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MARISHA: Hello and welcome to the Exandria Unlimited Campaign Wrap Up. That's right, you got me, bitches. (cheering) Yeah! And, of course, you also have the lovely Robbie, Aabria, Liam, Ashley, Matt, and Aimee. (cheering) I was trying to think of more adjectives to describe you all, but I gave up and stopped at lovely.

MATT: It works. We'll take it.

MARISHA: It's hot, it's 100 degrees outside. Because this wrap up is pre-taped, that means we are going to throw to comfy Matt one last time for our announcements and our sponsors of the day. Take it away, comfy Matt.

MATT: Thank you, Marisha. This episode is sponsored by Life is Strange: True Colors, a brand new full length game in the award-winning Life is Strange series from Square Enix. This new standalone story follows Alex Chen through a thrilling mystery, when her brother dies in a so-called accident. Alex must embrace her volatile power to find the truth and uncover the dark secrets buried by a small town. Omar's already pre-ordered it, and he's excited. Life is Strange: True Colors comes out on September 10th and if you purchase the deluxe or ultimate edition, you'll later get access to Life is Strange: Wavelengths, an exclusive prequel story where you play as returning character, Steph Gingrich. And we're excited to announce that Steph Gingrich is canonically a Critter and she makes her mark on the record store she manages in the game. She'll customize it with official Critical Role merch, including posters on the walls, comics and T-shirts in the shelves, and you might even find a few familiar looking ladies in Steph's dating app. Life is Strange: Wavelengths releases on September 30th, and you can check everything out now at LifeIsStrange.com. I know, buddy. It's just around the corner. Thank you so much also for joining us on Twitch and YouTube. To join in our live and moderated community chat, please head on over to our Twitch channel. And, of course, these gorgeous statues of Vex and Vax are available for pre-order right now from our friends at Sideshow. Vax stands at 11 and three quarters inches tall with his wings out and carries his three signature daggers, Whisper and flame in hand, with the poison dagger stashed in the sheaths hanging from his belt alongside Simon. Vex stands at 11 and a half inches tall with an arrow knocked in Fenthras, and wearing her white dragon armor with Elven chain and signature blue feathers. Both statues have the Vox Machina monogram engraved on the base. And you can pre-order your Vex and Vax statues right now and check out our Sideshow collection at sideshow.com/brands/critical-role. And with that, Marisha, back to you.

MARISHA: Wow, how amazing were those announcements? And I'm going to be nice because he's my husband, so he was just wearing only a robe. Only a robe.

AABRIA: Yeah! (laughter)

AIMEE: Hey!

AABRIA: I love you.

MARISHA: Just simple, easy, easy to achieve.

AIMEE: Breezy.

MARISHA: And a little hot. Okay, I think that we are--

LIAM: Beastmaster!

MARISHA: Just don't uncross your legs. I think we are all set to jump into--

MATT: Sorry, post team.

MARISHA: Yeah.

LIAM: All pixelation.

MARISHA: We'll get the Naked and Afraid team on it. I think we're all set to jump into tonight's episode of Exandria Unlimited, our campaign wrap up. (cheering) (dramatic music)

MARISHA: Welcome back. Okay, if you saw the campaign wrap up for Campaign 2, this is going to be kind of similar. It's going to be a little bit of a round table discussion. Feel free if any of you all want to chime in. If you have any questions, now's the time to ask them. But until then, I'm going to kick it off. Robbie and Aimee.

AIMEE and ROBBIE: (surprised and scared noises)

MARISHA: This was your guys' first time really diving into a campaign. You guys are the role playing game newbies of the group, and now that the experience has completed, what do you think? How was it?

AIMEE: Man, it's a vital part of my personality now.

MARISHA: Yeah, you fell hard.

AIMEE: It's all I want to talk about. It's all I want to talk about with anyone, my gynecologist, and I'm like, "Have you ever played D&D?"

ROBBIE: I've been talking with your gynecologist about it, too! Yeah, yeah, it's super weird!

AIMEE: Shout out Dr. Brown, she's heard all about it.

MARISHA: Yeah. (laughter)

AIMEE: It's so good! I wish I had done this when I was younger because I would've had so many more experiences.

ROBBIE: That's exactly what I said. My first thought was, "Oh, why have I waited?" Yeah, yeah, it's been amazing, totally.

AIMEE: So, have us back.

MARISHA: And you were buying a bunch of dice sets and stuff like that.

AIMEE: Oh, yeah. Immediately.

MARISHA: How much money did you spend?

AIMEE: I spent-- Okay, so on one set, I spent $200.

MARISHA: That's right. That's right!

AIMEE: But they were very sharp dice. Isn't that a thing? The sharper, the more expensive?

MATT: Yeah, it works as dice and self-defense mechanism.

ASHLEY: Sure, sure, sure.

AIMEE: Right. And they were handmade, you know, hand-poured or whatever. So yeah, I spent a lot of money. I would say, all told, I would say about three to four hundred dollars.

MARISHA: Okay, that's respectable.

MATT: Yeah, way to catch up! Respect, yeah.

MARISHA: Exactly.

AIMEE: So now I have all these dice and no one to play with.

AABRIA: And they only roll a 13. Which is wild.

AIMEE: I know!

LIAM: Why did you get dice with the same number all over them?

AIMEE: I--

AABRIA: Weird!

AIMEE: That's what happens when you're a newbie.

AABRIA: Pay extra for ones that have all the numbers on them.

LIAM: Uh-huh.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: You only [inaudible] with a 20, though.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MARISHA: And yeah, Robbie, how about you?

ROBBIE: I went into a game shop the day I got my phone call. I couldn't do online, and I was like, "D&D, help!" (laughter) And I love the guy in there, because he was so sweet, but he could not have been more disinterested. He was like, "Yeah, they're over here," and I was literally like, "Which ones are for D&D?" And he was like, "These!" And I was like, "What are the heaviest, most gold ones?" And those are the ones I bought.

MARISHA: Yes!

ROBBIE: In the back of my head, I was thinking, "This guy doesn't know I'm going to be on Critical Role, bitch! But I bought that one, and then they betrayed me over and over again, and I started to just gobble up any more. I bought some off of Etsy, I bought some with a stupid monster eye in it, and then I had a moment right before we were starting where I was looking online and I found one made out of human bone, and I was sitting there at two in the morning just going, "Is this the moment where my life changes irrevocably forever?" Do I buy my first human body part made out of dice?" And I decided against it, but if I play again, I might have to get those murder rocks, I don't know.

MATT: No, dude, legit, I talked to Marisha about this. I want it to be in my will that when I pass away, ashes made into gemstones and put on rings and then passed out as magical artifacts.

ROBBIE: Nice!

MATT: I want to have bones put into dice and be passed on as relics. I got plans to be that creepy dude when I die.

MARISHA: Yeah.

MATT: It's going to be great.

MARISHA: He wants to be the cursed item.

AIMEE: That's very Catholic of you, Matt.

MARISHA: Very Catholic?

AIMEE: Very Catholic.

MARISHA: It is very Catholic!

MATT: I want to be a relic! I want stories to be told about people that received me and then their lives fell apart!

ROBBIE: Oh yeah.

MATT: I'm all about that!

LIAM: I think that's how the Horcruxes work.

MATT: I'll be back, Liam! You laugh!

ROBBIE: It's going to be E-8 leather bound in your skin as the first one, just--

MATT: I want this face to be the front of the Necronomicon, all like (squeaks). It's going to be great. It's going to be great.

ASHLEY: I love this for you.

LIAM: For both of you, on a scale of Laura to Liam after your eight episodes of ExU, do you think that-- Are you on the Liam end of the spectrum, where you think the universe is cold and uncaring and doesn't give a shit about you and the dice don't matter, just you roll and you get what you get, or are you on the Laura side, where you think that dice are imbued with qualities and magic and strength and you favor ones over another?

AIMEE: I started there, ended at Liam. (laughter) When I was rolling 13s the whole, and I was like, You motherfuck, I paid $200 for you!" Yeah, so I started there, I was like, "Which one am I going to use today?" And they all failed me in the end, but it's fine. They told a story.

ROBBIE: You're talking to the kid that was convinced when he was five years old that if I stared at a flame long enough I could make it move. I was pretty sure I had ESP, so.

MARISHA: I did that too!

ROBBIE: You did?

MARISHA: Yes, especially after watching Matilda. Did anyone get into that after Matilda?

AABRIA: Yep.

MARISHA: Okay, yeah.

AIMEE: I was like, where's Danny DeVito? Please come! Yeah.

ROBBIE: So I think that we're tapped into, you know, maybe the universe, maybe the universe can just go (puffs) just a little bit, but if it did, it was not blowing on my dice this eight rounds for sure!

MARISHA: Yeah, you had some rough rolls, buddy.

AIMEE: I feel like no one had worse rolls than Matt.

ROBBIE: Oh yeah.

MARISHA: It's the DM's curse.

MATT: Every time I've ever been a player. But I will say, they're bad all the time, but then occasionally, come together when it's needed most.

AIMEE: Okay.

AABRIA: Story dice.

MATT: Exactly.

AABRIA: I love story dice.

MATT: I'm happy for that, I'm happy for that spread, and to be fair, I love failing. To me, that's where the real fun of the RPG comes in, because succeeding is fine, and sometimes it can be really fun, but failure, if you lean with it, can just be so much more fun because it makes everyone else around you go, "No!" And you're like, "(laughs) You got to deal with it now!" (laughter)

ROBBIE: I feel like, honestly, and I think hopefully when people watch it, I feel like luck shifted for me. And it helped with my--

MATT: It did!

ROBBIE: And it helped with my character arc. I was just rolling dog shit, and I felt like finally by the end, I was manifesting some decent rolls and doing some cool shit, and I thought that was fun for my character arc, too, because he was so sort of unsure of himself in the beginning and then as the-- But that's just the way it rolled. I could've just stayed a sad sack, but it didn't happen.

AABRIA: Yeah, the moment you decided what you wanted to happen, the dice were like, "All right, you just had to make a choice! Here we go! I do the thing a little bit."

MARISHA: "I was just tough loving you, you know?"

AABRIA: Yeah!

LIAM: It builds character.

AABRIA: Just being gaslit by your dice.

MARISHA: Yeah!

AABRIA: You don't want that.

MARISHA: You had it in you all along. I don't know-- Speaking of story dice, Aabria.

AABRIA: Ooh, hi.

MARISHA: What was it like playing in the sandbox that is Exandria, and not only playing in that sandbox, but having the person who created it at the table with you?

AABRIA: I think I said it in the original interview. I was like, "It's so exciting and horrifying!" And that stayed true the whole fucking time. Please understand, at no point did you ever make me not feel comfortable, so please understand that that was just me going, "All right, I want to try to do something here and reach out, and--" This is at the end when we can talk about it! It was the most terrifying thing I've ever done in a game in my entire life was be Gilmore to you.

MATT: Aww!

AABRIA: I didn't sleep the night before, I was just like, "Do not fuck this up. This is your favorite NPC, and it's everyone else's, and it's Matt's and we're just going to go in and do this." It was one of those things where I was like, there's no ripcord for this. There's no way for me to go, "Dyoop, never mind! Do something else in Emon!" It had to happen for you guys to go forward, so that, well, we're doing it, okay! What was the voice? And you guys were coming in, I was listening to episodes to be, "Okay, what was the voice again? Write down a phrase to remember! Oh god!" So, yeah.

AIMEE: It was perfect.

MATT: It was wonderful.

AABRIA: It was so fun.

MATT: Genuinely probably one of my-- One of my strangely surreal positive moments to date, top top top, because it's weird-- It's weird to create things and then watch it take on its own life with other people. To me, it's a very wonderful experience. It's unique to have that then turn back on you and engage you, the creator, with the thing you created, somebody else making it even more alive. I didn't think that we'd ever be going to meet Gilmore, and the more that began to come up in the narrative, I was like, oh my god, "Is this going to happen?" And then when it happened, I felt like, I don't know, I got weirdly emotional about it, and also felt like a six year old getting to the Christmas tree in the morning. I don't know, it was so cool, it was so cool.

MARISHA: Well, and beyond that, I thought-- I mean, Dariax was kind of an off-type role for Matt, I feel like, personally, but Dariax works great because you could kind of play dumb in your own world.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: Kind of, yeah. Dariax was designed to be unlike any other character I really played. I'm used to playing the very sit back and support, fill the roles that are needed, to be the voice of reason, to be the person that helps other people when they're struggling with coming up with something to come in there and lift them up. No, he's just a full chaos demon. He's just a tumbleweed of a person, and I told Travis this, I'm like, I kind of wanted to take a page from Travis's book of impulse role playing and try it out, because I've never done this before.

LIAM: Oh, it was plain as day, and it was super endearing.

MATT: It was so much fun.

AABRIA: So fun.

MATT: It was so much fun, and much like Travis's point, being able to have everyone else be careful and guarded and a mystery presents itself, and everyone be like, "Okay, how do we carefully approach this?" And be like, "I'm already running." And they're like, "No!"

ASHLEY: Leeroy Jenkins!

MATT: That is a joyous moment. I love it, and yeah, it was great.

MARISHA: Before we get too deep into that, because I do want to start jumping into more story-specific stuff, but we can't talk about the story without having Anjali Bhimani! (cheering)

MARISHA: Fy'ra Rai!

ANJALI: Hey, hi! I missed you so much!

MARISHA: Welcome back!

ANJALI: My babies! You had so much that you had to do, and I couldn't come help you and save you because of my stupid sister!

MARISHA: Anjali was also watching from the sidelines and it was great because she kept texting me being like: "Shit, I know that they should do this! Why aren't they doing this thing?" And I was like, "I feel your pain. I know."

ANJALI: Exactly.

MARISHA: She's like, "I need to text them!" And I'm like, "You can't! It's done, it's already done!"

ANJALI: Don't make it worse! It's so good to be back here.

MARISHA: Welcome back, and I mean, back to the ExU table again, but also you're a Critical Role alumni, so, I mean, people may know you from UnDeadwood, you've kind of been around, done a few things with us, but what was it like jumping in ExU?

ANJALI: So I feel like Aimee may be two shows in, where I'm like, what you are experiencing now was my first experience here when we did UnDeadwood. Where I was like, "Please don't make me leave! I just want to sleep under this table forever! I'll wake up in the morning and do whatever it takes!" And now every time, I get so excited when I get a call or get a text from you guys to do anything, because it's just, I know that what's about to happen is unlike any experience you have as an actor anywhere else and any experience you have as a person anywhere else. There's something about the collaborative storytelling that happens in this place and with the people that you guys bring together that is just-- Oh wow. It's unlike anything that I've experienced anywhere else.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ANJALI: And I've experienced some cool shit, but this is pretty fantastic. And this was the first time I got to play straight D&D with you guys.

MATT: Yeah.

ANJALI: Which was a whole different level of strangely intimidating.

AIMEE: What?

ANJALI: Because I felt--

AIMEE: I would never have thought that.

ANJALI: Exactly, because I was like-- Because this is your world. When we were coming together to play different game systems or one that you had kind of adapted for that Doom one-shot, it just felt very different, but then to come in and be like, "No, I have to read all of the books! And I have to read the Critical Role book."

AABRIA: I told you you didn't have to read the books!

ANJALI: But I have to read the Critical Role book and know all of the people and know all of the terms and she's going to give me lore and I have to memorize it because I'm Indian and I'm an A plus student!

AABRIA: Respect. You got an A plus, for what it's worth.

ANJALI: Thank you! Thank god. Mom? Someone call my mom. I did good, Mommy! I did good. So yeah, it's just been-- It's breathtaking to come back and to get to meet new people who are killing it. I mean, Robbie and I knew each other and Ashley and I had met, even though not in game, but I had never met Aimee, and the day that we got to do a play test together was the first time that we met, and I was like, "Oh shit!"

AIMEE: No, see, I'm such a fangirl. I would've thought that you'd been doing this forever, because you came in, it was so inspiring. I went home and I was like, "Okay, but here's the thing." Just talking about you, because every choice-- Truly, and I think we all felt this way when we did the thing, I don't remember what episode, but after we took a break and we asked Aabria, "Did you guys plan that interaction?" Because it seemed like--

LIAM: So organic.

AIMEE: -- so organic, and just your commitment to this character was so fucking inspirational, so thank you.

ANJALI: She's a very self-empowered character, so it's fun to step into someone who's maybe a little more that than I feel when I'm stepping in.

MATT: That's the magic of role playing games, you know?

ANJALI: Yeah, well, exactly.

MATT: You get to create something that's in some ways like you, but in some ways can be aspirational, and then by living in that space, make steps towards becoming a little more like that aspiration. You know, that's my life. I'm much more a functional human being today than I would've been when I was a younger, nerdy, introverted kid because through role playing games, I learned to be a little bit outside of that shell incrementally.

ROBBIE: It's also a test ground for how you interact with people in general. That's sort of what I experienced, because if you're really into the role playing and you're connected to your character and what choices they make, even if you're not in that mindset, even if you're new, like me, and you have to make that choice, "Well, that's what Robbie wants to do, that's not what Dorian wants to do," and the way I would interact with your character would be completely different how Robbie would, and it was fun to explore those things not just from an actor's standpoint, but just as a person. How do you approach someone that perhaps you're not as comfortable with as you could be or should be, and what would a person that's lesser or better than you, or different than you do? And that for me was not just an acting experiment, but a psychology experiment. It was really fun.

ANJALI: That was definitely-- that dynamic was extra juicy for me.

MARISHA: For sure.

LIAM: The study of humanity for sure, and on top of all of that, it's also, tabletop role playing games are a friend maker.

AIMEE: Yeah.

LIAM: Because some of us have known each other a long time, but I've only known you by your work before this, and I've worked with you, but it doesn't take many games, and I've only played on Zoom with you one time before ExU, and it doesn't take much to pull a group together, and you find friend nooks and crannies.

AIMEE: A hundred percent.

MARISHA: It takes a lot, because you have to be vulnerable. Everyone has to be vulnerable and everyone has to kind of be on the same level of vulnerability, or else if you have that one person that's like, "This is lame," then it's going to make everyone feel embarrassed and silly and stupid, so I think it can, like you said, fast track relationships in that way. And I mean, you guys all got pretty close throughout.

AIMEE: I mean, we do have a group chat.

AABRIA: We have a group chat.

MARISHA: Yeah.

AABRIA: I love the group chat.

MARISHA: And what I did find interesting just watching, because I wasn't sure, watching from the sidelines the whole time, and we anticipate these shorter run games or these one-shots to be a little bit more slap-dick and silly, but I was actually kind of surprised at how quickly, especially, you know, the newbies jumped in and weren't afraid to be vulnerable, have a little bit of inter-party conflict, make those tough choices. Was there any-- Question for anybody and all about just exploring those deeper sides of your characters.

LIAM: I found myself wondering in advance how deep it would get, but we have a very good GM. A very good GM who gave us a long campaign feel to a limited run, and I thought, I've run one-shots, just single one-shots, and those were often very railroaded, because you're telling a story in a small amount of time, but this was longer and it gave all of us enough time for you to let everything breathe and let us knock into each other, and it definitely got deeper than I thought it might. And I loved that there was headbutting and inter-party shit.

MATT: Yeah. And a share of slap-dickery. I mean, we started--

LIAM: Sure.

AABRIA: The rooftops of Emon.

MATT and MARISHA: Yep.

MATT: Peeing and pooping off a rooftop.

MARISHA: Right, literal pissing contest.

ANJALI: I mean, you have a monkey who flings fiery poop. That's a pretty amazing--

MATT: Scat-ling gun.

ANJALI: Come on.

ASHLEY: Yes.

AABRIA: We love a pun. Talking and thinking about trying to build this campaign, I think the weird thing to mash together is, one, I am a very goofy improv comic, so my tendency is towards, let's make a bunch of scat-ling gun jokes and chase that, like the third round of a Harold and it'll be a nightmare. How do you do that for eight weeks? But also knowing so much about the DNA of Critical Role is so deeply invested in that emotional arc for a character, and then going, "All right, now you have eight weeks to fake it." How do you get them there that fast, while knowing that I can't let you run anywhere you want to go. We have to get to certain things because this is a limited run. And there were some set pieces in the end that I was like, "If they turn the wrong way, and they don't do this, "Oh, Nox is going to be real mad. Real mad. Okay!" So I think, if I can pat myself on the back a little bit, the thing I am proudest of was giving you the ability to feel like you had a lot of room to breathe and interplay with each other, and then be like, "You're getting where you need to go. That's fine. You chose it for yourselves and I'm not railroading you." Keep covering the tracks. "We're good, you're good, keep going!" Any direction! (whispered) Not that way.

ANJALI: Watching from afar after, you know, after Fy'ra took off and abandoned you, I was so amazed when you guys did go the direction that you did, because I was totally expecting you to go another way, and then everything turned out the way it did, and I was like, "Oh, that was-- Thank god I wasn't there!" I would've said, "No no no, let's take care of your other-- I'll go down there, you guys go ahead!" But that was-- Sorry, I'm just getting excited. I'm getting all excited about and then you did that! Remember when you did this? That was awesome. I'm like that Chris Farley SNL sketch. You remember the time that you did that thing? Remember when you did that, and the thing? Yeah. That was awesome, that was so good.

AABRIA: That is the version of this story that my husband heard as we were recording it, was just me coming home and giving the world's worst play by play. Just me remembering cool stuff and then explaining it, and being like, "Oh, but before that there was this," and then my ADD hit and I was like, "But then this thing happened! All right, just watch it when it comes out. It's fine, you're fine."

MATT: Well, to keep patting your back, one of my favorite things in games is to watch good GMs do their thing. That's part of what drew us to reach out to you to do this, but it is such a delicate balance, to your point, of trying to convey interesting narrative threads and let the players make the choices, and to follow the paths, and to dangle enough interesting points where they still guide the path, the immediate path, but still fall in the line of where you hope they go to follow the macro story that you've prepared and built out and because of the short form where you don't have the flexibility of letting that take as much time as it wants, to get them to that point is a very, very specific skill, and you rocked that shit, because we never felt that way. It never felt that way, and it was, yeah. You're just, you're awesome.

AABRIA: Aw, thanks.

AIMEE: The best.

AABRIA: It's also just, once you have that table trust where I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to say a group of things." Have you guys ever played? There's a card game called The Mind, which is just, you literally, it's just cards numbered one through 100 and you deal a hand and you have to non-verbally put them in the center pile in ascending order, so you have to figure out how to communicate non-verbally with, okay, I have the next card, I'm going to go. Is yours a little bit higher than mine? Should I go?

ASHLEY: Whoa.

AABRIA: So there's this very cool balance that, I don't know, I feel like as a DM, playing that game with you all and going, "I'm not trying to tell you where to go, but I feel like we all know what we're doing here, so I'm going to trust you." So that table trust of the players and being like, you guys are all as much of a storyteller as me, I just have the general longer view on this than the rest of you, but we're all going to tell it together, so just trusting the table to do everything, so I'm going to bounce that compliment out that you guys are phenomenal. And it was--

MARISHA: Absolutely.

AABRIA: -- the easiest thing in the world to do, because of you.

MARISHA: Matt mentioned, you know, loving watching the GM do her thing. Does anyone else have any favorite moments, any highlights that stick out at you when looking back?

AIMEE: Like with Aabria?

AABRIA: No, it doesn't have to be with me!

MARISHA: From the campaign.

AIMEE: Oh, I mean, yeah, but also, I remember when we were, when you built out this, the hole, and immediately, we're like, "Oh, the ash hole."

AIMEE: And you were just like, "Okay, we'll just call it the ash hole," and it just felt like such a cool, like, we're just going to roll with it, but that's just who you are. And that was just such a gift. It's such a cool, not just that, but at every step, I felt like, oh, she's just, I guess, making it up as she goes, but obviously, that's not it. But a really great performer and GM would do that. You're just like, "Well, I can do that," and it's like, "No, but you can't." That you make it look so effortless, I guess, is the compliment I'm trying to pay you. And it just made me feel so comfortable as a new player.

ROBBIE: So your favorite moment is right here.

AIMEE: Yeah. Just my favorite moment is just Aabria. (laughter)

AIMEE: But I have to say, maybe the pageant was a good one, too. That was maybe a highlight, a story highlight.

ASHLEY: That was so fun.

LIAM: Byroden was pretty great.

ANJALI: It was pretty spectacular.

MARISHA: Yeah, there's actually a question here about the pageant--

AABRIA: Byroden.

MARISHA: Man, it still might be my favorite moment from watching, it was just so good. And I do think it was brilliant, having the people who were like, "Ah, my character wouldn't participate," but you give them NPCs. Because Anjali's rival to Opal--

AIMEE: I mean, that shit was such a highlight!

ANJALI: Then I got that fucking Dariax coming in with a, "I got you, boo."

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: I wasn't going to let that shit fly. I got your back.

AIMEE: It was so good.

MARISHA: Okay, so, give us a little bit of insight into that, for anyone who wasn't participating, but you got the-- Because you handed out little NPC cards.

AABRIA: Everyone had an index card with a character, with a couple prompts.

LIAM: Oh, two or three you like this, and you don't like that.

AABRIA: Yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: Yeah, exactly.

AABRIA: Which you didn't have to use those, I just don't want to leave you completely out to dry, like, "Congratulations, you're in the middle of an improv scene, go."

MARISHA: Yeah, yeah. (laughter)

AIMEE: What was the name of your lady? Do you remember? Oh, she was a trip.

LIAM: I can't remember.

ANJALI: That was one of my favorite moments is you getting--

LIAM: Cinna.

ANJALI: -- Cinna getting--

LIAM: Brightbow? Cinna Brightbow, was that it? Or was it Cinna somethingbow?

AABRIA: I think they all had something vaguely rock to do with them. So I was like, cinnabar.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: That part of the talent competition--

AIMEE: She was just happy to be there.

ANJALI: -- where she was throwing axes at you.

LIAM: Yeah!

ANJALI: Or you were throwing axes at yourself.

LIAM: Yeah, yeah, I knew--

ANJALI: It was so good!

LIAM: Orym would not have, he is not a showy person, so he wouldn't have gotten involved. So I liked abusing my own character. Thank you for that.

AABRIA: That was so good.

ASHLEY: Such a great idea.

ANJALI: So, so, so, so good.

MARISHA: Did you make up the whole this is the perfect character to be Opal's rival, was that?

ANJALI: I felt like it needed to, she needed a foil.

MARISHA: Yes! (laughs)

ANJALI: She needed a foil.

AIMEE: That's so cool.

ANJALI: I'll tell you what I didn't really expect was that I-- So, when I got the card, the name was spelled, L-I-S-L-E, right?

AABRIA: Yeah.

ANJALI: And I decided it was Lyle. (laughter) Well, because A-I-S-L-E is aisle. So, L-I-S-L-E should be Lyle. And I said it out loud, and you repeated it back to me, and I immediately thought, "That's not how you pronounce that name! But I am Lisle!" (laughter) I am Lisle, goddamn it.

AABRIA: You made a choice, and I went, "What are letters?"

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: And what are letters?

MARISHA: Letters are a construct.

ANJALI: Yes, exactly. So, Lisle.

AIMEE: Lisle.

ANJALI: Lisle, Lisle, Lisle.

MATT: To that point, Byroden, as a location.

MARISHA: Byroden!

MATT: I've fleshed out, in my mind, in a very loose way, because we never went there. Because as you know, when you're GMing, you only flesh out as much as you really need to, because otherwise, you break as a human being and turn to ash.

AIMEE: Turn to ash hole.

MATT: So, it wasn't until that we were going to Byroden in the story, and I went, "Oh my god, I get to experience Byroden, and I have no idea what to expect!" because I had nothing really established for it! And so, it was one of the coolest experiences, to go to a place in Exandria that I knew of!

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: And no idea what was going to happen!

LIAM: Yeah.

MATT: And I love that!

LIAM: Basically a footnote, really, until now.

MARISHA, AIMEE, MATT, and AABRIA: Yeah.

LIAM: And now it's very fleshed out, and there's something in the water in Byroden--

AIMEE: Right.

LIAM: That makes twins.

AIMEE: Right, right, right?! Well, I remember asking Aabria and Matt, when I was coming up with Opal, because she's really inspired by a friend of mine, not the character traits, but where she's from, my friend is from Laredo, Texas. And I just always found it so interesting that they just had this rich culture that had nothing to do with anything else. And so I was like, where would she be from? I want a loud, but small town, that's really culturally a little bubble. Where is that place? Far from everywhere, like a one-road place, by the road. So, I don't know, it was really fun to do that.

AABRIA: I think one of my favorite moments was, I think it was like right before one of the playtests. You were leaning over and asking Matt about Byroden, because you wanted something for your backstory. And I was like, "Don't look at him."

AIMEE: "Don't look at him!"

AABRIA: Don't look at him!

MATT: Yeah, I'm the GM.

AABRIA: Yeah, no, I'm the GM, and we're going to have to talk.

AIMEE: I love it, I love it.

AABRIA: I have an idea!

AIMEE: It was so good.

ASHLEY: Those were some of my favorite moments with you.

AIMEE: Yes!

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: Because it was, especially us, we're so conditioned to look to Matt. And I loved when those moments happened, where you were just like, "Hey, I'm running this game, eyes here!" And I was just like, "Oh man!" I just was so inspired, how you came into this space, and were just like, "My space, my room, this is what I'm doing."

AIMEE: Yeah!

MATT: I love it.

ASHLEY: I just, I am so impressed by you, and so blown away by this whole everything, I just, I adore you.

MARISHA: Well, and jumping off of that, because I am curious to hear from Ashley and Liam about what it was like to go and visit Byroden, this new Byroden that the twins were from, which now I'm trying to imagine Vex and Vax from Byroden!

ASHLEY: Ah, yes.

MARISHA: And you're like, oh, that's why they turned out the way they did. (laughter) I understand, makes a lot of sense.

LIAM: (as Vax) Ooh, that fucking pageant. (laughter)

MARISHA: Fuck this fucking pageant!

AIMEE: For sure, you had to be in the pageant, for sure.

MATT: Oh, Vex and Vax were totally the goth kids that had nothing to do with it, but sat in the way back going like, "This is such bullshit."

AIMEE: Yeah, but maybe one year, they were made to do it, I don't know.

MARISHA: Yes, yeah, I could see Vex being pushed into it, uh-huh? A hundred percent.

AIMEE: Up onto the stage.

LIAM: My favorite thing about ExU, I came into this to a little bit be an audience member in my own game. I've designed Orym to be support, which I was a little bummed by everyone going, like, "Where should we go, Orym?" I'm like, "No, no, no, I'm not the leader." But I really loved watching everyone who came to visit. And I kind of consider you as a visitor in this game, too, just because I'm so used to you being over there, and you were having so much fun just following your own nose this whole game. And so, getting to see you put on a different hat, and just have fun, and getting to see you come back after-- I mean, the CR cast watched UnDeadwood together for the first time, and were blown away by it. So to have you come and join us has been-- I'm just so glad that you're part of this tapestry now. Seeing you, and I know how much experience you have, and I know that, of course, you came in here and owned it, because you know, like everyone talks about, you know, overnight success after 10 years of work, right?

AIMEE: Right.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: But to see you pick up this world that has been eight, eight-ish years in the making, and then just make it your own is beautiful. And I would just be like, fall out of character, and just be--

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

LIAM: Listening to you narrate. And then, my favorite part is just you two noobs, watching you see how in-depth it goes. Because anyone who comes and joins us for a game has fun, and you do slapdick humor, and it's funny, and there's jokes, jokes get slung around, but it's only if you stay for a little while where it starts to sink in. And to see you negotiate with a Queen of Spiders in such an emotionally, morally fraught situation. And to see you, at the end, the choice to put that crown on-- you are the devil-- for you to put that crown on, was such an interesting moment in the story. And, you know, we're all just playing make-believe, and making stuff up, and pulling shit out of our ass, but it's more than that, and there is so much magic. It's like a theater lab. For me, it's always been the best shit you get out of a rehearsal room, because you can try anything. You fail, so what? Magic happens, and I loved watching this.

AIMEE: But it's also very inspiring watching you, and Ashley, and Matt, and Aabria because, and everyone, but the more experienced players. And because you give permission, you set the tone. So I came into it not knowing, is this a comedy? What are you doing? And then, just watching you all take your time, and not rushing through things, and not being afraid to, I don't know, dig into the deep emotional truth of your characters was very inspiring. And to have Aabria give us that kind of room to do that was, that gave me permission to do that, so, yeah. Thanks.

MARISHA: I want to jump into that a little bit. We've done a lot of above the table talk, but I want to get into the meat of some of your all's characters, and especially the journeys that you all went through. I mean, I feel like Opal, I guess, give me just a little bit of insight. Give us a little bit of insight, because did you-- Were you intending from the beginning to develop a coming of age character? Someone who could learn? Or was that anticipated?

AIMEE: Well, it's funny, I was telling my therapist about it today, I was like, "What does this mean?"

MARISHA: Yes, yes! (laughter)

AABRIA: That's the realest shit I've ever heard!

MARISHA: Isn't the best?!

ASHLEY: All our therapists know about this D&D game.

MARISHA: I did this weird thing in my D&D game, and--

ASHLEY: Was it me or was it the character? I don't know! (laughter)

AIMEE: Well, I was like, "What does it say about where I'm at that I would like to--" But, yeah, I wanted, for some reason-- Well, first of all, can I talk about how it started? Can we talk about that?

MARISHA: The pre-game stuff, oh, and discovering it? Sure, yeah.

AIMEE: So originally, no. Originally, I wanted to play two characters in one body, which was hard. So, we didn't go that route, and thank god we didn't, because I think that would have been a lot. But I did want to tell a story of what's it like when you-- because Aabria had mentioned, before our playtest, that this story was going to be about power. About your first encounter with power. Is that a thing you said?

AABRIA: Yeah, for sure.

AIMEE: Okay, I'm like, "Maybe I made that up." (laughter)

AABRIA: Sounds cool, then yeah, I said it.

AIMEE: Yeah! (laughter) And I was like, when happens when you have your first brush with-- You think you know everything when you're young, and then the world just sort of doesn't break you down, I mean, I guess you can look at it that way, but it's like, "Oh wait, no, no. It's not like that? Oh wait, no, I'm not the best? Oh wait, but everyone told me I was the best. Why am I not the best? Why am I not succeeding at this?" And I thought that was really interesting to hash out, I guess, and so, Opal is also, like me, new to the world. And I always like to say that it's like her first tour, you know, on the planet. That she's not an old soul--

MARISHA: Sure, she's a new soul.

AIMEE: She's a completely new soul. And I thought it was really cool, the way that Aabria gave, you know, took her from that to actually having to make really difficult decision about her sister, and all she wanted to do was individuate, that's all she wanted. And then, in the end, that's the one thing she didn't actually want.

MARISHA: Yeah.

AIMEE: And I thought that was really interesting.

MARISHA: No, that is fascinating. That is such like a youthful wish, too.

AIMEE: Right? Be like, "Fuck it, I don't want it, I don't need this fucking town!"

MARISHA: Yes.

AIMEE: "I don't need my sister!" And then you're like, "Oh wait, no, actually, those things are the things I want."

MARISHA: Really important to me, yeah.

LIAM: And putting that crown on was such a moment of what life ends up being, which is compromise--

AIMEE: Yeah, compromise.

LIAM: -- and difficulty, and not what you thought it was going to be when you were a kid. Super great moment.

MARISHA: Yeah, what did you all think about that moment? The moment that Opal put on the crown?

AABRIA: (sighs) Relief, I was-- (laughter)

LIAM: I got one!

AIMEE: She wanted someone to put on that fucking crown!

AABRIA: We want to talk about what we talked about her therapist, I was rabid about, "These fuckers took a vestige, and they're just holding it!" (laughter) Every week, I was like--

LIAM: That arcade machine with the claw going like, "I'm going to get one, I'm going to get one."

AABRIA: How do you feel about the crown? No, okay, what about you? Would you want it? Someone want this crown?!

ROBBIE: Yeah, but it ended up just being a utility, though. That's the most interesting part of how that happened, it wasn't necessarily, you know, like Frodo going, "No, I'll keep it!" It was him in the bar, going, "I need to be invisible," right? Or you know what I mean? It was out of utility, and maybe that's what saved us. I'm not sure yet. It's, I guess, I know it's over, but for me, it feels like it's just the beginning.

AIMEE: I have all sorts of questions about what happens next. Because you, I don't know if this was the intended effect, but I was really scared of it. You made it seem like a really bad thing to do. So I didn't want to fucking touch that.

ASHLEY: I am so-- I love that it was you. I just love, because it just felt like the last person that it would have been.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ASHLEY: But I was so nervous, too, because when you were sitting there and you had this choice, and I was like, (sighs) how do we help her in this moment? But if-- I wanted to encourage you to put on the crown, but I also was like, "But what if she dies?! And then I'm going to feel awful!" And then I was just like, "I don't know what to do in this moment."

AIMEE: Yeah.

ASHLEY: But I'm so glad you did it. One of my favorite things was seeing the two of you just play with such courage, having never played this game. You guys jumped head first, and it was so exciting to watch. And also, side note, I love playing with you, Matt. Holy shit.

MATT: Oh, yay.

ASHLEY: Every game, I would go home, and I was like, "Oh my god, Brian, this was the best, I love playing with Matt. He's playing a character that's not his usual, you know, what he usually plays, and it's so fun seeing him just have fun and be chaotic, and--"

AIMEE: Twyla, what's her name? Thyla Twarp?

MATT: Tharla Starr.

ALL: Tharla Starr,

ANJALI: Not Twyla Tharpe; that's different. Very different. Equally graceful, but that's different.

AABRIA: That was so good.

AIMEE: That was maybe my favorite, actually,

ANJALI: Oh my god, Tharla Starr. I think that was my favorite.

MATT: I don't know where the fuck that came from, but--

ANJALI: It was so good.

MARISHA: We know you have a drag queen deep down inside you, though.

MATT: Dariax could totally get into drag.

MARISHA: I'm talking about Matt Mercer, but Dariax, sure, yeah.

MATT: I'm a little past my prime, but-- I don't know, one day, one day, maybe.

ASHLEY: No way!

AIMEE: The way you were telling the story, maybe Fearne had put on the crown at some point, because we saw evil Fearne, which I'm like, have a hundred questions about.

AABRIA: Y'all keep calling her evil Fearne, I don't think I said that.

AIMEE: No, you didn't, you didn't say evil.

ANJALI: But she sure felt evil!

ASHLEY: But I was thinking that, too.

AIMEE: Yeah, I'm like, "She must have put it on at some point."

ASHLEY: At some point, went bad.

ROBBIE: Fearne makes a ton of sense because she's so impulsive, and so primal.

LIAM: Primal.

ROBBIE: And I don't know that, necessarily, choices like that even go through her head. I don't know if she's-- This is your character--

MARISHA: Fearne is the scariest. Fearne is the scariest character out of all of you.

ROBBIE: In a team full of wild cards, she's the wildest for me.

MARISHA: Yes, agreed.

MATT: She lacks a classic spectrum of morality that you expect from the normal civilized, heroic individual. That doesn't mean she's good or evil, it's just a different concept of morality in the world, because where she come from is a wild place, where things are topsy-turvy and different, and that is exciting.

ASHLEY: Feywild.

AABRIA: Time works differently.

MATT: Yeah!

ASHLEY: But yeah!

AABRIA: That was the thing, I was like, "Ooh, you don't know if this is like a construct or some apparition, or just you later, or before, and you don't remember, who knows?"

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

AIMEE: Well, tell us!

AABRIA: Oh, I know! And there's a meeting we can have about it later, but don't worry about that yet.

AIMEE: Oh man.

ASHLEY: Okay, okay, okay, okay!

MARISHA: Oh shit, okay, okay, okay.

AIMEE: I want to see Fearne's room, I want to meet her family. I want to just meet her ex, I don't know, I just, there's a lot.

ANJALI: I want to know who the figures were that were walking around in the background behind Dark Fearne.

AABRIA: Oh, the rest of the encounter.

ASHLEY: Oh yeah. (laughter)

ANJALI: And also, but speaking of that not normal morality, or not the common morality, there was just-- there's such a simplicity to how you played everything as Fearne, including the searing violence of that dire wolf going in.

MARISHA: So good.

ANJALI: And wrecking shop on someone's head, but the simplicity of it, and it just being like: This is what I want.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: And that was-- it's so beguiling.

AIMEE: Yes.

ANJALI: You know? The same as when you solved the Poska nightmare, and were like, I'm going to cast Charm Person.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: I don't think I want-- the simplicity of, "I'm doing what I want from moment to moment, and I'm judging it based on-- I'm evaluating that based on: How do I feel about this?"

MATT: Yeah.

AIMEE: And talk about courage, that's courageous, to have no bag of tricks to just be, "I'm just going to--" Bleah, I'm like, "Blah!" (laughter)

MATT: Warm, saccharine id.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ANJALI: Yes!

ASHLEY: A lot of the-- so, some of the inspo for Fearne was-- Harold and Maude is one of my favorite movies, and Maude, I just love her as a character. And I also wanted to play somebody who's, you know, 112, because fauns live forever. And I loved that she just, you know, in Harold and Maude, when she's talking about the flowers, and she's just like, "They're so beautiful, some of are bigger, some are smaller." And just how her whole-- I was like: Okay, that's a good start. But I think, having played Yasha for the three years, I think, for me-- which we've talked about of, how I feel like D&D is a little bit of therapy for me. And there's no way for some parts of you to not come out in a character. And I feel like where I was at in my life was really lined up with where Yasha was. I was away from home, and I felt kind of stuck. But this go around, I was like, I want to do something just fun and weird, where there's no, there's no bumpers on the gutters, where it's just like, "Well, let's just go and see what happens!'

AIMEE: Yeah.

ASHLEY: And it's so fun! It's so fun because always seeing Travis of just-- just pushing the button, and just, it's a blast. It's a blast.

LIAM: Your id is a little spookier.

ASHLEY: My-- yes, well, I also-- me as a person, I'm a little left of center, or maybe a lot.

AIMEE: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Where there's-- I seem a certain way, but there's a darkness brewing underneath.

MATT: Oh yeah, oh yeah. No, we've--

ASHLEY: And it occasionally comes out.

MATT: I want to Pool Hall Ashley one of these days.

MARISHA: Yeah, Pool Hall Ashley, yeah.

ANJALI: It's so funny, though. I don't see that-- I never saw you as a spooky or id or scary. There was just a-- it was just like a simple, I mean, I envied Fearne the simplicity of her decisions because there wasn't necessarily-- there was the caring about your friends, but it was based on the feelings, or it seemed like it was just based on the feelings as they came up. Like at the end, when you said-- oh, when you said, "I don't want to leave you, because that just makes-- thinking about that just makes me very, very sad." It's simple, so simple, that decision made sense.

MARISHA: Yeah.

ANJALI: And then you did that throughout the campaign in the craziest of moments. And so, maybe I need to go-- maybe I need to meet a therapist, and have a conversation about it. (laughter) Because I'm playing a character that is all bound by duty to save everyone!

ASHLEY: I don't even know what this character says about me in my life journey right now, you know? (laughs) But we'll see!

MARISHA: It is a little bit like kid logic. Fearne has kid logic.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

LIAM: Yeah.

ANJALI: Yeah!

MARISHA: I don't want to do this thing, it makes a booboo, and it hurts.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

MARISHA: What were you going to say, babe?

MATT: I thought Robbie was going to say something.

ROBBIE: No, I've forgotten now. I was just listening. (laughter)

ROBBIE: Thanks, though.

MATT: You're welcome.

AABRIA: But I do have a--

LIAM: I have a--

AABRIA: Oh, sorry, go ahead.

LIAM: You, you're the GM.

AABRIA: I do want to compliment you one more. Because I think we can call it kid logic a lot, but even just sort of like the crunchier-- Druids are overpowered.

MARISHA: Mm-hmm.

AABRIA: They are so strong, and there's so much mechanically to them that, I don't know, with that added context, it always felt like, this isn't kid logic. I just think Fearne's not worried, because she's going to be fine. Do you know what I mean? The repercussions probably won't hit her. And I think that's what gives it that insidious edge of, I'll do whatever I want because I'm going to walk it off.

ASHLEY: Yeah.

AABRIA: And that's terrifying, and I love it.

MARISHA: Yeah! Yeah.

ASHLEY: It was interesting because when, not to just be like, let's talk about Fearne.

AABRIA: Let's talk about Fearne!

MATT: Let's do it! I'm here for it.

ASHLEY: When, you know, when you had the question of, what does she fear? I think she loves her family, but I think, to that point, I don't think she's scared of things, and you know, which is kind of a weird choice to make for a character. Because usually, as an actor, you're like, "These are my fears, these are the things that I like, these are the, you know." And it's-- it's weird playing that, of just like, well, I don't know, let's just keep going, and you know, this is something that could be scary, but not for me. Still figuring it out, though. But yeah.

ROBBIE: Was Fearne ever in trouble? Did she ever heal outside of a short or long rest? Was she ever hurt? I don't recall Fearne ever being hurt.

AIMEE: One time.

MATT: She took some damage.

ASHLEY: Yeah, I took some damage, but--

AIMEE: Yeah, well, you burned her the one time.

MATT: Oh yeah, in the playtest, yeah.

ROBBIE: I just remember distinct moments of being worried about everyone else. Except for Fearne.

AABRIA: It's hard to-- as a DM, it's hard to hit a druid, a low-level druid, and I'm like, "I'm just, okay, I got to chew through-- oh, is this dire wolf still up?"

LIAM: Yeah, got to get through those dire wolf HP first.

ANJALI: I remember both in the playtest and in the campaign not being afraid for her physically, but being afraid for her choices, particularly when we showed-- when that first episode, when I came in and she was like, I might go through the portal, and I was like: No, no, no! No, you will-- bad dog! That is not going to happen.

MATT: Hit points is just one way to break a character.

ANJALI: Sorry?

MATT: Said hit points is just one way to break a character.

ANJALI: Exactly, exactly.

ASHLEY: Yeah, yeah.

ANJALI: And again, it's so fun to play with that person, who is like, I'm going to lean into the thing that I shouldn't lean into, because everyone around you is like: "Mm, that could go horribly wrong."

ASHLEY: That's the thing with-- that Matt was saying, it's then everybody has to deal with that. And you're like, well, ugh!

MATT: That's exciting too.

AIMEE: But that's pretty fun.

ANJALI: And it's like, Liam, when you kept having to deal with being so pissed at these two for having the vestige in the first place, and being so worried about that all the time. That dynamic was so dope.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: That-- so that when she put the crown on at the end, I didn't know where you-- if you were going to come hauling ass at her with a sword.

MARISHA: Yeah, Liam, how is Orym doing with this group that he kind of fell into? How is Orym?

LIAM: It's not what he anticipated. (laughter)

LIAM: Yeah, man, I mean, anyone who's watched Campaign 2 knows how morally ambiguous or complicated Caleb was. And this guy, I wanted him to be more-- I've always wanted to play a halfling. Always, always, always, always, always. And I just wanted to play somebody with a purer heart. He's a little bit like Keyleth, a little bit. And I meant for him, I really designed him to not be the person who made decisions and dragged everyone along with him, but who was just there to help everyone around him in the way that he could. And the chemistry of the group was very dangerous, very chaotic. And he liked everybody in the group. He really, really liked Dorian a lot, and saw so much good in him. And it wasn't a, what the fuck, I'm going to kick your ass. It was seeing someone that you think has so much good, and so much potential, and so much heart mingling with something that could be dangerous to them. And Liam, not Orym, but Liam in the back is like, "Yeah, conflict! Put that fucking crown on, Opal! Yeah!" (laughter)

MARISHA: Yeah. Yeah, let's chew into that. Robbie.

ROBBIE: Yeah?

MARISHA: Dorian--

LIAM: What were you going to do with that shit? My question.

MARISHA: My thirst trap, Dorian, Mr. Sexy Pants.

(laughter)

MARISHA: Yeah, you-- I loved watching Dorian in his journey, and you touched on it a little bit earlier with the dice, and the dice following you on this story. Because I was referring to talking to my crew a lot, and I was like: Oh, Dorian has such "nice guys finish last" syndrome, where you're just striking out and striking out. And then it all came around at the end, but you had such an interesting journey, and it wasn't devoid of a little bit of conflict, and a little bit of questioning of yourself. What made you even want to follow that journey? Was that the intent of Dorian?

ROBBIE: No, no, no, no, no.

(laughter)

ROBBIE: Nothing of his build is how he shook out at all, and I think that speaks to what we've all been talking about, is that that requires trust in the other players, the GM, and then lack of ego, because as soon as his build was done and I decided that's what I was going to play after our playtests. After our first encounter, I was like, "Ah, Nothing that I think I want to do is going to shake out with this group," because I saw him being more of a Han Solo kind of chaos, rogue-ish type character, and the more I played with these guys, my own build of him, and personality of myself came out and I found myself being more of a voice of reason, caring more deeply about the characters than I thought. And I always wanted him to be chaotic good, and then I found that the more things I got encountered with, the less good that he was. And it was less about an in-line morality, and more about his dedication to his friends. Which, once that started to happen especially with the bond with Orym, the throughline that for me, that Dorian started to take was that friends above all else. All else. I wanted to play this reverse anime trope. Like, I don't know, this might not be your audience, maybe it is, there's this cheesy-ass--

MATT: In this room?

ROBBIE: Yeah, I know, okay.

MATT: We're your audience.

ROBBIE: So there's the cheesy-ass, like, "I can do anything with my friends!" And once we got into, like, episode three and the circlet came into play, I had this idea of a throughline that was sort of like, "I can do anything with my friends! Fuck up the entire universe for my friends." And so as it went on the more I was dedicated to the party, I don't know if you guys, but I wanted to make this choice that Dorian was always going to put maximum responsibility on his friends. That's why I didn't want to give the crown to Gilmore. That's why he didn't trust anybody outside-- That's why I gave Fy'ra such a hard time. And that was the thing that, because he never had any, and he was so cloistered, all of a sudden he found what he was looking for in his journey, and he was not willing to let that go in any way. So I think that's where a lot of his choices started coming from, and it started to make him a little more morally ambiguous. He didn't trust anybody else with the crown. He didn't trust anybody else with anything except for his crew.

MATT: I mean. Matt and Dariax agree with Dorian, to that degree. Yeah, man, Dorian's whole journey was fascinating--

MARISHA: Fascinating!

MATT: To your point, because he comes in very much that, you know, plucking bard in the background with that sort of confidence, and I think maybe even, to your point, the comparison of these chaos beasts here that waltzed in, but we pushed you into almost like a paternal role alongside Orym to a certain point, which it was it was fascinating to watch you two have conflict because it was almost like the two unwanted leaders being forced into leadership roles.

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATT: The two dads who are having to figure out who's going to be responsible--

ROBBIE: Yeah, my two dads. Dad and dad are fighting, turn the car around.

MARISHA: Uh-huh. (laughter)

AIMEE: What was shocking to me as a character and also as a player, I was like, "Ooh!" Like, what was going to happen?

MATT: Yeah.

ASHLEY: The devastation that you had when you were knocked down to chaotic neutral.

AIMEE: Oh.

ROBBIE: (laughs) Yeah.

ASHLEY: Seeing you, and you were just like, "What? That can happen?" I was just like, "Ooh, here we go!"

ROBBIE: But it was true.

LIAM: I believe with these with these kinds of games, playing at a table with friends and telling a story, you have your idea of what the character is, but that's not what the character is going to be. You find out at the table, through playing, what the character is.

ROBBIE: That was--

ASHLEY: 100%.

ROBBIE: -- completely my experience of it. And I think maybe it's also why-- and I'm not speaking for-- Maybe we made choices in our backstory to play cloistered characters that were then set loose into the world, because that's my experience of the game. Like, I'm not going to step into this continent and world and know enough about it to be able to participate. So it was a smart choice-- good for us!-- because it was like, we can just come in as sort of these-- not naive, but these characters that are a little more malleable and figure out our place within the group. And that was my experience of it as a player and as a role player, too: someone learning the game and someone learning his character at the same time, yeah.

LIAM: I have another question. I know the answer to it, but I want the world to know. Tell me a little bit-- Tell everyone a little bit about what Dorian meant to do with that fucking crown. Because it's so good.

ASHLEY: What if-- What if we--

ROBBIE: I mean, I don't know that--

AABRIA: You may still have an opportunity.

LIAM: You want to hold back? Don't share anything you don't want to share.

ROBBIE: I will share this. It was never-- That's the thing that hurt my feelings the most as Dorian, was Orym's disappointment in Dorian about the decision to keep it and to not give it up, is because that it, what hurt the most was never about the crown. Not really. It was about us having it, and us having stewardship of it, and not wanting to give it away. And that's why it hurt. But I couldn't say that, because then I'm showing-- It didn't feel right. It felt like I was showing my hand, my motivations too much. So, yeah. I don't know if it was ever about Dorian really wanting it all that bad. I just wanted us to have it, yeah. I mean, I had ideas of what to do about it if it ever came in between us, though. That's something that I'd been planning the whole time after I realized that was that, "If this gets in the way of the group, how do I get rid of the crown?" And it never needed to happen.

AABRIA: That definitely would have gone the way you thought.

ROBBIE: Yeah. That's what I'm saying, there's no planning! There was no planning!

MARISHA: Juicy!

AABRIA: I do think it's interesting that the moment you made this really strong decision that like, "We have to keep it, but we can't wear it," I was like, "Okay, so we're playing the prince now." And then one of my favorite things as a GM is playing the corruption arc for characters especially new ones, especially people with a strong sense of, "This is who I am." And I'm like, "Bet."

AIMEE: Is it really?

AABRIA: "Fucking bet." (laughter)

AABRIA: I think knowing what I know about your backstory with your brother, and leadership, and stewardship of a group of people, let's play the prince now. Like, what is a leader willing to do to protect the people that they care about? And that's one of the lines in there is "You should be willing to go to hell for your people." I was like, "All right, you're going to be the one that I'm going to focus on with this crown now. Prove to me how much you want to take care of them."

MARISHA: And you had such an interesting connection, too, with Fy'ra and just-- and I know you had this... kinship. I don't want to say maternal, but you had-- I think like a-- I don't want to speak for you. You know your character better than anybody else, but I loved watching your all's connection. And there was a little bit of that from the pregame that you guys had, from the test game.

ROBBIE: Oh boy.

ANJALI: Ooh.

AIMEE: Aww, that thing in the pregame!

MARISHA: I know.

ROBBIE: Well.

MARISHA: Which we can talk about.

MATT: We can talk about it now.

MARISHA: We refer to the pregame, just so everybody knows, we did a few-- Just like we did for Campaign 2, where we did a few games for everybody to get comfortable with their characters and figure it out, and we have since referred to those games as can-ish. Some things we-- the characters and the GM decided to keep and utilize as anchor points going into the game. And then some, we were like, "Eh, that was-- This is why we tested the game! That's gone now." But yeah, you guys had a very interesting moment in the pregame that we used as a catalyst.

ANJALI: Just a tiny little taste of it, which was so nice. And it was so nice, too, because even the concept of can-ish is so-- The way you brought Fy'ra back into the group was sort of like coming out of the birth canal and not really knowing where you're going, like, "What's happening? How am I-- and I'm here!" And yet, there was all of this vague memory of what we'd done in the playtest. And I didn't-- We had never had any conversations about what we may or may not remember from that. So at first, I had known from when I had seen what your character was that I felt that, "Okay, they're both genasi, I'm going to at least have that. You are someone else from another plane. I'm going to have that interesting kinship." But also there was definitely, I felt, like an older sister thing that I felt for Dorian. So she was very intrigued by his possibility in the same way that Orym was, that she saw so much in him, and yet he kept stumbling, and kept stumbling, and kept stumbling. So yeah, I mean, I want to talk about the playtest but it's so-- I don't--

ROBBIE: I think they're asking us to. I think they're saying, like--

AIMEE: Talk about it! Talk about it!

ROBBIE: It became cannon the minute that Aabria unlocked my memory.

AIMEE: Right.

ROBBIE: So we had a moment where traveled to another realm, and we were all there, and everything went down, and at the final moments of that, someone was trying to be the last person out and I was like, "No, no, you go ahead," and it was just me and you.

ANJALI: Right.

ROBBIE: And I took the circlet, dipped out, and let the portal close, and left you behind in the fucking nether realm. Yeah.

AABRIA: It was a [Inaudible] pocket universe.

ANJALI: There was even a little bit more to it, that was even a little more, like, nefarious. Not nefarious.

ROBBIE: It was as close to a betrayal as you could come without sticking a knife in your back.

MARISHA: Watching it from afar--

ANJALI: I want to give it. I kind of want to give it.

MARISHA: Yeah, watching it from the sidelines, once again, not to speak out of turn, but it was when I was like: "Oh, I think something just clicked for Robbie about this game."

LIAM: How it works.

MARISHA: Because yeah, how this works and what you can do. And yeah, you guys were having your little conflict, and you were like, "You go, come on, go, leave it." And she was trying to thwart your choice, and you just looked at Anji in like cold, dead, flat words, you said, "It's not your choice."

MARISHA: And I was like--

ANJALI: Yep!

MARISHA: (yelling) "He gets it! We're in!" He gets the fucking story!

ANJALI: Yep!

MARISHA: Yeah, it was great, so I-- It was such a palpable moment that I'm glad our GM decided to--

ANJALI: And also--

MARISHA: -- sink her teeth into it.

ANJALI: -- that the rest of the gang does not know anything about that how it happened.

MARISHA: Yes, just between you two.

LIAM: Great.

ANJALI: Just between the two of us. And that you decided, because you said it in the actual campaign, when he has the memory of everything, that was the first time I heard you say, "Yeah, she knows." She absolutely remembers, which means I, this whole time had been--

ROBBIE: And you let it slide. Which is ultimately, after that happened, was when I started trusting you, was when you said-- when you let it slide. So yeah. I also put Orym on a dinosaur once (laughs). We'll talk about that-- We'll talk about that later.

ANJALI: It's a little different than sacrificing me to some dark god.

LIAM: It's a metaphor!

ROBBIE: This was an early game!

MATT: That was not can-ish.

LIAM: For the record, too: We keep saying, "Playtest, playtest." We're really just playing more fucking D&D.

ANJALI: Yeah, truly.

AIMEE: I'm so glad we had that. I would be really bummed if we just had, you know, the eight.

ROBBIE and ANJALI: Yeah.

ANJALI: Do we ever get to see that? I would love to watch those.

MARISHA: Maybe. I know that the audience is going to be like, "Where's the hidden tapes?"

AIMEE: Release the tapes!

MARISHA: I'll think about it.

ROBBIE: I want to see the fucking dinosaur!

ANJALI: There was more to that moment that I even want to see again.

AABRIA: That moment was excellent.

ANJALI: Because that moment was dark.

AIMEE: You guys didn't know each other before. I'm not talking about actors, the characters have never met.

ANJALI: No.

AIMEE: Because I sense so much history, because I did miss one of the playtests, so when I came in.

MATT: That was the first they were meeting. They're just that good at it.

AIMEE: Wow. See-- yeah. Yeah, that's great.

ANJALI: But the playtest before-- Again, we had like-- Because you guys had been playing for a while, so Fy'ra still was coming in brand new to the game.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: And so, but her being her, or she being she, she being her. Grammar, it's a thing. She-- There's that very take charge, I'm assessing you, you. You, I need to protect. You, I just need to laugh at. You-- not laugh at, but she was like, I felt like the instincts for everybody was like, "I trust you, I see that you're fine," "I think you're delightful and I have to keep an eye on you to make sure you don't end up dead." "You, I need to teach about sibli--" It was such a fast thing of like, "I see each of you, let's go."

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: Because that, to me, was the whole way that she had operated before she met all of you, because she was someone who had wanted to be traveling as two, and then was one, all alone in the universe as far as she knew.

AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: And so, it took a while for her to figure out what to do with that. So it was-- The relationship I felt to Dorian was definitely like, "Okay, at least I understand genasi, there is some connection there."

AABRIA: Can we call you Brontë now? (laughter)

AIMEE: Brontë!

ASHLEY: Brontë!

ANJALI: Brontë!

ROBBIE: I think I got twisted up a little bit in the lore when we first started, the D&D lore, and it informed some of my choices. And one of the things I remember reading was the infighting and personal preferences of the genasi based on where they're from and what type of element they connected to. And I realize now after playing that maybe I didn't have to marry myself so much to that, but I thought it made for an interesting choice.

AIMEE: It was so interesting!

ROBBIE: Because, because--

ANJALI: So interesting.

ROBBIE: Some of that lore is, you know, I know it's there to be taken or abandoned, but some of it was there, and I remember reading, that air genasi feel a little bit, you know, a little bit more elevated and look down, and especially tend to, you know, with the fire. And I was like, well, I'm going to play into that because my background, it was very traditional, and cloistered, and connected to the lore that I wrote for it.

MATT: Here's a cool thing.

ROBBIE: Yeah.

MATT: Your lore is inspired by existing lore, but is not beholden to it. Because now it's beholden to her lore.

ROBBIE: Hey!

AABRIA: It's our lore, buddy!

MATT: It's our lore, but this was your lore.

ROBBIE: Let's go!

LIAM: I have a question for the GM!

MARISHA: Please!

ROBBIE: Yeah!

LIAM: Were you, from the get go, when you were planning everything ahead of time, were you always going to dump a Vestige of Divergence, which is about as powerful a thing as you can find in this world, into a bunch of low-level dummies' hands, was that always the plan?

AABRIA: That is the funniest thing I could think to do. So of course it was.

LIAM: Okay.

AABRIA: I was like episode one.

AIMEE: And we all behaved as such. We're like, "We're not putting it on."

AABRIA: There's so many cool ones. There's like room in the lore to make up a new one, and I was like, "What if-- No, give the bad one. I'm going to give these chucklefucks the bad one. Here's the bad one!"

AIMEE: That would be our group name, the Chucklefucks.

ROBBIE: There it is! We found the name!

AIMEE: Why are we wasting our time with anything else?

MATT: We never decided, so it could be the Chucklefucks.

AABRIA: That was also my favorite gag, running around with like--

ASHLEY: Finding out it was a Vestige of Divergence, it's like, "We just keep putting it in the knapsack!" (laughter)

ASHLEY: It's the Vestige?

ROBBIE: It was covered in bananas at one point.

LIAM: There's Raisinets on it.

ANJALI: Just finding out that you guys had it, the whole time we've been traveling, like two episodes, "I'm sorry, you have what?"

AIMEE: It's like having a dead body in the trunk, we're like, "Yeah, yeah, you want McDonalds?"

MARISHA, ROBBIE, and AABRIA: Yeah. (laughter)

MATT: When you were describing it, I was like, "This sounds kind of-- No, but she wouldn't."

AABRIA: (laughs)

ASHLEY: Oh, but she did.

MATT: Oh fuck! (laughter)

AABRIA: I was assuming you guys were going to get rid of it really quickly and I was like, "Oh, this'll be interesting, because I don't know what you want to do." In that early game, I was like, "Okay, there's a lot of ways it can go." You guys could've gotten in really well with the Nameless Ones, and that would have been your ticket to basically buy your way into the Underworld of Emon, and we could have, like, done other stuff with that.

MATT: Shit!

AABRIA: Yeah! Or it buys you trust with Gilmore. At so many places, that was the thing that will allow you to punch above your weight. So I was just like, "Here's a thing. You guys are level two, but that will get you in any room you want to be in." So it was a sort of, like, on the back burner. I just love that you guys wrestled with it the whole-- I was like, "Well, now my game is make someone wear it." So now I'm just going to call you all out on what I think your character weaknesses are. Which is super fun for me! And I'm so sorry, there was one point where I was just yelling at Dorian, I was like, "This feels mean. I'm having a good time. I'll apologize after."

ROBBIE: Well, his feelings are very hurt. I'm just fine.

AABRIA: Okay, cool!

MARISHA: Yeah, there were some--

MATT: You got to wear two crowns.

AIMEE: That's right! I got to wear two crowns. A pageant crown.

MARISHA: Oh, that's right!

AIMEE: Yeah. I'm really nervous about what happens to Opal, I'm like, I don't know what happens to her after that.

MARISHA: I want to ask about that because you had a pretty big "oh shit" moment with Ted, and that whole-- with Ted trying to be brought back as a lesser idol, being, anchor situation.

AABRIA: Sometimes you can just be a god a little.

MARISHA: Yeah.

AABRIA: What's up?

AIMEE: I thought about it so much. Like, what happened to her? Is she dead? I don't know, I've thought a lot about it, and I don't have the answer, only Aabria has the answer.

MATT: That's true.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: Another props to you on that, by the way. When we finished that encounter and the dust was settling and we were all just breathing heavy, and Robbie, the first thing he's like, "Do you still have the residuum? Give it to me." And starts building connection, I was like--

ASHLEY: So clutch.

MATT: Oh, my boy! My boy!

AABRIA: I'm like, "He's got this. He gets the game now!"

ROBBIE: You're about to make a brown man blush, come on now. (laughter)

AABRIA: -- burgundy, my guy, let's go! (laughter)

MATT: Oh my god.

ROBBIE: It just felt right, it felt right. We had all these questions, we had all these questions about why the fuck are we carrying the residuum around, and then it's the needles in her face, and the symbols we don't understand, and I don't know.

MARISHA: You had a really amazing moment where, for Opal maybe it didn't feel like a big connecting piece, but as an audience member, where the fire symbol you learned meant, like, hot, and fire, and it was, Opal for the first time to be like, "Okay, so we learned that it means what it means, which is kind of a duh," but it did feel that was the catalyst and the jumping off point of putting together the runes, and then utilizing them at the end of the game with scripting it out. So yeah, I think you guys actually played the long game pretty, pretty well.

LIAM: And that's the journey of learning this game, too. Like, your first game or two, you're like, "What can I do on my action?"

AIMEE: Literally, though!

LIAM: And then at the end, you're like, "I take out the residuum and use it to draw."

ASHLEY and AIMEE: Yeah.

ANJALI: That's something that I'm so happy-- Sorry, go ahead, go, go.

AABRIA: No, you go.

ANJALI: Something that I'm so happy to just be able to watch and be reminded of watching is that it's so much more about the storytelling than it is about the mechanics, and I did have someone, I did have a GM tell me once, like, quit asking for permission because if you keep asking for permission to do things, I will likely change things for a good story.

AIMEE: Right, right.

ANJALI: So tell me what you want to do, and we'll see if you can do it. And I watched you freaking wrestling a sleeping-- belly rubbing a--

MARISHA: The crocodile! Yeah. There is no more--

AIMEE: Me being from Florida has fucking paid off. (laughter)

AIMEE: There is no upside to being from Florida.

MATT: One day I'll get mine, but I'm proud you got yours.

MARISHA: Yeah, that is the epitome of doing things outside of what's on your character sheet.

ANJALI: Anjali and Fy'ra were both so proud, so proud and it was the test, it was during the test and I was like, I don't even know. I, as me, was losing my shit.

MARISHA: It was so good. What would have happened had the famous crocodile flip not happened?

AABRIA: There was so much more encounter! So, this is a whole thing about proving your worth to systems of power in the world and staking your claim as part of forward progress of Tal'Dorei and Exandria in general, and then you flip the crocodile over and that's the first time in the game-- I just deleted a good, like, page and a half of notes, I was like, "This is fine." What do I do after that? That's amazing! I don't mean that in a bad way at all! I love improvisation. I was like-- But you made a strong choice and every other part of the story fell into line with that, so who am I to wrestle you back to my high-minded thing?

AIMEE: I feel like you really did it to me, because I think that's when Opal had no power, like no magic. So I'm like, "What the fuck am I going to contribute but this knowledge." So actually, it was all your idea.

AABRIA: Oh my god!

AIMEE: You did it to yourself.

AABRIA: I did!

ROBBIE: You know what the biggest mystery of this game is? Is how, for eight weeks, for four hours, I was able to hold my bladder, and I can't do it for one hour! I can't do it for one hour.

AABRIA: Go!

MATT: You got it, buddy. We got you.

MARISHA: We'll wait! (laughter)

ASHLEY: That was such a good moment. I was just like, "I love you already so much," but when that happened, of pulling that out, you're like, "No, no, no, this is a real thing, you can do this." And I was like, "Of course she knows this. Of course!"

AIMEE: I'm telling you, the one useful thing about being from Florida is going on those field trips--

MATT: I remember that.

AIMEE: -- to the Miccosukee alligator wrestling place and there's like a Miccosukee man who wrestles the alligators, and he was like, "If you're ever in the Everglades and find an alligator, flip it over," and then he did it and then they'd just go--

MATT: Or run! That's also your first--

ASHLEY: No, they'll catch you!

AIMEE: They're very fast! Which I didn't know until I found that out.

MARISHA: They're like darters, they can like--

AIMEE: Yeah, yeah.

MATT: So your only option, if you see them, just to flip them over and rub their belly.

AIMEE: I think if you can maybe back away slow. You know, like, you're not a threat, I'm not here to whatever, but if it's you or the croc or the alligator, you do what you go to do. It's like punching a shark in the eyes or in the nose or something. It's your last resort, if there is nothing to do, try that.

MATT: I just think when the fight or flight kicks in, the last thing you think of is, like--

AIMEE: Go toward the thing.

MATT: It seems very counterintuitive.

LIAM: Somewhere a designer is in the master document of the Monster Manual going, "Delete crocodile." (laughter)

AABRIA: Please update the crocodile stats.

MATT: Yeah, yeah.

AABRIA: Tummy Time.

MATT: To that point, we've had this conversation before. You know, one of the things I love, that moment to me is indicative of one of my favorite things about role playing games, which is, when you don't focus on what the rules tell you you're capable to do, you just instead go with the creative choice, and let the GM and you figure out how that fits into the rules.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: It's often the longer you play these games the more comfortable you are with them, you sometimes subconsciously begin to pigeonhole your options to what's on your character sheet, which is one of the unfortunate downsides to games like D&D and stuff like that is that it can filter you into that point. But with newer players or with people that haven't played for a while, and encourage themselves to think outside of that box, is to let that go for a bit and instead just go with the impulse action and figure out how to make it fit later and good GMs will know how to roll with it and make it happen.

AIMEE: Yeah.

MATT: And that was just a perfect example of that. I loved it so much.

AIMEE: We'll always have the croc.

AABRIA: We'll always have the croc. I kept that mini with me for the rest-- it was behind the screen for the rest of the thing. I was like: Never forget. Sometimes they're going to fucking flip your crocodile.

ANJALI: It really was inspiring and makes-- because I may have played this and other games before, but I am constantly fighting that desire in me to say like, "Oh, but you can't do that because you have to fit into this story and you have to-- and this is the thing and--" Rather than just being like, "It's a game, and your imagination is the limit." And that's how we should be doing so many things in our lives, but we don't get a chance to, so why not do it here?

MATT: It became a phrase, but we even in my home games before Critical Role, my favorite thing to tell a player was, "You can certainly try." You know, it's, "Can I do this?" Let's see, you know? It might fail spectacularly, and if you're at a certain point, if you're asking for too much, then you have to calm it back a bit, you know, but let's see if it works out, and if it fails, it's going to be a hilarious part of the story. If it manages to succeed, we're going to remember that moment, like the alligator moment, for years to come, and that's where the real joy of it comes from.

ANJALI: And the fact that failures are celebrated because they tell a great story, too. Which is not something that we are taught in regular life very often.

AABRIA: There is something so specific to DMs, when you finally get to be like, "I'm one thing and if I fail, that's amazing." Because you roll so much back there! You're like, "I'm missing hits and hitting a bunch, all the time and it doesn't feel like anything." There's something like-- It was always so joyful to watch when I was like, "Group check, how'd you do, how'd you do?" And your number was always so low, and you were always so delighted!

AIMEE: And it got to the point--

MATT: Love it!

AIMEE: -- that I was watching you, I was watching you do it, because we were sitting next to each other, and I was like, "Okay, I think the problem is the way his wrist rolls it." Like, truly! Because I was like, "Maybe, maybe if he shakes it before," because you were just doing with your fingers and you'd just go like that, and I was like, "It's in the wrist." But then, that wasn't it, I was like, "Maybe that dice are too heavy."

MATT: You could pull a Sam Riegel.

AIMEE: There!

MATT: That's the weirdest technique.

AABRIA: I love it.

ANJALI: You pulled a bunch of natural 20s in that last episode when it was clutch.

AIMEE: When it mattered, you did.

ANJALI: When it was clutch.

ROBBIE: That's the weirdest thing, about Dariax is, arguably, he's one of our most capable party members. When he got in there, he was fucking wrecking shop every single time, but he didn't always get in there.

MATT: Nope!

ANJALI: And he got blessed by a god. There's The Observer. Let's talk about that.

ROBBIE: How did that happen?

MARISHA: Yeah, and how do you feel about that?

MATT: How do I feel about an emerging lesser idol in the realm of Tal'Dorei looking upon and blessing? I mean--

MARISHA: I mean, we know Aimee ships you two, so.

AIMEE: Uh-huh, I like-- They need to be married.

MATT: I think--

AIMEE: Endgame.

MATT: (like Dariax) Dariax thinks it's fine, he's pretty happy about that. (as Matt) I thought it was fucking awesome, are you kidding me?! Man, I made this character, how do I put it? Dariax is kind of like one of those windup toys that'll just keep going in a direction until somebody points him in a new direction. He's like, "Oh right, this way!" That's the instinct I went with him, which is why I think he attached to Dorian so heavily. He's like, "You know what you're doing. You're my best friend and my leader, what do we do? What do we do?"

ROBBIE: Meanwhile, I'm just floating in this wind with an anchor attached to me, hoping, yeah.

MATT: This guy has it all figured out! Follow him!

AABRIA: The boy chain of like: What, what, what? To Orym and Orym's like, "I asked for literally none of this." It's my favorite! It was so good every time.

AIMEE: I feel like, I don't like to use this word, but I feel like Dariax maybe was the most deserving of the wings, you know what I mean? Not deserving because of anything you did or the character, but he just-- I don't know, you kind of want him to have that. I wanted him to have that.

MATT: I will say he's probably the least appreciative. Because he's just like, "Oh, cool, wings! Wee!" He's not like, "The gods looked upon me and gave me this blessing. I've been given this responsibility."

AIMEE: Maybe that's why she picked you, I don't know.

MATT: Maybe. He's just like, "Oh, this is fun!" And this is useful. He doesn't-- He's impulsive. He goes with whatever the first thought is and moves forward. He's very much just that kind of person. So I think as far as the relationship with the Observer goes, he still doesn't fully understand it. He's not an unintelligent person, I hate the idea of intelligence as a stat denoting a person's capability. He's just not as well learned, you know? He has a hard time focusing, and he just constantly is going in a forward momentum to the point where he doesn't stop long enough to really absorb all the information. And so he has a lot of half bits of things about the world.

AIMEE: Oh, so, ADHD?

MATT: Yeah, he's a very ADHD person.

AIMEE: That's very me, I got it.

MATT: Yeah, there you go.

AIMEE: Can confirm!

MATT: There you go! (laughter)

ASHLEY: Hello!

MATT: So yeah, I think that's where his low intelligence, low wisdom comes from is just-- his momentum through life doesn't allow him to reflect on choices before making them, nor to have absorbed all the information to make them intelligently. And that's just how he goes through life. So for the Observer he's just like: That's that cool cat voice that talked to him. So he left them some fruit and he got some wings, that's neat! What's next? That's where he's--

AIMEE: That's why he deserves the wings!

ANJALI: That's also what's so cool about the Observer!

AIMEE: Here's a little fruit.

MARISHA: Here's some fruit, get some wings!

MATT: [Inaudible] cool!

ROBBIE: Do you think you chose to play a character so in the moment because so much of what you've done for so long has to be above board, that you have to know a little bit of what's coming in order to do your job? Do you think that motivated your choice to play a character like that?

LIAM: That's what I thought. That you were trying to have fun and separate so that you could just enjoy, raw, as a player.

MATT: That wasn't intentional, but I guess there could be a layer of that, too. I initially was just trying to step out of my comfort zone of players I usually play, characters, when I do have the opportunity I tend to fall in a similar space. I wanted do something that was very different and I also wanted to put myself in a position where I had a character that realistically had no business knowing any of the lore of the world that I had built. So that one, I wouldn't feel any instinct to step in and put any sort of lore on the table when this was your game. And this was your Exandria. So yeah, that never crossed my mind but now that you pointed it out, that may have also been an aspect of it, to be able to just disengage a bit and ride the ride without thinking too much about it. So, I had a good time.

LIAM: It was a treat.

AIMEE: It's very joyful to watch you.

ASHLEY: So joyful!

AABRIA: That was a joyful character.

AIMEE: So joyful!

AABRIA: So good.

AIMEE: I feel like Dariax would have a cooking show on Netflix. A very colorful one where he's just making desserts or pies, I don't know.

MATT: They would've gotten--

AABRIA and ANJALI: Pies!

MATT: They would've gotten--

LIAM: The producers really have to wrangle him, they really--

AABRIA: He stopped showing up halfway through the first season.

MATT: It ran for most of an open episode and then he moved on.

ANJALI: Oof.

ASHLEY: I was laughing the other day just out of nowhere because I remembered the moment, I think it was in the last game when Dorian fell, and when we came back from break, you were screaming for Dorian. And when we came back from break, you went "--rian!" Like, that's-- And it took me a minute and I'm like, "Oh god, that's funny!" And I was thinking about it the other night and I just started laughing out loud. So silly, I love it. I love it.

MARISHA: One my favorites was Fy'ra Rai was like, "All right, who's going to be first into the portal?" And you were like, "Let's go!"

AIMEE: You're already one foot in.

MARISHA: I'll go!

ROBBIE: I guess if we're talking a little bit about the pre-- one of the first jokes we had was that we were presented with a very dangerous scenario. It was one of our first playthroughs as a full group, I can't remember, and there were a million things we could do, a million paths we could take and one super fucking stupid, dangerous thing we could do. And like, "Let's go do the thing!" And I was like: Oh, this is what this group is. And I was really excited after that.

MARISHA: Was that when you guys were fighting the fire elementals and they were way above your class?

AABRIA: I made fire things [inaudible]!

ROBBIE: We fought a lot of those.

AABRIA: So many times I have a complex about it.

MARISHA: The crater? Yeah.

AIMEE: We were like: Let's go in the crater!

AABRIA: Those early games, like, "Fuck."

AIMEE: And she was like, "Wait, no, I don't have a map for the crater."

ROBBIE: The crater was pregame, right?

AABRIA: Goddamn crater. My only note was, "Don't go into there." And they were like: We're going to go twice!

LIAM: How often can we go?

ROBBIE: Yeah, we went back! We almost died and immediately went back!

MARISHA: The GM is--

AABRIA: That was when I was like, "Okay."

MARISHA: She's trying so hard to be the video game that is trying to tell you you are not at the right level for this land yet. You have to go level up. And you're just like, "Nah, I got it. We're good." Sorry, Chris.

MATT: X that, go away.

AABRIA: Let me be clear: A god showed up and said, "Hey, by the way, don't go in the crater." And you guys went, "Eh." And then went twice.

ASHLEY: But we just need to check it one more time!

AABRIA: But what if we go in?

AIMEE: I think that was Orym's idea, actually.

LIAM: It was.

MARISHA: It was!

AIMEE: It was Orym's idea.

ANJALI: So much for my trust!

AIMEE: Which was a ballsy fucking move.

LIAM: But after that, the rest of the campaign, Orym's inner monologue was just: Oh shit. Oh shit! Oh shit. Oh shit!

MATT: While also doing really dope combat shit the whole time. Can we talk about the full-on stunt show that is Orym in battle?

AIMEE: I would watch Liam do combat stuff for hours because you're so fucking good at it, and it goes so fast, it actually is the six seconds it's supposed to be. And you're just like, "And that's my turn." And I was still like, "And I think I can do this extra move!" You're just so good at that.

MARISHA: He's had a lot of practice.

AIMEE: It's really good.

ANJALI: But the flair and the storytelling.

AIMEE: The flair!

ASHLEY: Oh, the flair!

MATT: It shows, and if you look at a lot of role-playing games, you look at combat classes or combat builds versus magic builds and more magic-centric games and the magic builds always look more interesting because you're like, I have all these options. When I'm combat based, I'm just hitting and doing damage. And yes, on paper, that's exactly what it is. But you gave a perfect example of how I love melee classes, which is where you get to creatively tell how you engage with the combat. You get to have fun with the flair and the spin and the visuals of how the battle entrusts itself into the narrative and how it feels like, it can be anything from an "Ip Man" martial arts battle to an extremely beautiful, almost "Crouching Tiger" type combat dance to where it can be a really brutal throw down, drag out fist fight. I love those bits.

LIAM: You can do as much with it as you can talking about fire arcing through the air. I've been watching a lot of sword fighting movies and listening to an audiobook about the history of swordcraft, and what I've liked doing in the history of us gaming together is I started, and I didn't start out to do this, but I started with a rogue, but not really a typical rogue. He would run at things, which is dumb for rogues. And then I made a wizard who was a coward and hated himself. Wizards often power trip, "Wargh, I'm wielding the universe! And he was, for first game he ran and hid in a crowd. And I've always wanted to play--

MATT: Frustrated me. I was like: Where's he going?

LIAM: Fuck you! So I guess I'm working my way through the four original classes of D&D and now I've got a fighter, but I didn't want to do it the typical way and just be like, "I'm a big dude and I'm going to hit stuff." I've made a halfling and he's a ballet dancer, and I'm just enjoying being a little Baryshnikov.

ANJALI: Oh god.

AABRIA: A little Baryshnikov. Hey, DM tip. Right of first refusal. Always give your players the ability to describe their own stuff because when people know what they want to describe, nothing I was going to-- I'm good at this job. I would not have done as good a job as you describing all of the cool shit that Orym did, so.

AIMEE: Really fucking cool.

AABRIA: Every time it was just like, wait, no, you tell me. I know it sounds like I'm phoning it in, but please just, you tell me. What did you do, how did it go? Holy shit!

ROBBIE: It'll 100% inform how I play again if I ever play again, and I hope to, because this was the most fun. When you watch someone do it to that level and then you watch everybody, Matt was describing his magic and Fearne, all the beautiful little details and all the little details about your martial art. Seeing that go down, I didn't even know that was part of the game before I started playing. I was too busy looking at the numbers going, okay. And thinking like a person that likes to play RPGs, but not role play them. And I was like, oh. You can make anything as cool as you want, even if I only rolled a four. And I think that was something that I'll carry on forever, watching you do it because then I realized, "Oh shit, I have to up my game." You just gave me the opportunity to tell about how I did something here when you actually are given, for me at least with the dice, the rare moment to self-actualize. So I was like, "Well, I better fucking make this at least kind of cool because we are heroes, right?" This is fucking Dungeons & Dragons. We're supposed to be doing some epic shit. And that's always what it felt like, everything that you did, so, yeah, it was cool.

AIMEE: And also, from an actor's standpoint, it's a lot, or it's very inspiring to see someone show restraint in a character. That's really hard when you're improvising and you don't know what you're doing-- I'm talking about myself-- you don't know what you're doing, so I like to talk my way out of things and to have that sort of stillness and I'm not going to be the flashiest character, I am not always going to have something to say, is just, fuck, that's the dream. That's so cool as an actor for you to choose to play that character and play it so well. So.

MARISHA: I will say the difference between-- and they're both gorgeous and beautiful, between the way you describe, you know, the "How Do You Want To Do This?" But your descriptions of your "How Do You Want To Do This?"s will go down in history because. (laughs)

AIMEE: What are they doing? Oh.

ASHLEY: I mean.

MARISHA: Because I don't think I've ever seen anybody else, and I mean this with all the love, who projects onto the person that they're killing and inserts dialogue into their brain as well.

AIMEE: That's just because I don't know what fuck the I'm doing.

MATT: It was fucking beautiful.

MARISHA: It was so good. I was crying laughing sometimes in the way that you'd be like: And now they're looking at me, like, "Bitch!" And I'm like-- She just took a moment from the DM's seat to be like: This is what he thinks!

AABRIA: I was like, "Okay!"

MARISHA: And it is so good.

MATT: I love it, I love it.

ASHLEY: Oh man.

LIAM: I've loved-- I mean, I love playing these games, but I have loved this experience just because I have loved you two fall in love with doing it and seeing what you can do and how rewarding it is and how different it is from anything else.

AIMEE: Yeah. It really is.

ROBBIE: It is so different. The passing the baton aspect of this is something that I didn't expect and how, I think I said this earlier, but how ego-less it has to be because I'm going to go up-- Actors, I love them, I am one, I've been one my whole life, you would think fit well in this world, and I get that, but you have to let the desire to be a star fall away and share the table with everybody. And that's one of the things I've discovered was most gratifying is watching everyone's egos fall away and when someone else has-- there's so much time as an actor you spend-- it's so cutthroat and it's so me, me, me, and you have to be that way to be successful in this business, to a certain extent. It's just the cold hard truth. But you get down to this table and you sit with other actors, people that you're supposed to work with and compete with, and to let all the ego away and just watch somebody do something so fucking cool and just give them that moment by doing nothing, is such a cool thing and why I understand it's such a cool thing for just people in general, to bask in the joy of watching someone else do well at something fictional or not. I think it's not only good for the game, it's good for the person who's playing it. And that's one of the things that I've enjoyed the most being at the table, for sure.

AIMEE: When we met, in the before times, because I was maybe going to guest on Campaign 2.

MATT: Yeah, you were supposed to be a Campaign 2 guest right before the pandemic hit.

AABRIA: Side game!

AIMEE: The side game.

ASHLEY: Side game!

AIMEE: But I remember going into it not really knowing much about it and being like: Okay, so, who's going to fuck who over? I guess maybe this is just the way that I walk through life, which is very sad, or through this business, where I didn't understand really that it was you're telling a story with your friends. None of these people are your adversaries. You know, I didn't pronounce that right, English is my second language. You know what I mean? It's not really a game of villains. I didn't understand that until we sat down and I was like, "Yeah, but what if we make--" Whatever, maybe this character will-- I don't know, she's pretty cool-- A different character. I was thinking of all the ways that I could make her kind of disgusting because I thought that was interesting, but really it's not about that. It's about teamwork and it's about telling a story together. And, oh man, that's just really enriched my life, personally and I think as an actor.

ANJALI: I think that aspirational part of it, though, is precisely, not to get too lofty about it, but I do think, this is one of the reasons why I love how they show the kids playing Dungeons & Dragons in "Stranger Things", is because it is such-- I started playing when I was eight.

AIMEE: Wow!

ANJALI: Because I loved my brother and he bought me a D&D set to be like him and I just devoured it, and then I stopped for a while. But there is something so powerful about learning how to tell stories together that doesn't happen in the school system and then, depending on your experiences, if you are in the business world or if you're in entertainment or whatever, you may or may not be surrounded by people who support that. I feel very lucky that I've found you guys, I've found other artistic communities that do that, but this genre, and especially when you're doing it with people who take their fun very seriously, like I do, I take my fun very seriously. Do not come to the table and fuck around. I will support you 100% in your story. And when you have that, anywhere in the world, whether you're streaming it to millions of people or whether you're doing it at your home game, when you have that, you can take that out into the world with you and have that agency. And then all the other crap doesn't stick to you as much because you know that exists. And I think it's a really, really important thing. I feel like this is the most rewarding acting I've done in decades, you know? Because there's something about the connection that you have with everyone here that you don't get to do when you're like: (strong voice) I am the star! This is my coverage! I talk like that every time I perform! (laughter) And that's why I have an excellent career. I am Anjali Bhimani and I am here to solve your problems!

MARISHA: That's the first voice on your reel?

ANJALI: Yes! Yes, exactly. I am Anjali Bhimani, hire me because I'm brilliant!

AIMEE: I can work in New York as a local.

ANJALI: I'm a handsome actor!

MARISHA: No, I am here to wax poetically about the power of role-playing games and everything that they can bring to you and your life for hours. This could be a six hour wrap up.

AABRIA: It could be, coward.

MARISHA: It could! (laughter)

MARISHA: But we are running out of time! But no, I'm just so glad that you guys were able to-- That's always the hope and especially bringing in new people into this and hoping like: Oh god, are they going to think that this is real dumb and we're these weird nerds over here doing these things? So to just hear that it was such a rewarding experience for you and for everybody and Aabria, I hope you as well.

AABRIA: Yeah! This was dope as shit! I was going to make a joke, but no, just sincerely. This was great! I live here now.

ASHLEY: Yeah, you do.

AABRIA: We found that crawl space, right?

ROBBIE: Yeah, we're together.

AABRIA: Yeah, tight.

ANJALI: I got a table back during UnDeadwood, so I'm under that.

ROBBIE: They're in the walls!

ANJALI: I'm hiding under it, I'm hiding under it.

AIMEE: They're like, what's that rustling? Oh, the ExU people are still here! They're at Campaign 6. We're like, (monster roar). Wall monsters. Like, "Give us a shot!"

MATT: Cheerios in the morning, like, what? They have to eat!

MARISHA: Don't feed the ExU cast! Don't! We put up a sign. Read the sign.

LIAM: Where'd all the snacks go on the craft table? Goddamn it!

ANJALI: (muffled) Sorry!

MATT: Before we close out, I do want to say real fast, Exandria, but specifically Tal'Dorei, was something that was born accidentally from a one-shot between a group of friends that turned into a home game through a group of friends and just slowly took shape through your misadventures and choices and then somehow we ended up doing it online and it became a thing that is still blowing our minds continuously. And so this is a very personal and a very important thing to me, this world. Tal'Dorei specifically because it's where it all started. And to step back and entrust it to you, Aabria, has been a very surreal and fulfilling and wonderful experience. And I cannot express how proud I am and how excited I am for all the stories that you will tell in other worlds and hopefully more in this one, but I just want to say thank you for taking this large, intimidating task. I know because it's an intimidating task to me every time I step over behind that screen, and just being your amazing self, and thank you.

AABRIA: I almost made it through without crying! Thank you for trusting me with your world and thank you for being a part of getting to tell one of the coolest stories I will ever tell. And I hope there's more in the future and I'm full of a lot of love and gratitude and y'all are the best and I'm never going to forget this, so thank you.

MATT: Our world now.

MARISHA: Yes, and this world is full of unlimited stories and unlimited storytellers.

AIMEE: It's in the name!

AABRIA: It's in the name!

AIMEE: You genius!

MARISHA: It's almost like I put a lot of thought into this. Yeah.

AIMEE: I mean, yeah. Really, though, hats off to you.

ROBBIE: Whose idea was this anyway?

MARISHA: Well, with that, I would love to, before we close out, I have to give out a ton of thanks. Of course, first and foremost, to the amazing crew that is behind these curtains. (cheering) Max James, Steve Failows, all of our amazing-- those are our head producers on this and, of course, all of our amazing crew that's here with us week after week, as well as I've got to give a shout out to Joanna Johnen, who did all of the amazing stained glass artwork. Hannah Friederichs, who did the character art, which is just so gorgeous.

AIMEE: Oh my god!

MARISHA: Christian Brown, which is our VFX designer who took Joanna's beautiful art pieces and made them into the amazing opening title that you saw, made them 3D. Got to give a shout out to Dog Might, who made this incredible DM screen, Eldritch Foundry, who created our minis for the show. Ian Phillips, of course, our amazing miniature painter. Noxweiler Berf, who created all of the amazing maps that you saw in episodes seven and eight.

LIAM: Thanks for the nightmares!

AIMEE: Oh man!

MARISHA: So good. Yeah, the face. He's brilliant, so thank you, Nox. We also had original music used on this show by Omar Fadel and Hexany Audio. So thank you for all of the amazing, gorgeous music that you made for this. As well as a huge shout out to Colm McGuinness, who did the main Exandria Unlimited theme, as well as the art reel theme, and to Caio Santos and Clara Daly for creating a few beautiful landscapes for the pre-show art reel. And of course once again, everyone at Critical Role, everyone here at this table. You guys dedicated so much time. It is not lost on me or anybody else the dedication to such a big project to this and coming week after week. And of course, to Aabria Iyengar for being with us from the beginning, lending your brain and your brilliance and playing in this amazing sandbox that, Matt, you created for us from the beginning.

MATT: It's ours now.

AABRIA: Where'd the tissues go? My tissues!

MARISHA: That's all the time we have for today, but not ever, not finite. Any last words, though?

AIMEE: The Chucklefucks!

MARISHA: The Chucklefucks! Cheers to The Chucklefucks!

ROBBIE: To the Chucklefucks!

AABRIA: The Chucklefucks!

MARISHA: Hell yeah.

LIAM: Canon!

MARISHA: I love all of you ash holes for forever.

ANJALI: Indeed.

MARISHA: Thank you all so much for joining us. We love you, and is it Thursday yet?

LIAM: What?

MARISHA: I got to say it! (cheering)

MARISHA: It was me this time!

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