Critical Role

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Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 21st, 2018, 9:52 pm

As mentioned on the Year of the Review, one of my highlights of 2017 was the discovery of Critical Role. It's an internet show that broadcasts via Twitch the live Dungeons and Dragons gaming sessions of well known voice actors with Matthew Mercer (Resident Evil, Attack on Titan) serving as Dungeon Master. Since launching in 2015, it's become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, pioneering the use of the internet to broadcast tabletop games and revitalizing Dungeons and Dragons.

They ended 2017 wrapping up a five-year campaign (so the first half being played off-line at Matt's home and the second half streaming every Thursday) and kicked off 2018 with a new campaign, so this has been a pretty good time for new fans to be introduced without having to feel like they need to power through 115 episodes (each averaging between 3-5 hours) of the first campaign (each episode is posted on YouTube the Monday following the live Thursday broadcast).

Note before watching the videos, probably NSFW (not safe for work) as they do throw out a lot of profanity.


Highlights from the first episode of the new campaign with new character introductions.
Liam O'Brien (Naruto, Doctor Strange in various Marvel projects) - Caleb Widogast, Human Wizard
Sam Riegel (Phoenix Wright, 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Nott the Brave, Goblin Rogue
Laura Bailey (Chun-Li in various Street Fighter projects, Black Widow in various Marvel proejcts) - Jester Lavore, Tiefling Cleric
Marisha Ray (Fire Emblem, Metal Gear Survive) - Beauregard "Beau", Human Monk
Travis Willingham (Thor in various Marvel projects, Fullmetal Alchemist) - Fjord, Half-Orc Warlock
Taliesin Jaffe (Blanka in various Street Fighter projects, Tales of Zestiria the X) - Mollymauk "Molly" Tealeaf, Tiefling Blood Hunter
Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us, Ben 10) - Yasha, Aasimar Barbarian

And if you want to watch the first episode of the new campaign in full. :mrgreen:

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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 22nd, 2018, 10:22 pm

Second episode of the present campaign. Because Ashley stars in Blindspot, which films in New York, she tends to be absent from Critical Role from time to time. If able, she could jump in on Skype, but only if she's not filming.


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 23rd, 2018, 10:26 pm

Critical Role started as a one-off game of the fourth edition played for Liam's birthday. The group liked it so much that they decided to keep going afterward, usually gathering at Matt's place to continue to story.

Here is episode three of campaign two.


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 24th, 2018, 9:42 pm

When the first campaign started, the group consisted of Matt, Liam, Marisha, Laura, Travis, Sam, and Orion Acaba (Plants vs. Zombies, Apollo Justice in a couple Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games). Ashley and Taliesin would separately join in shortly after. They would meet for over two years building the world of Exandria and the continent of Tal'Dorei when Felicia Day (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) heard about the games through Ashley. Intrigued, Day convinced them to stream the gaming sessions on her web channel Geek & Sundry.

Here is episode four of campaign two, featuring a legendary moment from Sam.


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 25th, 2018, 8:09 pm

After the initial one-off game on Liam's birthday, the group was primarily playing off of the Dungeons and Dragons off-shoot Pathfinder. When Felicia Day offered to broadcast their games on Geek & Sundry, they converted over to fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons so that gameplay could be better streamlined for a live show.

Fifth episode of Campaign Two


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 26th, 2018, 10:22 pm

While the transfer from Pathfinder to 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons was relatively smooth, there were a couple of hiccups. The biggest being that Taliesin's character in the first campaign was a Gunslinger, which is not an official character class in Dungeons and Dragons. Not wanting his character to have to be completely reshaped, he and Matt developed a homebrew of Gunslinger being a martial archetype to the Fighter class. It has since been adopted by players and later by the official digital toolset D&D Beyond.

Six episode of Campaign Two


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 28th, 2018, 1:56 am

One of the ways to cover for Ashley's absence was the inclusion of guest players every now and then. Their presence has been welcomed by the fans and have added a unique dynamic to the storytelling and how the regular players perform. While most of the guests have been one-time appearances, such as Felicia Day herself, Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Teen Titans), and Chris Hardwick (Talking Dead, Back at the Barnyard), others have become recurring players, like Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), Will Friedle (Batman Beyond, Kim Possible), and Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Kingkiller Chronicle). More recently, they've managed to include some pretty big names, like Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, Surf's Up) and Joe Manganiello (Justice League, True Blood).

Episode Seven of Campaign Two, featuring guest player Khary Payton (Cyborg in Teen Titans and various DC projects, Ezekiel in The Walking Dead)


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 28th, 2018, 9:27 pm

Whenever Matt has a planned break, either in the narrative or because he has to go somewhere, the others will step into the Dungeon Master position and run one-shot games. A few have taken place within the world of Exandria while others will experiment. These include Taliesin running a modified game of Vampire: The Masquerade for two episodes, Matt developing a game promoting the release of the Kobolds & Catacombs expansion of Hearthstone, and Marisha running a Honey Heist game that proved super popular. Some of these games themselves have featured guest players as well including Ashly Burch (Life is Strange, Attack on Titan), Eric Bauza (Luke Skywalker in various Star Wars projects, Woody Woodpecker), Yuri Lowenthal (Naruto, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time series), and Jennifer Hale (Cinderella in various Disney projects, Jean Grey in various Marvel projects).

Episode 8 of Campaign 2, featuring Laura's special announcement at the beginning and Matt's epic introduction of a Non-Playable Character (NPC)


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Ben » May 29th, 2018, 5:59 am

I do worry that we have lost Dan - and he has lost his life! - to this... :shock: :wink:

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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 29th, 2018, 10:11 am

It was lost the second I sat through the Comic Con panel last year. :wink:

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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 29th, 2018, 8:43 pm

Just before the start of the 28th episode of the first campaign, it was announced rather suddenly that Orion Acaba would no longer be appearing on Critical Role. There's been many speculations and theories as to what happened, even after Acaba provided his own explanation for his departure on a number of occasions. The most common belief is that there was something personal with Acaba that would have been a great hindrance to his continuing to appear. He unofficially spun his Tiberius character and his initial idea for the society of Draconia off in an online radio drama Draconian Knights, though he ceased further production on the project a few months ago.

Campaign 2, Episode NEIN - Ben, curious what you think of Sam's D&D Beyond commercial at the very start of the video. :lol:


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Ben » May 30th, 2018, 1:27 am

After that, Dick Van Dyke is truly forgiven.

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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 30th, 2018, 8:42 pm

Since launching on Geek & Sundry, Critical Role's fanbase began to grow at an unprecedented rate. Dubbed Critters, the fans of Critical Role have proclaimed their love through various means. Initially it was sending the crew food to eat as they played, but later it was making fan art, toys, pillows, a fan even made a suit after Sam revealed his measurements during an episode. Some fans themselves have gone on to become major figures in both the fandom and in general. One in particular is Wendy Sullian Green. Her artwork was so beloved that she was hired to illustrate a six-page web comic as well as animatics for a video that summarized the events of the first campaign prior to being streamed and for the Talks Machina aftershow. Green has gone on to become a storyboard artist for Tangled: The Series, but continues to make Critical Role art every now and then.

Campaign 2, Episode 10 featuring new music to play during the fan art sizzle by Colm McGuinness called "Welcome to Wildemount"


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Dan » May 31st, 2018, 8:52 pm

Campaign 2, Episode 11 - Featuring a trip to a place that is very much NSFW :mrgreen:


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Re: Critical Role

Post by Ben » June 1st, 2018, 3:27 am

Without wanting to wade through over four-freakin'-hours of this, is that NSFW content also unsuitable for our PG-level site/board? Please bear that in mind when posting this stuff! :)

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