NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Dive deep into the history of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG livestream with the cast of Critical Role in this definitive guide featuring never-before-seen illustrations and photos.
From its unassuming beginnings as a casual home game between friends to the role-playing phenomenon it is today, Critical Role has become the stuff of legend. These pages chronicle how a circle of friends who all happen to be talented voice actors built the most-watched tabletop role-playing livestream of all time.
Discover dazzling new illustrations and richly written insights into the locations, characters, and adventures featured in the hundreds of episodes across Critical Role’s two campaigns, Vox Machina and the Mighty Nein. Go behind the scenes with archival photos and exclusive interviews with Dungeon Master Matt Mercer and the entire Critical Role cast as they explore their characters’ most triumphant moments and darkest hours. And celebrate the massive community of Critters who support and expand the show’s world through a highlighted tour of the crafts, cosplay, and art they create every day.
Featuring a foreword from Felicia Day, lush illustrations, and the inside story you won’t find anywhere else, this book is your indispensable guide to Critical Role. The adventure begins!
Liz Marsham writes books of all types for readers of all ages. She began her storytelling career as an editor at DC Comics and Disney Publishing. As a D&D character, she would most likely be a warlock: She can do a couple of cool things in a row, but then she needs a nap. She runs a tiny fiefdom in Southern California with her husband, son, two cats, and what she insists is a “perfectly reasonable” number of dice.
Critical Role features seven popular voiceover actors diving into epic fantasy RPG adventures, led by veteran game master Matthew Mercer. What began in 2012 as a bunch of friends playing in each other’s living rooms has evolved into a multi-platform entertainment sensation, attracting nearly a million viewers every week.
There is a bit of magic in our world sometimes. Not spell magic, although
that would be amazing—and sign me up for some fire-based powers, please—but chemistry between people. The kind that is effortless and enrapturing, and that you can’t stop watching. This is what Critical Role embodies for so many people. Including me.
My own discovery of the group was like most people’s: Through word of mouth. At a party in 2014, my friend Ashley Johnson mentioned that she played D&D with other voiceover actors. Not only did I fall more in love with her after hearing that (she is so very lovable so that wasn’t very hard) but I was hooked on the idea of watching her and her friends play. I never got that chance due to my “all work, no fun” nature at the time, but a year later, when I decided to start a Twitch channel with my former company Geek & Sundry, the first item I put on the brainstorm board was “D&D Live.” The first note I put under THAT was “Email Ashley Johnson.”
I still didn’t get the chance to watch the group before they started playing on the channel. But hearing how entertaining they were from my employees who went to scout them convinced me they were perfect. I felt the work of kismet happening, and I knew in my gut that they would be the exact match needed for my grassroots style. Sight unseen. (Yes, I am a “program first, ask questions later” kind of gal.) The very first time I actually watched them perform was with thousands of other people when they premiered on the channel. As soon as I saw them on screen, having the best time together, I was dazzled and obsessed and knew in my heart they were going to change the world of role-playing. And boy, have they.
Many may wonder what makes Critical Role stand out from all the other role-playing groups in the world. Aside from the movie-star chemistry between seven genuine friends who can do ALL the voices, it has to be the charisma and creativity of RPG genius Matt Mercer. The work of a DM is endless and complex and can seem completely overwhelming, but with Matt’s deep geek knowledge, incredible abilities as a voice performer, and waving-wheat hair that a ‘70s model would envy, he is a “total package.” A unique unicorn. Who, I know personally, has a caring heart and authentic passion for the geek space. Most importantly, he’s a leader who has set the tone for a fan family to flourish. And has helped gift the proud title of “Critter” to millions of people around the globe.
Critical Role’s complete journey is held between the covers of this book, and it truly is a joy to read. Anything you’d ever want to know about the group is right here. You won’t be able to help but fall in love with the rags-to-riches story of a group of friends achieving colossal success through doing what they love. And you won’t be able to help but laugh at some of the crazy anecdotes inside, especially Scanlan’s. (The craziest of which you will have to watch online, they couldn’t be put in print. To be clear, it’s because they are so damned dirty.) Hopefully, you will be inspired by the group’s enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication to each other. They are truly genuine, lovely people. By the end of reading these pages, anyone will be proud to call themselves a Critter. I know that I am.