"Hello everyone, and welcome to tonight's episode of Critical Role, where a bunch of us nerdy voice actors sit around and play Dungeons & Dragons!"
Every Thursday night those words signal the beginning of one of my favorite shows: Critical Role.
What is Critical Role?
Like the quote above says, Critical Role is a web series where a group of voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons together. It is produced by Geek & Sundry and streamed live on Twitch every Thursday at 7pm Pacific time.
If you play video games or watch anime then you're probably familiar with one or more of these voice actors, even if you don't know their names. Here's a quick rundown of the cast and some of their more well-known roles:
- Matthew Mercer as the Dungeon Master
- Voice of: McCree from Overwatch, Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil, Levi from Attack on Titan
- Liam O'Brien as Vax'ildan, half-elf rogue and twin brother of Vex'ahlia
- Voice of: Gaara from Naruto, Nightcrawler from Wolverine and the X-Men, Gollum from the Lord of the Rings games, Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft
- Laura Bailey as Vex'ahlia, half-elf ranger and twin sister of Vax'ildan
- Voice of: Maka Albarn from Soul Eater, Trunks from Dragon Ball Z, Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket, Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Travis Willingham as Grog Strongjaw, goliath barbarian
- Voice of: Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist, Portgas D. Ace from One Piece, Thor from the Marvel animated series, Knuckles from Sonic Boom
- Marisha Ray as Keyleth, half-elf druid
- Voice of: Margaret from the Persona series, Oboro from Fire Emblem: Fates
- Sam Riegel as Scanlan Shorthalt, gnome bard
- Voice of: Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney series, Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Mephisto Pheles from Blue Exorcist
- Taliesin Jaffe as Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III (you can call him Percy), human gunslinger
- Voice of: Eizen from Tales of Berseria, Blanka and Adon from the Street Fighter series, Basil Hawkins from One Piece
- Ashley Johnson as Pike Trickfoot, gnome cleric
- Voice of: Ellie from The Last of Us, Terra from Teen Titans, Gwen Tennyson from the Ben 10 series
- Also has a live-action role as Special Agent Patterson on the NBC show Blindspot
- Orion Acaba as Tiberius Stormwind, dragonborn sorcerer
- Voice of: Apollo Justice from the Ace Attorney series, Nine from Final Fantasy Type-0, Ivar from Tales of Xillia
The cast of Critical Role had been playing this particular campaign for several years before they ever started streaming it, so the first episode of Critical Role begins mid-adventure. That doesn't take away from any enjoyment though.
Because this group of players is skilled with both voices and improvisation, Critical Role is so much more than just watching people play a tabletop game. Matthew Mercer is an incredible Dungeon Master and storyteller, and listening to him describing combat or switching between the voices of multiple NPCs is amazing.
The story of Critical Role follows a group of adventurers known as Vox Machina. Throughout their journey they explore fascinating new places, battle terrifying monsters, save cities from tyrants, and meet plenty of interesting people.
Like many bands of adventurers, Vox Machina joined together out of necessity, but as they traveled together their camaraderie grew to the point where they now consider each other family. Every member of this group would die for each other. An enemy of one is an enemy of all.
Vox Machina were not planning to become heroes, but as time goes on and stories of their achievements spread, the people of the world begin looking to them for salvation.
For the purposes of the wiki we have split the episodes into chapters based on story arcs:
- Chapter 1 (ep 1-16): Searching for a lost paladin in the Underdark.
- Chapter 2 (ep 17-23): Completing bounties for a guild of monster hunters.
- Chapter 3 (ep 24-38): Freeing Percy's hometown of Whitestone from the control of the Briarwoods, a married couple consisting of a vampire husband and a necromancer wife.
- Chapter 4 (ep 39-56): Dealing with the fallout of an attack by a group of ancient dragons known as the Chroma Conclave.
- Chapter 5 (ep 57-69): Collecting mystical artifacts known as the Vestiges of the Divergence to help defeat the dragons.
- Chapter 6 (ep 70-84): Gathering allies and going to war against Thordak, the leader of the dragons.
- Chapter 7 (ep 85-??): The current chapter.
How can I get started?
Critical Role currently has over 90 episodes that are each 3-5 hours long for a total of more than 350 hours of video. We understand that watching all of that is daunting for even the most persistent binge-watcher; trust me, it took nearly a month of binging for me to catch up and there were only 64 episodes at the time.
Luckily a dedicated fan has created a Critical Role Primer to help new viewers get up to speed. Or if you're a completionist like me you can just start from the beginning by watching the first episode on YouTube or the Geek & Sundry website.
I hope that you can at least give Critical Role a try. I knew barely anything about Dungeons & Dragons when I started watching, but I still fell in love the show very quickly. Try an episode or two; you might like it! And if you do, then please come help us out over at the Critical Role Wiki if you have the time!
How can I help?
Right now the Critical Role Wiki is looking for contributors to help add content, mostly to episode and character pages.
Many pages on the wiki are still stubs with only the bare minimum information. You don't have to watch every episode to help out; even if you just watch one or two you can still contribute.
With a new 3-5 hour long episode every week and less than five active users on the wiki, it's difficult for us to stay up to date. We hope for this wiki to become a valuable resource for finding information without needing to rewatch older episodes, but we're going to need help in order to do that. So whether you're a new fan or a long-time Critter, we'd love to have you over at the Critical Role Wiki!