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Vox Machina’s Chroma Conclave dragons go harder than Matt Mercer even imagined

The Prime Video show breathes new fire into a Critical Role campaign, says the cast

A dragon in the foreground screeching, with two other dragons in the background conquering a cityscape in a still from The Legend of Vox Machina season 2 Image: Prime Video
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Death and destruction reigned in the first episode of The Legend of Vox Machina season 2. Picking up right where the first season left off, a horde of dragons spewing fire and acid descends upon the capital city of Emon, destroying everything in their path. This is the Chroma Conclave, a collective of dragons bent on taking over the world of Exandria and the Big Bad Guys that Vox Machina faces this season and beyond.

Fans of Critical Role, the actual play series that the show is based upon, will remember the Chroma Conclave’s rise to power and the threat that they pose to the entire world. The scene in Emon comes right from the YouTube series. Matt Mercer, the Dungeon Master behind Critical Role, tells Polygon that he wasn’t sure if the scene would live up to what he envisioned in his head.

The sequence “was something that was so clear in my head, and [something I] already knew was going to be such a challenge to convey the threat and destruction and a sense of dread,” Mercer says. “The scale of that not only was gonna be expensive, but it was going to be just the challenge to do for the length that we want to do it for that opening episode. And so a big part of me was like, Adjust your expectations, Matt, set the bar low. I can’t expect them all to be perfect and it’ll just be as good as we can get it. The entire team not only just rose to the occasion, they blew my expectations out of the water and I’m just so, so happy.”

a fearsome dragon spewing redhot fire Image: Prime Video

The catastrophic scene takes up nearly half of the season 2 premiere, and all of it is packed with intense destruction and despair. Even beyond that cataclysmic opening, the dragons loom over the rest of the season. Animating them to be a particular kind of evil and threatening proved to be a great challenge.

“It’s one thing to make a dragon that’s a force of nature and has incredible destructive capability,” explains Travis Willingham, who voices goliath barbarian Grog. “But [the Chroma Conclave] delivers clever dialogue. They’re intelligent, they have personalities and different postures and all of these things that need to come across. ”

Titmouse and Production Reve, the animation studios behind The Legend of Vox Machina, already pulled this off with Brimscythe, the terrifying dragon in the first two episodes of the first season. But for the second round, they needed to create not one, but four more emotive, expressive, and totally scary dragons.

“Our animation studio kind of looked at us like we were crazy people when we told them there were going to be four more at the same time,” laughs Willingham. “I think it really, really paid off. Each of those dragons feels like they present a unique challenge and place in the show.”

Throughout the rest of the season, Vox Machina will have to search for powerful weapons and allies in order to have a chance at overthrowing the Chroma Conclave. Though the general plot will echo the web series it’s based on, The Legend of Vox Machina does have some surprises in store. One of the perks of it being an animated show and not an actual play series is the fact that the show can pivot away from the main cast for some of the scenes. In this case, that means we will get to see some of what the Chroma Conclave themselves are up to.

“You get little glimpses and peeks into some of the collusion with the Chroma Conclave that we never really got to see in-campaign,” says Marisha Ray, who voices half-elf druid Keyleth. “And that’s really awesome.”

New episodes of The Legend of Vox Machina drop on Fridays. The first three are available to stream on Prime Video.