If you play Dungeons and Dragons or any sort of tabletop roleplaying game, you’ve probably heard of Critical Role. The weekly web series involves a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors who get together and play a homebrew D&D campaign. The show has been wildly successful, and the group is currently well into its second D&D campaign in the same homebrew world.
Yesterday, Critical Role launched a Kickstarter to fund an original animated special centered around characters in the first campaign (collectively known as Vox Machina). The in-canon OVA adventure will take place before the gang started streaming their campaign on Twitch.
The goal was $750,000. In less than 24 hours, the crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $4 million.
Way to ace that Persuasion check, guys.
The unexpected success of the Kickstarter campaign is just the latest string of unexpected successes for the Critical Role crew. Started as an unassuming, unstreamed birthday present in 2013, the show now attracts tens of thousands of live stream viewers on Thursday nights. Critical Role also sells out its live audience recordings, which usually take place during gaming and comic convention weekends. A comic book about the characters of the first campaign was released by Dark Horse Comics in 2017. The show’s robust fan community—they themselves “Critters”—do a bunch of original art and help with the program’s charitable ventures.
Critical Role will occasionally bring in a guest star to play along with the main crew, most notably Joe Manganiello in the first campaign. Manganiello is a big fan of the game, and has played D&D since he was a kid. (Just watch him nerd out about D&D with Stephen Colbert.)
For the record, I don’t watch/listen to the show every week, but I do love the cast and their characters, and will tune in if I hear some big story development is occurring. I’d much rather play in or DM a D&D game rather than watch someone else’s game.
It’s a pretty unique time for tabletop gaming. The release of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition in 2014 brought countless new players to the streamlined version of the game. The first season of Stranger Things also helped boost the profile of the nerdy-ass game. There are plenty of D&D real plays in the form of podcasts and live streams (e.g., The Adventure Zone, HarmonQuest), but Critical Role seems like the peak given the show’s immersiveness and the cast’s deep investment in their characters.
Makes me wonder if they’ll do a feature length Critical Role OVA with their $4 million+, or if they’ll make an OVA miniseries about the earlier days of Vox Machina. As of this writing, there have been no updates indicating how the nature of the project will change given the resounding success of the Kickstarter campaign. There may be some updates coming soon. There are still 44 days left, after all.
You have just read this entire article in my nerd voice. Wait… that’s just my regular voice.
@Critical Role – [Twitter]