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How Sponsor Nord VPN Inspired a One-shot

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Over the years, Critical Role‘s live Dungeons & Dragons streams have garnered a lot of attention from fans and sponsors alike. From CashApp and D&D Beyond to Quip and NordVPN, to name a few, the support of their sponsors has often earned special treatment from Sam Riegel as he develops skits to promote their products.


Riegel’s unique humor translates often into the far-out and bizarre. This has created memorable ad campaigns featuring things like thumb wrestling tournaments hosted by Vince McSam himself, a sunflower-evolving lounge singer, and a group of young hackers out to save the Nordverse. The evolution of the Nordverse spanned both Campaigns Two and Three, and even inspired an upcoming one-shot featuring Riegel as the Game Master.

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What Is Critical Role’s Nordverse?

NordVPN has been a Critical Role sponsor for years, promoting the need for Internet safety and security through the use of its software. Riegel’s Nordverse arose when a hacker personality he created for ads called [email protected] started attempting to hack into targets protected by NordVPN, only to find it impossible to get past the company’s securities. The ads evolved when BlackWillow73 refused to use NordVPN, only to get hacked by CryptonicOverride. Using his backup failsafe from NordVPN, BlackWillow73 managed to thwart CryptonicOverride’s efforts, though the entity promised to return and defeat BlackWillow73 and find the source of the Ultra Kodex.

In time, the ongoing sponsor skits brought the entire cast in as hackers and followed a Matrix-esque storyline. When Travis Willingham consumed the gleaming cube cake that was once BlackWillow73, he absorbed Sam’s powers and became the hacker of prophecy. Named Number Two by Taliesin Jaffe’s Morpheus, it was up to Willingham to stop a virus calling itself Setty before it unleashed itself on the world. Across a collection of 22 episodes, the Nordverse grew into something there was no turning back from, and now it’s becoming a one-shot.

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Critical Role’s Generation Nord Is a Prequel to The Nordverse

Created and GM’d by Sam Riegel, “Generation Nord” is a prequel to the ongoing Nordverse, which suggests the origins of the sketch material could potentially be revealed. Players include Exandria Unlimited alumni Aimee Carrero and Lou Wilson as the Darkweb Robin Hood and the Guy With the Car, Critical Role regulars Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien as the Hardware Whiz and the Gamer Geek, and Christian Navarro as the Code Monkey.

There will also be a surprise special guest to be revealed in-game. Speculation on potential guests include Robbie Daymond, who appeared in EXU and Campaign Three, or Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, who both participated in multiple sketches across the Nordverse run. It could also be Matthew Lillard, who appeared in the Nordverse ad skit titled “Cereal Killer” during Campaign Two.

Little is known about the plot or game system “Generation Nord” will use. Given Riegel’s creativity when it comes to ad sketches, though, it promises to be an over-the-top game full of hacking, back-slashing, and loads of made-up techno-jargon. The one-shot will be sponsored by NordVPN.

“Generation Nord” will stream November 8, 2022, at 7 PM Pacific on Critical Role’s Twitch and YouTube.

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