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Like any good Dungeons & Dragons campaign, the world of Critical Role is populated by a wealth of varied and intricate characters, and oh, what characters they are.


Setting

Tal'dorei (Campaign 1)

Wildemount (Campaign 2)

One-Shots (Exclusive)

The Dungeon Master

Played by: Matthew Mercer

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Any good tabletop gaming campaign has someone in charge, keeping the game fun while preventing the players from driving everyone off the rails or up the walls. Voiceover artist and noted One of Us Matt Mercer takes the wheel for this particular group.

Aside from providing the story, battles, and world building for the game, Mercer also takes on the role of every NPC in the game.


  • Apologetic Attacker: See the entry under Killer Game Master. Matt really doesn't want to kill the players, and is just as pained as they are when a combat situation turns against the party. But it's his job to play out what the enemies would do in their situation. This is mostly clearly seen in Campaign 1 Episode 68.
    Marisha: Why would you do that to us?
    Matt: ...It's what [Ripley] would have done.
    • Likewise, tragically in episode 26 of campaign 2, while Matt had no desire to kill Molly, Lorenzo did....
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar: He refers to any creature that's never been encountered before as an "entity", and many locations and items are covered in "sigils", which he didn't even pronounce correctly until the audience got on his case about it. "Circumstance" is a catch-all term when he can't find a more specific word, and any beast with sharp teeth has a "toothy maw." Nobody ever "wakes up", they always "come to consciousness". There are no people who have a "body", everybody has a "form" or a "physical form". When an attack hits an enemy, it “finds purchase.”
  • Berserk Button:
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    • Selfie-sticks; he imposed disadvantage on Tiberius for using one until the party convinced him it was a selfie-staff. Naturally, a critter gave him one during a Critmas.
    • Also, do not mention Wil Wheaton around him.note 
    • While there's plenty of meta-humor in the game — real-world pop culture and technology is mentioned in-character on a regular basis, passing either without comment or a Lampshade Hanging of other characters not getting the reference — Matt apparently has his limits, as evidenced when he prompted Marisha/Keyleth to explain the concept of skywriting to the other characters and immediately barked out "No!" when she began her explanation with "In the future..."
  • Catchphrase:
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    • "How do you want to do this?" is his when someone has just delivered a decisive blow, and gives them the opportunity to choose how they dispatch their opponent. Saved for tough monsters or bosses, and has become something of a Borrowed Catchphrase for the Geek and Sundry Twitch chat, who chant it as a way of cheering when they think someone is about to get a kill.
    • A member of the party asks if they can attempt something especially outlandish? "You can certainly try." In many ways, this phrase is Matt's credo as a DM.
    • In a similar vein to "You can certainly try" is "I'll allow it", when he approves of an unorthodox interpretation of the game's rules.
    • He likes to jokingly impose "disadvantage" on players for their antics, such as Liam mugging the camera or Orion using Presdigitation as a selfie-stick.
    • A darker example is “it’s what ___ would have done” whenever he has to be harsher on the players than he wants to because the characters they’re fighting are evil.
    • "I'll give you a visual perspective", when he brings up the map for an encounter.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: On the rare occasion he gets to step out of the DM's seat and become a player for oneshots and the like, things tend not to end well for his characters. This includes himself in "Liam's Quest: Full Circle", himself again in "Thursday By Night" and Clayton "The Coffin" Sharpe in "UnDeadwood".
  • Cliffhanger: Is very fond of doing these whether at the end of an episode or before a break, much to the party's (and the audience's) dismay.
  • Combat Commentator: Matt is especially fond of doing this to describe each hit. Up to Eleven during his "How do you want to do this" moments.
  • Combat Referee: A given as a Dungeon Master is that he has the final say on what happens in combat.
  • Corpsing: While he usually manages to keep a straight face and stay in character most of the time, there are a few exceptions:
    • The sudden appearance of Burt Reynolds always cracks him up.
    • The best example is during Keeper Yennin's thank-you speech at the end of Episode 35. Matt loses and tries to regain his composure no less than three times.
  • Crazy-Prepared: A hallmark of a great DM, and Matt is no exception. One noteworthy example is during In Hot Water (C2, E43), where he reveals that he brought in a figure of a demon, despite not being sure if Fjord had the spell necessary to summon it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: During his role as the DM, Matt wastes no time in snarking at the players when he can. He also snarks in-character as NPCs more often when possible.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Normally averted, but it does happen. Most notably, when he gives The Mighty Nein magic paint that can be used to make objects by painting them, and Nott immediately suggests painting dicks on everything.
  • Face Palm: Frequently, whenever the party does something particularly foolish. Tiberius's endless shopping list in Episode 27 sends him into a full-on Head Desk.
  • Finish Him!: See Catchphrase. Matt will often allow his players to describe the finishing blow to a boss monster or difficult encounter, and then adds a little more flavor on top.
  • The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: Averted. Mercer plays entirely fairly, and in fact has been known to sometimes roll his dice in full view of the players (the sign of a confident GM who believes in fair play). More and more, he's taken to calling out his own rolls.
  • It Amused Me: His reason for having the Mighty Nein encounter a pet shop.
    Liam: Why did you put this in front of us, Matt?
    Matt: You know exactly why. Because it's funny!
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": He learned most of his vocabulary words from reading D&D books in his youth and, prior to having a viewing audience to correct him, never had reason to learn how to correctly pronounce them, so he frequently mispronounces the names of several D&D creatures as well as a few esoteric real words. Most infamously, he's fond of the word "sigil" and pronounces it with a hard G. In his defense, there is a D&D setting centered around a city called Sigil, which is pronounced that way.
  • Killer Game Master:
    • Averted. Mercer's style of DM-ing can be described as "challenging, but fair." According to the Episode 10 Q&A, Mercer never fudges his rolls out of a belief it would take the fun of chance out of the game, and even takes photographs of important rolls so that no-one can dispute them. That said, if a character does die, then Mercer increases the tension by giving their resurrection spells the chance to fail. This isn't because he wants them to stay dead, but because it gives the moment the emotional weight it deserves. It also helps to avert Death Is Cheap, since Vox Machina easily has enough disposable income to cast Raise Dead a hundred times over.
    • Occasionally, it will be Played for Laughs when the party runs into a dire situation.
      Laura: He is trying to kill us!
      Matt: [grins evilly]
  • Magic Hair: Played for laughs, when it was speculated in a Q&A after Episode 4 that Matt couldn't DM without his hair.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: By necessity, as he plays everyone who isn't the party note  with the exception of a few guest players.
  • Meta Game: Players acting on knowledge their characters wouldn't have is explicitly forbidden. So Sam had to pass an intelligence check to see if Scanlan could polymorph into a triceratops (as a bard he'd read/heard stories about creatures similar to them) and Keyleth couldn't sunbeam a mist-form vampire until someone told her what it was, on their turn.
  • Monty Haul: According to the 5E DM guide, he has given his players well above the recommended number of magic items for their level, but he adjusts the difficulty of the fights accordingly. They did transfer over from Pathfinder, which is a bit more generous with magic items, rather than starting in 5E. They actually seem to find fewer than the usual number of magic items, but then buy magic items from Gilmore's Glorious Goods.
  • Not So Above It All: It's part of his job to keep Vox Machina relatively on track, but he's not above making jokes (like claiming "fish" is a type of arcane damage) and he occasionally encourages their wackier scenarios. For example:
    • When he basically goads Grog into headbutting a captive Fomorian.
    • Also seen in Episode 44 when Scanlan asks if he can use Bigby's hand to Fastball Special Grog at a beholder. Matt reacts with unbridled glee at the thought.
    • He lets the Mighty Nein meet a travelling pet shop, knowing full well that he enables the chaotic nature of some of his players this way, even though he might not have realized that they would buy THREE animals.
      Travis: [accusing him] You did this.
      Matt: [grinning widely] Yeah. Yeah, I did.
    • After revealing that the Nein’s ally Viridian is actually Keyleth’s mother Vilya, Matt simply smirks and says that he’s been waiting to drop that particular bombshell for five years.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • He's a master of staying poker-faced while the players argue over the best course of action, or as they walk blithely into his traps. But his DM's mask has been known to slip when the PCs are in mortal danger (though it doesn't stop him endangering them, naturally) or even when his own campaign is on the verge of coming to a screeching halt due to horrible cases of oversight. Notably, when one episode ended with Percy dead on the ground and Pike absent, his end-of-episode expression was not his usual jovial one, seeing as five of his six players were either crying or close to.
    • In the Pathfinder one-shot where the whole party is playing as goblins, he finds it impossible to keep a straight face for more than a few minutes at a time due to their antics. Taken even further when they describe their sadistic finishing moves.
      Matt: [on the verge of tears from laughing at Taliesin's latest move] You're horrible!
    • Sports a clear facial expression when Scanlan busts out a sixth-level Thunderwave from inside Umbrasyl's stomach.
    • When Keyleth, the party's only way out of the Nine Hells, is brought extremely close to death in Episode 93 and she has to roll one death saving throw (with a 45% chance of failure), the look on Matt's face says it all, as does his mention after she makes the save that if she had died, in his own words, "that would've been Campaign Over."
    • In episode 97, when Keyleth recklessly jumps off a cliff leading to her immediate death, while he's more successful at keeping his composure than most of the others, it's still clear how he was in utter shock about the event.
      Matt: [barely holding his laughter] This was not in my plan!
    • A way less funny one. During Episode 8 of Campaign 2, Marisha turns awkwardly and injures her rib. When she comes back to the table in genuine pain, Matt instantly drops his DM persona and asks if she's alright. Since this happened right before the break, he says, "I'm going to take care of my wife."
    • At the end of episode 113 of campaign 1, after an emotionally gruelling scene featuring a cruel The Reveal and demonstration of just how far the Big Bad will go, Matt is smiling and giggling as he tells the players (and audience) that he hoped they had a great time. On the heels of said players calling him a monster.
  • Only Sane Man: Generally tries to act as this to his players' antics. Emphasis on tries.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Whenever the players defeat a powerful monster, he states, "How do you want to do this?" as a leadup to allow them to deliver a stylish finishing blow.
  • Previously On…: At the beginning of every episode, there's always a recap of events that happened prior.
  • So Proud of You: Matt will happily tell the players that he's proud of them when they do something dramatic or take a big step in their character's development even if it screws up his own plans.
    Matt: As a dungeon master, that was one of the more frustrating moments - like, as a person that's built to an intense encounter like this - and one of the most proud I've been of a player outsmarting me.
  • The Storyteller: A bit on the nose, but one of the main responsibilities of a Dungeon Master is telling an immersive story.
  • The Unreveal:
    • The "perception whisper" he does when he only wants one character to know something, which may or may not be revealed later on.
    • Early in the second campaign, there were a few instances in which Matt asked certain players to leave the table; these moments were functionally the same as the whispers, but with the intention of letting the viewer know what was going on - such as the first time Fjord received a vision from his patron.

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