Posts Tagged ‘Matt Mercer’

Is it Thursday Yet? : Critical Role

April 10, 2018

You might be confused. When I post something titled “Is it Thursday, Yet?” on a Tuesday, you might check your smartphone and answer “No” and you might follow up with “What happens on Thursday?”. Well, I will tell you which was the whole point of this post so I was going to explain anyway. On Thursday nights a program known as Critical Role airs online. It airs on something called Twitch which is a video streaming platform built for live shows. It is produced by a company called Geek and Sundry which was founded by the wonderful Felicia Day. Critical Role is a Dungeons and Dragons show where sessions of a campaign are played live on camera.

The stars of the show are a bunch of professional voice actors who discovered a love of the game. The history of the show is that Liam O’Brien had discussed Dungeons and Dragons with his colleague Matt Mercer with Matt trying to get Liam to play. Eventually, Liam and Sam Riegel decided to take Matt up on the offer for Liam’s birthday. They gathered a group of friends and work acquaintances and did a one-shot adventure. They were all quickly hooked. The group slowly grew to a whopping nine people playing their game in Matt Mercer’s house. After over a year of playing together, they were offered a deal by Geek and Sundry to make their home campaign into a show.

That is the strength of the show, at least for me. The show began as something all of them did for fun and as an excuse to spend time with friends and work colleagues. The whole cast chose to do the show because it was an excuse to get together weekly instead of monthly and they could call it work. The show started small on Twitch and nobody involved knew if the show would attract much interest. The show may have started small but the word started to get out quickly and it was soon gathering subscribers and fans like crazy. The show made a point to interact with fans without letting them guide the show or the characters. This created a strong, mostly positive community that were united in their love for the show and the people involved.

The Cast is as follows:

Matt Mercer – Matt is the Dungeon Master and is therefore in charge of the world that surrounds the player characters. He writes the world of the game in response to the decisions that the character’s decisions. He also voices the hundreds of non-player characters that the players meet and each one is beautifully voiced by Matt in countless different voices that he invents for each character. He is a tough but fair DM and he seems to love bringing his friends through new adventures every week.

Liam O’Brien – In the first campaign, Liam plays Vax’ildan, a half-elf rogue who is reckless and broody but he also enjoys playing pranks on his friends. Vax is the twin of Vex much to the constant confusion of everyone. In the second campaign, Liam plays Caleb, a human Wizard who is fearful and grubby. At some point, Liam loved the game so much that he started to DM for his kids.

Laura Bailey – In the first campaign, Laura plays Vex’ahlia, a half-elf ranger who seeks to hide her lowborn, poor upbringing by acting like royalty. Vex is the twin of Vax, which (again) is confusing. In the second campaign, Laura plays a tiefling cleric (and thief) named Jester who says whatever she is thinking and is constantly stirring the pot. Laura is superstitious about her dice and is constantly switching them out when they start to roll poorly.

Sam Riegel – In the first campaign, Sam plays Scanlan, a gnome bard who handles every situation with bravado, style, and poop jokes. Whenever Scanlan sang in-game, Sam would sing parody versions of popular songs with lyrics to match in-game events. In the second campaign, Sam plays Nott, a female goblin rogue who wears a porcelain doll’s face as a mask. Sam is constantly trolling the fans on camera and adds a ton of easter eggs to the experience.

Travis Willingham – In the first campaign, Travis plays Grog, a goliath barbarian who is bloodthirsty and dumb but he has a good heart deep down. Travis played his character’s stupidity to the hilt. In the second campaign, he plays a half-orc warlock named Fjord who wields sword magic and his razor wit. Travis is hilarious and is constantly hitting up subtle and blatant puns.

Marisha Ray – In the first campaign, Marisha plays Keyleth, a half-elf druid who is basically a clumsy homeschooled girl with a good heart. Keyleth ended up being the conscience of the group. In the second campaign, she plays Beau, a human monk who has a very laid back personality but she stands up for what’s right. Marisha is probably the most excitable cast member.

Taliesin Jaffe – In the first campaign, Taliesin plays Percy, a human gunslinger who invented the world’s first gun and struggles with his morality. Taliesin was very creative and he was constantly trying to introduce new elements into the game. In the second campaign, he plays Mollymauk, a tiefling bloodhunter who used to work for a traveling circus. In both campaigns, Taliesin plays custom-made character classes that were created by Matt.

Ashley Johnson – In the first campaign, Ashley plays Pike, a gnome cleric who was basically team mom. In the second campaign, Ashley plays Yasha, an aasimar barbarian who is tough but fair as she used to be a bouncer for the circus. During the first campaign, Ashley was cast in the TV show Blindspot. Since it films in New York, she often has to miss out on being on the show if she cannot Skype in.

Orion Acaba – In the first campaign, Orion plays Tiberius, a dragonborn sorcerer whose lack of social graces are balanced out by his immense magical power and creativity. Orion was constantly pushing the boundaries of the rules in a bid to be as effective as possible. He left the show about thirty episodes in.

The show has never gotten old to me as Matt and the cast are constantly balancing the progression of the main plot and also each character’s personal goals. The voice actors who play these characters imbue their characters with such personality that it feels like they are real at times. As the first campaign progressed, I got to watch people who were work friends become real friends. The adventures they go on are thrilling, funny, and sad. When my mom asked what it is like to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, I showed her an episode of Critical Role and said: “just take away the cameras”. I recommend the show but I acknowledge that each episode is long. The episodes average about four hours each and the first campaign was over 447 hours from 115 episodes. The new campaign is only over a dozen episodes and is an easier entry point.

Media Update 3/15/18

March 15, 2018


Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

I love fairy tales, folktales, and mythology and I really should buckle down and read more of the 1001 Nights. I am not extremely familiar with Arabian/Muslim lore beyond Ali Baba, Aladdin, and djinn. Lucky for me, those three are what this anime is about. Basically, Ali Baba is a fruit peddler/shipping working who dreams of making his way into and through a legendary magic dungeon to get at the riches and magic items inside. Aladdin is a naive little boy who has made friends with a djinn who resides in a magic flute. Together, they set out to accomplish their dreams. I love media where different stories are reimagined and mashed together (see Once Upon a Time). This series is pretty zany and a little bit adult kind of like Kill la Kill. Similarly, all of the adult humor is in good fun and there is nothing malicious or too racy or the average viewer. I am excited to see where this leads as I like stories that have strong archetypes who are fleshed out into real characters (like American McGee’s Alice or various Oz adaptations). The animation is beautiful but also unexpected at times, kind of like FLCL. I have watched very little so far and I imagine that soon it will really pick up. I definitely recommend it. Besides, watching the trailer just now, I have to at least get to the part with Matt Mercer in it.


Sword Art Online

I had heard that many people did not like this anime but I did not want to research why because of possible spoilers. I decided to check it out for myself and I at least found a reason for myself. Without major spoilers, I did not like how there were huge time jumps going to episodes 2 and 3. I felt like I missed a lot of interesting adventures. However, from what I have seen so far, it is a fairly good anime. The premise is that a whole bunch of people sign up for a virtual reality MMORPG and the programmer traps them in it. If they die in the game, they die in real life and they cannot log out or be removed from the VR apparatus. The whole game operates in a fantasy setting that focuses on (wait for it) swords and the art of using them. The animation is very pretty and the character design is interesting. As expected, the anime is not light-hearted in the least as it deals with mostly young people dreading the next battle which might cause their death. I hope the series slows down a bit so I can really get into it. I guess I recommend it although it is a bit dark and there are plenty of other good anime series out there.


The Irregular at Magic High School

When I hear ‘magic school’, my interest is immediately piqued. I wish I could have gone to magic school and, somewhat related, I wish that magic was real. I guess I was expecting somewhat of a more grown-up version of Little Witch Academia (which was whimsical and dramatic) but instead I got something else. Something else that was not exactly bad once I started to settle in. In the world of the anime, magic is known to be real the world over and it is readily combined with technology to improve its use. This and other details make magic a very specialized thing where people almost have magical majors that they focus on. Families are known for certain techniques and magic is intimately connected with intellectual aptitude and studying. I definitely immediately got a Naruto vibe because of this but it is way slower and more drama-based. Still, I am very interested to find more about the seemingly complicated system of magic. I do have to drop a spoiler here because something really bothered me. The show centers on a brother and sister and the sister totally has the hots for her brother. I thought it was my imagination at first but yeah, it is made clear in the second episode. Based on Internet comments, it is one-sided and neither makes a move but it is fairly disturbing to me. Just a friendly warning. Because of that, I would not recommend it but also because it just did not grab me. There are plenty of high school dramas in English that I could watch.

Music of the Week:
Red Velvet – Stupid Cupid

The Regrettes – Come Through

Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

Foo Fighters w/Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up

Attila – Bulletproof

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Anime Magic and Fantasy”
– I started watching Jessica Jones Season 2
– I continued watching iZombie Season 4
– I continued watching the Joel McHale Show
– I continued watching Fate/Apocrypha
– I continued watching Freaks and Geeks
– I watched a ton of Barry Kramer on YouTube
– As usual, I watched Game Grumps, GT Live, and Critical Role on YouTube
– I am so proud of those who participated in the National Student Walkout Day

Media Update 9/21/17

September 21, 2017


King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I like Guy Ritchie movies. He makes interesting films and has already proven that he can adapt things from a slightly different angle (see Sherlock Holmes). In this, he takes King Arthur and has him banished to the poor district as a baby. He lives in a whorehouse and scraps and fights to survive. This a little different from the usual boy king story we get in movies like The Sword in the Stone. It also has some pretty cool battle scenes including bare-knuckle fighting which Guy Ritchie is kind of known for at this point. Charlie Hunnam plays Arthur in his path to the throne and gives him a bit of a harder edge. We get a more diverse group of knights with Djimon Hounsou standing out above all the others. Instead of Merlin, we get a female magic user who is a little more enigmatic. We also got Jude Law as the usurper of the throne and he was sufficiently slimy. Parts of the movie did move a little slow for me but when the movie got going it almost never stopped being interesting and exciting. This is why I like watching a lot of adaptations of stories I love because I will see a little something different each time. I definitely recommend this as it was visually appealing and an interesting angle on an old story.


Warcraft

Back in the day I owned and beat Warcraft and Warcraft II and then I subscribed to and played World of Warcraft for nearly a year. The first two games were endless fun as real-time strategy games where you unleash an army on your enemies. WoW is a game I still feel conflicted about but not because of the game itself. The Warcraft franchise allows you to play as either of two armies (or part of either of two armies in WoW’s case). You can play as the Horde which is a coalition of invaders from another realm and assorted races that feel disenfranchised. You can also play as the Alliance which is a collection of races native to the realm being invaded. The movie similarly covers both sides neither of which are all good or all bad. Instead, both sides have an enemy in the dark forces of Necromancy. They went to great pains to fill both sides with sympathetic characters as they knew that there are still players loyal to either side. A lot of the work of world building and art direction had already been done throughout the games so all they had to do was present that faithfully. They did that well. Even more, they gave the orcs more expressive faces which allowed the viewer to sympathize with them more. It starts slowly as they struggle to wade through the exposition but it gets way better as it goes and gets into the meat of its story. I definitely recommend it although non-fantasy, non-Warcraft fans might not be interested.


Mythica: The Dark Spore

I am a huge fan of the Critical Role stream on Geek and Sundry, yet another Dungeons and Dragons show that I listen to religiously. Through it, I have become a big fan of voice actor Matt Mercer and when I found out he was in a live-action movie then I had to check it out. Mercer is great at embodying characters. As the Dungeon Master of Critical Role, he plays over a hundred unique characters throughout. In this, he plays an evil necromancer and he’s really good it. The movie kind of feels like a Dungeons and Dragons campaign distilled into movie form. The heroes have been through a lot together and each has their specific role that they’re good at. They try plans that go wrong until somebody gets a good idea. It was also interesting to see a necromancer as a good guy (not Mercer, a female necromancer). I have seen it in stuff like Anita Blake but not in high fantasy. The beginning is a little muddled as they deal with events from the first movie (which I did not see). The budget is low and besides Mercer, the only actor I recognize is Kevin Sorbo who plays an advisory role like Gandalf. I think the series has a lot of potential and I may check out the other ones. I recommend giving it a shot but I would understand if it is not your thing.

 

Music of the Week:
Nothing More – Go To War

Sifu Hotman – Embrace the Sun

30 Seconds to Mars – Walk On Water

Camila Cabello – Havana

Charlie Puth – Attention

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “High Stakes High Fantasy”
– I finished White Collar
– I watched more Bojack Horseman Season 4
– I watched more Rick and Morty Season 3
– I watched more House of Cards Season 2
– I watched more Little Witch Academia Season 1
– I watched more Glitter Force Season 2


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