Page 1134 - In Mediation Res

25th Oct 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 2
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In Mediation Res
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 25th Oct 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
Writing arguments is tough.

Reading arguments about those arguments in the comments section, not as much. Nerve-wracking at times but really fascinating, too.

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



Jennifer 25th Oct 2018, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Not sure I get the "tastes like salt" punchline. Something to do with tears? Salt licks? Salty/saucy AJ?
Pablo360 25th Oct 2018, 6:21 AM edit delete reply
The colloquial definition of “salty”.
ChaoticBrain 25th Oct 2018, 6:24 AM edit delete reply
"Salty" is when you are upset over something little.
Jennifer 25th Oct 2018, 7:06 AM edit delete reply
Ah, thanks. Haven't heard that derivation before.
Winged Cat 25th Oct 2018, 10:44 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
More for Jennifer:

"Salty" does indeed come from tears. As in, the salty residue left on one's face after one has been crying. It's only supposed to be used in reference to minor stuff. (For instance, only a very evil and malicious person - the kind who regards family connections as trivial - would deliberately label "salty", someone who just watched their family murdered.)
Chris 25th Oct 2018, 6:25 AM edit delete reply
RD is saying that AJ's salty over getting cursed while RD got off scott free.

Still not sure exactly what AJ's real gripe is - RD's choice is in-character, and (so far) appears to have been the best choice for both her personally and the party as a whole. I could understand her character being upset, but the player? Whether she's approaching it from an RP or a metagame perspective, it seems like she shouldn't have much to beef about here.

Well, as RD says... other than her rising sodium content.
FanOfMostEverything 25th Oct 2018, 7:04 AM edit delete reply
The answer seems to lie in AJ's line: "But she always..." This may be frustration with Dash's tendencies in a lot of their games coming to a head at a time and in a situation where AJ's argument doesn't really have a leg to stand on.

And curse salt. Which is weird, because salt is usually used to protect against that sort of thing. ;)
evilauthor 25th Oct 2018, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
Has it occurred to anyone that Applejack doesn't have a gripe and is playing her curse for all its worth? Remember her curse? "Don't reveal the truth" or something like that?

So how about trying to push for party improvement by pretending to be mad about something she's not mad about?
Winged Cat 25th Oct 2018, 10:45 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
The curse stopped applying (temporarily) the moment AJ explicitly went OOC last strip.
Kheldarson 25th Oct 2018, 7:19 AM edit delete reply
I think AJ's issue is that RD has historically been very cavalier with the setting and with RP in general. While her choice is fitting with character and everything else, it *also* fits the mold of the player which is "the game setting doesn't actually matter so who cares about the NPCs".

They're not actually arguing over the character's choice, if you notice; they've been arguing over player handling.
ThatGuest 25th Oct 2018, 4:16 PM edit delete reply
Even then, it's not Dash's fault, the GM barely even used Cloudsdale and the only NPCs they interacted with were really just a bunch of insulting jerks who tormented her. Why the hell should Dash care about the place even though it's supposedly her character's "home"
Digo Dragon 25th Oct 2018, 8:01 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Although AJ's argument is weak, Fluttershy pointed out that this is exactly what Discord wants--disharmony among the party because breaking the fellowship means they cannot use the elements (the one weapon more powerful than Discord) to defeat Discord.

It's a good story plot point, but in actual tabletop play I hate to do this with my players. Inciting inter-party conflicts harms trust among players and lowers the overall quality of the campaign's enjoyment. At worst it can turn PvP and no one really wins that situation.
Mr Wednesday 25th Oct 2018, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
And it can lead to a situation like we're seeing here, where AJ is airing a grievance about Dash's whole play style (and by extension, suggesting that she plays for all the wrong reasons), not just this particular decision.

If it were me running this, I might pause the game here. I was always taught that rule #1 is: talk to people like they're adults. Main GM would be within her rights to bring the two players who had a real-life fight to one side and talk and to them.
Digo Dragon 25th Oct 2018, 11:54 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yeah, this is a moment that would test the GM to step in and retake control of the situation; pull the two players aside and work it out to ensure this doesn't have lasting ooc damage.
Hankroyd 25th Oct 2018, 11:20 AM edit delete reply
Digo, I disagree with you.
But we don't have the same group of players.

In mine, players don't hesitate to steal, betray, kill on their own volition if it serves their interest. BUT what happens in the game stay in the game, there could be a lot of in-game arguments and sometimes fights, but none of PC's problems ever oozed to become a real life argument in my 15 years in that group.

On a funny note, while we are most of the time backstabbing fiends ... usually we are united against our common ennemy, the GM.
GMs (including me) tried to spread discord or force a player to betray the group for personnal gain ... I don't think it worked ever once.
Digo Dragon 25th Oct 2018, 11:56 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I've run games for over 20 years and I have never had a group with more than 1 or 2 players who are ok with betrayal. Perhaps I attract more goodly types to my table, but I'm not sure. They do share the trait of all uniting against me though. That much is similar. :3
Evilbob 25th Oct 2018, 1:07 PM edit delete reply
The type of GM and the type of game they run attracts the players as well as sets rules and expectations for acceptable player behavior.

I'm not sure that you attract goodly types, Digo, so much as it seems you wouldn't tolerate non-goodly types.

Didn't you say in the comments section awhile back commenting on the agreeing with and voicing similar plan of action for that one story of players who were basically acting like villains (the whole trying to decide whether to kill all the kids to set an example or something and their GM decided to make all NPCs invincible?)
Digo Dragon 25th Oct 2018, 7:42 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Hmm, that does not sound familiar to me.
Evilbob 27th Oct 2018, 2:13 PM edit delete reply
"Sounds like they'd cross a few lines I wouldn't be comfortable with, so... yeah, I don't blame you for bringing down the hammer."

This jog your memory? :P

Of course, I'm not necessarily saying this is the wrong call or anything; just pointing out that you shouldn't be too surprised with your table composition, lol.
Mr. Guy 26th Oct 2018, 3:43 AM edit delete reply
I think it's less good vs non-good types as to whether a table is fine with in-game betrayal and murder and more how much they treat PCs as a role to play vs an extension of themselves. Most of us in the two groups I've been a part of are fine OOC with the occasional betrayal despite playing only good/neutral characters and acting accordingly. Most it comes about when the GM gives us 'lose-lose' choices like Dash or dangles the object of desire in front of a neutral character's nose.

When we played Dresden Files RPG a certain Voodoo Shaman was infamously known as 'The King of Bad Decisions' because his player played him as high INT, low WIS, and always attempting to come out ahead in deals with the Fae and the Loa. These deals inevitably screwed him and the party over, but the group OOC loved him because it was always hilarious.
Lil' Sleuth 26th Oct 2018, 5:40 AM edit delete reply
I have to agree with Mr. Guy, as someone who mainly doesn't GM, *and* who gets into the roleplaying aspect deeply. I tend to take an aspect of myself, then build a character around that, such as a Cleric of Asmodeus built around my tendency to Rules-Lawyer. Acting OOC becomes a chore when the character is based off of yourself, but it is a lot easier to take things personally. I've had to work *very* hard to not take betrayals/comments/attacks/underhanded tactics as attacks upon myself (the player). But once I mastered that, the games suddenly became so much more fun and the interpersonal relationships between both Players and Characters deepened. The only problem I see with Discord, is that he didn't take the time to work with the players first, as to see their boundaries, and how far they are willing to go with these curses, kind of like how he did with Pinkie.
Smarty 25th Oct 2018, 2:53 PM edit delete reply
I don't know if this applies to this situation but a thing I learnt early in my roleplaying years is that how you handle a sitation in character does not reflect how you would out of character and as such you shouldn't judge people oocly for what they do icly because doing so leads to unnecessary drama
Malroth 25th Oct 2018, 3:36 PM edit delete reply
Dash made a correct choice i don't understand why AJ is being so Lawful Stupid about it.
darthmalice 25th Oct 2018, 9:10 PM edit delete reply
In my opinion. She's extrapolating Dash's normal behavior out of frustration in the current one. Basically 'she's always self centered and uncaring I'm just finally over it.'

In this instance it's the correct choice out of two bad ones though
Archone 25th Oct 2018, 4:40 PM edit delete reply
In this case I feel that Twilight is doing something that I... really, truly hate. "I'm going to come down on both sides, just to provide the appearance of being fair."
"But one side was completely at fault and the other was blameless."
"Well... I'll find something to reprimand them for. I'm good at rationalizing if it lets me pretend to be impartial."

Rainbow wasn't being smug, she was being indignant (over being yelled at) and accurate (because she was completely right). She saw what was going on, she refused to give Discord the satisfaction... and Discord went along with it anyway because he could tell this sort of thing would happen...

...What class is Applejack? Is she a Ranger?
ThatGuest 25th Oct 2018, 7:09 PM edit delete reply
Well it's not a players job in the first place to try to break up any hositilities between players caused by the game. It's the damn GM's job. The fact that Discord nor the regular GM is jumping in further cements my thoughts that A) Discord is doing this on purpose and B) The regular GM has all but surrendered the game to Discord and is confident that this is all part of his brilliant plan by their 'friend'. If this is going to end up being cruel I could see the GM slowly snapping out of their hero worship of Discord, then Discord tells them to their face that he doesn't consider them a friend or even a good GM/player and just crush them.
Zapevery1 26th Oct 2018, 12:29 AM edit delete reply
I really dislike the idea that the GM is also responsible for breaking up hostilities. While the GM may be leading the game that doesn't immediately mean he is responsible for everything that is going to happen while playing.
Of course that also means that they aren't exempt from trying anyway since their job is to keep the game moving.
ThatGuest 26th Oct 2018, 2:29 AM edit delete reply
Well in the case of a tabletop game the GM is basically the ref. So like if two baseball players started going at it on the field you'd expect the umpires to rush over and break it up. Not the other players. The main issue is the GM has let things escalate to this point. Any good GM would have seen this session was falling apart and either delay things a minute or just outright stop it.
Mr Wednesday 26th Oct 2018, 10:03 AM edit delete reply
If it's not the GM's job to keep the players from fighting (and I do mean the players, in real life, at the table, NOT the characters, who may have perfectly valid reasons to disagree with each other), then whose is it?
Digo Dragon 25th Oct 2018, 7:43 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yeah, AJ is a ranger.
HappyEevee 25th Oct 2018, 7:51 PM edit delete reply
It looks to me like this is a long-standing OOC issue between RD's and AJ's players that is finally coming to a head. They are the experienced players who have gamed together before and it seems they've gotten on each others nerves about things like this for some time.

If they've never actually sat down and had this discussion over how certain elements of their respective playstyles irritate each other, than I could see this being a net positive if they can talk through this and come out with a better understanding of each other and learn to avoid stepping on each others gaming toes as often.

Personally, I think the GM may be aware of this tension and, being less experienced, may have been afraid to try to get them to discuss it. I think it's quite possible the GM is hoping this session can get them to think more about their attitudes and playstyles and see that they need to be more understanding of each other. DiscorDM may have been brought in as something in the nature of ripping the bandaid off the wound so it can be cleaned out and start to heal; unorthodox perhaps (and a tricky gambit IRL) but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
ThatGuest 26th Oct 2018, 2:39 AM edit delete reply
I really doubt Discord is trying to give them therapy or something, even if he was doing it like this is still really messed up. I'm going to break down how I think Discord views everyone and planned this out.

Twilight: Total noob, no need to worry, she won't know what to do.

Pinkie: Could defuse things with comedy relief, make her serious and irritating to make things escalate faster

Fluttershy: Probably easily manipulated either through kindness or intimidation to do whatever I want (act nice then get mad when she turns out to be smarter than I thought to cow her into submission to do what I want)

Rarity: Drama queen and attention whore, give her an opportunity to make herself the center of attention and let her loose, annoying everyone.

AJ: Will know what I'm doing through meta knowledge, neutralize that then let her rip herself apart trying to contain herself

Dash: Give her a lose/lose scenario that whichever she picks will likely end up in one or more of the party pissed at her meaning she'll probably get mad back and make things worse.

GM: Worships the ground I walk on, will do anything I say. Total pawn and tool, wreck game, maybe even get them to blame themselves for everything for an extra laugh.
Mr Wednesday 26th Oct 2018, 10:13 AM edit delete reply
So essentially, by your view, DiscorDM has the same motivations as Discord the character? To ruin things for giggles?

Why? What's your reasoning behind that conclusion?

Even if it's a little odd, the "therapy" idea seems a lot more solid even on a basic storytelling level. He's really running a meta-session that isn't about the game, but about how they play. And even if I don't think he should have carte blanche to do that as he pleases by sticking everyone with curses, it's a coherent motive.
ThatGuest 26th Oct 2018, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
Because there are actually people like that and so far he's come off as super shifty and manipulative.
Mr Wednesday 26th Oct 2018, 5:27 PM edit delete reply
I know you’re the harshest critic of DiscorDM and his style, so I won’t be able to change your mind. But can say that I don’t find your reasoning sufficient. So yes, there are people who don’t care about the game they’re in. There are bad, railroady GM’s who either don’t understand the system they’re using or insist on doing things their own way. These people do exist.

That said, I’ve never in 15 years of gaming met a GM who wanted to destroy someone else’s fun for no reason at all. And maybe you’ve met some, but you didn’t give that as part of your reasoning. Nor did you counter the idea that he’s playing the long view, with a plan to make the group observe their tics and foibles (whether such a plan is a good idea is a different point altogether). I’d be interested to see your full thoughts. I’m not trying to criticise you as a person or force you to agree with me, so please consider this an invitation to discuss further.
ThatGuest 27th Oct 2018, 1:44 AM edit delete reply
Well you have to remember is Discord is just a guest for this session, he has no skin in this game. He's basically being given someone else's house of cards with no downside for him to knock it over than to get joy out of watching everyone else fight each other over it once it all comes crumbling down.

It's also difficult to properly describe the red flags I'm feeling personally but everything about Discord so far is making all my alarms scream that he's self centered, manipulative and the kind of guy who gets untold amounts of joy from watching people be hurt emotionally by his actions. None of his like, two 'nice' moments have felt genuine and not been dripping with manipulation and ultirior motives. My biggest red flag is really how -hard- he was trying to get the real GM away so he could do curse stuff privately. Wanting to do stuff secretive and unsupervised in a game you're just dropping in on is shady as hell.
Mr Wednesday 27th Oct 2018, 2:10 AM edit delete reply
We agree on some things. Given the way things are headed, DiscorDM owes the group some kind of apology, even if they win in the end and it’s awesome and there’s a party—he still stoked a lot of tension and went against the social contract, and if he’s doesn’t admit that, it’s a big problem.

That said, I think he just made a mistake. He’s running a session that isn’t working like he wants. He had this cool idea that didn’t hit the table well. It must be weird to break into an already-established group with its own energy. Certainly since DiscorDM has this intense method-actor energy that’s even more involved than what Rarity usually does, and so he might be fully consumed with his performance.

I’ve had misgivings this whole arc about how fighting in-character might bleed over into real life, but so far nothing has persuaded me that DiscorDM came into this determined to torpedo the game. Main GM learned to play from this person, right? If DiscorDM were that much of an asshole all the time this game wouldn’t have a GM at all.
ThatGuest 27th Oct 2018, 4:25 AM edit delete reply
Regular GM didn't 'learn' from Discord, he just ran the first game they were in and that seems to have lead to a lot of unhealthy hero worship and putting him on a pedestal.

I'm going to be blunt about it finally. Discord has a lot of the warning signs of an abuser, I don't think he's a wife beater or anything but most of them try to isolate people, then get them to start blaming themselves, then get them to start relying on them. Discord already has the GM eating out of the palm of his hand no questions asked. He worked hard to isolate all the players physically and emotionally, and now he's got them blaming each other for the things he's caused.

That's why I do not care for all the talk of "well maybe he's just doing this." or "Maybe he just means well and is making a mistake." I will never, ever give anyone the benefit of the doubt if there is a hint of any kind of that crap. The moment the GM started fawning over him I went "Oh god...I've seen this before plenty and it's never ended well...." I understand not a lot of people have had the same experience as me but at the rate people seem to be willing to forgive and trust him it's starting to feel like Discord could pull a gun out and shoot Twilight and it's just be "An exercise to bring them together and bond."

I've listed all the things I've noticed that make me dislike Discord. Well I want to see some of the hard evidence that he's nice. The list I can think of so far is he hid a balloon in his coat and then tricked Fluttershy into apologizing to him for being an ass towards her. Almost all the evidence told that he might be nice has just been supposition and guessing from people about what -might- be shown in the future.
Archone 27th Oct 2018, 4:57 AM edit delete reply
The hardest evidence that he's nice would be... the Main GM's good opinion of him. Who also has a good opinion of the players.

(Also, he didn't "trick Fluttershy into apologizing." He spoke with her privately and they apologized to each other. He acknowledged he went too far and so did she)

He didn't work hard to "isolate the players." He ran a succession of solo mini-sessions. GMs often do that. Sometimes you have a player character who does something solo. He took them in one at a time, while the Main GM handled the rest. And we've had it confirmed that the two GMs did in fact communicate and plan things... there was simply a bit of miscommunication (hence the hedge maze). Meaning any nefarious plans got Main GM's approval. I don't think Main GM is nefarious either.

That being said, I've known manipulative and abusive assholes like that. And... generally speaking, you can not only recognize them as such after you've known them for any length of time (the way Main GM has known Discord GM for a long time), but they're not really capable of putting this much effort and detail into customizing their methods for a group of individuals they haven't even met yet. Simply put... they're too self centered and narcissistic to be capable of this kind of thing. They don't do "brilliant and flawless schemes," they do easily disprovable lies and then rely on the good nature of their victims to get away with their gaslighting.
ThatGuest 27th Oct 2018, 5:44 AM edit delete reply
The GM's opinion of Discord seems heavily skewed though after the discussion with Rarity, they clearly have Discord on a pedistal and seem to feel like they're beneath him in some way. I have seen people sing the praises of some of the most twisted monsters I've met in my life, totally and blissfully ignorant of what a terrible person they are.

Also there was really nothing for Fluttershy to apologize about, all she did was recognize his manipulation and call him out on it (perhaps from experience) and he went off like a bomb on her. (Which I might add the GM didn't really do anything about or call him out on despite him yelling at one of their players aggressively, further cementing my thoughts that they're totally submissive to Discord)
Mr Wednesday 27th Oct 2018, 12:24 PM edit delete reply
Having thought about it I may need to modify my opinion.

It started when I remembered that if any of the group weren’t having fun with this, they could have left. Fluttershy could’ve, AJ could’ve. Dash just got yelled at by another player and even she’s content to stick around. It’s a game. Nobody is trapped there, and I don’t think either of the co-GM’s would’ve tried to stop somebody from going.

Then I remembered that only Twilight isn’t having fun. I don’t agree with the idea that it’s because she can’t powergame her way out of this, because she’s not a powergamer. And right now she’s alienated from the group, but the session is far from over. She just doesn’t have the information yet to form a winning strategy, and she’s getting increasingly frustrated. There’s still time for the GM’s to address that.

To be blunt about it, I’ve been much too harsh. And even if I didn’t personally like the direction DiscorDM is taking the session, I’ve been exaggerating the negative effects. I really need to dial back. Most of us do.
GrayGriffin 26th Oct 2018, 7:10 AM edit delete reply
From her expression, she's being way more harsh at AJ than at RD anyways, so it's not really "being fair." AJ gets a lecture and RD gets more of a "please don't put it like that."
HappyEevee 25th Oct 2018, 7:41 PM edit delete reply
Newbiespud, please be encouraged that we love your comic and find it infinitely enjoyable and interesting.

While all of us will tend to view your characters and situations through the colored lenses of our own gaming experience, please don't be discouraged in your writing by any of our comments, discussions, or arguments about your comic. No matter what your story is, some people will see your heroes as villains and your villains as heroes... some people will see your poignant, emotional moments as comic relief and take your comic relief as serious insult or indictment. Don't feel that anyone's unexpected response to your work is simply a result of poor communication on your part; the world is full of people who see things from very different viewpoints and it's impossible to communicate perfectly with everyone at once. And even if you could communicate your position perfectly, some people would feel differently about that position than you do. Please don't let it stress you or make you feel you've failed in any way. You have a great webcomic which you have put years of time, effort, and thought into and you should be proud of it.

I hope you can read people's responses to your comic with thoughtful consideration, but still take them with a grain of salt and not let them stress you. After all, it's your comic - we're just reading it. Let those who like it, like it and those who don't like it, well there's probably nothing you can do to convince them anyway. You do you. :)
Guest 26th Oct 2018, 2:39 AM edit delete reply
Well I for one would say that telling AJ to stop so they could get to the library was the wrong choice. She obviously needs to get something off her chest and explain why she's so angry at something like that.

Twilight doesn't want any of this drama, which is legitimate, but telling people "keep your anger inside for now" doesn't work well in situations like this one.