Page 1160 - Cooperative Play

25th Dec 2018, 5:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 2
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Cooperative Play
Average Rating: 4 (1 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 25th Dec 2018, 5:00 AM edit delete
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

So the D&D-aligned friendship lesson turns out to be: If you want to do something challenging and experimental in your game, clear it with your players first. You don't have to give away all the twists, but you should at least see if the themes and objectives are something they'd be interested in. Generally good advice for starting a campaign anyway.

So, we may or may not be reaching the end of The Return of Harmony, and it's been forever since I called out for guest comics! Remember those? My way of taking a small vacation from the tri-weekly update schedule for a couple of weeks without dropping content? I haven't done a serious call with an actually reasonable deadline in ages. The last few times it was just "Hey, if you wanna, feel free I guess or whatever." Let's get serious for a change.

I've clarified and updated my guidelines on this page. You've got just short of a whole month starting today, specifically the 22nd of January. I look forward to seeing what kinds of ideas you folks come up with!

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



TailWhip 25th Dec 2018, 5:09 AM edit delete reply
Ooh, surprise update!

Happy holidays, Newbiespud.
DeS_Tructive 25th Dec 2018, 5:20 AM edit delete reply
Hmm, is it me, or does Flut almost seem sad that she won't get to see Discord earlier?
Arix 25th Dec 2018, 6:14 AM edit delete reply
Considering the relationship between Discord and Flutters in the show, I can see that for sure.
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 8:10 AM edit delete reply
No? She's frowning when she asks if he'll be staying around. And relieved when the DM says no. Looks far more like she doesn't want to see much more of him.
Newbiespud 25th Dec 2018, 8:25 AM edit delete reply
I think the second expression turned out a bit more ambiguous than intended.
Enigmatic Jack 25th Dec 2018, 8:06 PM edit delete reply
@GrayGriffin: That's not what I got from those two panels. She's frowning, yes, but given the speech pattern it seems more shy or pensive than upset. Likewise, the "Oh..." in the last panel seems tinged with at least a little bit of disappointment. If she was happy or relieved, you'd think she'd be more like "Oh, good" or at least "Ok" instead of a trailing "oh..."
SolarioVisored 25th Dec 2018, 1:24 PM edit delete reply
I definitely got that impression. I think Fluttershy('s player) does see the "good" in this co-DM and recognizes that he has a lot of potential for wacky fun to spice up the game, he just needs to be reigned in a bit. For now now, she'll just need to "keep calm and Flutter on". ;)
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 9:54 PM edit delete reply
Newbiespud already explained the actual intent behind this scene in a comment below. She is perfectly relieved that DiscorDM will not be making further appearances.
Vadan Drumist 25th Dec 2018, 5:29 AM edit delete reply
Merry Christmas!
Hankroyd 25th Dec 2018, 6:45 AM edit delete reply
I wish you and a good Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or Gurnenthar's Ascendance.

I guess Fluttershy will miss the co-DM ... who would have guessed that! ;)

And I guess like RD not being uncursed, the sentence saying that the Elements won't work even if everyone is uncursed ... well, I suppose there will be a very big point of divergence between the show and the RPG sessions now.
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 8:11 AM edit delete reply
Where do you get that idea? She looks upset when she thinks he'll be staying around longer, then relieved when the GM says no to that.
Newbiespud 25th Dec 2018, 8:26 AM edit delete reply
My thought was that Fluttershy's trying not to sound too relieved, so as not to outright insult the DM's choice in friends, hence the somewhat ambiguous expression.
Hankroyd 25th Dec 2018, 9:07 AM edit delete reply
Usually when someone told me something and I answer with 'Oh', it usually means 'OK, not very happy about it, but I'll deal with it. It's annoying but not a big deal."

Fluttershy's 'Oh' means something different, maybe because she is not me. :)
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 10:10 AM edit delete reply
I mean, "Oh..." with an ellipsis usually reads to me as "I'm thinking about something." Presumably reconsidering her original thoughts now that she knows DiscorDM won't be there.
Discord 25th Dec 2018, 7:21 AM edit delete reply
Came back from the 6th wall.
Brought stol- I mean Hearth's Warming gifts from the other world.
Headbands. I got about 50 here.
10 from each major element village.
First come, first served.
Princess Celestia 25th Dec 2018, 7:24 AM edit delete reply
From all of here in Equestria to you.
We wish you a Happy Hearth's Warming.
Balrighty 25th Dec 2018, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
QISmas DatIvjaj and a Happy New Year!
Guest 25th Dec 2018, 7:53 AM edit delete reply
I might be too tired to remember myself, but anyone has an idea what AJ just realized?
Hankroyd 25th Dec 2018, 9:08 AM edit delete reply
I don't like to brag but ... nope, no idea.
Klimpaloon 25th Dec 2018, 11:05 AM edit delete reply
Back when AJ was told Discord’s plan, he mentioned that reality around Ponyville would be warped to prevent them from getting to Discord.
Guest 25th Dec 2018, 1:40 PM edit delete reply
I expected the Elements to be able to punch through that.
ValdDrakul 25th Dec 2018, 8:01 AM edit delete reply
Looking at the 8th panel the "World of Light" theme starts playing in my head.
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 10:11 AM edit delete reply
Man I'm tired. I mistook the compass rose in the third-last panel for a pizza for a moment.
Borg 25th Dec 2018, 10:26 AM edit delete reply
To be fair, it is an particularly pizza-looking compass rose, now that you mention it.
Borg 25th Dec 2018, 10:24 AM edit delete reply
So how are they going to blow this plan to Tartarus? Normally it would be Twilight to do that, of course, but after this talk it seems like she'd have to do it out of intentional malice to do it at all, and I have a hard time seeing that.

Unless of course we're going to get a multi-session arc composed entirely from "Return of Harmony" and the one Discord scene in "The Cutie Re-Mark," but that hardly sounds practical.
Balrighty 25th Dec 2018, 11:50 AM edit delete reply
All the DM needs is a similar premise as the Gala arc. Twilight didn't one-shot resolve that storyline, nor was she deliberately holding herself back, so as to avoid intentional malice. Make there be individual elements that have to be resolved first and specifically by someone-besides-Twilight. Considering there are four elements that still have to be de-cursed, this is already giftwrapped and on a platter.

No idea what the specific source material episodes would be, though.
Guest 25th Dec 2018, 1:42 PM edit delete reply
Well, likely, they are not going to blow this plan just like that. And then they'll go through Equestria, discovering places, meeting people and fighting bosses to blow this plan.
GrayGriffin 25th Dec 2018, 9:55 PM edit delete reply
i mean, all that needs to happen is for some other players to decide they don't want that kind of plot after all. Since they're literally trying to discuss expectations and desires OOC right now.
Tempestfury 25th Dec 2018, 1:48 PM edit delete reply
I'm going to be curious about how the Celestia DM is going to think of his old friend going forwards. I don't think he's upset or anything, just that he didn't quite understand just how underhanded and brutal he could actually be, and needs time to reassess.
Redwings1340 25th Dec 2018, 10:32 PM edit delete reply
The gm seems to blame themselves more than they blame discordgm for this session. After all, discordgm did everything that main gm asked them to, and in a different group with different people that were given notice of what to expect, this plotline might even have worked. Discordgms main flaw here was in being so ruthless he never took in to account the players feelings on the game, or stopped to see if what he was doing was actually creating fun.

I don't think discordgm is a terrible gm or even necessarily a terrible person. Just wrong place, wrong time, and way too overeager. You gotta be more careful when you're gming this way, I wonder if he will say anything post session out of character.
Digo 25th Dec 2018, 2:37 PM edit delete reply
Glad to see the GM owning up to his part of this train wreck.
Guest 25th Dec 2018, 7:15 PM edit delete reply
I am predicting that EG screen caps will be used for part of this next arc, with the explanation that Discord changed the world on a fundamental level for the lulz.
Guest 25th Dec 2018, 11:27 PM edit delete reply
Have a Happy...

Festivus (For The Rest Of Us)
'Fridge Day (And hope you'll buy paint!)
Life Day (Don't forget to fight the frizzies!)
And a Festive Goomer, too! (May he bless you with baubles of industrial foam!)
Dakkath 26th Dec 2018, 12:27 AM edit delete reply
Unless the GM's planning on segueing from the elements to rainbow power, I don't particularly see how going on a grand tour of Equestria is going to help defeat Discord if the elements alone aren't enough.
Dragonflight 26th Dec 2018, 8:15 AM edit delete reply
I'm wondering now if the DM's plans are about to be upset by the guestDM, who in a snit decides that the Elements work *perfectly*, and turn Discord back into a stone statue.

This allows him to take his victory, metaphorically speaking, and wash his hands of a gaming group that "doesn't understand him."

The question in my mind is if he comes back as Discord later on, or if it's played by someone else.
Tyrantviewer 26th Dec 2018, 2:07 PM edit delete reply
Ooor... The group together decides to pull a nightmare moon on discord dm, figuring things out and breaking the campaign idea, but this time the normal gm is fine with it because the group and him worked it out as a possiblility before hand, Discord dm is disgruntled but more because of what seems like the players wrecking things for his friend again, and either leaves upset, but pensive, with teh impication that he will be back for future things, or happy that his friend is having fun with this group in the end.

Or like the DM says Discord won't be here at all, and we only see him in a post game scene when he and Gm talk things out, working out any future cooperation and talking things out as friends... I am optimistic, and really I think Newbiespud will pull off an interesting end
Archone 26th Dec 2018, 2:33 PM edit delete reply
Speaking as someone who once tried the co-GM thing... that won't accomplish anything. Gaming requires trust and cooperation, especially when it comes to sharing authority like that.

...Though I am becoming increasingly concerned that Discord GM will end up doing that, just to codify that he's supposed to be a bad guy. That's a thing that gets done when creators are upset about a character being liked too much. It's a trope called "kick the dog." I've even seen it done during tabletop games, including towards PCs when the GM gets annoyed about the GMPC not being well received. I know someone who I will never dare play a Paladin in the same game with, because I am genuinely concerned about them making immediate and heartfelt declarations about how I have now immediately lost all paladin powers.

So... even though Discord GM was introduced as a friend, as someone who taught Main GM how to GM, has been impressively fair with the players and showed respect for their abilities and maturity (the reason for the dice rolling and the rules in the first place is to prevent arguments; it takes both maturity and roleplay competence to resort to diceless play), and... etc, etc, that he'll be presented doing something nasty, just because... at least half the comments have been from people who not only like Discord GM, but are actively shipping DiscordGM/Fluttershy.

(I must admit that I would find it amusing, largely because I get the impression that Discord GM has a background in psychology. I used to know a young woman with severe hormonal imbalances - and possibly schizophrenia - who entered into a very, very happy relationship with a girlfriend who was also a therapist. A perfect match; her new girlfriend had all the necessary medication on hand the first time she smashed through a wall screaming about "them.")
GrayGriffin 26th Dec 2018, 4:38 PM edit delete reply
GrayGriffin you really think Newbiespud is going to change his entire planned plotline, just to spite people for "liking DiscorDM too much"? Honestly, that's a really rude thing to say about him. I'm pretty sure he had the whole plotline planned out long before he even posted the first comic of this arc.
Guest 27th Dec 2018, 1:30 AM edit delete reply
He was never shown to be fair, nor to have respect for the players and their abilities. You're inventing things out of thin air and outrage because you're refusing to see your interpretation was not suported back then as much as it is not suported now.

Part of it is because *he is playing a villain* who has no reason to be respectful. The other part is that he deliberately masterminded scenarios to show the players at their worst, which does not leave much rooms to express respect in people and their abilities.

At best you can say that he did that only because the DM asked him, which is true, but the DM has admited that wanting this to happen was a bad idea, at least when not talking with the players first to see if they're on board.
Archone 27th Dec 2018, 6:56 PM edit delete reply
Wow... three full posts (plus a fourth in response to someone else) that amount to "how dare you not share my dislike of this character."

1: As I said, I've seen it happen. Too often (a masculine but perceptive philosopher of a boyfriend suddenly spouting Objectivist claptrap while on a date with a SJW; a werewolf pacificist turning into a deranged alcoholic to discredit whatever he's saying about the protagonist; and one of the more horrific examples - a sexually licentious young woman who was then shown as having multiple kids and living in a trailer park, and then finally shown in a public restroom surrounded by drug paraphernelia, pregnant, and with her throat slit. That particular creator has ISSUES). I was concerned that I might be seeing it again.

2: The next page alleviates my concerns; Discord GM is showing the maturity and cameradie that those of us who haven't already shoehorned him into "manipulative evil bastard looking to ruin the game for the lulz" have been expecting of him. So it's rather a moot point.
Guest 28th Dec 2018, 8:53 AM edit delete reply
You're free to like characters. You are not free to invent things about what's happening in the comic just to support your views.

I enjoy DiscordDM as a character. Yes, in the next strip he does react reasonably and he and the DM talk as friends.

Doesn't make the things you've said in your comment true, especially not the whole "showed respect for their abilities and maturity" bit.
Guest 27th Dec 2018, 1:35 AM edit delete reply
Also, it's quite telling that you idealize DMDiscord as having "a background in psychology" when there is nothing that would indicate that. Newbiespud directly said DMDiscord is *deliberately turning his empathy as close of off as posdible* to play Discord, which is something people who have a background in psychology would generally know better to do when they're engaging in a *social activity requiring empathy to go well*.
Guest 27th Dec 2018, 1:41 AM edit delete reply
So no, DMDiscord has demonstrated neither great fairness nor great respect, let alone psychology skills, and Newbiespud has not demonstrated to be the kind of author to torch a plotline because people in the comment like a character.

Newbiespud is showing us a green sheet, you're insisting it's purple and that Newbiespud is going to change it to green because "at least half the people" like purple too much. It's insulting everyone's intelligence.
Wordy Guest 27th Dec 2018, 3:47 AM edit delete reply
Was it necessary to post three comments for this? I don’t find your points to be wrong, though my reading has you sound frustrated, and it might be more constructive to try for a more neutral tone.
Guest 27th Dec 2018, 5:12 AM edit delete reply
I initially intended to post only one, but when I posted it I realized I forgot to mention something, and when I posted that I saw my thought lacked a conclusion.

As for the tone, yes, it is frustrated, and while I admit it is not the most constructive, the intent is to dismantle a fallacious fabrication. When someone insist that a green sheet is purple and repeatedly express the sheet-owner would be wrong to make it green,, there is little constructive comments that can contribute except confronting it in a critical, if regretably conflictuel rather than collegial, correspondance.

It is fine to have prefered DMDiscord to be different, to be a fair, respectful, supportive, and well-liked co-DM who would have shined in this role as much as he shined in the DM's eyes. Tastes are tastes, and I'm not going to go "it's badwrongfun" about it. But to insist that it is how DMDiscord is, in spite of the comic and the author showing and telling otherwise, independently of alternate interpretations, is just insulting.
jdb1984 26th Dec 2018, 11:03 PM edit delete reply
There hasn't been anything too crazy and experimental that I encountered in my Tales of Equestria sessions that I've been a part of (yet).

Though the others have been warping through other realities a bit before I was able to join them. And we have a human (or Muman, due to mistranslation of ancient text), and we ended up going through a human lab and defeating an undead wizard as the boss.
Hariman 26th Dec 2018, 11:07 PM edit delete reply

I can see this going the worldwide adventure route, but I can also see it going an obvious yet unexpected route.
Composer99 28th Dec 2018, 8:08 AM edit delete reply
I'm digging the inclusion of the screenshots from 'Dungeons and Discords' in this and subsequent pages.