Critical Role To Critical Role or not...That is the question

Did Critical Role influence D&D and how do you feel about CR?

  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I love CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I like CR

    Votes: 5 3.2%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity and I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity but I dislike CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role is the biggest reason for 5e's popularity but I hate CR

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity and I love CR

    Votes: 15 9.5%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity and I like CR

    Votes: 46 29.1%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 54 34.2%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I dislike CR

    Votes: 10 6.3%
  • Critical Role is a factor in 5e's popularity but I hate CR

    Votes: 6 3.8%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I love CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I like CR

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity but I'm neutral to CR

    Votes: 8 5.1%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity and I dislike CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role isn't a factor towards 5e's popularity and I hate CR

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • Critical Role...what's that...oh, and I think Matt Mercer is hot

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...no idea what that is, but Matt Mercer needs a haircut

    Votes: 2 1.3%
  • Critical Role...don't ask...but I eat puppies and kittens for lunch

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...Yes...yes...I'm critical to RPGs...why do you ask

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Critical Role...go for the eyes boo...go for the eyes!!!

    Votes: 2 1.3%

It's a pretty delicious slice of pie, but far from the whole pie. It reminds me a little of Star Trek: the Next Generation. I have no doubt some other Trek show would have come along and done a good job, and there have been several good Trek shows (including movies). But TNG struck gold with great chemistry among the cast and now it's a memorable part of the Trek legacy. Similarly, CR has become a flagship D&D show that will be remembered fondly for years to come, and I'm sure it did bring lots of new people to the game, but the brand would keep on chugging and some other group would have become the Flagship D&D show.

But, unlike the Shatner / Nimoy grudge, the folks at Critical Role seem to be really upstanding and decent people on the whole. I'm genuinely happy for their success.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I hate CR. I think it is garbage, boring, and not representative of most D&D games IME; and Vox Machina is a travesty in representing D&D. I have no clue why people would watch others play D&D when they could play themselves. 🤷‍♂️

INSHO if you have time to watch CR, you have time to play D&D instead. Yeah, I know, people are busy, they can't find players, etc. Crap IMO. You think it is hard to find and organize a game now? Try it in the 80's before gaming, video games, anime, comics, and such things were NOT mainstream in any way, shape, or form. To be clear I am not saying finding a game or group is easy, but you can do it if you really want to IME.
You sound nice.
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
INSHO if you have time to watch CR, you have time to play D&D instead. Yeah, I know, people are busy, they can't find players, etc. Crap IMO. You think it is hard to find and organize a game now? Try it in the 80's before gaming, video games, anime, comics, and such things were NOT mainstream in any way, shape, or form. To be clear I am not saying finding a game or group is easy, but you can do it if you really want to IME.

All that being said, not just CR but online videos of gameplay, advice, etc. have ALL contributed greatly to the popularity of D&D and increased its general acceptance. Now when I tell people I play D&D, instead of getting a strange look or cringe, I get an "Oh, I've heard of that. That's cool" more often than not. Many people still aren't really interested in trying it, but at least few people treat my like I have leprosy when I tell them I play D&D.
This is why I never finished watching the Sopranos. If you have time to watch all 6 seasons, then you have time to join organized crime!

Anyways, now I'm in Witness Protection.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I seem to be in the majority here. I'm not personally a fan of CR (or any other D&D stream or podcast), but I understand why other people enjoy it. I think it's brought folks to D&D, but it is one of many factors.

I will say that I think D&D is better with CR than without it. I think a lot of the talk of the "Mercer Effect" and all that is hyperbole. As far as I can tell, the show is mostly folks sitting around having fun playing D&D, and that's the best representation there could be.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
While I certainly don't have time to watch the show, only saw a small part of the first season, what I'm really happy with is the fact that they play it in the same spirit that we have been playing it for decades with friends. Lots of roleplay, lots of fun interactions between PCs and with NPCs, a few interesting fights now and then, some exploration and, last but not least, epic campaigns spanning all levels of the game. And all of that with some rule support but not a focus on them.

I think it's good that some people prefer let's call them "more specialised" styles, with things Combat as sport, optimisation, low level only, more realistic games, etc. if it's what they like, the CR style of play reflects out preferred style and shows that the game can indeed be played that way, with friends, having epic adventures without all the criticism that exists on forums as soon as you mention something that you like...
 

The only downside to CR I've had to deal with is the number of fully-played out shopping scenes every time you want to buy something. Not every shopkeeper needs to be quirky.
 

I like that Critical Role exists. I like that it's popular and generates interest. I'm pretty sure there are several players in my group that have watched some episodes before they ever played a ttrpg. buuuuuut...

I don't like the show. Nothing against Critical Role. It's rare that I find "actual play" entertainment very entertaining.
 

The number of poll options really offend my sense of order in the world.

As for CR, you have to be in a special time in your life to dedicate 3 years to watching their shows.

I would watch it if they edited it down to 5% of the run time.

I think its unfortunate that CR brought a lot of toxic people to DnD, if you follow the dramas that evolved in their fandom.
 

I haven't watched a complete movie or teleserie episode in years, and I don't like watching without subtitles because my level of oral English isn't too good. I have never watched a actual-play show in my first language.

I should say one opinion about anything I haven't watched by I suppose the popularity of 5th Ed. is a combo de different causes. Not only Stranger Things and videogames as Baldur's Gate and Newerwinter Nights, the Peter Jackon's Lord of the Rings cinematographic trilogy, the MMO World of Warcraft and the SRD when you can see the rules freely. Maybe a group within the fandom started to search something different after the current saturation of videogame market.
 

Hex08

Adventurer
I am neutral towards Critical Role. I really dislike watching it but that's because watching other people play a game is not something I enjoy (2 exceptions: how to videos when I am learning a new game and Wil Wheaton's Tabletop) not because I think the show is inherently bad. The episodes are really long, there is a lot of other stuff I would rather spend my time watching but I get that not everyone is going to feel the same way.

As far as its influence on the popularity of D&D - That's something I have always been skeptical of. I see all over the interwebs where people talk about how Critical Role has been a huge boon to D&D but it all appears to be anecdotes and no real evidence. My understanding is that D&D has had a slow, if inconsistent, rise in popularity since it's introduction. Originally D&D was a fringe hobby that most people were unaware of. Then the Satanic Panic hit and caused sales to jump (because the game was more in the public eye) in the late 1980s - early 1990's. The game has been, generally, on the rise ever since. Maybe I am wrong but I have a hard time believing that people who are not into the hobby are dedicating the hours necessary to watch Critical Role. I think it's rise in popularity is, generally, more inline with the overall rise in geek culture. I could be wrong but once again I would need actual evidence to buy into the whole Critical Role thing being an important part of the popularity of D&D.

Also, way too many options in the poll, I almost didn't even select one.
 
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So according to the yearly census info that WotC takes on DnD, the current majority of DnD gamers is 30 and under. I am curious if this is reflective of those who engage on this forum, or is it made up of a lot of old men yelling at clouds.

I have been watching the 3rd campaign, mostly as background noise for me. I appreciate what CR has done to bring people into the hobby. I think that CR without 5e wouldn't be the same cultural phenomena. 5e being so approachable for new players means that views can be converted into players. So It's symbiotic after a sense.

Would 5e be as successful without CR? No. But not just CR. Without liveplay acting as a onramp free advertising for 5e and TTRPGs overall, how would new people with no previous exposure have been brought in. But I still feel 5e would have seen great success without CR. I think liveplay was something that would have broken through without CR specifically. CR is simply the most successful example of an extremely successful method of showcasing this hobby. But equally as important is the release of the best ruleset of DnD ever. I honestly feel that both issues play off each other and help explain 5e's success.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So according to the yearly census info that WotC takes on DnD, the current majority of DnD gamers is 30 and under. I am curious if this is reflective of those who engage on this forum, or is it made up of a lot of old men yelling at clouds.

I have been watching the 3rd campaign, mostly as background noise for me. I appreciate what CR has done to bring people into the hobby. I think that CR without 5e wouldn't be the same cultural phenomena. 5e being so approachable for new players means that views can be converted into players. So It's symbiotic after a sense.

Would 5e be as successful without CR? No. But not just CR. Without liveplay acting as a onramp free advertising for 5e and TTRPGs overall, how would new people with no previous exposure have been brought in. But I still feel 5e would have seen great success without CR. I think liveplay was something that would have broken through without CR specifically. CR is simply the most successful example of an extremely successful method of showcasing this hobby. But equally as important is the release of the best ruleset of DnD ever. I honestly feel that both issues play off each other and help explain 5e's success.
All part of a virtuous cycle.
 


steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
You understand people that are going to see and take this survey are people that are interested enough in fantasy RPGs, 5e specifically, to be on this forum to see it in the first place, I trust.

Such people are likely to have, at least, heard of Critical Role -if never watched it (like myself)- and ingrained enough in online gamer culture to have seen the advertising and trailers for the new streaming animated series (which I have watched and LOVE!), even if they've never watched it (which I can not imagine and highly recommend if anyone here has not seen it!).

Point is....this poll's result are going to be extraordinarily skewed by people who think CR is a normal popular "everywhere" thing. Among people in the general population, even those who may know "about" D&D even if they know nothing about different editions or the current game, it isn't. Not by a long shot.

Best case is that, in the last month, maybe you'd have a few more people who recognize the name because of the new cartoon. But who is likely to be watching a not-so-kid-friendly animated fantasy series? There ya go...people that are likely to be on this forum anyway.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I think its unfortunate that CR brought a lot of toxic people to DnD, if you follow the dramas that evolved in their fandom.
Well, that matches the toxic drama about changes in game directions/marketing as well as canon debates, edition changes, inter company/designer rivalries, and so much else that was already entrenched in the community since the 1970s.
 


fba827

Adventurer
I am neutral on CR but that is a ME thing as I can’t watch/listen to others play d&d, any group/system/etc but have nothing against them if others do. People having fun, that’s all there is to it.

But I certainly appreciate that it has brought consumer attention to the hobby, particularly from a younger crowd that uses all the social media stuff by which businesses do a lot of metrics, thus bringing more internal-industry attention as well
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh, Heavens, the Critical Role fanbase is a small fraction of the people playing 5E. It has certainly helped 5E, but it is not the main reason by a country mile.

The estimates I can find are that Critical Role gets one to one and a half million people watching every episode. While I know not all of them will be playing D&D, it may be that the number of folks who watch CR are a significant fraction (in that space between majority and "small fraction") of the people who play right now.
 

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