After 3 years on the air (and 2 years off-air), the Critical Role campaign of Vox Machina has finally come to a dramatic close as the intrepid adventurers face off against Vecna, a powerful lich who became a god. For fans of Critical Role that have followed Vox Machina’s journey, this ending is bittersweet. Over the months and years, we have come to love the characters of Vox Machina and share in their highs and lows, loves and loses, and look forward every week to be enthralled in how a completely improvised story can truly capture our hearts.
For the uninitiated, Critical Role is a show on Geek and Sundry that features famous voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeon Mastered by Matthew Mercer, the voice of McCree in Overwatch and huge D&D enthusiast, he and a group of his voice actor friends play through his original campaign every Thursday. The main cast features Liam O’Brien (Illidan Stormrage in World of Warcraft), Laura Bailey (Jaina Proudmoore in World of Warcraft), Travis Willingham (Thor in Avengers Assemble animated series), Sam Reigel (Donatello in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series), Taliesin Jaffe (Blanka in Street Fighter IV), Ashley Johnson (Patterson in Blindspot), and Marisha Ray (Batgirl in Batgirl: Spoiled). In addition to the regular cast, the show also often features many famous guest players such as Patrick Rothfuss, Wil Wheaton, Chris Hardwick, Joe Manganiello and many more.
The story of Critical Role follows the adventures of Vox Machina, a band of heroes who are trying to save the world from the forces of destruction including evil-god-worshipping vampires and necromancers, mind-flayers, and invading dragons. The cast works magic every week as they create and develop their characters on the spot with memorable personalities, interesting relationships, and hilarious dialogue. Matt Mercer himself is a veritable encyclopedia of characters and voices as he creates every NPC that inhabits his world with vibrant improvisational acting. Every single character, no matter how inconsequential, feels fully realized even if he’s just pulling them out of the ether (which happens often in a game like D&D).
The campaign concludes with episode 115 “The Chapter Closes” as the characters resolve their losses in the great battle against Vecna, and the players discuss the future that lies in store for each of their characters after the end of the game. For some, their future is full of hope and happiness. For others, not so much. Nevertheless, life goes on (for most) and the in-game world of Tal’dorei continues to evolve based on the events and actions of the legendary Vox Machina.
Critical Role is still airing in its usual time slot with a brand new campaign starting after the new year which will take place approximately 20 years after the fall of Vecna, and the players will be starting over with completely new characters. In the meantime, fans of the series will be treated to one-shot stories, such as a World of Darkness game led by Taliesin Jaffe, a Level 20 battle royale with the original Vox Machina characters at max level, and other treats before the holiday break.
You can watch Critical Role on Geek and Sundry. New episodes air every Thursday 7 PM PST on the Geek and Sundry Twitch channel and on Project Alpha (https://www.projectalpha.com/). Past episodes are available on the Geek and Sundry YouTube channel or on the Geek and Sundry website.
By C’loni Bailey (Bookmans Enthusiast and Cosplay Connoisseur)
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