Force Grey is an Actual Play web video series on YouTube co-produced by Nerdist.com and Wizards of the Coast that began in 2016 to promote upcoming Dungeons & Dragons product lines. The series, which has a rotating cast of characters, is focused on the titular Force Grey, described as a "special ops adventuring party" based out of Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms and working for "the Blackstaff", the Archmage of Waterdeep and the master of the eponymous staff and of Blackstaff Tower. The series exists in the same continuity as Acquisitions Incorporated.
The first season, "Force Grey: Giant Hunters", premiered in July 2016 and ties into Storm King's Thunder. The titular team is assembled by the Blackstaff to seek out the Sun Dragon, but in the process they find themselves dealing with the sudden scourge of giants rampaging through the Forgotten Realms, and delving into the lair of a mad wizard to recover a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts. The season concluded in December 2016 with "Force Grey: The Lost Episode", a live show in which Force Grey battled the Zhentarim and Dran Enterprises in a familiar cloud castle to stop an evil demonic presence from being unleashed.
The second season, "Force Grey: Lost City of Omu", premiered in July 2017 and ties into the Tomb of Annihilation storyline. Force Grey are dispatched by the Blackstaff to the jungle continent of Chult to locate and destroy the "Soul Monger", which is trapping the souls of the recently-departed and causing those who've been resurrected by magic to slowly rot and wither away. Joined by a local guide, the team venture into the jungle to find the Soul Monger's resting place, the fabled Lost City of Omu, and confront whatever dark power is behind it all.
The cast of Force Grey includes:
- Matthew Mercer as The Dungeon Master
- Utkarsh Ambudkar as Hitch, the Human rogue
- Brian Posehn as Calliope, the Half-Elf bard (season 1, episodes 5 to 7; The Lost Episode; season 2)
- Dylan Sprouse as Tyril Tallguy, the Firbolg druid (The Lost Episode; season 2)
- Joe Manganiello as Arkhan the Cruel, the red Dragonborn paladin (season 2)
- Deborah Ann Woll as Jamilah, the Human barbarian (season 2)
Previous cast members include:
- Shelby Fero as Brawlwin Chainminer, the Dwarf fighter (season 1; The Lost Episode)
- Ashley Johnson as Dagny Halvor, the Half-Orc cleric (season 1)
- Jonah Ray as Joppa, the Human monk (season 1)
- Chris Hardwick as Whil Wee-Tawn, the High Elf wizard (season 1, episodes 1-5)
- Emily V Gordon as Skirt of Snakes, the Tabaxi sorcerer (The Lost Episode)
Tropes in Force Grey include:
- Amazonian Beauty: Jamilla.
- Ambiguously Evil: Arkhan the Cruel is part of the team, but he's also an oathbreaker paladin in service of Tiamat, the evil dragon goddess. Those are... not good credentials.
- Apocalyptic Log: Force Grey find the journals of a wizard who slowly went mad as he experimented with a piece of the Rod and tried to extend his own lifespan.
- Badass Mustache: Joppa believes so firmly in this trope that he won't really respect someone without a mustache. Whil has to give their guide an illusory mustache so that Joppa will follow her.
- BFS: Jamilla's weapon of choice. Which leaves her worried when she loses a hand in the Lost City of Omu
- Cross Through: With Acquisitions Incorporated. The teams never meet, but Auspicia Dran, CEO of Dran Enterprises and the Big Bad of "The Lost Episode", is the twin sister of Omin Dran, the CEO of Acquisitions Incorporated (and Jerry Holkins' PC). The cloud castle is so wrecked and full of bodies when Force Grey arrive because Acquisitions Incorporated just fought Stratovar and retrieved the other six pieces of the Rod in their own season finale.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Hitch was a member of the Zhentarim, and didn't leave them on good terms.
- Dating Catwoman: Hitch has an ongoing flirtation with Lemolai, a Zhentarim agent working with Dran Enterprises.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Joppa and Dagny, in the opening moments of The Lost Episode, due to the absence of Jonah Ray and Ashley Johnson. In the final moments of the adventure, they are revealed to be alive after all.Brian Posehn: Man, you don't wanna miss a game when [Matt Mercer is] DMing, you kill people! "I'm sick," you're dead! "Couldn't get a babysitter," too bad!
- Early-Bird Cameo: Joe Manganiello played his Force Grey character in a live Stream of Annihilation game on July 3, a month before the show's return (though season 2 had already finished filming before the Stream).
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: In Chult, dinosaurs are fairly commonplace and are used as mounts or beasts of burden.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Soul Monger has left many undead roaming the jungles of Chult, much to the chagrin of Force Grey
- Gravity Screw: At the end of The Lost Episode, when the team are trapped in a cloud castle that's falling out of the sky.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Hitch's character portrait in season 2 looks a lot like his player, Utkarsh Ambudkar.
- Killed Off for Real: Whil Wee-Tawn walks into a trap and is smashed into thick paste.
- Lost World: Chult, the setting for season 2.
- Motive Rant: Matt gives a truly epic monologue in-character as Zagthos the frost giant, about how his intelligence was never appreciated and he was cast out of frost giant society by his hated rival, but he'll show them, he'll show them all!
- Pet the Dog: Arkhan the Cruel certainly lives up to his name most of the time, but being with the team leads to a couple of these moments, most notably when he prays to Tiamat to restore Jamilla's hand after she loses it to a trap
- Punch-Clock Hero: Force Grey isn't a standing force, but instead the team members are recruited and assembled on an as-needed basis.
- Rain of Arrows: Tyril Tallguy does this in Season 2, with a rain of porcupine quills
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: As soon as Force Grey finds the Sun Dragon, their guide leaves, refusing to get involved in anything beyond her original contract.
- Ship Tease: A couple of moments between Arkhan and Jamillah sit between this and Friendship Moment
- Trigger Happy: Whil Whee-Tawn, oh so much. No less than three party discussions about how best to approach a potentially dangerous situation are interrupted by a loud casting of "FIREBALL!" or "MAGIC MISSILE!"#
- Token Evil Teammate: Arkhan, in a literal sense, with his alignment being Neutral Evil. He's beyond doubt a member of the team, however.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Arkhan the Cruel, apparently. He used to be a Lawful Good Paladin before his Chromatic nature took over and he became a Neutral Evil Oathbreaker
- Villainous Valor: Arkhan, again. He's evil, certainly, but he's every bit as brave and determined as the rest of Force Grey to find the Lost City of Omu.
- Your Soul Is Mine: In Lost City of Omu, the Soul Monger is taking the souls of people who've died, preventing them from going on to the afterlife.