Once upon a time I was one of the many people trying to catch up with Critical Role. During this fantastical, entertaining slog (and it was a slog at times) fellow fan Noodle suggested to me that I take a different route with my catch up plans: instead of watching each 3+ hour episode, I read the summaries of the episodes instead. “What a perfectly logical solution!” I thought. While my stubbornness eventually saw me through the 20-some episodes I was behind on, I ended up enjoying the site Noodle linked me to, Project Derailed, for its other nerdy content and reviews.
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten really into Dungeons & Dragons, a role-playing and story-telling game that relies on improvisation and dice. A game of D&D is led by a Dungeon Master who provides a fantasy world for the players to interact with, and together, they build a story. I discovered D&D through Critical Role, which is a weekly livestream showing a group of people playing the game. It’s quite unlike any other media content I consume, as it doesn’t have a team of writers and is largely improvised. Moreover, it started as a private home game, so it wasn’t even initially created with an audience in mind (although the players did make the decision to continue their game instead of starting a new one for the broadcast).
However, since it started streaming two years ago, it has become quite a phenomenon, inspiring people to play D&D and to create. I wrote about the show several weeks ago while I was still frantically trying to catch up and as such didn’t really stop to think much about anything. I was very excited, for instance, about the mere fact that the show includes LGBTQ+ representation. Since then, I’ve finished catching up and had time to reflect on and look at this representation a little more critically. While Critical Role does have characters of differing gender identities and sexualities who are portrayed with care and respect, some of the actions of the players show a lack of consideration towards the LGBTQ+ characters and the people they represent.
Some spoilers below.
Let’s face it, 2016 was tough, and 2017 doesn’t look to be much easier. So let’s delve into some of our favorite geeky romantic pairings to help us cope! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty to present to you the super cute and sexy ships of 2017!
… Okay, okay, I’m joking. Just a little bit.
In all seriousness, though, this week I want to share my love for Critical Role, a weekly internet broadcast from Geek & Sundry, which basically shows how a bunch of nerdy voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons. The series features some of the most compelling storytelling and some of the best acting I have ever seen, as well as some excellent queer characters. It’s really difficult to speak about this show—this phenomenon, really—without descending into an incoherent blubbering mess whose feelings boil down to “OMG OMG it’s amazing!”, but I shall try.
A couple vague spoilers below.
I had every intention of looking up a fic that had some of that holiday spirit in it, but then something surprising came and slapped me right in the face. There are few things that grab my attention more than Gothic horror romances, so when I found a fic that was both a Gothic Victorian AU and for a series that I’ve come to truly love and appreciate within the realms of fiction and in a more meta context, whatever plans I may have had for this article promptly died where they stood.
Over this year Critical Role has become a show that’s affected me deeply, and its several-year run has helped induce a tabletop roleplaying boom across the web. The show features seven voice actors and actresses—Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Liam O’Brian, Ashley Johnson, and Travis Willingham—along with fellow voice actor Matthew Mercer taking the role of DM, as they play through their D&D campaign. While some may not see the appeal of watching a bunch of people play D&D on camera, for many (myself included) it’s a new, vibrant way of experiencing a story that has just as much impact as a comic or a television show, with the added fun of OOC japes and fan content thrown in. While it’s on its 78th episode, with each episode being roughly three or four hours long, I still highly recommend experiencing the story for yourself. But, without further ado, let’s dive into today’s AU fanfic of Critical Role.
With my intense love of video game RPGs, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I, too, also have an interest in tabletop RPGs. Unfortunately, the one time I actually found a game, the group fell apart one session in and no one had taken the time to explain anything about the Dungeons and Dragons system to me. It was… certainly an experience. However, taking all the chutzpah I could possibly have for the remainder of 2016, I decided that I would run my own session of tabletop fantasy role playing funtimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m driven by the thoughts of my players forging relationships, traversing perilous obstacles, and just feeling really cool in the settings I’ve thought up. But really, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing the ridiculous shit they come up with in the process of all of that, which is what today’s web crushes are about.
I believe wholeheartedly in the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction”, and I have no doubt that my players will be able to come up with really… really strange things that I wouldn’t have even thought to think of. That’s part of the fun of tabletop RPGs. This truth is only proven by Tumblrs like Your D&D Stories and Your Player Said What.