Upvoted: [Spoilers E114] As we come to a close on this chapter… via /r/criticalrole

…I wanted to take a moment and reflect on this past evening, my experiences across the game, some things I've learned, and hope to impart onto you (amid the wedding prep chaos, hehe). Beware the brain-spill incoming!

This whole journey has been nothing short of incredible, strange, inspiring, and so much bigger and beyond our little gaming group. Yet, we never let it run away with the magic of us just playing a game of imagination with each other. If it kills me, I will do everything I can to maintain that.

It has also been a journey of learning. Trying things out, seeing what works, what doesn't, failing in a VERY public way many, many times, and continuing on. This is a BIG part of what I always wanted this to be. I bare my mistakes, my faults, my weaknesses proudly alongside my strengths, for others to learn from. I would consider myself a fairly capable Dungeon Master in many respects, but while I am better than some in certain arenas, I am also rightly overshadowed by many in others. Everyone has their own "DM Ability Score spread", so to speak.

As good-natured as they may be, there are those who loudly put me on a pedestal in community spaces and do not acknowledge this varied scale of high-to-low skills I possess. This is unfortunate as it can both intimidate new DMs from attempting to run games, or instill a counter-mindset of gamers who DESPISE me and everything I seemingly bring to the hobby (though much of that is on me and the nature of the internet, I suppose). I do not wish people to ride to my defense, just engage in conversation with varying opinions and hopefully learn from each other.

On the other end, I've seen folks who pick apart many or all aspects of my game, my players, and my personal self. Thankfully not TOO many, but it is the other side of this Double-edged Greatsword called notoriety I suppose? Unfortunately, I am and always have been of the "sensitive artist boy" variety of person, and have grown up with debilitating insecurities, so I still occasionally struggle with this reality, but I'm doing better and better with it as time passes. Many points these folks make have merit, though. I proudly wear these flaws because I am just that… flawed. For those folks, do please keep that in mind. Just a person here, trying to make something fun for my friends. If you hold a standard and expectation of perfection on every level, we will let you down. Every. Time. I do not pull punches, but I DO fuck up. A lot. <3 Point it out and learn from it, but try not to let it ruin your experience.

I never, ever claimed nor would claim to be a "Master DM" by any stretch of the imagination. The elevation and attention of these exalted titles instinctively make me cringe (as I do poorly with compliments I feel are unearned, as well-intentioned as they may be). There are MANY people who have been doing this longer than I, or have mastery over aspects of running the game that leave me spellbound and in awe. I only hope to continue to learn from others and ever try to improve. What makes this format of storytelling so compelling from our standpoint is the unknown, improvised, chaotic nature of its collaboration. We create together from a base of love, in spaces where we are uncertain and trying new things out. When you try new things, they don't always pan out as you imagined or wanted. I've had many fights, encounters, or scenarios throughout my years (and many in this campaign as you've seen) that didn't hit as I intended, or with the impact you may have wanted, but every person who's ever run a game knows that feeling too. It's also NOT a bad feeling! You learn from it, appreciate the narrative elements that came out of it, and if your players and yourself had a good time, then you succeeded entirely. Heck, this entire End-game Arc has been about experimentation in mechanical and narrative spaces that were ENTIRELY new to me! The perpetual mix of fear and excitement wading through this unwieldy scale of gameplay has been entirely unique.

I am not a PHD in Story Writing or Tactical Combat, I am a simple nerd who loves his friends and wants to gift them with challenges, dangers, betrayals, redemption, victory, and heroic memories. I fuck up ALL the time in the process, and through it all do not care. My players do not care. We laugh, enjoy our time together, and hope you enjoy it too. You can do this. Fail, learn, and build joy with others as you do. Communicate the emphasis on what your game's importance is, and stumble your way towards refining it together.

This amazing gift of sharing this passionate tale with you all has changed me irrevocably in so many incredible ways, I can't even begin to talk about it without welling up (ask Todd Kenreck of DnD Beyond video fame, who broke me on-camera with a simple sentimental question). I thank you all for joining me, accepting me for all my silly stumbles and not holding it against me, and living in the tale with us. There's no going back now, bitches. We are in this shit together for the LONG haul.

Love you all. More than words.


Submitted by MatthewMercer
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