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D&D General Survivor Dungeon Masters -- discussion


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mcmillan

Explorer
Imagine you're a jobbing actor. A company hires you for a role. One of the other new hires is mean to you. You want to work with the company again. Do you: A) act unprofessionally, i.e. publicly bad mouth the other employee and risk no new work from that company and possibly less work from other companies, or; B) act professionally, i.e. play nice in hopes of getting more work.
If there were problems they might not have been public about it, but probably wouldn't say things like "It doesn’t go without saying that I never expected a TTRPG to be my favorite work experience in an over decade-long career.⁣ ⁣ It really has been a dream job."


or
"To [Aabria] for a soul connection so strong, folks really thought our pc beefs were personal beefs. Thank you for showing me anything is possible with enough belief and haggling love u sm!"


I really didn't see that much more railroading than I would have expected in a limited run campaign with a fixed end time. I must have missed the inside/avoid fight situation but I've certainly seen miscommunication like that in games. On the other hand it seemed clear that the group took a different approach to Poska/the Nameless Ones than Aabria expected which seemed to be built up to be a more significant role in the game. And Aabria talked about how she had planned a much more involved trial encounter that started with the crocodile fight, but decided to cut it short after Aimee shut the whole thing down early. Also I find the claim of "railroading" to put on the crown weird, since it seemed obvious to me to be in-character temptation that was also directed at other players.

There's also the fact that Aimee seemed to have her powers shutdown, but in most circumstances she would have been able to resolve it by making choices (such as choosing not to apologize to Ted and dragging things out). But Aimee has said she approached the role more as an actor and was looking for ways to draw out conflict and less thinking about the game mechanics which would fit into this.
 


Bolares

Hero
Also I find the claim of "railroading" to put on the crown weird, since it seemed obvious to me to be in-character temptation that was also directed at other players.
Yeah, I've done something similar with a player. It may seem like the DM is taking agency form a player, but if the subject was talked about before the game, and the player was ok with the possibility of agency being taken away from them, because a temptation or other effect, I think it's completely ok to do it. Consent is key here. As we can't know if there was a talk between Aimee and Aabria, it can seem like Aabria's call was a dick move, but I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
Yeah, I've done something similar with a player. It may seem like the DM is taking agency form a player, but if the subject was talked about before the game, and the player was ok with the possibility of agency being taken away from them, because a temptation or other effect, I think it's completely ok to do it. Consent is key here. As we can't know if there was a talk between Aimee and Aabria, it can seem like Aabria's call was a dick move, but I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.
As do I. But by the end she had burned every ounce of benefit of the doubt I was willing to give her. As I said a few times now, insulting the players burns infinite good will from me. That's a dick move.
 



Mort

Legend
Supporter
As do I. But by the end she had burned every ounce of benefit of the doubt I was willing to give her. As I said a few times now, insulting the players burns infinite good will from me. That's a dick move.
From comments afterward, it seems pretty clear that both were treating the experience more as an acting gig (though a heavily improvised one) than a gaming experience - thus it's hard to judge it as a gaming one.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Yeah, I've done something similar with a player. It may seem like the DM is taking agency form a player, but if the subject was talked about before the game, and the player was ok with the possibility of agency being taken away from them, because a temptation or other effect, I think it's completely ok to do it. Consent is key here. As we can't know if there was a talk between Aimee and Aabria, it can seem like Aabria's call was a dick move, but I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.
This just came up in my game, actually. Last week.

At the end of our last gaming session, one of the characters in my gaming group died. Like, for real: rolled a nat-1 on a death save, after having already failed one. It was one of the most popular characters in the group, too, the de-facto leader of the gang in most cases. We ended the game because of the late hour, and I let everyone at the table believe that the fallen character was gone for good.

In the days since, my wife and I have been talking about what to do with their character. They have made it clear that they would like to keep playing their deceased character if possible, so we've been crafting a story arc that is going to blow everyone's minds. (TL;DR: their character serves a draconic ancestor-god of renewal, rebirth, and refinement. So their character is about to rise from the ashes, phoenix-like, at the cost of changing their race to the UA Chromatic Dragonborn.)

All of this was collaborated and curated between me and the player, with full buy-in, but literally nobody else at the table is going to know anything about it. From the outside looking in, it is going to make me look like a jerk for "forcing" my wife to play "a completely different character," and that is the impact we both wanted. We want there to be relief that the beloved character has returned after a week of nail-biting, but we also want that return to carry weight, to demonstrate that the death meant something and return requires sacrifice.

But if a random person on the Internet sits in on tonight's game, they would 100% paint me as a "bad DM" for (seemingly) violating the player's agency and making willy-nilly changes to their character to suit my fancy.
 
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Bolares

Hero
As I said a few times now, insulting the players burns infinite good will from me.
I don't know... I guess I just don't see what happened the same way you did. I didn't even like Aabria's DM style that much (to many needless rolls for me), but I just don't see all this abusive behavior you are talking about.
 



overgeeked

B/X Known World
From comments afterward, it seems pretty clear that both were treating the experience more as an acting gig (though a heavily improvised one) than a gaming experience - thus it's hard to judge it as a gaming one.
Sure. But the vast majority of players...especially new players...won't have that context. It's far easier to find EXU on YouTube than it is to find whatever social media posts where they made those comments. Players and people who want to be players...and people who want to DM will see EXU as a gaming experience, not an acting job. They'll see that laundry list of bad DMing habits as something to emulate. With the rubber stamp of approval from Critical Role. Whether those of us already in the hobby, or in the hobby longer than most of the CR cast have been alive, like it or not, Critical Role, and by extension EXU, are basically the place where most people first come into contact with D&D. And they'll see this as an example of good DMing. Which it is not.
 
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Bolares

Hero
Sure. But the vast majority of players...especially new players...won't have that context. It's far easier to find EXU on YouTube than it is to find whatever social media posts where they made those comments. Players and people who want to be players...and people who want to DM will see EXU as a gaming experience, not an acting job. They'll see that laundry list of bad DMing habits as something to emulate. With the rubber stamp of approval from Critical Role. Whether those of us already in the hobby, or in the hobby longer than most of the CR cast have been alive, like it or not, Critical Role, and by extension EXU, are basically the place where most people first come into contact with D&D. And they'll see this as an example of good DMing. Which it is not.
I don't think CR has the whole responsability of being the world's tutorial on how to play DnD... It's a show that uses RPG's to tell their stories. If someone uses them and only them as a guide on how to play the game, it's on the gamer not on CR.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don't think CR has the whole responsability of being the world's tutorial on how to play DnD... It's a show that uses RPG's to tell their stories. If someone uses them and only them as a guide on how to play the game, it's on the gamer not on CR.
I actually agree. They shouldn't have that responsibility. But they do. They didn't ask for it, but they have it. Critical Role is the public face of D&D. They are the first contact point for a whole lot of the new players to the game over the last six years. And is so influential that there's even a phenomenon named after the CR DM and other DMs trying to emulate his style. As long-time gamers we all hope that CR isn't the one and only source someone has for D&D or RPGs (not that they're bad, just that D&D and the hobby are so much more than just CR), but we don't really have any say in that.

For example, the official D&D YouTube channel has a video on How to Play D&D...it has 60,780 views. That's a lot. Episode 1 of EXU has 2.1 million views. CR has more impact, more reach, and gets more views than the official D&D channel. A lot of people are learning about D&D from CR...and learning how to play D&D from CR. A thread here about DM practices? In its life it might get a few thousand views...all from dedicated gamers who already know about this place.
 
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