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Critical Role: ‘Exandria Unlimited: Calamity’ Developers Talk Campaign Origins

5 Minute Read
Jun 16 2022
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BoLS sat down with Brennan Lee Mulligan and Lou Wilson to talk all about Exandria Unlimited: Calamity and Critical Role.

If you haven’t been watching Exandria Unlimited: Calamity you are missing out on some of the best D&D this side of Dimension 20. With Brennan Lee Mulligan taking the reins, supported by an amazing cast who have stepped up to the plate, Exandria Unlimited: Calamity is just incredible. It’s got a good mix of somber and silliness, but the ratio might surprise you. As Mulligan puts it, “it’s not called ExU Fuckin’ Party Time alright”

All that to say this show really cooks. BoLS had a chance to speak with two of the cast members, Brennan Lee Mulligan and Lou Wilson about the show, which still has two more episodes left. You can catch the penultimate episode tonight. But first you can learn more about it below.

BoLS Speaks To Lou Wilson and Brennan Lee Mulligan

What a cool concept, first of all. And what an amazing group of people. Can you talk a little about how y’all came together?

Brennan Lee Mulligan: “A lot of the gang I know through Um Actually, Adventuring Academy and Dimension 20! Marisha, Aabria and I played together for the first time on Pirates of Leviathan, and I’ve played with Lou countless times, and with him and Aabria together on Misfits and Magic. The idea behind Calamity started with an off-hand remark made over dinner by Matthew Mercer, and a following invitation by the magnanimous Ms. Ray to come pitch for an ExU season this past January.”

Lou Wilson: “I wasn’t so much in there for the coming together on this one. They sent me an email like, “we’re going to do this- do you want in?” And c’mon, playing out the apocalypse with Aabria and Brennan at the CR table – I couldn’t have responded any faster.”

Are there any character details you can share? If not, what about the show is exciting to you? What are you hoping the audience will feel coming away from this?

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BM: I’m very excited to tell a classic tragedy. No flinching, no pulling away, this is a story of heartbreak and loss, a cautionary tale where the protagonists are required to be complex and flawed. Watching these six impossibly brilliant performers weave the story of these Captains of Avalir has been a joy and a privilege.

LW: I can tell you that I’m playing a financial sorcerer in charge of our flying city’s economic hub. And with regards to the audience’s feelings, what’s exciting about this show is I think we’re gonna hit you both ways. There’s the delightful ramp up of exploring all the wondrous things Brennan crafted to illustrate the age of Arcanum, and then of course its inevitable demise.

What really lights you up about RPGs? What, for you personally, makes them special?

BM: The circular breathing of it all. Those moments where we are all simultaneously audience and performer: Where we are operating at the height of our creative capacity, and are simultaneously gawking wide-eyed at the brilliance of our friends – where we are commanding a story that expresses something deep and urgent within ourselves, while also surrendering control to the whims of chance so that we might be stunned at the fortunes of our own imagined lives.

LW: For me, the ability TTRPGs lend us to create spaces where we can wholly give ourselves over to the trials and tribulations of a world spun from the shared power of our imaginations. And I’m excited to say there’s a lot of that in ExU: Calamity

Where do you see RPGs going as the media around them evolves? Where do you think Actual Play RPGs and shows like them will be in the next five-ten years?

BM: Five years ago today I was looking for work having just recently been rejected from a fulltime job at CollegeHumor, had not begun dating my soon-to-be wife, and had no knowledge that a historic plague was just around the corner. Calamity tells a story about hubris, and I cannot imagine anything more beyond-my-ability than accurately guessing where we will be five years from now. I have barely been able to make heads or tails of how I got here. Suffice it to say I intend to continue living in a state of bewildered gratitude, and wherever we’re going, I’ll be happy to roll dice and tell stories on the way!

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LW: I don’t think I have a great answer to that. We’re on the frontier of a genre that plays by different rules than anything that’s ever existed before. My only guess is whatever change we see in the next five years will be born out of the medium’s intimate connection with its audience.

Now that Matt’s not even on set, what weird thing are you excited to make forever Canon in the history of Exandria? What have you been *WAITING* to get away with?

BM: I told the players that if they hit four Nat 20’s in a row in the Finale, I’ll change canon and we can stop the Calamity. Just so long as everyone agrees to update all the Tal’Dorei + Wildemount sourcebooks by hand in sharpie. Will let you know how that goes!

LW: The fact that I’m doing anything on a Critical Role set is the real thrill for me. I’m happy to stay in my lane on this first one, but God I hope they call me back. I’ve got plenty of shenanigans stored up for the second time around.

Exandria Unlimited: Calamity Episode 4 airs tonight

Need to catch up? Check here! You can watch Episodes 1-3 on Critical Role’s Youtube.

Want more Brennan Lee Mulligan and Lou Wilson in your life? You can find them on Dimension 20. Check out Fantasy High Season 1 right here, and go on a journey you didn’t know you needed.

Or catch them on Dropout.tv‘s many fine videos, including Game Changer: Survivor, for a truly epic showdown.

Happy Adventuring

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