Page 1350 - Multi-Plot Drifting

12th Mar 2020, 6:00 AM in Guest Arc: Equestria Girls
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Multi-Plot Drifting
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 12th Mar 2020, 6:00 AM edit delete
Author: GreatDinn

Guest Author's Note: "DMing is a difficult task with a lot of behind the scenes work to make sure everyone else has a good time. I don't think a DM necessarily has to be totally on board with any player or player group's plans or choices, but they have to be interested in the interactions. Sometimes, though, there are paths that the players choose to take that just...don't click with the DM in some capacity.

Experienced DM's, from my own history, know how to weather those choppy waters. Inexperienced DM's can find themselves overboard and in over their head pretty fast. Which, in the worst case scenario, can lead to a spiral.

Sunset is...difficult to write. For a lot of different reasons."

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



Famout 12th Mar 2020, 6:01 AM edit delete reply
Sunset is scary how she covers all the biggest fears I have as a DM...

Admittedly my current problem seems to be making things a bit too open and becoming shocked when my players take the direct (even if foolish) option... I think I need to learn how to give hints?
Greenhornet 12th Mar 2020, 8:38 AM edit delete reply
Player 1: "The DM's smiling broadly..."
Player 2: "I can actually imagine a lightbulb over her head..."
Player 3: "I'm going to roll up a new character, just in case."
Achtungnight 12th Mar 2020, 8:05 AM edit delete reply
Considering how Sunset’s end game goes, the players are in for way more than a high school popularity contest. :)
Digo 12th Mar 2020, 10:47 AM edit delete reply
"Really? A boss fight with a demon and it's the talking dog that bothers you?"
BackSet 12th Mar 2020, 2:37 PM edit delete reply
And then Sunset got sunked on by some random deus ex machina rainbow and everything was fine.
DanaO 13th Mar 2020, 5:06 AM edit delete reply
My own bet is that particular rainbow was attenuated by distance and its spectrum changed enough to adjust its target priority. So it got a Sunset Shimmer who was a demon - but this far away from normal game rules, wasn't evil - and managed to diabolus ex machina the start of somebody else's campaign before Sunset's character got to meet the rest of the new PCs.
Guest_54 12th Mar 2020, 5:35 PM edit delete reply
Is it a 'thing' to, like, just straight up boot the DM? Like, can a group get together and say, "we want someone else to DM this story/game/session"?
Malroth 12th Mar 2020, 6:02 PM edit delete reply
Depends on the group. Most groups sure it's fine. Have the new DM's pc sail off into the sunset, meet some new guy in a bar played by the old DM everything works out fine. Its when the players are unwilling or unable to take up the new responsibility that tables can start to go bad.
FrostLock 12th Mar 2020, 6:18 PM edit delete reply
This is something my group did once, when all but one of us realized we really didn't like our DM's style. They had significantly more experience than us and refused to scale back their plans to our actual skill level, and instead rigidly holding to what they felt our power level should be for our character levels. They didn't even do the Challenge Rating calculations for encounter, they just based it on the skill level of other parties they had played with at that level. Said other parties were apparently very good at power gaming, in stark contrast to us who didn't understand the rules and were mostly basing our decisions on flavor. I wanted to be a healer, and I chose a druid because my understanding of video games made me go "oh this should make me good at healing," and i was the only character who could effectively contribute because i accidentally made an overpowered character. When I deliberately rebuilt my character to be weaker and focus on healing, we were just constantly struggling and usually spent each session on a single fight scene. The main breakpoint was when we finally DID try to be strategic and do plannery, and the DM was like "oh you weren't stealthy enough about it, so the next wave of enemies hard countered your formation." We were supposed to be doing the final boss of an area, but the enemies on the way to the boss were too overtuned for us to even reach the boss before we gave up. Then a bunch of stuff came out about how the DM believed in "player vs DM" dynamics and that there should be a back and forth of each side fucking up each others's plans, and suddenly too many things made sense and we dissolved the group and went to play something else without the DM.

As an aside, this is why i hate milestone leveling and always do experience leveling. Milestone leveling meant that we had no idea if we actually deserved to be leveling up, or the DM was just giving us levels because they wanted us to have them. Experience is a tool to help DMs balance encounters, but more importantly it provides a very tangible sense of progression for the players and makes it obvious to tell what was supposed to be a difficult encounter and what was supposed to be a bump in the road. Even if I'm comfortable running a system or playing in a system, I'd rather just have experience so the DM can just tell me "that was supposed to be hard" or "that was supposed to be easy" and i know "okay, this is how effective i am in relation to the game's design."
Assembler 17th Mar 2020, 8:16 AM edit delete reply
I've been the DM booted this way, because technical issues made it too hard to understand what I was saying.
Free 12th Mar 2020, 9:31 PM edit delete reply
So. Sunset!DM comes over to her friend's place for some advice because her first time DMing isn't going so well and she isn't sure how to steer a group that is entirely new to the game because she doesn't have those skills yet. The easy solution was bring in someone who actually has an idea of how to play the game and can sort of guide the group from within by setting an example if nothing else, like reminding them they can just say "I want to try to do this" and they CAN, without having to wait for the DM to TELL them what to do.

Good in theory. Nice of Twilight to take time out of her day to help a bunch of newbies and expand her horizons by playing with new people who have different styles.

Oh. Wait. No, Twi's literally spent most of the game snarking, being kind of rude, and gossiping with her DM (Sunset's friend, let's remember!) about how awful things are and apparently already getting fed up of trying to "fix" it, which no one asked her to do, she was literally just bored and wanted to play without asking any questions first. Overall, Sunset's issue is mainly being inexperienced and a little too fixated on her original idea. Truly, a damning character flaw. Really, I just don't enjoy Twilight's character, she's being very unpleasant, and especially the criticism she's happy to level at any DM who doesn't do things the way she likes is being exaggerated. Frankly, I wouldn't enjoy being at a table with a player acting this way, either as DM or fellow player.

Just, like, not enjoying this arc, and Sunset isn't why. I can see her flaws, certainly, and why someone might not enjoy being in her group, but so far she hasn't done anything BAD and no one's being upfront about what's going wrong. She seems like a nice person! The group themselves probably aren't saying anything because they're mostly humoring their friend, by the looks of it; she roped them into her favorite hobby and no one wants to pop her bubble. I already like them, now if only they had personalities. If Twilight didn't like the game (which she realized pretty quick that it wasn't something she really wanted to play), she needed. to. leave. She's had EVERY opportunity to leave, but chose not to…because she and Sunset literally have the same goal: to give people new to the game a fun experience just like they had starting out. Just, like, bruh. Get on the same page. This conflict feels forced.
GD 12th Mar 2020, 10:11 PM edit delete reply
I'm sorry you aren't enjoying the arc, but I really do appreciate the passionate response! I'm glad you took the time to lay out your feelings like that. I hope you don't let my guest arc of dubious canonicity spoil how you feel about FiD as a whole.

The rest of my run will push through March (barring unforeseen circumstances), and then it'll be back to Spud (again, barring unforeseen circumstances.)
Free 13th Mar 2020, 2:30 AM edit delete reply
I'm glad you got an opportunity to show a story you've clearly put a lot of thought and work into, and I hope *I* didn't pop your bubble too harshly. You've got some very good editing skills that just need a little polish on layout, and you've matched the tone and style very well! It looks very good and I appreciate the clarity of the writing; I can follow along very easily and feel confident in my interpretation. Don't let me get you down, I was just kind of…venting. My apologies.
GD 13th Mar 2020, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
Not down at all! I meant what I said and said what I meant. I'm glad that you posted, 100%!
Guest 14th Mar 2020, 10:46 AM edit delete reply
Hey, that rhymes :p
Scytale 12th Mar 2020, 11:20 PM edit delete reply
... are you actually missing the part where the rest of the party clearly isn't having fun with Sunset's style? And Sunset missing all the hints? Which is why Twilight is so peeved? And working on providing alternative suggestions so that everyone can have fun, instead of having Sunset shoehorn her ideas in?
Free 13th Mar 2020, 2:39 AM edit delete reply
Are you actually missing the part where I said they're her friends and mostly just humoring her because this is something she likes? And what about the party (specifically Twilight, maybe) missing HER hints? Sunset's pretty peeved, too, but she isn't getting snappy like Twilight is and when Twilight suggested that the party's end goal of taking down Sunset Shimmer would be satisfying in itself, she immediately perked up and seems interested in running with the change of plans to emphasize this new angle focusing on Shimmer the antagonist than on the crown the Macguffin. Besides, this entire arc is based on Sunset *noticing her party isn't having fun* and going to a friend for advice, I can only assume because they aren't being upfront about why they aren't enjoying things and instead everyone so far has only talked behind her back (that we've been shown, at least).
MB 13th Mar 2020, 4:23 AM edit delete reply
"Are you actually missing the part where I said they're her friends and mostly just humoring her because this is something she likes?"

I've noticed, and that's a pretty dang unhealthy mentality. If the Sunset group was left to their own devices, it was going to self-destruct one way or another.

"And what about the party (specifically Twilight, maybe) missing HER hints?"

Ah yes, sounds like Sunset is great at communication, an activity that famously involves just one person. If the standard secretive-DM-behind-a-screen setup isn't working out, Sunset needs to take a more transparent approach, discussing the kind of game she wants to play instead of keeping them in the dark and then being surprised when they play with different expectations in mind.

"Besides, this entire arc is based on Sunset 'noticing her party isn't having fun' and going to a friend for advice, I can only assume because they aren't being upfront about why they aren't enjoying things and instead everyone so far has only talked behind her back (that we've been shown, at least)."

It's because of what you said; they're mostly just humoring her because this is something she likes. None of Sunset's friends wants to be the one to tell Sunset that she's bad at DM-ing, so they all agree to grin and bear it.

This is the pervasive theme throughout the arc; failure to communicate. Sunset fails to communicate the kind of game she wants to run, her friends fail to communicate why they're dissatisfied, Spike fails to communicate with Sunset one-on-one to work out the issues with her game, and Twilight is stuck in the middle just trying to untangle this whole mess and not being very good at it.
Free 13th Mar 2020, 2:52 PM edit delete reply
So…is the only spot where we disagree *how much* is Sunset's fault and whether Twilight's attitude is justified? Because that's perfectly fine, some readers will sympathize with certain characters more than others and these comment sections have always seemed to skew against the DM; people seem to find Twi's position more sympathetic than Sunset's and I understand I'm in the minority there. Like, Sunset has made errors, absolutely! She's not trying new techniques, she's sticking VERY closely to how SHE thinks the game should be run, and, if one goes by the context of the panels here, her tone could be interpreted as sarcastic or passive-aggressive towards Twilight not going along with her plans, but she also apologizes to Twilight and runs off excited to act on new information, while Twilight…has kind of just already decided nothing Sunset does can lead to anything good (mostly because, again, her problem hasn't been addressed directly and she still wants to play the secretive DM trope).

What I mean is, I largely agree with you. Except! I find nothing about Twilight's position sympathetic and think she's being too critical and bad mannered. She went in with a negative mindset and decided it was her job to "fix" the game instead of taking the out offered to her multiple times, when Sunset only intended to kind of use her as an example for the rest to take cues from and drive the plot. Sunset's being overly ambitious by trying to run this as the group's campaign, she should have gone with a simpler module as a tutorial to introduce them to the core concepts of the game, but we've already addressed that; she's very fixated on her idea of how the game is supposed to go.
Anon 13th Mar 2020, 12:54 AM edit delete reply
Total agreement, Free. There was a strip a while back attempting to display all the ways the players are not having fun and how it's Sunset!DM's fault, but all I saw was six panels of different characters going "and here's MY reason for why I would rather passive-aggressivly bitch about my DM behind her back instead of talking to her like an adult!".

Ugh. Like, sure, adults to actually behave like this in real life sometimes. By all means, the story is "realistic". It's just not entertaining or driven by characters I want to sympathize with.
A Quiet Reader 13th Mar 2020, 9:50 AM edit delete reply
Wait, what strip did they do that in? They talked a little about how they weren't sure what to do next a few strips, but I didn't see anything about them not wanting to talk to her about it.

...Come to think of it, while Twi & the other players have occasionally been snarky, Sunset!DM is the only one I've seen being passive-aggressive. Both in Tuesday's strip and especially in this one, that's the best way to describe her reaction to Twi & the players not doing what she wanted them to.

Huh. Now I'm wondering if the Demon!Sunset at the climax of EG will be because of Sunset!DM freaking out about nothing going according to her plans.

Anyway, I think it's clear that there's been a lack of clear communication on both sides. Not too surprising, since the players are new to playing and Sunset!DM is new to DMing. I do think the biggest part of the problem is that no one on either side has *thought* to clearly communicate, besides Twi.
Talyn 13th Mar 2020, 5:29 PM edit delete reply
I'm not going to go into snark or not snark, but I am definitely picturing Sunset being the type of GM who throws a fit because the party is doing something besides what SHE had planned for them.

Choo choo on the railroad train.