Critical Role Critical Role Episode #26 - spoilers!

Psikerlord#

Explorer
Based on the reactions I was seeing on the streams, I think having at least one character death is a good thing. There were so many "NNOOOOO!!!" and "Bring Molly back or I quit watching!!" reactions, and even a couple of insults thrown Matt Mercer's way, it actually kind of surprised me. I get having beloved or favorite characters, but PC death is sometimes a part of a D&D encounter, and it's good to show it, and good to show players reacting maturely to its occurrence.

I hope that they get to schedule Talesin a personal camera moment at the start of episode 27, so as to say, "I appreciate everyone's concern, I'm a little sad, too, but I'm fine, and it's all part of playing the game" or similar.

Cr has always been more show than game. If you're watching for the show, you might get upset when you fav char gets killed off. And if you're watching for the gameplay, well, you wouldnt be watching CR. You'd be playing.
 

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Bawylie

A very OK person
Asking for clarification...

You would have said no to the player asking to apply disadvantage to reflect her fear even though she could have chosen to not attack at all "to reflect her fear" or chosen to just ignore her fear and attack fully? Both extremes would be allowed but not the middle ground?

main reason i ask is not to criticze your table rules but because others seem to have considered a Gm choosing thusly to have been a strawman case, not one represented here in spite of comments leaning that way.

Thanks.

Hmmm... edit for additional query as well... if the player wanted to reflect the fear by choosing "i will only take one attack of my multi-attack" (assuming appropriate ability) would you permit that but deny the "take both at disadvantage" request?

As to your first question, I would have asked the player to clarify what they wanted to do and how they go about making that happen. Until I know both of those things, I don’t know what rules I ought to be applying. I might even need further clarification.

A player might say, “I feebly attack the enemy with my sword because of my deep fear.” Now ok that’s all well and good. But I need to know if the player is more interested in the attack or in portraying the fear, before I know if I want an attack roll, or perhaps a wisdom save, or maybe if I just want to narrate what happens next. But what I would not do is just let the player pick what rule resolves the situation.

I might skip a die roll and give a quick “your half-hearted, terrified assault is effortlessly knocked aside by the enemy as they bear down on you. What do you do?” In which case I’m giving them the portrayal of fear-via-feeble attack as a freebie and then giving them an action they can take “for realsies.”

Which sort of gets to your second question. I would absolutely let the player declare their own actions. That’s their job. And I have no problem with a player making a sub-optimal choice. Happens all the time anyway - faced with a tough situation, players don’t always make good choices. But I don’t tell them “No, you don’t pick that, you pick a better option.” They’ve got free reign to portray their character and decide its actions. This includes the freedom to be right, wrong, different, weird, normal, abnormal, or whatever. But they can’t adjudicate their own actions, they can’t decide to make an ability check. They can take an action that might require one, but they can’t just skip to “I roll a 17 strength check so X happens” just the same as they can’t say “I attack with disadvantage.”

I mean heck, what if, unbeknownst to the player, they have a secret advantage? If I tell the player they can’t roll with disadvantage, or to roll only 1d20 (bc the secret advantage cancels the disadvantage), what then?

Corner case for sure. But to the point of roles. DM sets up a scenario/challenge, Players make decisions to change to scenario/overcome the challenge, DMs adjudicate those decisions.

(It’s perfectly fine by me if a group doesn’t have the same roles I do. But I find I get like zero rules lawyer arguments this way, versus when I let players pick what rules they want to apply. And since that means more play time at the table, that’s how we roll).
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Hmm, but what about the other foot? What would you say if a player said “because of XYZ i’m going to have advantage on attacks and skill checks for the duration?”

If it’s OK in the one case is it OK in the other?

Well if they asked or suggested it, and the DM said "yes" (like what actually happened in the podcast) then its fine in both cases.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Cr has always been more show than game. If you're watching for the show, you might get upset when you fav char gets killed off. And if you're watching for the gameplay, well, you wouldnt be watching CR. You'd be playing.

Not true.

I enjoy the show.

And I enjoy the game play (while I run or cut grass).

AND I play with my friends once a week.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
A forum etiquette suggestion:

If you're going to criticize someone's position (or, in this case, what you incorrectly believe is their position due to conflating separate issues as has already been pointed out), it's a good idea to not do that while you have blocked the person who you are obviously criticizing.

All this accomplishes is avoiding dealing with the person you're criticizing directly and, in addition to not being a good look for you, it just needlessly confuses the discussion.

So either block someone and don't criticize him or her at all or unblock them and do it directly to their face (so to speak).

Just my opinion that I know others reading or posting in this thread share, since they're telling me what's going on despite the block.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Not sure what exceeding limits has to do with advantage or disadvantage. This is about whether the odds are with you or against you. If players sometimes can consider the odds stacked against them it seems reasonable that at other times they can consider the odds in their favor, and thus roll with advantage over and over?
No.

Can a player decide "my character is less accurate than normal due to abcd"?

Answer - yes because that puts his expected results (which includes the odds) within the range of outcomes he can normally produce.

Can a player decide their character is more accurate than normal due to abcd? No - because that puts his expected results (including the odds) outside the range of what he can normally do.

Put another way, if we define getting a hit as success and the character needs an 11 or higher on the die.

He can already choose to:
1 get no success at all (no action)
2 get a 50/50 chance of success ( take one attack)
3 get about 75% chance of success (take two attacks)

So then letting him do one with disad (about 25% chance) or two with disad (about 44% iirc) keeps his chances of success within 0 to 75. He has more options but they are all within that 0 to 75% chance of success he started with.

Same circumstance allowing him to just decide to take advantage gives him a free take advantage on two swings alternative and so his odds of success become about 93%. That gives him odds outside his previous range.

See the difference?

Now that said, the key thing is inspiration awarded for playing his flaw in a detrimental way would allow him to spend that inspiration later to get better odds so, there is a trade off.

But it does not in anyway automatically follow that allowing a player to voluntarily take a deficit means they can voluntarily take an advantage.

The former is giving you more options for how to not spend all 10 dollars you already have on lunch while the latter is you choosing to order a 15 dollar lunch.
 


5ekyu

Hero
As to your first question, I would have asked the player to clarify what they wanted to do and how they go about making that happen. Until I know both of those things, I don’t know what rules I ought to be applying. I might even need further clarification.

A player might say, “I feebly attack the enemy with my sword because of my deep fear.” Now ok that’s all well and good. But I need to know if the player is more interested in the attack or in portraying the fear, before I know if I want an attack roll, or perhaps a wisdom save, or maybe if I just want to narrate what happens next. But what I would not do is just let the player pick what rule resolves the situation.

I might skip a die roll and give a quick “your half-hearted, terrified assault is effortlessly knocked aside by the enemy as they bear down on you. What do you do?” In which case I’m giving them the portrayal of fear-via-feeble attack as a freebie and then giving them an action they can take “for realsies.”

Which sort of gets to your second question. I would absolutely let the player declare their own actions. That’s their job. And I have no problem with a player making a sub-optimal choice. Happens all the time anyway - faced with a tough situation, players don’t always make good choices. But I don’t tell them “No, you don’t pick that, you pick a better option.” They’ve got free reign to portray their character and decide its actions. This includes the freedom to be right, wrong, different, weird, normal, abnormal, or whatever. But they can’t adjudicate their own actions, they can’t decide to make an ability check. They can take an action that might require one, but they can’t just skip to “I roll a 17 strength check so X happens” just the same as they can’t say “I attack with disadvantage.”

I mean heck, what if, unbeknownst to the player, they have a secret advantage? If I tell the player they can’t roll with disadvantage, or to roll only 1d20 (bc the secret advantage cancels the disadvantage), what then?

Corner case for sure. But to the point of roles. DM sets up a scenario/challenge, Players make decisions to change to scenario/overcome the challenge, DMs adjudicate those decisions.

(It’s perfectly fine by me if a group doesn’t have the same roles I do. But I find I get like zero rules lawyer arguments this way, versus when I let players pick what rules they want to apply. And since that means more play time at the table, that’s how we roll).
Gotcha and thanks for the response.

To me, when the player asks for disadvantage on their own attacks to reflect their flaw, their intent and such was much more clearerly much more succintly reported to me than "feebly attack" or any amount of "rate the fear vs the attack in terms of" back and forth questioning could produce.

I dont feel its necessary or good for me to decide for him what "feebly" translates to or whether there is a will save that maybe he makes that then tells him (you over come it) or whatever you were seeing the will save accomplish.

If i choose to just tell him "describe without rules" then it comes down to me guessing what the level of issue they were shooting for was. Maybe i get it right. Maybe i dont.

But the key is if i were to do that i am drawing a huge honking line for them in how they portray giving into their flaw.

If they choose from set a (run away, take no actions, take normal actions etc) they get control of the exact outcome and resolution barring surprises or interruptions.

If the choose from set b (any mechanical change applied by a rule) the forfeit control and its my ball now and naybe they get the kind of change they sought or maybe they dont.

That division imo discourages them from taking a lot of options as it adds in the chance of an outcome their voluntary choice did not aim for.

I dont need to divorce my good players from the rules to manage rules lawyers at my table. Allowing the players more options does not diminish my control or authority. I find it does the opposite.

But, certainly for some groups at some tables it would be simpler and quicker for a player to just choose between the limited set of options under their control (take no action, run away, only take one swing out of two possible, etc etc etc) instead of trying any of the options which force the GM-player reconciliation of intent phase.

After all, if they just move up and declare "she just attacks once with her axe" that whole "what does feebly, fear vs attack" gets avoided.

Every table is different.
 

5ekyu

Hero
Bawylie

There is one pice of your response that i will highlight as it shows a key difference

"I might skip a die roll and give a quick “your half-hearted, terrified assault is effortlessly knocked aside by the enemy as they bear down on you. What do you do?” In which case I’m giving them the portrayal of fear-via-feeble attack as a freebie and then giving them an action they can take “for realsies""

This is imo a key place, we part company and which if i were at your table we would have a post-game discusdion over if i had my way.

If in,my games a player expresses an interest in playing out a flaw with specific actual implications (ie they want an actual penalty) its not as a GM in my book my place to just throw that intent out with a fluff bit and put normal resolution as the outcome "for realsies."

If that was what you meant by that passage, then thst seems to me to be a case of GM not trying to resolve the players intent but to put thier own intent over the players choices.

That gets back to driving the players to avoid the GM-stsging as much as posdible with simpler choices.

If that was not what you meant, then thats fine but for me what the player intends their character to do is always "for realsies" and I as GM take that very seriously at my table as i asdume you do as well.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
No.

Can a player decide "my character is less accurate than normal due to abcd"?

Answer - yes because that puts his expected results (which includes the odds) within the range of outcomes he can normally produce.

I'm really confused. How does advantage produce results outside of the range of possible outcomes? It's advantage, it's not a bonus.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Gotcha and thanks for the response.

To me, when the player asks for disadvantage on their own attacks to reflect their flaw, their intent and such was much more clearerly much more succintly reported to me than "feebly attack" or any amount of "rate the fear vs the attack in terms of" back and forth questioning could produce.

I dont feel its necessary or good for me to decide for him what "feebly" translates to or whether there is a will save that maybe he makes that then tells him (you over come it) or whatever you were seeing the will save accomplish.

If i choose to just tell him "describe without rules" then it comes down to me guessing what the level of issue they were shooting for was. Maybe i get it right. Maybe i dont.

But the key is if i were to do that i am drawing a huge honking line for them in how they portray giving into their flaw.

If they choose from set a (run away, take no actions, take normal actions etc) they get control of the exact outcome and resolution barring surprises or interruptions.

If the choose from set b (any mechanical change applied by a rule) the forfeit control and its my ball now and naybe they get the kind of change they sought or maybe they dont.

That division imo discourages them from taking a lot of options as it adds in the chance of an outcome their voluntary choice did not aim for.

I dont need to divorce my good players from the rules to manage rules lawyers at my table. Allowing the players more options does not diminish my control or authority. I find it does the opposite.

But, certainly for some groups at some tables it would be simpler and quicker for a player to just choose between the limited set of options under their control (take no action, run away, only take one swing out of two possible, etc etc etc) instead of trying any of the options which force the GM-player reconciliation of intent phase.

After all, if they just move up and declare "she just attacks once with her axe" that whole "what does feebly, fear vs attack" gets avoided.

Every table is different.

Maybe lost in the example but I’m not advocating that players must choose to act from a limited menu. They can choose to do anything they want to do, and if I have questions, it’s so that I can faithfully apply the rules to execute their action as best as I can. Facilitate.

My player base includes a large mix of people (from kids to grognards), who have all sorts of expectations or traditions they bring with them to the table. I ask them, in the interest of expediency, and to maximize actual play time, to leave the rules to me and just focus on playing the character/the scenario. They agree, and that agreement enables an enjoyably paced game that moves through a lot of content. Of course there are other ways to pace a game, etc., I’m just talking about my tables.

But that agreement also sort of inoculates against weird situations like what happened in CR. I’m not saying it prevents character deaths, but it does ensure that all decisions and rulings are in good faith, and any deaths come as a result of a series of unfolding, preventable, events instead of quirks. That’s important to me because when a character dies, the player should not feel cheated or gypped.

I might have a very different perspective if I had a large audience though. Who can say. Probably they shouldn’t feel cheated either. That warrants some more thinking.
 

5ekyu

Hero
I'm really confused. How does advantage produce results outside of the range of possible outcomes? It's advantage, it's not a bonus.
Read the rest of the post you excerpted. The question is covered at length. Odds are part of expected outcomes.

I cannot explain the isdue of why taking voluntary disad is not analogous to taking voluntary advantage better than i have in the previous responses.

Perhaps others can.

But regardless, read the whole posts if you want more clarity.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Bawylie

There is one pice of your response that i will highlight as it shows a key difference

"I might skip a die roll and give a quick “your half-hearted, terrified assault is effortlessly knocked aside by the enemy as they bear down on you. What do you do?” In which case I’m giving them the portrayal of fear-via-feeble attack as a freebie and then giving them an action they can take “for realsies""

This is imo a key place, we part company and which if i were at your table we would have a post-game discusdion over if i had my way.

If in,my games a player expresses an interest in playing out a flaw with specific actual implications (ie they want an actual penalty) its not as a GM in my book my place to just throw that intent out with a fluff bit and put normal resolution as the outcome "for realsies."

If that was what you meant by that passage, then thst seems to me to be a case of GM not trying to resolve the players intent but to put thier own intent over the players choices.

That gets back to driving the players to avoid the GM-stsging as much as posdible with simpler choices.

If that was not what you meant, then thats fine but for me what the player intends their character to do is always "for realsies" and I as GM take that very seriously at my table as i asdume you do as well.

I said “I might...” meaning that is a possible outcome.

But to be clear, if I am not sure about what a player intends to do, I ask them. In my role as adjudicator, I am committed to faithfully carrying out the action they declare.

As in the above example, if the player clarified that feeble attack was just a narrative demonstration of their fear, I would go with that but not charge them the action for it. Sometimes my players say they do things that are merely “color” or “flourish.” It’s important to me that I know the difference.

I’m in no way saying I discard player intent arbitrarily or capriciously.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Read the rest of the post you excerpted. The question is covered at length. Odds are part of expected outcomes.

I cannot explain the isdue of why taking voluntary disad is not analogous to taking voluntary advantage better than i have in the previous responses.

Perhaps others can.

But regardless, read the whole posts if you want more clarity.

I did - but I don't agree with your conclusion. Changing the range of probable outcomes is exactly what a player wants to do when they take advantage of disadvantage. Saying that they're only allowed to play within the original range of success probability (and not the entire range of possibility) seems like a constraint you're adding to make your argument stronger?
 

5ekyu

Hero
Maybe lost in the example but I’m not advocating that players must choose to act from a limited menu. They can choose to do anything they want to do, and if I have questions, it’s so that I can faithfully apply the rules to execute their action as best as I can. Facilitate.

My player base includes a large mix of people (from kids to grognards), who have all sorts of expectations or traditions they bring with them to the table. I ask them, in the interest of expediency, and to maximize actual play time, to leave the rules to me and just focus on playing the character/the scenario. They agree, and that agreement enables an enjoyably paced game that moves through a lot of content. Of course there are other ways to pace a game, etc., I’m just talking about my tables.

But that agreement also sort of inoculates against weird situations like what happened in CR. I’m not saying it prevents character deaths, but it does ensure that all decisions and rulings are in good faith, and any deaths come as a result of a series of unfolding, preventable, events instead of quirks. That’s important to me because when a character dies, the player should not feel cheated or gypped.

I might have a very different perspective if I had a large audience though. Who can say. Probably they shouldn’t feel cheated either. That warrants some more thinking.
In the CR situation, iirc, the death wound up having nothing to do with the disadvantsge question. Iirc the attack chosen would have bern disad due to range anyway. So, i am not sure how this technique of yours would innoculate against that.

Right now my table are all long term players, tho a big gap in rule fu. But recent games had them along with first time rpg players. Having the experienced players not told to divorce rules from their actions did not make handling the rookie by "describe actions" (leave rules to me) any harder.

The opposite, she got to see the difference and seeing the way rules tied to actiins whether described using rules-lingo or not helped her to learn the mechanics by seeing them in plat, not all "in gm head".

But each table is different.
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
In the CR situation, iirc, the death wound up having nothing to do with the disadvantsge question. Iirc the attack chosen would have bern disad due to range anyway. So, i am not sure how this technique of yours would innoculate against that.

Right now my table are all long term players, tho a big gap in rule fu. But recent games had them along with first time rpg players. Having the experienced players not told to divorce rules from their actions did not make handling the rookie by "describe actions" (leave rules to me) any harder.

The opposite, she got to see the difference and seeing the way rules tied to actiins whether described using rules-lingo or not helped her to learn the mechanics by seeing them in plat, not all "in gm head".

But each table is different.

That’s interesting!

IMX the number one reservation new players give is “but I don’t know how to play / there’s so many rules.” I sell them on trying it out by telling them the rules are for me to run the game and all you have to worry about is what your adventurer actually does.

Actually, I think the number one reservation might be “isn’t this for nerds?” LOL
 

5ekyu

Hero
I did - but I don't agree with your conclusion. Changing the range of probable outcomes is exactly what a player wants to do when they take advantage of disadvantage. Saying that they're only allowed to play within the original range of success probability (and not the entire range of possibility) seems like a constraint you're adding to make your argument stronger?

Ok maybe you presented the key to the the mis-understanding there - that bolded part.

In the example in case the player before choosing had basically a range of actions that produce probabilities of success between 9% and 75%. Their range was 0% to 75%.

By asking to take disadvantage, they asked to be allowed to select fromadditional options which produced success probabilities that were still between 0 and 75%. They could still choose "no dont take3 disad" and get 75% or they could choose the 50% or the various disad options at 44% and 25%.

So their range of options was still between 75% and 0 - they just had more items on the menu than before that are between 0 and 75%.

A character in the same circumstance wanting to add advantage is asking for a final range of something like 0 to 93% and that is asking for a change to the range of possible outcomes not just more options within the normal range of outcomes - probabilites speaking.

Again, if you character's strength lets you "insert verb from encumbrance" 250 lbs with no pentlay, you can voluntarily choose to carry less than that also with no penalty if you want to show "your character is weak in hot climates" due to a flaw. But you cannot just choose to carry more than 250lbs without penalty.

The constraint that you cannot do "more" than your character stats and rules indicate by choice is in the rules, not something invented by me. the idea of doing less voluntarily is there also.

if the character weants to change their range from 0-75% into 0-93% they can do so with inspiration, help, etc etc. its not free.

But players can do less for free all the time through the rules, so why get hung up on telling them "no you cannot do less "this way" when they have much more limiting choices they can do without your permission as GM? It makes no sense and thats the real difference.

if i have failed to explain this well enough for you, oh well. Doubt i can do any better.
 

5ekyu

Hero
That’s interesting!

IMX the number one reservation new players give is “but I don’t know how to play / there’s so many rules.” I sell them on trying it out by telling them the rules are for me to run the game and all you have to worry about is what your adventurer actually does.

Actually, I think the number one reservation might be “isn’t this for nerds?” LOL

For new players concerned with the rules issue - i tell them the same thing - as i said - she described her characters actions and i handled the rules.

i just didn't see any need to impose that on the other players who did know the rules. that let her see " i rush up and wail on the demon" for her rogue and Jim's "i rush up 60' using my bonus action dash and use my attack with my rapier" to both result in "character moves 60' and attacks while other characters move 30' and attacks" and so she learned by observing that her character was moving 60' due to a bonus action (eventually.) She would not have known that or been able to learn that in play had i told everyone to not use rules in descriptions - unless i chose to hit her with it when i did her resolutions which was clearly not gonna make her game more fun.

[Note thats an adjusted for inflation example - the game wasn't 5e as i recall but was like 3.5 which was a bit more crunchy bits than 5e in many cases and so needed a bit more TLC from the Gm for newbies, IMO]
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
For new players concerned with the rules issue - i tell them the same thing - as i said - she described her characters actions and i handled the rules.

i just didn't see any need to impose that on the other players who did know the rules. that let her see " i rush up and wail on the demon" for her rogue and Jim's "i rush up 60' using my bonus action dash and use my attack with my rapier" to both result in "character moves 60' and attacks while other characters move 30' and attacks" and so she learned by observing that her character was moving 60' due to a bonus action (eventually.) She would not have known that or been able to learn that in play had i told everyone to not use rules in descriptions - unless i chose to hit her with it when i did her resolutions which was clearly not gonna make her game more fun.

[Note thats an adjusted for inflation example - the game wasn't 5e as i recall but was like 3.5 which was a bit more crunchy bits than 5e in many cases and so needed a bit more TLC from the Gm for newbies, IMO]

No joke re 3.5. Running that game is basically WHY my house rule exists.
 

jgsugden

Legend
My dwarven barbarian's flaw is that he is a horrible liar and doesn't realize it. I elected to have him take a -5 penalty to his deception instead of the +1 he would normally have for a 13 Charisma.

My svirfneblin wizard was a drow wizard's slave and spent years expecting to be killed at any moment before he escaped and became an adventurer. When the party encountered drow and again later when they encountered driders, his first priority was hiding so that they did not know he existed - until he had a chance to exact revenge and finish off the encounters.

Back in the 1E days I had a fighter dual classed to wizard that had been born the son of a Thayvian noble. Due to a helm of opposite alignment, he went on to become a heroic adventurer and freedom fighter, but he lived in terror that his father would find him, remove the helm's effects and bring him back into the fold of evil. When the PCs encountered a Red Wizard in a side encounter, I decided that the character would do everything possible to kill it so that it could not report his location. When it teleported away, my character sidetracked the entire campaign for weeks with an obsession of tracking it down, confirming it had not revealed his location and then killing it...

Taking disadvantage when your character is afraid of something is good roleplaying. As Matt, I'd have probably told her that we'd give Lorenzo a free intimidate check to frighten her rather than make it automatic disadvantage, but I'd simultaneously have given her inspiration just for suggesting it.

As for the encounter - They're 5th level. They faced off against what appears to be a level 9+ Hexblade (which would be CR 3), a level 5+ wizard (CR 2), a druid, 2 thugs and a barbarian. If the barbarian and druid were also 5th level-ish (CR 2) and the thugs were MM thugs (CR 1/2), the encounter would have been under the threshold for a deadly encounter (2250 xp versus 2750 for deadly). It was not an unfair encounter based upon abilities exhibited.

I'm curious whether we've seen the last of Molly or if we'll see a new party member.
 

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