Is Critical Role scripted? While this question seems absurd to many, there are others that hold a genuine belief that the acclaimed D&D live play is not as unscripted as it seems. Some base this off of conspiracy theories, unlikely dice rolls, and even the fact that the players usually have paper (scripts?) in front of them. However, outside of the times where the cast covers for a player who will be away during an episode, there is little actual evidence that Critical Role is scripted.
Genuine Live Play or Scripted Game?
Because the cast is made up of individuals who act for a living, many viewers have started to question whether the events of the campaigns are scripted, with predetermined outcomes and consequences. If it were the case that Critical Role is not a genuine live play, many fans would be incredibly disappointed and some of the magic that keeps us watching would be lost.
This is not the case, however and it would be incredibly difficult to do this across the hundreds of hours that the cast has spent live streaming Dungeons & Dragons. Dedicated viewers will know that the game always runs relatively smoothly due to the professional nature of its players but it is not without its humorous hiccups, stumbling awkwardness and spontaneous story changes. Such is the nature of the game and when individual players are going to be absent, arrangements are made to work out the backstory details, fill in any obvious gaps and bring in guests where it makes sense to do so.
Perhaps if you are a player yourself you have experienced this and if running a large campaign with many players, there will be times when it doesn’t make sense to postpone a session if someone can’t make it. After all, people have complicated lives that they can’t always balance around the table. The obvious complication that Critical Role has is that the game is broadcast live on a strict schedule and with millions of players waiting on every episode, the show must go on.
Despite this being obvious to most fans, there are still a small group that have created elaborate conspiracy videos, articles and forum posts to supposedly expose Critical Role for not being a genuine live play. It is inevitable for a media production as big as Critical Role to be scrutinized and fans have voiced their concerns for other controversies, such as the Wendy’s Feast of Legends sponsorship in 2019 that eventually led to an episode being removed after the backlash.
Dungeons & Dragons popularity
Dungeons and Dragons has been a popular pastime for decades, with the fantasy role-playing game seeing a meteoric rise in recent years. Going from a niche, nerdy audience to a broader range of dedicated players, there is no better time to break out the dice and start working on your character sheets.
This rise in popularity can be attributed to a number of factors such as the widely watched Netflix show ‘Stranger Things’ or the fantasy genre breaking through to households around the world through the likes of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and even a blockbuster Hollywood movie based on D&D.
These big budget productions are not the only thing driving the uptick in players however, since many dungeon masters have been creating YouTube playthroughs of their campaigns or even streaming them live to thousands of viewers around the globe. One such example of this is the Critical Role series, which has racked up over 1.2 million followers on Twitch and over 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
The cast is made up of professional voice actors such as Mathew Mercer, Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham and more, as well as the odd guest appearance here and there. Set in the fictional world of Exandria, the series has developed a deep lore that has now spanned over three campaigns, with no end in sight.
Ultimately, the concern among a small group of fans that Critical Role is scripted rather than a genuine live play is a good thing to maintain the high standards that the talented cast have brought to their campaigns, despite being unwarranted. Scripting something this sprawling and detailed all while streaming live for hundreds of hours would be a gargantuan task unachievable even by professional voice actors. The accusations only speak to the professionalism of the creators and their ability to adapt the game when cast members are away and to bring in entertaining guests that fit into the story seamlessly.
With millions of viewers, two completed campaigns and the ongoing Critical Role Campaign 3, the group is set to grow even further across their many platforms.
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