Jester gets her divine powers from the Traveler, but the Traveler gets the ability to grant divine powers from Jester’s devotion. The Traveler as a divinity, as a religion (or cult) is literally rooted in Jester. Therefore, Jester has the power to decide what kind of religion (or cult) it will be, starting with Traveler Con.
Jester’s devotion toward Artagan is so strong, so wonderful and addicting that it completely changed the trajectory of his life (at least for now) and Artagan is well aware of this.
Oh, all credit goes to her, she’s amazing.
If anything, she tricked me.Artagan in Episode 95, Campaign 2 of Critical Role.
In Exandria, Artagan sought out entertainment the way he always has. And just as he was growing kind of bored, he found a tiny spark of joy an mischief in Jester that he loved so much he transformed himself into a child just to play with her. Playing with her must have been so much fun that he stayed, and he was such a positive and wonderful presence in her life she not only considered him her best friend, she also became convinced he was a powerful god.
Artagan found that devotion from Jester so addicting he sought more of it and began gathering followers. And in doing so, he himself found joy in guiding other lost souls to joy and mischief.
But now, Artagan has reached the end of his rope. He gained followers, grew more powerful, but he just can’t keep up with the demands. For him, Traveler Con was always meant to be a way out, a way to somehow consolidate, to make it all easier for him to manage.
It’s interesting to see that although Artagan does consider running away (and taking Jester with him), it’s not his first instinct. He would prefer to keep this all going, just with less responsibility. He likes the power he has, he likes the attention, but he doesn’t seem to have a strong desire to accumulate more of it. He just wants to be free and unburdened.
The religion (or cult) of the Traveler is not about Artagan seeking to become a god, or wanting to grow more and more powerful. From it’s inception, to now, and feasibly into the future, it’s simply a story about little Jester Lavorre and her own personal god. Everything else is just a means to an end; an accident. Artagan wants to be free from his responsibilities, but also free to spend more time with Jester because that’s what Jester wants. Artagan, like the rest of the Mighty Nein, like so many others that have crossed their path, is wrapped around Jester’s little finger. She is, after all, not only the heart of his power and divinity, but also his favorite. He loves her and finds joy in making her happy.
Caleb said it best, “I may be the transmutation wizard, but you’re the one who changes people.” If we think back to Vox Machina era Artagan, his style of trickery has always been selfish. Trickery for trickery’s sake and for his own amusement. He never cared about who else might be hurt in the process as long as he had his fun. But now here he is, an almost-god, inspired by the love and devotion of a child to help others have fun.
Jester and Artagan are agents of chaos first and foremost. Neither blink at the thought of simply murdering all the other followers to solve this little problem, as long as it means the two of them can still be together. And this level of selfishness — of wanting to protect your own without caring about anyone else — is perfectly on-brand for the Mighty Nein.
But Jester’s inner desire and her personal style of trickery has always been more positive as a default. What Jester wants more than anything else is to bring joy to others and make them love her. Her trick on Isharnai is exemplary. Jester prefers tricks that make everyone happy (unless they’ve specifically landed themselves on her
shit kill list).
The Mighty Nein know better than anyone just how powerful she is, Traveler or no Traveler. They just watched her outsmart and befriend an evil hag that had cursed one of their own. Beauregard’s reaction to finding out Jester had, in fact, created a god was, yeah, that tracks.
That selfishness may be on-brand for the Mighty Nein, but they’ve been so heavily influenced by Jester all this time. They’ve been changed by her and have watched her move through the world and change the hearts of many others. For her, they’re more than willing to help stage the prank of the century at Traveler Con, but like her, they would prefer for it to be a positive experience if at all possible.
Jester has the chance here to make Traveler Con an unforgettable and positive experience that everyone will be talking about, across all of Exandria, for generations. And wouldn’t that be the best trick of all?
See also, Admiring Jester’s Power Misses the Point