Page 1140 - Player Versus Person

8th Nov 2018, 5:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 2
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Player Versus Person
Average Rating: 4.5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 8th Nov 2018, 5:00 AM edit delete
It's a shame to go on the journey to get her there, but Mad* Twilight is a fun character to see and write.

*For various definitions of "mad," even.

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



T 8th Nov 2018, 5:06 AM edit delete reply
Book bondage!
Greenhornet 8th Nov 2018, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
Bound in leather!
Gamemaster80 8th Nov 2018, 5:13 AM edit delete reply
And... She's finally breaking. The next few pages are gonna be good
Classic Steve 8th Nov 2018, 9:21 AM edit delete reply
She's so mad that her grammar is failing.
ThatGuest 8th Nov 2018, 5:31 AM edit delete reply
I can't count the number of times I've ben in a party brought to a complete halt because of a trap. "Well, open the door." "Can't it's trapped." "Well disarm it." "No one can." "Then just open the door it's the only path." "It's trapped, don't want to." "OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!" *kicks the door open with my sorceress and takes 3 damage from an arrow trap* "Oh god, 3 damage, how will I survive?! I'm down to 26 hp, that trap surely would have killed any of you who have over 60hp. Ohhhhhhh~"
ThatGuest 8th Nov 2018, 5:35 AM edit delete reply
Also, Twilight right now.
Digo Dragon 8th Nov 2018, 5:43 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I lost count too. Worse when the GM just won't let us be clever about it. Like when we trigger a (horizontal) swinging hammer trap that resets. Monk takes 10 damage to the head. I'm like, okay, so it swings at about head height, I will duck and crawl under it. The GM is like "No you can't. Reflex save."

And then the long argument that I don't give a flying flip over the RAW of a trap, logic says that if a trap is set to swing at head height, ducking to avoid it is perfectly reasonable as a response because crouching and crawling are legal ways to move and the trap isn't designed to swing at any other height level.
Guest 8th Nov 2018, 5:57 AM edit delete reply
Well, that's a little dumb. If they want a trap that activates more than once and can't be reasoned with, why not just put a goblin in the wall, and give him a crossbow and a little hole to fire through?

It's a dungeon where the walls are actually hallways inaccessible from the main hallways (except by a small door in the back room), with angry goblins controlling all the traps with ropes, pulleys, levers, and finicky dials.

The goblins are angry because their chief is crazy and won't let them jump out to attack adventurers normally. But the chief is smart because he knows that wouldn't work, so instead the gobs have to vent their frustration on the trap controls and the poor bastards on the receiving end.

There ya go, a dungeon where all the traps reset and auto-aim, no magic or GM fiat needed.
Guest 8th Nov 2018, 6:08 AM edit delete reply
If you think the party doesn’t have q fifty-fifty shot of just recruiting all the goblins somehow you have another thing coming.
Anvildude 8th Nov 2018, 7:26 AM edit delete reply
See, 'intelligent' creatures are something the DM _can_ just say "They don't listen to you", even if they can understand the languages of the Adventurers. 'cause they're beings with their own wants and needs. Maybe they're racist! Maybe adventurers killed their parents. Maybe they just really, really like the taste of elf meat.
Digo Dragon 8th Nov 2018, 9:07 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Or the party just needs to throw down some Charm spells. If words don't work, magical words sometimes do.
Archone 8th Nov 2018, 10:02 AM edit delete reply
"Okay, on the one hand you have your Evil Overlord, who kills you whenever he's annoyed, feeds you scraps, and is sending you out to be arrow fodder.

"On the other hand we have an offer for you. No being arrow fodder, no more bad bosses, much better food..."
█████ 8th Nov 2018, 6:27 AM edit delete reply
Gotta be honest, I'm loving that idea.

Rogue goes up to disarm the trap: "Uh... there's nothing here."

"A dart shot out of the hole in the wall when I crossed over that line, of course there's a trap!"
Stroth 8th Nov 2018, 11:10 AM edit delete reply
That's called Tucker's Kobolds nad it's considered the single most evil thing you can do to a group short of just teleporting them naked into the Tomb of Horrors.
Jennifer 8th Nov 2018, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
I've always felt the entire point of a GM is to be there when the RAW don't work.
Freelance 10th Nov 2018, 12:19 PM edit delete reply
<roll> "I make. By hitting the floor. Like I said I was doing before the trap went off."
Arix 8th Nov 2018, 6:13 AM edit delete reply
As the guy who usually plays the party tank, my group's general response to traps is to throw me in and see what happens.
THE OTHER GUEST 8th Nov 2018, 6:32 AM edit delete reply
I think that's actually the entire (or at least half of the) point of what Discord's been doing. Twilight, whether she likes it or not, in this group has a reputation of unintentionally scoring high on the Henderson Scale because of how well she analyses the situations she finds herself in.

As I see it, this group has two known "Problem" players, from a GM's standpoint: Twilight, through her in-character situation analysis, and Applejack through her meta-gaming. Both play-styles share similar pitfalls for throwing a game off the tracks, but differ in their execution and how they accomplish their goals.

Something I've noticed about the curses is that, while annoying and detrimental to general play, there's only One that could actually be considered a "Punishment" of some sort: Applejack's. She was almost completely hamstrung in effectively using her meta-knowledge, and still binds herself to the curse even after given a legitimate out because of her meta-knowledge of the current campaign.

The "problem" with Twilight is different though, and so has to be handled differently. She doesn't meta-game. I have no doubt that she could if she wanted to, but she doesn't. She even pulled back from Min-Maxing her character when given the opportunity when they rolled up to the new system a while ago. Instead, Twilight has such an ability to analyze the information and situations she finds herself in In-Character that when she acts she can move seemingly small things in big ways, like taking a stone from the base of a mountain and watching the whole thing collapse. This means that Discord would have to "Punish" her differently if that is indeed one of his goals for this campaign.

Twilight may not have a curse in the same manner as the others, as pointed out by Applejack in this page, but she's, IMO, been inflicted with a much worse condition: The Abrogation of Agency. From the beginning of the session, she's consistently been told "No, you haven't set that up beforehand. You can't do that right now.", put in situations where the only thing she could do is wait, and now, when she can finally, Finally do something, her party members, with only one exception, have been previously goaded into behavior incongruous to productive action and are so caught up in the "Fun" (or so hamstrung by their meta-knowledge) that when she tries to focus their attention on actually accomplishing the goal of the campaign all she gets is sass for her efforts.
Mr Wednesday 8th Nov 2018, 8:19 AM edit delete reply

I feel like this explanation is a real stretch. And if you’re right, the implications are just awful.

It’s not the GM’s job to “punish” the players for affecting the flow of the game. If that kind of problem is threatening the game then it needs to be resolved away by the table, in an adult conversation between GM and player. Never like you’re suggesting.

What would the point even be? How are they supposed to correctly interpret the lesson? How is this a better way of handling an issue than simply talking to them? No GM ever got extra points for messing with the players because of a real-life issue. The only reason I can see to punish them in-game is spite.

This elaborate revenge-game idea highlights the biggest problems some of us have with this arc. Yeah, AJ metagames. Twi analyses situations and finds the solutions which main GM thought (incorrectly) were cleverly hidden. If the main GM brought somebody else in just to deliver long-winded critiques of these two, and make them feel miserable because they play in a way that disrupts the GM’s bad attempts at being secretive, then this GM doesn’t deserve to have a group at all.
Guest 8th Nov 2018, 8:38 AM edit delete reply
Personally, I think he's just trying to show them that it's okay to play in different ways.

It's a really basic scenario, even if the execution is complex: the way you've won before won't work now, because I win if you try it that way. What do you do?

It's actually a really, really good villain plan, 'cause it takes steps to prevent losing using past experience. The only players who aren't having fun are the ones unwilling to change how they play the game.

It's worth noting that Celestia GM was rather unsubtly trying to push the plot along, here. Might be getting concerned with the way things are going. Which is probably how the letters come in.
ThatGuest 8th Nov 2018, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
Twilight's the only one playing though, no one else has done a damn thing since they got cursed. She even pointed out that they need to find the book in the library and everyone just ignored her because she was critiquing them RPing in circle for an hour at least. News flash, it isn't an RPG anymore if all you do is talk about your own character for 4 hours. It's a fanfic. Also notice how the group immediately derailed things with their "RP"

Twilight wants to find the book and Fluttershy immediately wanted to make another asshole remark, AJ made a dig at Twilight just being angry because she's jealous she didn't get cursed and Pinkie started yapping about the book being trapped alluding to them not opening it even though at this point it is the -only- way to progress the damn game. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if Dash sees the nuclear meltdown coming and is trying to stay out of the crossfire and I'm sure Rarity is frenching her rock right now or something.
HappyEevee 12th Nov 2018, 7:08 AM edit delete reply
ThatGuest, it's clear you have a very specific view of how RPGs should be played and that anyone who doesn't play "your way" is wrong and malicious. I encourage you to find a group that all likes to play the same way you do, because you're in for a lot of frustration if you let yourself get mad every time someone deviates from your chosen way of playing the game. People are different and like different things; if you're with a group that favors other playstyles, than find another group that's a better fit for you.
Mr Wednesday 12th Nov 2018, 8:50 AM edit delete reply
I don't know if you meant to, @HappyEevee, but you came off as pretty condescending here. ThatGuest has much stronger opinions on some of these topics than I do, and it sounds like they've had some pretty bad luck with groups before, so that's probably from experience.

The diplomatic kernel of what you said was lost in your patronizing choice of words.
HappyEevee 12th Nov 2018, 6:16 PM edit delete reply
@Mr Wednesday Fair enough, I didn't mean to be patronizing so I apologize to @ThatGuest for my poor phrasing.

I've seen and been in several unhappy groups where people were constantly angry with each other because some of the players had very different playstyles but nobody realized that was the source of the friction and it resulted in a lot of anger and hurt feelings all around.

Some people are very focused on the puzzles and problem-solving, some people love the role-playing, some people love exploring the world or the story, some people focus on maximizing their characters' potential in various stats or skills. All are valid ways of playing an RPG and none of them are "wrong" in any absolute sense, but players with different styles and focuses can unintentionally irritate each other a lot because different aspects of the game are important to them. Much of the time it isn't truly malicious or mean-spirited, the players are just focused on the things that they like and annoyed when others want to spend time on aspects they find less interesting.

It's almost impossible to change people's tastes about what they find interesting, so when players comment on their frustration with their group, I often recommend that they look for a different group who finds the same aspects of the game interesting that they do. At the end of the day gaming is about having fun together and if we don't see eye-to-eye enough with the people at our table to have fun, then there's not much point in it.
Mr Wednesday 12th Nov 2018, 10:32 PM edit delete reply

Well we are in agreement on that! Thanks for taking my words in such a nice spirit! I came off a bit douchey myself TBH, and I'm sorry.

You are entirely correct in saying that RPG's are about having fun together. That's exactly what I think. Pursuant to that idea, it means respecting each other's styles--this goes for Twilight toward the cursed players and the other way around.

Personally I find it kind of exciting to have different people who want different things, as long as they can get along at the table and help to make one big mega-thing with elements of all the stuff people enjoy!
THE OTHER GUEST 8th Nov 2018, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
Essentially, yes. Note I put "Punish(ment)" and "Problem" in "" in my previous comment.

I'm not necessarily saying that the actions of the GM/DM are a deliberate or even malicious attempt to get some sort of convoluted revenge on the two mentioned players, but the way the campaign is set up Does punish and hamstring their usual play-styles.

The reasoning behind doing what was done to Applejack is simple. She's a known meta-gamer, unashamedly so, and generally does so instead of legitimately RP-ing her characters, flaws and all. She Has toned it back in recent sessions, but it's still a major component in her play-style. Putting a curse on her that makes her meta-knowledge unusable forces her to try to think of different approaches to the problem and means she can't just meta-loophole her way out of them, thereby prematurely shortening the campaign.

That's not GM Maliciousness. That's GM Pragmatism.

Twilight's a different case though. She doesn't meta-game, even though she could probably do so even more effectively than Applejack if she wanted, and yet she still pulled a -1 on the Henderson Scale during the Nightmare Moon Arc, and in the following arcs leading up to the Gala also continuously, in universe and fully in-character, either undertook actions, or encouraged others in the group to take actions, that either derailed the planned session completely, or undermined the established conflict so completely that it was solved with seeming triviality.

Again, this isn't something Twilight does with malicious intent, and it's an aspect of how she Legitimately RP's her character as the intellectual leader of the group.

That's not behavior that can be justifiably "Punished", but it is also Not conductive to a protracted campaign, so it has to be countered somehow if that's what the GM wants to give the players. The simplest method to do so just so happens to be to hamstring that player's ability to take those actions that would derail the campaign by forcing them to solve a lot of other, little problems, before they can actually go after the heart of the issue, and if you can get the rest of the party working against them either accidentally or on purpose, then bonus points to the GM.
GrayGriffin 8th Nov 2018, 3:55 PM edit delete reply
It's not even meta-knowledge? It is knowledge that she was given in-character, through a legitimate in-character method, in a setting where prophecy does exist. So she acquired that completely in-character and there's no reason to call it meta-knowledge any more.
Digo Dragon 8th Nov 2018, 9:11 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Taking away a player's agency is, in my opinion as a GM, a very bad thing to do to a player. If this is how Discord and/or the GM are punishing her problem of analysis, then they are clearly in the wrong.
obscurereader 8th Nov 2018, 9:12 PM edit delete reply
Forget punishment - taking away player agency is taking away the entire point of playing a tabletop rpg campaign. Anyone can buy or read stories online in multiple different mediums such as books, video games, or videos that have much better quality control story and character-wise due to being edited or tested before being released to the public for consumption. Tabletop rpg campaigns do not have that sort of luxury on account of being usually free. The whole differentiating factor of a tabletop rpg is that it's a collaborative storytelling opportunity where a group of people are supposed to do things together, can influence what happens and tell other people about it later. If you take away the players' input - their agency- in the plot then why not just go write a novel or something else instead? Why are the players even there except to listen to the DM prattle on about their untested, unrefined story and waste their time?

Also, seriously, why should punishing or countering Twilight and Applejack even necessary in the first place? Why the hell does this particular campaign need a protracted story arc that has to be forced to last longer than necessary? Why can't the story be about the cleverness of the players as they work out the plots in-and-out of character and act intelligently, solving the problems and succeeding in a spectacular and speedy manner? That has the makings for a wonderful story, one that I'd happily read about and am certain others would love to hear about in passing! That's, like, half the fun of tabletop rpgs!
Arix 8th Nov 2018, 6:14 AM edit delete reply
I hope Applejack is pulling the "rolling for no reason just to put people on edge" trick. That's one of my favourite DM tactics.

Player: *roll* 18 on perception?
Me: *roll* You see nothing.
Player: ...
siosilvar 8th Nov 2018, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
Seems like it. If you roll and then say what you mean to anyway, does that really reveal information?

Maybe Twi will eventually figure out she's actually ignoring the roll and just telling the truth.
Greebs 8th Nov 2018, 10:55 AM edit delete reply
The GM for our group takes it further, and has a multitude of differently coloured D20s, and doubles down on the 'rolling to put people on edge' by rolling veritable handfulls of dice, even if he's only interested in the results of one.

Trouble is, he's such a relentless troll that he's worn away my natural predisposition towards caution and overthinking, and now I just assume everything he does is pulling my leg, and accept the consequences when I'm wrong!
Digo Dragon 9th Nov 2018, 5:03 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
If AJ wants to embrace some real chaos, don't assume a high/low result as indicative of truth/falsehood. Instead you could be like, even die results are truths and odd results are false. That'll keep players guessing a while longer when AJ rolls a 19 and still lies. ;)
HappyEevee 12th Nov 2018, 6:59 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, if it was me I'd do odds/evens on a d20 as well. But keep the lies sounding reasonable and plausible , so it's not obvious either way. It's not her fault if no one put ranks into Sense Motive or isn't bothering to roll it on her...
GrayGriffin 8th Nov 2018, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
I mean, Dash being "used against you" was kind of your own fault, AJ.
tolich 8th Nov 2018, 7:13 AM edit delete reply
This is madness.
Archone 8th Nov 2018, 9:48 AM edit delete reply
THIS! IS! SPA... oh, no it's not. Tell the guide to check her map and do another Knowledge roll. This is Equestria!
Mykin 8th Nov 2018, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
I'll agree with you there, Spud. *Mad* Twilight is definitely a fun character to see and write. I don't think my guest comics would have been half as good if that wasn't the case. =)

Of course, now I'm split between wanting to calm down Twilight and going back to refill my popcorn bucket...
Evilbob 8th Nov 2018, 9:20 AM edit delete reply
Obviously the popcorn comes first. Calm her down after you're all stocked up and ready.
Guest 8th Nov 2018, 8:23 AM edit delete reply
Okay, I sympathize with Twilight so much. Seriously. While her attitude might not be perfect, I can at least see where she's coming from. What the others are doing on this page - seeing one of their fellow players getting frustrated and deciding to mock her instead of trying to work things out - is a colossal jerk move. It doesn't matter how snippy a player is being, if you start needling and taunting them instead of trying to resolve the issue, YOU are the asshole in that scenario.
ThatGuest 8th Nov 2018, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, at this point I'd probably be leaving because it's clear the rest of the group doesn't actually want to participate in the game. They just want to jerk around with their characters and nothing else.
Godzfirefly 8th Nov 2018, 9:48 AM edit delete reply
Honestly, it's Twilight that's refusing to participate in the game. She refuses to engage with anyone, just dismissing everyone else from the start. In a game where the point is to roleplay characters, she is instead refusing to do any of that and just wants to bypass the social puzzle to reach the puzzle behind. So, she gets the natural consequences of that refusal.

If Twilight put the cherry on top by storming out of the game with a giant chip on her shoulder, I would be uninterested in inviting her back to any future games too. Who wants to game with someone that refuses to actually play the game?
GrayGriffin 8th Nov 2018, 3:52 PM edit delete reply
She tried to engage with them in previous comics and just got completely ignored. It's not a "social puzzle" if it's all on the players' own shoulders. If it was supposed to be a "social puzzle" then presumably the GM wouldn't be having Spike help out with finding the book and explaining things. But he is, so presumably there isn't a social puzzle to solve before they can move on to actually fixing everything.
Archone 8th Nov 2018, 9:57 AM edit delete reply
They ARE participating in the game. They're just annoyed because Twilight is now starting to insult them with passive-aggressive shots.

"And all of that would be tolerable if we could still work past them and, y'know, get around to saving the world."

(A Jewish mother couldn't have done... well, actually a Jewish mother could have. Especially mine. But it would require use of the Basic Expression, where you create an appearance of quiet internal suffering that will be silently endured, and look at how stoic you are being in spite of it all. Then you throw in the occasional sigh, and when someone asks what's wrong, you murmur, "...Nothing...")

Followed by this quip, "Or do one of you wanna take another shot at a TONY AWARD?!" (as if two of the letters in the acronym RPG didn't stand for "Role" and "Playing")

Their expressions in the next panel indicate that they're decidedly unhappy with her for that one.

It really does feel as though I was right about Discord GM's intent: to show them the faults in their own personal playstyles. So that they can address them and do better in the future. (After all, it's not as if canonical Twilight in the show hasn't apologize - repeatedly - for the times she's been mistaken or messed up. Nobody's perfect)
ThatGuest 8th Nov 2018, 10:25 AM edit delete reply
Twilight has tried to engage with them just to be ignored or just treated as an 'audience' for their spectacular roleplaying!~ And yeah RP is there and so is G, game. In a scenario where Twilight was not present, what would the party be doing? Nothing, just sitting there rping off each other forever and ever and ever still sitting in the maze somewhere.Just like in the example I used in an earlier comic where my party did nothing for 40 minutes without me dragging them along. According to your logic I should have just done the polite thing and let the thief RP that he was gambling for the whole session. Yes, rp is part of the game but that's all the party has been doing. For 3 hours.

At this point Twilight is playing a co-op game where she's sitting by the exit to the area and is ready to keep moving but can't because one player is jumping in circles, another is teabagging a dead enemy from 10 minutes ago and two are just having a personal conversation and are still sitting at the entrance.
Archone 8th Nov 2018, 4:48 PM edit delete reply
She's not engaging with them. She's becoming abusive towards them for refusing to do what she wants them to.

...I actually remember someone I teamed with in a game - ONCE. They were proudly insulting - as in, their voice over the chat was arrogant and proud. While delivering this immortal line, "that's right - I'm being a jerk. I'm a bad boss - you've got a bad boss! Now shut up and do what you're told!"

Neither that person, nor Twilight, is paying anyone to play with them.

And by my logic you should have interacted with the thief while he was gambling... if the fighter was in the same gambling den and the women he was trying to pick up were employees and/or femme fatales of some sort, and the druid was spending time with the animals being used for the races they were gambling on. I.e. if they were all doing something else TOGETHER, then that would be another story. Whereas what you were going through was indeed bad, and I sympathize (and the GM really should have given them a poke. Or at least told them, "ThatGuest's character is getting the spotlight because ThatGuest's character is actually DOING stuff important to the plot.").

What Twilight is dealing with is the other players deciding to do a roleplaying side quest... thing. She wants to focus on the main story. But it's still a group effort. A team endeavor. Meaning that she's not the boss, and the rest of the team don't have to listen to her if they don't feel the need... say because she's started rebuking them for not dropping their comedy improv to focus on the puzzle she wants to solve.
obscurereader 8th Nov 2018, 8:57 PM edit delete reply
If Twilight losing her temper due to being constantly sidelined by the others due to their constant roleplay stalling the game(or outright being humiliated and screwed with when it comes to Discord!DM's antics) counts as being abusive, then there seems to be a serious bias against Twilight here. I'll admit that I'm biased against/suspicious of DMs if it seems like they're abusing the power granted to them as DM, but for crying out loud, weren't you one of the people blaming the cursed players for falling into the curses/being annoying before? Why is it that they're the ones in the right now, while Twilight is suddenly The Bad Boss (tm) who's way too prideful and needs to stop asking the others to listen to her (when, you know, they're supposed to be a group of friends who listen to one another and she's basically been doing all the listening so far, and has in fact had to play mediator when an argument broke out)?

No, no one is paying any of them to do anything - they're supposed to be friends playing a game together. (Hell, as I sorta alluded to on a previous page, the fact that they're not being paid as part of the tabletop rpg is an argument for why they shouldn't be sitting here taking this crap from the DMs and why on-rails storytelling should not be a thing for tabletop rpgs - honestly, I'm surprised no one bailed the second Discord!DM started screwing around with the in-game reality, but I guess that's their previous friendship keeping things going?.).
So far, the only ones doing anything not actively detrimental to each other are Twilight and Rainbow Dash, with the others constantly chiming in with dialogue and information that the pcs already know (sorta like broken records or npcs). Their dialogue isn't even about their characters doing much, it's just them talking on, and on, and on about the situation rather than doing much of anything relevant to advancing the plot (they totally could've skipped, for instance, Rarity forcing the boulder through the library or Applejack telling more information that they already knew/figured out. The only one I'm willing to give some credit to is Fluttershy - her actions so far have at least tangentially been related to moving the plot forward, her problem is that she's now internalizing bad habits due to thinking that's how she has to act rather than because it's fun).

Here's a quick question: How in any form of reality would the cursed four's antics be in any way a sidequest? They get nothing beneficial for continuing to roleplay this stuff, there are no rewards for continuing to emphasize the curses long past the point where the non-cursed players would have gotten the gist of what's going on, and they are in fact moving farther and farther away from their one, actual objective in getting the Elements and stopping Discord - after all, the whole POINT of the curses was to drive a wedge between the group and render the Elements useless, so continuing the charade is literally making negative progress in that regard. Twilight isn't acting like a bad leader or a boss here - the others are going way too far with their roleplay and stalling the game out, to the point that it's taken several pages just to ask for the Reference Guide, something that should've taken, like, a minute in-universe and a page out-of-universe to deal with (and it'll likely take longer if NewbieSpud adapts the part where everyone dogpiles the book and starts fighting - if that happens, then they'll be jumping straight to outright helping the enemy rather than doing anything helpful). She's exasperated that they're refusing to do anything else beyond act like a peanut gallery because of their curses, and is trying to keep them on track. Damn near anyone would've thrown their hands up and quit in frustration by now in Twilight's shoes, but it's a testament to Twilight's patience and faith in her friends that she's put up with all of their antics and the antics of the DMs and is only truly letting loose some of that fury and frustration right now. Hell, even in spite of her frustration, Tilight still wants to work past the curses together with the others and get around to saving the world, if panel 3 from the top is any indication, it's just that the others won't stop their roleplay to work with each other - they just keep making snide comments (which, to be fair, is kinda all they can do at this point given how much reality-warping bull is flying and how little their actual skillsets have come into play by now - seriously, when was the last time anyone was able to use their social skills, Fluttershy was able to talk with animals, Twilight was able to use her magic to do anything related to accomplishing their goals in a clever manner? Only person who got to do anything close to that was Rainbow Dash when she fought Discord, and fighting didn't actually do anything to stop Discord - it was her refusal to be tempted that got the group closer to their goals, and it still got used against the party as Applejack stated in the 10th panel from the top. I'm not even convinced it'd have stopped the game, either).
Archone 9th Nov 2018, 3:28 PM edit delete reply
No, I never blamed the players for falling into the curses - the curses were clearly a major part of the adventure that's been created for them. (I was however the one who disapproved of Twilight's method of mediation, resorting to the "golden mean fallacy" by telling Rainbow Dash she was wrong in how she expressed herself even though she was completely in the right, just so that Twilight could come across as being "fair.")

How would it be a sidequest... well, considering that GMs are encouraged to give bonus XP for roleplaying, there's that. But there are other rewards for roleplaying it out. Specifically, the fact that they're having fun. As long as they're having fun, they'll keep it up. It's when it STOPS being fun that they'll stop.

And yes, Twilight's being grumpy and annoying... hell, she hasn't quite twigged yet to the fact that she HAS been cursed. She is a minmaxing powergamer who wants to get things done... and she is being forced to work with hardcore roleplayers. Her curse is having to work with them WITHOUT becoming abusive... a task which she is beginning to fail at.

As for the inability to use their abilities... I was in a Mutants & Masterminds game where the PCs had to enter a facility filled with gas that suppressed their powers. Shadowrun has anti-Mage gear to bind them, while the hackers and riggers can be hobbled by taking away their electronic toys. Hell, it's even an entire trope:
Mr Wednesday 9th Nov 2018, 4:01 PM edit delete reply
Appealing to the existence of a trope doesn’t make it relevant to the situation. DiscorDM used a Power Nullifier when he took the group’s magic and flight. That works. That was a situation in which he limited their resources and denied them opportunities, same as if Kryptonite, the ultimate power nullifier, were used against Superman.

On the other hand, there’s what obscurereader is describing when they say: “seriously, when was the last time anyone was able to use their social skills, Fluttershy was able to talk with animals, Twilight was able to use her magic to do anything related to accomplishing their goals in a clever manner? Only person who got to do anything close to that was Rainbow Dash when she fought Discord...”

Suppression of their abilities isn’t the issue here. It’s denial of chances to do anything in the game except this special activity DiscorDM selected for them. Keeping the Superman example, this is like if instead of facing a giant monster or a kryptonite robot or something else that Superman regularly does on Earth, the action happens on a planet MADE of kryptonite, where Superman can’t even go. No longer is the kryptonite an obstacle to overcome, but a block keeping anything from happening.

Now this sentence of yours, “She is a minmaxing powergamer who wants to get things done... and she is being forced to work with hardcore roleplayers” is utter nonsense. Putting aside the garbage idea that she’s a less valid roleplayer than anyone else at that table, this is Twi’s regular game group. Her FRIENDS. She’s not being forced to work with them. It’s not like DiscorDM brought guest players to shake things up. And she’s not forced in any other sense. Nothing tethers her to the game except her own enjoyment. She is trying not to escalate to simply leaving the game.
obscurereader 9th Nov 2018, 4:28 PM edit delete reply
Personally, I feel like Twilight's mediation was all right all things considered - Rainbow Dash was in the right that time and was suitably defended against Applejack by Twilight, and Twilight was more just lightly concerned/pointing out an issue with Rainbow's presentation due to how it could be taken poorly (which was what had happened in that case - presenting an argument well is important, after all, and their goal is to get the Elements and defeat Discord. Getting into arguments is exactly what is desired by Discord, and that's not taking into account that getting into arguments right then and there is generally a recipe for disaster and game-halting disputes that really should be talked about out of game rather than be done on-the-spot the way it ended up happening).

GMs might be encouraged to give bonus XP for roleplaying, but that's completely irrelevant to this situation - having an extra level isn't going to do jack if Discord can literally no-sell their abilities through reality warping (and his challenges don't actually require any of their in-game skills in the first place - kind of what I was getting at with that last paragraph in my earlier comment). And "having fun". Having fun? This "fun" is coming at the expense of both the group (as I've explained before, pursuing the portrayal of these curses is the entire freaking point of Discord's plan - the more they play it up and annoy each other, the smaller their chances become of beating Discord cause the Elements won't work) and Twilight (who's basically being forced to play babysitter for these people since they're refusing to stay on topic and work together despite, you know, supposedly being mature friends who've worked together well in the past before and knowing that Discord's whole plan is to drive a wedge between them?). Also, I feel like you're heavily overestimating the amount of "fun" they're having (and not acknowledging the possibility that they might not be having fun, but faking it for the sake of appearances or something), and that you aren't considering that they might not actually stop if they reach the point when things aren't fun (for starters, not stopping past the point of sanity was kind of a flaw of Pinkie's that seems to be rearing its ugly head again, just in a different direction due to Discord's influence).

Also, what? How is this her curse? Discord did nothing to her magically (nothing similar to how the others were singled out), and she only actually became cursed in the show when the Elements failed against Discord (which was the point where Show!Twilight gave up on everything). You could argue it's a "challenge" or something, but even then it's something that shouldn't have been an issue in the first place and one that Twilight is honestly doing well with (since, again, I think a lot of people would've lost their tempers far sooner than Twilight has in a similar situation - personally, I know I'd have left by now and chewed out the DMs for this nonsense if I'd been in Twilight's shoes, and am impressed with her general attempts to work with the others still). So far, she's still trying to be nice and treat the others with respect - it's everyone else here who's basically continuing to insist on playing things out past the point where it'd be appropriate without regard for Twilight (Exhibit A). Even the most even-tempered of people would get angry and grumpy if pushed too far - and here, even if she's being "grumpy and annoying" as you put it, she's entirely justified in her anger due to the others not showing her any respect as friends despite her attempts to keep doing so for them anyway (see for instance: her mediation attempt earlier and her attempt to help Rarity a while back with carrying the rock). She is not being "abusive" for gods sake, she's at her wits end trying to deal with the others fairly despite their constant prickly behavior and disrespect towards their purported friend ic.

Also, I think (again) that you've missed the point of one of my arguments - with the fact that the party's abilities have been shut down, there's nothing for the players to do besides continuing this farce of a roleplay. Power Nullification is something used in storytelling, but this scenario is a perfect example of how it can be used extremely, EXTREMELY poorly and why it shouldn't be used like this. Power Nullification, at its core, is meant to force people to rely on other tactics to succeed. It can lead to characters working creatively around the given premise, but only if they still have other options available to them (for instance, if a battlemage has their magic negated but don't have their weapons and gear taken away for a fight and their opponents might be capable of being reasoned with, they can still do things, just not necessarily at their peak effectiveness and not in the way they'd probably want to do them in the first place.). Used incorrectly, however, Power Nullification basically takes away a character's ability to do anything (continuing the battlemage example, if they have their magic negated and their gear stolen, and are up against enemies that can't be reasoned or debated with, with nothing in the environment they can use to hide or avoid fighting with, they're kind of irrevocably fucked, especially if they had to hyper-specialize and don't have other options available due to character building constraints). The latter kind of scenario is why I dislike seeing Power Nullification used in general, since there are only so many back-up abilities a player can get to prepare for such a possibility (and honestly, if they're playing a wizard or bard or something, they really shouldn't be getting forced into scenarios where they can't leverage the main schticks of their classes - what the hell was even the point of them picking those skillsets if they were just going to be rendered useless and basically kicked out of the plot in terms of relevance?) whereas a DM has infinite resources available to them (perfectly encapsulated by Discord's ability to warp reality with zero limits), and really, to me it's more fun watching people in their elements doing stuff they're good at rather than forcing them to do stuff unrelated to it.

The problem with this Discord scenario as-is is that his unlimited power is being used as all-encompassing power nullification. Again, he cannot be reasoned with, the players cannot fight or defend themselves against his influence with their abilities, they can't even go five steps without something screwy happening that they can't defend themselves properly against, so the players don't actually have many, if any options beyond following the railroad tracks. All-in-all, this is honestly a boring tabletop session to play in, specifically cause there's nothing for the players to actually do, except continue this nonsense roleplaying... Which pretty much plays directly into what Discord wants, so they can't even do that without doing what Discord wants them to do and only what he wants them to do. It's incredibly on-rails and aggravating to deal with, because this scenario is essentially designed (unintentionally or otherwise) with removing player agency for the sake of The Plot (tm).
obscurereader 9th Nov 2018, 4:30 PM edit delete reply
Also, hot damn @Mr. Wednesday, thanks for that last paragraph defending Twilight! You not only got to what I was writing in my comment, I feel like you defended Twilight better than I did with fewer sentences!
Mr Wednesday 9th Nov 2018, 7:35 PM edit delete reply
You're very welcome, @obscurereader!

Thanks yourself for that explanation of power nullification and player agency. Mine didn't come out like I wanted. Also you highlighted what I didn't: that Twi has been trying to provide some balance to the group and keep people from fighting at the table.
THE OTHER GUEST 9th Nov 2018, 8:55 PM edit delete reply

Also, I'd like to point out thatTwilight actually pulled back from the Minmaxing-Power Gamer build at the end. She most definitely could have done that, and it would have been allowed at the time when she had the opportunity, but she still backed off. Her existing build most probably does have a certain level of optimization to it, since that's what Twilight does, but she doesn't go the full way into Munchkinism.

Also @Obscurereader & @Mr. Wednesday:

I've been turning over my theory above for the last couple days, and I think (Hope) part of Discord's plan here is to get the players to Roleplay more in General. Good Or Bad. It doesn't matter if they're roleplaying their curses or their characters better sides, as long as there is more roleplaying in general.

Unfortunately for the session in general, given the mentioned rail-roading they seem to have fallen into this a little Too much, and of the two GM's their Regular one is in a better position to try getting things back on track than Discord, since he's seen primarily as an antagonist by the players despite his Co-GM status.

Back to Roleplay, though, As I mentioned before, all of their Curses are more behavioral in nature than actually affecting their abilities or alignments as far as their player stats go. Yes, while Discord as Discord is an omni-power-limiter on the group as far as the overarching session goes, other than Rarity who refuses to put "Tom" down (even though she could if she wanted), none of them are actually affected mechanically.

If my hypothesis is true, I also think that Discord miss-read two of the players. Badly so in one case. The first player he miss-read is Dash, of course. She wasn't the only one to see right through his binary challenge, but the "Wrong" path was incorrectly judged on his part. It's fairly obvious that he did his homework on both the players And their characters before setting up their challenges, but he miss-read Dash. He was unsurprised to find her playing SMASH while she waited for her turn, and I wouldn't put it past him knowing about her apparent "Love" of Mass Effect from the GM telling him about their players. What he failed to take into account is that Dash doesn't buy into the binary challenge shtick, and he miss-read that she had internalized her loyalty to her party to the degree she had, thinking she'd jump at the opportunity to go smash a bunch of stuff, and so didn't provide an enticing enough counter-option that she would have fallen for like Rarity did.

The second player he's Miss-Read, I think, is Twilight. Not because she has unexpected depths to her, like Dash, but rather, I think, because unlike the others, for her, Twilight Sparkle isn't so much a Role she Plays, one she can switch on and off she's at the table or not, as much as her character is an actual projection of herself. Remember, First Session, Nightmare Moon, Twilight and Fluttershy were the new players in the sense that this was the first time they'd ever played a Table Top RPG. Projecting yourself onto your character is fairly common for people who've never done RP stuff before and both of them do so, but while Fluttershy has used her play-experience to branch out, try new things and grow as both a character and a player/person, Twilight didn't have any of her insecurities, and so hasn't ever seen the need to Ham Up her roleplaying as much as the others (who at this point have gone straight past just ham and taken the whole Hog).

Unfortunately for Discord's miss-reading her, she also hasn't quite gotten the hang of separating her Projected character persona from OOC interaction, since they're so closely linked. This means that she probably sees her relationship with her friends IC as a reflection of that relationship OOC, so all this infighting and uncooperative behavior is hitting her a bit closer to home than it otherwise would have, and she's taking it a bit more personally than she probably should.

I also think that this is Discord!GM's binary challenge for her. "Can she figure out how to bring her friends back together despite their altered nature, or will she give up and go mad trying to manipulate the world to beat Discord without their help and become cursed for her efforts.

Unfortunately, I get the feeling she'll likely leave the table before it gets that far...
GrayGriffin 9th Nov 2018, 10:24 PM edit delete reply
If that's supposed to be the challenge, he's failing at it, considering the regular DM is now using Spike to move things along.
IceLord 8th Nov 2018, 10:27 AM edit delete reply
I'm sad for TS's player. I've been there before, with everyone so up their own rump with their character that they stop contributing to the group or the game.
obscurereader 8th Nov 2018, 3:54 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if the DM is beginning to regret his decisions regarding the progression of the session. That last panel featuring Spike could be interpreted as an attempt to avoid a fight OoC and move things along through IC banter + progression, or it could just be him roleplaying Spike as excitedly finding the book. Or both. Still, I really wish he'd have called a timeout/OoC cooldown talk or something - this is clearly taking its toll on Twilight and she really, really needs a hug and some reassurance. The other players could also use something else to do besides roleplay their curses -it's gotten really stale at this point, and contributing greatly to Twilight's frustration (and I'm pretty certain it's unhealthy for the cursed players to continue dealing with + hurting the group's overall OoC relationships).
GrayGriffin 8th Nov 2018, 3:58 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, exactly. The fact that he's moving things along so quick should be making it clear that this IC obnoxiousness is not some kind of "social puzzle" they have to "solve" before "moving on."
Dakkath 9th Nov 2018, 8:20 AM edit delete reply
I'm just waiting for Twilight to go pyrocorn at this rate. Maybe end up accidentally burning down the library (great use of Twi vs Tirek elements that'd be).
Story Time 9th Nov 2018, 11:55 AM edit delete reply
When only one players is trying to do something and the others laugh at him, do nothing or just try to hind him.

Any story when one player is forced to do all the work while the others work against him?
DuoScratch 9th Nov 2018, 8:59 PM edit delete reply
And now Twilight's in the running, but I still think the clear cut winner of the "Douchy" award by the end of this session will be Flutterdouche.

Still, this is a pretty accurate look at just how easily a group can be derailed by their own hubris. Fun to watch from the outside, but gotta suck from the inside. *shrug*

Honestly, with all the ups and downs, I'ma just stop trying to point the finger at the problem, and just wait to see how it plays out, with my lil baggie o' pretzels by my side, munching away at Ham Theatre. ;p
HappyEevee 12th Nov 2018, 6:47 AM edit delete reply
Breathe, Twilight. You're losing the forest for the trees.