Critical Role: Legend of Vox Machina: What to watch before the animated series

The Legend of Vox Machina, the extremely expected adult animated series, will premiere on Jan. 28. The Prime Video series is based upon Crucial Function, a performers of voice stars who have actually been playing Dungeons & Dragons together given that 2014. Their weekly broadcasts on Twitch consist of among the most popular “actual play” experiences worldwide — that is, an efficiency committed to really playing D&D in genuine time. The very first season brings into play the occasions of the very first project, and is crafted to be the best point of entry for newbies to a vast multimedia experience, and a leaping off point for never-before-seen experiences.

For those who wish to enter blind, understand that the series has actually been particularly customized to interest brand-new audiences, starting on this brand-new medium with a relatively bite-sized story. However, as with constructing a character for D&D, often it pays to invest a long time expanding the information and digging into the backstory. We’re here to address your the majority of fundamental concerns about the series, including what will be included in the opening episodes and, what, if anything, you ought to understand about entering.

Where does the series happen?

The Legend of Vox Machina describes the group of travelers referred to as Vox Machina. It occurs on a world called Exandria, particularly on the continent of Tal’Dorei. Exandria — house to gods, beasts and extremely challenging doors — is Matthew Mercer’s own project setting, and represents a shared universe where all Crucial Function projects happen. If you wish to discover more about Exandria’s history, there’s even an useful video that describes its origin story.

Components of Exandria will feel familiar to D&D veterans who have actually hosted projects in the Forgotten Realms — consisting of having divine beings comparable to the gods of Faerûn, and the existence of races like fairies, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings, in addition to human beings. Likewise, Exandria is linked to different airplanes of presence that may resonate for long-time gamers, consisting of the Feywild, the Shadowfell, the Celestial Aircraft, the Elemental Planes, and more.

The animated series starts out in the city of Emon, the capital of Tal’Dorei. Emon is an industrial hub, situated on Tal’Dorei’s eastern shore — the first campaign highlights Tal’Dorei as being on the cusp of technological innovation. Skyships are available for overseas travel from Emon to other Exandrian continents like Issylra and Marquet, as magic and technology come together to create marvels. Emon is also home to landmarks like Gilmore’s Glorious Goods, the Alabaster Lyceum, the Ivory Tower and the Palace of the Sovereign, which is the seat of Uriel Tal’Dorei and the Tal’Dorei Council, the ruling parties of the Republic of Tal’Dorei.

What should I know about the characters going in?

The heart of Critical Role has always been the bonds between its characters. Vox Machina has seven core members — eight, if you include Trinket the armored bear. Trinket is the companion of Vex’ahlia “Vex” Vessar (Laura Bailey), an imperious, frugal ranger who is twin to Vax’ildan “Vax” Vessar (Liam O’Brien), a cunning, sardonic rogue. Vex and Vax are inseparable, having been pulled away from their human mother at a young age by their haughty elven father. If you want to learn more about the twins’ origin story specifically, you can also check out Critical Role: Vox Machina — Kith and Kin, the novelized version of their tale by Marieke Nijkamp. Polygon even has an exclusive excerpt, which naturally includes audio narration by the original cast.

While they’re not twins, or even siblings, Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson) and Grog Strongjaw (Travis Willingham) also share a close bond, having been raised together by Pike’s great-great-grandfather, Wilhand Trickfoot. Pike is a gnomish cleric of the Everlight, the Exandrian deity of redemption and healing, while Grog is a goliath barbarian who loves ale above all other things. Pike was not available for several episodes of the streamed campaign, as Ashley Johnson had filming conflicts at the time — that’s partly why Pike often drops into big moments in the story by way of astral projection.

Keyleth of the Air Ashari (Marisha Ray), Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel) and Percival “Percy” Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III (Taliesin Jaffe) round out the rest of the group. Keyleth, a shape-shifting druid, is perhaps the most powerful member of the party, though her awkwardness and uncertainty often prevent her from being aware of it. Scanlan is Keyleth’s polar opposite where self-confidence is concerned — as a bard, he spends a lot of time performing, singing songs, and generally trying to charm the pants off of anyone that looks his way. Percy is the brooding, aristocratic gunslinger of the group, with a mysterious past that will unravel as the series progresses.

Matthew Mercer is scattered across the different Critical Role episodes as the voice of many of the NPCs. He crops up everywhere, from barkeeps to brawlers, populating the story’s landscape.

Vox Machina are, in many ways, unlikely heroes. The group initially came together as mercenaries, and spends most of the time in the Vox Machina Origins comic series hunting down jobs. They’re uncouth, unorganized and pretty noticeably unwelcome in polite society over the course of the very first project. You can get a taste of their unique brand of heroism in this live-read of a scene from the series at New York Comic Con, where they get drunk, make a mess, and end up in a bar brawl.

What episodes of the filmed campaign or podcast should I check out ahead of the series, if any?

The Legend of Vox Machina will begin with never-before-seen adventures, as we mentioned. After the first two episodes, the cast has indicated that the animated series will delve into the Briarwood arc of the first campaign, which places Percy’s storyline at the forefront and explores his relationship with his hitherto shrouded past in Whitestone.

The Briarwood arc refers to the couple of the same name: Silas and Delilah Briarwood (Matthew Mercer voices Silas). In a virtual panel for New York Comic Con 2021, Marisha Ray described the Briarwood arc as the “obvious jumping off point” for the series, with Sam Riegel adding that it was “the first time it kind of felt like art.” The Briarwood arc has lasting ripples across the first campaign — which are likewise echoed in the events of the troupe’s current campaign, one that’s set many, many years after the first.

If you’re planning on giving yourself an edge ahead of the series, we recommend starting with the following episodes of Crucial Function, most of which correspond to the Briarwood arc of the streamed campaign. Note that all episodes after episode 24 of the first campaign follow directly along with the Briarwood arc, and may contain spoilers for the Briarwood-centered events of the first season of The Legend of Vox Machina. We’ve also included a few additional episodes that will set up the long-running dynamics in between the NPCs and the party.

  • Campaign 1, episode 14: “Shopping and Shipping” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 16: “Enter Vasselheim” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 17: “Hubris” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 23: “The Rematch” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 24: “The Feast” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 25: “Crimson Diplomacy” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 26: “Consequences and Cows” — YouTube and Spotify
  • Campaign 1, episode 27: “The Path to Whitestone” — YouTube and Spotify

If you want to know more about the making of the series, and the voice actors behind the central characters, you can also follow along with the “The Legend of The Legend of Vox Machina” video series.

The Legend of Vox Machina, much like Critical Role itself, is and will be somewhat unique in its relationship to its viewers. Whether you’re starting without having actually consumed any Crucial Function prior to or you’ve been spending time because that time Vox Machina ended up being cows, it’s most likely you’ll have the ability to discover something brand-new.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.