Page 1150 - Back in the Bottle

1st Dec 2018, 5:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 2
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Back in the Bottle
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 1st Dec 2018, 5:00 AM edit delete
To clarify the previous update's Author's Note a tad: I don't truly believe gaslighting is Discord's main technique. It seems to me more a byproduct of his relentless manipulative improvisation – an error of highly predictive and reactive GMing in general, perhaps. Sometimes what the "plan" really was and what the "stakes" really are is hard to pin down and keep there. (Especially when you're on the fourth rewrite of a particular comic page and you're starting to confuse yourself on what Discord's dialogue should reveal at this juncture.)

There's also something to the notion that the divisive Discord discourse in the comments (which, for the record, I'm okay with up until personal attacks get trotted out) is a result of people seeing different versions of the same events – applying their personal experiences to interpret certain implications, calling those interpretations facts, accusing others' interpretations of those implications as being mere phantoms, and questioning whether others have actually seen or read the same material.

So yeah. I feel like I'm learning a bit about gaslighting by writing this character in this arc. I apologize for not expanding on that thought earlier.

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



ThatGuest 1st Dec 2018, 5:05 AM edit delete reply
Sweet holy hell there might actually be a little hope. The GM has gotten sick of the schtickt and realized what's going on! *fires off fireworks and orgonizes a parade to celebrate the historic moment*
Digo Dragon 1st Dec 2018, 6:53 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
About TIME that the GM grew a spine to take control of their own campaign.

And it's nice that the party is finding some cohesion again. Dropping the curse show and talking to each other on regrouping to find a plan of attack. Finally, working together! Yes!
Spoony Viking 1st Dec 2018, 7:24 AM edit delete reply
Personally, I don't think it's a matter of "spine". I think it's more of a matter of him not realising something was wrong until now.
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 10:55 AM edit delete reply
That’s not really any better, is it, @SpoonyViking? Not noticing something is wrong until this point suggests the Main GM has been on Mars this whole time, with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears.

As for the players dropping the curse show, where was this in the library? If they all were on Twilight’s side why did they just stand there looking upset?
Rakaydos 2nd Dec 2018, 1:40 AM edit delete reply
Main GM has been feeling powerless, run over by DiscorDM. The last page, "Would you have let me?"/"It's your game." was a transformitave moment for the main GM- reminding him that it IS his game, and he CAN step in if things are getting out of hand, something he wasnt sure about with his old game master hamming it up with game altering powers.
ThatGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 7:28 AM edit delete reply
It is troubling still though how much Discord didn't want to give control back and it seemed to take outright fear to at least, temporarily force him into relenting.
Archone 2nd Dec 2018, 10:13 AM edit delete reply
It seemed more as if he were caught off guard and confused about the situation. "But you said I could..." Then he quickly rolled with the decision and went for the "triumphant laughter while exiting stage left" routine.
Pibald 2nd Dec 2018, 4:50 PM edit delete reply
Well, thing is, we've had how many weeks, or even MONTHS of this? And for the characters it's been... what maybe a few hours, tops? This has been one session, not several weeks of Discord.
It's easy to call someone out for not noticing something when you've got a bird's eye view and time's running at a much slower pace than when you're in the thick of things.
Steel Resolve 2nd Dec 2018, 2:24 PM edit delete reply
Well, they can do that all out of character, but there will need to be curse-breaking for each in character or all these shenanigans will be pointless.

And that leads up to what I believe to be Spike's shining moment; quite literally vomiting up past morals to help Twilight ground herself again.
Discord 1st Dec 2018, 5:12 AM edit delete reply
♪On the first day of Hearth's Warming, Discord gives to you♪
♪A chaos filled world♪
ThatGuest 1st Dec 2018, 5:15 AM edit delete reply
I'm pretty sure that you've driven this joke so far into the ground that it's exited the planet on the opposite side and it's halfway back on a return trip.
Discord 1st Dec 2018, 5:43 AM edit delete reply
Ah, what a better way to end a running gag, then to make it biggest yet.
Every update is a new line.
Digo Dragon 1st Dec 2018, 6:54 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I know I gagged at the chaos jokes. Romaine lettuce has a fresher punchline. To the gut. ;)
Newbiespud 1st Dec 2018, 9:51 AM edit delete reply
Okay, I have to draw the line at lyrics that blatantly don't and will never scan.
Jannard 1st Dec 2018, 11:36 AM edit delete reply
I thank Celestia for Newbie's intervention.
ChaoticBrain 1st Dec 2018, 2:40 PM edit delete reply
I bless the rains down in Africa.
Discord 2nd Dec 2018, 5:14 AM edit delete reply
I have to listen to the big guy.
He's the one that determines if I get to stay, or if I have to leave.
HappyEevee 1st Dec 2018, 10:58 PM edit delete reply
Hmm, shouldn't that fit the meter more like:

On the first day of Hearth's Warming Discord gives to you
A world filled with choc-late chaos fun
Zetsus 1st Dec 2018, 5:16 AM edit delete reply
I'll hold my tongue until we see more, but so far I don't really see a problem in DiscordGM's style.

Don't get me wrong, he's fucked them over right hard, but in every case he's given them plenty of chances to avoid the various curses. The only one that could be argued would be Fluttershy's and that was more of her getting under his skin with her accusations than him crafting an unwinnable situation. Even Rainbow Dash showed that if you're willing to look past the show he's putting on you can generally find the path /you/ want to take rather than the one he expected you to.

Yes he might craft a consequence for said choice, but that's just the way the game is played when you're going up against what is essentially a god.
ThatGuest 1st Dec 2018, 5:22 AM edit delete reply
The issue is that at minimum, Discord is obnoxious and has either been willfully or obliviously unaware of how, not fun things have gotten. This page seems to spell it out quite clearly that even the GM is sick of things

"Discord's. Laughter. Fades. Into. The Distance." translation into impolite terms, "Shut. Up."
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 5:39 AM edit delete reply
Honestly I see that less DiscordGM's problem and more the GM's problem.

DiscordGM, by design and nature, is the antagonist of this whole scenario. It's not his job to play nice, in fact it's his job to do the exact opposite.

The whole reason everything is off kilter is because the regular GM hasn't stepped up yet, at least not until she, as you said, told him to shut up.

As far as I can tell DiscordGM is doing his job beautifully, crafting a situation that is high stakes, high risk, and eventually high reward. To beat a dead horse, Rainbow dash has shown how to play these types of games, namely stick to your guns, know when to fold them, and /not/ play along with the whims of the Mad God who's main and quite continually stated goal is to fuck with you.

The other GM's job is to show the girls just what happened to the world, how they can fix it, and give them the ability to act on this information.

She's started to do that with the whole "Talking book had the elements in it all along, use these to blast discord when you've fixed yourselves" scenario, but she probably /should/ have started doing that during the actual curse scenes.
khyrin 2nd Dec 2018, 1:56 PM edit delete reply
A good GM still needs to read the situation and balance providing challenge with the group having fun.
I personally despise the idea of the GM being the adversary. They are there to tell a story. that may mean playing the villain, but at the end of the day, if the GM is really against the party... what's the point of playing? They'll just crush you with boulders, or bait and switch your objective, or infect the party with mummy rot, or just kill the party outright with aneurysms.
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 5:40 AM edit delete reply
Right, sure, the individual scenarios were not necessarily unwinnable. But overall? The instant anyone succumbed the Elements would be useless. And don't forget he convinced Pinkie to get cursed by convincing her OOC without any warning that this might affect their usage of the Elements, meaning that she accepted the deal without full knowledge of the actual IC consequences of her choice.
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 5:52 AM edit delete reply
It's a curse not death, and generally speaking curses can be broken.

Also the Girls have used the elements before, it should have been known that if one is off kilter than the whole thing either won't work or would be severely weakened.

As for Pinkie pie, yes that was an OOC choice, but, once again, Rainbow Dash. Her conversation was OOC too and she decided that, no, she wasn't going to play DiscordGM's game, she was going to play her own.

Pinkie Pie on the other hand decided that it would be more fun to play the game while being cursed so now she has to live with that consequence.

Just because the choice is OOC doesn't make it any less valid, and just because the conversation is OOC doesn't mean it was DiscordGM's job to explain every consequence of taking his offer.

You're playing poker with the devil, you've only got yourself to blame if you go all in when he says it'll be more interesting if you do.
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 5:54 AM edit delete reply
You claimed that he gave them all chances to avoid being cursed. He didn't do that for Pinkie. He went straight up to her and said "I'm going to curse you but you can pick what kind of curse you want" instead of letting her know resistance was an option at all.

EDIT: Yup, page 1087. Pinkie asks if she doesn't have a choice. DiscorDM uses wording tricks and questions instead of statements to make her think so without actually lying.
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
Once again, have to use Rainbow Dash as my example and evidence, she didn't /have/ to take that choice.

Yes he used weasel words, but he's basically been playing Mr.Scratch since he showed up. His whole deal is to mess with the players. Pinkie pie should have been well aware that working with him would equal him using that to his advantage.

Heck she could have asked to challenge his "Forced" cursing with a sing off, a joke competition, or even a game of rock paper scissors and he probably would have gone for it just for shits and giggles. Instead she decided to eat the curse just so she'd have an excuse to method act, which to be fair DiscordGM tempted her with.
Spoony Viking 1st Dec 2018, 7:27 AM edit delete reply
"Heck she could have asked to challenge his "Forced" cursing with a sing off, a joke competition, or even a game of rock paper scissors and he probably would have gone for it just for shits and giggles [...]"

It should be noted that Fluttershy basically told her the same thing, though obviously only after the fact.
Spoony Viking 1st Dec 2018, 7:27 AM edit delete reply
"Heck she could have asked to challenge his "Forced" cursing with a sing off, a joke competition, or even a game of rock paper scissors and he probably would have gone for it just for shits and giggles [...]"

It should be noted that Fluttershy basically told her the same thing, though obviously only after the fact.
ThatGuest 1st Dec 2018, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
Not to mention the straight up no win scenario he gave Dash and him flipping his shit over Fluttershy mocking his ~brilliance!~He also kinda used RP to twist Rarity's arm in a roundabout way. Like "I think your character would do this so you have to do this."

That last part actually comes up in a game system I like called FATE. Every character has a negative aspect to themselves. The GM can activate that to hinder the party in situations it may concern -but- the players can also spend a point to tell the GM "No. My character keeps themselves under control." and keep the situation from getting worse. Rarity should have ironically done exactly what Dash did.

"No. Rarity is controlling and paranoid, but she also trusts her friends after they gave everything they had to help her when there was absolutely no reason for them to put themselves on the line like that."
Digo Dragon 1st Dec 2018, 6:56 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Chances to avoid the curses? Uh, you are forgetting that he cursed Fluttershy angrily for refusing to pick a choice. She saw through the ruse and still got cursed for it.
Greenhornet 1st Dec 2018, 8:24 AM edit delete reply
When I first got into role-playing, I sat with a group that had a DM that had a "It's me against them" attitude. Sometimes it seemed like he was trying to win the game himself and he'd "fudge" to protect the BBEG. It turned me away from the game, but I later joined another group.
Some years later, I talked to a guy in the old group and he explained to me that they played with that DM because his "fudging" made the game a CHALLENGE. He wasn't REALLY out to get the players, he just made sure it wasn't too easy.
After playing and studying the game(s) and listening to other players and GMs, I realize now that the guy was actually a good DM.
But still, he should have lost the "I"M going to win this game!" attitude.
Borg 1st Dec 2018, 11:34 AM edit delete reply
Greenhornet's story is a great example here, because it's about how a mismatch between player and DM expectations can be a serious problem. Maybe DiscorDM is doing a great job at doing what the main DM asked them to do, but only the main DM asked them to do it. The players did not ask for this, and they were not warned. It is not their fault they did not, for example, intuit that DiscorDM was going to act like an antagonist OOC; nothing they were told implies that DiscorDM should act that way. Nobody told them to prepare for DiscorDM's dynamic, and nobody told DiscorDM to prepare for the group's dynamic.
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 12:26 PM edit delete reply
Thanks @Borg! That’s what I was trying to say when I first arrived here.

Eventually (and it took longer than it should’ve) I realised I didn’t have a problem with DiscorDM for acting in what seems to be his own particular style. It was always the Main GM springing things on the group like this that bothered me.

That’s why I’m very happy to see the GM lay down the law on this page. This is the first time they’ve contradicted DiscorDM since he cursed Fluttershy. It’s almost like MainGM has been treating this session like it doesn’t belong to them. So stepping up here and showing some responsibility, and planning to talk to Twi OOC, are good signs of progress.
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 8:28 AM edit delete reply
He cursed her because she basically called him a railroading dick with nicer words. For a guy like DiscordGM who obviously takes pride in being a good GM regardless of the circumstance that was probably the worst thing she could have possibly called him, short of a Piss Loving Wizard with his own magical realm. In fact here is one of the places where the GM should have stepped in.

She did, if only after the fact, but she should have stepped in /before/ the fact and told them both to take a step back from the situation and cool off.

As for IC? Yes she refused to make a choice but that in and of itself wasn't enough, in order to "win" at one of these games you /had/ to make a choice, if only to tell the guy "No I don't want your poisoned apple get it out of my face."
Digo Dragon 1st Dec 2018, 8:56 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
She called him a railroading dick because he is a railroading dick. DiscordDM showed her/his true colors when she/he lashed out at Fluttershy for being exposed.

And I agree that the GM should have stepped in at that point to diffuse the situation.
Lethologica 1st Dec 2018, 9:37 AM edit delete reply
All this argument over how winnable the scenario is is missing the point. The importance of creating the scenario in any given way is wholly contingent on what the group will enjoy. The issue is whether everyone is having fun.

Regardless of whether DiscordDM's style is somehow objectively wrong, it's proving a poor fit with <i>this</i> group, and DiscordDM shares the blame for being unable to read the room as a GM (he's too busy reading the room as Discord).

Just in case that wasn't clear already, in this update he goes for the "It's what my character would do!" argument, the classic case of putting roleplay above a healthy group dynamic. Then he's so far off the group's wavelength he doesn't even recognize they need a break.

Maybe DiscordDM's super invested in his image of being a good GM regardless of the circumstance, but he isn't being one in the current circumstance.
Wordy Guest 1st Dec 2018, 3:07 PM edit delete reply
also Lethologica, the italics command use brackets instead of less than/greater than.
Digo Dragon 2nd Dec 2018, 8:05 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Eeyup, I have mentioned before that a notable portion of the group does not appear to be having fun with this session. That is important for a healthy campaign.
Archone 1st Dec 2018, 11:46 AM edit delete reply
"Yes he might craft a consequence for said choice, but that's just the way the game is played when you're going up against what is essentially a god."

...That would be a Game Master. Hell, if you play any game that hits epic levels, then you're dealing with NPC gods... who are themselves powerless puppets in the hands of the TRUE power. The GM.

There's an excellent resource book from the old, justly reviled AD&D 2nd edition. "The Campaign Sourcebook and Catacombs Guide." It's mostly advice for GMs... one recurring theme is to use your imagination and not just rely on dice and stats. That the only REAL reason for those dice and stats is to keep things fair. But if the players come up with a brilliant and imaginative scheme and the dice fall poorly... ignore it and just reward their creativity. If pausing to roll will make a particular sequence become slow and cumbersome, then waive the rolling.

It does caution against over reliance on diceless play (because then when you do ask for a roll the players might balk), but as long as there's trust that you're focused on the story and not just "beating" the players... y'know... like if you were the kind of GM who makes their godlike Big Bad give triumphant speeches and really ham it up before leaving the heroes to get their second wind and come back for a win in the final act...
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 12:35 PM edit delete reply
I’m in agreement here. Dice are supposed to be a fun addition that provide some impartiality and serve as a moderator beyond even the GM, but ultimately, they serve the fun, not the other way ‘round.

That’s what I like about the concept of fictional positioning in games like FATE core or anything PBTA—it asserts that if it makes sense for your character to do a thing, they generally can do it, no problem. A thief can be sneaky, without having to roll, with the exception being if there are interesting consequences to failing in that instance.
ThatGuest 1st Dec 2018, 2:47 PM edit delete reply
The issue is that with good GMs, like a casino, the odds are supposed to be in their favor but at the same time there's still a chance. Discord is immune to any kind of damage, physical or magical, he can just flip off their abilities and the only thing allowed to harm him has just been removed from the game. I would legitimately be sitting at the table just looking straight ahead going. "Well.....what can we do now? I got nothing." probably followed by the rest of the party and our only option to be stare at the GM and let them railroad us to the solution they either wanted ahead of time or have to think up on the spot in a panic.

A casino where everyone lost all the time would not stay in business for long, just like a tabletop game where the characters do nothing but lose and fail.
Wordy Guest 1st Dec 2018, 2:56 PM edit delete reply
I mostly agree, but if you look, he wasn't leaving at all, and in fact strongly resists the request to leave.

"Oooh, are you going to huddle up somewhere and think of a grand new strategy for defeating me? Can I come?!"

"Aha... Uh, I highly doubt Discord's going to let them go juuuust yet. He's having a moment of triumph, yes, but he's not bling and deaf"

If he had left on his own I would have had more trust in him and his plan, but as is he hasn't earned my trust that much.

I can tell that you see a lot more good in him than I, and I don't think you are wrong for seeing that, but a lot of little things and a few big things he has done have not endeared him to me. If you are curious, one of those things is one that seems to be a major point to his benefit for you but fails to endear him to me is Larry's tale of how great he is and how he got them into tabletop gaming.

From that talk with rarity, we can see that DiscorDM was Larry's first real DM, or at least the first worth noting, and that they had a great campaign with him. Larry clearly holds DiscorDM is great regard, and considers him if not the best DM ever, than one of unquestionable skill and mastery. I also take that this being their first DM, it is also where they learn what a DM does and how a good DM does it. How to treat the people at the table, what level of agency they have in the story, how much things should go as the DM planed them etc.

Some of this is extrapolation but following that line of thought, we reach Larry as they are in the first few sessions. And not to be mean, but Larry in the first few sessions was not that great of a DM.

I was going to go into an in-depth breakdown of everything that was wrong with the first three sessions, but I'm getting tired. If you are interested I'll elaborate later, but the gist of it is while some of Larry's mistakes are a natural extension of little experience, some feel like bad habits picked up when they learned to DM, i.e. things that they learned from DiscorDM.

EDIT: To be clear I am replying to Archone. Also I still don't like how this comment section deals with nested replies.
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 5:48 PM edit delete reply
@Wordy Guest,

I’d be very interested to hear your interpretation, because I think you’re onto something there.
THE OTHER GUEST 1st Dec 2018, 6:36 PM edit delete reply
I second this motion.
obscurereader 1st Dec 2018, 9:42 PM edit delete reply
I third this motion, on the grounds that this sounds like a really interesting take on how DiscordDM's style influenced Main!DM/Larry and I'm curious as to what WordyGuest has to say.
Wordy Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 2:17 PM edit delete reply
Okay, since you asked for it.

First off I’m not going to be taking into consideration Larry’s place as a writer in a story written by another writer with their own limits and intentions. This is Larry as a DM independent of the show or comic, as a hypothetical person with freedom to tell whatever story they wish to with only the limits of time and effort on their part. If I get stuck on minutia that could be different but can’t because the images of the show wouldn’t be able to be reasonably altered to depict it we aren’t going to get anywhere. I have limits.

So starting with the first session we begin fairly well. We seem to have skipped a “session zero” but that isn’t mandatory and everyone gets introduced fairly quickly and the story begins. The threat is established and the party is given a goal. All good so far. The party gets a lead and follows it, encountering several challenges they can overcome together. Everyone gets to have a moment, and they are all having fun. We see some inventive out of the box solutions to problems, and things move at a decent pace.

Then we get to the castle and some things start to go sideways. We get a mandatory confrontation with nightmare moon, and by the look of it, and the notes for the campaign, it was supposed to be a straight loss for the party. The elements get broken, the villain roughs up the heroes and leaves them to wallow in despair at their hopes being crushed.* This will lead to them searching the world ruled by the evil queen for someway to win, eventually finding that the elements were in them all along. With six party members and six elements, it seems clear the in Larry’s story they were all supposed to end up with one and figuring out who gets which would probably be part of what the campaign is for. And the elements themselves are vague enough to be applicable for about any six friends, especially if you let the wiggle a bit to fit. But twilight figures it out early, and Larry looses it. If you look close, when twilight has five of the six assigned, Larry threatens a TPK.

“Well, well, well. I was considering letting you live, but... it seems that’s a luxury I can’t afford.”

A somewhat understandable response for finding the players figured out most of the big twist you built your campaign around, but not the only one. Perhaps make her decide to capture the party with stated intention to torture and/or break them so they cannot oppose her, allowing the party a chance to escape and work back to a confrontation with the villain. And if you want, make the adventure to find the elements instead to use them. While they are embodiments of characteristics of the party members, they are still magic items, you can add whatever steps you need to make them fun and exciting to use it you want.

And you don’t have to think of this all on the spot. Just go with the fight and capture, and take a break to rework your notes.

But more importantly, they give up. After twilight figures the last element, Larry just skips to the end, despondent about their ruined campaign. The part even need to convince Larry to continue playing with them. Larry says

“Thanks for playing, girls. It was epic, but there’s nowhere for the story to go from here. I don’t think we’ll be doing this again for a while.”

They have given up so much, they don’t even think they can play with this group for a while, if ever again.

So as I see it there are two major problems with this session. They don’t make it any less fun for the players, but it definitely ruined Larry’s night. The first is Larry’s inability to adapt and deal with a player jumping the rails and sticking the landing, so to speak. This is a fairly simple problem, that pretty much come down to inexperience.

The second is a bit more deep. That being they build a campaign around a single moment and reveal. The campaign that made seems to have had a single end point in mind, with a few key moments along the way, and some chances for creative play in between them. This is where I think DiscorDM’s influence may be felt.
I can see two possibilities here. One is Larry had a great time with DiscorDM were DiscorDM had a amazing set of possibilities set up and Larry pursued the ones they did and ended their adventure having an amazing story were every step of the way lead seemly to the end, and figured to recreate that for their table to should also make a great story for their players to follow, without getting the importance of changing the story as the players write it. The other is that DiscorDM had a singular story to tell, and that story worked for Larry.

In a web series I watch called Spoiler Warning there is a bit during the discussion of Fallout 4 that seems to for with the idea I’m trying to get at. That game being a computer game obviously can’t adapt to every possibility the player makes and in this case has a rather strict linear plot. But one commentator said something the struck me. That the game only had them playing a single character, but that it was working, they were able to feel like they were invested and cared about the story they were being told, and they liked the game for letting them do that. They had the same goals as their character and they met the game halfway and didn’t realize how linear the game was being. Now they said that in context of the moment it violently stoped working and unworked everything it had worked, but I can see something like that working all the way through with DiscorDM and Larry.

DiscorDM made a campaign with some very firm ideas as to what was going to happen when, and Larry found themselves following and enjoying it. They were engaged and felt their contributions were meaningful, that their choices were correct, and they were progressing properly. They reached the end without having their view of how their hero should proceed and triumph conflicting with DiscorDMs ideas, and everyone (we know of who participated) had fun.

And if that is the case, it is only natural for Larry to want to share a story the same way it was shared with them.

The second session with dragonshy has less to dig into (thank goodness) but it still has some. Larry goes in with much less planing that they want and they are not able to handle it at all. They spend the first half of the session up until the dragon freaking out about almost everything that happens. Larry make an interesting array of encounters in the form of a map, which twilight studies and charts a corse were for the main party absolutely nothing happens. What encounters do happen, everyone handles easily except fluttershy, who just doesn’t handle anything at all. **Then we get to the dragon, where fluttershy reaches a level of upset and sad were she walks away. And to be fair, everyone lets her have her space and doesn’t bug her. I know it can be hard to see someone unhappy and not try and fix it, but if you and what you are doing is part of the problem, I.e. someone just doesn’t feel like playing anymore, sometimes the best you can do is let them have some space. But at the table, everyone tries to deal with the dragon, which all fail for various reasons (twilight still getting the hang of on the spot speeches, rarity trying to stretch her luck getting treasure) and rainbow starts a fight. This fight goes very badly though combination of bad rolls and being five levels lower than the dragon, and we have what looks like the second near TPK in two sessions. And fluttershy returns and gets encouraged buy her into standing up and saving the party. At the end, we have applejack giving Larry advice for how to work better with the world and players they have and scene.

The only big things of note for this session, is that Larry absolutely does not handle improve well at all. They don’t do well with this somewhat thrown together session, and they get much more comfortable when they get to the dragon and start playing with it. Which makes sense, as I imagine at least one dragon encounter was in their main campaign notes, from which I would be expecting them to be scavenging from for anything they could get.

Then we get to zecora, we’re nobody has fun. This is the session were we can see a lot of less than stellar DMing from Larry, and more than a few possible cues from their mentor.

So we begin with Larry telling pinkie about the nasty person roving the town. After which the rest of the party arrives and gets information to see said person and we get a debate over her being evil or not. Afterwords, a quick talk with zecora leads to more changes of opinion regarding zecora, and apple bloom tells them to go home. They wake up cursed, try to investigate, confront zecora and are informed by apple bloom they need to work together. They then explain to zecora what Larry told them about their curses, zecora figures out how to cure them, and twilight yells at the towns people to stop being dumb. Everyone gets cured and the session ends, but not before my favorite part, the part where the players talk about all the problems with the session so I don’t have to look super hard.

As elaborated in the closing discussion, two of the biggest problems are the apple bloom railroad, and the bad information to pinkie. So first, Larry is still bad at letting their players handle things in ways other than the one they(Larry) intended. Here they are extremely unsubtle about it, but it isn’t very new. They claim they are getting better, but on a whole for the session they do rather worse than they’ve ever done. On top of that, as you may have noticed by my synopsis, the party don’t really do anything of importance. They get to make a few rolls and argue a bit but overall the only important thing they do is have twilight yell at the town people to stop being terrified pissants.

With the second problem, looking at it as objectively as I can Manage, it is generally a problem of execution. Giving your party unreliable information can be fine, so long as you do so in a way were they can figure it is in fact unreliable. Rumors at an inn, shady informants, all sorts of ways party’s get information can be unreliable. But if you don’t make it clear that is what you are doing, if it is your mouth as DM they are getting information from, then you need to be very careful. Larry tells pinkie, someone they have not played with much before, bad info without successfully making clear the origin or reliability of said info, with intent to cause conflict in the party to serve their “interesting idea for a game”. And if that sounds somewhat familiar to you, that because it is the exact same thing that DiscorDM does to get her cursed only without any justifiable source of sketchy info. (Personal sore spot with that seen. Continue on.)

The whole session feels allot like what we are seeing right now, with curses, inter party conflict and very little player driven progress.

Anyway we end with Larry talking about what they intend to do better, and I think it would be best to put it in full.

“Today I re-learned an old lesson on having respect for your players. A session driven by tricks and lies, even for the sake of a mystery, can be just tiring and demeaning for those involved. In the future I should take more care in how I treat my players- with a little more honesty and a little less hand-holding”

From what we have seen of DiscorDM so far, I don’t think it a stretch to say the first time learning that lesson was not under his rule. The fact that this is such a problem to require relearning suggests to me a habit learned early, and perhaps from someone they respect and admire.

I may be reaching here, but from what I see, a lot of the things I don’t like about what DiscorDM is doing are the same things I don’t like about Larry’s DMing before they got a handle on how to play with this group.

Other things of note I found combing through these sessions:

Larry has played with applejack, rarity and rainbow dash before, but some of how they talk makes me think Larry might not have been DMing. They clearly could be, but I thought it interesting to consider.

People have been annoyed at Larry for railroading since page 10. That isn’t important I just found it amusing.

*personal rant, I really hate “supposed to lose” fights. The way I see it, there are better ways to establish villain threat, it is frustrating to fight through and find out you weren’t supposed to win, and it devalues actual loss. If you think the fight is seemingly insurmountable but you do your best, and then find out you were never supposed to win, are you going to be giving the next hard fight everything you have? But I know some people are okay with them so fine.

**And nobody at the table notices how upset fluttershy’s player is. I remember a comment looking at twilights behavior here as an example of not seeing a obviously distressed player, but rereading it (skimming mostly, I don’t have unlimited time and patience) no one accurately reads how badly fluttershy is responding to the dragon as well as her generally terrible night.

Finally if you have gotten this far I must thank you very sincerely for bearing with me, invite you all to post analysis and rebuttals to any and all of my points and most of all...

I must apologize
obscurereader 2nd Dec 2018, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
Okay, before I try digging too deeply into the entire post (cause there's a lot, I've read it twice and I'd like to spend more time reading it. Like, a couple dozen more times maybe), I just want to say this is some Grade A+ commenting here, for the sheer fact that there are quotes and references to previous arcs and pages given as evidence/reference for the conclusions being made here. Like, 10/10, 5 stars, doing this at all is golden (only way it could really be improved is with links to the pages themselves - which to be fair, can take a bit of time to do and isn't wholly necessary because the next best thing was given in quotes that could be searched for).

In addition, the quotes being used here (specifically the ones from the comic - there's a bit from the middle about the web series Spoiler Warning which is a little bit unclear due to some word choices/flow which could be cleared up a bit, but it communicates the general idea of, "It's possible DiscordDM made their game in a way that created the illusion of choice very well for Larry/ManeDM which in turn formed the beginnings of Larry/ManeDM's playstyle" so it's mostly fine as is) are accurate in their wording (no misquoting or taking things out of context from what I can tell) and are solid in their use for supporting arguments (no weird quote or page choices that actually work against the arguments as far as I can see). In addition, there are concessions and acknowledgements that there could be alternate viewpoints or missteps due to skimming (ex: from near the end of the comment, "I may be reaching here, but from what I see, a lot of the things I don’t like about what DiscorDM is doing are the same things I don’t like about Larry’s DMing before they got a handle on how to play with this group." and the second footnote about Fluttershy's player during the Dragonshy arc) while still giving interesting insight to how the characters in this story are acting. (Seriously, for me, some of the details of the events from the earliest sessions slipped my mind since they were years ago, but recalling them as evidence and competently alluding to them in-comment was a serious treat that makes me want to go back and reread the arc to confirm what's being referred to here. What I've been able to find is confirmatory in nature, so far, which is great!).

Wordy Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:26 PM edit delete reply
Thank you for the kudos obscurereader!
Yea the Spoiler Warning bit was not great, I admit. They don't have a transcript to read and get quotes from so I had to work more from memory, and in hindsight, when referencing a work that I am likely the only person here has seen, I should be a bit more direct and clear about what was said and how it made me think.
For links, I mostly wrote this on a note app on my phone, so I wouldn't lose anything and so I would have some spell check. Links are a bit harder without the button. Also apparently that would be why the Italics don't work, gonna have to fix that.
EDIT: fixed!
Anyway, thank you again for reading through my 6 page 2426 word post. It makes me feel good that someone has at least enjoyed it and maybe got something interesting out of it. :)
Mr Wednesday 2nd Dec 2018, 5:46 PM edit delete reply
Thanks for bowing to communal pressure and producing such a great write-up! I’d put on a hat for the specific purpose of taking it off to you!
GrayGriffin 2nd Dec 2018, 5:54 PM edit delete reply
Huh, is it just me, or did he also completely ignore Rarity's attempt at a Stealth roll? Admittedly, it was only for her and not everyone in the team is good at Stealth, but still, it kind of looks like his response to her roll is just to shut it down completely and insist on following them, without any mention at the actual results.
Wordy Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 6:14 PM edit delete reply
Technically I think he responded after she declared she was going to roll but befor the dice hit the table, but the sentiment is the same. It is at least consistent, given I don’t think a single role has affected him the entire game. Actually since he arrived, I think the only roll that has happened on the players end, not counting applejacks rolls of mystery, was a perception check by twilight so Larry could point them to the maze. Really underscores the value of the +1 to all attacks and saving through a they got for Celestia believing in them.
EDIT: just reread, yes he ignored her attempt, not what I thought you said which was her roll. The rest basically still stands.
GrayGriffin 2nd Dec 2018, 8:05 PM edit delete reply
Well, I'd assume RD got a chance to roll some dice offscreen when she punched his head off.
Mr Wednesday 2nd Dec 2018, 8:36 PM edit delete reply
Or, knowing it wouldn’t have any effect on Discord, he allowed the decapitation without a roll (though Dash is a rebel—she might have rolled anyway!)
GrayGriffin 2nd Dec 2018, 9:14 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, I can definitely seeing her just go "FUCKTHISIPUNCHHIMINTHEFACE<rolls>IGOTANATURAL20"
Mr Wednesday 2nd Dec 2018, 9:37 PM edit delete reply
And there was much rejoicing
DuoScratch 1st Dec 2018, 5:18 AM edit delete reply
*still continues to eat peanut filled pretzel bites.* about that, gaslighting wasn't a part of Discord's shtick all along...who'd a thunk it?

This really is getting good, can't wait for the next one. ;p
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 7:06 AM edit delete reply
The author literally said gaslighting isn't the "main" technique he uses, but that it's more the byproduct of his manipulations. So yeah he's doing it, just more as a consequence than as a tool.
Kereminde 1st Dec 2018, 10:03 PM edit delete reply
. . . no, no he's not doing gaslighting, this isn't what gaslighting is. If DiscorDM thinks this is gaslighting, he's wrong.
FanOfMostEverything 1st Dec 2018, 5:41 AM edit delete reply
Heh. I see that Aladdin reference.

Good to see the usual GM put their foot down and regroup. There may be some salvaging this train wreck. I'm not sure if DiscorDM will actually learn anything from the experience, but the usual one certainly will.
Balrighty 1st Dec 2018, 4:42 PM edit delete reply
"Aladdin reference"? Could you elucidate, please?
FanOfMostEverything 1st Dec 2018, 6:33 PM edit delete reply
"The world is mine to command! To control!" And shortly after that, Jafar went...

Well, back in the bottle.
Balrighty 1st Dec 2018, 7:17 PM edit delete reply
Wow, I ... completely missed that. Whoops! Thanks.
Tempestfury 1st Dec 2018, 8:42 AM edit delete reply
I really like Discord DM on this page.

When the GM first takes control of his character, he correctly points out that it's not really in character for Discord to do so. When the GM insists, he acts confused, as the GM had made a promise to him previously. When the GM insists firmly, for a third time. He concedes gracefully and plays along with it completely, not just having Discord act in character as he leaves, but actually pretending to have the laughter fade off into the distance.

I think that, off all things, goes to show that whilst he's not exactly a perfect individual, he's not a complete asshole, either. He's here to give the players a challenge, and I think it went a little out of hand, that's all.

People make mistakes. Their only human after all.
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 9:01 AM edit delete reply
Huh, wouldja look at that. Pinkie's comment seems to imply she's not "having fun" with this new characterization as other people have been saying. Whether it's because of everyone else's reactions or just because it's getting old for her, but it looks like she's tired of it as well.
Wordy Guest 1st Dec 2018, 9:11 AM edit delete reply
i got the impression pinkie has been doing a deep gravely macho voice and her throat has gotten tired. Now I could easily see her being tired of her curse, as pinkie has always seemed to want to make a game were everyone is having fun and, to put it lightly, not everyone is having fun here, but I don’t know if this is particularly strong evidence.
Anony 1st Dec 2018, 4:47 PM edit delete reply
Loooooooool. Once again, anything can mean exactly what you want as long as you interpret it that way.

PinkiePlayer's throat is getting soar from doing a rough action voice. That's literally all the "Bleh" means.

But hey, I'm not one to kinkshame whatever gets your hate boner going.
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 5:05 PM edit delete reply
Wow. Projecting, much? All I did was present a possible interpretation and couch it in phrasing that admits it's just my way of seeing it, and you immediately jump to "hate boner."
Anony 1st Dec 2018, 5:20 PM edit delete reply
Projecting what, exactly? I'm dying to hear.

Yeah, that's all you did. A 100% neutral stance that does nothing but present your comment as a possible interpretation with no absolute statements on D!DM as a person. That's what you've been doing for the last couple of months, right?

"Immediately"? Oh, honey.
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 5:44 PM edit delete reply

Oh, honey, It’s nice to see the return of your usual sophistic claptrap. It was a good try, the whole “I’m not going to shame you” bit. It seemed diplomatic while also framing the idea exactly how you wanted. Nice as an insult, but as a tool of argument it’s about as effective as a pool noodle.

Why bother talking to us if “anything can be interpreted in any way as long as you feel that way?” Isn’t it self-defeating to say that and then offer a comment that’s meant to be received in one specific way?
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 6:11 PM edit delete reply
My comment has fuckall to do with DiscorDM and only talks about Pinkie's opinion of this, since this is the first time we're getting OOC talk from her after all. If you're going to be snide about my opinions on him, at least do it under a thread where I actually talk about him.
RuneKnight3 1st Dec 2018, 9:24 AM edit delete reply
In practice this is why I don't do co-GM's. Assistants with clearly defined limits? Yes. Do I, as a player with a fair amount of knowledge, attempt to help my GM's? Yes. But the table will always work best as a one-person autocracy. Always has, always will, because when there are two GM's there will inevitably be cross purposes and players who are confused. At best they won't be having fun and at worst they'll feel like they're being punished for role playing.
Guest 1st Dec 2018, 9:50 AM edit delete reply
Alright, credit to Main!DM for this one. Regardless of your thoughts on how Discord!DM is running things, I think, in this situation, getting him to back off for a few minutes so the players can have a breather is definitely the right call. High stakes, high stress situations can definitely make for some interesting roleplay, but when that stress starts bleeding out of the table and into real life, then it's time to cool things down. Unless you WANT your players to throw hands, I guess.
Wulfraed 1st Dec 2018, 11:15 AM edit delete reply
Let's hope the drinks are better labeled IRL or Twilight's player may re-enact the Tabasco sauce scene from the first episode...
Archone 1st Dec 2018, 11:52 AM edit delete reply
Fluttershy's jab at Discord in the first panel actually makes me think of "Bleach," and that jerk Aizen. I always got the impression that Aizen was lying at LEAST half the time when he claimed everything was going according to his plan?

"I manipulated every single thing that ever happened in your life, and everyone else's."

Bullshit. Your whole schtick is illusions and lies. Something happened and you just rolled with it and said, "yes... that was all according to my plan... so was that thing that just happened... and that new thing..."

(This is why I always loved it whenever Ichigo would interrupt the latest bad guy with "Shut up!" I just wish he'd done it with Aizen, instead of letting the smug bastard drone on... and on... and on... "I arranged for your parents to meet... I was responsible for your birth... all in order to achieve my goals...")

Kudos to Discord for graciously acknowledging the point ("touche," as they say in fencing) and showing her respect for her perception.
Kaze Koichi 1st Dec 2018, 1:39 PM edit delete reply
Twi: "I need a ****ing drink."
DM: "In or out of character?"
Twi: Both!"
Dakkath 2nd Dec 2018, 9:46 PM edit delete reply
"And I'm not talking about apple juice! err, no offense, AJ."
Reading these just as much for Graygriffin's ridiculous reaches as for the comic itself these days.
GrayGriffin 1st Dec 2018, 5:09 PM edit delete reply
Wow. "Ridiculous reaches." I have backed up my statements with facts from both comic pages and commentary multiple times. I have presented my less certain statements with clear couching that it is just my own opinion and interpretation. You immediately jump to personal attacks against me when Newbiespud states specifically that he doesn't want that.
Mr Wedesday 1st Dec 2018, 5:38 PM edit delete reply
@Graygriffin’s biggest fan,

What keeps you reading is your own business, I guess. As for the rest, nobody wants to hear it, troll. Time for you to go.
Archone 1st Dec 2018, 10:31 PM edit delete reply
Wouldn't calling them a "troll" be a personal attack? :p
Mr Wednesday 1st Dec 2018, 10:45 PM edit delete reply
Archone, really? You’re going to go for a pedantic technicality?

The post above is trolling. Look at the poster’s name, for Frigg’s sake! Like I said, nobody wants to hear it.

Don’t tell me you wouldn’t find a comment from “ArchoneSux” that said: “I wonder who Archone is gonna call a homophobe next!” Both offensive and personal in nature.

You won’t get points for defending this jerk. Stop looking for them. : p
Archone 2nd Dec 2018, 10:22 AM edit delete reply
I'm not looking for points. I'm just here for the enjoyment of the comic... and I will admit it's fun to poke at the intolerant and the hypocritical. Which, btw, is why I compared you to the homophobic creationists from that other forum. You share more in common with them than you want to acknowledge - in particular, the intolerance of opposing viewpoints and the double standard regarding what's fair for others to say to you versus what's fair for you to say to others.

And for the record: if I saw comments from "ArchoneSux" I'd find it... both amusing and far less extreme or hostile than the cyberbullying I have been accustomed to in the past. I've been driven off MMORPGs by veteran players who were incensed at my efforts to help newbies get situated, using a combination of false accusations, false friendships, sexually charged slanders, and collaboration with biased devs; anonymous grade school name calling barely makes a blip on my radar.

(I doubt you would have heard of the game in question. It was a text based game, a MUD. They never had more than 300 or so players on at a time... largely because of the aforementioned veteran players being less interested in playing the game than in harassing newbies into ragequitting)
Mr Wednesday 2nd Dec 2018, 2:54 PM edit delete reply
Well, Archone, I’m going to stand by what I said. I thought we were past this but I guess not. You cannot both try to be the bigger person, and try to prove that your insult from pages back was justified. If I hadn’t said anything, would you have told that guy off, or snickered that someone was making fun of a person you don’t agree with?
Archone 2nd Dec 2018, 3:32 PM edit delete reply
Wednesday... you keep trying to come across as the wise and patient professor speaking down to others. It doesn't work. Not when you previously suggested that my comparisons amount to... libel.

And in response to your question: I would have chuckled. It wasn't mean spirited, it was poking fun at some patently RIDICULOUS concepts, and it was genuinely amusing.
GrayGriffin 2nd Dec 2018, 4:37 PM edit delete reply
Eh, stop arguing with Archone about this, Mr Wednesday. As long as the actual troll backs off, I'm cool. Considering they've already said they're fine with one player not having fun at all as long as everyone else is, I don't think you're going to get through to them.
Mr Wednesday 2nd Dec 2018, 5:10 PM edit delete reply
Message received, @GrayGriffin. If you’re cool, I’ll back off.
DuoScratch 2nd Dec 2018, 6:42 AM edit delete reply
@Mr Wednesday Considering the comments are inundated with a myriad of "guests" and many other self insert tags, a name alone can just not be enough to go on.

I mean, yes, it's obvious that he's poking the bear, so to speak, but you don't have to quite be so vehement about it. After all, it doesn't take the target alone to feed the troll, and you know what they say about trolls, and feeding them. ;p
MissFinefeather 1st Dec 2018, 8:18 PM edit delete reply
The discord discourse in the comments is reminding me of Vriskourse. *Shivers*

Honestly, I hate DMs that care more about defeating the characters than telling a cooperative story. I hate out-of-character mind games. I mean, even if the players brought it on themselves, he clearly has gratification over that and takes credit in their suffering. I honestly don't get how people could think this is a good way to run a game!
Kereminde 1st Dec 2018, 10:21 PM edit delete reply
There's a GM named Matt who likes to say there is no one right way to run a game. Since I know of . . . four? . . . different Matts who've done it, I think I'll throw two quotes out there from two different Matts who ran games over Twitch:

#1: "Yeah, guys? Chat is telling you your fun is wrong."

#2: "I think what's most important to keep in mind is, I'm GMing this game. And rules - the importance of getting them right is so much less important than telling a good story."

This is where I think DiscorDM's coming from, somewhere between these two. I think he's a very old-school style of GM who does see the game in a variant form of "versus" rather than full cooperation - much as the usual GM saw it way back at the start. Remember there was a lot of tense unhappiness from behind the GM screen at the beginning until they got used to rolling with the madness.

Similarly I don't see his style as "wrong", just that he doesn't fit this table. He's not going to fit this table without substantial alterations to his style. This is okay.
THE OTHER GUEST 2nd Dec 2018, 12:16 AM edit delete reply
I think part of the issue here is that the issue of "[DiscorDM] doesn't fit this table." hasn't actually been confronted, at least not directly, by any of the characters yet, either on the part of the Party speaking up and telling the GM's "This isn't working" like they did a couple times in the early sessions before their ManeGM found their stride with the group in the Illusive arc, their ManeGM calling the session preemptively before holding a serious discussion with DiscorDM and laying out a clear set of ground-rules and working out boundaries for the campaign while they're a Guest in their table, in their home, and running a game for their primary group between the two of them, or by DiscorDM, being the supposed veteran that he's made out to be, realizing that there's a disconnect between his and the Party's expectations of the game and either switching tracks to something the group would be more in line with while keeping his underlying style style, or backing off and reassessing the situation while ManeGM handles the party for a bit.

He doesn't have to change his underlying flair or loose the "Vs." game-style, but as other's have pointed out he's essentially backed the players into a no-win-scenario, and if the ManeGM hadn't intervened on their behalf, wouldn't have even allowed the party to back off to re-group and re-strategize. If that hadn't happened, it would have been "Game Over", since "Discord" would have been privy to everything the party could have come up with, meaning DiscorDM would have had a legitimate in-universe/in-game reason to openly counter-strategize against anything they came up with, instead of rolling with things like he has been.

Kinda defeats the original Purpose of "Giving the players a villain worthy of a Campaigns Worth of Effort" if he makes the party disband either through the mounting OOC infighting, or effectively neutralizes their entire IC ability to even effectively strategize against them until they reach the inevitable point of throwing up their hands OOC and saying "Well, if we can't do anything without Discord instantly countering it, what point is there of even playing?" and walking out the door...
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 2:33 AM edit delete reply
His DMing style isn't into question. The fact that he's targeting players (at least intentionally did so with Twilight's) OOC is what isn't ok.

If the players had been told about this beforehand, and agreed, it'd be fine.

But here they came for a RPG session and got personal attacks instead.

That doesn't excuse the ones who took the stick to beat themselves and started acting as unhelpful jerks, to be sure. But two wrongs don't make a right.
Kereminde 2nd Dec 2018, 8:54 AM edit delete reply
"Personal attacks"? Aside from when he lost his temper with Fluttershy, I'm not quite seeing 'personal' attacks, just messing with them each based on their play styles.

AJ had her curse targeted at a tendency to metagame, which is based in the game.

Rarity had her curse targeted at what her character would do "if", and rolled with it so hard it's melodrama. It's based in the game.

Rainbow Dash refused to play ball in quite the expected way and was called safe.

Pinkie Pie was challenged to act outside her normal behavior as Pinkie, which is herself turned up "one louder", but it wasn't an OOC slam.

Fluttershy had a personal issue with it, and the curse was based on her reaction to going "yeah no, I won't play this choice game" to the person, but that's been discussed and it was smoothed over (not solved) in the last break.

Twilight was targeted as the lynchpin of the party, because she tends to be the one to solve issues like this - and is the lynchpin of the Elements of Harmony. Either OOC or IC, she had to be specifically targeted, and her habits cross IC/OOC lines in a way which is really evident. You can make a case for it being an OOC targeting, but in this case it's hard to find the line where her character and herself start and/or stop at the table.

So, no, they didn't get personal attacks. Their characters got afflicted to push the players out of their comfort zones, save for Dash.

It's still borderline "not cool" if only because the usual GM hasn't had the reins of the game fully in hand for all this, but that is a separate issue which allowed this to get slightly out of hand. A fact which got a first step to being resolved in telling DiscorDM firmly but politely to "piss off" just now.
Guest 3rd Dec 2018, 3:16 AM edit delete reply
Err, you contradicted yourself.

"There was no personal attack" is contradicted by "Twilight had to be personally targeted, IC or OOC".

That Twilight is in the "must be targeted" is another debate, but to me it seems that you do agree she was, you just think it was justified (either because of her cut-through-bs capacities or because it's hard to separate Twilight's character from the player)
Guest 3rd Dec 2018, 3:19 AM edit delete reply
Also, smoothed over or not, the fact is that DiscordDM DID get upset at Fluttershy's player and targeted her personally.
Aeshdan 2nd Dec 2018, 8:39 PM edit delete reply
"If the players had been told about this beforehand, and agreed, it'd be fine."

As I've mentioned before, I strongly suspect he thinks they *have* been told about this and agreed, at least in general terms. I'm very curious to find out if I'm right.
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 2:39 AM edit delete reply
This whole arc reminds me of something I often see on a RPG forum.

People, sometime DMs, sometime players, start threads that go "this DM/player is acting like a jerk, how do I make my character/the game world teaches them a lesson?"

The answer is always: "don't try to use in-game stuff to deal with an OOC problem
Subhumanoid Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 2:44 AM edit delete reply
Wow, I'm seeing a lot of resentment for both DiscorDM and anyone who doesn't worship his DMing. And some of it is stating to feel like genuine hatred. Some of you may have been sarcastic, but I have difficulty identifying it.

Now, I've had frustrating games with GMs who write out all player agency in the game so their perfect cut scene can go off even if the Players are determined, making the right choices, and getting great rolls. And I've been that Gm who has an idea for how things should go that pushed Players down paths they did not want. It did not work out when I was behind the screen, and I didn't like that sort of game when I was a player.

I've also been that one player left out of a session's good parts because the GM split the group multiple ways (not choice of the PCs) and spent hours away from my group (Note: telling the player that was abandoned with you that 'I think that would be a Dexterity plus Firearms roll' will get the GM there fast, but they won't stay or fall for it again). It leads to frustration, which makes any frustrations that come later in the session worse. It strikes me as something an experienced GM would avoid if they really cared about Player enjoyment.

Also, active omnipotent villains are hard to do in a RPG because they either render player choice meaningless, or are obviously holding back. It's not fun to spend a long session knowing that you're going to lose unless your opponent allows you to take every step needed to defeat them. If I were in in this game session, I probably wouldn't bother role-playing much. I have trust issues, and an unknown GM playing a god actively opposing the party would leave me expecting to be told to rip up my sheet and roll up a new character before the end. For me, this entire story-line has had that feeling, and it tastes bitter.

On the other side of the screen, I've been the player who gets carried away and annoys the others, and I've been the one trying to push the others players forward when all they want to do is do a comedy bit on the side. It is tiresome to be the one left out, and I can sympathize with Twilight here.

DiscorDM may not be a bad person, but this session would cast a harsh judgment on him if I were a player, and would erode some of my trust in ManeDM. If he is a good GM, he has spent this session too wrapped up in himself to read the table correctly. And, losing his temper when a player hiding in the bathroom wouldn't engage him is a serious misread. If a player is clearly uncomfortable, you need to take a light touch, or back off.

I'll be glad when this story is done.
Subhumanoid Guest 3rd Dec 2018, 3:18 AM edit delete reply
Just to clarify, none of this is meant to be a knock against Newbiespud's writing, which is excellent. This storyline just deals with one of the unpleasant parts of gaming, and one that I've been through before. I'm looking forward to something more pleasant.
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 2:46 AM edit delete reply
This whole arc reminds me of something I often see on a RPG forum.

People, sometime DMs, sometime players, start threads that go "this DM/player is acting like a jerk, how do I make my character/the game world teaches them a lesson?"

The most common answer is always: "don't try to use in-game stuff to deal with an OOC problem, it won't work. Talk with the person, and if talking doesn't work stop playing with them."

The issues here are outside-the-game problems. MainDM isn't satisfied with how the campaign style they keep trying to do isn't working, DiscordDM is attacking players' personalities and the one who blew MainDM's plans in particular.

MainDM needs to talk with their players. And hopefully that last sentence of theirs is the first step for that.
ThatGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:00 AM edit delete reply
I admit I also never considered the possibility that the main GMs issues may partially stem from Discord. Their first time playing was in one of his campaigns so it was likely super controlled with the party almost always faceplanting and just losing and everything being bleak all the time. So they feel like they're failing because their party always wins, because they think the game is about the party always being on their heels and completely powerless and fucked all the time.

Again, I've dealt with a player like that before. He played the OG dungeons and dragons and by god, anytime we played in a setting where the entire world wasn't a giant shithole full of horrible people and the party wasn't dropping left and right, we were doing it WRONG! He later lost his mind when he ran a game and no one enjoyed it because he always wanted us to do vague specific things to proceed and shot down any solution we had for it.

For example we were in a courtyard full of undead, if we ever killed any he'd litterally have them respawn immediately. We're supposed to escape through a door that's old, wood but has no obvious means of opening. Fighter tries bashing it, nothing. I unleash an acid storm on it. Nothing, finally we litterally just blow it up, and cause tons of damage to ourselves in the process. The -obvious- solution was we were supposed to look up and see there were gargoyles around the courtyard. Then notice that one of them had a crooked ear none of the others had, then we take the ruined cart in the courtyard, prop it up next to some barrels to climb onto the roof and twist the ear to start the fountain so we could fill the top of the fountain with water from the bottom to open the door.

We all just stared at him completely dumbfounded until another player finally went. "How the fuck were we supposed to figure that out?!" I said, "How the hell did they use this door when people were actually living here..."
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:22 AM edit delete reply
"I admit I also never considered the possibility that the main GMs issues may partially stem from Discord."

Personally I've been thinking this since at least the talk MainDM had with Rarity.

It might be as light as "I don't get why doing this worked for my mentor and not for me", or maybe it's something bigger, but it's pretty clear to me that MainDM's expectations were set by his experience with DiscordDM. But while MainDM probably loved this experience, their expectations are kind of hindering their enjoyment of their own current campaign.
ThatGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:28 AM edit delete reply
Their first time experience may even be tainting their objectivity. I wouldn't be surprised if, while the GM had 'fun' since it was their first time, the rest of the players around them were about as miserable as the party is now. I could see them maybe talking to another person from that game by text or something and getting a response like, "Oh my god that campaign was pure miserable torture the whole way though. I think I fell asleep a few times with how preplanned and automatic that thing was. Not to mention how many times my characters died and I just had to sit there until I got rezzed or everyone else wiped. We went through what? 5 full parties?"
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:50 AM edit delete reply
Dunno, I wouldn't have any issue believing that DiscordDM's players liked his campaigns. There is no indicator either way, aside from MainDM, which doesn't inform us of how the other players felt.

On the other hand, I was reminded (thanks tv tropes) of the whole "MainDM manipulates Pinkie" during the Zecora episode. In retrospect, it's something that looks very much like DiscordDM's methodology, and at the time the players already told MainDM they didn't like it.
ThatGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 4:56 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I'm not saying I think it's certain. But if it was revealed that the rest of the Discord party thought the campaign was a nightmare and the 'newbie' wasn't experienced enough to tell, it wouldn't surprise me. My first time playing seemed okay at the time but now that I look back on it I go, "Wow, that was just a poorly planned, barely held together dumpster fire, yeesh." And I was the one running it.
Archone 2nd Dec 2018, 10:29 AM edit delete reply
Oh, wow... you have my sympathies, ThatGuest.

That's actually something I've seen Shadowrun players complain about. GMs who insist "If you're not a sociopathic anti-hero who doesn't hesitate to do wetwork, you're not playing it right!" (It doesn't help that a sourcebook containing sample ideas for adventures includes "the team is hired to assault a target with taser clubs. Possible twist: Unbeknownst to them, they're being recorded and this will affect their rep. This is a perfect Run for players who have been squeamish about getting their hands too dirty."

Meanwhile, the Shadowrun PLAYERS make statements like "I stunball the Johnsons who try to hire me for that crap, and make it clear to the Fixer that I don't do that kind of work." (That, and complain about canon characters like Kane and Clockwork being presented as awesome role models to emulate rather than cautionary tales of what NOT to do)
SurpriseGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
I've been looking back over the arc from where Discord first appeared and a question occurred to me. How much of DiscordGM is the character Discord, and how much is the DM himself?

The reason that I'm asking this is because with the MainGM, we've seen them in multiple roles throughout the comic. We've seen them as Celestia, Spike, preRarity Luna, and plenty of other characters both major and minor. I think that makes it easier to separate the GM from the characters that he/she plays.

However, Discord is a lot more like the Mane 6 in that we've only ever seen them in one specific role, except in the case of Rarity. Because of that, and because the characters that they are playing appear to be very similar to who they are in real life, it's hard for us to tell whether they're speaking OOC unless we're specifically told.

Now, I'm not saying that Discord is innocent in all of this. Honestly, I believe everyone at the table has had a hand in causing and building up this mess. However, in the case of Discord, I'm wondering just how much of the traits we've assigned to Discord the character are truly accurate to how Discord the DM truly is, and how many traits are merely ramped up for the portrayal of a godlike villain.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?
ThatGuest 2nd Dec 2018, 7:25 AM edit delete reply
Considering how much he tried to resist the GMs dictate for Discord to go away I'd say at least some of Discord is him. At worst he's malicious but even at minimum he's probably at least an obnoxious asshole. It seems like the latter is what the GM is feeling right now considering their tone and the fear on Discord's face at said tone. Judging by his face the GM looked.....more than a little pissed off.
Guest 2nd Dec 2018, 8:08 AM edit delete reply
I read more confusion than fear in that pannel's expression.
Kereminde 2nd Dec 2018, 9:00 AM edit delete reply
I'm not sure "obnoxious asshole" is the minimum here, I read it a lot more as "abrasive and easily pricked". Bear in mind, earlier when he arrived the main GM was not prepared for his antics as "pure chaos" which tells me this isn't his usual work.

I expect he's used to being the arbiter of the game, as a GM, and forgot this was a "co GM" session. I also expect by the end of this, he'll likely play being a good sport and congratulate the party on a fun time (whether or not they had fun) and assures them he won't be coming back, this was a one-off but he prefers his own group. (Assuming he has one currently.)

How much of what he's done here is honestly "him" as opposed to "Discord" is up in the air, but we can't see inside his head to be 100% sure.
HappyEevee 2nd Dec 2018, 6:11 PM edit delete reply
I think the key to a lot of this is that we haven't seen inside DiscorDM's head so we don't have any take on what he's actually thinking, only how he's acting (given that he's there to play an annoying villain). It's very easy to assign motives to people when you don't know them well.

I think long term he would be a poor match for this group (very different personalities and playstyles), but in the right group he could be a really fun and interesting GM.
Troubleshooter 2nd Dec 2018, 7:31 PM edit delete reply
I feel compelled to point out: Just because Discord hasn't done anything wrong himself doesn't mean he's doing his job. Shouldn't he be observing how the group is responding and calling for breaks himself?
obscurereader 2nd Dec 2018, 9:01 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, or taking some time out of the Method Acting to check in with everyone more often rather than sticking so closely to character. So far, the only time he's really broken character to talk to the players in a clear manner is when he talked to Fluttershy OoC when they all took a pizza break (which could be argued wasn't executed very well then, if I'm recalling the comment section of that particular page (link here for ease of access/so people can judge for themselves) correctly since everyone started.).

A possible way to make it clear that DiscordDM isn't malicious imo would be to have him talk to the regular DM about Discord as a concept during the time out - maybe point out some of the flaws in the concept + suggest some ways to remedy the situation that the group has found itself in - but I'm not sure if that'd happen given his confusion on this page + the high tensions that're going round the table at the moment. Definitely wouldn't completely make up for his contributions to making this session a bit of a powder keg - at least for me anyway - but it'd be a start at the very least (and it'd let us get a decent idea of where Discord the character ends and where Discord the DM begins).
GrayGriffin 2nd Dec 2018, 9:17 PM edit delete reply
They did have a bit of a discussion on page 1091. Although DiscorDM was still half-wearing the IC hat then, with a lot of "this is how Discord would do it" talk.
obscurereader 2nd Dec 2018, 9:41 PM edit delete reply
True - thanks for mentioning that page, I'd forgotten the details until you reminded me and I went to check it out!

DiscordDM also sorta seemed to distract RegularDM with dealing with the main party while DiscordDM went to deal with Rarity on that page (which might've been just so he could pull off the curse the way he did, who knows), so that page is not quite a point in his favor... Also, DiscordDM still needs to talk with the players in general As Himself Being Respectful (tm) and not Discord the character trying to screw with them in order to start clearing the air over everything that's happened.
ThatGuest 3rd Dec 2018, 12:06 AM edit delete reply
The only issue I have with Discord talking to Fluttershy is he never really seems to outright apologize, then takes the angle that he's just doing all this for them or their own good etc.

I've seen way too many shows where that line is followed by the person saying it killing someone to not be concerned by it when people try to pitch anything like that. Well see in the end but the whole "I'm just doing all this to make your triumph shine even brighter!~" makes me narrow my eyes a bit and go "Yeah......sure...."
Mr_Some1 2nd Dec 2018, 9:29 PM edit delete reply
There's a lot of people here arguing about whether DiscorDM is being a dick or not, but I just think he's trying to make things as immersive as possible. I'm like 99% sure the session is either going to end with him having a legitimate conversation with the PCs where he explains why he did what he did, or he's gonna end up getting pissed that he can't do things his way, and Keep Calm and Flutter On is gonna be where he sees that different ways of play go for different groups.
obscurereader 2nd Dec 2018, 10:09 PM edit delete reply
Plausible - main issue is just that we don't see much of DiscorDM outside of his method acting of Discord the character - who quite frankly is designed to be an obnoxious villain to deal with in general and really was just a bad idea to go with overall - so there's not much to go on with regards to his actual character OoC.