Can you explain what is Critical Role? I feel like I don't get it yet.
I hear you. So, Critical Role is basically just watching a group of friends (who are all voice actors) playing Dungeons and Dragons together. This sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but I really don’t think you’ll ever “get it” if you haven’t played a tabletop RPG, until you just watch the show. I tried to read SO MUCH about the series to figure out what the hell it was actually like prior to watching (as I had never played anything like D&D), and it just does not make sense until you start watching.
That being said, my best attempt at a description is: a group of friends writing a story together in real time, utilizing improvisational acting to do so. You have the Dungeon Master (DM) who is like your “lead” writer, coming up with the setting, the main plot points, and the secondary, non-player characters (NPCs). Then you have your player characters (PCs) who are each handling only a single, main character. The DM describes the setting and an event, and the players act out how their characters react to it.
If a PC tries to accomplish something (e.g., get information, fight someone, search for something, etc.) they roll dice to see if they’re successful, introducing a bit of luck/fate into the story - after all, you don’t want your characters to be able to accomplish every single thing they want, or there’s less conflict. (Players also have bonuses they can add to the number they roll on the die - this is more in-the-weeds, but essentially they get these bonuses based on what their character is trained in; for example, a character who is a fighter will get to add bonuses when they try to attack something.)
The current run of Critical Role (114 episodes, likely to end at 115) is all the same story (called a campaign). Each week they pick up the story, and continue telling it from where they left off the previous week. Like any story, the characters have a goal they are trying to accomplish over the course of story arc (for example, the first mission they are trying to accomplish at the beginning of the show is to find/rescue an NPC’s friend who has gone missing). Also like any (good) story, the characters have individual goals and fears and opinions that help or hinder the progress on that mission.
This is where an aspect of live theatre comes in; while the players all know the goal of the story, their characters have their own motivations which do not always align. So they are playing the character as the character would respond, and sometimes making a (glorious) mess of things.
If this sounds interesting to you, I seriously recommend that you just try watching the first ~30 minutes of the first episode on youtube. It should help you understand how it works, and get a feel for what I mean by the collaborative storytelling/improvisational theatre combination. If you’ve never played an RPG before, the game mechanics will likely not make sense to you at first - it took me at least 30 episodes to start to actually understand how the game itself is really played, I swear - and that’s OK. (If it does make sense to you right away, all the better!) My advice is to not think of it like you’re watching a game; think of it like you’re watching any other TV show, just with a veryyyyyy unique format.
I think I mostly said the same stuff I did in this post, but if this doesn’t answer your question check that out to see if maybe I explained it better in the past, lol. And by all means, please feel free to ask me questions if you still have them! This is kind of a general question (which is totally fine!), so I apologize if I’m not getting to the heart of it.
(Can you tell I really, really wanna sell you on this show? It is, without question, the best combination of world-building, narrative, character development, and relationship development that I’ve ever gotten out of a story in any medium. Everything is so incredibly realistic and believable, and just pure FUN to watch. Nothing makes me more purely happy than watching these people that love and respect each other SO DAMN MUCH just have a ball and let us share that with them.)
ETA: If you want to try watching D&D in a more digestible format first, I recommend HarmonQuest on VRV! The episodes are only 20 minutes, and half-animated, so if you are a visual person (like me) it might help for you to get the feel of what to picture during a game. They’re also geared toward beginners, I think - they have a guest star each week and they often are new to tabletop RPGs - and instead of having each player roll their own dice they have simplified that mechanic so only the DM rolls dice. It’s definitely geared more toward storytelling than gameplay, so it’s a good introduction :)