Critical Role started as a recreational tabletop RPG game but has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. Originally a private Pathfinder game played by group of voice actor friends, Critical Role made the jump to Dungeons & Dragons and began broadcasting weekly episodes on Geek & Sundry. Soon, legions of devoted 'Critters' had found the web series.
Critical Role’s main campaigns feature Matthew Mercer as Dungeon Master. The regular cast roster is comprised of Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, and Sam Riegel. Depending on the campaign, the actors play different characters.
Streaming episodes run from three to five hours in length, but can be longer. They are streamed on Twitch and YouTube, and subsequently released as podcasts. In addition to the main campaign, there are also one-shots, animated adaptations and tie-in books. Here’s how to watch Critical Role in chronological and release order.
Critical Role in release order
In addition to several canonical one-shots, Critical Role has currently has two completed campaigns and one ongoing main campaign.
Here’s how to watch Critical Role in release order:
- Campaign One: Vox Machina (March 12, 2015 – October 12, 2017)
- Campaign Two: The Mighty Nein (January 11, 2018 – June 3, 2021)
- “The Search for Grog” (February 22, 2019)
- “The Search for Bob” (June 23, 2019)
- “Dalen’s Closet” (August 29, 2019)
- “The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade” (November 29, 2019)
- Exandria Unlimited (June 24, 2021 – April 1, 2022)
- Campaign Three: Bells Hells (October 21, 2021 – Ongoing)
- The Legend of Vox Machina (January 20, 2022 – Ongoing)
- Exandria Unlimited: Calamity (May 26, 2022 – June 16, 2022)
- “The Mighty Nein Reunited Part 1 – Unfinished Business” (November 17, 2022)
- “The Mighty Nein Reunited Part 2 – Uk’otoa Unleashed” (December 1, 2022)
Note: Due to the ongoing nature of many Critical Role projects, they are ordered here by their startdate.
Critical Role in chronological order
Each of the three main campaigns are set in the same world, created by Mercer. However, they are set decades apart and feature different main casts of characters.
Here’s how to watch Critical Role in chronological order:
- Exandria Unlimited: Calamity
- The Legend of Vox Machina
- Campaign One: Vox Machina
- “The Search for Grog” (concurrent with Campaign One finale)
- “The Search for Bob”
- “Dalen’s Closet”
- “The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade”
- Campaign Two: The Mighty Nein
- Exandria Unlimited
- Exandria Unlimited: Kymal
- Campaign Three: Bells Hells
Note: The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated adaptation of parts of Campaign One. However, the first two episodes depict a story that took place before the start of Campaign One. For that reason, it has been placed before Campaign One on this timeline.
Non-canonical Critical Role one-shots and tie-ins
In addition to the aforementioned streams and episodes, there have also been many non-canonical one-shots and tie-in games. While some are no longer available to watch online, many remain available for streaming.
Some of these one-shots feature main characters from the three main campaigns, while others feature unique characters. They may use different Tabletop Gaming systems and often feature different DMs. And they may be tie-ins with companies that are hoping to cross-promote their products, which may or may not be directly related to TTRPGs.
Some notable examples include:
- The Legend of Zelda One-Shot
- Dignity: An Adventure with Stephen Colbert by Critical Role Foundation to Benefit Red Nose Day 2022
- Vox Machina vs. Mighty Nein
- Doom Eternal One-Shot
- Tails of Equestria
What about Critical Role’s backstory?
Before the first episode of Critical Role was streamed, the Vox Machina campaign was the personal game of the cast. While attending a party, Johnson mentioned the ongoing game to Felicia Day. Day subsequently approached the group and asked if they’d be interested in live-streaming their game for her Geek & Sundry channel, which hosted the game until February 2019.
When the streaming campaign began in March 2015, it was en media res, picking up the story after the in-game Vox Machina party had already been formed and undertaken various adventures. Some of this pre-streaming campaign was adapted to comic book form in Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins.
More of the Vox Machina’s backstory is explored in the prose novel Critical Role: Vox Machina – Kith & Kin by Marieke Nijkamp. The novel is set three years before the eponymous characters joined the Vox Machina adventuring party. A second prose novel, Critical Role: The Mighty Nein – The Nine Eyes of Lucien by Madeleine Roux focuses on the backstory of the tiefling antagonist preceding and leading into the events of Campaign Two.
What’s in Critical Role’s Future?
Critters can look forward to more adventure with Critical Role in their future. For one thing, there is the ongoing Campaign Three. There’s also the upcoming live shot one-shot, “The Mighty Nein Reunion: Echoes of the Solstice,” on October 25, 2023. And in addition to the upcoming third season of The Legend of Vox Machina, there’s also an upcoming Mighty Nein animated series.
Be sure and watch the Critical Role panel live from New York Comic Con 2023 on Thursday, October 12.