, Roux has higher hopes for the project’s reception.
“This is a daring statement,” she explained. “I’m gonna make it mainly because I’m making an attempt to enter my villain era: I consider this is the most experimental and riskiest IP guide that has been published to date, that has a manufacturer identify on it. I truly really don’t imagine a lot of individuals are performing this things, and it’s what will make me regard the Crucial Job workforce so significantly is that they have been eager to do that and keen to say: Nope, let us crack the regulations. Let’s not get trapped in this [idea of] what an IP ebook is.”
“I’m fired up and anxious to see their responses since I assume men and women go into these kinds of publications anticipating a pretty simple experience, anticipating anything really rote, one thing really predictable,” Roux said. “I believe it’s remarkable to know that we’re not executing that this time.”
In a shock announcement a handful of weeks ago, it was revealed that not only will Robbie Daymond provide as narrator for the Vital Position: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes of Lucien audiobook — the whole forged will return to voice their respective members of the Mighty Nein as perfectly. Polygon will have an excerpt later on this 7 days.
Vital Part: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes of Lucien will be accessible on Nov. 1, 2022.