I’ve been binge-watching a YouTube stream called “Critical Roll” for the last several days. I wouldn’t say the channel is for everyone, but if you like storytelling, you might want to watch a few episodes.
The story takes a party of adventurers (a group of voice actors) through the “Underdark,” an underground labyrinth inhabited by some of your worst nightmares. Yes, it’s a high fantasy setting, so if you don’t care for fantasy, this might bore the crap out of you. The Game Master shows a rough map, then weaves storytelling, and just enough description to whet your imagination. He creates a vivid picture of what the characters are experiencing as they traverse the expansive catacombs beneath the surface.
Being a fantasy addict, I can appreciate the scene and picture the non-player characters as the GM describes each setting. The random dice rolls on both sides of the table make the action as unpredictable as real life. They add a measure of uncertainty to events as the story unfolds.
What brought me to YouTube and “Critical Roll?”
I read an article in one of my writing magazines. The author was trying to figure out ways to bring life to her descriptions and was directed to the site. After reading what she wrote, I was curious to see what had captured her interest—well, aside from it being a streaming D&D game, that is.
I was hooked after the first episode.
For me, it’s a bit like watching the events in a novel unfold. I can’t wait to watch the next chapter to see whether the group succeeds with their quest. So far, they’ve managed to survive, but not without their fair share of near-misses and weird creatures.
How does this benefit a writer?
Think about it. The GM gives you a description of a scene. You know you are underground, so you already have somewhat of a picture in your mind—close quarters, alien environment, sounds that echo in the darkness. If you’ve ever been spelunking, you know the feeling.
The players bring their own flair to the action. I never know how the group will surprise me when it comes time for them to act. The actors lend unique voices to the characters, which flavors their actions and interactions.
I’ve enjoyed the tale, and the voice acting brings the action to life. The GM expertly describes the scenes and sets the atmosphere as the characters move closer to the climax of the story. So far, it’s been a fun ride, I can’t wait to see how this story ends.
I’ve managed to find pages and pages of videos about writing a better novel. What advice you take depends on what resonates with you. For me, fantasy has been my escape for as long as I can remember. I’ll probably keep coming back to “Critical Roll” and the voice actors that bring the story to life. In the meantime, I’ll check out other writing advice to see what sticks.
What about you? Do you have a favorite YouTube channel to recommend?
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