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Critical Role's Next Dungeons And Dragons Show Teases Matt Mercer As A Player

Changes are coming to the popular Twitch and YouTube show "Critical Role," which airs its next actual-play campaign starting on June 24. And, according to Polygon, creator Matt Mercer won't be DMing during the upcoming eight-part mini-campaign. Instead, he'll take a seat at the playing table as a full-time player character, leaving the dungeon master duties to someone else. 

The DM for the coming campaign, called "Exandria Unlimited," is going to be Aabria Iyengar. She's the chief marketing officer of Dice Envy and an actual-play performer who has been on "Into the Mother Lands" (as Koseh) and has played games like "Happy Jacks" (as Tendai Collier the Joined and Khairyn Antwi), "Dimension 20" (as Myrtle the Bitch), and "Saving Throw" (DM) in front of online audiences. ("I stream everywhere," she said in an "Exandria Unlimited: Meet the Players" preview.)

Explaining the choice to add Iyengar to the mix, Mercer said in the YouTube preview, "She had such a uniquely fantastic flair for really expressing narrative and drawing you in and following the players' instincts and weaving the story out of that magic of what's happening now. As we found ourselves kind of coming to this particular project, there really couldn't be anyone else that I could think about trusting it to." He noted (via Polygon) that he "created this world intentionally with a lot of space for other people to create and develop." He also said he planned to play a character "very different" from his regular archetypes and planned to "really embrace the chaos."

Production for the show is going on right now, and the DM change isn't the only alteration you'll see moving forward.

Other changes you'll see include a more concise game experience

Although fans don't know much about the details of the campaign yet, there are some additional changes coming to the show. All-new episodes will be pre-recorded before they air, allowing for a more cohesive narrative that makes up an experiment designed to inform the future of the show. Polygon wrote that people should expect a more "concise," easier-to-digest experience based on existing lore that features "a whole new adventure with fresh faces and unique stories to tell."

"It's the perfect thing because it creates this narrative scalpel," Iyengar said, as quoted by Polygon. "It's a very different type of storytelling in a familiar world." She added that her experience on the show so far has been "amazing" and noted, "It's been wonderful for everyone to have been so interested in my personal perspectives."

The show has become a cultural phenomenon over 265 episodes and six years, and the removal of Mercer as DM, who has been called "a D&D god" for his "knowledgeable and imaginative" direction (via Screen Rant), is a big deal. One of the appeals of "Critical Role" is the relationships between friends playing role-playing games, and the addition of Iyengar is likely to change the dynamic. However, the cast of this streaming series is really what makes the show, and the upcoming season of "Critical Role" will also include the talented and hilarious voice actors Ashley Johnson and Liam O'Brien, along with charismatic newcomers Aimee Carrero ("She-Ra and the Princesses of Power") and Robbie Daymond ("A Silent Voice").

Allaying any fears about the new lineup, Iyengar said, "I couldn't imagine a better squad of people to spend time with and build a story with." Sounds like the changes might be good — and soon, viewers will be able to test that for themselves.