Page 1248 - Inexperienced Point

18th Jul 2019, 6:00 AM in School Raze
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Inexperienced Point
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 6:00 AM edit delete
Nothing like inflicting psychological trauma on your players to make you look inside yourself a bit. Am I right, everybody? Because that's totally relatable?

Real talk, though. For me, campaign comics as far back as DM of the Rings and Darths and Droids have had two pillars: "This story is so much like a D&D campaign!" and "Wow, look at how dysfunctional the DM and the players are." And the nature of adapting a linear story to the illusion of a freeform roleplay is that a lot of the story beats look like railroading, because otherwise you don't even get to the meaty parts of what you're adapting because the players would avoid or dodge the obvious traps.

What I set in mind going into my own version of this formula was: "This group is dysfunctional, but at least they'll try to learn lessons from it. Just like the Saturday morning cartoon show it's based on." So, yeah, when there are times people say, "What's happening here is awful and I would have walked away from the table long ago," I feel a little forced to say, "Strongly agreed, but I've got a story to tell here." Which isn't a strong defense.

And that's the price I pay for trying to have it both ways - having characters that I try to write in an organic, believable way, while also weaving a slightly absurd, exaggerated tale about D&D and the people who play it.

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



Cygnia 18th Jul 2019, 6:02 AM edit delete reply
HUG YONA! (if she feels comfortable with that)
ANW 18th Jul 2019, 6:28 AM edit delete reply
DM regrets stories.
ChaoticBrain 18th Jul 2019, 6:52 AM edit delete reply
DM wishes that he took the time to master the art of speaking in first-person.
Boris Carlot 18th Jul 2019, 8:16 AM edit delete reply
Had a really cool idea for a Shadowrun mission to infiltrate a UO base and steal data from an offline blacksite while it was evacuated due to an impending volcanic eruption. A really fantastic premise...that I completely wasted. I didn't prep very well so I ended up putting the players into the most boring, linear "go there, shoot drones and disable security turrets, come back out" mission possible. Still mad about that.
Enigmatic Jack 18th Jul 2019, 11:55 AM edit delete reply
Honestly, my main regrets as a DM have mostly been of the "Ugh, why did I invite THAT player?" variety. You know, those instances where you choose to ignore negative traits that people have in order to get an extra player or two at the table, only to remember why it was a bad idea when they try to derail the campaign by doing something purposefully obnoxious or "tweak" their character so that they don't fit the campaign world.

We actually had one guy set off a TPK because he got bored while another player was taking a turn at diplomacy with some unfriendly but definitely not hostile NPCs. He snuck up on one of the NPCs with a kind of questionable roll, then critted with even more questionable rolls and got the surrounded-and-outnumbered party executed because they were obviously hostile from the NPCs' perspective. (That was the last game anybody invited him to.)
aylatrigger 18th Jul 2019, 3:23 PM edit delete reply
1. Making my horror game too much. ...I broke a player.

2. I usually do world-building and not campaign-building, so when I try to do campaign building I sometimes get too railroad-y... Too late I try to fix things :(

3. Simple puzzles are too hard.

4. That one time I included a library on the way to the boss... I had a giant book of plot on a pedestal. And the players decided to instead look for "Any Adventure Book like Daring Do." Since it was supposed to be a library that was basically all the books left of a dead civilization, I said sure, you find a collection about "Gentlepony Adventurer". So of course they study the ancient language, translate it for those with not enough linguistics, and spend 3 sessions in the library reading the books. I had to come up with basically fanfiction partly on the spot. They also decided to bring back all the series (and go the extra mile with all the other books too) via teleportation and ant haul...before moving on in the tower.
On the plus side, I came up with great fanfiction of fanfiction within a game based on a tv show... And the stories were pretty epic.
Kuraimizu 19th Jul 2019, 7:47 AM edit delete reply
Could you please tell us the story of how you broke the player with the nightmare/horror campaign.
Guest 20th Jul 2019, 9:57 AM edit delete reply
Seconding the request for the horror story.
Guest 24th Jul 2019, 9:14 PM edit delete reply
"1. Making my horror game too much. ...I broke a player."

If I saw that on a LFG corkboard, I'd sign on in a heartbeat.
albedoequals1 18th Jul 2019, 6:35 AM edit delete reply
I would ask how someone talks in rainbow, but I know everyone will just say, "Because Pinkie" :p

Another downside to separating the party into separate challenges is a much simpler one: The GM can only do one thing at a time, so people that are not invested in the other characters will get bored. At least the GM is letting the players watch each other's progress this time. That should make it a lot more enjoyable for everyone while they wait for their turn.
ChaoticBrain 18th Jul 2019, 6:44 AM edit delete reply
"I would ask how someone talks in rainbow"

It's quite simple, actually.

1.) Lift your open flat palms above your head so that your thumbs are touching.
2.) Spread your hands out in an arc shape until your hands are level with your face.
3.) While performing steps 1 and 2, enunciate the word you wish to rainbowfy by stretching out the vowels of the stressed syllables to about triple the usual length.

Here's a handy visual guide:
Platonix 18th Jul 2019, 6:52 AM edit delete reply
The correct answer to how one talks in rainbow is by doing the SpongeBob motion with your hands. Sure, the character isn't doing it, but the DM can see Pinkie's player doing it, so it gets across anyway.
Platonix 18th Jul 2019, 6:55 AM edit delete reply
[sees ChaoticBrain's post]
...yeah, that one.
SenseiLeRoof 18th Jul 2019, 7:47 AM edit delete reply
My answer would be, simply, with a dash.
SenseiLeRoof 21st Jul 2019, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
(Aw, nobody laughed...)
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 12:12 PM edit delete reply
I mean... to be fair.

Nothing forced any of the ponies to act in a certain way during their own personal challenges. Nor were they forced to RP a fear they didn't have.

Nor was there any hidden failure states either. Any and all failure states were presented cleanly and openly, nor did Discord force anyone to RP a character in a way they did not enjoy... okay, except for AJ. But they were also given a chance to have the effects mitigated, and went along with it anyway?

Seriously. I don't get the point of this? How this is all about how the GM is learning from the previous session and trying to fix it? Because apart from the first two panels... Discord did absolutely NOTHING that GM here is reassuring the players won't happen?

Seriously Newb. If your going to cast Discord as the villain, and have the GM improve as a GM by contrasting themself against Discord's own behaviour... then at the very least you need to be consistent about what Discord actually DID.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 12:45 PM edit delete reply
The curses were functionally unavoidable on paper and manipulative in a bad way that intentionally contributed to contentious behaviors at the table, all for the DMs' entertainment and to set them up for a bad start to a long campaign. The result was a session where all the players felt turned against each other without warning and against their will. Regardless of what "the tapes" show, the main DM is owning this felt result because he collaborated with Discord on that intended experience.

I'm in no mood to relitigate Discord again.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 12:56 PM edit delete reply
Hmmmm... well. I guess on /Paper/, that makes sense.

Still, there's a difference between what happened in the plan itself, and what actually happened in the session itself, and I think its important for that to be recognized? I don't know how easy it would be to add, but it could be something's small really. Like the GM mentioned he's glad that DiscordDM did let Rainbow Dash go off scrip for example.

Like, I can't blame you for not wanting to bring up DiscorDM again. He was... contentious, to say the least. But it doesn't mean I can't speak about him, when his 'legacy' as it where, comes up like this? It casts him in an incredibly negative light, and while I don't disagree that the player's have every right to be upset about events as they played out...

Well. I think DiscorDM is getting unfairly villainized here.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 1:03 PM edit delete reply
Really not sure if I'm getting my point across here...

Basically. I can understand where the GM is coming from here. It's simply... heavy-handed, and not entirely truthful. So I would quite enjoy it if the GM can recognize that what he just reassured the players won't happen, didn't actually happen.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 1:08 PM edit delete reply
"It's fine, you don't have to feel like you were turned against each other against your will because that's not 'actually' what happened (according to my interpretation) if you look back at the recording (that doesn't exist in-story)."

It's an unwise thing to say, especially coming from a potential guy to a bunch of girls.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 1:15 PM edit delete reply
Except they literally didn't?

Pinkie Pie decided to put a twist on her character by her own violation. Fluttershy had an out in that Discord's brute-force curse didn't work as well as the other ones, neither Twilight nor Rainbow had any curse on them at /all/... and then there's the entire 'You arrived at the library and its protected from the chaos, do you want to keep running with your curse or not?'

This isn't 'according to my interpretation'. This is 'according to the facts of the situation'.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 1:20 PM edit delete reply
The thing was, Discord was prepared to improvise anything as long as it resulted in one thing: The characters poised against each other to bicker and annoy and weaken their friendship so that the game would be lost before they even realized it. And the DM knew that.

The curses weren't the point. Rainbow Dash not being cursed still led to an argument about the morality of letting Cloudsdale fall. Twilight being uncursed still led to her yelling at her friends. The curses weren't the point. The toxic behavior was. The toxic behavior was the intention. And that crosses a boundary that none of the players signed up for.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 1:23 PM edit delete reply
Okay, that's a fair point.

Not sure how much of that was due DiscorDM and how much of that was because GM wanted that to happen mind you... hard to tell.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 1:27 PM edit delete reply
DiscordGM took it with a lot more zeal than maybe the DM expected... but the end result of "The Elements are powerless against Chaos because you all have started to get on each other's nerves and your friendship has weakened," was still the explicit intention and direction of the main DM. They just didn't really expect what that would actually look like in play. Hence the session being paused and the heart-to-heart after.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 2:36 PM edit delete reply
Honestly? I'm really glad you took the time out to talk to me so much Spud, I haven't seen you do this before... and I'm grateful for that.

Thank you.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 3:05 PM edit delete reply
No problem. I try to let the comics speak for themselves whenever possible, but Discord is a tough subject and I only have so much panel space. Thanks for listening.
Tempestfury 19th Jul 2019, 1:05 AM edit delete reply
Your welcome.

And yeah, getting everything across in the limited room you have can be... tricky.
Me Wednesday 18th Jul 2019, 3:42 PM edit delete reply
Perhaps, it would be possible to set aside DiscorDM entirely and look strictly at the effects of his presence—the way his introduction opened up rifts that already existed in the fabric of this group.

Which, they really did. The main GM was feeling resentful for a long time, which is why they went to their old friend and teacher to get help in making the story THEY wanted to make.

DiscorDM May have lit the fuse, but he certainly didn’t set up this powder keg. Him being at the table only served to make the original members of the group look at their behavior through an outsider’s lens. Every criticism leveled at the group for the flaws in their play-style was PERFORMED by DiscorDM, but it was the main GM who’d written it.

DiscorDM only really went over the line once, in my view, and that’s when he went berserk at Fluttershy for a moment. HUGE DISCLAIMER: it was only for a moment. He did pull back after his initial blowup (I also don’t buy the manipulative apology angle—I think he was being sincere.). His other mistake was in not picking up on the atmosphere of the table (or noticing and pushing ahead anyway)

This is very long, but I’ve tried to keep the intent clear. Namely, I think the GM’s feeling are directed at themself. After all, the group knew them and not DiscorDM, so main GM’s part in the bad session probably felt like more of a betrayal, and was thus more hurtful.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 1:06 PM edit delete reply
In my mind, as a character in a story, Discord is a villain. And the muddiest kind of villain, one who is perfectly reasonable on the surface and says and does all the right things to scrape by on the side of nice, but nonetheless with an insidious streak and a chronic lack of empathy.

As a person in the world of the story, though, you're right, he's a person that doesn't deserve to be demonized. And that's kind of why the DM is framing this in the sense of "What was I thinking," taking the blame themselves for an experience that they directed. The session was a bad time and lessons need to be learned from that, but the DM isn't trying to pass the buck onto Discord here. His presence at the table has unfortunately become more than a little toxic and so it's best that he stays away for a while, but the DM's not trying to put up Wanted posters for a mistake that ultimately lies at their feet, not his. I hope that little detail comes across.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 1:19 PM edit delete reply
Not entirely, no... I do see where you're coming from, but it's not entirely clear? Not entirely sure how to make it clearer for sure. Maybe something like 'No wonder you and X didn't get along...' would work? Showing he realizes he pretty much set up for the party and X to not get along?

Even if DiscorDM did run with the set-up more than what was necessary for sure.

And yeah sorry, using villanized isn't the right word? Because yeah, Discord is a villain in this story. I can recognize that, even if he isn't actively trying to be a villain in said story. It was more... well, that it felt like he was being pushed up in just how bad he was?

Does that make sense? ... I really can't blame you for struggling to get your statements across when I'm not sure I'm doing the same myself.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 1:26 PM edit delete reply
It kinda gets down to a difference in morality, whether the feeling of what happened is as high a priority as the physical facts of what happened, or vice versa. And I think you and I are poised to disagree on that.

In my worldview, D&D is a shared, mutual, multidirectional experience, not merely a linear sequence of actions and statements. Keeping that experience positive is more important to me than litigating the facts, because the finger-pointing can go on forever.
Tempestfury 18th Jul 2019, 1:42 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, that's fair.

All in all, both DiscorDM and CelestiaGM failed their role as a Game's Master and made it a game that's not fun to play.

Only difference is. CelestiaGM recognized this and is trying to change, while DiscorDM is sticking to his guns and his style. Which in some ways is commendable, as you can't please everyone, and trying to do so will result in an event that doesn't please anyone... but, at the same time, not compromising at all means you cause conflict with others that isn't necessary at all.

It's a difficult subject, and honestly, I can't wait for DiscorDM's return, and seeing him learn the lessons himself. I wonder if Fluttershy will be as critical in that as she is in the show...? And who else might play an important role?

Heck, could be something done by the entire group, which would be awesome. Not putting a bad guy in his place. But show a good guy how he's making mistakes.
Me Wednesday 18th Jul 2019, 3:50 PM edit delete reply
Whoof, first I show up late to the party, then it turns out I wasn’t invited!

Tempestfury, I’m super impressed by your thoughtful and nuanced responses here. I know we’ve had our differences in the past but I really respect your open-mindedness.

It’s part of why I wrote that massive response up above (which please feel free to disregard)—you seemed to actually want to talk instead of fight.
Malroth 18th Jul 2019, 7:09 PM edit delete reply
One big problem is Rarity, Applejack, Twilight and Rainbow Dash are themselves all fairly toxic, metagaming gloryhogs who are each capable of bringing down a less tolerant gaming group by themselves. The fact that they made it to Dischord before they got fed up with each other was nothing short of a miracle. The breakdown seemed merely a hastened by the unnecessary addition of an old school Gygaxian antagonist, seemed inevitable.
Newbiespud 18th Jul 2019, 7:15 PM edit delete reply
Which, again, I see as part of the price I pay for trying to have it both ways: Comical exaggerations of typical gaming behaviors, and actual characters.
aerion111 18th Jul 2019, 10:37 PM edit delete reply
Twilight, at least, generally doesn't do it on purpose. As far as I can tell anyway.
This is just how she tries to solve the problems presented with the tools she has available, and no one's managed to teach her the 'right' way yet. Nor have a lot tried (there's been a few times, but not enough to change someone's core 'approach' to a type of problem)
I feel like Twilight is a lot less toxic than Rainbow 'RPing is stupid, let's fight something' Dash. Dash's had a lot of growth there, mind.
TheStratovarian 18th Jul 2019, 7:48 PM edit delete reply
Overall, you arent wrong.

Players in dnd are strange quirky and crazy folks offering a different take on what they themselves cant do.

And a gm, is in part helping give these ideas and ideals a place, a shape, and focus. Its a hard job, and in the comics, you strike a balance pretty well in these I feel.

And the characters are fun, we've each folks that are sometimes steps away, and sometimes steps we wish too.

Every good and bad we put forth as pcs in a game are well, something we in part enjoy. Some folks, just want to whack things with a BFS/BFH. Others want to body slam a mimic with a mimic on fire.

Some want to actually just talk and be recognised for achievements. Everyone offers a different take going forth, and sometimes we get someone that ends up sneaking into a secure facility through the ventilation.

But in the end, none of these really take off without someone to guide the game. And its a hard challenge to guide those paths. Especially the chosen dysfunctions.
dzonewolf 18th Jul 2019, 10:03 PM edit delete reply
The guys I play with, emotional trauma to the characters is a plus, for all of us. Nothing like pushing a character to the brink and beyond to see what they're made of.
SilverShadow4 23rd Jul 2019, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
That's just it. It all depends on the party dynamic and what the players are here to enjoy. Our group likes a variety! Horror, trauma, silliness, absurdity, drama, sadness, the whole shebang. But that's what we're here for, to make a cool story and hopefully not die doing it. Some people don't want to be so challenged or others prefer nothing but challenges, finding the right party dynamic/balance is difficult
Mr Wednesday 23rd Jul 2019, 9:51 PM edit delete reply
Well said!
Hariman 19th Jul 2019, 3:07 AM edit delete reply
Oh... that's the mistake.

The DM had originally targeted the fear based puzzles here against the players more than their characters.