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.


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.


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.


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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People can absolutely be a heroes or leaders and also be in love. And people can absolutely live happy, fulfilling lives without being romantically attached. Both are important messages, though I think the second is the one that society more frequently misses out on.
CR includes examples of both, but it's worth noting that, despite each campaign representing only a couple years of in-universe time, every PC except Grog (whose player didn't want to roleplay romance) and Caduceus (who is asexual) ends up in a long term romantic relationship

Also important is that it's valid for people to need time to figure out what they want, and I think this is the point that the current portion of Keyleth's story arc is emphasizing.

She loves him.... But won't be with him because she has unnamed responsibility... Like a Jedi or something.
So in the liveplay he had decided that his character was into hers, and started dropping hints, some subtle, some fairly obvious, long before she or her character figured it out. I'm a little surprised they didn't play up the "oblivious Keyleth is last to notice romantic advances" thing because it was the most true to character part of the romance.

Instead here they have decided to have her acknowledge his feelings, but are presumably keeping them apart until somewhere closer to the canonical liveplay hook-up (though I don't really remember when that happens, so maybe I've got it wrong).

I will say I think that romance was one of the weakest character elements in the liveplay. It made sense that half-elf boy would pine for only half-elf girl he knows whose not his sister, but the chemistry rarely worked, and they just didn't play up the relationship angle very consistently. So I don't blame them for trying to do it a bit differently in the animated series, but the results have so far been hit and miss.

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.
She waffles for a long time, but they talk through their issues and she eventually falls for him.
Then he dies and visits her every day as a big birb. She eventually dates again after many many years, though we don't know the details of who or if there were any other great loves. We do learn that the big birb is happy that she has moved on and they stay friends. We may learn more in C3.


Rotten DM
Season 1 is over. My take 4 out 5 stars. I have read and watched a lot sci fic and fantasy, so a lot of sub plots were old hat. Some of the characters had very cliche moments but the acting pulled it out from being a groan to a giggle or nicely done. The one two things which surprised me were the Whispered One and using the acid bath to solve one villain problem. i will be watching on Saturdays when the next season drops.

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