Entertainment

'Dungeons and Dragons' Kickstarter breaks record with $11.3 million campaign

Key Points
  • "Critical Role" fans raised more than $11.3 million to fund "The Legend of Vox Machina" Kickstarter.
  • More than 88,000 people contributed to the campaign.
  • Instead of a 20-minute special, "Critical Role" now has enough funds to make a 10 episode animated series.
Source: Critical Role

Fans of "Critical Role" have spoken and they want more "Critical Role."

In March, the folks behind the "Dungeons and Dragons" webseries launched a Kickstarter campaign to create an animated special based on its first campaign. Within an hour of its launch, it raised more than $1 million in funding.

By the close of the campaign Thursday, "Critical Role" fans had shelled out more than $11.3 million, making the fundraiser the most successful film or television project in Kickstarter history. More than 88,000 people contributed to the campaign.

"Critical Role" had set its finance goal at $750,000, hoping to produce a 20-minute special to celebrate and reward its passionate fans. With more than $11 million in funding, "Critical Role" will now produce a 10 episode series called "The Legend of Vox Machina."

"We are eternally humbled," Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer told CNBC last month, when the Kickstarter campaign was about halfway completed.

The series, having been successfully backed, will be produced by Titmouse, the production company behind Netflix's "Big Mouth," and will be written by Jennifer Muro ("Star Wars: Forces of Destiny"). The series is currently slated to arrive in the fall of 2020.

In addition to the digital series, "Critical Role" has also begun working on campaign-exclusive merchandise, rewards for those that backed the project.

Roll for initiative

"Critical Role" is a weekly live-streamed "Dungeons and Dragons" game played by voice actors from TV shows "Avengers Assemble," "Spider-Man" and "Transformers" as well as video games "Overwatch," "The Last of Us" and "Fallout," among others.

The group started sharing their adventures on live-streaming platform Twitch in 2015 and have racked up millions of views on YouTube.

The show features Mercer ("Overwatch") as the dungeon master, the organizer of the game who sets quests for players to complete and describes what the players hear and see on their journeys.

The players participating in the campaign for the first season were eight fellow voice actors, Ashley Johnson ( "The Last of Us"), Laura Bailey ("Rick and Morty"), Liam O'Brien ("Carmen Sandiego"), Marisha Ray ("Lego DC Super-Villains"), Sam Riegel ("Ducktales"), Taliesin Jaffe ("Injustice 2″), Travis Willingham ("Avengers Assemble"), and Orion Acaba ("Just Cause 4″).

Each actor created their own character for the show with a distinct personality and unique abilities. Together, the characters were sent on a long quest and had to work in tandem to vanquish enemies, solve puzzles and complete each task set by the dungeon master.

The first campaign lasted 115 episodes, with each video lasting between three and six hours long. The show was so popular with fans that a second campaign was started in January 2018. This second season of the show features seven of the eight actors in the first season as all new characters and has currently aired 58 episodes.

Both campaigns have featured a number of guest stars, including Joe Manganiello ("True Blood"), Will Friedle ("Boy Meets World") and Deborah Ann Woll ("Daredevil").

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Key Points
  • In each of the last five years, sales of "Dungeons and Dragons" merchandise has grown by double digits.
  • The massive sales boom can be attributed to the launch of the fifth edition of the game in 2014 and to "Dungeons and Dragons" shows like "Critical Role."
  • Sales of new player handbooks and starter sets have been a large portion of Wizards of the Coast's "Dungeons and Dragons" sales growth.