Critical Role EXU: Calamity Discussion (Spoilers)

jgsugden

Legend
Question for folks: How would you have felt as a player in a homebrew game where something similar to Calamity was attempted: Setting an adventure in the far past and using a game with a railroad element to communicate lore to the players?

It struck me that I've done something similar in the past. I had a sandbox campaign where the PCs 'ran out of time' and 'had' to let a critical moment in a storyline pass them by, and that decision to not be there meant they'd have trouble continuing that storyline. It resolved without their involvement, which ended up causing a war between two nations that were both very powerful (the US and USSR of my world - essentially, as if Bay of Pigs went very, very, very wrong). Players wanted to know more about what they'd missed once the campaign ended, but I kept it close to the vest as the ramifications would be felt in the next homebrew adventure in that same world.

A couple years later, after the war had run the full course and peace was restored they had assembled a few of the puzzle pieces, but not all of them. During a break where a player kep to the current storyline was unavailable, I ran two one shots with pregen characters - NPCs from the lore of the world. One took place hundreds of years earlier, and the other took place at that location and time where the PCs decided to prioritize other (more personally important) things. Each one shot revealed elements of lore to the players that they could have found elsewhere, but didn't (or just failed to recognize the significance of when they did hear about them, despite several hints). I designed them as open games where the PCs could do anything they wanted, where what they decided to do could have influences on the modern world that were hidden, but in the end the PCs were returned to being NPCs and I described what took place immediately after the adventure was complete to 'connect the dots'.

There were huge mixed reactions when I 'sprung' the one shots on them. Going into the first of the sessions, one player said he didn't want me to 'spoil' the secrets as they could still discover them. Another said it felt like I was just giving them information that they failed to find and that felt "defeatist". The other three were eager for it. 40% of the group thought I was either spoiling future sessions or just telling them they sucked too much to uncover it on their own. We talked and decided to go ahead, but as they uncovered details that had been misunderstood for years in real life, we eventually all walked away having had fun, but unsure whether it was a good idea. That was back in the early 2000s.

I'm a better DM now than I was then, but Calamity has me wondering how I would approach that situation differently now. As players that are invested in the lore of a campaign world, how would you see the situation?
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Question for folks: How would you have felt as a player in a homebrew game where something similar to Calamity was attempted: Setting an adventure in the far past and using a game with a railroad element to communicate lore to the players?

It struck me that I've done something similar in the past. I had a sandbox campaign where the PCs 'ran out of time' and 'had' to let a critical moment in a storyline pass them by, and that decision to not be there meant they'd have trouble continuing that storyline. It resolved without their involvement, which ended up causing a war between two nations that were both very powerful (the US and USSR of my world - essentially, as if Bay of Pigs went very, very, very wrong). Players wanted to know more about what they'd missed once the campaign ended, but I kept it close to the vest as the ramifications would be felt in the next homebrew adventure in that same world.

A couple years later, after the war had run the full course and peace was restored they had assembled a few of the puzzle pieces, but not all of them. During a break where a player kep to the current storyline was unavailable, I ran two one shots with pregen characters - NPCs from the lore of the world. One took place hundreds of years earlier, and the other took place at that location and time where the PCs decided to prioritize other (more personally important) things. Each one shot revealed elements of lore to the players that they could have found elsewhere, but didn't (or just failed to recognize the significance of when they did hear about them, despite several hints). I designed them as open games where the PCs could do anything they wanted, where what they decided to do could have influences on the modern world that were hidden, but in the end the PCs were returned to being NPCs and I described what took place immediately after the adventure was complete to 'connect the dots'.

There were huge mixed reactions when I 'sprung' the one shots on them. Going into the first of the sessions, one player said he didn't want me to 'spoil' the secrets as they could still discover them. Another said it felt like I was just giving them information that they failed to find and that felt "defeatist". The other three were eager for it. 40% of the group thought I was either spoiling future sessions or just telling them they sucked too much to uncover it on their own. We talked and decided to go ahead, but as they uncovered details that had been misunderstood for years in real life, we eventually all walked away having had fun, but unsure whether it was a good idea. That was back in the early 2000s.

I'm a better DM now than I was then, but Calamity has me wondering how I would approach that situation differently now. As players that are invested in the lor of a campaign world, how would you see the situation?
Sometimes the premise is what comes at the end, not where you start.

It’s no more a railroad than having a game where everyone is a knight of a given holy order. The players bought in, and made characters according to the premise. If I was a player in such a game, I’d be excited.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I'm good with all manner of rpg, so if this was the premise and standard of the particular game, I'd be fine with it. Best way for me to avoid growing bored with any game is to vary things up... whether that be system, genre, style, number of players, identities of other players, game focus, and type of roleplay. Don't need or want every game to be the same.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm good with all manner of rpg, so if this was the premise and standard of the particular game, I'd be fine with it. Best way for me to avoid growing bored with any game is to vary things up... whether that be system, genre, style, number of players, identities of other players, game focus, and type of roleplay. Don't need or want every game to be the same.
Absolutely.

A lot of criticism would be more sensible for a game that sold itself as a “normal” campaign.
 

MarkB

Legend
I can't speak for anyone else, but I was absolutely right there in the moment with all of them when I watched the episode, not concerning myself with "oh, but of course they're not really going to fail and doom the world ".

Great finale, and I was in absolute bits by the end of it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
I was really impressed. As emotional as the events and narration were over the last couple of episodes, Brennan Lee Mulligan still managed to inject a lot of humor to mix up the pacing and mood. I particularly enjoyed his use of Cerrit's son Kir. It made all of the more serious interactions between Cerrit and kids even stronger and more emotional.
I think I lost count of the number of times Sam's cheeks were all shiny with tears.
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
BE WARNED - Spoilers for the entire series starting with this post :)


Well, turns out I was very, very wrong about this mini-series not being a full on railroad. Still loved the performance and especially loved Brennan's Asmodeus

That was the highlight for me as well. "But I didn't do anything WRONG!" was such a chilling moment.

Also amusingly meta, given how some parts of the community were already raving about how this would be some shocking reveal about how the Betrayers were actually the good guys all along, and the Prime deities were actually the douchebags. Quite appropriate that the god of deceit manages to trick the fanbase.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top