What is the story behind “The Legend of Vox Machina”? Details

Within the first minute of Critical Role’s new animated series “The Legend of Vox Machina,” a boulder smashes an adventurer to a bloody pulp, a spellcaster is chopped into multiple pieces, eyes fly across the screen and a sword-wielding fighter is electrified into a scorched husk.

“We knew that, especially with that first and that second episode, that we had to do a wonderful job showing the world and our viewers precisely what this show was going to be,” said Marisha Ray, creative director of Critical Role and the voice of the druid Keyleth in the series.

The story is based on Critical Role’s first broadcast Dungeons & Dragons game and follows the exploits of Vox Machina, a debaucherous bunch of mercenaries.

It is the latest adult animated series to appear on Amazon’s \s Prime Video streaming service, sitting among the equally violent “Invincible,” bawdy “Fairfax” and somber “Undone.”

“The Legend of Vox Machina” premiered its first three episodes on Friday and will continue to dole out three new episodes each week for the following three weeks. A proposed second-season release date has yet to be disclosed.

“We’ve had so much critical and audience success with our animated slate,” said Melissa Wolfe, head of animation and family programming at Prime Video, in an email to CNBC.

”‘Vox’ seemed like such a natural match with the animation slate we are creating here … animation offers a new and surprising method to tell tales and this is truly only the beginning for us at Prime Video.”

For Prime Video, “The Legend of Vox Machina” was a safe bet. With relatively cheap up-front expenses, compared to many of Amazon’s other streaming endeavors, the series has a strong built-in fanbase and will bring value to its platform.

Already fans and critics have hailed the program. It now boasts a 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 17 official reviews.

Critical Role’s Dungeons & Dragons game served as inspiration for ‘The Legend of Vox Machina.

Critical Role's Dungeons & Dragons game served as inspiration for 'The Legend of Vox Machina.

Fans of Critical Role are the most likely to watch The Legend of Vox Machina, but as the show gains popularity, new viewers may be drawn to the plot. While the plot and characters may be enjoyed without prior knowledge of Vox Machina, it is always recommended.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Critical Role is a web series in which a wacky group of friends (many of whom are voice actors) gets together every week to play Dungeons & Dragons. On Liam O’Brien’s (Vax) birthday, December 8th, 2012, the group initially gathered to play a one-shot Pathfinder game.

However, they enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to continue the campaign by getting together once a month.

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Rising to fame began when Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer turned their game into an official Dungeons & Dragons campaign and Felicia Day asked if they may broadcast their stream on the Geek & Sundry twitch channel in 2014.

Separating from Geek & Sundry in February 2019, Critical Role has now launched its own Twitch and YouTube channels and produced original programming. Vox Machina was the name of their first campaign, which aired 115 episodes over the course of two years (2015–2017).

That’s a lot of material for Prime Video to draw from for their shows. The Legend of Vox Machina, it would appear, divides its seasons according to the several villain arcs included in the original campaign.

“The issue then rests in taking hundreds of hours of us progressing through this journey and reducing it down to the crucial beats of the overall narrative and the times that are significant to us as the players,” Matthew said to Forbes.

However, there are many benefits beyond a wider audience that come with being able to portray the Vox Machina tale through animation.

Sam Riegel, who portrays Scanlan, commented, “It’s very unusual to get to go back and relive a narrative.”

That flexibility to make little adjustments… We get to rewrite history to make ourselves appear more impressive, the jokes more hilarious, and the times we completely messed up or made poor decisions completely forgotten.

It’s an incredible opportunity to bond with my closest friends while sharing in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Obviously, the folks over at Critical Role and the folks at Legend of Vox Machina are onto something here.

We’re all hoping that the show will continue with the Tryon Darrington and Vecna arcs after Season 2, which is based on the Chroma Conclave storyline. Previously available only on Netflix, The Legend of Vox Machina is now available on Prime Video every Friday.