Critical Role is Geek & Sundry’s live Dungeons & Dragons show, featuring Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and his troupe of fellow voice actors. Catch them every Thursday night at 7:00 PM PT on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel and on Alpha.
If your kids can’t resist a peek at the screen while you’re watching Critical Role, or if they don’t know about the magic of Dungeons & Dragons storytelling yet, author-illustrator Randall Hampton has just the picture book for them—and you.
Randall is in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign for The Little Game Master, a colorfully illustrated, age-appropriate book that teaches small kids about the wonder of tabletop role-playing games. He was inspired by none other than the cast of Critical Role, not only to become a Game Master himself, but to introduce D&D to the next generation of gamers.
Randall has been a fan of the show since Episode 40’s livestream, but also binged other now-classic episodes to catch up. “That was the first episode I watched,” he says. “I went back and watched some of the earlier episodes, learned a thing or two about cows, and I was hooked.
“I remember watching the show and thinking, ‘This is so entertaining. How can watching people play Dungeons & Dragons be entertaining?’ But it was. The cast of Critical Role breathe so much life into their characters, and Matt Mercer is such an amazing storyteller, so it was easy to be drawn in. It was just so easy to care about those characters.”
Vox Machina’s adventures moved him so much that Randall took the leap and started a new campaign as the GM for the first time. He realized that his friends playing alongside him, much like himself, had kids that were old enough to learn about the game.
Randall believes that tabletop role-playing games can teach players of any age valuable lessons in both social interaction and problem-solving. He created The Little Game Master to show the youngest players that they, too, could have a seat at the table.
“You learn how to work with others as a team,” says Randall. “You problem solve, think about situations in hundreds of different ways, because if you don’t, you know a TPK is right around the corner. You listen to others. You have to value what the other people at the table think, because if you don’t, problems arise.
“These skills are so valuable when you interact with people at school, work, and in any setting, really. You are never too young to learn those skills.”
The story of The Little Game Master follows a group of friends as they make their first forays into role-playing, from character creation to learning to work together as a team. (You might even spot some familiar faces in the artwork.)
“This book and these games are for everyone,” Randall says. “I want kids to sit at a table together and have that social interaction, and that feeling of communal storytelling. Kids are amazing storytellers. Put two or three (or more) together and tell them, ‘There is a problem in the world of Exandria; you need to solve it.’ I think we would all be amazed at the answers they find.”
The Little Game Master is currently in the middle of its Kickstarter campaign. The book has already reached its initial funding goal, but you can still back it to bring home a story that you and your kids will love to read together time and time again.
WANT MORE CRITICAL ROLE?
- Preorder the throwback Critical Role poster to make your game room the coolest ever.
- Download the previous week’s adventures on the Critical Role podcast every Thursday.
- Don’t miss the new campaign of Critical Role, live on Alpha and Twitch Thursdays at 7:00 PM Pacific.
All Images: Randall Hampton