D&D 5E Grey beard culture question about critical role

I've been playing D&D since the red box. I am now 52 and playing with a group who is heavily influenced by critical role. I've only watched snippets of critical role, but I'm happy it has brought younger folks to the table.

I adjusted to the new group by using the digital tools as opposed to the paper character sheets.

I often feel like I am playing in parallel to them sometimes. Our DM is incredible, and everyone around the table is having tons of fun. The DM makes puzzles, props, and is not hewn to a rigid following of any CR story, although we use Exandria as a setting. I feel like I'm not 100% "there". I feel like they are playing D&D, but speaking it in a heavily accented version. I want to speak their language a bit better and dive into the game fully as they understand D&D.

Any other long time players have any advice for adjusting into critical role dialect a bit better?
 

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Any specific examples? Do they focus on different things than you are used to? Skip over things you normally consider a big part of the game?
It's like the language / cadence. Or maybe the things they "expect D&D to be". A few examples:
  1. the interchange with merchants is not not something I'm accustomed to - this seems to be a big part of the experience
  2. the depth-of-character is really impressive, but again, I'm simply not accustomed to it - the group is "really in character" at the table
  3. the killing move, "how do you want to do this" is something new to me
  4. the mechanics of the game seem to be less important than the story of the game
Again, my DM is really amazing (I introduced D&D to him many years ago), and I'm having a very fun time, but I'm just...not...quite...connecting.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It's like the language / cadence. Or maybe the things they "expect D&D to be". A few examples:
  1. the interchange with merchants is not not something I'm accustomed to - this seems to be a big part of the experience
  2. the depth-of-character is really impressive, but again, I'm simply not accustomed to it - the group is "really in character" at the table
  3. the killing move, "how do you want to do this" is something new to me
  4. the mechanics of the game seem to be less important than the story of the game
Again, my DM is really amazing (I introduced D&D to him many years ago), and I'm having a very fun time, but I'm just...not...quite...connecting.
I don’t think any of that is unique to Critical Role. While my group isn’t heavy RP (just not our style), the other stuff we’ve been doing for years. Like your #3 there we were doing back in the 80s.

I think it’s just that every group is different. Go to another group and it will be entirely different again. This isn’t really anything to do with age or CR, irs just the nature (and beauty) of our hobby and always has been.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I was beginning to post before you made this response. So to follow on from my pervious post. I only once came across a similar type of game back in the day and that group were theatre types also. Though the DM was much more controlling.

It's like the language / cadence. Or maybe the things they "expect D&D to be". A few examples:
  1. the interchange with merchants is not not something I'm accustomed to - this seems to be a big part of the experience
  2. the depth-of-character is really impressive, but again, I'm simply not accustomed to it - the group is "really in character" at the table
In character in play is very much in the CR style as is moving the story along and engaging with the DM to carry the story. Combat action are often done that make narrative sense, rather than combat optimal as are character build decisions. The story and narrative sense is a central feature of the CR style.

  1. the killing move, "how do you want to do this" is something new to me
It is new to me also but I see where they are coming from.
  1. the mechanics of the game seem to be less important than the story of the game
Very much so, if the mechanics of the game clash with the narrative sense, Mat Mercer will come down on the side of narrative. I do not always agree with his decision on this because sometime he disempowers the players, but I would play at his table. Not sure if they would invite me back, don't know if I am too set in my way to rp at that standard :D but I think I would enjoy the game.
Again, my DM is really amazing (I introduced D&D to him many years ago), and I'm having a very fun time, but I'm just...not...quite...connecting.
Are you having fun and is anyone complaining? If you are and nobody else is too bothered then sit back and enjoy the ride.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
It's like the language / cadence. Or maybe the things they "expect D&D to be". A few examples:
  1. the interchange with merchants is not not something I'm accustomed to - this seems to be a big part of the experience
  2. the depth-of-character is really impressive, but again, I'm simply not accustomed to it - the group is "really in character" at the table
  3. the killing move, "how do you want to do this" is something new to me
  4. the mechanics of the game seem to be less important than the story of the game
Again, my DM is really amazing (I introduced D&D to him many years ago), and I'm having a very fun time, but I'm just...not...quite...connecting.
On that last point.. CR is a bunch of professional voice actors putting on a for profit production intended to entertain the viewer. D&d is almost always intended to entertain the plsyers(and gm).

There is no deeper meaning unless your gm is doing some kind of house rule stuff beyond letting them engage in free form roleplaying because they happen to get the killing blow
 

I think there is something to be said that, broad strokes, there are generational divides in gaming culture. I say this as someone who has been gaming for around 40 yrs and really doesn't click with what seems to be the attitude of most long term gamers online. All that said, for most gamers, their sample size will always be very small, and online attitudes traditionally are guided by people with high personal investment, which often leads to having hard set opinions. I have been watching S3 of CR and yeah, I see game elements which would just not click for me if I was at the table. But I also see things which I admire and have stolen for my own games. The only time I really feel the need to call out anyone for "gaming wrong" is if they do harm or gatekeep.

But yeah. the tediously extended shopping segments on CR, Jasus wept.
 

Reynard

Legend
As someone slightly older that as watched most of CR 1 Legend of Vox Machina. Matt Mercer plays a very old school story focused version of D&D. Of a type that was rare in my experience in the old days.
Emphasis mine.

Obviously we all had different experiences in the "old school" but I must say this is the first time I have heard these two terms mashed together.
 


UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Emphasis mine.

Obviously we all had different experiences in the "old school" but I must say this is the first time I have heard these two terms mashed together.
A lot of what I actually saw back in the day was dragonlance influenced story focused play. With out the CR level of dialog and improv.
A lot of what is referred to here as old school seems to me to be exploration based play, which in fact I saw very little of back when I started play. Though the older players I knew had played it but did not run their games that way.

Edit Changed "Old School" to "old school" to make a distinction that the important bit is "old" not referring to "OSR"
 
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Reynard

Legend
DL 1 Dragons of Despair was released in 1984, and it was more "story-focused" (by any means necessary) than anything coming out of CR.
This is the first time I have ever heard anyone refer to Dragonlance as "old school."

EDIT to add: in fact i would go so far as to say, in my experience, Dragonlance IS the break from Old School.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
It's like the language / cadence. Or maybe the things they "expect D&D to be". A few examples:
Yeah. Think of it more like improv theater and group storytelling than a game.
the interchange with merchants is not not something I'm accustomed to - this seems to be a big part of the experience
CR infamously has entire 4 hour episodes of just shopping.
the depth-of-character is really impressive, but again, I'm simply not accustomed to it - the group is "really in character" at the table
That’s the main selling point of CR. Pro voice actors and actors immersed in character and playing the game.
the killing move, "how do you want to do this" is something new to me
This is common in my experience. We’ve called it different things but done similar since 1984.
the mechanics of the game seem to be less important than the story of the game
Absolutely. It’s more collaborative storytelling than game. They engage the rules “when necessary” but otherwise keep chugging along.
Again, my DM is really amazing (I introduced D&D to him many years ago), and I'm having a very fun time, but I'm just...not...quite...connecting.
Were you around for the Hickman revolution? It’s that taken to the extreme. If you can find a copy of Hickman’s X-Treme Dungeon Mastery, 1E is out-of-print and 2E is still fulfilling via Kickstarter, it might offer some insight.
 

Yeah, I'd second the recommendation for watching Legend of Vox Machina. I just don't have the time to watch Critical Role in full, but the cartoon is much easier to watch. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I am slowly working my way through Exandria Unlimited - even if those episodes still hover around the four-hour range, it helps knowing it's self-contained and there are fewer episodes to go through.

As someone slightly older that as watched most of CR 1 Legend of Vox Machina. Matt Mercer plays a very old school story focused version of D&D. Of a type that was rare in my experience in the old days.

Considering that someone that started gaming when 3e came out has been gaming for over 20 years now, I think it's fair to call Dragonlance old school.

This is the first time I have ever heard anyone refer to Dragonlance as "old school."

EDIT to add: in fact i would go so far as to say, in my experience, Dragonlance IS the break from Old School.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
This is the first time I have ever heard anyone refer to Dragonlance as "old school."

EDIT to add: in fact i would go so far as to say, in my experience, Dragonlance IS the break from Old School.
This is definitely a point of confusion for a lot of folks.

I'm among the folks who often point to Dragonlance as a transition/inflection point. From TSR focusing less on challenge/exploration-focused modules, to more on heroic adventure story-style modules, and novels alongside them. The so-called Hickman Revolution.

A lot of the hardcore AD&D partisans will exclude DL and 2nd ed AD&D from the old school, and to some extent that makes sense. But on the other hand, as The Elusive Shift and early fanzines document, some folks were doing very story and character-focused D&D in the 70s, nearly from the get-go.

While "story-focused" isn't the first phrase that I'd normally pair with "old school", I don't think it's incoherent either. Some old schoolers were story focused. I think this mode of play is often referred to as "Trad", as opposed to "Classic", which is ostensibly the Gygaxian challenge-focused style, for example in RetiredAdventurer's Six Cultures of Play essay from last year. Although I think he's a little bit off in saying that Trad play was necessarily a reaction to Classic, or that it didn't develop until the late 70s. The zine conversations referenced in TES indicate that it started really early.

 
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EDIT to add: in fact i would go so far as to say, in my experience, Dragonlance IS the break from Old School.
Okay, if you define "old-school" as "not story-focused," then I agree "old school story focused" is an odd construction. I also agree it's the way the OSR has defined it. If, on the other hand, the poster was referring to the more general meaning as "old-fashioned or traditional (in a positive way)," then I think it's fine.

I mainly inserted myself into the conversation because I feel like the OSR has led people to believe that their idea of "old-school" is the way most old people actually played, and this was not my experience. In terms of the setting and the way it's structured and developed (as opposed to the quality of the writing or voice-acting, etc.), Mercer's campaigns would fit just fine in the 80s IMO.
 

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