How Critical Role Helped Me Fall Back In Love With Fantasy

I've always held a strong passion for the fantastical, for fictional worlds, and for video games as a whole. I spent much of my childhood as many of you did: playing games, watching films, and imagining the wonderful and the impossible because it was so lovely to picture. Years were spent discovering new worlds and creating my own in the process, with no limits to what I would explore next.

Then life comes at you fast, and suddenly the real world takes precedence. Oh boy. We all know how motivation can just leave for a while, and we slump through our every day, looking for something to keep our minds occupied, exclaiming boredom, or watching Netflix shows just for the sake of it before moving on to the next.

A few months ago, I hit this point. I didn't want to play games – they all felt the same, or I just didn’t have the capacity to explore them and feel the same excitement as before. I would browse through every streaming service I could get my hands on, ultimately spending more time scrolling through the plethora of options than I would actually be watching anything. Even drawing, playing instruments, or going on walks all felt like the same old same old, and it’s a discouraging feeling to not want to do these things, or do them anyway and never enjoy them as much as I know I did.

Then one day, while aimlessly rummaging through my things in search of something to do, I grabbed an old book on Norse mythology I had on a shelf. Right there I sat on the floor, opened it up, and began reading from whatever chapter I had reached years prior – and before I knew it, I had gone through multiple chapters. I was absolutely encapsulated. I decided to visit a bookstore the next day to see what else I could find, in the hopes that it would potentially keep me occupied to the same degree.

I picked out books and kept going back for more, buying them much quicker than I could ever hope to read them. Somewhere along the way, I inadvertently found Critical Role through graphic novels. I had heard about the show before, and even had it suggested to me, but I guess you already know the part about my motivation being zero. With that in mind, I grabbed one of the Vox Machina Origins novels and read it, before immediately moving on to The Legends of Vox Machina animated show on Amazon. This new world and these new characters had all grasped me before I even realised it, and I just kept watching. Then, of course, there was the extensive YouTube channel to catch up on, with hundreds upon hundreds of hours of adventures to enjoy. So I began.

That was me stuck in, adoring this fantasy world as told through Matt Mercer and the cast. I wanted nothing other than to keep watching to discover what came next. I watched through hours and hours of the ongoing Campaign Three until I was caught up, all while playing through something simple like PowerWash Simulator or drawing in the background. Boredom was no longer on my mind.

From there, I started reading more from the pile of books I had accrued, and the diverse range of fantasy had me entirely enveloped. Because of Critical Role, I began reading D&D books as well, picking up some of the basics and some sourcebooks with plans to start playing soon – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so the anticipation for that is wonderful as well. Even just gathering things up and creating characters kept me so busy, and I was quickly running out of time in the day to do everything I wanted to.

Outside of this, I began wanting to return to so many of my favourite fantasy games, new and old, and just dive into them to experience everything in a way that I never have before. I was invigorated with this passion to consume these worlds in a new way, and appreciate them with what feels like a fresh and exciting perspective. There I sat, looking around my game libraries like a kid on Christmas morning with everything I had to rediscover.

Now, every week I get excited to watch Critical Role, the surprisingly enjoyable House of the Dragon, the stunning episodes of The Rings of Power, and whatever else I can find that I have yet to experience. I’m also excitedly returning to all of the old classics that I haven’t seen in years. I’m thinking a Lord of the Rings marathon is in order… it’s been a while.

The time spent with a lack of passion for the things I had always been passionate about was disheartening, but in picking up a book by chance, I found Critical Role, and then the floodgates opened for an entirely new love for everything fantasy. Now, I couldn’t be more excited to explore everything there is. Not only am I loving games again, but I have new shows to watch, an impossible amount of books to read, and complete adoration for the introduction of anything fantastical. It’s good to be back.

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