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

Reynard

Legend
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 so some extent they're right. 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.
Sure, I wasn't trying to make a declaration of what is true, just stating my experience with the terms (which is why i refer to myself as a middle schooler, having come into the game with BECMI in 1985).
 

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Celebrim

Legend
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 will tell you the truth as I see it, and hopefully I won't be too offensive. I have met tons of players of RPGs that have 20 or 30 years of experience and have never learned to play the game well. They stayed in a comfortable spot where they never had to develop skill as a role-player and they used minimal interaction over and over again.

The result is that I often find experienced players play the game less well than complete novices. I spend a lot of my time as a GM unlearning very experienced players of bad habits that limit the amount of fun they can have with the game, and prevent them from improving as players that are better able to increase everyone's fun.

The great thing about Critical Role is that it shows what really elevated and skillful play looks like so that younger players have a template for that. And it sounds like you've fallen into a group that has rolled with that and is playing at a very high skill level. And now you are out of your comfort zone and being challenged to stretch your wings and level up your game. And it's awkward at first. I was fortunate to have a really good DM take me under his wing at like age 13, and show me the real game and force me to play it. And it was hugely embarassing and awkward at first to be in character. And figuring out how to give RP hooks to other players and play a make believe game together takes practice.

Ultimately I can't tell you how to play at a particular table because every table has it's own procedures of play. I can tell to just lean into it and realize that somewhere you got stuck at the equivalent of 4th level fighting kobolds and rats and stayed there and that this is awesome, and you are 50 and you are leveling up and that is amazing. Because so many gamers I meet don't want to learn anything new.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
I will tell you the truth as I see it, and hopefully I won't be too offensive. I have met tons of players of RPGs that have 20 or 30 years of experience and have never learned to play the game well. They stayed in a comfortable spot where they never had to develop skill as a role-player and they used minimal interaction over and over again.

The result is that I often find experienced players play the game less well than complete novices. I spend a lot of my time as a GM unlearning very experienced players of bad habits that limit the amount of fun they can have with the game, and prevent them from improving as players that are better able to increase everyone's fun.

The great thing about Critical Role is that it shows what really elevated and skillful play looks like so that younger players have a template for that. And it sounds like you've fallen into a group that has rolled with that and is playing at a very high skill level. And now you are out of your comfort zone and being challenged to stretch your wings and level up your game. And it's awkward at first. I was fortunate to have a really good DM take me under his wing at like age 13, and show me the real game and force me to play it. And it was hugely embarassing and awkward at first to be in character. And figuring out how to give RP hooks to other players and play a make believe game together takes practice.

Ultimately I can't tell you how to play at a particular table because every table has it's own procedures of play. I can tell to just lean into it and realize that somewhere you got stuck at the equivalent of 4th level fighting kobolds and rats and stayed there and that this is awesome, and you are 50 and you are leveling up and that is amazing. Because so many gamers I meet don't want to learn anything new.
Weird. I wouldn’t call it skilled play. Skilled play is when the players solve the problems via thinking and interacting with the environment rather than engaging the mechanics. The opposite of how CR plays. They’re obviously quite skilled as actors and voice actors, but that’s not an essential part of play. Role-playing is, sure. But role-playing is more than pulling a voice.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
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.
In response to your edit. I bought the basic set around eighty three/four I really cannot remember but dragonlance came out in eighty four I did not get into a regular ttrpg playing until about eighty seven or so. That is a long time ago, (36 to 39 years ago) ancient history to the vast majority of CR's audience. Old, to most people that started in the 3e era. OSR is rapidly becoming A(ncient)SR though they could get away with O(riginal)SR though I prefer "High Gygaxian" :D
 


G

Guest 7034872

Guest
Hi, Bill in Warsaw,

I can't really give advice on this; I can only say what helped me. I was in a situation similar to yours in 2018 when I jumped back into the game: I was the only person there over 21, so it was a 49-year-old guy and a bunch of college students with cell phones.

What helped me was watching a bunch of Critical Role until I got a proper feel for how the whole table interacted. I especially watched for those moments when I could tell the actors were pretending to be excited/emotional for the benefit of the cameras versus those moments when they really were excited/emotional. After watching about a dozen episodes, I had a decent feel for how they do things at their table.

Good luck!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I especially watched for those moments when I could tell the actors were pretending to be excited/emotional for the benefit of the cameras versus those moments when they really were excited/emotional.
I’m extremely skeptical of this, tbh.

No no no. Please no. I don't care how many snazzy voices they're doing, I'd jump out of a window directly onto my computer to avoid watching that.
I don’t understand. It’s a show. They sometimes spend an episode in downtime. I can’t even fathom what is unusual about it, much less deserving of this reaction.
 

Voadam

Legend
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.
From the beginning in the 70s D&D has been open to hugely divergent approaches to gaming that focuses on different aspects of the game. From the beginning there have been groups doing D&D in very different ways. Roleplaying in first person in depth as the character. Trying to roleplay the stats on the sheet as the character. Roleplaying your own narrative character concept. Playing third person focusing on the adventure. Focusing on doing well at the dungeon delving. Focusing on doing well with resource management. Focusing on the story. Focusing on combat as the fun. Focusing on character build and mechanics. Focusing on being a hero in the story.

When you play with a group that focuses on different things you can either try to focus on those as well and experience the different play experience, or focus on the things you like and maybe communicate some preferences to the DM/group so the play experience can include the types of things you want.
 

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