When Christmas Eve and Day come, no matter where we are and who we are with, alone, with bad company or annoyed at having to spend time with relatives we only see once a year, there will be copious amounts of food and then that period where you’re so full your body will almost shut down, depositing you on the nearest sofa or bed and making it impossible for you to move. Your brain will follow suit and leave you in a state where intellectual pursuits are nigh impossible. Board games will be too complicated for you. You will only be capable of watching stuff. Why do you think there are so many boring Christmas movies and shows? Because they know they can peddle them to you when you’re in this state.
But the remote is still in your hands and your fingers and arms may still have some function left to them. If you have a smart TV or a laptop with a wireless mouse and keyboard, you may have the means to change that Christmas TV death sentence and instead shift your Christmas binge target to something else. In my case, I’ll be taking in hours of other people playing Dungeons & Dragons, because I do so enjoy that.
I love playing D&D and I love being the storyteller, as my copious posts on Telia might show, but I’ve always enjoyed witnessing other people’s campaigns. For me it feels like reading a book as it’s being written, with tons of author’s notes along the way for those fun interactions and zaniness that only comes when groups of friends come together to enjoy a roleplaying game around a table.
There are many D&D games for you to watch on the internet and hopefully Telia will be one of them in the near future, but for me there are two noteworthy ones:
Dice, Camera, Action!: We all have our Dungeons Master, the one we admire, the one whose campaigns we watch at every given opportunity and from whom we take inspiration. In other words, we all have a Crush DM and for me that’s Chris Perkins. The man is a brilliant storyteller and has impeccable dramatic and comedic timing. Every year I watch the Acquisitions Incorporated live shows, not so much for the characters but for whatever insane story he’ll tell, which is sure to be entertaining and will also push whatever Wizards of the Coast product is on the horizon. He’s both entertainer and pusher for that wonderfully addictive product we call Dungeons & Dragons.
Dice, Camera, Action! is his D&D game series, where he acts as DM for the Waffle Crew, an adventuring party made of a few YouTube “celebrities” like ProJared and Commander Holly. Their campaign started with them landing in Barovia, the setting for the Curse of Strahd adventure (written in part by Chris Perkins) and has since moved well beyond that though often touching on or fully exploring the latest adventure supplement. The party is pretty fun, with Holly and Anna Prosser Robinson being my favourites. I adore Anna’s paladin Evelyn, with her heavy southern accent and her downright evangelical devotion to her god Lathander, the Morning Lord. Every time she goes on a rant about him, pushing her belief to anyone they meet, the party groans and try to shut her up. It’s a really fun series and it’s one I need to catch up on. This is my current target for Christmas D&D binge watching.
Critical Role: Matt Mercer leads a group of his fellow nerdy ass voice actors as they play D&D. His first campaign ended only a few weeks ago, which he’s stated as being only the second campaign he’s ever finished. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to play Dungeons & Dragons with professional actors, where scenes and conversations between players take on dramatic and comedic new heights, you need to give Critical Role a watch. Matt is an astonishing DM and his ability to come up with minute variations on his voice for every little character makes it so you instantly know who he’s playing, from the gentle Allura, the sorceress, to Victor, the black powder merchant. The party is a pretty awesome cast of famous voice actors, including Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien, who you may know as Illidan Stormrage in World of Warcraft among many other roles. In fact, Liam and Laura, having the same birthday, decided to play half-elven twins, Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan.
But if there’s one thing I love about Critical Role, it’s Sam Riegel, a newcomer to D&D and playing a class I always thought was useless: the Bard. After watching him grow in power and confidence with the character, I saw ways of playing the Bard that are simply amazing. It also helps that in 5e Bards are cool, which they weren’t in the past, a stigma they still carry to this day. As for Sam, he is also responsible for some of the most intense moments in the game, and perhaps the most emotional moment of the show, which I won’t ruin.
Best thing is that this started as a home game for Liam’s birthday, and when Geek & Sundry heard of it they asked them to make a show out of it. They knew a D&D game with voice actors would be interesting to say the least!
Honorary Mention: Mann Shorts: These guys have three seasons of D&D shorts putting the players in different “styles,” such as Gangsta, Redneck and Hipster. The DM is both the straight man of the comedy group but also plays in the mock style, with his players taking on extremes of stereotypes and tropes. It’s incredibly funny, especially the D&D Gangsta Edition. As they’re shorts, you’ll go through these fairly quickly, but you’ll be laughing all the way through!
Featured Image Credit: DnD Xmas by Vaejoun