Critical Role or Critical Role Productions LLC is a production company of a group of professional voice actors that produces a weekly web series in which they play Dungeon & Dragons, called Critical Role. The series aired live, initially on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and YouTube, and subsequently on the Critical Role Twitch channel, on Thursdays at 7pm (Pacific Time). Episodes are archived on the Critical Role website and the Critical Role and Geek & Sundry YouTube channels.
The first campaign and a part of the second campaign were live streamed on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel. In February 2019, Critical Role parted ways with Geek & Sundry, launched their own Twitch and YouTube channels, and started to self-produce new shows and content under the name Critical Role Productions LLC. Eventually the live broadcasts of Critical Role and VODs aired exclusively on Critical Role's channels.
As of 2019, Travis Willingham serves as chief executive officer, Matthew Mercer as chief creative officer, Marisha Ray as creative director, Ed Lopez as chief operating officer, Rachel Romero as senior vice president of marketing, and Ben Van Der Fluit as vice president of business development. Surena Marie joined the company as Marketing & Community Manager in February 2020.
On 17 March 2020, Critical Role announced that it was suspending all live broadcasts of both the D&D stream Critical Role and Talks Machina due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The stream returned in a prerecorded format on 2 July 2020 with the broadcast of "Hunted at Sea" (2x100).
→ Main article: The Campaign of Vox Machina The first campaign features a group of adventurers called Vox Machina. Although Critical Role as a show did not begin until March 12 2015, the campaign itself started on December 8, 2012. The very first session was played by Liam O'Brien, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Taliesin Jaffe, and Orion Acaba, with Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master. All the players began the campaign with the same characters they had on the stream, with the exception of Taliesin who played a dragonborn paladin for their first session. Marisha Ray and Ashley Johnson joined the game in later sessions.
In 2015 they were approached by Felicia Day to stream their campaign live on the Geek & Sundry twitch channel. On March 12, 2015 they began streaming their first live episode, "Arrival at Kraghammer" (1x01). After two-and-a-half years, eight chapters, and 115 episodes, the adventures of Vox Machina came to an end on October 12, 2017 in "The Chapter Closes" (1x115).
→ Main article: Campaign 2: The Mighty Nein The second campaign started on January 11, 2018. This campaign continues 20 years after the end of the Vox Machina campaign with the story of the Mighty Nein. The stream began with "Curious Beginnings" (2x01), but most of the players participated in a session 0 before the stream with Matt so that they could get a feel for their characters and the setting they would be playing in.
→ Main article: Live Shows. Some of the episodes are performed before a live studio audience, where the cast take on adventure with a live audience gasping at every roll of the die, and cheering them on with every victory. "Heredity and Hats" (1x60) was the first episode of the series to be performed before a live studio audience.
→ Main article: Category:Cast.
Main Cast Edit
- Laura Bailey as Vex'ahlia/Jester Lavorre
- Liam O'Brien as Vax'ildan/Caleb Widogast
- Taliesin Jaffe as Percy/Mollymauk Tealeaf and Caduceus Clay
- Ashley Johnson as Pike Trickfoot/Yasha
- Marisha Ray as Keyleth/Beauregard
- Sam Riegel as Scanlan Shorthalt and Taryon Darrington/Nott
- Travis Willingham as Grog/Fjord
- Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master
- Orion Acaba as Tiberius Stormwind (formerly)
On October 28th, 2015, at 6:40 PST, it was announced live on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel that due to a mutual parting of ways, Orion would no longer appear on Critical Role. Matt Mercer repeated the announcement at the beginning of "Stoke the Flames" (1x30). Orion last appeared in "The Path to Whitestone" (1x27).
Guest Stars Edit
→ Main article: Category:Guest Stars. Occasionally a guest star or two joined the main cast. These guests played their own characters who encounter Vox Machina and The Mighty Nein while on their own individual journeys and decide to team up with our protagonists for as long as their goals are aligned.
- Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Zahra Hydris
- Felicia Day as Lyra
- Will Friedle as Kashaw Vesh
- Wil Wheaton as Thorbir Falbek
- Kit Buss as Lillith Daturai
- Jason Charles Miller as Garthok
- Chris Hardwick as Gern Blanston
- Chris Perkins as Shale and Spurt
- Patrick Rothfuss as Kerrek
- Noelle Stevenson as Tova
- Jon Heder as Lionel Gayheart
- Darin De Paul as Sprigg
- Joe Manganiello as Arkhan
- Khary Payton as Shakäste
- Mark Hulmes as Calianna
- Ashly Burch as Keg
- Sumalee Montano as Nila
- Deborah Ann Woll as Twiggy
- Mica Burton as Reani
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Will Friedle returned on several different occasions to reprise their roles as Zahra and Kashaw. Patrick Rothfuss also returned as Kerrek for several episodes near the end of the Chroma Conclave story arc. Chris Perkins has appeared as two characters, Shale and Spurt, one in each campaign, respectively. Other guests appearing in multiple episodes include Khary Payton, Ashly Burch, Sumalee Montano, and Mica Burton.
In addition to the livestream, episodes of Critical Role were made into podcasts, discussed, and recapped before the next episodes aired.
All the main episodes of Critical Role through Campaign 2, Episode 51 were released as a podcast version on the Geek & Sundry official website. Episodes 20 through 51 of the Mighty Nein campaign were later moved to the Critical Role network.
As of December 19, 2019, starting with Episode 20 of Campaign 2, podcasts moved to the Critical Role podcast network. The podcast links can be found though the Podcast section of the Critical Role website and via Podbean, iTunes, Google Podcasts, and on Spotify. This also includes Talks Machina (from "Talks Machina #67: 'The Gentleman's Path'" (TMx67)), and the Specials (from "Liam's One Shot: The Song of the Lorelei" (Sx36)).
Talks Machina Edit
→ Main article: Talks Machina. After "Where the Cards Fall" (1x75), Geek & Sundry began airing a show called Talks Machina which serves as an after-show for Critical Role. Hosted by Brian Wayne Foster, Talks Machina was a weekly show airing on Tuesdays in which Brian and several guests talked about the most recent episode of Critical Role and answered questions submitted by fans. The guests usually consisted of the regular cast of Critical Role, but guest players, behind-the-scenes people, and fans such as Andrew from CritRoleStats also appeared.
Critical Recap Edit
Critical Recap, hosted by Dani Carr, summarized the events of the previous week's episode of Critical Role, as well as offering her own thoughts on the events that transpired and what they might mean for the future. The recaps started with "Zemnian Nights" (2x11) and aired on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel before the live streams. After the split from Geek & Sundry, new episodes of Critical Recap premiered on Critical Role's YouTube channel on Tuesdays. The final video was for "Unwanted Reunions" (2x88), with recaps thereafter appearing in written form on the Critical Role website.
Critical Role in Other Media Edit
The Chronicles of ExandriaEdit
The Chronicles of Exandria are art books featuring artwork from the community. They also include backstories of the main party members as well as some of the NPCs. Two have been published covering the Vox Machina Campaign and one (to date) for the second campaign.
- Vol. I: The Tale of Vox Machina: Published in November, 2017
- Vol. II: The Tale of Vox Machina: Published in November, 2018 (Deluxe Edition)
- The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein: Published June 2, 2020.
The Legend of Vox Machina Edit
In November 2019, Amazon Prime partnered on the project, to be seen exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and expanding it to two seasons totaling 24 episodes, completing the Briarwood storyline and moving "into other classic Vox Machina story arcs as well." The show is now projected to premiere in the second half of 2021.
Several comics, both online and in book form, have been produced covering the story of Vox Machina before the streams began.
Winter's Crest Festival ComicEdit
Vox Machina Origins Edit
→ Main article: Vox Machina Origins. On September 20, 2017, Dark Horse Comics released a six-issue comic series titled Vox Machina Origins Volume 1 covering how some of the members of Vox Machina came to meet each other. On July 10, 2019, Dark Horse began releasing Vox Machina Origins Volume 2, another six-part miniseries continuing the adventures of the fledgling group.
The World of Critical RoleEdit
→ Main article: The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy. Projected to release on 20 October 2020, The World of Critical Role is a non-fiction book containing archival photos and cast interviews, featuring "richly written insights into the events, characters, and locations of the adventures of Vox Machina and the Mighty Nein. Written by Liz Marsham and the cast of Critical Role, this book offers you the chance to experience the behind-the-scenes journey of how a circle of friends’ home game became the most-watched fantasy RPG livestream of all time. Hear from the players themselves about their most triumphant moments and darkest hours. And celebrate the massive community of Critters who support and expand the show’s world, through the crafts, cosplay, and art they create every day."
Critical Role has three online shops where official merch is sold.
Steamforged Games(SFG) raised approx $1.2M in a Kickstarter campaign for a collection of miniature figures based on player characters (PCs) and non-player characters (NPCs) from both Critical Role campaigns.
In February 2020, it was announced that Critical Role had partnered with Hot Topic to sell branded apparel both online and in their stores.
Tal'Dorei Campaign SettingEdit
→ Main article: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting. The Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting is a reference book for D&D groups written by Matthew Mercer with the help of James Haeck. It was published in 2017 by Green Ronin Publishing and is available in both hardcover and PDF formats.
Explorer's Guide to WildemountEdit
→ Main article: Explorer's Guide to Wildemount. The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount is an extensive 5th Edition campaign guide written by Matthew Mercer and a team of designers including Chris Lockey, James Introcaso, and James Haeck. The Wildemount campaign setting was released on 17 March 2020, published by Wizards of the Coast.
Critical Role LLC has produced and broadcast shows other than the D&D stream and Talks Machina:
Specials → Main article: Specials. The cast will occasionally play a one-shot game, often with several guests, different game systems, and different Dungeon Master/Game Master. Included in this category are special question-and-answer episodes outside the Talks Machina format.
All Work No Play → Main article: All Work No Play. All Work No Play started as a sporadic podcast (2012-2017) where Liam and Sam (and an occasional guest) caught up over a drink. The current video version sends Liam and Sam off on adventures, then meeting back up at Critical Role Land to discuss it, their lives, and anything else that may tickle their fancies.
Critter Hug → Main article: Critter Hug. Critter Hug celebrates the tabletop gaming community by highlighting its cornerstones such as artists, terrain makers, local game stores, indie RPGs, and more, with hosts Mica Burton and Matthew Mercer.
#EverythingIsContent → Main article: EverythingIsContent. EverythingIsContent is a show with no fixed format. Several of the episodes have had sponsored content. The show can also be something of a testbed for the studio to pilot potential projects.
Handbooker Helper → Main article: Handbooker Helper. Handbooker Helper is a series of short videos, hosted by various cast and crew members, covering various aspects of Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition).
Mighty Vibes → Main article: Mighty Vibes. Begun during the Covid-19 hiatus, Mighty Vibes provides lo-fi music by various artists with a minimalistic animated scene featuring different Mighty Nein characters.
Narrative Telephone → Main article: Narrative Telephone. Begun during the Covid-19 hiatus, Narrative Telephone features a cast member relating a short narrative story, which is then retold by successive cast members.
Travis Willingham's Yee-Haw Game Ranch → Main article: Travis Willingham's Yee-Haw Game Ranch. Travis Willingham's Yeehaw Game Ranch features Travis Willingham and Brian Wayne Foster (and occasional guests) playing video games.
Soon after the stream started, fans of the show, known as Critters, began to show their support, first by sending food during the stream, and soon after, fan art, creations, and gifts. The cast would open these gifts and thank their fans at the end of a gaming session and the segment began to be known as Critmas.
"Critters" is a term that refers to the fans of Critical Role. The cast openly interacts with their fans via social media. In return, Critters often show their appreciation by sending gifts and letters to Matt and the players.
Fans can submit fan art and photos of cosplay to participate in the weekly art gallery and monthly cosplay gallery on critrole.com, and for Cosplay/Fan Art of the Week Contests for Talks Machina. The winners receive Critical Role or Wyrmwood Gaming merchandise.
Throughout the years Critical Role has taken part in various charity drives. In addition, each member of the cast has chosen a charity to individually represent and encourage their fans to donate to them instead of sending gifts.
- Ashley: Amnesty
- Laura: My Friend’s Place
- Liam: The Planetary Society
- Marisha: The Nature Conservancy
- Matt: First Book
- Taliesin: First Place for Youth
- Travis: Operation Supply Drop
- Sam: Pablove Foundation
During each broadcast, viewers were encouraged to donate to a charity, usually 826LA, and donators were thanked at the end of the session. During Hoomanism Appreciation Week in September 2015, the cast of Critical Role visited 826LA, where they presented creative director Joel Arquillos with a check for $15,000.
Many of the cast members of Critical Role were involved with the Geek & Sundry Extra Life charity drive in October 2015, including a special episode, "Critical Trolls for Extra Life" (Sx02) featuring the Vox Moronica crew.
Sam and the cast had joined forces with Blair Herter, to help raise awareness and support for the Pablove Foundation. The Pablove Foundation is an charity dedicated to childhood cancer support through improving the lives of children with cancer through the arts, as well as investing in underfunded research projects. A few rewards were set up and reached:
- $20,000: "Crash Pandas: Too Trashed, Too Curious" (Sx37) with Sam as the Dungeon Master;
- $50,000: the ability to fund one research grant distributed to a credible research team actively working to cure childhood cancer;
- $100,000: "Fireside Chat with Sam Riegel" (Sx40) and a completely funded Shutterbugs Summer Camp.
Critical Role's 8-Bit Salute!Edit
In November 2018, Travis and members of Critical Role joined forces with Operation Supply Drop (OSD) Gaming Development Director, Jeff Bartom to raise money for their military community to provides Veterans with games and other entertainment items.In addition to this Supply Drop, they partnered with OSD with a goal to raise $50,000 for the military community. As a reward for raising $25.000, Travis hosted a special live first-person shooter gaming session on the Critical Role Twitch channel.
In November 2019, Travis started another month-long fundraiser to help support our military community with OSD. Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys graciously offered to donate $500 per nat 1 (PCs only) rolled in November 2019.
Red Nose DayEdit
Critical Role joined the 2019 Red Nose Day campaign with Stephen Colbert to end childhood poverty, as part of which Matthew Mercer ran a one-on-one mini-adventure "Stephen Colbert's D&D Adventure with Matthew Mercer" (Sx43). Donors could support Red Nose Day by shaping Stephen’s adventure through their donations. Donors decided Stephen’s character class, his companion, his legendary weapon to be sought, and the villain. The story elements that gained the most donations were used in the mini-adventure. A total of $122,362 was raised to end childhood poverty.
|2018||Streamy Awards||Live Streamer||Nominated|||
|2019||Webby Awards||Video Series & Channels - Games||Won (Webby Award & People's Voice)|||
|2019||Shorty Awards||Games||Won (Finalist & Audience Honor)|||
External Links Edit
- CritRole.com official website
- Critical Role on Twitch
- Geek & Sundry on Twitch
- Critical Role on YouTube
- Critical Role on Geek & Sundry
- Critical Role on Twitter
- Critical Role on Wikipedia
- Critical Role on reddit
- AO3 Critical Role fanfic
- Critical Role Source
- CR Transcripts
- Critters RPG
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Spangler, Todd (March 8, 2019). "Critical Role Team, After Record-Breaking Fan Crowdfunding Response, Vows to Make 'The Best Goddamn Cartoon Anyone Has Ever Seen'". Variety. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Critical Role". The Webby Awards. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- ↑ "Watch ECCC: Critical Role cast talks about the animated series and reads a new scene". Syfy Wire. March 17, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
- ↑ Surena's tweet
- ↑ The tweet announcing the hiatus and Critical Role's website post.
- ↑ YouTube video of the announcement.
- ↑ Liam O'Brien, Sam Riegel, and Travis Willingham all tweeted about their first game session together. Based on the timestamps, the game began on the night of December 8th and continued past midnight into December 9th. (Sources: Liam's tweet; Sam's tweet; Travis's tweet)
- ↑ The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein.
- ↑ Kickstarter update on 5 November 2019.
- ↑ Kickstarter update on 11 June 2020
- ↑ Critical Role update on The World of Critical Role.
- ↑ See "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount" on Amazon
- ↑ A Critter's Guide To Critmas
- ↑ An Act Of #Hoomanism: Critical Role Gives Back To 826la
- ↑ #GNSLIVE Charity Drive – Keep Giving, Keep Playing
- ↑ The Season Of Giving – Where Your Extra Life Donations Go
- ↑ Pablove Foundation: Help us beat Childhood Cancer
- ↑ Critical Role & Operation Supply Drop
- ↑ FUNDRAISER HYPE: JOIN OUR 8-BIT SALUTE WITH OSD!
- ↑ Operation Supply Drop
- ↑ Operation Supply Drop OSD FUNDRAISER: JOIN OUR 8-BIT SALUTE!
- ↑ See Critical Role Twitter
- ↑ Red Nose Day: Choose Stephen Colbert's Adventure!
- ↑ 6th Annual Winners & Nominees. Streamy Awards. Tubefilter. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
- ↑ 8th Annual Nominees. Streamy Awards. Tubefilter. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- ↑ Critical Role - The Shorty Awards. ShortyAwards.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.