Page 1087 - One Clown to Another

7th Jul 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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One Clown to Another
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 7th Jul 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
Prop comedy: The surest way to an eldritch cartoon being's heart.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Discord 7th Jul 2018, 6:43 AM edit delete reply
You know, people think that I hate order.
I don't. It's more like that annoying friend that you just can't get rid of.
It's annoying cousin apathy is the one I hate.
Connor 7th Jul 2018, 7:09 AM edit delete reply
Lol, my friends all say that I am Chaotic Evil, leaning towards Chaotic. I have nothing on Discord! I have to agree with you, order is no fun, but it is livable. Apathy is like the slow heat death of the universe, I hate it with a burning passion.
Draxynnic 7th Jul 2018, 7:28 AM edit delete reply
Every comedy needs a straight guy. If there wasn't some order to contrast with, the chaos just wouldn't be as funny!
Discord 7th Jul 2018, 8:17 AM edit delete reply
Can't have a funny quack, without an oink.
BackSet 7th Jul 2018, 9:54 AM edit delete reply
Discord is chaotic neuteral. Probably.
terrycloth 7th Jul 2018, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
Enjoying others' suffering is pretty evil... but he's getting over that. He might be CN *now*.
Jesin 7th Jul 2018, 4:15 PM edit delete reply
Don't forget its brother, complacency.
Greenhornet 7th Jul 2018, 5:25 PM edit delete reply
"Apathy"? Eh, never gave that much thought. As for "complacency", it'll work itself out.
HK-47 8th Jul 2018, 7:43 PM edit delete reply
RuBoo 27th Nov 2019, 1:33 PM edit delete reply
I believe you accidentally a word.
FanOfMostEverything 7th Jul 2018, 7:36 AM edit delete reply
By "eldritch cartoon being," did you mean Discord, Pinkie, or both?
dziadek1990 7th Jul 2018, 8:09 AM edit delete reply
If you asked Discord this question, the answer would be "banana".

If you asked Pinkie this question, the answer would be "Duh! Isn't this obvious?"

If you asked literally literally anybody else, the answer would be

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BackSet 7th Jul 2018, 5:08 PM edit delete reply
Like button! Now!
dziadek1990 7th Jul 2018, 7:49 AM edit delete reply
I have this feeling...

There is a possibility that we, the readers, WON'T witness what Pinkie's player has chosen as her curse, and that we will have to figure it out along with her friends.

I mean, that's the second possibility besides us-witnessing-the-curse's-content-just-like-we-witnessed-AJ's-curse.
Enigmatic Jack 7th Jul 2018, 9:40 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I'm still not liking this approach. Even allowing for Discord-GM improvising to better try and snare Pinkie, the whole using out-of-character discussion to convince her to do something in the game (and doing it in what increasingly seems like a manipulative way, because he said he just wanted to discuss the curse's content and wheeled it around to basically make her agree to the whole thing) is the point where as a GM I'd probably draw the line.
albedoequals1 7th Jul 2018, 10:13 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, most of the players I know would have told discord-GM to go pound sand by now. If he can't offer a compelling IC reason to do something, then the character wouldn't do it. Appealing to Pinkie Pie's player OoC is admitting defeat before even starting.

It illustrates the problem with a story arc that *requires* the players to fail, because if there isn't a chance to win, it's not a game, it's a movie/cutscene. Everyone I know that plays ttrpgs does so specifically because they like the control, so a lose-control arc is certain to be a huge dud with them.
The MunchKING 7th Jul 2018, 12:06 PM edit delete reply
The MunchKING
The IC reason is of course, Mind-Control. The working with Pinkie is just making it so it's not TOO Onerous for play.
Tai Gambol 7th Jul 2018, 10:28 AM edit delete reply
The problem here is Pinkie's got to have -some- kind of curse. That's how the plot is going, and one player doesn't get to derail a GM's whole plotline without a very good argument.

She has three options, effectively.
1) She picks her curse, collaborating with the GM(s) to play something she'll find interesting and fun.
2) She gets a curse lumped on her, forced to play what the GM wants, and likely docked XP or otherwise punished if she doesn't play along
3) She sits out the rest of the session, handing her character over to the GM to play as cursed

Option 2 only works if the GM can get a good enough read on people to figure out what they'll find interesting enough to play along with, since otherwise it eventually devolves into option 3. Discord-GM nailed that with AJ - he gave her a rule and is letting her have fun try to figure out how to work around it, and it's a more complex rule than the 'standard' so the go-to strategies don't work.

Pinkie is probably harder for him to get a read on, so he's simply going for option 1, because why -not- work with your players if they're amenable to it? It's a gamble - if she refuses, then he's stuck with a poorly thought out option 2 or resorting to option 3 - but evidently, it paid off.

The only questionable thing I see is his remark on how the others reacted to her 'chocolate rain' bit, and honestly I think that's more a problem of not being able to see and hear them talking in real-time - tone gets really hard to interpret when all you have is text and screencaps that may be perfect or may just be 'close enough'.
albedoequals1 7th Jul 2018, 4:31 PM edit delete reply
The thing everyone is missing is that these are presented as being optional curses. Discord offered AJ knowledge in exchange for a curse. She accepted, so she is bound by the rules that went along with it. Therefore, if someone else simply said no to whatever Discord offered, they should remain uncursed.

Making the bargain OoC instead of IC means that Pinkie Pie the character would refuse and therefore not have a curse, or at least that's what Discord-GM believes. And if his plan doesn't work with a partially-cursed party, then it's a crap plan.
Digo Dragon 9th Jul 2018, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yeah that's pretty true. This needs all the players to agree to get cursed.
Winged Cat 7th Jul 2018, 10:30 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
"Whatever works for the players." Pinkie's player is clearly okay with it for now, at least; if and when she stops being okay with it, which could happen at any point, then there's a problem.
BuffaloBrony 8th Jul 2018, 5:47 AM edit delete reply
Eh - Getting a player to agree OoC to being cursed IN character is one of the few good ways of making curses 'work' in role playing games...

My personal classic example was a Supers game - where a key player was feeling particularly undervalued on the team. (Short form - she was the 'Jill of all trades' - having useful amounts of skill and powers in many areas - but no particular high level stat. In a team where there was a Tick-esque, a were-creature with Wolverine-esque regen, and a Batman/blademaster/Ninja type - she was closer to 'goth girl with shadow powers and lots of skills'. Several times they joked about how 'weak' she was...)

Being the GM and having witnessed the party bumble through half the campaign, I assured her she was the secret leader of the team - the special sauce that kept them pointed in the right direction and functioning. She scoffed, at which point I offered to show her how important she was to the team. She was 'mind controlled' - and ordered to mostly delay and damage the party as much possible while not revealing herself. She played along...

It was hysterical watching her *dismantle* the party in a series of 'accidents' and surprise actions. (Ninja's batrope being cut while he swings through the air - 3! times. The Wolverine-esque regen succumbing to a simple sleep spell equivalent. The Nigh invulnerable being transported into a freshly poured foundation of wet cement, where he had no footing or leverage to use his super jump or strength to escape...

After watching the team COMPLETELY fail to realize she was the cause the their issues; AND watching them completely fail to do anything productive for most of the session, I let her 'break free' of the curse long enough to warn them... and eventually they got the situation sorted...

After the session - the team had a *completely* different viewpoint of her character and the player. (mostly positive - with a strong dose of 'whoa - she is DANGEROUS' when necessary...)
Anonymous Pony 7th Jul 2018, 12:59 PM edit delete reply
I can kinda see what Discord is going for here, but this feels less like "GM and player working together to design a mutually engaging encounter" and more towards "GM manipulates a player IRL into doing something in-game for the purposes of railroading."

I worry that Discord's going to push the boundaries too far, and the in-game split might happen out-of-game too. That said, this comic's been pretty good with having players call out nonsense when they see it. There's a lot of ways this arc can go; just have to see where the chaos takes us.
ChaoticBrain 7th Jul 2018, 1:54 PM edit delete reply
"I worry that Discord's going to push the boundaries too far, and the in-game split might happen out-of-game too."

Yeah, I suspect that this is how the arc is going to play out. After the Elements of Harmony fizzle out on Discord, the players ask to call it a session because they're fizzled out from roleplaying. When it's just the two DMs alone together, DeLancie pats himself on the back for successfully breaking down her unruly players, which leaves Lauren absolutely seething and regretting ever getting him involved in their sessions.
SilverShadow4 7th Jul 2018, 11:00 PM edit delete reply
Everybody seems so worried the Discord DM is going out-of-line or "manipulating" pinkie's player.

I see it as the DM getting to know his new players so that he can properly challenge them without anything being cruel or unfair. Notice he said before "We'll work out the details later." He just wants to know how far he can go while keeping them interested and keeping it fun.

He's enticing the player OOC so that he knows how to get the desired result IC. I like it and I'm eager to see where it goes!
Everglue Horace 7th Jul 2018, 11:18 PM edit delete reply
Yes, but what if there are too many coincidences to be explained by random whim or personal choice?
Kaze Koichi 8th Jul 2018, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
Take your guesses: what would be other players approach?

I think with RB he'll use the good old "be lawful or be good" choice. And being Chaotic Evil, she'll fail whatever she chooses.
With FS, she'll give him a good roleplay reason why he should **** off. Then DDM say: Good, but roll your will save, and she'll fail.

Have no idea on Rarity. Her situation was bullcrap in original work already. He need a two-stage curse on her, and simple curses what he used so far are already a ton of bullcrap.
Everglue Horace 8th Jul 2018, 1:24 AM edit delete reply
Sweet! Curses of that nature can be overcome easily with eggplants, buttercups, and oranges.
Alex 8th Jul 2018, 6:39 AM edit delete reply
I'm not really seeing the problem here. I don't see Discord as having crossed any boundaries with the players. Pinkie's player would be well within her rights to tell him no.

As pointed out, this is one of the better ways to get conflict and play in the group without causing too much drama. It could definitely all go south for DMs and players, there's no denying that. But on its face, I see no reason to expect a problem for anyone.

Discord!DM and Pony!DM know each other, know their methods, and are evaluating the players. Trust.
James 8th Jul 2018, 8:36 AM edit delete reply
Discord is best evil codm
Needling Haystacks 9th Jul 2018, 8:41 AM edit delete reply
Ah so this is going with the mismatched coat human discord? I've seen the designs, and they look pretty neat.

I'm still waiting on a Discord in Equestria Girls. I'm thinking superintendent...
Rastaba 9th Jul 2018, 4:05 PM edit delete reply
That would be fun. Though thinking probably more like circus comes to town, Pinkie gets the spotlight by seeing through his ploys, the typical 'the clown's the hero' storyline.

That or a new teacher arrives and throws a bit of chaos into the mix.
Needling Haystacks 10th Jul 2018, 9:17 AM edit delete reply
Also possibilities. One person had him as groundskeeper, in a Groundskeeper Willie sort of role.

I liked Superintendent just because it made him Celestia and Luna's boss. However, that's admittedly a bit too rules-based.

So in a circus scenario, would he be a magician or something?
Rastaba 10th Jul 2018, 7:47 PM edit delete reply
Either the ringmaster, or a sideshow style hustler, possibly empowered by the 'loose magic', or possibly just a clever trickster, illusionist, and hypnotist.
Digo Dragon 9th Jul 2018, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
During the first D&D 3.5 campaign I ran, I had sketches several important NPCs onto large cards and would hold them up if several NPCs were in the room holding a conversation with the PCs. This was so that the players could easily tell who was speaking.

That quickly devolved to puppet theater when I was using the cards to denote actions too. Like one NPC interrupting would be having their card slapped in front of the previous speaker.
SilverShadow4 12th Jul 2018, 6:49 PM edit delete reply
That is an excellent idea! Thank you for that!
HappyEevee 10th Jul 2018, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
I really don't see a problem with this storyline, even if the DM is forcing the players to accept curses. That happens in RPGs ALL THE TIME. Your character gets hit with Dominate, Mind Control, Unnatural Lust, whatever the enemy caster or eldritch artifact has in store and wham, your character is doing whatever the GM wants until you make your save or are broken out of it by someone else. That's a standard RP element.

One of my characters just got hit by Prismatic Spray and (with a 2 on the percentile dice) sent straight to Hell. As a player, I'm not going to get mad at the GM for that, I flubbed my save and the percentile dice spoke. Crap happens. Now my character is trying to work off a contract with an infernal being that I had to sign to get back from Hell. It makes for some interesting RP and I have no problems with that, although if I keep failing certain saves I may end up rolling a new character as this one may get sent to Hell permanently.

But that's the thing with RPGs... there's no certainty that your character is going to win. Or survive. Gaming should be a challenge, with real stakes, or it's just sitting around telling stories of how awesome your characters are with no real threats to them.

I don't that the DM is being unfair in this, he's working with the players and giving them options, so while he may be manipulating them a bit it's not pure railroading. And looking at the big arc, which is to eventually defeat Discord with the Elements, the end goal is for the characters to win, so it's not like the DM is trying to permanently derail their campaign with this one set of curses. They're temporary curses, so why not take it as a RP challenge and have some fun with it?