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Critical Role heads to Amazon: Here's the rundown on The Legend of Vox Machina
Amazon Prime Video is investing hard in fantasy programming. The streamer is launching new adaptations of beloved classics The Wheel of Time and The Lord of The Rings, set to rival Game of Thrones and its spinoffs. But the company also has plans on the animated side, and The Legend of Vox Machina, from the minds behind Critical Role, is one big-ticket title to look forward to.
So, what is The Legend of Vox Machina about? Who’s involved? When and where can you watch it? And what even is Critical Role?
Read on for everything you need to know about The Legend of Vox Machina, heading to Amazon Prime Video early next year. And if you don’t already have Prime, you can sign up by hitting the button below.
What is The Legend of Vox Machina all about?
The Legend of Vox Machina is based on the popular web series Critical Role. It is an animated fantasy series for adults set in a mythical world.
The series follows Vox Machina, “a band of misfits with a fondness for boozing and brawling,” says a release from Amazon Prime Video.
The series description goes on: “In a desperate attempt to pay off their mounting bar tab, these unlikely heroes end up on a quest to save the realm of Exandria from dark magical forces. From a sinister necromancer to a powerful curse, the group confronts a variety of obstacles that not only test their skills, but also the strength of their bond.”
Little is known about the first season other than that it is based on the first Critical Role campaign from 2015.
What is Critical Role?
The Legend of Vox Machina is a direct offshoot of the web series Critical Role, with all of the main players involved. Critical Role follows a group of voice actors through tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (and sometimes Pathfinder) campaigns.
Matthew Mercer serves as gamemaster, leading actors Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, Orion Acaba, and Sam Riegel through various extended campaigns and one-shots.
Critical Role streamed via multimedia fandom channel Geek & Sundry from 2015 to 2019. It has since been handled entirely in-house at Critical Role Productions, streaming on their creator-owned Twitch and YouTube channels.
Critical Role Productions is now a massive media company. It’s entirely creator-owned and among the highest-earning Twitch channels. According to leaked data, the company was paid almost $10 million by the interactive livestreaming service alone over two years between 2019 and 2021.
The team has previously put out comic books and campaign guides, but this series is arguably their biggest expansion into a new format.
The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated dramatization of Critical Role. Specifically, it is based on the cast’s first campaign launched in March 2015. And it features their voices in their respective roles. (That’s one of many advantages of having a bunch of voice actors on hand.)
How was The Legend of Vox Machina financed?
In 2019, Critical Role Productions launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an animated special.
The campaign met its goal of $750,000 in under an hour. Within five days, it beat Kickstarter’s previous record for funding a film or TV show, hitting $6.54 million on the crowdfunding platform.
At that point, the funds got a tentative six-episode commitment from the team. But the money kept rolling in. The project had reached over $11 million when the 45-day campaign closed in April 2019.
With that huge cache of money, the company set out to produce one 10-episode season. When Amazon came on as the streaming home of The Legend of Vox Machina, they ordered an additional 14 episodes, rounding out a second season.
The Amazon agreement also includes a first-look deal with Amazon Studios to develop new series exclusively for Prime Video.
When and where can you watch it?
The Legend of Vox Machina will debut exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
The premiere is set for February 4, 2022. No word yet on how episodes will roll out, whether all at once, in batches, or on a weekly basis.
It will be available to stream in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
Read more: The best original series on Amazon Prime
Amazon has ordered a second season of The Legend of Vox Machina. The company commissioned a second season and two additional episodes as part of season one when buying the streaming rights. Seasons one and two will each be comprised of 12 episodes.
Amazon has not shared details about the second season.
The Legend of Vox Machina stars Critical Role founders and cast members, all established voice actors. They are Laura Bailey (The Last of Us: Part II), Taliesin Jaffe (Final Fantasy XIV), Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us), Liam O’Brien (Star Wars: The Bad Batch), Matthew Mercer (Overwatch), Marisha Ray (Final Fantasy XV), Sam Riegel (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Travis Willingham (Marvel’s Avengers).
In keeping with the original campaign, the roles are as follows:
- Laura Bailey as Vex’ahlia “Vex” Vessar
- Taliesin Jaffe as Percival “Percy” de Rolo
- Ashley Johnson as Pike Trickfoot
- Matthew Mercer as Sylas Briarwood
- Liam O’Brien as Vax’ildan “Vax” Vessar
- Marisha Ray as Keyleth of the Air Ashari
- Sam Riegel as Scanlan Shorthalt
- Travis Willingham as Grog Strongjaw
The cast serves as executive producers alongside Brandon Auman and Chris Prynoski.
Auman, Ashly Burch, Jennifer Muro, Marc Bernardin, Chris “Doc” Wyatt, Kevin Burke, Daniel Thomsen, and Mae Catt make up the writing team. Eugene Son serves as story editor, with Meredith Kecskemety as writer’s assistant.
The series is produced by Amazon Studios, Critical Role Productions, and Titmouse, the studio behind Star Trek: Lower Decks, for Amazon Prime Video.
Titmouse handled the animation, with character designs by Phil Bourassa.
What to expect from The Legend of Vox Machina
The Legend of Vox Machina likely won’t contain huge surprises for existing fans of Critical Role. For newcomers, there isn’t a ton of extra information available. Below, you’ll find a few bits of info, along with some open questions we have going in:
- While Critical Role has a huge, dedicated fanbase, it still has a relatively niche appeal. An animated fantasy series on a major, global streamer has more obvious mainstream potential. It could mean a bump in the original channel’s viewership, and in fantasy role-playing culture more broadly.
- Amazon is billing this show as “adult animation,” and early footage already reveals some amount of gore, violent imagery, and swearing. The Critical Role team won’t be toning down language or mature themes in the show. So, expect cussing, sex, and violence.
- The series could easily have its own offshoots. The creators and owners of Critical Role have talked about a feature-length film, and they’re in the early stages of developing a video game based on the property. There are endless possibilities for spinoffs and stand-alone series, movies, games, comics, and merchandise based on Critical Role and The Legend of Vox Machina.
- With 22-minute episodes, a lot of the original campaign had to be cut or reshaped to fit the new format. Fans of the original show will likely spot many differences, but new viewers won’t have trouble jumping in for the first time.
That’s everything we know about The Legend of Vox Machina, along with our questions ahead of the premiere on Amazon Prime Video.
Will you be checking it out?