I finished watching the Legend of Vox Machina on Amazon, and I decided to talk about it on my blog. Lucky you, right? So, if you are unfamiliar with this work, it is an animated series based-on Matthew Mercer's Dungeons & Dragons campaigns that are aired on his YouTube channel called, "Critical Role." Matt Mercer is kind of a B-List or maybe even C-List celebrity. He's a handsome guy that has talents in voice acting, and an obvious love of D&D. And he plays with people who are equally talented, like Felicia Day. But he's not the kind of actor that headlines movies like Tom Holland does. Rather, he's several pegs down the chain of Hollywood, mostly filling in on projects here and there (kinda like Joe Manganiello who may be a slightly bigger celebrity due to his wife Sofia Vergara and his obvious connections to powerful nerds in Hollywood, like the producers of the Game of Thrones series and being friends with Zach Snyder). Matt Mercer isn't "big" like that, but maybe more on the lines of Wil Wheaton. But that doesn't mean he isn't well connected and that he doesn't have millionaire friends with some measure of influence in the entertainment industry. Obviously, he's got an excellent agent, and they were able to get Amazon to put up the money to make Legends of Vox Machina into an animated series. That's a pretty major achievement.
Legends of Vox Machina was super entertaining, and I'm so glad that a person like Matt Mercer is pushing my hobby of many decades into the mainstream. There are many things I loved about the first season, so I'll try to boil it down. First, Legends of Vox Machina took the subject matter seriously (fantasy is nothing to laugh at folks), while still making it crazy fun by playing on tropes that real players do with their characters in tabletop games all of the time. If you don't understand what I'm saying, let me put it this way. When people ask me the question: what is playing Dungeons & Dragons like? I usually respond with, "It's like really bad improv but with dice rolls."
My favorite character by far was the bard, who was so over-the-top with his character that he wore a rainbow colored codpiece in one part so as to "distract" the crowd enough for his teammates to perform an important action. I also loved the LGBTQ representation, and the world seemed very woke without making it come across as heavy-handed. It managed to bring fantasy into the modern world, giving the old epic fantasy genre a much-needed update by supporting inclusion, diversity, and adopting our modern way of saying things. The F-bomb gets dropped a lot, while the series progresses as a kind of "greatest hits" on the well-known monsters of Dungeons & Dragons (starting out with a literal dragon that is badass). I'm also sure that it will have its haters from the community, mostly those people who are stuck in the mud, and who believe that things should never change from the way they were represented in the 1980's. They are wrong, of course. But it won't stop them from airing their opinions in any way possible while they watch reruns of M*A*S*H and other shows from that same era.
I suppose at its most basic level, what I appreciate most about The Legend of Vox Machina is that it is a perfect vehicle to showcase how a game like Dungeons & Dragons can make you a better storyteller. Anyone who likes to write fiction should consider getting into a game, creating a character, and then exploring a world. Sure, there are dice rolls to represent the heavy-lifting mechanics of combat, and there are many pages one has to read before one is ready to play. However, the investment is worth it because it forces you to pay close attention to the motivations behind characters. Great characters are never one-dimensional. There is a reason why they do a thing, and when you play a game, you are forced to figure out how A connects to B which then connects to C long before you even do anything. This is how you breathe life into a character and make them believable to an audience.
I also like that there are many more opportunities for people to interact with others in the "business" of Dungeons & Dragons. Here in the Salt Lake valley, I know a guy who paints miniatures for Joe Manganiello, which is honestly kind of cool. They are on a first name basis with each other. I also participate in Kickstarters for new D&D products, and I even sent a monster in last week to a contest to see if it will get printed in the next Tome of Beasts. I'm kind of excited by that, because if my monster gets picked (I won't know the results until mid-March) there's a chance that they may ask me for more details about the world in which the monster came from, and thus, I might get some other ideas published. But all of the above is possible, in part, because Critical Role has garnered such a huge online following.
Anyway, long story short, you should give The Legend of Vox Machina a try. Who knows? You may really like it.