Critical Role Why Critical Role is so successful...

Wishbone

Paladin Radmaster
I would note that they played Pathfinder pre-stream (sans the initial Birthday one-shot which was 4e) and also it seems to me like Sam knows what his class/race allows but often purposefully avoids certain things, he notably has said the Halfling luck "seems dumb" on a few occasions

I don't remember exactly when he said that, but it could always be Sam razzing Liam over always using the Luck feat in Campaign 1 much to Matt's chagrin.
 

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jgsugden

Legend
...
I honestly think it's disrespectful for a player to fumble the rules that much. I totally understand being new to the game, and that everyone forgets now and then, but if you haven't figured out the basics of your class by month 6 then you're making the entire table wait on you while you flounder. :cry:
Yeah - I've played 20 level campaigns with people that always asked how to roll initiative. The rules just don't lock down for some people.
 

Anyway, I recently watched this YouTube video that makes the interesting, and entirely reasonable, claim that the exploration pillar is really the foundation of the game and the other two pillars (combat & social interaction) play supporting roles, and after watching the latest episode of Critical Role it got me thinking... Yes, Matt Mercer is a fantastic DM & voice actor; yes, the PC players imbue their characters with interesting motivations and role play. But I think the root of their success is Matt’s talent for dangling so many enticing invitations to exploration in front of his players and, as a side effect, their audience.

Thanks for posting this @robus. The video by Zipperon Disney is great food for thought on how DMs of all levels of experience can benefit from stepping back and revisiting the basic play cycle. @Charlaquin's prescience has proven accurate, though:

I think your thread tile here is doing you a disservice, because the conversation is going to end up being about Critical Role itself, the alleged “Matt Mercer effect,” personal DMing style preferences, etc. when the real meaty subject matter here is the exploration pillar and a better framework for how to think about it.
 



robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
One tip I picked up from a how-to-write book: if you add a distinctive odour to each description, eg: "The caves smell of ancient stonework" or "the tunnel smells of rotting flesh" or "you can smell fish frying and spilled beer in the tavern", your players will remember the place far better.
Great stuff. This, too me, is what box text should focus on. What are the PCs sensing from the space they’re in. What are they seeing, hearing, smelling and perhaps extra-sensory on occasion.
 


Yeah - I've played 20 level campaigns with people that always asked how to roll initiative. The rules just don't lock down for some people.
The great thing about playing with friends is that you get to spend time with friends. The downside is that most groups of friends only have one or two great players, and several who are mediocre. But there's nothing wrong with sitting down and having constructive criticism, offering player aids like spell cards, etc.
 


CapnZapp

Legend
Yeah - I've played 20 level campaigns with people that always asked how to roll initiative. The rules just don't lock down for some people.
Tell that to @Celtavian and others who remain unconvinced an extremely rules- and math-heavy game such as Pathfinder 2 isn't for everybody, and certainly not for the average 5E gamer...
 

Mirtek

Hero
Each player is deeply invested in the story of their character AND everyone else's, instead of just killing stuff.
Is this in the later campaigns? I just startet and I am still at episode 8 of their first one, but wow is that a bunch of brutal murder hobbos (including the DM; who describes an extreme gory kill at least once per encounter)

Did they "mature" over the course of the later campaigns?
 

rgoodbb

Adventurer
Is this in the later campaigns? I just startet and I am still at episode 8 of their first one, but wow is that a bunch of brutal murder hobbos (including the DM; who describes an extreme gory kill at least once per encounter)

Did they "mature" over the course of the later campaigns?
Yes. As most things, the campaign starts off with teething problems. With so many PC's it's hard to get settled and it does take them a while. But even in the first campaign, after a while you will find what is being described.

If you have watched 8 episodes, my suggestion would be to keep going now and enjoy how the programme, the DM and the players all blossom.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
I think it's also important that everyone realize that the ability to play a character as a great actor and the table-intention of investing in character development/plot are 2 different concepts. Most players certainly won't be great actors with great voice acting but the assumption that we're all coming to the table with the interest of promoting character-driven plots is certainly something any table anywhere can seek emulate, if that's the kind of game they want to play.

For me, the thing I'd wish to emulate from CR is not the accents or the acting but the eagerness to explore character backgrounds as a fundamental foundation of the plot. Most games I've played in usually revolve around the DM's plot concept with little nods to characters' backstories, at best. I'd like to run in and play in games where everyone gets a serious story arc that connects with other threads.

I do love this idea, but like many people have said it does require player buy in and won't suit every group, taking narrative control isn't for everyone.
 

Is this in the later campaigns? I just startet and I am still at episode 8 of their first one, but wow is that a bunch of brutal murder hobbos (including the DM; who describes an extreme gory kill at least once per encounter)

Did they "mature" over the course of the later campaigns?

To be fair, I started with campaign 2 when it launched and that's where my initial impression is from. Campaign 1, on the other hand, starts when they're pretty far into the story (level 8ish maybe?). When they started from scratch, it was clear that everyone had a fleshed out backstory that would be revealed, and as the campaign went on you saw all of the little details they'd been hinting at come out in the roleplay. The thing that makes them such a great table is that every player is interested in creating a character, they're all interested in each other's characters, and the DM is genuinely interested in exploring each character's backstory as part of the plot.
 

This thread made me want to read again the Dungeon Master's Guide section about exploration, thinking that I would find valuable information there - it is, after all, one of the Three Pillars. I did not expect to find two boring pages dealing almost exclusively with visibility and travel speed. Nothing about helping the DM conjuring a living, breathing world that players would want to explore. I have to admit that I'm sorely disappointed.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
This thread made me want to read again the Dungeon Master's Guide section about exploration, thinking that I would find valuable information there - it is, after all, one of the Three Pillars. I did not expect to find two boring pages dealing almost exclusively with visibility and travel speed. Nothing about helping the DM conjuring a living, breathing world that players would want to explore. I have to admit that I'm sorely disappointed.
Yep, this precisely why there is so much confusion over the exploration pillar. The video link in the OP is really thought-provoking if you’ve not seen it yet.
 

jgsugden

Legend
The great thing about playing with friends is that you get to spend time with friends. The downside is that most groups of friends only have one or two great players, and several who are mediocre. But there's nothing wrong with sitting down and having constructive criticism, offering player aids like spell cards, etc.
I've played with hundreds (if not thousands) of people in the 40+ years I have been playing D&D. Some people will ... just ... not ... get ... it. You can try all you like, but they either lack the mind or desire to get even the basics - but they love the story and enjoy being in the game. A few of the players that asked questions like, "What do I roll when I attack?" or "What do I add for my initiative?" after playing for years were great fun to have at the table - they just didn't give a rat's atouille about the rules and never would.
 

jgsugden

Legend
This thread made me want to read again the Dungeon Master's Guide section about exploration, thinking that I would find valuable information there - it is, after all, one of the Three Pillars. I did not expect to find two boring pages dealing almost exclusively with visibility and travel speed. Nothing about helping the DM conjuring a living, breathing world that players would want to explore. I have to admit that I'm sorely disappointed.
There is more spread throughout the books, but it does deserve more. I really wish WotC would release a series of videos - with quizzes to prove you paid attention - that address the art, rather than the science, of being a DM. It could be a 10 hour series and if you completed it, you could have completing it associated to your DCI number.
 

Yep, this precisely why there is so much confusion over the exploration pillar. The video link in the OP is really thought-provoking if you’ve not seen it yet.
Thank you ! I thought it was about Critical Role, and since I don't have the time to watch hundreds of hours of people playing, I was not interested. But I have eleven minutes of free time ;)
 


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