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This D&D Beyond Trailer Is the Critical Role Cartoon of Our Dreams

Critical Role is Geek & Sundry’s live Dungeons & Dragons show, featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.

As the second campaign of Critical Role got underway, every week Sam Riegel found a fun way to tell everyone about show sponsor D&D Beyond. In February, he composed a catchy jingle that seemed like it just had to be animated in the style of some of the most beloved cartoons from the 1980s.

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And so it was, thanks to D&D Beyond, animators Kamille Areopagita and Kevin Areopagita, musicians Sam Riegel and Mr. Fantastic, and a little bit of fate.

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Adam Bradford, Product Director at D&D Beyond, was the man who made it happen. Adam was already a fan of seeing what advertisements Sam would concoct week after week, but the song absolutely blew him away.

“Before he even finished singing the song, I had an email already sent to the Critical Role team,” Adam recalls. He could already picture the animation, complete with Sam singing in a studio, and the team agreed right away. Next, Adam needed to find the animators.

“I really think it was some kind of fate,” he says, “because that night he sang that song, in the fan art that plays before the show was Kami. She had done this incredible Vox Machina animation, and she just really understands motion just incredibly.”

Instead of choosing an animation studio, he took the chance to reach out to Kami. “She was ecstatic, she wanted to work on it,” Adam says. “She started working on it very quickly after that.”

He requested a vintage Thundercats feel for the animation, and he and Kami worked out the storyboard in just one call. Adam also had one other specific request, asking that a beholder make an appearance, simply because it’s his favorite D&D monster.

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The animatics from Kami and Kevin followed not too long after. Kami started work from the version of the song Sam originally sung during the livestream. Once the background music was complete, she used it to create the timing in the animation, and Sam’s recorded vocals were added for the final version.

Amazingly, Kami and Kevin completed the entire project just a few months, and when it made its debut during Critical Role, it was an instant hit.

“It’s just absolutely incredible,” Adam says. “I think she’s going to go on to do wonderful things.”

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Kami tells Geek & Sundry that the project was intimidating at first. “It was a challenge I was super on board with accepting,” she says. “I couldn’t have been able to the whole thing as soon as we did without the help of my brother [Kevin], who put in his special effects animation, creature animation, and all the help with the coloring.”

She’s not only grateful for the opportunity to animate as a professional, but for the support of D&D Beyond and the Critical Role cast and community.

“That the awesome Critter community, and Adam and D&D Beyond, believed that I could pull it off is honestly one of the best things for artists like me, who constantly struggle with insecurities,” Kami says. “And a special shoutout to Sam for being a real life bard who creates good good tunes that bestow upon us D20s worth of inspiration.”

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Images: Critical Role / D&D Beyond

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