My Feels Dump After Completing Critical Role's Vox Machina Campaign
05 March 2019
Critical Role is a masterpiece. If you don’t know what Critical Role is, it is a Twitch live stream series “Where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors sit around, and play Dungeons and Dragons.” Specifically the talents of Matthew Mercer as the dungeon master and Marisha Ray, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, and Ashley Johnson as the wonderful adventures, with the occasional guests from additional voice actors, to artists, to Dungeons and Dragons legends. The series initially began in 2015 on the Thursday of March 12th, where viewers were introduced to the tales of Vox Machina. In January of 2018 the second campaign began, and is currently ongoing, following the ragtag group of misfits who call themselves The Mighty Nein.
I began watching Critical Role in February of 2018. Yeah, a bit late to the party, so I had a lot of catching up to do. As of February 2019, I have officially maintained being caught up with the weekly airings of The Mighty Nein, and finished the adventures of Vox Machina. It is Vox Machina that I would like to specifically talk about today.
As viewers, we are brought into Vox Machina’s campaign in progress. After all, the group had already been playing this campaign at home, with no intention of turning it into a series, for two years before Geek and Sundry asked them to be a part of their Twitch stream schedule. Instead of creating a new campaign with new characters, the team took the chance, and brought viewers into their existing story. And what a story.
Thanks in large part to the years of DMing experience and creative mastermind that is Matthew Mercer, the team, from start to finish, weaved together something that was both complex and beautiful. It became apparent, quite quickly, how much time, care, and attention Mercer put into the world and plot that the characters were living in. Viewers and players are taken along a series of intricate story arcs, seemingly individual in their importance and purpose, until nearing the final few arcs of the series, we begin to see just how purposeful and influential each of the arcs have been in leading the characters to the campaign conclusion. We’re left feeling, at least I was, that no stone was left unturned, and each thread had a purpose in the tapestry.
What is a good story without good characters? Even late in the campaign, the characters of Vox Machina remained wonderfully flawed. Each character had a vice to struggle against and a demon to face, some more literally than others. It gave the characters room to fight within themselves and with each other, and subsequently, room to grow. This kept the characters believable, and relatable. This gave the members of Vox Machina purpose in many of their actions, behaviors, and choices. Something that many failed stories have in common is the lack of ‘why’ behind the characters’ motivations and behaviors. But the heroes of Vox Machina don't lack a ‘why’, they hit you right in the heart with their ‘why’s, and we’re left crying, screaming, laughing, and cheering right alongside them because of it.
At the end of the first campaign, as I sat through the last struggles and hardships, and listened to the epilogue of each character, my heart broke. Not because the story of Vox Machina ended tragically or something like that, but because the story of Vox Machina was coming to an end. Selfishly, I didn’t want it to end, though it was obvious that it was time. Through the ups, the downs, the deaths, and demons that were faced, this band of adventurers had earned their peace. But like saying goodbye to dear friends who you know you won’t get to see again, it truly felt so final. And in the best possible way, it hurt to say those goodbyes.
The love and support that is apparent within the show from creators and fans alike, has created a community that anyone can be proud to be a part of. Whether someone is in to D&D or not, or even if they don’t care about voice actors, the heart in Critical Role is worthwhile for anyone. Through the laughs, and the tears, this team has truly made something wonderful. I look forward to the eventual heartbreak saying goodbye to the Mighty Nein will bring, because it’s just that good. Until then, I’ll keep sitting here, asking myself, “is it Thursday yet?”
If you have never heard of or watched Critical Role, please, give it a shot, and let me know what you think of it. If you have or do watch, who is your favourite character and why? What do you love most about the series? Let us fan together in the comments below, and please, you can reply to this message.