From its humble beginnings as a tabletop RPG tabletop livestream show, Critical Role has now become a full-blown media franchise that boasts more than 1.56 million subscribers on Youtube. Thus, you may be surprised to learn that when the Critical Role team first tried pitching a Vox Machina animated series, based on their first gaming campaign, they didn’t quite get the warmest reception from TV networks and streaming distributors who apparently found the concept “confusing.”
I think it’s safe to say those networks and streaming distributors ate crow once the Critical Role team decided to fund their passion project through a Kickstarter campaign and ended up raising a whopping $11.4 million and breaking Kickstarter records in the process. Even after the success of the Kickstarter campaign and Amazon acquiring the streaming rights, the journey of this Vox Machina animated series, much like an actual RPG campaign, has been a long and arduous journey. But it’s one that has paid off tremendously for all involved.
In our continuing interview coverage with the talent behind Vox Machina, The Beat had the pleasure to chat with voice actors and Critical Role co-founders Matthew Mercer, the voice of Sylas Briarwood, and various other characters in the animated series, Marisha Ray, half-elf druid Keyleth, and Ashley Johnson, gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot. The members of Critical Role discussed some of the obstacles and challenges of producing an animated series in the midst of the pandemic, working with Chris and Shannon Prynoski and their acclaimed Titmouse animation studio, and even the future of Critical Role Productions.
Although Ray had to, unfortunately, step away for the last half of the interview, it was a most lively and entertaining conversation as Critter fans would expect!
Watch our exclusive interview below!
Based on the beloved characters and adventures of Critical Role’s first livestreamed tabletop role-playing game (RPG) campaign, The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated fantasy-adventure series for adults that follows Vox Machina, a band of misfits with a fondness for boozing and brawling. In a desperate attempt to pay off their mounting bar tab, these unlikely heroes end up on a quest to save the realm of Exandria from dark magical forces. From a sinister necromancer to a powerful curse, the group confronts a variety of obstacles that not only test their skills, but also the strength of their bond.
The Legend of Vox Machina is a production of Amazon Studios, Critical Role, and Titmouse for Prime Video. The series stars Critical Role founders and cast members Laura Bailey (The Last of Us: Part II), Taliesin Jaffe (Final Fantasy XIV), Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us), Liam O’Brien (Star Wars: The Bad Batch), Matthew Mercer (Overwatch), Marisha Ray (Final Fantasy XV), Sam Riegel (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Travis Willingham (Marvel’s Avengers). The Critical Role cast also serves as executive producers, alongside Brandon Auman (Star Wars: Resistance), Chris Prynoski (Metalocalypse), Shannon Prynoski (Fairfax), and Ben Kalina (Big Mouth).
Critical Role is a story-driven media company created by a group of nerdy-ass voice actors that started out sitting around a table together as friends creating epic stories. In 2019, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a 22-minute animated special based on the characters and adventures of Vox Machina, Critical Role’s original livestreamed tabletop RPG campaign. They met their initial funding goal within minutes, and thanks to Critical Role’s passionate fanbase, the campaign continued to gain traction, raising over $11.3 million and becoming one of the most funded Film & Video projects in Kickstarter history. The fan support allowed Critical Role to expand the special into a 10-episode season. When Amazon Studios picked up the series, it built on that record-breaking support by ordering an additional 14 episodes, bringing the total number of episodes to 24 across two seasons, which will stream exclusively on Prime Video.
The Legend of Vox Machina is streaming now on Prime Video.