critical roles Exandria Unlimited: Kymal ended on April 1 after a brief two-episode run. The actual action-packed Dungeons & Dragons game featured a casino heist, a new player and the triumphant return of most of the Crown Keepers – including Dorian Storm, played with a palpable amount of voice actor delight Robbie Daymond.
The show and its predecessor, Exandria unlimitedreflect a marked shift in Critical Role’s fairly established long-form campaign format and open the ground for new creators. Exandria unlimited appears to be something that will happily be revisited, and Daymond seems to be staying in the Critical Role herd. However, it is sad to think that Dorian’s story is over for now.
At the beginning of Exandria unlimited, Dorian was instantly endearing and exhibited a sort of polite, awkward swagger that played well against more boisterous characters like Opal (Aimee Carrero) and Dariax (Matthew Mercer). “I wanted to play a little bit apart from myself,” Daymond said of his recent appearance 4-sided dive, the new talk show series for Critical Role. “I thrive when I’m around people, so I wanted to experience someone who isn’t.” Continuing to discuss Dorian’s fears, he asked, “Can you be charming while insecure?”
Fans certainly thought so. Dorian became a fan favorite, featured in fanart, cosplay, highlights on YouTube, and more. When Dorian reappeared on the Critical Role set for episode one of Season 3, Twitch chat was raging, thrilled by Daymond’s performance. Daymond starred in campaign 3 for fourteen consecutive episodes – the longest episode by a guest cast member.
Daymond is a relative newcomer to Dungeons & Dragons, but you wouldn’t know it from his playstyle. Similar to his time Exandria unlimited, he was a delightful part of the campaign 3 fabric from the jump. He shared in the cast’s goofy remarks and reactions, but also left room for moments of seriousness and emotional exploration. Part of what makes his portrayal as Dorian such a delight is knowing that he is new to the table and fairly new to the hobby – his wins are even more appealing to watch because they are firsts several times.
Dorian debuted in Campaign 3 as part of a set including Fearne (Ashley Johnson) and Orym (Liam O’Brien). Instantly, Daymond seemed at home at the table – in his role, he began clapping fearfully at the end of a tram ride and was quick to scold Fearne when she stole an earring as they entered Jrusar: “I told you a story about how someone picked my bag thirty seconds ago, and then you’re in someone’s bag?!” He also developed unique relationships with the other characters, from his immediate, hilarious animosity towards Chetney (Travis Willingham) to his initial fear of Launda ( Marisha Ray) and his eventual closeness.
Dorian also had a nice story of his own. “I love the noble who is reluctant,” Daymond said when invited in 4-sided dive about Dorian’s creation. His backstory unfolded over his time on the series and was brought to the fore by the surprise appearance of his brother, an NPC named Cyrus Wyvernwind. Dorian was clearly working hard to carve out a path for himself to experience the world outside of his family’s influence, and part of that path was the found family he gained at Bells Hells. At the end of his run in Campaign 3, Dorian remarked, “All my life I’ve always felt like I was looking inside from the outside. And you all made me feel like a part of something bigger.”
Critical Role’s main cast is well-loved, but the format of the core series highlights deviations such as Daymond’s performance, especially if he was so important to Campaign 3’s launch. In a season that has felt distinctly different in terms of the revolving door nature of, say, Travis Willingham’s characters, it was exciting to imagine Daymond stepping in as a full member of the cast to scale up the structure of Critical Role move.
Filming schedules and individual actor responsibilities may have played a part, but Dorian’s departure was disappointing in the sense that it felt like a step backwards – especially when Fearne and Orym were allowed to stay. Fans lamented Daymond’s departure on Twitch chat in the next episode that aired. In a recent interview for ComicBooks.com, Daymond said, “One thing that Matt said to [him] from the start it was ‘let’s just play’. So there was never a plan [him] there for a set number of episodes.”
Actual play as a medium has a very specific alchemy. There have been many studies on the tenuous balance between production and play – the way a story told between friends and a game changes when an audience is involved when it comes to filming and monetization that it to be balanced. The magic ingredient is usually the people at the table. Critical Role struck gold almost immediately when they started – they had some bumps, but they accelerated quickly to dominate the space. The cast plays a big part in that. Their energy and connection drives the story and has given it staying power for the past seven years. That’s a long time, especially considering how little the core game element of Critical Role’s programming has changed in format over that time.
The ubiquity of Critical Role grants the company a lot of autonomy, and it was exciting to imagine that autonomy could be used to expand the format and potentially change the way they do things. The door was definitely opened Exandria unlimited, and especially with Dorian’s role in Campaign 3. It was exciting when Daymond, a newcomer to a very well established table, excelled. Not only could fans stick with the core line-up — they could see a new player succeed in that area. It felt like a small shift toward new horizons for the core campaign, in the sense that nothing was wasted on the entry of a new player.
If Daymond’s tenure in both the core campaign and Exandria unlimited can be seen as a playtest for long-term changes or format changes, it’s a smart move, but it’s also one that seems to roll in eddies rather than waves. While it looks like the door may be open for Daymond’s return at some point, his time with Critical Role shed some light on the core series: new is good. While we may not have Dorian back for the long haul, it’s clearly something to add depth to Critical Role’s ever-changing, already vast landscape with new faces — and the new stories, experiences, and joys they can bring functions. And it would be amazing to see more of this in the future, with further expansions of Exandria unlimitedSupplements to the core campaign and beyond.
Until then, we’ll miss the blue boy and hope he returns down the road.
https://www.polygon.com/23023789/critical-role-robbie-daymond-dorian-storm-exandria-unlimited-new-character-appearance Critical Role fans want to see more of Robbie Daymond’s Dorian Storm