It may feel daunting for those wanting to start watching Critical Role and its Dungeons & Dragons streams, as there are over 200 episodes, each about four hours long — so here’s where to start with Critical Role for beginners. It isn’t necessary to watch them in order (though some fans, or “Critters,” may disagree). In fact, many would advise starting with Critical Role‘s second campaign or a story arc later into the first one. The very first episode of Critical Role was aired two years after the Critical Role cast members already started roleplaying with the show’s characters on their own, prior to playing them live on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel.


The second campaign takes place in the same world but with different characters, and it’s set 20 years after the first. This allows the audience to grow with the new characters from day one. Additionally, the first campaign’s production value is rather lacking, compared to later episodes. There’s really no right or wrong way to start watching or listening to Critical Role, which can also be enjoyed as a podcast. That said, this guide highlights the episodes that make for a great introduction. Additionally, the Critical Role Reddit’s New Viewers Guide lists multiple resources available for those unsure of where to start with Critical Role.

Critical Role Campaign One

Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons the players of Campaign 1

Both campaigns have multiple story arcs that can arguably be enjoyed on their own, but this is more true for the first campaign, “Vox Machina,” as many struggle to get sucked in until later episodes, complicating where to start with Critical Role. Purists naturally recommend starting from the first episode of the first campaign. While the audio is poor in the “Kraghammer” arc, a.k.a. the “Underdark” arc, starting here allows for some minor jokes and references to be understood later, including in the second campaign. However, skipping this arc doesn’t ruin anything, and many find it less interesting by comparison.

It can also just be difficult to get past the jarring sound quality. There are a total of 115 episodes in the first campaign, but each of these serves as a great starting point for the first campaign and the best place to start Critical Role. For those who have never seen the series, if they can get past the poor audio, then starting at the beginning is the most natural option. The best Critical Role episode to start with is the very first one, as it introduces audiences to the players they’ll come to know and love, while also displaying their particular playing styles, strengths, and weaknesses.

Critical Role Campaign Two

the cast of Critical Role campaign 2

The second campaign, however, known as “The Mighty Nein,” is highly recommended for new Critters to start with Critical Role, as it makes it easier to fall in love with the cast (then making it easier to go back and watch some of the lower-quality sessions of the first campaign). The first episode sets the stage for the continent of Wildermont, which was briefly visited in Vox Machina. This episode serves as an excellent introduction to Critical Role, due to its better production and its real-time definitions of most major characters’ origins.

It’s a great example to show newcomers what they’re getting into, and the definitive answer to where to start with Critical Role for many. It is longer than the previous campaign, clocking in at 141 episodes, but the Mighty Nein‘s team chemistry is undeniable once they begin to warm up to one another. In addition, viewers shouldn’t be too worried about jumping into the second campaign without seeing the first, as there are very few references made to its predecessor. All in all, the second Campaign’s first episode may be the best Critical Role episode to start with.

Critical Role Campaign Three

The Critical Role campaign 3 official party

The third campaign of Critical Role may be where to start with Critical Role. The Campaign name itself is Bells Hells and is set on the continent of Marquet. With both new and old players, Arc 1 sees three groups of adventurers meeting up at Jrusar to form an alliance, but things quickly shift as the city itself is full of mystery and tensions. Arc 2 sees the group leaving Jrusar to explore Marquet around the approaching Apogee Solstice, revealing ancient plans being set into motion. Arc 3 is currently ongoing, and focuses on the effects of the Solstice on the Bells Hells group.

There are a few guest actors that pop in and out of Critical Role Campaign 3, bringing an amount of dynamism to the series. In addition, Robbie Daymond and Erika Ishii get extended guest spots. However, the one thing that makes Campaign 3 perhaps not where to start with Critical Role is that it makes a myriad of references to previous episodes that viewers could find difficult to follow. However, if audiences can get past this, Campaign 3 is only 53 episodes in, which is a lot less daunting than Campaign 2’s 141 or Campaign 1’s 115 to start out with.

Exandria Unlimited

The players of Critical Role Exandria Unlimited

For those that are intimidated by the episode number and lengths of the campaigns, Exandria Unlimited may be where to start with Critical Role. Not a normal campaign, Exandria Unlimited sees the group of players explore the Calamity in the vast land of Exandria. There are only 14 episodes in total, so Exandira Unlimited episode 1 may be the best place to start Critical Role. It’s the perfect insulated introduction to those who are still wondering “what is Critical Role?” as it’s very beginner-friendly and doesn’t boast as huge a storyline as the other Campaigns.

In addition, Exandria Unlimited sees Matthew Mercer out of the Dungeon Master’s chair, with Aabria Iyengar as acting DM for the first set of episodes and setting a much more comedic tone overall. In stark contrast, Brennan Lee Mulligan takes over for the Calamity arc, which is much more storied and dramatic. Exandria Unlimited has a little bit of everything, which is why it may be where to start with Critical Role in terms of viewers who are new to the D&D viewing process. It’s shorter, easier to follow, and the changing of DM’s actually adds to the storytelling, rather than taking away from it.

Best Critical Role One-Shots To Get Started

Players in Critical Role

For those looking for a shorter option in terms of where to start with Critical Role, the series has offered up a number of one-shots that are perfect for D&D beginners that could experience exhaustion from the length of the Campaigns. Each one-shot sees a different team of players, some familiar faces and some new. One of the best Critical Role one-shots is Call of Cthulhu: Shadow Of The Crystal Palace. Taliesin Jaffe is Game Master in a game that is set in 1890s London, and sees occultist horrors and mystical practices as the team searches for relics.

The Adventures Of The Darrington Brigade
is another great one-shot when it comes to where to start with
Critical Role
. Vox Machina member Taryon Darrington returns and the one-shot sees some of the most underused D&D subclasses put to good use. For sci-fi lovers,
The Nautilus Ark: A Johnson Corp Odyssey
is one of the best
Critical Role
episodes to start with, and Game Master Ashley Johnson certainly knows how to set the stage. Finally, for those that enjoy the comedic side of D&D playing, the impromptu
Grog’s One-Shot
is full of laughs and iconic moments, making it one of the best episodes of
Critical Role

Source: Reddit

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