If you are into D&D you have almost certainly heard of Critical Role. Love them or hate them, the group of ‘nerdy a** voice actors’ has made a pretty big impact on the tabletop gaming world, specifically Dungeons and Dragons. The show, DM’d by Matt Mercer, the voice of McCree in Overwatch and about a million other video games and show, is just a bunch of people having a good time rolling a bunch of dice and fighting figments of their imagination.
It doesn’t sound like it would be a hit. Who would want to watch hours of people sitting around imagining things at each other? At least video game ‘let’s plays’ have the game on screen for you to watch. Yet, the finale for their first campaign had over 30k live viewers. The first episode of their second campaign had over 100k live viewers between Twitch, Alpha and YouTube.
So, what is ‘Critical Role’?
Critical Role is a weekly web series where a bunch of actors and voice actors get together and play Dungeons and Dragon on Twitch live. The regular group includes, Liam O’Brien, the voice of Doctor Strange in Avengers Assemble, Laura Bailey who is Gwen Stacy in the new Spider-Man TV series., Taliesin Jaffe, The Flash in Injustice 2, Travis Willingham who is the voice of Thor in basically everything that isn’t a movie (probably not everything but check the IMDB, it might be everything), Marisha Ray as Maia in Pilliar of Eternity 2, Sam Riegel who played Mephisto Pheles in Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, and Ashley Johnson, the voice of Ellie in The Last of Us.
The game started off as a fun game between friends, a way to pass a birthday. It grew from a one-off game at home to a bi-monthly game at home and stayed that way for about 2 years. From there they took a dive and jumped onto Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel. Vox Machina started streaming on March 13, 2015 and haven’t looked back. They curated an art book, they’ve sold out theaters, they have their own comic. They have a campaign book based around the world they play in.
Now, after about 3 and a half years, they have struck out on their own. They announced this month that they were going to be their very own studio. They’re planning new shows and spin offs and other exciting new things.
They have teamed up with Steamforged Games to create a line of tabletop minis of their characters. The Kickstarter, has raised over half a million in less than 30 hours. Perhaps not the fastest growing Kickstarter ever, but not bad for what started as a way to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Ok, I’m interested.
If you want to check out Critical Role, you can find it Thursdays on Twitch at 7pm Pacific. Or, you can check out the over three year backlog on YouTube. There are over 370 hours in the first campaign alone, so make sure you grab some snacks. I would start at the Whitestone Arc (around episode 24). One of my favorites is episode 31, there is a stand-off in the rain and a triceratops. It’s absurd.
Have you seen Critical Role before? Do you have a business with any of your friends? If you could start a business with a group of friend, what would it be? Let us know in the comments.