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Critical Role PSA: You are not Matt Mercer

I go all in on my voices, whether DM or player. But I've really been shying away from real-world accents as of late. After getting a pregen at a con game that had "speaks with a heavy aussie accent" as a character trait and then being informed that three of the other people at the table were from Australia, I've been working at ways of coming up with voices without using real-world accents. They were great sports about it, and encouraged me to make a fool of myself, at the least.

Anyways, I've no problem with Matt Mercer or Critical Role. I think his rules mastery isn't as good as his ability to tell a story and enable his players to bring their characters and the world to life. But on the whole he's done way more good for the hobby than bad.

I have noticed that there are some players that don't necessarily differentiate between CR and official D&D. Like someone asking about worshiping the Traveller in a FR campaign, or wanting to play a Blood Hunter in AL.

And I almost wish Matt Mercer was on Enworld so he could stop in and say "PSA: I am Matt Mercer."

My teen sons both go pommel deep in the accent thing. Thankfully they aren't terrible at it. Lots of Scottish and Irish, a little Latin America, and some Toydarian-style generic middle eastern. I don't know why people would bother comparing themselves to voice actors though. It's like making fun of someone playing a hacker in a Cyberpunk game because they can't code in HTML.
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Is it too soon to start talking about "The good old days" when we could gather in a large room with a bunch of strangers to play a game? :unsure:
One day, we will come out from under the rocks we're living under, blink in the warm sunlight, someone will put on a scratchy phonograph, and we will play in public again.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I would probably take great story telling over rules mastery as a DM trait any day. That's why although I can't say I'm a CR fan particularly (never watched a whole episode) I am a fan of Matt Mercer.
 

I have no idea what anyone is saying. I play OD&D. :p

In my games inspiration isn't a die roll, it comes from caffeine.

Who is this Merc Marcer whipper snapper?

Where's my hearing aide?

Character Death is Good!
Character death is good. It makes character life even better. Gilded cages suck once you notice the gold is a bunch of bars and not a brick road.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
A lot of us wanted to and tried to create our own campaign worlds when we started out - didn't hurt that when I started, it was before FR was published and there were reams of setting material out there. It's normal and most of our attempts fall flat. It's part of the learning process. Best we can do, when a DM's world peters or flames out, is to pick the poor DMs up, dust them off, bandage their skinned knees, and let them know that the next attempt will be better. And the next attempt after that will be better still.
don't forget the Mercurochrome
mercurochrome.jpg
 

MarkB

Legend
One thing to bear in mind is that the show is, well, a show. While they do genuinely have a good time playing a game they enjoy, they're well aware that they're on camera and entertaining a huge audience, and that will change the emphasis of the game. They're very good with the narrative and character building elements because that's what most of the audience are there for - to experience a story.

That's not the main driving force behind most home games, and trying to make it so will be a self-defeating exercise for many groups.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I’ll believe the “Matt Mercer effect” is a thing when I start hearing actual first-hand accounts of it. Thus far, every time I’ve seen it brought up, its someone referencing some other forum where they saw people complaining about it happening to their friends. Also, given that this one doesn’t have any campaign 2 references and in fact references a character who was kicked out of the group pretty early in campaign 1, I have a feeling it’s copypasta. At this point, I’m pretty sure the whole thing was made up to play on the fears of folks who don’t like streaming games.
 
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Monayuris

Adventurer
I'm sure Matt Mercer is a decent DM and the CR group is having fun playing it, but its absolutely not my cup of tea.

I see it as one way to play D&D but it isn't the only way to play. It isn't even the platonic ideal of D&D. Its just how that specific group enjoys the game.

If other people find enjoyment in emulating that then that's awesome. I, personally, wouldn't enjoy that kind of game and I don't consider Critical Role's style as something to aspire to.

I have friends who are Critical Role fans, and its not a big deal.

I don't try to run my game like Matt Mercer, I try to run my game like myself. I'm as decent a DM as Matt Mercer at running my game and my game is better for it. I'm not going to try to be something I'm not, my strengths as a DM are different than Mr. Mercer and I focus on the things I am stronger at.
 

HJFudge

Explorer
So the biggest issue I have seen from CR has actually come more into play for me lately, since I can no longer play my face to face for the forseeable future.

This had happened before, but since it wasnt my only option it wasnt a big deal. Now it kinda is.

But the biggest negative effect I have felt is every time I want to play an online game, they want to Stream it or Record it or something...and I do not want to be streamed or recorded. Everyone else always thinks its such a grand idea and I feel bad a bit when I poopoo it but its just not something I want.

D&D isnt a spectator sport, and I don't wanna be spectated during it!

Also, when I have relented and tried a game where it is being streamed, there is DEFINITELY players who try and yuck it up for the camera. This gets in the way of the game, imho.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
He isn't the face of D&D, and it must be frustrating when people elevate him to such.
In practice, he is. WotC got lucky that he’s clearly a nice guy; it could have been a disaster if he wasn’t! Then again, if he wasn’t so genuinely nice, he wouldn’t be so appealing.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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 it at my table. I do, however, know of one young gamer who, having been introduced to the game, played for a while, and then tried their hand as a GM. When their attempt seemed, to fail to meet the performance and style seen in CR, they gave up and stopped gaming entirely.

I do not argue that CR is, on balance, a bad thing. But I don't support the idea that there are no downsides to the CR phenomenon.
 

Monayuris

Adventurer
Specifically, I prefer as a player and as a DM a more strategic and tactical approach to game-play.

Interacting with a dungeon environment and dealing with its traps and challenges and denizens is what I prefer. Inordinate amounts of time role-playing in character and having actual spoken dialog with NPCs would cause me to lose interest.

Not to say that social interaction doesn't happen. My old B/X game that got to higher levels started developing some interesting Game of Thrones-esque political intrigue, but it is handled like a dungeon environment.

The environment isn't a literal dungeon but the social challenges are treated as such. I run it in a more descriptive and matter of factual manner.

I don't talk or act out in the voice of the various NPCs and I don't expect players to do so for their characters. That doesn't mean that each NPC can't have meaningful personality traits and feel like living beings. I just communicate such things in a different manner.

I try to make NPCs feel like living beings not by acting them out in character, but by trying to put a lot of effort and care in running them in a consistent and believable manner.


I wonder if there should be a separation between the methodology and the end goal. Do people enjoy Critical Role because of the voice acting talent displayed? Or is it because of the rich narrative and believable characters. If the latter, does the actual methodology matter?
 

The "complaining that the DM isn't Matt Mercer" or "complaining that a PC is making a CR clone" is this gaming generation's "complaining that the PC made a Drizzt clone."
It happens. We've all heard about it happening. We all know someone who had a friend of a friend who had that happen in a game.

But I think it's an overblown complaint.

The big shift is people who are more invested in the story and want to have longer in-character interactions. Who want to embody their character a little more and speak with a voice or accent. The roleplaying aspect of the game has increased and the gamist mix-maxing combat-focused gameplay has decreased slightly.
But that's speaking in huge generalities and large numbers of gamers. The individuals you meet may or may not conform to "the average".
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I haven't seen it at my table. I do, however, know of one young gamer who, having been introduced to the game, played for a while, and then tried their hand as a GM. When their attempt seemed, to fail to meet the performance and style seen in CR, they gave up and stopped gaming entirely.

I do not argue that CR is, on balance, a bad thing. But I don't support the idea that there are no downsides to the CR phenomenon.
I'm not sure I have sympathy for that viewpoint. It's like watching Greg Louganis dive and then quitting swimming because they don't do as well when they jump off the diving board. If someone does react that way because they aren't as good as Greg Louganis (without the years of dedication), then that's not a downside from the quality of Greg's diving (or, in this case, Critical Role's value as gamer entertainment). That's a downside of someone's inability to develop reasonable expectations.

There are plenty of people who get interested in something based on what they see, try it, and then find it's not to their taste or too hard. I don't think that's really a downside. They tried something they probably hadn't tried before and, as long as they gave it an earnest try, it's all good even if they decided not to continue on.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm not sure I have sympathy for that viewpoint. It's like watching Greg Louganis dive and then quitting swimming because they don't do as well when they jump off the diving board. If someone does react that way because they aren't as good as Greg Louganis (without the years of dedication), then that's not a downside from the quality of Greg's diving (or, in this case, Critical Role's value as gamer entertainment). That's a downside of someone's inability to develop reasonable expectations.
It's not even that. Diving, or basketball, or whatever, is a competive sport backed by large corporations and international competitions - the goal is to get "good" at it, and then in some cases get rich from being good at it.

D&D's goal isn't to get "good" at it. It's to have fun with your friends on a Thursday night. There's no competitive element to it.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
The huge change that has taken place in the last ten years or so is that rpg-ing used to be a private activity. Until Youtube etc there wasn't any way to see what other people's games were really like. Now there is and that means we can measure our own games against those that have been recorded.
 


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