Watching “Critical Role” on

Watching “Critical Role” on

Watching “Critical Role” on

First off, I love the show. It’s a ton of fun to watch, and the GM and players are all entertaining as hell (I highly recommend it to everybody)

The thing that made me realize how much I love Dungeon World is a scene in the second episode. (They’re using D&D 5E)

Basically, one of the heroes cast a lightning spell on a creature that was soaking wet. The hero mentioned that it was soaking wet, and that he was casting the spell pretty much for that reason.

The hero hit with the spell, zap zap damage… but the water really had no bearing on the attack.

In my mind, I’m shouting “Have the creature stunned for a second! Have it take a bit of extra damage!

Did the wizard roll a 7-9? He didn’t realize that the puddle the creature is standing in has gotten to the fighter, and he sees the bolt of electricity hit the creature, and then arc through the puddle toward his friend.

Fighter, you look down in time to see a bolt of electricity charging toward you along the ground. What do you do? What do you do?!?”

The rules in other systems are often so tied into mechanics, that improv is pretty limited.

Sure, coming up with stuff in DW can often be a brain drain. But it’s so much more awesome when you can use stuff like this.

24 thoughts on “Watching “Critical Role” on”

  1. As a long time D&D DM. In that scenario I would absolutely have the water have an effect. System doesn’t matter ( though some are better at encouraging that type of thing ) but it comes down to the DM.

  2. Michael Ross so, the D&D system, by default, doesn’t create any special effect because of the water. You are saying that you would tweak the system, because it’s cool (which I’m totally okay with, and agree with you).


    So, how can you say system doesn’t matter, when you are clearly changing the game system, to do something not covered by the rules? System is everything here….

  3. Igor Toscano  — I think he’s more saying that “system shouldn’t matter for good RP’ing”.

    I do agree that, until Dungeon World, I’ve been a bit “afraid” to do stuff like that if there isn’t a rule for it (potentially breaking balance).

    But from now on, even if I GM something not DW, let the rules be damned.

  4. But the thing is: system does matter for any RP’ing.

    Dungeon World has rules for one reason, and many games wouldn’t benefit from changing the rules, specially if made arbitrarily, by a GM. I can’t see how “rules be damned” would enhance a Fiasco game, for instance. Or how to apply D&D mechanics to Dungeon World.

    Yeah, probably D&D can benefit A LOT from some of the mechanics and strategies for DW, but that’s because the system is terribly designed….

  5. “Rules be damned” was obviously exaggerated — I meant it in the sense that, if rules are getting highly in the way of an aspect of the story, then they can be modified to suit the situation (at least in a situation-by-situation basis)

    So, Rules be damned!!! 😉

  6. I don’t know I’ve always seen a lot of D&D games devolve to rules lawyering so I can understand why the GM wouldn’t want to add things.

    But yeah somwrimes the crunch of d&d is a bit silly. I mean you still have to roll even if someone is sleeping. You get advantage and other things but you still have to roll…which is just stupid!

  7. “Begin and end with the fiction” is a GM principal in Dungeon World. (I kind of prefer AW’s “always say what the fiction demands.”) When you GM dungeon world, you’re accountable to that rule. It’s on the GM reference sheet. I’m not familiar with 5e, but I’d guess there is a systemic difference here in how GM authority is apportioned and what it’s held accountable to.

  8. Our motto is “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right!” All the rules in a D&D game are optional. I’ll change classes, remove Hit points, add aliens and time travel and general just make stuff up to allow a great story. I think some games do a better job of explaining this concept but D&D does this too. If someone is asleep and are attacked – they die. In my games any magic item can be destroyed if you throw it into a volcano. I openly say on our show all the time ” rules be damned!” I’m not perfect and I’m sure I’ve missed opportunities but I can’t recall the last time I said ” but the rules . . . ” when someone was trying to do something cool.

    Also I disagree that D&D is terribly designed. It’s my fav game although I’ve never actually played it. I’ve always played my version of it. And I’ve played DW and its fine. But it didn’t make RP’ing any easier or better for me.

    We can role play Monopoly if you want too. Maybe my dad’s life work was destroyed by a callous real estate developer and I’ve dedicated my life to gaining enough power to get my revenge. Oh, but what’s this? Turns out I’m good at this. I enjoy it. And I’m about to become the thing I hate

    System does not matter at all for RP’ing. IF and that’s the big IF here – you already know how. Learning how ( as I’ve stated before) some games are better at explaining this than others.

  9. System matters a whole lot when it comes to RPing and rules and everything. You really don’t realise this when you are just playing D&D varients because you think hey everything is just D&D. But playing Burning Wheel you subtly realise that you start roleplaying and going further in aspects because that game encourages you and rewards you for different kind of things.

     DW is similiar where you start thinking a bit more in terms of fiction then machanics because everything in D&D is so machanically focused.

    Sure you can say to people you allow other things but the rules are a grounding for players and they will shift there habits depending on those grounds.

  10. In the past year or so i’ve played a dozen RPG’s or more (off the top of my head – Everyone is John, Dread, Savage Worlds, Star Wars Edge of the Empire, Dungeon World, Numenera, Fiasco, Cold Steel Wardnes, Marvel Heroic, Marvel FASRIP, D&D 5.0) and NONE of them made RP’ing easier or better than another for me.  You’re trying to define something that is subjective.  If you enjoy one game more than another – great, but to try and say that one game is Better than another is subjective and silly.


  11. I think you misunderstand me, I wasn’t saying one was better then the other. I was tryign to get that the rules of the system do affect RP and what people feel comfortable in pushing for RP. As The groundings of rules say to us what type of game this is and what type of RP would be acceptable/push us towards our game goals.

  12. Perhaps we are agreeing in spirit if not syntax.  At the heart of my belief is that the first game you learn to RP with can and probably does make RP’ing oustide the rules easier. But once you know this, then the sytem no longer matters as you can RP just as well playing monopoly (if you’re committed) as you can Fiasco.  So, for me, as an expereinced GM and RP’er the sytem i’m playing will not have a significant impact in how I RP my characters or run my games.  Make sense?

  13. Hmm I think rules, but not really rules more reward structures specifically go towards more or less RP. You can do RPing in Monopoly but you are not rewarded for it in the game just maybe in the social sphere so thats why you don’t get many people RPing in Monopoly.

    I get what your saying and I think many games allow RPers their chance without putting it in the rules or the reward structures of the game. But to say those rules or reward structures don’t matter to RP and what people RP is definitely not true in my small experience.

  14. Okay, see  – I think we are back to disagreeing again. If you choose to play a courageous  character then you should act courageously because that’s the character you’re playing regardless of what mechanical benefits that does for you. 5e has Inspiration.  If you are doing a thing to get Inspiration then you’re not really roleplaying. You’re gamify’ing RP. You can get Inspiration because you did a thing but don’t do a thing to get inspiration.

  15. So, i’ve been racking my brain to think of an example where the rules/system DID play a part in my RP’ing and I may have found one – sorta. I recently played Cold Steel Wardens (awesome super hero rpg, highly recommended) and it has a ‘vigilance pool’ mechanic where there is a literal bowl of dice that anyone can use to re-roll or improve rolls (there’s more to it, but for this story that’s all you really need to know). We were playing over google hangouts so the DM had a ‘counter’ on his screen and as dice were added to the pool (which you got from playing your characters motivations).  And I started RP’ing, ’cause thats why I play these games, BUT I will say that as I saw that counter clicking ‘upwards’ as I was RP’ing it did cause me to want to keep going.  I kinda feel that this only worked in that medium ’cause it didn’t stop or interrupt the game. It wasn’t after a RP moment I got a token or a +1 for a future roll, but could actively see that number going up as I was RP’ing. So in that instance, yes, the system/rules did impact my RP’ing.

  16. Well Inspiration is a mess so I don’t count that as a good reward structure, but it is interesting that many people tried it and failed with it and so many people stopped caring about their backgrounds and bonds because they just didn’t get anything.

    I think reward structures are very crucial to RPing and it enriches it instead of takes away from it. Again I go back to Burning Wheel with this, because you get some many pluses and rewards for the playing of your beliefs and especially your going against your beliefs and getting in trouble with instincts you are more likely to do those things and it creates a much richer RP environment.

    In fact the reward structure for making yourself get in trouble is really really fecking cool. In D&D no one would specifically role play getting a disadvantage because you wouldn’t be rewarded for it(unless someone house rules inspiration but even then im not to sure people would) but because you get rewarded for Burning wheel it happens a lot.

  17. I didn’t stop caring about bonds/flaws because of Inspiration. I stopped caring about Inspiration because I was having fun playing bonds/flaws and didn’t need the game mechanics to encourage it.

  18. I disagree. I think the G is there because then didn’t know what else to call it when the first RPG was invented. 

    But clearl we are on different sides of this argument. Going back to our motto, if you’re having fun, you’re doing it right! so if you’re having fun playing DW or Burning wheel or whatever else you play then great! Keep it up. Get more ppl to play and expand the hobby.  Ill do the same with my games. 

    There is no ‘better’ RPG. There is ‘better for me” or “better for our group” or ‘what I like” because better is subjective.

  19. Yeah, we are in complete disagreement. I find there are plenty of terrible games, and they are terrible because they are ill-designed, not because I don’t like them.

    As the old Storyteller system, which I adore, but it’s just an awful game, in many many ways. I don’t think one has to only like good or bad things, not all is a matter of taste. The same goes for bad music, bad movies, bad comic books: I like to consume some “bad” once in a while.

    I love the “important thing is we’re having fun” argument: so, if we play chess and on the first round I say my pawn is a sniper and killed your king, hey, no trouble, right? I’m having fun, you should too. I thing “fun” is the real subjetctive matter….

  20. So my argument is that if you like a movie that I think is bad I’m saying I don’t like that movie but I’m happy you found the movie you like and I’m reading your argument as if you like that movie you’re wrong because it’s a bad movie.

    And your counter argument to my having fun argument is just silly. Because yes fun is very subjective but in the terms of my argument it is for the entire group so if my group, my table my friends that I am playing my particular favorite role-playing game is having fun then doesn’t matter what game we are playing.

    if you want to read into that one persons fun over another that’s on you not on me and I feel like you’re just being argumentative at this point

  21. The thing is though we have to evaluate games more then fun. There are many badly designed rpgs out there that get away with it because you can house rule your particular way of roleplaying it. But what im saying is that the rules and the systems do matter that push you into certain directions.

    Would you disadvantage yourself in D&D becauee of roleplay reasons?

  22. James – yes. And often.

    My point is not that their are no bad games. There are lots ( bit some ppl prob still like them ) but usually the “bad” is in the math or balance or complexity and has little to do with role playing but the game aspect.

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