I’m gonna talk about Dungeons & Dragons. I have more research-oriented, If God Did Not Exist stories queued up – and doing that writing has demanded that I do additional research that’s, y’know, reading books – but I’m trying to keep this whole blog thing semi-active. Thus, D&D talk, or, more exactly, the brouhaha around D&D right now.
Apropos my last post about being critical of D&D Twitch games: my wife opined that the character group’s extremely diverse background is mirrored by computer RPGs like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Even though there is considerable racism in the setting in both games, it never throws back on the player character. Like, you can drag your Krogan around everywhere, and no one in Mass Effect will shut their doors as you approach, even though in dialog with the character, they’re likely to rattle on about the discrimination they face. So, she thinks that this contributes to the willingness of GMs to tolerate high-diverse groups without consequence.
I think this is likely true. The circle has closed, particularly for D&D, from influencing how computer role-playing games run to being influenced by CRPGs. Now it’s an ongoing loop, I think, with the two feeding on each other. The game I run, Cypher System, is clearly influenced by CPRGs.
OK, then, more talk about tabletop RPGs on Twitch. This is where I get critical.
Most games on Twitch are Dungeons and Dragons. This is expected. I don’t play D&D anymore, and I haven’t for several years – and even when I did play it, well, I have been told I don’t play it in a very D&D way. I now have a much better idea of what that means.
Because, here’s the thing, when you start a game – and many of them do start in this exact way – saying a tiefling, a dragonkin, and a drow walk into a bar… that’s not the lead-in to an adventure. That’s an introduction to a fantasy-themed joke.
They are professional wrestlers.
What I enjoy the most is the sheer honesty of the feed. In my four-decades experience from coast-to-coast, if you pick up a D&D game, this is what it looks like. Critical Botch is what D&D looks like. No prevarication, no bullshit, this is what D&D looks like. (Well, excepting that the players are probably, on whole, far less attractive than the overall hotness that is the AEW cast.)
It’s silly but also funny and fun. Y’all rock.
I’m trying to get into the habit of doing more frequent blog posts. I struggle with social media – because it’s toxic, which is by now simply an established scientific fact – but I’m a fuckin’ writer. I’m a content provider. So, I need to do a few more blog posts. Y’know. Provide content. This one is about Twitch TTRPGs.
Because I’m a grognard, I only recently learned about “the Mercer effect.” It’s what happens when a person watches and listens to the webcast Critical Role, a D&D game involving a group of voice actors. After watching the show, some people hook up with a D&D group and then leave because the experience of a normal D&D group is nothing like what happens on Critical Role. The gamemaster is named Matt Mercer, after whom the effect is named – which he finds heartbreaking. He loves Dungeons and Dragons and is simply looking to put on a show, a show he gives away for free, him, and his fellow performers. Even when I’m highly critical – which I will, because I’m a critical person – I absolutely, positively, do not doubt his love of the game or his sincerity or pain that he’s causing people to dismiss TTRPGs because they’ve followed his show.