Alas, this feeling may appear when a veteran listens to some of the voices. I can only guess as to the reasons why this may be, but Grog sounds a smidge different. It is in no way off-putting, but a veteran may have a knee-jerk reaction to Grog being, from a layman’s point of view, a bit less gravelly. Just to recognize the possibility, it is potentially due to the sonic characteristics of the microphones used during recording being different from those on the set of Critical Role, but I think it is more likely a choice made to differentiate Grog’s iconic “I would like to rage!” battle cry and the associated rage state, from his calmer, gentler persona outside of the rage. It is different and potentially jarring at first, but the choice is motivated and only serves to elevate Grog’s on-screen presence. Past that, the voice acting is spot on, with only a tiny bit of performative clarity added on to what is usually a more casually performed improvisation.
On to the story, though I wish not to spoil specifics, the adaptation is faced with the challenge of reducing a 115 episode web series into something much, much shorter. You know, going in, some things will have to be truncated, and some things will have to be simplified. What matters most is keeping the nature of the show true and not changing the outcome of rolls.
Matthew Mercer has made a consistent theme of the nature of fate and choice throughout all of the campaigns. To me, if the outcome of events changes because an executive thinks it tells a better story and checks off boxes on their beat sheet, I would be remiss not to criticize it. Luckily I sheathe my blades at this moment as it seems the creators of the show feel the same.
Although small details of circumstance have been altered to simplify the show for the beginner, larger moments of consequence play out in immense detail. As I said previously, Percy tends to deal in remorseless aggression, and while the show’s animation takes inspiration from Avatar: The Last Airbender, the show’s tone does not.
In the source material, there is room for both humor and darkness. Throughout a three-hour episode, the pendulum will swing from a legendary performance by Scanlan to a violent dismemberment by Percy, back to Grog wishing people bidet, to a moment of extreme emotional vulnerability from Keyleth. The show does not shy from this.
The pace of the show is delightfully quick, with bouncy dialogue, and switches between these aforementioned tones at a remarkable rate. It’s different from what you see in most things on the popular market, and it’s so refreshing because of this.
It’s new, it’s exciting, and I think that is the truth behind The Legend of Vox Machina.
This is the first-ever adaptation of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign to a visual medium. Not only does the show depart deliberately from the norm by carving this path through independent storytelling, but Matthew Mercer and the cast of Critical Role have also set a precedent for other storytellers to find their voices.
And that’s the goal, right? Over the summer, we saw Exandria Unlimited, a show in the same world of Exandria created by Critical Role, with a new Game Master, Aabria Iyengar. With a new story came new friends: Robbie Daymond, Aimee Carrero and Anjali Bhimani. And with new friends, came new life, new representation, and a promise for more guests and more diversity.
It doesn’t stop there. With sourcebooks outlining the world of Exandria, anyone and their friends can find their voices through storytelling in this wondrous world.
This is the goal of Critical Role and The Legend of Vox Machina: to help people find their voice.
I've found my voice over the years of watching people make choices and live the consequences, mediate tense relationships, fall in love, make enemies, and represent the often underrepresented.
This is the first adaptation of a modern oral story, but it isn’t the last.
As always, remember to love each other.
Is it Thursday yet?