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Critical Role PSA: You are not Matt Mercer

Fauchard1520

Explorer
Slightly longer write-up on the comic, but here's the gist:

Lately, I’ve begun to see a disturbing litany of complaints on the boards. My GM won’t give me my bardic inspiration dice because I didn’t make up a song like Scanlan. One of my fellow PCs is ripping off the Tyberius Stormwind voice, and now I’m getting shit on for not doing an accent. My players expect me to have a fully fleshed out fantasy world “more like Matt’s.” This is my first campaign! As a longtime gamer I’ll find myself sitting there and shaking my head in dismay. The fact is that it’s not fair to watch professional entertainers and then compare your buddies. You aren’t going to get the New York Yankees at the local sandlot. Your student film is probably not going to be Infinity War.

It goes deeper than that though. Different GMs have different styles, and there are plenty of good games out there that look nothing like Mercer’s. Sandbox play, zero level character funnels, adventure paths, and West Marches style games can all be a blast. If you hold them all to the standard of “it ought to be just like my favorite podcast,” you wind up missing out on cool experiences. While there’s nothing wrong with having preferences, I also think there’s such a thing as unrealistic expectations.

Have any of you guys met with this issue out in the wilds? How do you deal with it when it shows up at your table?
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
Not like that as such but talking to people it's changed expectations and creates disappointment.

Kinda prefer to have CR fans not play. Those groups all kinda self destructed anyway.

Only two DMs pulled off campaigns, mine was one. The other one was short term 10 weeks she ran for new players.

New DMs running with 7 or 8 players not a good idea. I cap mine at 6, prefer 5.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
As a DM myself, my player oriented PSA is: I'm not Matt Mercer. I don't require a song and a dance by a bard, nor do I require an insult for vicious mockery (they still come up with something because it's fun but they don't need to). As for my world, I had the basics in the beginning and now I'm developing it a bit more, nothing to spectacular though. It's all pretty standard stuff that has many ideas stolen from various editions. I have the benefit of having players with realistic and reasonable expectations so I don't have to worry about the "Matt Mercer effect".

Actually, I've never seen critical role so I guess I don't even 100% know what the Matt Mercer effect really is, I'm just going off 2nd hand information from people who do watch it.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Slightly longer write-up on the comic, but here's the gist:

Lately, I’ve begun to see a disturbing litany of complaints on the boards. My GM won’t give me my bardic inspiration dice because I didn’t make up a song like Scanlan. One of my fellow PCs is ripping off the Tyberius Stormwind voice, and now I’m getting shit on for not doing an accent. My players expect me to have a fully fleshed out fantasy world “more like Matt’s.” This is my first campaign! As a longtime gamer I’ll find myself sitting there and shaking my head in dismay. The fact is that it’s not fair to watch professional entertainers and then compare your buddies. You aren’t going to get the New York Yankees at the local sandlot. Your student film is probably not going to be Infinity War.

It goes deeper than that though. Different GMs have different styles, and there are plenty of good games out there that look nothing like Mercer’s. Sandbox play, zero level character funnels, adventure paths, and West Marches style games can all be a blast. If you hold them all to the standard of “it ought to be just like my favorite podcast,” you wind up missing out on cool experiences. While there’s nothing wrong with having preferences, I also think there’s such a thing as unrealistic expectations.

Have any of you guys met with this issue out in the wilds? How do you deal with it when it shows up at your table?
For all I've seen reports like yours about "other people" complaining about these sort of things, or people speculating (and bemoaning) that it might happen, first person reports seem to be much rather IMX. And for all the other DMs of note, it always seems to be Mercer (or more exactly players who are CR) who is/are the main problem. Could be I'm just not in the right place at the right time, or not paying attention. Care to cite some actual first person reports for my edification?

EDIT: Full disclosure - I do watch CR, but none of my seven players had ever shown the least interest. They certainly have the occasional complaint, but not on the basis of comparing our game to any Internet phenom. The few CR fans that I have met in person didn't seem like the kind of wingnuts who would do that kind of thing either. But like I said, could be sampling error.
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Matt doesn't require those things, either; it's his players just offering those thing up "because it's fun". Weird, huh?
That sentence structure was a little weird, I wasn't saying he did require it, I was saying I'm not him (as in I don't play like him). The following sentence was actually responding to the OP about requiring a song for bard abilities.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
That sentence structure was a little weird, I wasn't saying he did require it, I was saying I'm not him (as in I don't play like him). The following sentence was actually responding to the OP about requiring a song for bard abilities.
Oh, ok. I misunderstood. Sorry.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Slightly longer write-up on the comic, but here's the gist:

Lately, I’ve begun to see a disturbing litany of complaints on the boards. My GM won’t give me my bardic inspiration dice because I didn’t make up a song like Scanlan. One of my fellow PCs is ripping off the Tyberius Stormwind voice, and now I’m getting shit on for not doing an accent. My players expect me to have a fully fleshed out fantasy world “more like Matt’s.” This is my first campaign! As a longtime gamer I’ll find myself sitting there and shaking my head in dismay. The fact is that it’s not fair to watch professional entertainers and then compare your buddies. You aren’t going to get the New York Yankees at the local sandlot. Your student film is probably not going to be Infinity War.

It goes deeper than that though. Different GMs have different styles, and there are plenty of good games out there that look nothing like Mercer’s. Sandbox play, zero level character funnels, adventure paths, and West Marches style games can all be a blast. If you hold them all to the standard of “it ought to be just like my favorite podcast,” you wind up missing out on cool experiences. While there’s nothing wrong with having preferences, I also think there’s such a thing as unrealistic expectations.

Have any of you guys met with this issue out in the wilds? How do you deal with it when it shows up at your table?
Also, Tyberius was definitely not the most memorable CR PC. Does someone really remember his accent?

And, the blog post you point to looks to be about 2 years old. Yeah, I thought this all had a familiar (and somewhat dated) ring to it.
 

pogre

Hero
I'm not a CR fan personally, but I recognize CR has done way more good than harm. I run a High School gaming club (you know, way back (March) when we had high school) and CR is a very significant gateway to D&D for a ton of kids.

I'm not a CR fan because I am not a fan of streaming games in general. I recognize fully they are a very talented group. I just don't get it because I'm old ;)

There is some trepidation from some kids jumping into the DM chair for fear 'of not doing it right,' but lately I have had plenty of volunteers. I think the Mercer Effect is less now. Mr. Mercer himself has done much to combat it by encouraging others to own their game in their way.

Young DMs make the same mistakes young DMs have been making since the mid 70's. They over-plot, they over-reward, they get adversarial at times - I don't blame any of it on Cr!
 


Have any of you guys met with this issue out in the wilds? How do you deal with it when it shows up at your table?
I haven't seen this in the wild, and almost all the talk about it I've heard seems to be third-hand stuff which is "I read a guy on a board saying that this happened to a guy!", rather than first-hand stuff like "this happened to me".

Only one person in my group watches CR-type stuff much, and he actually said he didn't like CR because it's "too serious". I will say his RP and character-design choices seem to have improved since he started watching them, though. I think the worst thing he's ever done related to that was a mild backhanded compliment about some aspect of my DMing as compared to some show, which just made me roll my eyes.
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
I like CR but I've never seen this happen and I certainly don't try to run my game the same as Mercer.

It would be pretty weird to me if this was a thing, though given the number of inane GMing stories I've heard from before CR was ever a thing, I don't doubt that it's happened to someone somewhere. I am, however, skeptical about its prevalence.
 


I find that dms who dont measure themselves by way of comparison to other dms usually end up more unique, outright better, more robustly creative, and more fun anyway. Developing this way is organic and takes longer to reach your potential but its worth the climb. Right off the bat your putting an inherently heavier emphasis on developing your own raw creativity and becoming practiced at coming up with your own ideas more than someone who meaures themselves and compares themselves constantly to an established dm. The pay off ks definitely worth it.

Caveat: learning by watching dms is a different story. Im talking about something else which has a much stronger influence, often destructive and while dms who do constantly compare themselves to other dms do also do all the things i mentioned who dont do that do, the focus on those things is lessened.
 

akr71

Adventurer
I do watch CR as does my wife (occasionally) and the other DM in my group. I have not seen this effect at our table, nor have I read about tables with these issues on this board. I could be missing those threads by not paying attention.

One of my players would love it if I put on voices and theatrics, but until she does, and the rest of the table follows suite, I have no intention of doing so. Plus the amount of whiskey that would take could seriously damage my liver.
 

I do watch CR as does my wife (occasionally) and the other DM in my group. I have not seen this effect at our table, nor have I read about tables with these issues on this board. I could be missing those threads by not paying attention.

One of my players would love it if I put on voices and theatrics, but until she does, and the rest of the table follows suite, I have no intention of doing so. Plus the amount of whiskey that would take could seriously damage my liver.
op isnt exagerating. I havent encountered it because our group always makes good friends with people before we invite them to play (or they are family members) but it really is a pandemic (lol...this word is very in vogue) and i have friends and acquaintances who have run into it a lot. Technically i have run into it but not at the table. Only in conversation with people who play d&d who i discover through said conversation play it. Never my group. But with these people i occasionally run into someone who is one of these players. Or a dm who is obsessed with trying to live up to mercer. Its so depressing. Yeah. Op isnt exagerating at all. And also these people are almost always talking about how the campaign is imploding or about how they HAD a campaign or campaigns that imploded.
 

I've not run across this, but I've been running/playing for much longer than CR. I suppose a new player whose only experience has been from CR might make some issue about it, but they'll learn very quickly that every DM (and player) has their own style. The only way I can see this as a major issue would be a group of new players & DM that got together because they'd all watched CR, because they'll never replicate what they've seen (because they're freaking professionals!).
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Quite and the sword cuts both ways, because just as the DM is not Matt Mercer, the player isn't Travis Willingham or whoever.
That's a point I've made before. Putting aside the notion that one DM should be just like another, if a game isn't as "good" as maybe the participants would like, putting all the blame on the DM is unfair. D&D is a group activity. Everybody is responsible for making it a fun time.

I imagine responding to a player complaining "This game isn't as good as X!" with "Well, play better then!" wouldn't go down well though! :D
 

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