Page 1373 - Mine Field

5th May 2020, 6:00 AM in Guest Arc: Equestria Girls
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Mine Field
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 5th May 2020, 6:00 AM edit delete
Author: GreatDinn

Guest Author’s Note: “So, this is it! The climax of the arc. This is actually the moment that has been in my head since I started thinking about this project…uh, three years ago? Four? I’m not great with time. It's gone through some changes, but the core of it is still there. (The "They aren't your friends..." line was literally the first line I ever wrote for this whole comic.)

I mean, look at it! It was perfect! Sunset goes through so many emotions in these scenes, and they mapped really, really well on someone who cares a lot for something realizing that they’ve hurt it in some way.

I hope that it comes across as well in comic form as it did in my imagination, because...well, MD isn't the only one whose been stuck in their head about things, and subsequently having a not so pleasant reaction to things not quite working out like they anticipated. Screen-cap comics have some truly unique problems that I was not prepared for.

There's just three pages left to go from here. For those of you who have enjoyed the comic: I sincerely and truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. And for those of you who haven't: I sincerely and truly thank you for your patience."

Newbiespud's Note: And speaking of climaxes and endings, we had what's going to be our last Stars Without Number session this weekend, ending on a heist and earning one's freedom to explore the galaxy.
Voyages of the Takeout, Session 4 - Crash and Grab: Podcast | Video

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



ANW 5th May 2020, 6:07 AM edit delete reply
Story time

"Enough is enough"
"Time out"
"I'm sorry, but I'm stopping this game"

Has you or anyone in your group had to do this?
hankroyd 5th May 2020, 9:59 AM edit delete reply
Fortunately it never happened to me.
As a gm and players I have my share of failed campaign and failed idea, but nothing going so bad we have to say "OK, let's stop here before someone do something we all regret."

The only time, we didn't finish a session, was a false session. We planned it so we have a good excuse to be all together to make a 'surprise birthday' for one of the player.

At the start, the 'victim' was captured without any possibility to do a roll, was accused of commiting an unexplained crime and was asked if he plaided guilty or not.
And after he expresssed confusion, the sentence fell.

"You are guilty!"
The judge put his hand behind his back and bring it holding something.
"THIS IS YOUR PUNISHMENT!" he says. You look at his hand and see ... A BIRTHDAY CAKE.


Whole scenario lasted 5 minutes and no dice roll: perfect success and was non canon with the campaign. :)
aylatrigger 5th May 2020, 10:29 AM edit delete reply
In a way, but I forget if any of those words were said. ...I made a player have a mental breakdown in a horror game. On plus side, guess I am great at horror since that was my first horror game and I don't read or see much horror. I had only read Lovecraft's paper on why cats are better than dogs (very elitist and I disagree even though cats are better), but apparently was doing it 'very Lovecraftian'. On minus side, never want to do that to friends, just their characters.

It was a Maids RPG Sci-Fi horror game set on a space ship kind of Star Trek like. All the crew had disappeared except us and all Special Qualities that would normally be fantasy were horror 'just appeared that way'. ...Basically we had entered the equivalent of Warhammer 40k's Warp.

Anyway, after exploring and seeing various horror based things the party was stressing out. As GM I thought giving the 'positive thinking' thing to a character would help with their SAN/stress and let them feel a bit safer, but I guess I did not realize how the SAN of the player was getting damaged, and roleplaying positive thinking when you are not thinking positive...well, not good. So he had a breakdown and started crying. We stopped the whole game and never went back.
Kereea 5th May 2020, 10:29 AM edit delete reply
We did have a very quick moment in our current game where I paused to quickly qualify I was not mad at the warforged's player, my kenku was mad at the warforged because the situation was stressful (hard fight with dwarf which downed the bard), there was a magic book involved, she covets books, and he just took the book and gave it to a deva. She also in-character throught she needed the book or when she used revivify on the bard the curse that killed her would still be in place.

So I asked to quickly pause just to clarify--yes my character is being a brat, and is angry, I am not.
Shenkyei Rambo 5th May 2020, 5:17 PM edit delete reply
have i had to do this myself? no. my group has though. the players weren't getting along but everyone wanted to keep playing. what ended up happening was, the original party split up into two different games, and the 3.5e Good and Evil Campaigns begun.

i became a lich!
Winged Cat 5th May 2020, 10:26 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Fortunately I have rarely experienced this. Unfortunately I have had to do this - fortunately, only a very few times.

One example came when I was starting a new campaign with some acquaintances. We got through character generation, started a "you all wake up in jail" plot, then immediately one player declared initiative and paused the action. (Literally: the game had just started and we were in combat time - which meant no one but the currently-active player character could act.) Said player (of the active character) and the GM them took an hour to look up rules and mechanics. After said hour of this, I told them I was leaving. They seemed confused, so I explained that I was there to role play, not to sit around out of the conversation doing nothing while they debated game mechanics. They took it rather poorly, so I never went back.

(That's "rather poorly" including subsequently - via email - accusing me of molesting a teenage girl who I never touched, but the GM's girlfriend removed the shirt of so as to flash said girl's breasts at us; I averted my eyes, but the rest of the table leered. That this was tolerated, contributed to my foul mood when I finally confronted them about the game itself.)
FanOfMostEverything 5th May 2020, 6:07 AM edit delete reply
I figured this was where the story was going. After all, in order to capture Sunset giving in to her dark side, there would probably be some kind of nastiness at the table.

And this definitely works. Yes, it's terrible DM etiquette. That's the point. In order to learn how to be better, MD has to be bad at some point.
Famout 5th May 2020, 6:16 AM edit delete reply
I think it's important to note that EVERY DM screws up at some point. What's important is learning from it. Part of why I often ask my players for feedback and try to improve for next time.
Cygnia 5th May 2020, 6:24 AM edit delete reply
Some GMs and Players just can't be reasoned with, alas.

And some don't deserve to be friends.

That's when you need to walk away before you get smothered by the Geek Social Fallacies.
Guest 5th May 2020, 6:34 AM edit delete reply
Ah. Someone who loses their temper once and then immediately backs off when they realize they got overly emotional…doesn't deserve friends. Gotcha.
Guest 5th May 2020, 6:49 AM edit delete reply
That's right, anon. Never lose sight of the fact that just because they physically assaulted you to steal your cell phone so they could spy on you and then have a screaming fit because you were texting with a mutual friend, never forget that you, personally can save them. That is the true wisdom and it will always end well for everyone, I promise.
Also a guest 5th May 2020, 7:52 AM edit delete reply
Physically assaulted? I was under the impression that Sunset!GM did a much simpler "snatch." Certainly, by shouting she lost her temper in a very immature, irresponsible, and hurtful way. I wouldn't expect Twilight to want to be around her in the future. But at the same time, given that it took all of a few seconds for Sunset to back off when her friends call her out - well, I think it's reasonable to think that Sunset's own friends will want to forgive her and cut her some slack. Maybe they won't want her to run a game - D&D's not for everyone - but I don't think it would be necessary for them to kick her out of their own circle of friends, not if this is the first time something _this_ dramatic has happened. Certainly if it happened again, or if it didn't end as easily as it did in the comic, that would be cause for alarm and more drastic action.
Borg 5th May 2020, 8:48 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, heaven forbid that she feel insecure about her first campaign. Anyone who can get emotional over feeling judged doesn't deserve second chances.
Guest 5th May 2020, 8:56 AM edit delete reply
If your response to feeling emotional is to physically jerk communication devices out of people's hands, you deserve jail.
PhantomFox 5th May 2020, 9:10 AM edit delete reply
This thread is starting to sound like it needs a time out of its own.

There is a medium between burning bridges and pretending the offense never happened.
Guest 5th May 2020, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
"Time Out" is for toddlers having a tantrum. Endorsing this as a normal consequence of people playing a board game needs referred to the justice system.
PhantomFox 5th May 2020, 9:42 AM edit delete reply
Its being used as a sports term here, not a child care one. To pause the action, calm emotions, and stop the tilt.

And suggesting legal action is an appropriate response is extreme hyperbole
Guest 5th May 2020, 9:56 AM edit delete reply
Oh, it absolutely is. In grown-up, non-dysfunctional hobby land if you physically rip expensive stuff out of people's hand to keep them from communicating with others that is very much an appropriate time to take legal action. In most jurisdictions a lot of actions would be legal, in fact.

But hey, congratulations on learning enough from your apparently abusive childhood to find the two hobbies where the Geek Social Fallacies are not just followed, they're enshrined. I bet *you're* Proud to Be A Brony.
PhantomFox 5th May 2020, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
Ah, you tipped your hand too much there. Way too obvious. More subtlety is required to be a good troll. And a few other things, but I'll leave that for you discover. Git Gud.
Guest 5th May 2020, 10:14 AM edit delete reply
I actually was trying to talk some sense into this little "what's a little sudden violence among friends" get-together because my faith in humanity was running unsustainably high this morning.

If I wanted to troll, I'd have started with "stuff like this is why so many little girls got scared of Pony conventions that Hasbro killed the franchise" and then left.
Douglas 5th May 2020, 11:28 AM edit delete reply
Seeing a single momentary incident of emotionally overwrought behavior, that neither harmed anyone nor took anything for more than a few seconds, and responding to it with a lawsuit or calling the police, is extreme escalation to a ridiculous and completely unwarranted degree.

If this were part of a consistent repeated behavior pattern, then that would be abuse and resorting to law enforcement intervention might be appropriate. That is not the case here.

If this involved physical attacks - punches, kicks, etc. with serious intent to hurt - then that would be battery and calling the police might be appropriate. That is not the case here.

If the angry person attempted to keep or destroy the phone, continuing to refuse all requests to return it, then that would be theft or destruction of property and calling the police might be appropriate. That is not the case here.

Calling the police is social interaction's Nuclear Option. It is not appropriate to use it as a first response to a readily forgivable incident that has no lasting consequences.
hankroyd 5th May 2020, 10:15 AM edit delete reply
Oh great, an anonymous troll.
At least, I hope you are, Guest.

Grown-ups (or young adults) can have all sort of problems that can cause problem in unrelated domain.

So yeah, for example you have big depression and/or deep insecurity issues and/or stressful work troubles.
So yeah, staying alone is bad-idea-land, so let's play games with friends.
And yes, you lose, you have the feeling that you lose because everyone is teaming up against you, because you were given that stupid dice which rolled three ones in a row, because THEY seems to have fun, THEY knew you have problem and THEY decided to make you as miserable as possible because THEY want you dead ... so ... you yell at them, you put out a tautrum because it's the only thing left to you to make them feel like you do.

But yeah, you are right, Guest, when someone is so bad that their brain just 'turn off' and they aren't able to understand what they are doing, just sue the hell of them to make them pay.

I wish the best for your friends and hope they will never go to the deep end, so they can never see how you really are...

Have a nice day.
Guest 5th May 2020, 10:32 AM edit delete reply
If you are not able to exist in the adult world, you shouldn't be part of it no matter how many 1's come up on the dice. If you cannot control your violent impulses, they will be controlled for you.
dmmm123 5th May 2020, 2:40 PM edit delete reply
Well said, "Guest".
Now you need to learn to control YOUR extreme impulses and learn some common sense - because your response to this scenario is the equivalent of "Nazis were German, that means ALL Germans EVERYWHERE (or, at least, every descendant of every Nazi everywhere in the World) must suffer legal actions for the rest of their life".
Different Guest 5th May 2020, 8:39 PM edit delete reply
Big yikes to this guest. Let me tell ya, there are better things you could be spending your time on, “mature adult.” I mean, yeah, you shouldn’t physically assault people or steal their stuff... but pretty sure the assault happened in the game, not at the table, and yeah, stealing is wrong, but, like... you mean to tell me no adult ever has checked messages of a friend/partner? I don’t buy it. Grow up and stop pretending you’re somehow a bastion of maturity, because you sound like Percy Weasley if someone shoved his wand up his butt.
NoGentleman 5th May 2020, 7:03 AM edit delete reply
Coming back to this after a while and reading through basically this entire arc in one go has been ...interesting.
Seeing all those comments about how many people actually seem to think that any form of conflict at a table means you should immediately abandon everything for good and that a person immediately needs to be ostracized if they dare to make even one mistake, they weren't even aware of since (once again) no one actually cared to tell them that it was bothering them, and that they actually seem to regret once they realized their error....
It's ...sombering for a guy like me, but not completely unexpected, all those similair comments back with DiscordDM.
Listen, I'm not saying you have to put up with any abuse or anything like that, but to see how many of you would immediately jump ship and abandon everything because someone made a single mistake.... It's just sad, honestly.
Cygnia 5th May 2020, 7:29 AM edit delete reply
Conversely, the posters here who are siding with the problematic/gaslighting GMs/players like Sunset and Discord? Y'all are scaring ME.

Conflicts and disagreements at a table are one thing -- but if I do not feel SAFE at a table, I will WALK. Doubly so if it's someone I barely met. I didn't sign on to play to be someone's therapist and mediator. I've got too many scars from years of putting up with toxic crap from so-called "fellow gamers".

I'm no longer gonna hurt myself and stay quiet for the sake of a game.
Douglas 5th May 2020, 11:58 AM edit delete reply
Discord crossed some serious lines he shouldn't have, I agree on that point. Sunset, though? This nowhere near enough to make me feel unsafe.

The DM gets really frustrated and angry about something she thinks Twilight's doing, and her response is to try to confirm it and then... take out her anger on the *characters* via *in game* powering up of a hostile NPC? That's a threat to the characters, not to the players.

Grabbing the phone is at least going in the direction of player unsafety, but returning it moments later and going on a rant that makes it clear that grabbing the phone was done in response to (perceived) provocation puts it firmly in the realm of disagreements that can be talked through to me.
A Hat with A Smaller Hat 5th May 2020, 12:20 PM edit delete reply
No, there can clearly be no leveled discourse about anything. Everything works in a black and white situation where nothing can be discussed once a line that isn't defined is crossed. Clearly this is how all human interaction goes and anyone living their lives like this is someone who is very clearly fit to have intensive conversations

Guest 5th May 2020, 7:37 AM edit delete reply
It's understandable if they're playing with strangers. The kind of thing you're talking about is the sort of forgiveness and understanding people normally only extend to their friends. But when a bad day comprises your whole view of someone, it's neither unusual nor extreme to cut ties right there.

Personally, I'll only game with people I already know well enough to already call friends. I don't like meeting strangers around a table, since roleplays and fantasies tend to be the personal, intimate sorts of things people can get wrapped up and invested in. Too easy to hurt someone by accident when you don't already know your way around them.
More guests 5th May 2020, 8:00 AM edit delete reply
If it's any reassurance to you, I enjoyed the story a lot.

I'll also agree, that snatching my phone, yelling in front of new friends, etc., crosses a lot of lines that I wouldn't be comfortable with in real life. If I was Twilight, I probably wouldn't come back to the game. If I was the Humane Six, I probably would want to stay friends, but how about next time we play Mario Party instead?

But, 'tis a screencap comic, and moreover a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic screencap comic. Attempting to represent human experience with the exaggerated, fantasy animation will inevitably make things melodramatic, or make a bad friend appear downright villainous, and it makes Twilight's attempts to calm things down appear extra saintly.

I still think these are all traits that we CAN apply to real life. They just look a lot more dramatic in the screencap comic format than they would in our own lives.

And of course, play it by ear. Sunset's nearly immediate regret makes me more prone to let bygones be bygones (but maybe forgo joining another game). Your own situation may well be quite different with someone who doesn't actually feel any guilt.
Fun 5th May 2020, 9:51 AM edit delete reply
Cool. Can't wait to see Twilight's shitty behaviour through this entire night get justified as the right thing to do simply because someone else's behaviour was slightly shittier.

Because Twilight's the protagonist, see? So all we have to do is give her one moment of being right towards the end, and all the other terrible shit she's done so far won't matter. She gets to be the one who came in and Fixed™ this group of six people she's never met before. Why couldn't they fix things themselves? Because they're secondary characters. And why did one of them have to be characterised as a literal demon? Ah, because she got designated as the antagonist. She's a VILLAIN. Never forget that that's what she is. Sunset is a villain, and Twilight is a protagonist.

So here we go. Twilight gets to throw her hands up, glow with magical light, shout her rightous Wham Line and Fix™ this. Because she is a protagonist, and whomever she opposes is the villain.
Guest 5th May 2020, 10:00 AM edit delete reply
Protip for future literary analysis: the person trying to tell others what they can talk about, who they're allowed to talk with, and enforcing it with violence? That's the villain. Everything else you said was drivel.
Guest 5th May 2020, 11:17 AM edit delete reply
That's really poor and lazy literary analysis that would get you an F in English. Too black and white and simplified. So many classics of literature don't even have a clear-cut villain. Just characters acting in different degrees of shady behavior.
Free 5th May 2020, 12:06 PM edit delete reply
I think I agree with this, for the most part. Like, Sunset brought up some legit criticism here, but the story tries to invalidate it by her own behavior (and that no one that it would hold any weight with from Twi's table is actually present, most of it's just gonna go right over this group's heads). On the other hand! If Twiggles still recognizes she made her own mistakes and apologizes herself before this is over, then, like, that'll be good enough for me, I guess…Sunny has her own mistakes to answer for, but I just feel like so much of it could have been avoided if anyone had just spoken up, which makes her feel like a designated villain, like you said.
you know that guy 5th May 2020, 10:39 PM edit delete reply
It may be bad writing to have someone else come in and "fix" a group dynamic, but that may also be the easiest way to do it in real life.

I don't see how that's necessarily shitty behavior.
BackSet 5th May 2020, 11:06 AM edit delete reply
Wow. We've got a real Youtube Comments Section here today, folks.

On the bright side, I've bene looking for things to add to the comic's tv tropes page. It's not a trope but YMMV ain't bad.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 11:36 AM edit delete reply
We got from the "tense but civil" from last page to pockets of full-on flaming. Not the first time, mind you, but still. Dang.
PhantomFox 5th May 2020, 2:05 PM edit delete reply
Half of it is from a dedicated troll, but what can gonna do? *shrug*
Bezerker21 5th May 2020, 4:05 PM edit delete reply
its honestly surprising, haven't seen the comments so hate filled before. Discussion of md should be happening, its interesting to read, but this just devolved into a screaming match on the internet
Guest 5th May 2020, 11:27 AM edit delete reply
Not the point of the comic but about the "stop before we say something we regret", I've come to believe that we all need to say things we regret. To put it out there so it can be dealt with. If we don't, it just stays inside and festers.

I can say that I've regretted NOT saying many things that I'd definitely regret saying if I did. They'd be painful but they would have helped me get the help I needed and in one case when I did say something I regretted as soon as I said it, it end up helping healing and strenghtening the strained relationship I had with my dad.
Free 5th May 2020, 11:58 AM edit delete reply
Ah, another page, another Bash-Sunnybun-Time comment section. Yaaaaay. On one hand, I understand this isn't the EQG!Sunset Shimmer whom I adore and I'm probably only sympathizing with her so hard because I already have pre-existing fondness for the character…but she's just gettin' the short end of the stick here! Months of building up this conflict and we're somehow gonna wrap it up in three pages?? There better be a hug in there somewhere, I think they ALL need one!

I don't get it. People are SO quick to demonize any little thing as just The. Worst. Possible. Thing. I'm seeing things like "violence" and "legal action" down here. For…for what?? Sunny's apparently "abusive," "violent," and "gaslighting" (that one might've been referencing DiscorDM tho)? Something about this comic always brings out people's personal drama and blows everything happening waaaaay out of proportion…"Flip the table, her friends should never speak to her again, never let her run another game!" Jeeze…
Jannard 5th May 2020, 12:18 PM edit delete reply
Hey, just because we think SunsetDM's behaviour is undoubtedly reprehensible, doesn't mean we agree with that absurd guest's view that "she's iredeemable", "shouldn't live in society" and "deserves legal action taken on her". I don't think anyone but the guest themselves would agree with that (or at least I hope so).

As for the gaslighting thing, I agree that, at least if the one who said that said it about Sunset, they would be overestimating her malice. Her moments of passive-aggressivenes or tense frustration struck me as honest, and read far less as "emotional manipulation in order to get results" than "lack of emotional intelligence that results in other peole's feelings being poorly read/ignored, paired with confidence issues".
Free 5th May 2020, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
Fair enough, I suppose that's a rather isolated comment chain and most people in it seem to agree OP's off their rocker. It just shocked me, ya know? Most people still seem to be in the "Kick her from the group" camp, which seems like an overreaction to me. I've lost my temper before, too, but shockingly, my friends still talk to me and partake in activities with me because I didn't mean it and apologized. Apparently people would consider that strange.

I've never disagreed that Sunny is making mistakes or that she's behaving poorly. She certainly crossed a line by snatching something out of someone's hand and then raising her voice. I have, however, expressed frustration in the past that no other character's behavior or lack of action is apparently worth addressing and that, frankly, it wouldn't have gotten *this bad* in the first place if anyone had just *talked* to her, if someone had called "time out, let's just talk" a lot sooner. This conflict feels dragged out for drama and all the blame is being heaped on one person, who isn't even acting out of malice, just like you said. Yeah, she needs to apologize, for sure, but she isn't the only one and none of them don't deserve being forgiven.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 3:00 PM edit delete reply
More than one opportunity was presented for the DM to understand and reach out. Twilight more than once said "hey, you should listen to your players", or "are you sure about this?", and the players were always clear about their intentions. SunsetDM shut out communication and deliberately left people in the dark (out of, I guess, a sense that mystery and misdirection was essential, due to her being inspired by a single campaign rather than a concept). They should have all had a discussion before things got this bad, true, and it would be nice to see them recognize they should have been less antagonistic everytime their DM wanted to put them in places they didn't like. Twilight should have acted more as a mediator (even though to an extent she did try to, althoug I admit she ultimately also just chose sides). But at the end of the day, both balance of power and attitude makes Sunset the one with more to apologize for, by a significant margin, and the only overall "problem player" at the table. My two cents.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 12:00 PM edit delete reply
I think this DM's behaviour has gone well beyond a problem of "DM etiquette", and right into the territory of "general social etiquette" being thrown under the bus. More than just bad etiquette, there's some bad behaviour, period, here.

If there's one thing I can say about this ordeal... Is that in my experience it's a very real thing that happens, I've seen it as an outsider, seen it as a participant, and even, to my shame, have had one such tantrum (although not nearly as extreme as this one).

I'm not an extremist though. On the one side, I think it's understandable if everyone decides to leave her game behind, because nobody should feel forced to put up to and wrangle another person's demons (even if it's a friend), but that doesn't mean they *have* to leave *her* behind. On the other side, I think it's a noble thing to do to help a friend through their issues, and it makes the world better to help others be better, but that doesn't mean anyone should feel obligated to put up with toxic behaviour just for the sake of harmony.

Kudos to the author for taking a stance over such controversial little subject.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 12:05 PM edit delete reply
At least her behaviour feels less "worrisome", as it may, than DiscorDM's. if anything, because hers is an entirely emotional outburst (which one could argue is actually more dangerous in certain circumstances, but I don't think this instance qualifies at all), while his was premeditated and continuous.
Newbiespud 5th May 2020, 12:12 PM edit delete reply
My two cents:

There's plenty of reasons why one wouldn't just "walk away" once lines have been crossed here. Social anxiety, social blindness, autism, or the fact that the person doing it has been a good friend or even a friend of a friend. Sunk cost fallacy? Yes, but when that investment is in your friends, for some people that can be a lot harder to overcome. Cutting ties can be monumentally hard when you've only got a few close friends. Calling the cops or threatening a lawyer never occurs as an option when you never have before and/or you've had bad experiences with them and/or you've been poor all your life. Being able to walk out or cut ties or use force back can be a privilege; think about it.

On a separate point, "trying to forgive and forget and correct behavior after someone's done something warranting cutting ties, arrest, or retribution"... is kind of set into the DNA of the source material. I've seen people raise these same criticisms at several episodes of My Little Pony. I'm not saying that justifies every potentiality, but it's kind of the genre we're in. "How do you move forward with someone who wronged you?" is a question the show loves to ask, and for some people in some situations (not all) it's a question very worth asking. Making it about RPGs brings all of that kid's-show DNA closer to home for a lot of people, which is unexpected and interesting.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 12:26 PM edit delete reply
Just want to clarify that when I brought up sunk-cost fallacy, I was referring to the campaign, not the friendship. Aside from that, very good take, m'lord.
Professor Haystacks 6th May 2020, 6:06 PM edit delete reply
Weird thing about the show IMO is there is very little time spent addressing the area between "petty slight that shouldn't be held against someone for more than about 5 minutes" and "tried to brainwash and/or enslave you." The one exception I can think of is "Amending Fences", which is why it's one of my favorites.
Mordenheim 5th May 2020, 12:20 PM edit delete reply
Going by the comment section here, "Mine Field" is an apt title!

Personally, I am really enjoying the arc, but some of you guys really do need a "TIME OUT!!"

This is a FICTIONAL story written for fun and entertainment. there are no huge stakes in here. Nobody's going to call the police.

Honestly, I would like to see someone call the police on someone in their own home, for grabbing their phone OFF OF THE TABLE, glancing at it (we know it was a glance because they OBVIOUSLY didn't read what was being messaged) and handed it back. If anyone went to jail it would be for filing a false report if the homeowner wanted to press charges.

So, everyone really just needs to take a breath, take a step back, and relax. Just go along for the ride and see how things play out.

However, if the content is really that triggering and upsetting for you, you don't have to read it. You can hop away from the site, you know there are 3 comics left and can return after that.

In other words, if you take a comic so seriously that you can't be civil to your fellow fans, readers, and artists, maybe you need to take the time to reassess some things.
Toric 5th May 2020, 12:43 PM edit delete reply
I'd like to thank the guest author for putting in the work on this arc. It was a lot longer than I expected, and has felt very in-world for the rest of this comic.

Regarding the situation at the table, I think a few things are worth remembering as people split into camps. First, that Sunset DM is a first-time DM that tasted some early success, but worried about boredom and flame-out as things fell apart. Second, because she didn't want her friends to give up on the game and stay bored, she asked for help from the main DM and, by extension, Twilight, who was there at the time. Third, that Twilight had reservations about the situation precisely because of the fresh DiscordDM memories and problems.

It's easy to understand Sunset DM's frustration, and how she came to believe that the help she had asked for seemed to be undercutting her. She had an idea of what she wanted to run, and Twilight, whom she had expected to help spice up the game and workshop, did not support her in the way she wanted and the game shifted away from the experience she wanted to give her friends. There is plenty to be said about the disconnect between Sunset DM's expectations and her ability to deliver them or the players' desire to pursue them. I just wanted to note that she may have been worried that Twilight was playing for her own fun, and not seeing that her friends were exercising their own agency.

In terms of the present conflict, there's no question that Sunset DM reacted badly and inappropriately. What appears to be in question is whether she can and should be forgiven, and whether Twilight is at fault more than the comic has/will discuss. Perhaps I am wrong, but this scene isn't just playing out as a conflict/rant, but also an emotional breakdown. Even before the other players step in, it seems like Sunset has given up and is feeling failure and shame. She thinks the game is already too far in "Twilight's direction" for the others to be having fun. Twilight deserves an apology, but Sunset is the one who desperately needs help in this situation. And as Newbiespud pointed out, this kind of conflict is very appropriate for the source material.

None of this is to absolve Sunset. In my experience as a DM, you either have to have a party heavily invested in their characters, or you have to invest them in the story. Both where possible. Sunset DM has clearly made mistakes in both areas. And she has both ignored and taken offense at the help she asked for from Twilight. But this situation is much closer to the Gilda Arc, in that lack of communication about wants and needs led to an unsustainable scenario. If everyone present took a breath to talk about some of it, a lot of this would be cleared up. In social terms, it's not unreasonable to at least extend a chance to apologize and explain to someone who only did what Sunset DM has here. Even if the two parties don't meet again, that doesn't mean they can't clear the air and forgive each other. I honestly don't think Twilight is going to do most of the talking in these last pages, I think it will be Sunset DM and her group.
Warlock 5th May 2020, 5:30 PM edit delete reply
To add onto this, and a fact that everyone seems to be rather conveniently forgetting: This 'outburst' has lasted only a few seconds, two pages tops. Everyone who's taken a camps side already and made their judgements are doing so in the span of a knee-jerk reaction, before really any number of folks have had time to step in.

If this was a trial, this would be like condemning a person based on a lawyer's opening statement, before any mitigating arguments have been levied.

From my personal experiences, regardless of envisioned slights or injury (I mean, we really don't know what happened at the table, only infer it through a rather slanted lens), even the most delicate person at a table will at least attempt a defense before skittering off into the nothingness. This scene hasn't completed. This scene is still ongoing.

In the end, this is emotion, not logic, and most of those folks who are in the camp of quickly dismissing or defending, are also the same type of person as SunsetDM is right now; frustrated, illogical, impatient, and hurt. Otherwise, the retaliation makes no sense.

From the myriad of personal games, to the public games I host at tournaments, all I can say is the likelihood of anyone walking out after the first barrage is near unlikely. Only one person in ten years has done that, and it was at the beginning of the game, nowhere near the end like it is here. Players this invested, this long, their pride is on the line, as is demonstrated by the commentary here today.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 6:58 PM edit delete reply
I was about to comment on how the "page every few days" format was probably a big factor in letting this kind of discussions even exist, by both letting speculation run rampant and distorting the sense of immediacy of the reader.

Reading the whole thing back to back should make the whole experience far more palatable for many.
Mr. Wednesday 5th May 2020, 7:24 PM edit delete reply
Even the Discord arc was a lot more readable all at once than one page at a time. Things got so out of control because the arguments under each page became really personal at some stage, so they were utterly disconnected from anything going on in the comic—every update just got used as an excuse to reignite the flames (I was definitely guilty of this)

Plus, give an open channel on the internet, and somebody will complain about something.
uncanny474 5th May 2020, 2:50 PM edit delete reply
I was foolish enough to comment on the last post as one of the harsher voices, so I feel kind of obligated to comment on this one. Also, ComicFury made me log in because my post was too long, so for reference, I'm TransientPoe from the last issue.

My thoughts mostly haven't changed, although based on the comments and author notes here, I'm starting to get a more complete picture of the relationships between the people here and the game they're playing.

Sunset is having a moment that I think most if not all DMs have at some point during their "careers". You plan an elaborate campaign that you get emotionally attached to, and then can't convince the players that your plot or setting or whatever you were proudest of is something that they want to engage with.

I've seen various DMs deal with this in a multitude of ways, and this is kind of the core of what style of DM you are, in my opinion. This is how you find out what you're good at, what kind of session you want to run, and how you begin to build a formula for creating games your players will enjoy. The solution to this problem is very personal, and usually one DM's solution won't work for another. This problem, right here, is the reason that I find DM books to be mostly useless.

Most DMs react poorly to this situation, and a small emotional breakdown is par for the course in my experience and opinion. There's a lot of frustration involved where you're just trying to entertain your friends and they seem to be hell-bent on ruining everything you try to build, and it can lead to you being a little bitter because all you were trying to do is help them have a good time, and it feels like they spat in your face.

However, SunsetDM has crossed other lines. Lines of basic social conduct and interaction. I'm not going to call her abusive or anything, but her behavior is unacceptable in the long term. My last post was about predicting how things would shake out realistically, in real life. As I said, I have a little more info based on things I've read.

So, let's talk about this with the following assumptions: 1. The HuMane 5 are real-life friends of SunsetDM and have been for a reasonable amount of time. 2. Neither the HuMane 5 nor Sunset had experience playing or running a tabletop RPG before this. 3. Twilight doesn't know anyone else at the table.

It's unreasonable to think that this, by itself, would end a friendship or anything. If the HuMane 5 didn't know Sunset well, that might be enough to end their association with her, but that's not the case, from what I can gather. If you had an actual real-life friend who acted like this, you'd definitely want to have a conversation with them and figure out how to not let things get to this point again, but people will always have emotions, and it's possible that SunsetDM felt comfortable enough in this group to be more emotionally exposed. It's also possible that this is a recurring problem with SunsetDM, but that her friends feel like they get enough out of their friendship with her that outbursts like these are worth enduring.

Either way, I don't think this ends the friendship between them unless it was very fragile to begin with.

However, I have difficulty believing that this group will be playing a Tabletop RPG again. One bad experience (even ones less-bad than this one) can absolutely taint a person against enjoying the thing you're trying to get them to like. I'm a tabletop fiend, and if I could do nothing but play Tabletop RPGs for the rest of my life, I'd probably be OK with that. But I don't know very many other people who feel this way. Usually when someone has an experience this bad, they decide that engaging with the thing isn't worth the trouble, especially with something as hard-to-learn as a Tabletop RPG.

Also, I have no idea why Twilight hasn't just walked out. She's clearly aggravating SunsetDM, and SunsetDM is acting very hostile towards her. The best idea for everyone involved is probably just for Twilight to leave and call the attempt to salvage that game/group a failure, and for SunsetDM's friends to try to calm her down.

Or at least, I felt this way before I read Newbiespud's comment. He made an extremely compelling point. This is a comic based on My Little Pony Gen4, and associated sub-properties. The theme of that conglomerate is people acting unrealistically forgiving, and that being an unrealistically powerful life-changing force (not that it's not life-changing, but really? You have a polite conversation with an Elder God and he decides to abandon his eons-long goal of destroying all of creation to have tea parties with you?). Gen4 isn't trying to show kids how people realistically react to these situations. It's a call to action. Gen4 reminds us that forgiveness is good, and right, and necessary. That some people can actually be changed by acts of kindness. There's a lot of bitterness in the world right now, and a lot of it is deserved. But Gen4 asks us to be kind no matter who we're talking to or what they've said, and this comic, as a derivative of that story, has the same message. So yeah, it's unrealistic, but it wasn't trying to be. It was trying to remind us that kindness is important to keep in our hearts.
Jannard 5th May 2020, 3:14 PM edit delete reply
That's a good point about the difference between a negative experience souring friendships and souring TTRPGS. Again in my experience, and speaking solely about groups of people who were friends prior to engaging in TTRPGS (tables of randoms, or mixed groups are another can of worms altogether), what you say has usually been the case. Several people I know have decided TTRPGS were not their cup of thea due to some problem player or tensions getting high at the table, and even if those situations made said people change their views about some of their friends, that usually didn't involve cutting ties with them.

I also very much agree with you in that, if this was real life, a possible and healthy outcome would be for Twi to just courteously (and at least just temporarily) leave, to foster an environment where everyone felt more comfortable (since the rest are all friends)... Unless she was the sort of person who can't help but try to help others, which going by the source material, well...
Professor Haystacks 6th May 2020, 6:09 PM edit delete reply
Up until the previous page, I got the impression she was only mildly annoying Sunset DM, or rather that that was the impression Twilight would have gotten. That was not enough to justify a strategic withdrawal.
We as readers know she was annoying Sunset DM quite a bit, but the character doesn't know that.

I found it fairly well written from that perspective, incidentally.
Digo Dragon 5th May 2020, 3:49 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I been playing TTRPGs for well over two decades. I've seen a lot of things, even one time a GM who cried (but it was for a good moment, not... this comic's situation). Definitely worth a time out here for the GM to cool off. Sometimes they get so wrapped up trying to tell the perfect story they forget it's a story about "us", not "me".

As for walking away on a permanent basis, that is something taken case-by-case. I always try to work things out and give people a second chance (maybe third chance if they're really trying). It's not until I've exhausted other options do I leave the game table as a last resort.
A Quiet Reader 5th May 2020, 4:05 PM edit delete reply
I would just like to say that this has been an excellent series of guest comics from GreatDinn. I had a few doubts at first (mostly because EQG was a less-than-amazing part of G4), but GD has created a premise & characters that tell a great story and fit in perfectly with the world Newbiespud established in the main comics.

Thank you!!!
redwings1340 5th May 2020, 4:08 PM edit delete reply
Well, I was so-so about this guest arc before this page, but you know...

The comments here make this entire arc worthwhile for me. I don't know what the right solution is necessarily to this, but you've spawned very real and active discussion about a problem without a clear answer. And, you definitely deserve some props for that.

I'm learning so much about everyone reading all of this, its fascinating!
Composer99 5th May 2020, 4:20 PM edit delete reply
I really hope the next few pages aren't consumed by the in-comic equivalent of a Twilight Lecture™.

It was tedious enough in Equestria Girls. Also, we appear to be getting more than our fair share of Twilight Lectures™ in the comments. ;)
Winged Cat 5th May 2020, 10:10 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
In fighting video games, most notably Street Fighter, there are a series of characters known as "shotoclones", as they largely mirror the basic move set of Ryu and Ken who (at least in the American version) are said to practice Shotokan karate. Uncounted legions who do quarter-circle-forward to launch some sort of projectile, forward-then-quarter-circle-forward for a rising uppercut, and some sort of spinning and/or rushing move. There are recognizable differences between them, but the basics are the same.

Thus I say to your comment, "Twiliclones". ;)
StrykerC 5th May 2020, 10:08 PM edit delete reply
Alright so I just reread the entire arc after reading through the massive comments section/arguments here. I am now more confused then before.

So can someone please tell me what 'terrible behavior' Twilight has displayed during this? Her long text convo with OGM is done during a break for food. The buzzing of phone she immediately put it away when it was during game and only checked it after it wouldn't stop.

If the argument is she hijacked the game, at no point did she even really recommend a plan just asked the other players "what do you want to do" when they got stuck and mopey about "we wait for the gm to tell us."

I'm legitimately confused about peoples claims of Twilight's bad behaviors during this arc? Is the argument that contacting someone you know and feel safe with during an unfamiliar situation is somehow a bad habit, or discussing what you were literally asked to do with someone with more insight?

As for SSDM yes she has gone way overboard on things quite a few times to the level of pushing a story and Her game onto them. As shown by the pushing the heist thing. Yeah snatching the phone away is obnoxious and bad, however it isn't as extreme as people seem to think. High emotion can cause people to do things like that. Both positive and negative. I've seen people grab friends phones because they are laughing their head off at something on it too.

It's also possible she is used to her friends being more open about sharing what they're texting/reading and forgot in the moment that Twi isn't part of that group. I'll admit it's unlikely but it could be the reason.

For the moment I'm going to set aside the 'what did Twi do' confusion as best I can and assume that somehow what she did was truly awful.

Even assuming that to be the case, she is one player who's influence consists only of the extent that others allow it. The dm on the other hand has influence over an entire world.

SSDM is confusing to me, as they are either a rather slow learner or very inattentive when they step behind the screen. The players described the game they had the most fun with. A school soccer match. No epic battles, no extreme stakes, just them having fun figuring out ways to influence a mundane activity with their skills to achieve a common goal.

They then reiterate through actions this point by displaying in their voice and expressions etc. That this is the style of game they want, a game where they can achieve common if somewhat mundane goals through their abilities. They do this by showing how much fun they have with the cleaning challenge and the pep rally challenge.

Yet during this whole time SSDM seems to feel it's not epic enough for them and despite having asked Twi to help guide them into playing and being more involved, as soon as they become more involved she starts punishing them for it.

Even if what Twi did was The. Worst. Possible. Thing. SSDM is still royally screwing up a rather basic concept and has made things a million times worse through their actions.

I didn't see this brought up so I will point out that being pissed about someone talking to someone you are talking to is at least a little hypocritical. As I'm guessing the "I just got a ton of messages from..." ended with SSDM.

Anyhow, long winded and maybe not greatly worded. But I am serious about the question of what Twi did that is so wrong?
Professor Haystacks 6th May 2020, 6:13 PM edit delete reply
My read is that the conflict here is due to information asymmetry. Sunset doesn't know most of what you just said, she's only seeing the end results. Similarly, Twilight doesn't know most of what Sunset DM's been having trouble with, and so has annoyed her without meaning to.

For an "everyday situation" story like this to have conflicts without someone coming off like a total ass (Like DiscorDM), this sort of asymmetry is crucial and hard to do without it venturing into 'poor communication kills'. This has actually panned on pretty well imho. Feels uncomfortably similar to some things I've experienced, which is usually a sign that someone's doing something right.
DanaO 12th May 2020, 7:58 PM edit delete reply
I think the underlying point is the actual way Twilight's player plays is itself aggravating for most GMs, regardless of whether Twilight's trying to be helpful, aggravating, or indifferent to them. At the point Twilight joined, Sunset/GM had a pretty clear plot set up. It's absolutely true the other players weren't going to be on board for it, but it's also true that Twilight's response to scrap the plot and come up with something more fun would have been her initial response regardless. Twilight's normal GM has learned to cope with this. Sunset/GM hasn't. From that point on, the players were making up most of the plot. They were having fun responding to each other, not Sunset, while watching for Sunset's character to show up and ruin their day... and slowly starting to respond negatively to any input into the session from Sunset/GM.

Twilight hasn't actually been that bad here, and she's certainly doing this for good reasons, but she's still taken over the game. I think there were problems here which would have come out anyway, and Sunset/GM really was focusing too much on narrating obstacles and villains rather than building the friendly parts of the world to place the PCs in, and that this is indeed overdramatic and so on. But we're also seeing a game situation in which Twilight's player, being herself, looks a lot better than she might have if inserted into any other random game.
Swest 6th May 2020, 3:21 AM edit delete reply
I never comment on these things, but have read every comic posted. I've been particularly interested in seeing how this catharsis or change in the character would come about, especially since I knew that Sunset would turn into a powerful creature at this point, and to get the "Bully" Sunset and the "DM" Sunset into this state would take something major in the timeline - something so major that it has not typically been seen in the Friendship is Dragons arc of comics before.

I was extremely pleased with the build up here to this point. There was one point where it seemed Sunset was just going to "let things go" but we can see now that she was just scheming in the background. I am looking forward to the resolution that makes the MLP series the show we love. How to forgive people who wrong you.

Forgiveness is a hard thing - walking away is easy, I've done it more than I care to admit, mostly due to moving out of an area or illness of me or my family. Keeping in touch, keeping friendships alive, forgiveness to those who mess up, all these things are hard and take work. While all that is hard from the perspective of the person who has been wronged, the hardest to do is the truly repentant person forgiving themselves when they realize they have done others wrong. That's why Sunset in the TV series has had such a hard time after this point forgiving herself, and I'm sure this Sunset will also have a problem with this. However, having good friends who want to see you succeed helps immensely and the experience brings you closer.

Anyway, I mostly refrain from commenting cause I do write a lot when I get started. :) However, I think this arc has warranted posting. I love this arc because something major HAD to happen to drive Sunset into this, and I believe that was pulled off expertly! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 I give it 5 hearts!
Pram The Oracle 26th Jun 2020, 5:27 AM edit delete reply
Boy howdy that title is so apt for the comment sections as well as the comic page

For the record, I love this guest comic.
Aeshdan 8th Aug 2020, 6:48 AM edit delete reply
One thing I'd really like to know, and something that I still don't understand after reading this arc through: what was Sunset!DM *expecting* to happen? I mean, I can tell that her initial plan was for a heist mission to steal the crown from the school locker, but after that got shot down what was she trying to do? What was having Sunset trash the gym supposed to accomplish, and why was Sunset outside threatening to smash the statue in the first place? Where was she trying to take the plot? Does anyone understand this?