- This page is about the webseries. For the production company, see Critical Role Productions LLC.
Critical Role is a weekly web series in which a group of voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons.
- 1 History
- 2 The Show
- 3 Cast
- 4 Related Media
- 5 Merchandise
- 6 Community
- 7 Awards
- 8 Gallery
- 9 External Links
- 10 References
The original cast of Critical Role had been playing a Pathfinder campaign together for two years before they converted their home game into a livestreamed webseries. The campaign began as a one-off game organized for Liam's birthday. 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. Afterwards, the group met every month to month-and-a-half and played for about eight hours. This infrequency was problematic, as many of the players needed to be reminded by Matt of elements of the storyline, how to play, etc. 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. When Matt told the other cast members about her offer, the group's reactions were recorded for posterity. In preparation for the streamed series, Matt converted the game over from Pathfinder to Dungeons & Dragons, to speed up combat and because D&D has more name recognition. When converting their game, Matt had to create a custom fighter's Martial Archetype for Taliesin Jaffe's character, Percy, as the Gunslinger subclass didn't exist in 5th Edition D&D. On March 12, 2015 the first live episode of Critical Role was aired: "Arrival at Kraghammer" (1x01).
The series initially aired live on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and YouTube, and subsequently on the Critical Role Twitch channel, on Thursdays at 7pm (Pacific Time). 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. Episodes are archived on the Critical Role website and the Critical Role and Geek & Sundry YouTube channels.
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. During the hiatus, they produced new content, as well as re-imagined versions of existing shows that followed the COVID-19 safety guidelines. Critical Role returned in a prerecorded format on 2 July 2020 with the broadcast of "Hunted at Sea" (2x100).
Starting with Campaign Three, the show no longer airs on the last Thursday of the month to give the cast and crew time to rest and prepare for upcoming episodes and to give viewers time to catch up with the show. The prerecorded format was also made permanent.
→ Main article: Campaign One: Vox Machina
The first campaign features a group of adventurers called Vox Machina originating from Tal'Dorei. The stream began on March 12, 2015 with "Arrival at Kraghammer" (1x01), and after two-and-a-half years and 115 episodes, the adventures of Vox Machina came to an end on October 12, 2017 in "The Chapter Closes" (1x115).
→ Main article: Campaign Two: The Mighty Nein
The second campaign started on January 11, 2018 with "Curious Beginnings" (2x01), and ended three and a hals years and 141 episodes later on June 3rd, 2021 with "Fond Farewells" (2x141). This campaign began approximately 20 years after the end of the Vox Machina campaign and told the story of the Mighty Nein in Wildemount. 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: Campaign Three
The third campaign started on October 21, 2021 with "The Draw of Destiny" (3x01) and is currently airing. This campaign begins approximately six years after the end of the Mighty Nein campaign and within a year after the events of Exandria Unlimited, and is set on the continent of Marquet. The players who weren't part of Exandria Unlimited 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 episodes ofCritical Role 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.
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.
→ Main article: Episode Openings.
Most of the Critical Role episodes begin with an opening video, usually played after the announcements.
→ Main article: Category:Cast.
The main cast appears in every episode of the main series, Critical Role, with a few exceptions.
- Laura Bailey as Vex'ahlia/Jester Lavorre/Imogen Temult
- Liam O'Brien as Vax'ildan/Caleb Widogast/Orym
- Taliesin Jaffe as Percy/Mollymauk Tealeaf, Caduceus Clay and Kingsley Tealeaf/Ashton Greymoore
- Ashley Johnson as Pike Trickfoot/Yasha Nydoorin/Fearne Calloway
- Marisha Ray as Keyleth/Beauregard Lionett/Laudna
- Sam Riegel as Scanlan Shorthalt and Taryon Darrington/Veth Brenatto aka Nott the Brave/Fresh Cut Grass
- Travis Willingham as Grog Strongjaw/Fjord/Bertrand Bell
- Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master
The original cast also included Orion Acaba as Tiberius Stormwind. 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.
→ Main article: Category:Guest Stars.
Occasionally, a guest star or two join the main cast. These guests play their own characters who encounter Vox Machina and/or 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
- ND 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 Mordsson
- Ashly Burch as Keg
- Sumalee Montano as Nila
- Deborah Ann Woll as Twiggy
- Mica Burton as Reani
- Robbie Daymond as Dorian Storm
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. Robbie Daymond has appeared on both Exandria Unlimited and Campaign 3 as the same character.
The Legend of Vox Machina
→ Main article: The Legend of Vox Machina.
The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated series currently in production, funded by a Kickstarter campaign of the same name.
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 set to premiere on January 28, 2021.
→ Main article: Exandria Unlimited.
This eight-episode miniseries aired between June 24 and August 12, 2021. It took place in Emon six years after the end of Campaign Two. It featured guest players Aimee Carrero and Robbie Daymond, with Aabria Iyengar as the Dungeon Master.
→ Main article: Talks Machina.
Talks Machina was a talk show discussing the events of Critical Role that aired from November 15, 2016 to May 25, 2021. The show was hosted by Brian Wayne Foster, with commentary by Dani Carr. The guests usually consist of the regular cast of Critical Role, but guest players, behind-the-scenes people, and fans such as Andrew from CritRoleStats have also appeared. The original run of the show aired weekly on Tuesdays and featured questions submitted by fans; however, due to COVID-19, the show came back from a hiatus in a bi-weekly, pre-recorded format, with questions written by Dani Carr.
→ Main article: Critical Recap.
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.
Crit Recap Animated
→ Main article: Crit Recap Animated.
In December 2020, Critical Role began releasing Crit Recap Animated, an animated recap of Campaign Two story arcs condensed into three to ten minute episodes narrated by Dani Carr, written by Dani, Marisha Ray, and Kyle Shire, and animated by Offworld Studios.
The Chronicles of Exandria
→ Main article: The Chronicles of Exandria.
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.
- Volume One: The Tale of Vox Machina: Published in November, 2017
- Volume Two: The Legend of Vox Machina: Published in November, 2018 (Deluxe Edition)
- The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein: Published June 2, 2020.
The World of Critical Role
→ Main article: The World of Critical Role: The History Behind the Epic Fantasy.
Released 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."
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 comic: a series that tells the story of Vox Machina's first Winter's Crest festival.
- Vox Machina Origins: a comic series covering how Vox Machina met each other and the adventures of the fledgling group.
- The Mighty Nein Origins: a series that explores the backstory of each of the group’s eight main characters.
- The Tales of Exandria: a mini-series of four comics, that focus on side characters and stories.
Campaign Setting Books
- Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting: is a reference book for D&D campaigns set in Tal'Dorei written by Matthew Mercer with the help of James Haeck. It was published on 17 October 2017 by Green Ronin Publishing and is available in both hardcover and PDF formats.
- 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.
- Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn: An updated rerelease of the Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, this tome contains 4 new subclasses, stunning new art, mysterious magical items, and a slew of other surprises. It is planned to be released in late 2021/early 2022.
- Critical Role: Vox Machina - Kith & Kin: a prequel to the adventures of Vox Machina, and the backstory of Vex and Vax.
Laura Bailey is in charge of Critical Role merchandise and often announces new releases at the beginning of new episodes of Critical Role. Since the initial airing of Critical Role, merch of all shapes and forms has been created, including t-shirts, hoodies, keychains, pins, collectible figures, plushies, dice, dice accessories, blankets, mugs and prints.
In 2018, Steamforged Games(SFG) raised approximately $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.
Official merchandise is sold in four online shops to accommodate international shipping:
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. The cast openly interacts with their fans via social media.
Critters are known for their dedication. Within an hour of the Legend of Vox Machina Kickstarter launch, more than $1 million in funding had been raised. By the close of the campaign, “Critical Role” fans had shelled out more than $11.3 million, making the fundraiser the most successful film or television project in Kickstarter history. More than 88,000 people contributed to the campaign.
The Critter community produces an incredible amount of creative content including fanfics, cosplay, and thousands of fanart pieces. A number of fan artists have seen their work published in an official Critical Role artbook. Some Critters also write and perform original music based on the show. A group of Critters known as the Cantata Pansophical even wrote and performed a rewritten version of the Hamilton soundtrack telling the story of Vox Machina.
|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)|||
- 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
- How the voices behind your favorite games and shows are re-inventing live D&D | Polygon
- 2020 "turned everything on its head" for the D&D phenomenon
- 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)
- 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.
- The tweet announcing the hiatus and Critical Role's website post.
- YouTube video of the announcement.
- See State of the Role: Campaign 3 Announcement | Fall 2021 at 5:33.
- Kickstarter update on 5 November 2019.
- "The Legend of Vox Machina crew squabble in exclusive clip as show gets new premiere date" (December 20, 2021) by Nick Romano at Entertainment Weekly
- See the announcement on CritRole.com.
- The Chronicles of Exandria - The Mighty Nein.
- Critical Role update on The World of Critical Role.
- See Critical Role's announcement and an article on IGN.
- See Critical Role's announcement and a Polygon.com article.
- See Critical Role's announcement.
- See "Explorer's Guide to Wildemount" on Amazon
- announcement on critrole.com
- See Critical Role's announcement
- 6th Annual Winners & Nominees. Streamy Awards. Tubefilter. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
- 8th Annual Nominees. Streamy Awards. Tubefilter. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
- "Critical Role". The Webby Awards. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
- Critical Role - The Shorty Awards. ShortyAwards.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.