Critical Role and the Rise of D&D

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  • his group has an easy time with water, mine hasn’t
    oh they have a cleric of Istishia♥
    I'm sorry @skinnyghost
  • @Airk,

    Yes, that's basically it.

    Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, and all that...
  • edited May 2018
    @Airk,

    Yes, that's basically it.

    Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it, and all that...
    Looking forward to the Old School Renaissance Renaissance in 25 years.
  • @Krippler,

    While I suspect that was just an easy joke, do you really think that the OSR is full of people who did not learn history? I find it the opposite.
  • My point is the people who are getting into D&D now via Critical Role etc. will discover the old school playstyle in 25 years.
  • edited May 2018
    See the other day I was getting flak by a poster who thought I was doing one-true-wayism.

    My friends, these shows are being made by humans too. Show some kindness to them. When faced with someone who you disagree strongly with, it's so easy to either be vicious to them or to be patronizing towards them. People are seeing the actal shows, people are seeing them make hex maps and abiding by die rolls in tough spot. People are learning the basics of how to play.

    I grew up isolated and tried to learn from the texts. If I had had something like these shows it would've saved me years.

    Yes, I also disagree strongly with some of the guests on that GM tips show. Then just say that. yes, I know that I fuck up communication all the time on here, but then please learn from my mistakes.

    [List of how the various RPG fora are perceived elided, like "on site A people are like this and call outsiders that, on site B people are like this and call outsiders that" etc]

    Please let's learn to, without being patronizing, be kind again I know I have a looong way to go in that regard, myself. Paul, et al, since you know so much, can't you afford a little generosity towards these TV GMs? Please just read them charitably and express disagreement straight-forwardly without attaching attacks on them. This is page five of the thread but… maybe some of the first posts can be edited with some sorta update I dunno.

    This thread is making S-G look super bad. I'm definitely part of the problem, I know that, but let's help each other do better T_T
  • I don't often post on S-G, but Sandra I wanted to say I 100% agree with your post.

    Critical Role is awesome. Maybe there's some play that makes people here feel uncomfortable, but nobody ever had more fun by knocking down another person's sandcastle and telling them to build it "right".
  • Thank you Andye♥

    Also I want to add that I'm often 100% guilty of being elitist but I am trying to better myself♥
  • edited May 2018
    Gosh, I don't think it's making Story-Games look too bad. There haven't been a lot of personal attacks anywhere in the last few pages, have there? Like Paul keeps saying he doesn't want to bash Critical Role or the people involved, but is just concerned about whether the audience is missing out on certain insights that the hosts of online shows don't discuss. And a lot of the discussion has been about trying to assess exactly which techniques people are using, in order to better classify and understand them, and avoid jumping to conclusions.
  • Yeah, I'm not getting a very bashy vibe from this thread either. Best effort at informed critique, yes, bashing, no.
  • edited May 2018
    I want to apologize for the "toothpaste smile" bit. I have a personal grudge against heavily produced audiovisual material, and it affected my judgement.
  • Sandra is absolutely right that we need to be careful about laying down judgement from on high ("throw the first stone", and all that).

    However, it's also important to allow the option for intelligent critique to exist; it's one of humanity's finest and most useful, important innovations. This is a good reminder to be conscious of what we say and how we say and to always strive to be better.

    It's also nice to hear that this opinion isn't shared by everyone, as well. I just reread all of my own contributions to this thread on its first page, and it seems to me that I speak very positively of Critical Role, pointing out its many strengths and virtues, and chiefly ask questions, to poll people's opinions. I apologize if that's not how it came across.

    For me, discovering this whole phenomenon was such a surprise and such a shock - I'm still mulling it over and considering its various components, so to speak. I think it's absolutely fascinating! And I've definitely been inspired by Critical Role, in a variety of ways.

  • Stating disagreement clearly and straight-forwardly is the best way to do it.

    As far as this thread being or not being bashy or patronizing towards them, well, that's been a vibe I've gotten from it. With standard vibe-o-meter disclaimers.

    And if there are a couple of people getting that vibe, that means something even if no bashiness was intended, right?

    I don't think I can meaningfully arbitrate whether or not we've been bashy. All I can do is say that I want to try to be kinder. I really really regretted my words about Wheaton and TitansGrave a few years back. That was an interesting show and I didn't need to be threatened by it or try to tear it down.
  • I don't think I can meaningfully arbitrate whether or not we've been bashy. All I can do is say that I want to try to be kinder. I really really regretted my words about Wheaton and TitansGrave a few years back. That was an interesting show and I didn't need to be threatened by it or try to tear it down.
    I think that this is a wise tack to take. I regret the harshness of my youth as well, I did not need to be so judgemental about many things as I have been (long ago for the most part, not referring to any SG drama here) - and I try to be kinder where I can.

    That being said, the sense I've personally gotten from this thread has been that Paul is very interested in the topic, and finds it provocative, but he's not really committed to attacking Critical Role in any sort of foaming-at-the-mouth-forgetting-all-decorum sense. I can understand that swelling need to complain and criticize, I get rather agitated about some rpg culture things myself. I don't think it's wrong or mean, though, as long as it's clear that it's about Paul's feelings more than some sort of culture war crusade to purge wrongheaded roleplaying.

    Should we start our own counter-programming, by the way? Could be a way of working through the various feelings related to this. Hey Paul, will you direct a SG rpg web-show if I write it? We could call it One True Way, because why mingle words in this bold era of the Internet...
  • Ha! Most definitely not, Eero.

    That's precisely the opposite of what I want to encourage:

    For roleplaying traditions and cultures to be aware of each other, of their differences, and the options available to them, and then to be able to choose thoughtfully instead of operating on unexamined assumptions.

    (That said, of course I agree with the main points you bring up here!)
  • @Eero_Tuovinen
    "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture" --Martin Mull
  • Now I want a "dancing about architecture" RPG.
  • Ha! Most definitely not, Eero.

    That's precisely the opposite of what I want to encourage:
    So... you write, I direct, and the name of the show is One Wrong Way? I guess I could go with that, too.
  • I don't know Critical Role but there's been some fine indie rpg actual play recently (a 3:16 campaign and this first installment of a series of Swords without Master "speedruns"). It's not "counter-programming" but shows off some damn good games far away from the D&D.
  • Now we're talking, Eero! Perhaps "A Myriad Wrongs Make an RPG"?
  • I think this thread has been pretty critical, but still constructive.
  • edited May 2018
    .
  • Here is a recent video of Joe Manganiello on Colbert; they don't discuss anything except D&D. Presumably they expect a large portion of their audience to now understand at least some portion of these (highly specific) references:

  • edited November 2018
    I just stumbled across a pretty incredible collection of resources, compiled by someone who has watched the entire campaign (!!!) four times.

    There are synopses of all the sessions and major events, all hyperlinked to pictures of characters, the appropriate episodes, the maps used in the game, in more. You can choose the level of detail at which to engage, as well. (For instance, there is a condensed summary of all events, in power point format, in there.) Fascinating and incredible.

    https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1V09wMmZAilcQDuWBKhjJF0bvf91xCJWMvG46Fg2LQKs/edit#slide=id.p

    Through various links from the presentation, you can find other resources, as well.

    To get an idea of how obscure and thorough some of these resources are, consider this (presumably highly consistent and complete) listing of every time the DM does a "facepalm" throughout the campaign(s):

    https://www.critrolestats.com/facepalms

    Or take a look at this summary of all the combat scenes in the campaign, which shows us that there were 110 1/2 hours of combat played during the campaign, and the average "fight" lasts just under 5 rounds and takes just under an hour.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Zx1N0cQcd1fJadUwar7f2hJ2p61qoX7lctsVaIEa5uM/edit#gid=482828795

    Pretty fascinating!
  • A quick and dirty histogram of the combat real time.

    image
  • Oh my! What is that frightening blip on the right?
  • @Paul_T I need to check! I didn't do much QA/QC on the data.
  • I missed this whole conversation, RIP. But I do feel like I need to chime in and point out that you're all poring over this like chatauqua preachers in 1920 listening to a radio preacher and thinking "well, his doctrine is a bit unsound" when what you should be listening to is the commercial before and after it. It's the commercial that's going to kill us, not the content.
  • Jason, I usually find myself disagreeing with you vehemently at first and then realizing you're right years later, so I read what you say carefully. But this time, I have no idea what you mean.
  • Just hazarding a guess, but the real issue (in hindsight) with "televangelism" wasn't so much their interpretation of the bible as much as...gee, I'm trying to come up with a way to say this that's not going to be wildly offensive...

    The mixing of the historical, social role of religion in public life with mediums that eventually became dominated by an entertainment business model? And all of the hypothetical social evils that come with the latter, the effects it has/has had on reconstituting the psychology of individuals who consume its output, etc...

    Though I can't really say what that might look like for the games industry, which itself is arguably already an entertainment medium? But suffice to say I don't think people nitpicking Aimee McPherson's gospel interpretations were picturing Joel Osteen.
  • gee, I'm trying to come up with a way to say this that's not going to be wildly offensive...
    "Capitalism"?

  • edited November 2018
    As I wrote on g+ a while back: "As soon as the phonograph brought the professional orchaestra into the home, chamber music died, and as soon as radio brought the professional musician, big time preacher and news program into the home, the chatauqua died, and so, when you see the rise of highly polished and practiced streaming tabletop roleplayers with Patreons, youtube monetization and podcast sponsors, you need to really, really, really get worried about your janky, off-beat, not-polished, extremely unpopular, personalized, non-broadcasted, not-for-public-consumption, non-commercial folk art and really, really, really treat your favorite personalities like you would any other enemy: with love, of course, and admiration, but also a full appreciation that they are a deadly threat and the money's already on their side, so the threat cannot be stopped, slowed or even reasoned with - the logic of the money is too strong.

    (It is also almost certainly too late to climb on board, there are already too many seats taken and the lesson of the Cold Equations certainly holds true here, more will be thrown out than will rise above.)"

    The pressures of streaming that matter are the pressures of money. Of course D&D will be what is streamed and non-D&D will be increasingly squeezed out. D&D commands more eyeballs. Eyeballs mean money. Maybe some nice person will build an audience doing a non-D&D game. And maybe it will last several months! Ha ha, you will think, that JDCorley, proved wrong again! But one day that person will wake up and think "This is nice.......but money is nice too." And there will be another D&D stream. Of course professional actors on professional sets will succeed over amateurs, and the eyeball logic of social media engagement will make that gap grow exponentially. We know this will happen because it's happened in every other broadcast medium.

    And of course, of course, of course mediocrity will prevail, because people turn away from genius and talent, turn away from challenging material and towards the familiar and the reproduction of our worst selves. Tasteless mush and bigoted mania will inevitably dominate streaming whether anyone gets railroaded or not. Look to video games for our future. Like, really look and think about who gets paid when PewDiePie screams a racial slur, or doesn't, and why.

    The money is going to pay streaming RPGs to be a certain way. What you think about them doesn't matter. Only the money matters. Streaming RPGs will be the way Google and Twitch want them to be, not the way you or even the participants want them to be. Even if we resist for a little while, eventually, the money will win, as it always does. Hail Satan.
  • Ooh. Incisive and terrifying.
  • Ah, I get it. Yeah. You're probably right, as usual.
  • Quackery! Orchestras and sermons are performances, games are participatory. Did ESPN kill the little league or pickup basketball? Did ESPN 2 kill poker? Far from it.
  • I hope you're right!

    Counterpoint:

    As several people have commented, it is now very much a Thing that there are people who watch streaming roleplay but have no interest in participating in it. (Which has me scratching my head quite a bit!)
  • Did radio and MTV change music? Is Twitch changing video gaming?
  • Jason's warnings are astute (as usual) and hyperbolic (as usual). The difference with rpgs and those other examples is that, with the other examples, one technology took the money that was previously going to another technology. People were not previously making money playing rpgs, other than the few outlier GMs who do just that. Streaming rpgs are basically to home-played rpgs as television shows are to home-played rpgs: an easier way to get a pseudo-version of the thing.

  • As several people have commented, it is now very much a Thing that there are people who watch streaming roleplay but have no interest in participating in it. (Which has me scratching my head quite a bit!)
    The same has been true of sports for quite some time. Most sportspeople do not see a problem with this. And there are a number of less visible sports that are played, regardless, and a large number of people playing various sports non-professionally.
  • Very true!
  • edited November 2018
    @Jeph

    You are not wrong, but you're not wrong not in the way you think. In 1900, every small town in America had a municipal professional baseball team, every company in America of any size had a company baseball team, every town in America larger than "very small" had numerous semiprofessional baseball teams, there were traveling barnstorming teams and "pepper" teams (similar to how the Harlem Globetrotters would later "play" basketball). And by 1940, they were all - all of them - gone, because given the choice between watching enthusiastic and perhaps even somewhat talented amateurs play a game, playing themselves, or listening to a broadcast of professionals playing a game, overwhelmingly, people chose the broadcast and the pros.

    It doesn't mean people don't still play baseball. But radio detonated inside American sports like a bomb going off, a roaring firestorm of commercially-backed destruction that has never stopped burning. ESPN (especially pre-Deadspin) is a symptom of the fall - but you're decades too late. We're looking at the skeleton on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, just scattered bones now, and you're looking around for suspects who might have just decided to flee. They're long gone by now, and their kids are very, very rich.

    It's very possible I'm wrong. I laughed at people who were soberly concerned that Vampire would destroy RPGs. I laughed at people who were soberly concerned that computer RPGs would destroy tabletop RPGs. I laughed at people who were soberly concerned that video game console RPGs would destroy tabletop RPGs. I laughed at people who were soberly concerned that Magic: the Gathering, the d20 boom, the d20 bust, and story games were going to destroy tabletop RPGs. Now here I am with my own sober concern and a fear that perhaps the universe is just and as a result my comeuppance is finally here for all those times I was so unkind to all those people who believed those dumb things about tabletop RPGs. If that is the case I suppose I will try to take my lumps with as much grace as I dished them out with.
  • edited November 2018
    Of course professional actors on professional sets will succeed over amateurs
    . . .
    of course mediocrity will prevail, because people turn away from genius and talent, turn away from challenging material and towards the familiar
    . . .
    The money is going to pay streaming RPGs to be a certain way.
    I think this is extremely plausible as an overall description of RPGs as entertainment.

    At the same time, might not the overall growth of that market still leave more room for niche stuff than was possible before said growth?

    I guess it depends on which is greater, the audience-expanding or the audience-monopolizing. (For example, 10% of ten thousand eyeballs is the same as 0.1% of a million eyeballs. Does that sound about right for the non-D&D niche before and after Critical Role?)
  • Now that's the question I can't answer. Is the diversification of channels going to be filled with professionals doing professional things or amateurs doing amateur things? Youtube's direst depths do indeed exist. Channels with 3 subscribers. Infinite numbers of uploads with four digit file names. (Search youtube for IMG_#### with YOUR favorite four digits and see what happens!) Ultimately we may not be fighting for space with humans, but with bots belching out a thousand Frozen/Spiderman knockoff videos a second.
  • edited November 2018
    I'm confused as to what you're actually concerned about @JDCorley .

    What part of RPGs is going to be killed by this content exactly?
  • It's not the content. The content is just the carpet on the floor. I mean, it's probably nice, but it's not why we came to the art gallery. It's the commercials that are going to get us. It's not a nice looking actor pretending to GM a game for other nice looking actors that's the problem. It's the "YouTube" at the top, the Patreon a click away, the vlog "update four times a day!" pressures, the unquenchable, unstoppable hunger of the audience.

    There's a reason Youtube is best thought of as an anime girl screaming that Hitler did nothing wrong before a commercial for a $80,000 car. That's "content". "Content" is a word that should give you pause just on its own. Is that what we are in this hobby? Do we create "content"? For who? And how is it to be distributed? To whose benefit? God grant that we are not "content creators". God certainly grant us that we are not "consumers of content". There's plenty of really excellent pipefuls of coal slurry I'd rather consume than "content".

    When given a choice between participating in an amateur experience and passively observing a professional one, overwhelmingly, people flee the amateur experience, and these days more money is pushing them to do so than at any point in human history. This is an industry that needs your players and you to stop attending, stop participating, stop collaborating, stop creating, and instead to click on their mouse buttons and tap on their screens more often and more frantically than ever before in history. I may be wrong, of course, (but I'm not.)

    By the end of Trump's third term, you will have to pay to NOT stream your game, is what I'm saying.
  • edited November 2018
    Just like noone plays videogames anymore? (Fortnite has one of the largest, if not the largest, playerbases ever for online video games). Or no one plays chess now that there are professionals in the world of chess (how long have professional chess games been published for now?), and a tournament that's just been won with $2,000,000 prize pool thanks to all manner of advertisers (2,934,446 games of chess played /today/ on chess.com).

    RPGs are small. Streaming is making them bigger. I think that perhaps the signal to noise ratio might change if the signal you're looking for is ~the current and most holy state of RPGs~, but the signal will still be there. Even youtube, which yes incentivises an unhealthy upload rate that means quick turnaround stuff floats to the top, has some really high quality stuff on it so long as you know where to look.

    No doubt many people will play RPG's differently and there will be new RPG's influenced by the new ways of playing and watching. But the end is far from nigh in my opinion. The original signal will still be there, maybe even stronger, under all the stuff you deem noise. I've encountered far more people interested in playing RPG's in unexpected places in the past few years since streaming became popular, and I expect that to continue.

    I think it comes down to the amount of work involved in creating a similar experience yourself. When I watch a really good movie, I still think it would be cool to make a movie, but that's really really hard so I'm just going to look for more good movies. Same with baseball tournaments or ochestras, those are difficult and expensive things to set up. When I watch (and enjoy) someone play video games, chess, or dungeons and dragons, I find these often precipitate me playing myself, since I know there are some relatively simple steps I can take to do so. Sure maybe some people don't get that feeling, but if some reasonable percentage of the growing audience does, then RPG playing will continue. And if a majority of people prefer to just tune in rather than participate I don't think that's going to negatively impact the number of people who do want to play.

  • While I see where Mr. Corley is going with this, I don't think it's correct in this case. While there are certainly examples of things going the way he says, there are a fair number of counterexamples too.

    Or, to put it another way: As usual, it's not that simple.
  • I have a question for readers who have been following the game from the original campaign into the current (new) one.

    How has the game changed or evolved as it has gone along? Has the style of play changed over time?

    Have any of the procedures of play changed?

    What about the presentation?

    How has the growth in numbers of viewers changed the form of the game, if it has?
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