The Critical Role crew returns to hilarious, dangerous and raunchy fantasy action with the season 2 debut of “The Legend of Vox Machine” on Prime Video Friday, Jan. 20.
As with the first season, Prime Video will release Season 2 of the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired show in three-episode weekly batches, culminating in a total of 12 episodes. In the new series, the Vox Machine heroes/antiheroes face off against a powerful four-person dragon called the Chroma Conclave, which spews ice and acid, has nearly impenetrable armor, and threatens to destroy the world of Exandria.
For Season 1 of “Vox Machina,” the eight main critical cast members (who each also serve as executive producers) had to provide a healthy dose of exposition. This was in large part to bring viewers unfamiliar with the motley band of adventurers — based on Critical Roll’s original D&D campaign, which launched in 2015 — up to speed.
The second season of “Vox Machina” allowed the team to “get more into the nuances of the characters … now we can get into their interpersonal relationships, their backstories,” said Ashley Johnson (who voices gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot).
“This season almost feels close to the game in some ways,” Johnson added. “I think it’s meaner and it’s darker – and it’s bigger and badder. I feel like everything is turned up to 11.”
Without revealing any spoilers, “The Legend of Vox Machine” Season 2 featured some serious conflicts between the squad. “We see this new family tested in the face of overwhelming odds… and what they do to hold each other,” says Liam O’Brien (who plays the half-elf thief Vax’ildan).
The humor is again exceptionally bawdy: there are a few butt jokes, for example. While fighting the Chroma Conclave, at one point the gnome bird Scanlan Shortthalt (Sam Rigel) and Vax’ildan must enter one of the dragons… through its anus. “And through its intestinal tract,” Riegel added. “People want what they want, and we’re not going to stand in the way of that.” According to O’Brien, the scene contains a few jump cuts, “but you get the meat of what you’re looking for.”
Matt Mercer, who works as CR’s Dungeon Master, puts it this way: “I’m very proud of the fact that we, sword-and-sorcery, like high-fantasy storytelling, grace world-ending cataclysms and true drama. can understand Friendships lost and the consequences of one’s terrible actions — and the next scene has dragon-butt stuff.”
Amazon renewed “The Legend of Vox Machine” for a third season last fall, for which the Critical Role team said production is well underway, with animatics and scripts complete. The group opens the story for season 3, but Travis Willingham (who voices the Vox Machine goliath Grog Strongzow) has said that the upcoming season will conclude the Chroma Conclave’s story and individual character story arcs, among other things. “Seasons 2 and 3 are setting up some elements of this endgame and begin to reveal what the consequences of certain character choices will be within the story,” he said.
Riegel said there’s “a lot more storytelling to be done” for the Vox Machine crew: “We could go for five seasons — or more.”
Willingham, who also serves as Critical Role’s CEO, said the addition of dragons in Season 2 presented a greater technical burden on their animation studio partner, Titmouse, than in S1. In some scenes, the presence of the dragon required fewer characters in any given frame to reduce the processing crisis on the animators. Titmouse assembled a “souped-up GG team” that “really honed the ability to make these dragons look like they’re not just hulking beasts,” Willingham said. “They’re intelligent, they’ve got personality… they deliver really, really good dialogue.”
Although Season 2 is based on hundreds of hours of D&D roleplaying in the Vox Machine campaign, it deviates from the original material in some cases. “With the critters [fan] The community, it’s been fun to throw them a curveball — so they’re like, ‘Man, here it comes,’ but it’s not quite what they’re expecting,” O’Brien said.
Season 2 features more music. In addition to Rigel’s Scanlan Shorthalt, other Vox Machine members receive vocals, including Grog (Willingham) and Vex’Alia (Laura Bailey). In addition, a long list of guest stars lent their voices to the show, including Henry Winkler, Lance Reddick, Chech Marin, Will Friedl, Billy Boyd, Cree Summer, Alana Ubach, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Troy Baker, Sendil Ramamurthy and Ralph Inson. .
The Critical Role team hoped that “The Legend of Vox Machine” would grow the Critter fanbase on Prime Video. Willingham said it must have happened. Critical Introduction Interest in the original Vox Machine campaign has grown, as people have gone back and watched archived livestream shows. “The number of these episodes is starting to increase,” Willingham said. New fans of CR then find their way to Campaign 2 (featuring the Mighty Nine Bands) and the current Campaign 3 (Bell’s Hell).
“That’s what we want: a lower barrier to entry,” Willingham said.
Meanwhile, the critical role currently reaches a climactic pitch at the heart of Campaign 3. Marisha Ray (Keyleth in “Vox Machina”) says the team sees Bell’s Hells continuing for at least another year and “maybe more, we’ll see. Depends on what’s going on in Matt Mercer’s brain. She added: “One day, maybe. , we won’t feel like we’re building a railroad with a moving train.”
The founders of Critical Role are LA voice actors and friends who started hanging out and playing D&D together in 2012. “It’s been a 10-year erosion of trust,” O’Brien said. They started live streaming their first campaign in 2015. In 2019, Critical Role launched a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign to produce an animated show based on the Vox Machine gang, before Amazon Studios landed a two-season order for the series.
Critical Role also produces podcasts, merchandise and collectibles, books, graphic novels, tabletop and role-playing games, and the company has launched a non-profit philanthropic foundation.
Pictured above (l. to r.): “The Legend of Vox Machina” characters Percy De Rollo (Taliesin Jaffe), Keyleth (Marisha Ray), Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel), Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson), Grog Strongjaw (Travis ) Willingham), Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien), Vax’Alia (Laura Bailey)