Page 1100 - Critical Insight

7th Aug 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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Critical Insight
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 7th Aug 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
The handful of frames where Fluttershy looks smug as hell really makes this scene.

Woah, 1100 pages? Seems like just last month we were celebrating the big thousand. Is this what writing a long-running webcomic does to you after a while? Just condense your perception of time?

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Discord 7th Aug 2018, 6:24 AM edit delete reply
Wait, that uneasy feeling is back.
Let's see what w...
Skipping everything else

45% resistance to chaos?
Goes up to 90% after being exposed to higher choas?

I love a challenge.
ZhonLord 7th Aug 2018, 6:53 PM edit delete reply
I don't know, Discord, I think you may be regretting accepting this particular challenge. Very, very soon.
FanOfMostEverything 7th Aug 2018, 6:25 AM edit delete reply
In my experience, experiencing time is enough to condense one's perception of it.

Also, looks like DM-cord was more right than he knew about Fluttershy's capability. This is going to be good.
The Doctor 7th Aug 2018, 11:01 PM edit delete reply
Everyone assumes experiencing time is a linear line of cause and effect.

really it's a great big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

also, sorry, can't help Fluttershy. Fixed point in time.
Digo 7th Aug 2018, 6:27 AM edit delete reply
Heh, smug-shy is adorable. She pretty much makes the same response I would when I can see the plot tracks for the railroad.
albedoequals1 7th Aug 2018, 6:38 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, the discord dual-gm plan is pretty clearly going wrong here.
Desperado99 7th Aug 2018, 7:08 AM edit delete reply
This seems relevant for that last panel:
Ganny 7th Aug 2018, 7:08 AM edit delete reply

Did Fluttershy just call Railroad? I think she called Railroad.

Oh boy, this is going to be good.
MooseImperium 7th Aug 2018, 7:44 AM MooseImperium edit delete reply
Yes. Everything is FINE.
Scytale 7th Aug 2018, 12:49 PM edit delete reply
Finally someone calls it what it is!
Digo Dragon 7th Aug 2018, 6:34 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I remember one time when my old friend Todd (Celestia rest his soul) and I were in a D&D campaign and the GM was railroading us hard to go to a specific town. As the GM was describing the scene, Todd and I were in the background making subtle train choo-choo noises and the sound of a train pulling into the station. The game stopped as everyone turned to look at us.

Was worth the 20 xp penalty. XD
Tempestfury 7th Aug 2018, 8:44 AM edit delete reply
Does anyone else feel really uneasy about this smug, almost condescending reply from Fluttershy?

Because I really don't like her reply. Discord has honestly not rail-roaded once, except for the instance of separating everyone up from the start. Everything else since then was Roleplaying with the others.

AJ's curse? Entirely opted into. Pinkie Pie? He talked to her entirely out of character and arranged it with her! Rarity? Again, she completely agreed to it and was actually grudgingly willing to admit that she was out-played by Discord.

But Fluttershy... well, Fluttershy's the least experienced Roleplayer there, and whilst she's been making leaps and bounds in terms of her skill and confidence... well...

I see Discord DM trying to actually WORK with her, to RP and bounce off her like he had been doing so with the others so far, but Fluttershy refuses and sticks to her guns, and likely isn't exactly kind to Discord either until he either snaps and forces the Curse on her... OR, if he's really smart. He uses her lack of kindness towards him as clear evidence of her acceptance of chaos.
Lethologica 7th Aug 2018, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
Discord got other players to buy into their curses because he understood them as gamers and met them where they were. Here, though...does Fluttershy <i>really</i> come off as a know-it-all who's quiet because she's <i>angry</i> and <i>contemptuous</i> towards others for not listening to her? To a first approximation, Fluttershy's character arc thus far has been "Her friends help her realize she's more capable than she gives herself credit for," which is the exact opposite of Discord's read.

How did Discord end up so far off the mark here? If he's so wrong about Fluttershy, how can he get her buy-in for whatever he's planning? And if he can't get that, how can he go through with his plans without railroading?

(Actually, I have a theory about that first question: I think Discord is projecting. The way he describes Fluttershy sounds a lot like how he himself, at his worst, might behave as a player.)

As such, I think Fluttershy's response is perfectly appropriate. This one is on Discord for completely blowing his temptation check.
Lethologica 7th Aug 2018, 9:46 AM edit delete reply
(Guess I don't understand formatting. Whoops.)

With respect to that projection part, now I'm wondering if this applies to all the ponies. Metagaming, loony, controlling, resentful...and if I may, I'll guess at some flavor of impatience for Dash and min-maxing for Twi. Tell me Discord wouldn't model all those behaviors as a player. Not all of them all the time, but any of them at any given time. This is what lets him read his players' flaws so well, but it's gonna come back to bite him later in the arc. That's how I see it, at least.
Needling Haystacks 7th Aug 2018, 10:59 AM edit delete reply
I wouldn't read it as coming back to bite him exactly. Well maybe in-game. Out of game, well...

This does indicate what I kinda thought. Fluttershy goes along with it to avoid ruining it for the others.
Robin Bobcat 7th Aug 2018, 5:00 PM edit delete reply
That's just it though - it IS a railroad. DiscordDM is very manipulative, and is making it LOOK like the others had a choice. Fluttershy is just the first one to REALIZE it. And she's calling him on it.

which, given her demeanor and earlier comments... she's dealt with this 'sort of person' before. She's BEEN trapped, with no choices, where it really DOESN'T matter what she does...

... Fluttershy's a survivor of emotional abuse and manipulation.
Guest 8th Aug 2018, 1:28 AM Smug? edit delete reply
Wait, which panel does Fluttershy look smug exactly? Overall, she looks terrified, then confused, then kind of resigned imo.
Needling Haystacks 8th Aug 2018, 10:54 AM edit delete reply
Last panel, though whether it's "smug" is up for debate.
Draxynnic 9th Aug 2018, 12:26 AM edit delete reply
@Robin Bobcat: That's... disturbingly fitting.

What makes it even more disturbing, in fact, is that Discord-Fluttershy interactions later in the show COULD be interpreted as DiscordDM and FluttershyPlayer dating.
Guest 8th Aug 2018, 1:45 AM edit delete reply
Discord's words make it clear he's setting her up for a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario.

Accept the butterflies' help: ahaha, you accepted help from Chaos, get your curse.

Refuse the butterflies' help: ahaha, this prove you're an arrogant know-it-all who think low of her friends for not listening to her, get your curse.
When the player know that the DM is after him, and whatever decision he could try, the DM is going to use his trap, so he just surrender and let the DM do whatever he want, even telling the DM to do whatever he want as it's not like he could stop.
Capn_Boxers 7th Aug 2018, 2:46 PM edit delete reply
I've really got to disagree with Fluttershy here. I've been railroaded many times before, and early in my DM career I did some railroading myself. Discord has not forced any players into anything except separating them at the beginning of the maze.

In every case he has outplayed them, tricking them into taking their curses rather than just forcing the players to accept them. If Fluttershy chooses not to fight him and lets him curse her that's one thing, but accusing him of forcing her into something without even trying to fight back, assuming that the game is rigged from the start, is entirely on her, not any fault of Discord's.

On the other hand while it is unfair of her, her perception of being cheated could make her salty and give her the impetus needed to act on Discord's curse and be more forceful with all the other players. Which is how we get the discorded Fluttershy from the show out of a normally timid player.
albedoequals1 7th Aug 2018, 4:49 PM edit delete reply
Ah, but he is railroading her, and pretty blatantly. She didn't chase the butterflies so they chased her, and there was magically a dead end to force her to confront them. She's not buying a word he says because she knows both in and out of character that everything he says is a lie. She has no interest in talking, but the talking happens anyway. Forced cutscene monologues are the absolute worst kind of railroading and I know several players that would have tried to initiate combat to escape it.
Capn_Boxers 8th Aug 2018, 3:38 AM edit delete reply
Railroaded has to, in my opinion, remove choice from the player by unrealistic circumstances. More than once I had a DM that flat out told us our 'couldn't' do anything except what followed the plot. The butterflies are creatures perfectly capable of following her. Mazes are full of dead ends. She also has the choice to attempt combat or try rushing past them if she truly doesn't want to talk, but she never tried that and Discord certainly didn't tell her she couldn't.

Also, it is clearly not a monologue given that he is trying to get interaction from her. Discord is trying to have a conservation and make the conflict mental/social, Fluttershy just throws up the 'you're railroading' walls rather than actually listen or participate.
Brickman 7th Aug 2018, 9:07 PM edit delete reply
Don't forget, Fluttershy didn't see any of the other players' temptations. Discord went to great lengths to give them each a "choice" that they failed at, but for all she knows he was just as unsubtle with them as he's being now. All she knows is that he's 3 for 3 getting the outcome he wants, and clumsily railroaded her into this conversation.

Personally if I were OOC Discord, I'd strongly consider letting this one go. The narrative still goes the same direction with only 4 out of 5 corruptions working, and narrative symmetry isn't worth making one of the players both Not Have Fun and Not Trust You As A DM.

Of course if it follow's the show's logic, he's just gonna admit to railroading and curse her anyways. But I don't see how that would go over well with her player.
SliderEclipse 8th Aug 2018, 1:45 AM edit delete reply
Honestly I could see it going the way you're thinking of but with a Twist. Discord chooses to let her go.. but she effectively curses herself in a crusade to "protect her friends from the bullying railroading GM" That lines up nicely with her acting like a bully herself disturbingly well and fits with the character arc we've seen of her growing into her own. The greatest Irony of all, she took what she's learned, and by complete accident, became exactly what Discord thought she was in order to try and help her friends.

This even makes sense with the shows.. somewhat awkward tendency to throw Fluttershy through the same exact problem time after time. Keep learning the lesson but also keep using it incorrectly OoC and having your own shyness and fears bury it back down to be learned yet again... It's almost scary how well that would fit here.
Needling Haystacks 8th Aug 2018, 10:55 AM edit delete reply
Brickman: I don't think she does know what happened with the others, though. It's just the running and magical dead-end leading to the conclusion here.
Guest 8th Aug 2018, 1:52 AM edit delete reply
Like albedoequals1 said, if the DM forces you in a conveniently inescapable situation and then keep insisting you must talk with the NPC to get out, it's pretty railroading
Boris Carlot 8th Aug 2018, 6:55 AM edit delete reply
Don't forget that Fluttershy's player has the self-confidence of a potted plant. In addition to the "he's a chaos god, he's not going to play remotely fair" insight there's a degree of "I'm completely useless on my own so there's no point whatsoever" in there too.
Guest 8th Aug 2018, 4:05 PM Yeah, railroading edit delete reply
So, yeah, the self-confidence stuff would be bad enough on its own. Throwing a literal god at the players, taking away the players' powers, and isolating them from each other without any use of mechanical fluff? This entire scenario reeks of railroading the players into a loss, zero chance or tolerance of success in the slightest (as evidenced by the contingency spell with Twilight at the start and the investigation blunder). Lots of players would be just done mentally of they realized such a thing. Would not be surprised if Fluttershy calls Discord!DM out further or goes along resigned to failure, gets cursed, and Rainbow Dash just nopes on out of the game entirely upon confrontation with the dms and the curse.
TyrantViiewer 7th Aug 2018, 10:17 PM edit delete reply
I think I get how Discord will get fluttershy- he will make her roll for it, she and him will go back and forth until fed up with her ruining his streak with this meta narriative and fun reality bending roleplay, he will concede and have her roll will to save against his curse, and then she will fail.

I can see Discord as the kind of guy that enjoys the more fluid gameplay, the roleplay more than the mechanics, so this would bug him on a number of levels, and feed into future shy- discord interactions.

That said I can see the author coming up with a far better approach
Kinrah 7th Aug 2018, 11:19 PM edit delete reply
I think Fluttershy's still locked in the bathroom, so DiscorDM has the extra challenge of not being able to see the player.
Kereminde 8th Aug 2018, 7:35 AM edit delete reply
I'm remembering the source material, didn't Discord have to forcibly go to work on Fluttershy instead of having her fall into the traps?

Personally I see her reply as a *savvy* one, knowing he's trying to manipulate her and whatever she says he'll twist.
Guest 8th Aug 2018, 9:39 AM edit delete reply
I get the sense that the regular DM is leaning on the wall off to one side, smirking.
Phoenixblood 8th Aug 2018, 11:01 PM edit delete reply
Yknow, people saying Fluttershy is calling Railroad here, while you could be right, another interpretation would be that she is responding in character to Discord here, she figured out pretty quickly that Discord would take whatever she said and twist it round against her (which is true), so it doesnt matter what she says (this isnt really railroading because the nature of the villain here is to twist whatever people say to his advantage anyway)
TT 9th Aug 2018, 4:05 AM edit delete reply
Maybe because I've got limited experience with actually roleplaying with people, but I read that last line by Fluttershy as very... personal. Less in character and more "Oh, I the player have had people pull this game on me before, and I know I can't win"