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


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Bolares

Hero
This idea that you can't be a hero and be in love is part of the problems in the world. We just can't ever be fully happy, we MUST sacrifice our happiness. I call BS on this idea, that our "leaders" and societies have put on us.
Keyleth at this point is VERY anxious and insecure. She gets easilly overwhelmed and can freeze or get panic attacks. This was a recurring theme during the season, and I think her response was very accurate to her character right now. just the adventuring and dangers it brings overwhelm her a lot, add a romance to this? I can absolutelly see where she is comming from.
 




Zaukrie

New Publisher
If you haven't watched the stream, do we know how young she is from the show? Clearly I'm in the minority here, but it seems silly to me. But then, I'm also in the minority that level 9+ characters aren't good at tactics and strategy. I'm ok with that.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
If you haven't watched the stream, do we know how young she is from the show? Clearly I'm in the minority here, but it seems silly to me. But then, I'm also in the minority that level 9+ characters aren't good at tactics and strategy. I'm ok with that.
I’m not sure how old she was at this point in the campaign, but she ended the campaign at 23.
 

gnarlygninja

Explorer
If you haven't watched the stream, do we know how young she is from the show? Clearly I'm in the minority here, but it seems silly to me. But then, I'm also in the minority that level 9+ characters aren't good at tactics and strategy. I'm ok with that.
I don't remember the first campaign well enough to know anyone's ages, but she reads pretty young to me in the show.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Yeah, aside from her, they're world-weary jaded jerks.

And Grog.

But I agree that 'being a hero demand tragedy' is a garbage trope.

I can't really remember the deal in campaign 1, but I think the deal is the Asari don't accept outsiders, so if she's the leader, she can't bring and outsider along with? Is that right?
 

BrokenTwin

Biological Disaster
I read it mostly as she doesn't feel ready to handle a relationship at that particular point in her life, which, while narratively disappointing, is fair. I haven't watching Critical Role, so I don't know if they actually end up together or not, but I'd be fine either way.

Scanlan also appears to have actual romantic feelings for Pike as well, curious to see if animated show gets into that in later seasons.
 

mewzard

Explorer
they're both half elven
A reminder of one Druid class feature:

"Timeless Body
Starting at 18th level, the primal magic that you wield causes you to age more slowly. For every 10 years that pass, your body ages only 1 year."

5e Druids can live for a long time, especially those of Elven descent.
 

Bolares

Hero
A reminder of one Druid class feature:

"Timeless Body
Starting at 18th level, the primal magic that you wield causes you to age more slowly. For every 10 years that pass, your body ages only 1 year."

5e Druids can live for a long time, especially those of Elven descent.
Yeah i forgot about that :)
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
I finally had the time to finish the series and I very much enjoyed it. It absolutely finishes stronger than it starts. It was also very fun for me, as someone who was watching the stream from day one, to see how they fit the arc into such a compact series and I think they did well overall.

In the last episode they drop several hints as to where the story with the Whispered One is going and of course the closing scene brings us to what was the largest arc of campaign one as far as I can recall. I'll be very interested to see how they fit the Chroma Conclave arc into one season, and hopefully season two is just part of the arc and they get a third season because it's a massive story arc and a full twelve episode season won't do it, at least I don't think so.

All of that is actually just to say that I'm very excited to see season two and where they take things from here.

With regards to the discussion regarding Keyleth and her rejection of Vax, I'll say this: while the animated series did try to touch on it, the seriousness of Keyleths Aramenté shouldn't be brushed off. I won't go into deep spoilers for those that never watched the stream, but it's a world-spanning journey and requires her to make contact with the other three Ashari tribes and face trials at each point in the journey. It's potentially lethal.

So put it all into perspective: she's young, inexperienced, unsure of herself and on a journey across the world that could potentially kill her, all in the hopes that should she survive and return to her people, she's going to be their leader. That's a lot to wrap your head around. Add to that the life & death situations she's already been thrust into that have absolutely nothing to do (directly anyway) with this rite of passage, and you're going to wonder why she's not jumping at the chance to start up a relationship?

All things in good time. Again, I'll avoid spoilers for those who didn't watch the stream, but there are three relationships that bud over the course of campaign one and they move at their own pace, so just give it time... assuming we get more seasons beyond one and two. Here's hoping.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
I can't really remember the deal in campaign 1, but I think the deal is the Asari don't accept outsiders, so if she's the leader, she can't bring and outsider along with? Is that right?
Its a combination of things.
  • She is young and inexperienced.
  • She is becoming a high level Druid who ages ten times slower then normal
  • She is becoming the Voice of the Tempest which is not only a big responsibility for one so young but it will also greatly increase her life span.
  • She has already suffered loss (her mother disappeared a few years earlier).
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
A reminder of one Druid class feature:

"Timeless Body
Starting at 18th level, the primal magic that you wield causes you to age more slowly. For every 10 years that pass, your body ages only 1 year."

5e Druids can live for a long time, especially those of Elven descent.

If they hit 18th+ level. A massive if really, for most campaigns.
 

BRayne

Adventurer
Its a combination of things.
  • She is young and inexperienced.
  • She is becoming a high level Druid who ages ten times slower then normal
  • She is becoming the Voice of the Tempest which is not only a big responsibility for one so young but it will also greatly increase her life span.
  • She has already suffered loss (her mother disappeared a few years earlier).

To add to it her mother disappeared attempting the very same quest she is now on
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I finally had the time to finish the series and I very much enjoyed it. It absolutely finishes stronger than it starts. It was also very fun for me, as someone who was watching the stream from day one, to see how they fit the arc into such a compact series and I think they did well overall.

In the last episode they drop several hints as to where the story with the Whispered One is going and of course the closing scene brings us to what was the largest arc of campaign one as far as I can recall. I'll be very interested to see how they fit the Chroma Conclave arc into one season, and hopefully season two is just part of the arc and they get a third season because it's a massive story arc and a full twelve episode season won't do it, at least I don't think so.

All of that is actually just to say that I'm very excited to see season two and where they take things from here.

With regards to the discussion regarding Keyleth and her rejection of Vax, I'll say this: while the animated series did try to touch on it, the seriousness of Keyleths Aramenté shouldn't be brushed off. I won't go into deep spoilers for those that never watched the stream, but it's a world-spanning journey and requires her to make contact with the other three Ashari tribes and face trials at each point in the journey. It's potentially lethal.

So put it all into perspective: she's young, inexperienced, unsure of herself and on a journey across the world that could potentially kill her, all in the hopes that should she survive and return to her people, she's going to be their leader. That's a lot to wrap your head around. Add to that the life & death situations she's already been thrust into that have absolutely nothing to do (directly anyway) with this rite of passage, and you're going to wonder why she's not jumping at the chance to start up a relationship?

All things in good time. Again, I'll avoid spoilers for those who didn't watch the stream, but there are three relationships that bud over the course of campaign one and they move at their own pace, so just give it time... assuming we get more seasons beyond one and two. Here's hoping.
None of which is in the tv show......so, not sure how I'd know any of that. On the tv show, she's in her late teens / early 20s, in love, and rejects him. Then, we know she'll travel with him in season 2, and somehow it would be wrong of her to be with him? If anything, if someone had just been through all that, they'd want the comfort of love, not the loneliness of celibacy because.
 

BRayne

Adventurer
None of which is in the tv show......so, not sure how I'd know any of that. On the tv show, she's in her late teens / early 20s, in love, and rejects him. Then, we know she'll travel with him in season 2, and somehow it would be wrong of her to be with him? If anything, if someone had just been through all that, they'd want the comfort of love, not the loneliness of celibacy because.

There's also nothing in the tv show that says she's "in love" with him at this point. That's a leap of assumption from her recognizing that Vax loves her and it being meaningful as the first time someone has demonstrated those feelings to her.
 

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