Critical Role PSA: You are not Matt Mercer


I think every DM and player needs to find their style. Personally? I like acting things out, doing funny accents, making in-game jokes. Just had a game with two-headed trolls with each head having distinct accents and arguing about what the toll should be (because troll under the bridge, duh). Then proceeded to try to eat the monk and talking about how they liked their meals with kick. I grunt and growl, scowl and (pretend to) spit if the role calls for it.

On the other hand, I would never expect someone to do an accent if they don't want to. I encourage people to talk in person and act out their characters but I don't push it. People play for different reasons, for me in part it's an opportunity to let out my inner thespian.

That reminds me of the ettin I had in a game where each head was a different alignment because of a curse.

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Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
The poor guy was great at voices, absolutely amazing at them, but he couldn't be arsed to put the work in on the world and campaign that Mercer does. It was also his first time DMing, so it was...pretty bad. My wife's online game suffers a bit from the same problem; their DM really wants to make his own setting and run his own adventures like Mercer does. I applaud the desire, but I never recommend jumping into the deep end like that for first time DMs or DMs without a good bit of experience. Speaking from the experience of a published minor RPG author, making a campaign world is effing hard.

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.



Matt created the world over time - starting with one location and expanding it until it was his broader world. That is the 5E DMG advice.

He created it as he needed it rather than creating it all and dropping PCs into it. Both approaches have merit. I like to build the broad strokes first and then fill in the details as I go (which is what I think Mercer actually did as well).

I do not wan to be caught unprepared if the PCs travel to a neighboring country so that I do not need to make cities on the fly, but I want the flexibility to shape around the ideas of the PCs as they encounter the town - and there will always be a bit of fly creation.

That was my point. He went as needed and the books came later based on what he’d done so far. I was being cheeky. He didn’t follow the 5e DMG though. They started with 4e and then Pathfinder and had been playing together for a year or two before it became a show. They converted to 5e then and it’s why there isn’t a rule familiarity but they had by the point the show aired been playing once a week for 8 or so hours at a time according to comments on various episodes.


Doors and Corners
And if you want to call me a Mercer fanboy - Hell yeah, I'm a huge Fan Man. As I said - best DM I've seen in 40+ years. I've stolen a lot from him, including how to help clueless players without insulting them, how to add drama, how to use silence as a tool, etc...
(This is gonna git a little rambly, but it'll have a positive ending! I swear!)

I would never call you that. And anyone who did should be ignored. I positively think that for his style of play that he is a fantastic DM. I also think that, quite possibly, his style of play is one that you would (and obviously do) enjoy. To that I say: "To Infinity and Beyond!!"

Myself, I don't find him particularly engaging. Not anymore so than many other GMs/DMs I've had over the decades. His style of play is not a style that would keep me in focus during the game. As a player, I would find the plethora of voices, etc. to be highly annoying! (Voices like the Mindflayer dude in Season 1 or Kiri in Season 2 had me going: Ok, the cute has worn off. Can we drop it now?)

My style of play is waaay more Adventure Zone than Critical Role. I enjoy the small shots of CR I get from the podcast to and from work. But anything over that 20-30 minutes and I start thinking: Get to the point! Let's go, let's go, let's gooooo!

I think that MM and the CR team are a huge boon for D&D. They do an awesome job at highlighting one way of playing the game. And I'll admit that I'm getting more knee-jerkish as time goes by whenever I hear how he's the best DM ever. My first response is usually around "Uh, no. He's ok, but I've seen/had better." I have to rein it waaaaay back and think "Yeah, I guess he is for his way of playing."

What I do find positively incredibly awesome about Matt Mercer is the podcast/videos/etc. of him saying just about the same thing: That his way of doing it is one way and that there are multitudes of ways of doing D&D. So don't copy him! Find your own groove!

If I had players compare my game to CR, I'd just send 'em to those videos of him and to the Adventure Zone podcasts and go, "yeah, it's gonna be more like that."

I can recall only only one player so far who made a disparaging remark about my game in relation to CR. My response was "you know there is a whole professional production team involved, right?" I think that CR can set up unrealistic expectations for beginning players, but at least it get people playing!

So, no. I wouldn't call you a Fan Boy/Fan Man. I'd more call you a Dude-Who-Has-Found-Someone-Who-Runs-The-Game-How-He-Loves.

TLDR: I think it's awesome that you've found someone whose game-style really jams with ya! Go, go, Gadget Copter!

(See! Positive ending!)


Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
I understand that there are people out there who get so enamored of the stuff they watch that they want to be able to experience it in their own games. It became an in-joke for us for one player to tease us DMs while watching action movies, "Why can't we do that in your adventures, Bill (or Dave)?"
[Side note: He did not do that while watching the Dungeons and Dragons movie when the group went to watch it - clearly a bad sign]

So the whole issue of comparing to other games is old. Critical Role is just a recent example that has a broader popularity and is currently in vogue.

That said, comparison isn't all bad as long as it's put in the right context. Watching other games can give you some good ideas and push you to improve your skills. But it fundamentally has to be a process of self-driven improvement, not one imposed by external pressure because someone at the table thinks CR or another game they've seen is the bee's knees.

And there is a lot about CR that is worth learning from. The players get into things but never lose their cross-table joking and laughter. They cheer on interesting results. They play characters that learn and grow that have backstories that range from quirky to dramatic and that they are willing to discuss and explore. They learn how to play their characters and, while forgetting things from time to time, generally get better at them and the overall rules. They're engaged. They also accept that they're not always each the center of attention. They interact in character about all sorts of things, not just the action on the mini board - and sometimes, those interactions aren't all that smooth because they're improvising it but they accept that and move on. They don't expect their play and game to be as perfect as some their fans seem to think their own games have to be.
And all of that is worth learning from.


They converted to 5e then and it’s why there isn’t a rule familiarity but they had by the point the show aired been playing once a week for 8 or so hours at a time according to comments on various episodes.
I believe the "once a week" is incorrect. I think in an interview Matt said that before CR, because of conflicting schedules, they had only been able to meet like once a month but those sessions were for 8+ hrs at a time.

I could be wrong though.


Magic Wordsmith
I'm not all that impressed by Mercer's DMing. I don't get any complaints in any of the games I run even from players who are CR fans.

The truth is, we shouldn't compare ourselves to other people. We should compare ourselves to how we were yesterday. If we're slightly better today than we were yesterday, then that's the perfect place to be in my view.

Voidrunner's Codex

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