Let’s be honest—this pandemic has made it difficult to do lots of things, like get together with friends for a session of Dungeons & Dragons. If you’ve been looking for a way to get your D&D fix, look no further than weekly web series Critical Role.
The series consists of eight professional voice actors playing D&D 5e, with Matthew Mercer writing and running the campaigns as the group’s Dungeon Master. The main players include Ashley Johnson, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Taliesin Jaffe, Sam Riegel, Marisha Ray, and Liam O’Brien, though they have the occasional guest, too. The group is currently on their second campaign, entitled “Mighty Nein,” and they’ve recorded over 200 episodes in total.
Critical Role is an actual-play D&D campaign with weekly unedited episodes lasting between three and five hours. What really makes this series special compared to other role play podcasts and series is the cast. Each individual is a master of their craft, and the stories and backstories are so good sometimes you forget that it’s all improv. The fun and quirky personalities of the players—and their adorably genuine reactions to Mercer’s unrelenting plot twists—are just as much fun to be a part of as the story itself.
The group halted live production in March due to COVID-19, but recently worked out a way to come back to the studio and safely film new episodes, with the players socially distanced at least seven feet apart from one another and production managed by a skeleton crew. Their return debuted to an eager audience of over 110K simultaneous viewers.
During their break this year, CR started another fun web series, Narrative Telephone, as a way to stay connected and have fun while they were apart. Narrative Telephone is their take on the game of Telephone, with a different person telling a short story as their Crit Role character each week. They film themselves telling the story and zip the recording off to the next person. That person, in turn, can only watch the recording once, then they have to film themselves recounting the story and send that recording off to the next person, and so on. Then they all watch the entire progression together, laughing at blunders (and curious additions) to the story along the way.
Whether you used to play D&D back in the day and are looking to reconnect with it, or only learned about it more recently from shows like Stranger Things, the game is a fun way to enjoy creative stories and fun experiences with friends. Critical Role‘s community is extremely passionate, caring, and welcoming, and the series itself is the pinnacle of world building and role playing. We hope you consider checking it out!