Critical Role Could Critical Role launch their own RPG?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I know they made a campaign setting, so they have some design chops. Whether that would translate to a full game, I don’t know. They have a great relationship with Green Ronin and various designers who published the campaign setting.

I don’t even know if they’d *want* to do something like that. All I really know for sure is that if they did, I’d buy it.

I don't partake of Critical Role. I know it is very popular, but I don't really feel compelled to watch other people playing games. And I'm a big fan of Star Trek and Wars, but I don't buy their RPGs just 'cause they are associated with a property I like.

I look at what you said there and think... you don't know who writes it, or what genre it is in, or what kind of rules they use - all you have is, essentially, a marketing connection to Critical Role, and that will bring you to buy it? I don't buy any game on so little information, so I don't understand the enthusiasm.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I don't partake of Critical Role. I know it is very popular, but I don't really feel compelled to watch other people playing games. And I'm a big fan of Star Trek and Wars, but I don't buy their RPGs just 'cause they are associated with a property I like.

I look at what you said there and think... you don't know who writes it, or what genre it is in, or what kind of rules they use - all you have is, essentially, a marketing connection to Critical Role, and that will bring you to buy it? I don't buy any game on so little information, so I don't understand the enthusiasm.

Man, I’d buy an RPG if *you* wrote one with even less information!

I mean, maybe I’m too much of a sucker for marketing. Certainly possible. But I *do* buy RPGs because they’re associated with a property I like. I have multiple Star Wars and Star Trek RPGs!

I don’t know if that’s common or unusual. From my experience selling the Judge Dredd game, Dredd is the draw, not the system or me.
 

How does writing a book “blow up” their relationship with WotC? Their relationship is not that precarious (unless you know something the rest of us don’t).

Well.... rather than being a source of free advertising, they’d be the competition literally costing WotC money and players.
And D&D Beyond, which has sponsored them for a year in a mutually beneficial relationship, would have no reason to do so.
And the DnD Twitch stream would have little reason to host their channel on its stream, and would likely put on competitive programming.

They might still be on friendly terms. But they wouldn’t be incentivized to work together. And WotC might focus on partnerships with other streamers or their own media personalities.

Y’know, like when Paizo went from supporting D&D by publishing magazines and then doing 3rd Party adventures, to being the competition with the Pathfinder RPG.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Y’know, like when Paizo went from supporting D&D by publishing magazines and then doing 3rd Party adventures, to being the competition with the Pathfinder RPG.

Or when Green Ronin released M&M and AGE, and then still worked with WotC? Or Sasquatch did similar? Or Monte Cook who left WotC and then came back for 5E and then left again?WotC doesn’t refuse to work with companies who release other books.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Man, I’d buy an RPG if *you* wrote one with even less information!

I mean, maybe I’m too much of a sucker for marketing. Certainly possible. But I *do* buy RPGs because they’re associated with a property I like. I have multiple Star Wars and Star Trek RPGs!

I don’t know if that’s common or unusual. From my experience selling the Judge Dredd game, Dredd is the draw, not the system or me.

Oh I get drawn in by IP all the time. AiME/TOR, Conan, Dragon age, etc.
 


I think CR definitely has the marketing reach and prominence in the hobby to publish a game that got a large amount of traction. Not to 5E levels, but closer to what Pathfinder is getting these days. Enough to make it the 3rd or 4th most popular game in the hobby. Presumably they'd bring in design experts to build the system.

If they did publish a new RPG catered to their streaming audience, safe to say it would be much simpler mechanically than 5E, and put more of an emphasis on backgrounds, social interaction, and playing out like a traditional fantasy narrative. Most of the people being brought into D&D by CR are not hardcore gamers. They're not number-crunchers or build optimizers. I'd guess most have never played a game of any kind with more than 12 pages of rules.

My sense is there's a big market out there today for a light fantasy RPG that emphasis story and puts combat into the background. CR would be a natural portal between that market and that game.

In fact, setting aside any question of CR publishing their own RPG, I have to think the massive influx of a new audience with different expectations will shape WotC's design plans for D&D going forward. It wouldn't surprise me to see a much lighter, story-driven variant of the game released in 3-4 years. D&D Saga or something.
 
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Asgorath

Explorer
I'm very much in the "I guess they could, but I hope they don't" camp. I wouldn't be surprised if they release an expansion for their campaign guide for each season they do (e.g. "Critical Role: Wildemount Campaign Setting" and so on). I didn't buy the first one and don't think I would ever buy one of their campaign books, because I have absolutely no desire to play in their world. I do enjoy watching the show and am looking forward to the animated series, but the biggest draw for me is just watching them play and being inspired for my own games.
 

Or when Green Ronin released M&M and AGE, and then still worked with WotC? Or Sasquatch did similar?
Sasquatch and Kobold Press never did their own game system, just 3rd Party stuff. Yes, WotC did work with Green Ronin, but it's not like there were many of other options for people who could do the job and do it on time.
And it's not like they tapped Paizo to make one of their 5e Adventure books.

Plus, have you seen anyone from Green Ronin or Sasquatch Games or even Kobold Press at their media events?

Or Monte Cook who left WotC and then came back for 5E and then left again?WotC doesn’t refuse to work with companies who release other books.
Staff are different. It's too small an industry for them to hold grudges like that. I can name a couple former Paizo employees who worked on Pathfinder, left, and found work on 5e.
And even during the height of the 4e vs PF edition wars, that was always the fans: the companies never talked smack or called out their competition. WotC was silent on the existence of Paizo for the most part.

If Critical Role goes off and does it's own competitive RPG, I'm sure the staff at WotC will wish them the best on a personal level. But they're not going to actively support Critical Role, or do anything to help them. It'll just be that other game they don't talk about run by people who aren't top of their list to be invited to their parties anymore.


I didn't use the word "blow up" in regards to the CR & WotC relationship. At least... I don't think I did. But if CR went off and became an active competitor, that would put them at odds with WotC. And while WotC isn't the deadly menace to competition as TSR was, it's not like they WANT more competition, let alone one that can raise one of the best funding Kickstarters, tabletop or otherwise. WotC doesn't want that, and you can bet the staff there are doing their best to keep their relationship with CR friendly and amicable.
 

Staffan

Legend
Hmm - that gives me a show idea for them: Critical Boost. Once a month have the cast talk about geek culture things they're excited about. Whether it's a new game, animated show, or a new kickstarter or book or whatever. Basically share their enthusiasm for the wider geek culture (and give a signal boost to deserving things).

You mean like Signal Boost?

Y’know, like when Paizo went from supporting D&D by publishing magazines and then doing 3rd Party adventures, to being the competition with the Pathfinder RPG.

Well, Wizards pretty much only have themselves to blame for that.
 

Hussar

Legend
Is there a particular reason that D&D Beyond couldn't support a Critical Role game? It's not like D&D Beyond is owned by WotC.

Critical Role has a built in audience for play testing as well. Hundreds of thousands of viewers is a vastly larger audience than virtually any RPG has other than maybe D&D. They could go the Paizo route of creating a game, leveraging their viewership into play testing, thus creating their own audience for buying the game, and move on from there.

Whether they will or not is debatable, but, should they choose to do so, they certainly have a HUGE leg up over any other RPG publisher. Heck, a major reason Pathfinder did so well was because Paizo could leverage its Dungeon and Dragon Magazine audience.
 

Asgorath

Explorer
Is there a particular reason that D&D Beyond couldn't support a Critical Role game? It's not like D&D Beyond is owned by WotC.

Critical Role has a built in audience for play testing as well. Hundreds of thousands of viewers is a vastly larger audience than virtually any RPG has other than maybe D&D. They could go the Paizo route of creating a game, leveraging their viewership into play testing, thus creating their own audience for buying the game, and move on from there.

Whether they will or not is debatable, but, should they choose to do so, they certainly have a HUGE leg up over any other RPG publisher. Heck, a major reason Pathfinder did so well was because Paizo could leverage its Dungeon and Dragon Magazine audience.

They don't even have enough staff to implement the things they'd like to do for 5E in a timely manner, so I can't imagine they'd be able to support a whole second game system on top of that as well. I love D&D Beyond and have completely switched over to using it for all my games, but there's a pretty long list of small-to-medium things that I wish they'd fix that they just haven't been able to get to yet. Biggest one for me is a DM page that tracks a live summary of each character in the party, so I can easily see their HP and so on. Having a tab per character and manually refreshing kind of sucks, but it's better than nothing.
 

Hussar

Legend
They don't even have enough staff to implement the things they'd like to do for 5E in a timely manner, so I can't imagine they'd be able to support a whole second game system on top of that as well. I love D&D Beyond and have completely switched over to using it for all my games, but there's a pretty long list of small-to-medium things that I wish they'd fix that they just haven't been able to get to yet. Biggest one for me is a DM page that tracks a live summary of each character in the party, so I can easily see their HP and so on. Having a tab per character and manually refreshing kind of sucks, but it's better than nothing.

Why wouldn't you use a VTT? What's the point in using D&D Beyond as a virtual tabletop? I mean, even free VTT's like Maptool will do what you want.
 


Ash Mantle

Adventurer
Before Matt Mercer and Co launch their own RPG, I'd rather they launch a book containing more classes and subclasses for 5e and possibly their own 5e house rules, and launch other books opening up their campaign setting. They seem to enjoy 5e quite a fair bit, and it seems to be more aligned to their own more narrative and character driven style of play.
 


Asgorath

Explorer
Why wouldn't you use a VTT? What's the point in using D&D Beyond as a virtual tabletop? I mean, even free VTT's like Maptool will do what you want.

Because the VTTs are terrible compared with D&D Beyond's character sheet? When we're sitting around the table and everyone has their tablets tracking their character sheet, and I have D&D Beyond up on my laptop, why shouldn't I be able to easily see the characters in the party? Sure, I could manually track everything myself in some other program, but that just feels like too much extra work (with the chance that I screw it up and the VTT copy is different to the DDB copy).
 

Is there a particular reason that D&D Beyond couldn't support a Critical Role game? It's not like D&D Beyond is owned by WotC.
I imagine the name would be tricky. They'd need to make a separate website and remake a lot of the program.

Really, D&D Beyond isn't HeroLab. It's UI is based entirely on D&D trade dress. I doubt they could use that freely. So they'd need to make a whole new UI and art.
And you'd pretty much need to redo all the actual programming. They'd pretty much be starting from scratch. Unless the new Critical Role RPG was just a 5e clone that used a lot of the same rules... But, if they were doing that, why would they be bothering to make their own game?

Critical Role has a built in audience for play testing as well. Hundreds of thousands of viewers is a vastly larger audience than virtually any RPG has other than maybe D&D. They could go the Paizo route of creating a game, leveraging their viewership into play testing, thus creating their own audience for buying the game, and move on from there.

Whether they will or not is debatable, but, should they choose to do so, they certainly have a HUGE leg up over any other RPG publisher. Heck, a major reason Pathfinder did so well was because Paizo could leverage its Dungeon and Dragon Magazine audience.
Well, yeah. They would have a big advantage.
But so would the Superbowl. If the NFL put out an RPG and leveraged its audience, they'd have a huge pool of potential playtesters. A massive leg up on other RPG publishers.
That doesn't mean they should or it's a good decision for them.


I love Critical Role... but Matt Mercer isn't a game designer. He's an actor. Writing isn't where his strengths lie. There's a lot of problems in the blood hunter and his other designs. A game written and designed by him will be iffy.

And while people like to talk about how streaming has helped D&D, it's a mutually beneficial relationship. People started watching CR because it was D&D. It was something they already cared about.
They don't really gain anything by making their own RPG.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Is there a particular reason that D&D Beyond couldn't support a Critical Role game? It's not like D&D Beyond is owned by WotC.
It took them over a year just to develop the current character sheet for D&D. They still have a years-long backlog of D&D features to build. Their work is top-notch, but top-notch web development is hard and takes a long time.

To support a new game, they would need to staff up heavily, and it would still take a long time to get even the basics in place.
 
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Hussar

Legend
Jester David said:
Well, yeah. They would have a big advantage.
But so would the Superbowl. If the NFL put out an RPG and leveraged its audience, they'd have a huge pool of potential playtesters. A massive leg up on other RPG publishers.
That doesn't mean they should or it's a good decision for them.

Yeah, I noticed that when you have NFL Fantasy Football which makes more money than the entire RPG industry, and actually makes enough money to make it worth doing for a multi-billion dollar industry. Or the myriad NFL branded video games.

Why on earth would they even consider an NFL RPG? It's apples to oranges.

Why do people insist on bringing up completely ludicrous comparisons here? It's not like Critical Role is making the kind of money that the NFL makes. Heck, they aren't even making the kind of money TCG's make. They are actually of a size of an RPG company.

So, the notion that they could leverage their fandom into a sort of Paizo style jump into RPG game design and production is hardly a totally left field idea. I mean, good grief, Lisa Stevens has barely any game design credits, yet is CEO of a very successful Paizo. Since when do the people running an RPG company need to be game designers?
 

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