Critical Role's Sam Riegel Spills on New Campaign, Reveals Inspiration and Subclass for New Character

Sam Riegel's new Critical Role character draws some inspiration from an unexpected source. Last month, Critical Role launched its third full-length Dungeons & Dragons campaign, set in the barely explored continent of Marquet within Matt Mercer's world of Exandria. With the third episode about to air this evening on Twitch, the campaign is still in its introductory phase, with the characters getting to know each other and secrets just starting to bubble to the surface. 

To get the scoop on the new campaign, we spoke with Critical Role cast member Sam Riegel about starting a brand new adventure, playing at a brand new set, and getting some new details about his unusual character Fresh Cut Grass. During the interview, we found out about Riegel's inspiration for Fresh Cut Grass and the name of the automaton's new Cleric domain. 

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(Photo: Chris Lockey)

ComicBook.com: Critical Role has grown a lot since the start of Campaign 2 - you have your own studio, there's the upcoming The Legend of Vox Machina animated series, and all the new licensing deals with major partners just to name a few. How do you balance all that growth and change with the spirit of the show - that this is a game played by a group of friends?

Sam Riegel: Not gonna lie, it was a challenge to maintain that sense of camaraderie during the pandemic - with all of us mainly working from home and shooting the show in our spread-apart Covid-safe set. We relied heavily on private Zoom calls where we would just shoot the sh*t and goof off with each other. But now that we're back at a table rolling the dice side-by-side again, it really feels like when we first started playing together. At its heart, Critical Role has always been an excuse for a group of best friends to get together and crack each other up. And so no matter how busy we get, or how many projects we take on, we always make it a priority to spend quality time together just as friends. That's equally as important as the business stuff.

Were there any goals the cast had when preparing for Campaign 3?

Riegel: Every time we start a campaign, it's a whole new chemistry. New characters, new setting, new seat positions. So a lot of our goals are just finding the spark of joy in telling a brand new story. Most of us prepare for a new campaign on our own - so we really don't know how well our cast of characters will blend together. Luckily, from the very first episode of C3, it's been an absolute BLAST. I'm thrilled with how my character turned out - and can't wait to see where the others take theirs.

How do you like the new campaign setting for Campaign 3? How does it compare to Tal'Dorei or Wildemount?

Riegel: Marquet is the continent we know least about, so I can't really compare them yet. From what Matt has told us, it's an incredibly varied, rich place - with melding cultures, peoples and environments. I'm stoked to explore all it has to offer - but for now, we're parked in Jrusar, which seems like an INCREDIBLE place. Bird taxis, giant magical fires, massive bridges… come on! I wanna see it all.

Could you tell us a little bit about your character Fresh Cut Grass? Were they inspired by Ted Lasso like everyone is guessing online?

Riegel: Like everyone else in the world, I have been watching Ted Lasso, so for sure there's some influence there. But I took my main inspiration from my good friend Jack McBrayer. He's always such a ray of sunshine and optimism - I thought his personality would be perfect for programming an automaton.

Fresh Cut Grass appears to have a Cleric Domain that's new to D&D, based on their Channel Divinity. Did you work with Matt on building a new subclass for FCG or will fans see more of that subclass in an upcoming book?

Riegel: Matt helped me develop a unique subclass for Fresh Cut Grass called the Empathy Domain. I asked him if my healer could be a therapist, and Matt being Matt - he was happy to oblige. Not sure if it'll appear in any books, but I do know there's a few more class features that should come out the longer we play. Stay tuned.

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(Photo: Hannah Friederichs)

Which one of your castmates' characters were you most surprised by?

Riegel: Laudna (Marisha's character) is so very OUT THERE and weird. I love that she took that chance in her performance, and with a British accent to boot! Amazing. I'm also a massive fan of Fearne (Ashley's character). Ash hasn't really had a ton of chances to show off her comedy chops in the roles she's played on our show, yet she's one of the funniest folks at the table. I can tell she'll be making me break a ton this campaign.

How do you like the new set? How does it enhance the show experience compared to the old one?

Riegel: Having experienced the new set for several weeks now, I can tell you it still surprises me every game. When the lights fade and the sound effects seamlessly transition, it's breathtaking - literally. We play these looooong sessions, and sort of forget that we're on a set. So when a change happens, it sort of jolts everyone around the table. Don't get me wrong - our old set had a certain magic to it as well. But this new one is next-level spectacular.

What do you hope fans (both new and old) will take away from the new Campaign?

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Riegel: As always, our mission is to spread the love and joy of roleplaying to all who watch. I hope folks will watch us treating our world, our story and our characters with care and emotion, and be inspired to create something with their friends too. And I sure hope we can entertain viewers in the process. We know this show is long, but for the folks who stick with us - it can be exceptionally rewarding.

New episodes of Critical Role air on Thursdays at 7 PM on the show's Twitch channel. VOD episodes are also posted every Monday on YouTube.