Critical Role The Legend of Vox Machina: Bawdy, Bloody, and Funny

With The Legend of Vox Machina, Critical Role comes full circle from being voice actors playing D&D (first in a private game, then streaming on Geek & Sundry) to an $11 million Kickstarter for an animated special. That success attracted streaming network interest, which then morphed into a 24-episode animated series where they're voicing their own characters.

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If you've never watched Critical Role Season 1 or read any of the stories, TLoVM the animated series is easy to jump into. Instead of being exposition heavy or thrusting viewers into a lot of world building, it starts with some classic fantasy – especially fantasy RPG – tropes like a drunken bar brawl and mercenaries being killed (a TPK) by a mysterious force. Those scenes are delivered with hefty dose of humor, a bit of blood, and some nudity.

This isn't the '80s Saturday morning Dungeons & Dragons cartoon for kids. While there is gore, it's less than an episode of Invincible and far less than that show's season 1 finale. Similarly, TLoVM has nudity and a bit of sex in the first few episodes, but far less than Game of Thrones.

Vox Machina is an established group at the start of the series, but one that needs money and has a less than stellar reputation. The land of Emon is being ravaged by a mysterious threat. A bit of desperation on both sides leads to the bickering heroes taking the job.

TLoVM is bawdy, bloody, and funny, but it also has heart. The first two episodes tell a complete story with an obvious hook at the end that leads into the rest of the episodes – and a stinger hinting at new threats.

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The animation style has clean lines with some anime influence, but nothing excessively intricate or artsy. At the same, the art direction has style, like a scene that adds interest to the characters walking by showing it through a spider's web dotted with raindrops.

The first episode establishes the eight members of Vox Machina quickly with the following episodes building nicely upon each character's traits. Matthew Mercer voices several of the supporting characters, but in this format he doesn't have to cover all of the NPCs. The guest star talent includes David Tennant, Stephanie Beatriz, Tony Hale. Felica Day is the voice of a bandit.

And if they don't sell a stuffed toy bear version of Trinket at some point, Critical Role is missing out on a merchandise opportunity. TLoVM hits the perfect sweet spot between making Vex's companion bear fierce in battle, amusing when waiting, and adorable the rest of the time.

No critic has been given advance access to the entire first season, let alone all 24 episodes, so it's impossible to say how well the entire story arc plays out, but the first few episodes are entertaining and well made.

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You don't have to be a fan of Critical Role to enjoy The Legend of Vox Machina, but if you're a fan of fantasy adventure, TLoVM might turn you into Critter. The Legend of Vox Machina debuts on Amazon Prime on Friday, January 28, with the first three episodes. Critical Role will be holding watch parties on their Twitch channel at 7pm Tuesdays.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

werecorpse

Adventurer
As I said, for whatever in-universe or real world reason, the result is that magic is less pervasive on the PC side, far less than is common at most D&D tables. Perhaps a lesson could be gleaned from this if one is inclined to listen.
That presenting a combat on a tv show should be different than in a tactical game to be entertaining?
 

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Pray tell what does watching the character in Vox defecate in a toilet show?
Setting up just how poopy his luck is, with an actual poop joke about bad luck, which is then inverted later in the scene.

Falls off a wall, gets rained on, and now he's literally in the pooper.
 

Pray tell what does watching the character in Vox defecate in a toilet show? Other than the poor judgement of its writers. I have no problem with sex, violence or toilet humor - when it improves the show. I have a problem when it’s gratuitous… literally done without good reason. As most of the frat boy humour in this series.
The purpose was to make high society matrons clutch their pearls and exclaim "well I never!" while stuffy gentleman, particularly crusty old deans, remark that "This is irregular. Most irregular!".

Stock characters from slobs v. snobs comedy are generally up in arms about the whole affair.
 

That reads like "you are playing the game wrong".......care to elaborate?
There are a lot of people on this board currently discussing whether or not casters overshadow more martial characters in 5e. How PC magic is being handled on this show may provide evidence of how to handle that issue.
 


How PC magic is being handled on this show may provide evidence of how to handle that issue.
They are definitely spreading the use of spells out across multiple short rests. The only full Nova situations we have seen are Scanbo, and when Pike shows up in E9.

It was a pretty cool moment. I literally said to myself, "This is the same day you fought Anders. You're exhausted. And here comes a full caster with aaaallll her spell slots!" :cool:

You might even call it jaw dropping.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
As I said, for whatever in-universe or real world reason, the result is that magic is less pervasive on the PC side, far less than is common at most D&D tables. Perhaps a lesson could be gleaned from this if one is inclined to listen.
Nope.

It's one thing to watch people struggle and only ever win by the skin of their teeth and the loving grace of the writer. It's another to have to play it.

This is like saying PCs should go down every three rounds because Grog is jobbing it in half the combats.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Did you watch Game of Thrones?
I mean, the real question is 'are you wildly bias against GoT where you'll hold it against it.

For me, that question would be yes. I hated GoT before it got a show. Before GGRM decided to never finish the books even.

So I'm never going to view the shock moment fairly.

I've got no reason to pretend otherwise. I can never hurt or spite GoT fans more than the show already has.

But CR, now that's a big, current target that has been almost as big of a scapegoat as WoW and Diablo and anime combined...
 

Nope.

It's one thing to watch people struggle and only ever win by the skin of their teeth and the loving grace of the writer. It's another to have to play it.

This is like saying PCs should go down every three rounds because Grog is jobbing it in half the combats.
I'd actually be fine with PCs going down every three rounds or so, at least temporarily.
 


gnarlygninja

Explorer
Can you give an example. Because I’m very skeptical there is anything as bad on R&M as watching feces drop out of someone’s ass on screen. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on screen in 42 years of television.
I personally found the plot leading up to and involving the giant incest baby worse than the poop scene. The latter barely even registered to me.
 

OakenHart

Adventurer
Prince Joffrey murdering people has a purpose … it shows how psychotically deranged he is. The diarrhea on the table (after the fact.. static) shows how absolutely drunk Rick was, which sets up the whole following joke that is the premise of the episode.

Pray tell what does watching the character in Vox defecate in a toilet show? Other than the poor judgement of its writers. I have no problem with sex, violence or toilet humor - when it improves the show. I have a problem when it’s gratuitous… literally done without good reason. As most of the frat boy humour in this series.
You said "It was the most disgusting thing I’ve seen on screen in 42 years of television" and I was commenting on that. Whether something contributes towards the story is an entirely different conversation, and I would agree that the toilet humor did nothing for the story.

But again, that's a different conversation.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
42 years is also a long time to have not seen an episode of Family Guy, Brickleberry, Fear Factor, Pimple Popper MD, Monsters Inside Me, South Park, Mr Pickles, Spongebob or pretty much any other show that uses gross-out humor regardless of actual quality.

If a single silhouette of a turd is the most disgusting thing you've seen, you're honestly lucky.

In fact, that's not even the most disgusting thing in this show. Are we forgetting Keyleth's situation in the bar fight? Because I wish on all kinds of stars that wasn't a thing I'd seen. And that still doesn't hold a candle to certain scenes in Spongebob.
 

I mean, the real question is 'are you wildly bias against GoT where you'll hold it against it.

For me, that question would be yes. I hated GoT before it got a show. Before GGRM decided to never finish the books even.

So I'm never going to view the shock moment fairly.

I've got no reason to pretend otherwise. I can never hurt or spite GoT fans more than the show already has.

But CR, now that's a big, current target that has been almost as big of a scapegoat as WoW and Diablo and anime combined...
I have to ask why do you hate GoT as I know many who hate the ending or are apathetic but not the whole thing being seen as bad so I must know?
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I have to ask why do you hate GoT as I know many who hate the ending or are apathetic but not the whole thing being seen as bad so I must know?
I came up in the mythical decade known as the 90's where needy, grimdark stuff ruled the world. I spent most of high school as not just an edgelord but a straight up pizza-cutter (all edge, no point) and burned out like a moth flying into the heart of the dying star. I'm so done with tryhard cynicism and darkness that GoT's very first chapter bounced off me like a nerf peashooter off the Hulk's rippling pecs.
 

I came up in the mythical decade known as the 90's where needy, grimdark stuff ruled the world. I spent most of high school as not just an edgelord but a straight up pizza-cutter (all edge, no point) and burned out like a moth flying into the heart of the dying star. I'm so done with tryhard cynicism and darkness that GoT's very first chapter bounced off me like a nerf peashooter off the Hulk's rippling pecs.
man, I wish I had your luck I am as cynical as you can be.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I thought the poop joke was ok, actually. The nose picking was just stupid and not at all funny.

And, once again, they are really stupid in combat. Like, really annoyingly so. Just ignore the guy controlling the golems.....I really don't enjoy that.
 

I came up in the mythical decade known as the 90's where needy, grimdark stuff ruled the world. I spent most of high school as not just an edgelord but a straight up pizza-cutter (all edge, no point) and burned out like a moth flying into the heart of the dying star. I'm so done with tryhard cynicism and darkness that GoT's very first chapter bounced off me like a nerf peashooter off the Hulk's rippling pecs.
As someone who non-ironically wore a trench coat, fedora, and a katana... I cannot express enough just how much I empathize with your post.
 


wicked cool

Adventurer
I came up in the mythical decade known as the 90's where needy, grimdark stuff ruled the world. I spent most of high school as not just an edgelord but a straight up pizza-cutter (all edge, no point) and burned out like a moth flying into the heart of the dying star. I'm so done with tryhard cynicism and darkness that GoT's very first chapter bounced off me like a nerf peashooter off the Hulk's rippling pecs.
eighties and 70's reruns for me so i grew up with the golly gee stuff so i can understand.
 

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