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D&D General Critical Role: Overrated, Underrated, or Goldilocks?

Iry

Hero
Again, there is a difference between performing for an “audience” that consists entirely of active participants in the performance, and performing for an audience of passive observers. A bunch of jazz players having an improvisational jam session together, and the same people doing an improvisational concert are two different activities.
How about this: The difference exists in the mind of some people, and the difference does not exist in the mind of others. Some people will act differently when observers are passively watching vs actively participating, some are floating around the middle point, and some people won't care in the slightest.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
How about this: The difference exists in the mind of some people, and the difference does not exist in the mind of others. Some people will act differently when observers are passively watching vs actively participating, some are floating around the middle point, and some people won't care in the slightest.
You know who the difference definitely does exist for? People who enjoy performing for a passive audience enough to make a career out of it (despite it being a notoriously terrible career path). You know, like the entire Critical Role cast.
 




Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
That performances for a non participatory audience are different, and that this limits the utility of critical role as a role model for a home game because of the impact it has.

If that isnt what you want the reader to think you mean, youve drifted into a 180 over the course of your argumentation.
No, that’s accurate. I’ve just gotten so accustomed to people misapprehending the argument I felt the need to make sure.
 

No, that’s accurate. I’ve just gotten so accustomed to people misapprehending the argument I felt the need to make sure.
As a performer ive found that its less about an intrinsic difference and more about how you think of your audience, e.g. the difference is with me rather than with the audience and what my goals are.

In the specific I've actually been spending a lot of time comparing my current group dynamics with ones I've had in the past, and it made me realize that part of our problem is that we don't play as if we value one another as an audience (on the player side anyway, GMing can have a specific culture) essentially everyone is playing for their own reasons, and we often aren't fans of each other's characters so in turn we don't get the character interaction we want or need as everyone focuses on their character's interactions with the GM and the NPCs and neglect to support it when someone else is 'doing a thing.'

Since realizing this I've became a player for 8 months or so, and sure enough, playing my character to interact with things other people are doing, being fans of their characters, talking to them within the party, making sure we have conflict (while making it clear its between the two characters, and ensuring the character isn't disrupting things we want to do) and generally treating the other people around the table like an audience I mean to entertain, impress, and engross like in my other performances (and of course GMing) is working wonders.

More to the point of the thread, I think that's the secret with Critical Role, you can see that they're very much fans of each other's characters, so they interact, they push to get information, they have heart-to-hearts, they support it when one of them is trying to do a thing with their character, they look for ways to link the character's together or establish interparty banter, they all treat the other players as part of their audience, and they treat themselves as an admiring audience for the other players. I think its something the Critical Role cast has experience doing and thinking because they all take mutual pride in their performances, but its not something you have to be a professional with a non-participatory audience to do, you just need to take the participating audience seriously as an audience, and they need to take you seriously as a performer.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
As a performer ive found that its less about an intrinsic difference and more about how you think of your audience, e.g. the difference is with me rather than with the audience and what my goals are.

In the specific I've actually been spending a lot of time comparing my current group dynamics with ones I've had in the past, and it made me realize that part of our problem is that we don't play as if we value one another as an audience (on the player side anyway, GMing can have a specific culture) essentially everyone is playing for their own reasons, and we often aren't fans of each other's characters so in turn we don't get the character interaction we want or need as everyone focuses on their character's interactions with the GM and the NPCs and neglect to support it when someone else is 'doing a thing.'

Since realizing this I've became a player for 8 months or so, and sure enough, playing my character to interact with things other people are doing, being fans of their characters, talking to them within the party, making sure we have conflict (while making it clear its between the two characters, and ensuring the character isn't disrupting things we want to do) and generally treating the other people around the table like an audience I mean to entertain, impress, and engross like in my other performances (and of course GMing) is working wonders.

More to the point of the thread, I think that's the secret with Critical Role, you can see that they're very much fans of each other's characters, so they interact, they push to get information, they have heart-to-hearts, they support it when one of them is trying to do a thing with their character, they look for ways to link the character's together or establish interparty banter, they all treat the other players as part of their audience, and they treat themselves as an admiring audience for the other players. I think its something the Critical Role cast has experience doing and thinking because they all take mutual pride in their performances, but its not something you have to be a professional with a non-participatory audience to do, you just need to take the participating audience seriously as an audience, and they need to take you seriously as a performer.
Much better explanation of what I was trying to say. :)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I wanted to add something before the thread fizzled. CR has a meta thing going for it that is very on brand for the ttrpg community: these guys are real friends that genuinely love each other. Sentimental perhaps, but I catch myself getting a bit seduced by their organic, tight-knit group almost as much as their play.
It’s one of the reasons they’re a joy to watch. It’s clear that they have a goal, maybe even primary goal, in entertaining each other. It’s like performing for the audience at home is just incidental.
 

Great insight @Snarf Zagyg .

I think if there are any gamemasters out there that have run a four hour adventure four or five times, they understand the difference between improv, being prepped, or true fluidity.

In my own experience, I have run the same four hour adventure for probably twelve different groups. By the fifth or sixth time, the segues, the NPCs, the details of a setting, and the pacing is night and day difference from the first time I ran it. I have always thought that is what Mercer and his crew bring to the table with their vast years of experience. It's as if they have run something twenty times already, even when it is their first time.
 

On a side note, the players at Mercer's table do not play into the mechanics, which makes the storyline seem more natural. For example, one clip I was watching had the characters interacting with a hallway. Not one player said, "Oh, I'm going to wait for the rogue to come over and try the door." No. Whoever was in front of the door simply interacted with the door. They looked for a trap, then tried to open it.
 








billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I think covid really took the wind out their sails.
There was also a somewhat different atmosphere from the start - partly because Campaign 1 was new and their presentation was evolving. I think they also went with a somewhat more serious direction for Campaign 2 with many of the characters. Sam was playing an oddball character in Nott, but not a joke character as with Scanlan. Travis was playing a much more serious character than Grog. For that matter, so were Marisha and Ashley. Laura and Taliesin were the only players with characters bordering on actually being light in mood/atmosphere.

I also noticed that they were a bit more... cautious... in campaign 2 - at least in the sense that they ran away a lot more and/or earlier than I recall in campaign 1. Died a lot less often as a result.
 

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