If you want to check out the artist behind this fantastic artwork of the Mighty Nein (which you absolutely should), click the link right here and head on over to their Twitter!
I’m gonna do something a little different for this week’s movie article. Mostly because I need a break from movie articles.
Getting into Dungeons and Dragons has never been easier than it is now. The rules are simpler. The resources are super easy to access. Online chat services have evolved to the point where you could play a session without even being in the same room. Hell, you don’t even need to buy dice anymore; you can just Google ‘dice roller’ and gain access to as many as you need!
Even if it isn’t as satisfying. I need my clackity plastic stones, okay? The little goblin in my brain will scream without it!
You don’t even need to be playing to experience the joy of D&D. There are countless podcasts out there of people sharing their campaigns with the world. You could find one for basically every TTRPG system in existence. Most frequently of all being Dungeons and Dragons.
And biggest of ’em all is Critical Role.
At face value, CR is just another D&D podcast. One with a budget, sure, but it’s just another one in the lot, right? Well, not quite. There are quite a few things that help it stand out.
The big one is the players themselves. Every member of the cast has a spectacular ability to write lovable and interesting D&D characters that play well with one-another. Not only is their group dynamic super fun to watch, but their combined talent for storytelling can make for some truly dramatic scenes! They can make you cry or cheer just as easily as they can make you laugh!
Which they will do. Often. Hilarious hijinks are in D&D’s nature, after all.
All of this is supported by Matt Mercer, one of the best DMs you could wish to play with. The amount of time, detail, and care that he puts into these campaigns is truly mind-numbing. Between his writing and excellent voice acting, his ability to bring this world to life is on a whole other level. Plus, he knows exactly how to work with his friends’ insane antics, which is always entertaining.
Matt is such a good DM, in fact, that it’s created a bit of a problem. Which is where I need to change my tune from ‘praise and recommendation’ to ‘caution’. See, Critical Role is what D&D looks like when it’s played by people who have the following things:
- A big enough budget to afford all the extra luxuries of the game
- Enough experience and knowledge in playing to get the most out of it
- A set schedule on which to play
To put it in a vulgar way, Critical Role is the D&D equivalent to pornography. It can set a false expectation of what the game is normally like. Because most people don’t have the time to craft these elaborate campaigns with complex writing behind it all. Most people don’t have the money to buy thousands of miniatures to bring the play board to life.
So, word of caution: don’t try to replicate Critical Role in your game. If you’re the DM, learn from Matt; take note of how he does things and use them as reference to improve how you do it rather than just try to copy how he does things. If you’re a player, don’t worry about writing deeply complex or emotional characters like the rest of the cast unless you want to. If you want to play a crazy beekeeper ranger who feeds his enemies to his bees and that’s it, go right ahead.
If you’re going to watch Critical Role, which I’d highly recommend you do, don’t try and replicate it in your own play. Just enjoy their campaign and learn from it what you can to improve upon your own. Hell, you don’t even need to do that! Just sit along and enjoy this wonderful adventure put together by a group of passionate nerds!
They also do a lot for charity, so you don’t have to feel bad about supporting them. That may not seem like much. But in today’s landscape, that is surprisingly refreshing.