The epic second D&D campaign from Critical Role is ending this week. Has it been worth the investment?
Critical Role has trailblazed an all new way for long-form storytelling to be enjoyed through their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game. While they have branched off as their own independent media company to launch board games, products, comics, and books, at their heart is still the driving investment in their D&D stories.
The first campaign that followed the heroes known as Vox Machina earned tremendous success and brought Critical Role to where it is now. The second campaign follows the group known a the Mighty Nein and began on January 11th, 2018. And now, at character level 15, the second campaign comes to close on June 3rd, 2021.
It has definitely been an interesting time to host a D&D campaign. For awhile in 2020 production ceased entirely for COVID-19 guidelines. And when it picked back up it was in an pre-recorded and socially-distant setting, as opposed to their usual live, “group around a table” vibe.
With the solid announcement that the campaign is closing and the final, long epilogue is airing soon, it has left many fans divided. Some have said this is a perfect ending and they enjoyed this campaign even more than the first. Others have expressed disappointment at seemingly open-ended plotlines or the overall direction the final villain went. With a promised many-hour final episode, it leaves many wondering if all the threads will tie up in a nice fashion. Or if there will be some questions never answered, and some wrongs never righted.
The Mighty Nein has had their share of wild adventures over the course of the campaign. It has been 530+ hours of cult destroying, dungeon delving, and conspiracy uprooting across the world of Exandria. Their cast of characters includes complicated fire-bending wizard Caleb, upbeat prankster cleric Jester, the conflicted and silver-tongued paladin/warlock Fjord, badass maternal rogue Veth, the stoic barbarian Yasha, the hit-first-ask-second monk Beauregard, and the calm and insightful cleric Caduceus.
The story has seen the group traveling the world during a dangerous wartime to achieve their own ends. They grew from a ragtag group that only worked for money, to heroes willing to die for their cause.
No matter what your stance is on the way the story is ending, soon any final questions will be answered, or unanswered, in the final episode! It airs this Thursday, June 3 2021 at 7PM PST simultaneously on Twitch (twitch.tv/criticalrole) and YouTube (youtube.com/criticalrole), with the replayable VOD of the show available on Critical Role’s YouTube channel the following Monday.
There are a few fundamental Bardic Inspiration thoughts I use when figuring out how to pick music for a battle. The first is what or who is the villain or force. The second is focused on where the encounter takes place. These two methods will make choosing the best tracks all the more easier.
When it comes to fighting in a tavern or tussling with guards or ruffians in the street, I have one go to song. Assassin’s Creed III‘s Fight Club by Lorne Balfe is upbeat and full of energy. It’s fluid and fun and is for more of a bar brawl or wrestling match.
Whereas Steel for Humans from the Witcher 3: Wild Huntis a bit more lively and mysterious. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking it’s a song designed for specifically fighting humans, the song blends well with battles against monsters too. Marcin Przybyłowicz and Percival’s use of hymnic chanting combined with strings and drums evokes fast-paced action combat.
Dragon Ageis one of our favorite game series and it’s full of captivating music composed by Trevor Morris, especially Inquisition. Without spoiling the ending to the Trespasser DLC, the Trespasser – Qunari Battle theme is perhaps one of my all time favorite battles songs. It’s full of deep pounding drums and low bassy strings making it feel all the more powerful when facing a massive horde or singular powerful enemy – such as the Qunari.
If you’re looking for a lengthier song to leave on for eight minutes, The Blasted Heath by Stuart Chatwood is a great choice. It is from DLC The Color of Madness for Darkest Dungeon and is absolutely epic. It stands out as a solid pick for larger battles with several enemies or one where the villain can monologue for a few minutes before rolling initiative.
Descent into the Depths by Midnight Syndicate is one that can be used to setup a battle and be used during it as well. It’s ominous slow tones make it perfect for pairing with villains the characters know or ones dungeon masters use a few times before building an encounter focused specifically on them. Perhaps they are in the background while their minions fight the party and then flee during to pursue the characters another day.
Setting up battle music really sets the tone for any fight. Having upbeat and rhythmic tracks allows for a deeper and more thought provoking sequence of events. It makes any encounter feel more epic, like a fantasy movie. Next time for Bardic Inspiration we’re sticking with the battle theme but are focusing on boss fights or the BBEG.
Neverwinter is one of Dungeons & Dragons multiplayer online role-playing game. Along with Dungeons & Dragons Online, it’s a great way to explore Faerun with friends if you can’t get together around a physical or digital table. The game launched in 2013 for PC and later in 2016 on consoles. We’ve devoted several hundred hours to the game and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon and neither does Perfect World or Cryptic Studios.
The latest release of Sharandar shows the game isn’t slowing down when it comes to content. The new module revitalizes an older area of Neverwinter adding enemies and an entirely new questline. That goes us thinking on what additional future content should developers adapt next. D&D has been around for decades and Neverwinter has always been good at creating modules of campaign guides and 5E books in the past. But there is so much more to see.
We’ve put together five future campaign settings we’d like to see next in Neverwinter.
Future Neverwinter Expansions
1. Critical Role: Wildemount
Critical Role has done so much for Dungeons & Dragons in the past five or six years. The lovable cast of nerdy ass voice actors are among the many reasons the tabletop game is growing in popularity. Since streaming their first game on Twitch in 2015, Critical Role has gone on to publish official content for Wizards of the Coast.
The recent release of Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount would be a great addition to Neverwinter. It focuses on the war between the Dwendalian Empire – a society of arcane scholars and nobles – and the Kryn Dynasty – drow who now live on the surface. The book changed how drow are depicted in D&D and shows them in a new light after leaving the cult of Lolth.
The module could introduce a new school of magic as well. Matt Mercer created a ninth school of magic called Dunamancy that deals in manipulating time. Or as the book states,
“primal magical energy of potentiality and actuality, an anticipatory arcane force that helps shape the multiverse and might very well be what holds its elements together, like an infinite web of unseen tethers.”
The overarching campaign could revolve around locating arcane artifacts such as Luxon Beacons and more. The beacons are religious devices of the Kryn that harness and transfer souls from one being to another. Characters would work for the Dynasty or Empire searching tombs or dungeons while fighting creatures or enemies from the opposing side.
It’s difficult to give a more concrete description of the outcome as the second campaign of Critical Role is still ongoing. But taking cues from the guidebook, it would be insanely fun to travel throughout Wildemount.
2. Critical Role: Tal’dorei
Critical Role is the gift that keeps on giving. While the Mighty Nein run around Wildemount, Vox Machina bumbled their way across Tal’dorei. A campaign set during the time of any one of the arcs of the first series would be great but which one exactly?
The fight with Vecna was absolutely amazing but it is heavily driven by Percival Fredrickstein von Musel Klossowski de Rolo III’s backstory. We believe focusing on The Chroma Conclave would make for one of the most impactful module’s in Neverwinter.
Yes, Vox Machina may have defeated the dragons who destroyed Emon but the story can be embellished for the MMO.
Characters could get a message from arcanist Allura Vysoren to visit her outside of Emon. She wishes to speak to them about Vox Machina and magical disturbances throughout Tal’dorei. With the adventuring group dealing with the aftermath of the Chroma Conclave, she requires assistance with closing rifts. The portals opened after the green dragon, Raishan, released Thordak from his prison in the plane of fire.
Players could interact with Vox Machina as well, all voiced by the cast. When it comes to magical items, there could be vestiges of divergence and even weapons owned by the famous party. Spoilers ahead for campaign one.
When Thordak was killed by Vox Machina, there were strange magical eggs left in his lair. It was hinted that there could be more in the world. A side quest in the Neverwinter version could be to find and destroy them so spawn of the Cinder King won’t spread.
3. Honorable Mention: Duergar
This one may not be based on any official lore but it’s something that is missing from Neverwinter. There has yet to be any update which focuses on the dark dwarves of the Underdark. They aren’t playable as a race and it’s about time that’s fixed. While the game is missing an alarming number of classes and races, duergar should be up there alongside drow.
Yes, Neverwinter features a huge questline where characters fight duergar but not once is there ever a moment with a kind dark dwarf. The campaign could involve a clan of duergar wishing to return to the surface. They are unfairly mistreated and falsely represented in the lore of D&D and Neverwinter could remedy that.
The history of duergar labels them as heretics who abandoned their mountain homes. Once they reached the Underdark, they were captured by mind flayers and forced into slavery. After gaining their freedom, they returned home and were seen as outcasts by their original god Moradin and all surface dwarfs.
“When Laduguer and his people returned to the dwarves of the upper world, they were shocked by the hostility they faced. As Laduguer quickly learned, the priests of Moradin had long ago labeled the lost clan as heretics, spoken of now only as an object lesson concerning the fate of dwarves who stray from Moradin’s teachings.”
“Laduguer, in response, tried to explain that his people had been lured into a trap by the mind flayers, but his assertions fell on deaf ears. Thus, with no other apparent choice, the lost clan fled back to the Underdark. Laduguer focused his fury on Moradin.”
The campaign could focus on this aspect and have characters free the duergar and join in fighting against the illithids. It’s a great way to also introduce the race to Neverwinter.
4. Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is one of the newest campaign books for Fifth Edition. It is set in a landscape of frost and ice. The main area for characters to explore is Ten-Towns and it and the surrounding area finds itself in a permanent winter. The cause of the torrential storm is a lesser god named Auril who seeks to cover everything in ice for her amusement.
The campaign would be a three part plan that aligns with the book. The town and surrounding mines are being ransacked of a priceless material called chardalyn. A duergar named Xardorok Sunblight is using shards of the stone to craft a gargantuan dragon to destroy the town and rule over the region.
Meanwhile, four wizards are searching the frigid wasteland for a lost Netherese city. The wizards seek knowledge left behind after the city fell and will stop the characters if they get in their way.
While a third questline could focus on the lesser god herself. They will search for a magical item that opens the way to the Netherese city the wizards are looking for. The final confrontation would be with Auril.
The region is already familiar to Neverwinter players as it was heavily featured in a previous module. Quests could be a follow up to the skirmish Kessell’s Retreat which saw players fight Akar Kessell, a powerful wizard with the artifact Crenshinibon.
5. Mythic Odysseys of Theros
Mythic Odysseys of Theros is based on Greek mythology and isn expansion for Magic: the Gathering. So, technically this would be an expansion of an expansion. And seeing as both are published by Perfect World, it shouldn’t be an issue. Choosing an overarching campaign from this setting can be difficult. But by focusing on the gods, we can get a better idea of what a module might entail.
Gods are the forefront of Theros and characters could be called upon one or multiple to stop an oncoming threat. Nylea, god of the hunt, could summon the characters to the Feywild and have them stop corruption of nature. Or the souls of the dead aren’t going to the afterlife so Erebos, god of death, seeks the aid of the characters. Better yet, Purphoros, god of the forge, is unable to create new life and believes Erebos is the reason.
Both call on the characters to discover the truth and along the way they uncover Ephara is behind it all. As the god of polis or civilization, she believes she should govern all matters including life and death. The characters could fight minions from all three sides and in the end fight an avatar of either one god.
Those are the top five module’s we’d like to see in the future of Neverwinter. Will they happen? There is no way to know but they would certainly be cool to run around in.