Critical Role is an RPG webseries where a group of professional voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons. It is first streamed on Geek and Sundry's Twitch channel every Thursday and then is archived and uploaded onto YouTube, with the episodes ranging between three to five hours each. Interestingly, everyone involved were already playing the game with each other a couple of years during their personal time before being approached by Felicia Day to create a series for her Geek & Sundry channel (see a collection of clips of them playing pre-stream). Apprehensive at first of how they would be able to take what they do in their free time and make it for public consumption and how it would be perceived, they eventually agreed and, much to their surprise, it quickly gained popularity. And for good reason: it is freaking amazing!
The cast absolutely loves the fanbase and actively encourages fandom to create fanworks, everything from fanfiction and fanart to cosplay. Since they are also massive geeks and nerds themselves, they deeply appreciate the time and effort fans of the series place in their creativity. The actors have also cosplayed as their own characters, as seen in their beautiful intro, and they've even dressed up as other characters in their campaign as well.
Critial Role is the very definition of role-playing. Being professional voice actors, much of what they do is improvisation and with a game like D&D they're able to go above and beyond to create some entertainingly magical moments, ranging from the ridiculous and hysterical to emotional and heartbreaking. The narrative, cleverly and brilliantly woven by Matthew Mercer, their DM and fellow voice actor, helps with evolving and advancing the story which allows these moments to happen. Everyone is emotionally attached and invested with the story and the characters, so much that, being D&D where anything can happen, their reactions are genuine and pure. They've flat out admitted to having immense distress over decisions made and even nightmares of events that occurred within the game. They truly care so much about these fictional characters and what happens to them.
Hightlights Of The Best Parts About This Series
** Eight dorky friends playing Dungeons & Dragons together because they love the game and they get to spend time with each other. Streaming it live is just a bonus.
** It is the ultimate found family trope.
** All the characters are flawed and have tragic backstories, and they all have individual growth and evolve throughout the series. No matter what happens, whatever conflicts they face, they grow stronger because of it, and it's magical to witness as the story progresses.
** Matthew Mercer is an amazing storyteller and a wonderful DM. He pushes the story along, and his world he has created is so intricate and detailed that you become so mesmerized with every single detail. You are able to imagine what this world looks like, each location, every character, the battle sequences, he even has a selective background music that he uses to set the scene of what is happening, from tavern ambiance to dramatic battle music or even just chill music to set the tone of the environment. Just the sheer imagination of this world is astonishing, you become so immersed in it. Not only that, but Matt plays all the NPCs, and every single one of them have distinctive voices and mannerisms which he embodies perfectly. It is truly phenomenal with what he can do. There is also a perfect balance between his DMing and allowing the rest of them to carry the story. They have this perfect rhythm going and it's beautiful.
** The special guests they've had are also fantastic. From Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day to Will Friedle and Chris Hardwick. They even had Vin Diesel appear in a special one-shot episode.
** Ashley Johnson, who plays Pike, their gnome cleric, has been sporadically appearing in episodes due to scheduling conflict of filming Blindspot (which films in New York while CR resides in LA), so she'll sometimes appear via Skype or attempt to fly out for an actual appearance for an episode here or there if she is able to. These episodes when she appears is always a gift because it reminds us what a precious gem Ashley/Pike is to the group. ♥ ♥ ♥
** "How do you want to do this?"
** When they roll natural 20s. No matter whether it's at pivotal moments or silly moments, it's always amazing when it happens and their reactions are priceless.
** Everyone involved. Everyone. They're all the best and amazing and soft precious cupcakes and I love them all. ♥
** Listen to Sam Riegel and Liam O'Brien talking about D&D before they even started streaming, like years before when they were simply playing at home. This is them talking about their first D&D session ever with their group of friends and wanting to do more of them, and includes audio of their continued sessions giving an example of what it's like, just the sheer amount of joy and enthusiasm is palpable. And honestly, it's pretty much the same as they are streaming. That is what I love about Critical Role. No matter whether they're playing by themselves in the privacy of their own homes or streaming it live for thousands of people, their excitement and love of the game and each other is completely authentic. This is why I am so attached to this series because, engaging story and characters aside, they are all friends and genuinely love and adore one another and it truly shows, like honestly you can't fake that kind of chemistry, and it makes me so happy that they have invited us along for the ride.
Get Introduced To The Series
Here are some particular clips from the show that I wanted to share that will give someone a taste of what Critical Role is about, without actually spoiling anything to the main story/plot.
** To get an idea of the brilliance of Matt Mercer's many voices and improv of the various NPCs, the introduction of Victor the black powder merchant, Tyriok, and The Sun Tree. This, along with everyone's reactions, make it so entertaining and worthwhile alone. And keep in mind this is just a sample of the many voices he can do.
** Scanlan the Gnome Bard mocks a ghost to death.
** Grog asks Pike to teach him the alphabet, this one is adorable and hilarious not only because of Ashley and Travis being just cuties, but also it's worth noting that Grog is a Goliath with low intelligence who cannot read/write and, after a potion which gave him temporary intelligence, he wanted to at least learn something while he had the chance. And, well, this transpired.
** Sam Riegel's hilarity, from the various ways of endorsing their sponsorships to the many shirts he makes himself. Let us not forget the epic "voicemail message".
Overall: Critical Role is absolutely wonderful and beautiful in many ways. From the story and the characters to the actors and the game play itself, it has brought me so much joy. I'm someone who has never much thought about Dungeons & Dragons, and yet after getting introduced to this series I have got a lot more appreciation for the game and even understand how it works. Even if you don't understand anything about D&D, just the performances alone makes it worth watching. It is engaging and addictive, you are immersed into this world and become emotionally attached to these characters. I have no dislikes about this series, I love everyone. It's such a wonderful, fun, and emotional experience and I'm so happy to have discovered it. I am fully a Critter now, and proud of it. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧