Popular D&D Content Creators

Popular D&D Content Creators

Do you love D&D? Or maybe you’re just looking for something new to watch or listen to. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve put together a deep dive into some of our favorite popular creators and D&D content. We look at popular D&D web series like Critical Role, Dimension 20, and a few others, as well as highlighting YouTube creator, Crispy’s Tavern: D&D Tips and Stories. We’ll discuss the creators, the content they make, and what makes them so entertaining and engaging.

Critical Role

When most avid Dungeons and Dragons players think of popular D&D content or content creators, they think of Critical Role. Critical Role is an actual-play Dungeons and Dragons web series played by a group of professional voice actors. Actual-play is a genre of podcast or web show in which people play tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) for an audience. They started streaming midway through their first campaign in March 2015. They are currently streaming their third campaign, with a new edition of their limited series streaming soon. An animated series based on their first campaign, The Legend of Vox Machina, premiered on January 28, 2022. This web-series streams every Thursday at 7 PM Pacific time on Twitch and YouTube.

Many believe that the show is a wonderful introduction to Dungeons and Dragons for those who have never played before. The cast is full of extremely skilled voice actors who make the campaigns fun to listen to. The D&D community also appreciates the length of the web series, since there are multiple campaigns and one-shots with a range of numerous episodes. The longest so far being campaign two, The Mighty Nein with 141 episodes.

More About Them

Critical Role is led by Matthew Mercer as the show’s Dungeon Master, as well as seven other cast members. These cast members are Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, and Sam Riegel.

Their first campaign aired from March 12, 2015, to October 12, 2017. This campaign followed a rag-tag group of mercenaries known as Vox Machina. Their second campaign aired from January 11, 2018, to Jun 3, 2021. This campaign takes place about 20 years after the final events of the first campaign. After the second campaign, the Critical Role cast released a limited series titled Exandria Unlimited. This series saw a change in DM, Aabria Iyengar. Even though this series was released as a spin-off, it is considered to be a part of the canon storyline. The third and current campaign began streaming on October 21, 2021. The second season of Exandria Unlimited, Calamity is a four-part series that started streaming on May 26, 2022. The final installment aired on June 16, 2022. This story was led by Dimension 20 Dungeon Master Brennan Lee Mulligan.

Dimension 20

Another popular actual-play web-series is Dimension 20, which streams on DropOut.tv. Dimension 20 is a TTRPG show produced by CollegeHumor. It originated as one of the productions for Dropout, a streaming service aimed at older watchers. Brennan Lee Mulligan described the inspiration for the show as a renaissance. This is because of the large variety of tabletop shows available online currently. A few he listed as examples were Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, and Not Another D&D Podcast. The show began in September of 2018 with their first campaign, Fantasy High. It currently has thirteen seasons, with minor story campaigns dispersed between the longer main campaigns.

Unlike Critical Role, not all of Dimension 20’s campaigns are connected through the story. Viewers enjoy that each campaign has its own new story and twist. The playstyle remains, but the story genre rarely stays the same. The seasons are a lot shorter compared to other TTRPG shows. Season 4 Fantasy High: Sophomore Year contains the most episodes of any of the seasons with twenty episodes. While DropOut typically focuses on making comedic shows, Dimension 20 is much more than solely focused on being comedic. The cast add so much depth to the characters and the story. Even if being comedic is a big part of the show, the campaigns can become darker and more serious.

The Party and Their Adventures

The show’s regular Dungeon Master is Brennan Lee Mulligan. However, there have been guest DMs. The regular cast consists of Emily Axford, Zac Oyama, Siobhan Thompson, Lou Wilson, Ally Beardsley, and Brian Murphy. The alternating seasons, nicknamed “side quests”, invite guest players onto the show. These players could be other members of CollegeHumor or other members of the TTRPG community, like Matt Mercer.

Dimension 20 currently has been through six main campaigns, including the campaign that is currently streaming, A Starstruck Odyssey. The show has also had 7 “side quest” campaigns. The first campaign was Fantasy High, an adventure set in a world that resembles high-fantasy John Hughes movies. In this opening season of the show, the group of adventurers attend an adventuring academy. They must learn how to become adventurers while solving strange disappearances along the way.

Dimension 20 streams exclusively on DropOut, however there are other place to find extra content of theirs. The first three full seasons are uploaded to Spotify as audio versions of the show. The Dimension 20 YouTube channel consists of a plethora of fanservice content. This includes animated versions of clips from the show, character introductions, and campaign trailers. They also post the first full length episode of every season on YouTube. This is a way of enticing viewers to watch the rest of the show on DropOut. Their TikTok is a good place to find behind the scenes clips and funny moments from the show that viewers may have missed.

The Adventure Zone

The Adventure Zone is a comedy and adventure TTRPG podcast that is loosely based on Dungeons and Dragons, as well as other RPGs. The first episode of The Adventure Zone originally aired on a podcast called My Brother, My Brother and Me in August 2014 as an experimental episode to cover the paternity leave of one of the hosts. Later that year in December, The Adventure Zone expanded and became its own podcast on the Maximum Fun network. In 2018, they began the release of a series of graphic novels based on the campaign arcs. With four books already published in total, a fifth is scheduled for release in February 2023.

Both My Brother, My Brother and Me and The Adventure Zone are hosted by the McElroy family. Griffin McElroy served as the primary host and Dungeon Master for the first campaign. His brothers, Travis and Justin McElroy, and their father, Clint McElroy, are the ones fighting enemies and solving puzzles. Each brother was able to DM their own campaign arcs in the later seasons.

Experimental Storylines

The experimental campaign the McElroys played was from the starter set for the fifth edition of D&D, which came with the game module for The Lost Mine of Phandelver. This module served as the basis for the first few sessions. After The Adventure Zone became its own show, Griffin McElroy hosted their first official campaign, titled the Balance Arc. When this arc concluded, the McElroys decided that they wanted to work on a few smaller “experimental arcs”, each hosted by a different McElroy brother. They’ve produced four main campaign arcs total with the most recent one still airing, Ethersea. The show is produced and released by the Maximum Fun network, but all podcast episodes can be found on Spotify as well.

The Adventure Zone gained popularity and traction on a whim. The first episode that aired on My Brother, My Brother, and Me was supposed to be a one-and-done type of episode. While the plan was to play a little bit of the game and move on, listeners loved the episode so much that they insisted the McElroys turned it into its own series. The brothers and their father had built such interesting bonds within the story in just one episode that fans couldn’t help but ask for more.

Dungeons and Daddies

Dungeons and Daddies is another actual-play D&D comedy podcast. The first episode aired in January 2019. Produced by Acast, a podcast network, the show currently has one fully complete season, two side campaigns, and the second season has been running since January 2022. The cast has also put out bonus content, side campaigns, and merch through their Patreon. Almost all episodes of the series, besides side campaigns specifically for Patreon supporters, can be found on Spotify. Anthony Burch takes the role of Dungeon Master for the show, or in his case, the Daddy Master. The other four members of the cast, Beth May, Matt Arnold, Freddie Wong, and Will Campos, play as four dads trying to navigate parenthood alone, but together, while also trying to rescue their sons.

The first season follows four dads who are on their way to a soccer tournament for their sons. Halfway there, they are sucked into a portal and teleported to the mystical world of the Forgotten Realms. Not too long after arriving in this world, their sons are kidnapped, and the dads must go on a quest to rescue them. The second season, titled Quest, is set 25 years after the end of Odyssey and follows the four grandchildren of the dads in season one. Currently, only nine episodes of the second season have aired.

Easy to Digest

The cast also did two side campaigns. One in the middle of season one, titled At the Mountains of Dadness, which is a short prequel to the story depicted throughout Odyssey. The other took place after the end of the season one, titled Fetch Quest. With Will Campos as the Dungeon Master for this short tale, the other members of the cast played as three dogs and a cat traveling through a strange new land in search of The Very Good Boy.

The Dungeons and Daddies play-style is easily digestible for newer players since the cast is fairly new at the game themselves. In a lot of TTRPG campaigns, players encounter NPCs that are so two-dimensional, they’re extremely easy to forget as the story progresses. This is not the case with Dungeons and Daddies. Anthony Burch has built a world and a story where there are multiple NPCs that one can’t help but want to meet them again. It is difficult not to become attached to some of the NPCs, like Paeden, the orphan who wants nothing more than to fight because it’s all he’s ever known, though there’s more to him than meets the eye. The show contains gut-hurting laughs, a terrible plethora of dad jokes, and absolutely heart-wrenching moments that leave a listener in tears.

Popular D&D Content Creators

Content Creator: Crispy’s Tavern: D&D Tips and Stories

Lastly, we’re highlighting a growing creator, Crispy’s Tavern: D&D Tips and Stories. Crispy’s Tavern is a YouTube channel where Crispy himself talks about many different aspects of Dungeons and Dragons. This ranges from D&D horror stories and tips for gameplay to visual podcasts and Q&As with his community. Much like a lot of us, he has been a big fan of fantasy content all of his life, but says he fell in love with D&D after listening to a 2015 playthrough of Curse of Strahd, a fantasy-horror adventure module produced by Wizards of the Coast.

Crispy has only been on YouTube’s platform making content fulltime for about two years. When asked why he chose to create D&D content specifically, Crispy shared that he was inspired by other creators like Ginny Di, CritCrab, and Mo Mo O’Brien to create his own TTRPG YouTube channel. He also answered, “On a more personal note, I also noticed that the D&D YouTube space was seriously lacking representation for both Asian and Asexual people and I decided that I could help to change that.”

The Content

Currently, the two longest running series on his channel are RPG Horror Stories and Tabletop Tavern Tips. When we asked Crispy to tell us what sets him apart from other RPG creators he answered, “I noticed that despite being a very social game, many D&D advice outlets don’t really cover the social skills that are required [to play it]. So, on top of giving world-building, encounter-building, and game-running advice, I also endeavored to become a pseudo-therapist for D&D horror stories! My quest has led me across the internet, covering the best of the worst from Dungeons and Dragons, one horror story at a time.”

Crispy also runs two podcasts through his YouTube channel, Campaign Diary Podcast and Roll for Insight Podcast. The Campaign Diary Podcast is a discussion podcast about the campaign that Crispy is currently DM-ing. In the first episode of the podcast, he describes it as a way to discuss things that can go right and things that can go wrong throughout the gameplay process outside of the usual Tabletop Tavern Tips format. Roll for Insight allows to Crispy to invite other content creators onto the show to deep dive into their own D&D journeys. This extends to their biggest D&D pet peeves, a question he asks every guest when they first come on the show.

Room to Grow

While Crispy’s Tavern mainly resides in the confines of his YouTube channel, he also posts the audio versions of his podcasts on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Another type of podcast Crispy mentioned endeavoring into in the distant future is streaming D&D game-play podcasts. As someone who normally DMs home games, he believes it would be ‘a neat excuse to actually play a character.’

Compared to some of the other creator’s we mentioned in this blogpost, Crispy’s Tavern could be considered smaller. However, the community he has created continues to grow every day. It is important to be able to find representation of ourselves in the media we consume daily. There are times when we forget that inclusivity is the most important aspect of any form of content or business. Crispy seeing a place empty of certain representation and choosing to work to fill it is truly inspiring. Crispy’s Tavern provides the inclusivity we search for, while also giving important game-play advice you won’t find elsewhere.

In this blog post, we discussed the different media created by popular D&D content creators, like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. We can see the different aspects all of these important creators bring to the Dungeons and Dragons world. Whether this is with storytelling, world-building, or simply being humorous. We also highlighted growing YouTube creator, Crispy’s Tavern: D&D Tips and Stories, who brings representation and much needed advice to the world of TTRPGs.

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