Critical Role follows the story of Vox Machina, a ragtag group of misfits in a high fantasy setting who are all so, so flawed but, with their powers combined, keep on saving the day and (usually) making the world a better place!! Each character is played by a professional voice actor (it has been quite rightly called “improv theater with dice”) and this post is written for folks who’ve never played a tabletop RPG. Please watch/listen to Critical Role. Please.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Well, there’s the player characters, and the DM (Dungeon Master). The players are confronted with a situation put in front of them by the DM, which can be anything from “a monster attacks you” to “a man jumps up from a nearby table in the tavern, points at you, and starts screaming about how you killed his wife,” and then the player must react in an in-character kind of way! Hence the “improv theater” part of it! All of the players AND the DM in Critical Role are, again, professional voice actors, so they’re pretty fucking good at that. It’s more or less an improvised radio play where the success or failure of an action is based on luck, aka the roll of a die. It can be anything from whether or not you can persuade someone to give you a 5% discount on potions, to if you can fight off a charm forcing you to try and kill all your friends. Good times.
And the story the DM, Matt Mercer, puts together is so fucking good that professional writer people like Patrick Rothfuss are huge fans (and he actually came on as a guest for an episode). I’ve laughed til I cried and I’ve cried because of the FEELINGS. It’s so good. It’s so good, you guys.
So, let’s get to the actual show, shall we? This is easiest to share if you watch THIS, which is the official character intros created by the actor folks. BUT I’M GONNA GIVE YOU A RUNDOWN ANYWAY! In alphabetical order!!! IT’S REALLY LONG BECAUSE I LOVE THEM ALL.
Spark, Blanche, and Candela are team leaders so of course they’re gonna be separated every now and then for missions and stuff, but what if one of them didn’t come back?
Spark bottles his own feelings and puts himself second to Blanche. He focuses on solely helping them, insisting on being the one to cook and handle stuff like a funeral or paperwork; only letting Blanche help clean since that’s how they cope. He lives off of an hour of sleep, if he’s lucky, because he stays up all night, sitting outside so he doesn’t wake Blanche because he just can’t stop crying and pacing and arguing with himself. He’d be a lot quieter too, instead just doing paperwork and the required paperwork and meetings for his team and Team Valor. His highest priority is Blanche’s health and healing progress and making sure what’s left of the trio doesn’t fall apart.
Blanche is already kind of emotionally distant and quiet but gets more so after. They spend most of their time cleaning or working on paperwork for their team. Blanche will sometimes go out of their way to make time for Spark, even if it’s just making him something like his favorite milkshake before they have to leave or waking him up to tell him they’re going to the store or the Mystic base. They will even sometimes reschedule some less urgent meetings for the sake of being with Spark for a little while longer so the two can both just have a few moments to themselves to acknowledge that they’d both still there and they still have each other.
Spark handles the loss of Blanche much alike he would the loss of Candela, only know he has Candela to take care of and she’s a completely different story. He makes extra efforts to make sure Candela is getting out of bed and showering and eating. He does all of the cleaning and cooking, and will take days off just to work on getting Candela to start cooking again and going back to the gym. Team Instinct kind of falls apart because Spark had to spend so much time working with Mystic and Valor along with everything personal because it takes Candela forever before she takes Valor back over from Spark.
Candela completely shuts down in the face of loss. She has no idea how to handle it and Spark has to make her get up and eat and shower. She gets emotionally distant, which kills Spark because she’s always been one to wear her heart on her sleeve. She doesn’t talk a lot and when she does it’s usually just from Spark’s prompting. It takes her ages to get back to even a fraction of her functioning, old self and she feels guilty having to put Spark through dealing with that added to Blanche’s death.
Candela shuts down much to the same as she does if she loses Blanche, except now she has Blanche, who’s more emotionally distant than she is, and no Spark sitting across from her and taking as long as he could to usher any response out of her. She’s god awful at comforting others and rather than helping Blanche, she just gives up after a few awkward attempts. She prompts Blanche less and their interactions gradually become more “I’m talking to you and need you to answer because I need to know I’m still here and this is really happening” and less “I care about how you feel.” She focuses most on improving Team Valor than anything else. As the two begin drifting apart, Candela finds it easier to fall asleep alone and begins sleeping on the couch instead of forcing Blanche to. She doesn’t realize that her relationship with Blanche is falling apart until Blanche is telling her that they’re moving out to a different city with the new Team Mystic base and the news hits her like a rock.
Blanche reacts the same as they do losing Spark, which prompts more problems with just Candela. With both of them being exceptionally distant to each other Blanche never really reaches the point of being around Candela as a comfort. Blanche tries a few times once they’re starting to feel better but after getting practically no response out of Candela ever, they give up. They give Candela all the space in the world at her request but it doesn’t work how they hoped because Candela still isn’t putting any real effort into healing by herself. The interactions between the two become less and less about helping each other and Blanche recognizes the distance growing between them. Blanche seizes an opportunity to expand Team Mystic, by moving the base to a new city and moving out. Blanche almost changes their mind about moving out with the new base when they see how Candela handles the news But they instead only postpone it a few more days just to make sure Candela’s taking care of herself before they leave.
Summing it up, it’s
basically about the aftermath of drunk sex between Gray and Erza. I think
what’s the best thing about this fic is that, it’s actually quite
I think all Grayza fans can agree that, if Grayza were ever
gonna get together, they would have to
deal with Juvia and Jellal sooner or later.
And the way it’s written, both Gray and
Erza deal with the “double Js” very maturely in my opinion. Jellal and Juvia
aren’t merely brushed off, so I absolutely love that.
think it helps that this author also loves Gruvia and Jerza, so I feel like
they’re more careful with how they handle one-sided!Gruvia as well as complicated!Jerza in this story, to make way for Grayza’s development.
The writing isn’t overly
detailed either, so it suits my taste lmao :D
I’m pretty sure this is the
most popular Grayza fic on FF.net. And rightfully so imo :D
I really love how this story’s pacing and how natural the author developed Gray and Erza’s relationship. The beginning of their relationship is a little rusty, and I think the author based on Grayza’s dynamic from when they were kids in canon (kid!grayza was a little rough in the beginning right?). It’s super cute! And really in-character too.
Nalu also shines in this fic. They’re not merely a side couple thrown in randomly. Honestly this author writes Nalu’s dynamic very close to canon. And I love how Lucy is a teeny bit dense and Natsu’s thoughts are kind of a mystery like in the manga. But they naturally become good friends (and!! I love it!!)
And this fic has nice humor? Reminds me of Mashima’s classic humor. I find myself re-reading it once a month
Gray and Erza grew up in an orphanage together, but when Gray gets adopted by Ur, he leaves her behind.
Years later, Gray tries his best to find Erza again, even when Lyon and Ur tells him Erza might have forgotten him already. But he’s determined and ends up transferring to the same school as Erza, only for her to be cold towards him? SAY THIS ISN’T SO
8. Insufferable by theformulaofpudding (one-shot collection)
I’m gonna have to re-read this collection coz I forgot but there’s a reason why I’ve listed it in my faves on ff.net :D
There’s seriously a lot of great one shots in this!
My favorite is the latest chapter, where Erza’s trapped in an alternate universe, where everything is almost perfect - she’s a normal high school girl, she doesn’t have to be a wizard and constantly risking her life, and she has the perfect boyfriend, Gray. Where as in their world, Gray’s already returning Juvia’s feelings).
This one was really memorable to me because it’s quite rare to find a nicely written Grayza ficlet where it’s focused on Erza’s POV.
Listen… there’s only one story in this whole god damnworld in which the interactions between the two characters has made me want to be in a romantic relationship everytime I continue reading the series and die at the same time in frustration; and that’s akatsuki no yona.