One week after Critical Role wrapped its three-year-long Mighty Nein campaign in a mammoth seven-hour live streamed Dungeons & Dragons session, the crew announced its next project: Exandria Unlimited. Travis Willingham (Avengers Assemble), Marisha Ray (8.13) and Matthew Mercer (Overwatch) announced the eight-episode series in Thursday’s State of the Role – the first from the Critical Role crew in 2021 – where they likewise introduced new players Aimee Carrero (Elena of Avalor, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) and Robbie Daymond (Spider-Man) and Game Master (GM) Aabria Iyengar (The Department of Mysteries).
Critical Role alums Liam O’Brien (Carmen Sandiego), Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us) and Mercer, in a player role, will rally around TTRPG newcomers Carrero and Daymond on their adventure through Iyengar’s Exandria. Though Ray will not be joining on this particular adventure, O’Brien calls the Exandria Unlimited campaign her “brainchild,” via Comicbook.
While Exandria Unlimited will not serve as Critical Role’s third campaign, it will exist in the same universe as the first two installments of the actual play series and impact the canon moving forward. The series will specifically be set in campaign one’s Tal’Dorei, still recuperating from the fallout of the Chroma Conclave attack. The Critical Role team crafted a nifty timeline to illustrate where Exandria Unlimited takes place in the world of the series, though they have emphasized that no prior knowledge of the world is required to enjoy this summer’s short campaign.
Spoiler alert: you don’t need to know anything, but if you want to know things, here are things:https://t.co/BN4MAfpstC
— Christina Farber (@gaygeeknerd) June 10, 2021
While Exandria Unlimited is meant to be accessible to anyone, including first time players such as Carrero and Daymond, O’Brien promises plenty of Easter Eggs for long-time fans. “There is overlap in places that fans are familiar with from the first campaign,” O’Brien tells Comicbook “we’ll be bubbling up in different ways and fun ways and coming at them from different angles.”
The familiar landscapes of Emon will be given a brand-new lens with Iyengar at the helm of the story, marking the first occasion in which Mercer has stepped away from the active GM role in the world which he initially created. “There’s so many [actual play performers] out there, but certain people just catch your attention and Aabria’s been one of those people,” Mercer told Polygon “we brought Aabria in and she continued to blow all of our expectations out of the water.” Though an avid fan of Critical Role, the immensely accredited GM Iyengar is not one to shy away from adding her unique spin on the lore of Mercer’s world.
Oh captain, my captain. <3
— Liam O’Brien (@VoiceOfOBrien) June 10, 2021
Mercer and the rest of the team have praised Iyengar’s storytelling skills on social media and expressed excitement for Critical Role fans to see her in action, now that they are free to discuss Exandria Unlimited. When Iyengar’s name became a trending topic on Twitter, after State of the Role, Mercer gushed. As for the singular character that Mercer will bring to the table now that he’s not serving as GM, not much has been revealed. The former GM would only tell Polygon that his character will be “very different from his normal archetype.” Mercer added that, as a player himself, “I’ve learned a lot from Travis [Willingham] to really embrace the chaos” (Polygon).
That moment when your GM’s name is trending throughout the U.S.: pic.twitter.com/7ZhaIYLox4
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) June 10, 2021
For newcomers Carrero and Daymond, Iyengar will serve as their first GM and primary introduction to Exandria as players. Both incoming players have whet their appetites for the game in playtests with the entire cast, clips of which were used as b-roll footage in the video introducing fans to the Exandria Unlimited cast. O’Brien told Comicbook that his favorite part about this mini-campaign has been watching Carrero and Daymond fall in love with the game, a love and excitement that the two have already expressed on social media.
I love these people.
This whole experience makes me understand why all of you play TTRPGs. The comradery it creates in such a short amount time is so intimate and pure. How did it take me 38 years to do this? I’ll never not play again. https://t.co/4BrZP5GDyr
— Robbie Daymond (@robbiedaymond) June 10, 2021
D&D is now my chief personality trait.
— Aimee Carrero (@aimeecarrero) May 28, 2021
Speaking with Comicbook, Carrero revealed that Critical Role player Sam Riegel (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) invited her into the fold after the two had met working together on Elena of Avalor. In fact, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrero was set to appear in a session during the Mighty Nein’s campaign. Carrero told Comicbook that she’s delighted that she a Daymond get to represent new-to-the-form players and storytellers, meaning that Exandria Unlimited can feel accessible to potential fans intimidated by Critical Role’s massive back-catalogue and also those who may feel overwhelmed by Dungeons & Dragons as a whole.
More than a new GM and new players, Exandria Unlimited offers a new type of experience for Critical Role fans. “It’s an experiment of sorts,” Polygon says of the campaign “and it could potentially inform the format of the series going forward.” The fact that each of Exandria Unlimited’s eight episodes will be pre-recorded and edited before streaming on Twitch and YouTube caters to its briefer narrative.
Exandria Unlimited will premiere on Twitch and YouTube at 7 pm PT on June 24 and will follow the same rebroadcast and publication schedule as campaign two throughout its run. While Mercer promised a campaign three update towards the end of the summer, Critical Role fans may find that Exandria Unlimted’s role in the canon may impact the show’s future stories.
— Polygon (@Polygon) June 10, 2021