Dungeons and Dragons, or table top role playing games, have kind of taken over my life. As it stands, I’m taking part in over four games as we speak. One is in the works, one just began, one is on hold, and one is run by my husband. I’m even planning a month long horror game as part of my Halloween celebration (I’m thinking Dr. Frankenstein meets Lovecraft).
The event that led up to this D&D craze was my marriage. My husband is obsessed with the game and it’s infinite capacity for imagination and escape. Two years ago, he found a D&D game that changed our lives.
Is that dramatic? Am I fangirling too hard?
Maybe, but I can be dramatic if I want. Add flair to life.
Anyway, he came across Critical Role on Geek and Sundry, a company created by Felicia Day. The show is live on Geek and Sundry’s Twitch channel on Thursday nights at 7PM PST. That means 10PM for us easterners.
Don’t worry. It’s worth the wait.
Critical Role is a game played by a “bunch of nerdy ass voice actors.” Their words not mine. The DM for this mindblowing game is a voice actor named Matt Mercer. You might recognize him as Levi from Attack on Titan or Mcree from Overwatch. Mercer is the king of on the fly improvisation when it comes to amazingly portrayed characters and scenarios. His voice range is awe inspiring while you watch him flip from an insane old man obsessed with gun powder to a soft spoken goddess of the afterlife. He can even imitate amazing like like sounds.
Around the table sits voice actors such as Liam O’Brien, or Illidan Stormrage, Ashley Johnson, or Ellie from the Last of Us, and the dynamic couple who were the voices of Lust and Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham. That’s just to name a handful of the cast (because I got lazy, not because they aren’t dope).
This is a traditional game in the barest sense. Critical Role began life as a one shot played for someone’s birthday. It stuck with them, as a way for a bunch of busy friends to find time to continue hanging out. One day, someone had the bright idea to bring it to the live stream platform Twitch.
It takes place in a world that feels fully fleshed out and decently represented. Matt Mercer created the world of Tal’Dorei in his very spare free time, not that you could tell. Tal’Dorei reaches out to every corner of the world, with little nooks and crannies holding even more brilliant secrets. There are desert cities filled with casinos and guarded by bronze dragons. There are nomadic tribes that keep the elemental planes from overtaking the material plane, some of them living in a forest of embers or on a shallow coral reef.
What makes this even better is that, over time, the characters have managed to help build the world into what it is now. Talesin Jaffe’s character, Percy DeRolo, was born in a city forcefully taken by some pretty foul villains. Not only did that end up building one of the most important parts of the world, but it led the cast down a dramatic and life changing plot.
Here are the things Critical Role does well:
- World Building: Matt has spared no part of the world, no culture left wanting.
- Characterization: The actors have truly taken on their characters and given them a range of depth that will make you cry. Even the DM has brought characters to life that feel amazingly real.
- Show Don’t Tell: Matt’s ability to describe what is happening in a theater of mind kind of game will enlighten your description on the page. He may be telling you what happened, but you will be able to see it as if it is actually happening on the screen with the way he uses sounds and words.
I guess what I’m saying is that you need to be watching Critical Role. If not for the amazing acting and story, then for the inspiration to go out and make even more amazing stories. The players will inspire you to create characters with such faceted depth that even you will see them leap off the page. The DM will inspire you to create a world that you could virtually walk into.
If anything, Critical Role isn’t a bad way to spend a few, empty hours of your life. You can watch it live on Twitch, watch videos here, or listen to the new podcasts. If it inspires you to begin your own game, they even have videos on GM tips!