Critical Role: Fjord (2019)
“It is in our nature to adapt.”
So, this box was pretty challenging for my brain, content-wise, because I knew that I loved Fjord but couldn’t figure out WHAT I loved about him. It was difficult to name his qualities, because I feel like he’s a bit different than everyone else, both in lore and in the way we learn about him throughout the game. So instead of trying to make a list of what made him who he is, I decided to go a different way and mirror some of the questions he asks himself and others. I’m pretty sure I just made things harder for myself in the end, but I also think it was an interesting way to tackle a box that I’ve never tried before and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.
This box does contain spoilers, because as fast as I was trying to pin down something concrete about Fjord, he was changing - or maybe just showing more of who he really is - and things were happening TO his character that were forcing him to change and adapt as well. The most recent “spoilers” which aren’t super concrete but will be referenced here would be episode 76, as that’s when I finished the actual contents of the box. I promise I will keep things vague in my explanation, but you’ve been warned. :)
The box for Fjord is a vintage box with an awesome pirate ship on the lid. The second I saw it, I knew I needed to have it, and it was actually what inspired the box in the first place. Right after I got it, I immediately got the yellow eye and set it into the top lid to represent Uk’otoa watching Fjord in his dreams and the Cloven crystals. It is super creepy, because the eye totally looks like it follows you when you move the box around!
To start out, I started accumulating stones, as I tend to do when potion contents seem intimidating and confusing. As a focus stone, I included a Kambaba Jasper sphere, which helps with dissolving overwhelming negative emotions and healing from trauma - plus it’s varied shades of green, which I thought would fit nicely.
The two crystal towers in the box are smoky citrine and pyrite. Smoky citrine helps to ground and to calm fear and uncertainty. Pyrite, on the other hand, is a Protector Stone, representing self worth, personal power, strength, willpower and focus. It helps overcome feelings of inadequacy and live your life to its full potential.
The tumbled stones included in the box are:
bloodstone for courage and freedom from captivity;
labradorite for help banishing fears/insecurities while enhancing faith and reliance in oneself;
moss agate for a new start and gaining confidence in oneself;
fluorite for seeking knowledge, changing negative behavior, revealing truth, and emotional balance;
black tourmaline for help when feeling trapped;
aquamarine for courage, freedom, and communication, and is used by sailors as a talisman of good luck;
vesuvianite (a type of greet garnet) for soothing emotional turmoil, help making peace with and adapting to new situations, and support through major transition and upheaval;
obsidian for protection;
dumortierite for help taking control of one’s own life
Finally, there’s a round, flat star ruby in the black sachet, meant for overcoming adversity, opening up and expressing true feelings, and some tiny red coral pebbles for confidence and courage.
I felt like I anguished over the potions for ages, but really it took a few weeks of trial and error to get my thoughts to flow in a way that made sense. I started with 7 bottles and came up with 7 questions as loose themes for each one. This was a bit tricky, but I’m happy with the results, so I’m going to pretend it was intentional genius all along.
After I finished the bottles, I did give them each a more succinct one-word theme, but I’m going to share both the questions and themes in an effort to show my process a bit. The first three potions are in the first photo above, in order from left to right, and the remaining four are in the next photo, also in order.
1. What is this pact I am in and what does it mean? (PACT) This potion is centered around Fjord’s pact with Uk’otoa, which is his most important conflict that’s both internal and external. He is initially confused about the pact and wants to learn more about it, and this curiosity quickly seems to turn to fear and uncertainty when he realizes just what he’s in for. There’s skullcap for making a binding oath or pact, bay leaf for prophetic dreams, lavender and coffee for disappointment, bitterness and regret; Anise and rosemary for preventing nightmares/disturbing dreams, aid in clear thinking, and help with memory, as Fjord doesn’t ever remember actually making a pact, he just washed up on the shore with the falchion next to him. There’s also vervain for protection at sea and protection from drowning, and thorns for feeling trapped and fearing one’s circumstances. Lastly, dogwood here represents regret over a specific decision or a situation that was beyond your control, and black salt represents a curse, or a boon that’s been warped into something negative. -Sealed with an anchor stamp and gold wax.
2. What is magic worth to me/Where does my worth come from? (DESIRE) This potion focuses on Fjord’s desire to learn about magic and understand his abilities. He seems to be searching for something he can’t name, and through learning magic he gains confidence in who he is and starts to accept himself (albeit conditionally). On the flipside, once he has this magic and this knowledge and it gets taken away, he has the realization that his magic and strength is intrinsically tied to his self-worth and isn’t sure how to deal with the possibility that it might not be permanent. This one contains fluorite and garnet pebbles, representing the search for knowledge and gaining strength. In addition, there’s cedar for confidence, strength and gaining knowledge; mugwort for building confidence; rosemary for difficulty with self-acceptance; jasmine for beginning a new life with new ideas/a new outlook, and hibiscus for finding passion, drive and insight. There’s also labradorite and violet for glamour magic and changing who you are both physically and mentally - for example, both gaining physical strength, filing down his tusks, and adopting Vandran’s accent. -Sealed with rosemary stamp and gold wax.
3. What am I willing to do for power? (POWER) This one deals with Fjord’s struggle of not wanting to be a burden or be cast out vs his impulsiveness and tendency to take risks. I had a lot of questions going into this one such as: How willing is he to deceive people/keep them in the dark? WHO is he willing to deceive? What are the means, what is the end? What was the goal in working with Avantika: just knowledge, or power? Cad’s quote of “Sleep well with your bad decisions.” really influenced this one in a big way. Fjord tends to make decisions and think about what they mean later, and ask questions of his friends without being willing to answer any about himself in return. On the surface it seems as though Fjord is trying to play both sides, getting what he wants by deceiving Avantika, and thinking he can fool his Patron as well, although as we know, that doesn’t turn out quite as well as he plans. For this one, we’ve got deer tongue for power; licorice root for persuasive powers/charisma and having advantage over others; lavender for distrust/disappointing others and yourself; hydrangea for pushing people away, and yellow rose for lies and suspicion. -Sealed with tiny ship stamp and gold wax.
4. How do I define myself? (SELF) This potion was super interesting and led to a lot of different questions. How does Fjord define himself? By his magic? By his past, or the people in his past (like Vandran)? How does he think of himself? As a leader, as an outcast, as part of the mighty nein? Who is he? Orphan, sailor boy, half orc, warlock, charming, intimidating? His tendency to act as teacher/mentor/protector/leader/ really stood out when compared to the lack of that figure in his own life. At times, he seems like he wants to fade in the background, but when no one else will, he steps up and becomes the voice of the group. For this one, I added cinquefoil for eloquence and acting as a leader; goldenrod for magic; cypress leaves for processing grief, anger and loss; pyrite for becoming a protector; poppy for trying to leave the past behind, and calendula for honoring the people we have lost, which I thought really fit with how Fjord adopts Vandran’s accent. I think Fjord defines himself internally by his past and is trying to scratch out one by one the things that remind him of his pre-Vandran life that he views as worthless, or as something he needs to erase in order to be worth something. He’s emulating a man that he respected, and trying to choose how he defines himself instead of having that decision be made for him as it was in his younger years. -Sealed with ship stamp and gold wax.
5. What am worth I without magic? (DOUBT) This potion focuses on Fjord’s uncertainty, loneliness, insecurity, self-doubt, and fear of being helpless/fear of failure. Because he’s given his new powers so much importance, it paints a really stark contrast when we start to see his really deep reserves of insecurity and self-doubt. His fear of being helpless again is a big motivator for most of his (poorly thought-out) decisions. He tries to stay self sufficient, and we start to see that fear of being abandoned by the Mighty Nein if he isn’t useful to them, likened to his previous abandonment by his family and by Vandren, the only other positive figure in his life. In this potion is black ink and purple goldenrod for trauma and imprisonment/being helpless/blaming oneself; heather for solitude and protection against violence; lemon balm for help with insecurity, calming, and self worth; yarrow for overcoming fear and self doubt, and dogwood for keeping things (his dreams, accent, past, etc) close to the chest. -Sealed with ship stamp and gold wax.
6. Where do I belong/where am I going? (CHOICES) For me, this potion was about Fjord gaining the agency to make his own choices instead of having those choices made for him. He didn’t choose the pact with Uk’otoa, and didn’t choose how he grew up, but slowly, he starts realizing the power he has to make decisions and change his own life, both alone and with the help of others. He has a ton of choices to make: Release Uk’otoa or not? Break the pact or not? Become a Patron of the Wildmother or not? This potion is one of my favorites and is packed full of ingredients! There’s barberry for atonement, magic/sorcery, and for freeing oneself from the power/control/influence of another; mint for help getting the push needed to change one’s life, peaceful sleep, protection while sleeping, communication, and drawing good spirits; rue for freedom and breaking oaths, and for help seeing and understanding one’s mistakes; agrimony for overcoming fear, reversing pacts and spells and warding off evil entities. Like the first potion, there’s also skullcap in this one for making a binding oath/pact, but this time it represents both Fjord’s blood oath with Caleb and his newfound connection with Wildmother. It also represents the relief of disharmony. Lastly, there’s pink rosebuds for divine love, pink carnation for a mother’s love (the Wildmother), and peony for protection, breaking hexes/curses/bindings, and help dealing with feelings of shame, which Fjord definitely struggled with when his powers were taken away from him. -Sealed with symbol of the Wildmother and gold wax.
7. Can I reach my goals alone? Do I want to? (GROWTH) In my other CR2 boxes so far I’ve included a reference to the rest of the Mighty Nein, and for Fjord I wanted to keep it going. In this potion, there is one clove for each member of the M9, including Molly. Cloves represent camaraderie, and becoming better through the influence of those around you. There’s also thyme for attracting loyalty and the good opinion of others, providing strength/courage, and warding off grief/nightmares; zinnia to remember friends that are no longer with us; sage for renewal, and for grief/loss and being able to learn from them (grief for Vandren, Molly, himself, and for other losses the group has sustained). Lastly, there’s magnolia for loyalty, calming anxiety, peace and overcoming destructive/unnecessary behaviors. -Sealed with tiny ship stamp and gold wax.
Since the top inside lid was so simple with just the eye, I wanted to have a little fun with the bottom of the box and make it a bit more complicated. I got a silver sword and broke it, then carved out a space in the bottom so the sword would fit, using clay to fill in gaps so the sword was set flush into the bottom surface and it was still flat enough for everything to balance on it. Then, I covered it in resin, giving the bottom a “wet” look, which turned out even better than I expected and ended up looking super cool. To finish it all off, I added a piece of fishing net on the bottom as both a way to protect the resin and to give an interesting effect.
Lastly, I added a brass-topped tooth on a red cord in the little black sachet to represent the red rope on Fjord’s armor and his tusks, which have served as a metaphor throughout the campaign for his journey to self-acceptance, and carved a quote on the very bottom of the outside of the box. It says “It is in our nature to adapt.” I don’t want to spoil how and when it’s said, but I thought it fit really well.
This box was a wild ride, and I felt like I couldn’t see the end until I’d reached it. I’m glad I stuck it out and kept going because I love how it turned out! Thanks for reading this ridiculously long write up, friends, and until next time! :)