Page 1171 - Illumination Station

19th Jan 2019, 6:00 AM
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Illumination Station
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 19th Jan 2019, 6:00 AM edit delete
Can you tell that I'm dying to bring in future-season characters and plotlines yet?

Notice: Now accepting guest comics! Submission rules and guidelines available here. Deadline: January 30th


FM-96 19th Jan 2019, 6:15 AM edit delete reply
Oh, Jesus. What's up with the font here? The kerning on it is absolutely atrocious.

Looking at this almost gives me a headache.
Guest 19th Jan 2019, 6:47 AM edit delete reply
The image is also 33% wider than normal. Maybe the increased size caused some font issues?
Newbiespud 19th Jan 2019, 9:04 AM edit delete reply
Ah heck, I exported this page with the wrong settings, didn't I? Well, at least that's an easy enough fix.
DragonGeek 19th Jan 2019, 9:07 AM edit delete reply
I blame Discord
TheStevest 20th Jan 2019, 10:27 AM edit delete reply
The software, the character or the album?
Digo Dragon 21st Jan 2019, 5:57 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Why not all three?
Leonite 19th Jan 2019, 7:05 AM edit delete reply
Honestly there's one pony there I would like to see.

What? I like Starlight.
Steel Resolve 19th Jan 2019, 10:44 AM edit delete reply
I'd like to see her sucked into an eldritch hole and have to fight her way out of Tartarus. Does that count? I'd not saying I wish her ill, but she's not a social pony, she's a bludgeon who deals with situations best when she can use force. Even in her own village force was used to shape every resident to one uniformity.
Toric 19th Jan 2019, 12:15 PM edit delete reply
Sounds like you want her to be the protag in Pony-DOOM
CrowMagnon 19th Jan 2019, 1:07 PM edit delete reply
Honestly, who DOESN'T think that sounds like it would be pretty awesome?
Guest 19th Jan 2019, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
Kind of a shame Trixie was used as one of the crossover cameo characters with Grand Line 3.5. She probably would have been hilarious in this comic's context when it's time to use later seasons' stuff.

Of course the DM might still have her as a NPC, either as a PC-turned-NPC or just a similar character. I'm eager to have my gloomy perspective proved wrong.

Unless I misread something and that crossover was an outside-continuity omake?
Guest 19th Jan 2019, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
Maybe she'll show up as a Discorded boss during the Mane 6 World Tour.

On another subject: is Spike trapped in Ponyville now?
GrayGriffin 19th Jan 2019, 8:23 AM edit delete reply
He showed up in a group shot on the previous page, so probably not. I dunno about 4e, but it also feels like Twilight should have some way to just summon him to her side as well.
Cygnia 19th Jan 2019, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
DiscorDM is inching back towards dickery again, I see.
Marvelous TK 19th Jan 2019, 9:21 AM edit delete reply
Seriously? Where? Warning the party that their plan will bring the villain down on them is not dickish. I'd argue that bringing the villain down on their heads when they start messing around with the magical perimeter of the chaos-bubble they know he's in WITHOUT warning them wouldn't have been dickish because uh yeah that's what'd happen in a game, so warning them in advance is outright a kindness. And commenting on how a plan might interact with their moral alignment? I don't think I've had a GM yet who hasn't done that, even in games that don't have a set alignment system. Where in any of this do you see that dickery? In this page specifically, I'm seeing a more than fair GM.
Jennifer 19th Jan 2019, 9:45 AM edit delete reply
I agree. DiscorDM seems pretty cooperative in this page. Like he's learning his lesson and trying to help get the game going again.
Redwings1340 19th Jan 2019, 9:51 AM edit delete reply
I don't really mind what discord is doing here, it's a reasonable in character action to interfere if the elements stay at the border for longer than he wants, and pointing out the risks involved with bringing in npcs is a fair point.

Still, twilight and aj are right too, there are other strategies they can pursue before going in. At the very least twilight has spike and can write a letter to celestia, sharing what she's learned and what she thinks should be done. The universe around ponyville isn't so far gone to be useless right now, and I think having some side npc involvement definitely makes sense. After all, the elements aren't the only force in this world who wants to stop discord.
Kereea 19th Jan 2019, 10:44 AM edit delete reply
Yep. This seems pretty normal.
Archone 19th Jan 2019, 6:18 PM edit delete reply
I still don't see that there was a lesson to be learned on his part. As Marvelous TK pointed out, he's being a more than fair GM. And prior to that... again, he was being a fairly decent GM, given that he was setting the foundations for the length campaign. You can't have an epic quest against a Big Bad until the Big Bad has done something genuinely... bad. Which, because the GM is controlling them, means the GM has to cause bad things to happen. (And chocolate rain and even body warping are... kinda tame, compared to what the bad guys tend to do in Pathfinder, Shadowrun... Warhammer 40K...)
Newbiespud 20th Jan 2019, 8:48 AM edit delete reply
Prior to all this, he was being an attack dog towards the group's actual in-and-out-of-character friendship, which was over the line that they weren't in any way prepared for and brought the game to a grinding halt. Both the DM and DiscordGM justified it to themselves the same way - a long-arc Big Bad has to do some really bad things - but that's separating the content from the vector. Intent from execution.

You can be clever and thoughtful on paper and still go about it the wrong way. Take the infamous climax of the movie Batman v Superman. On paper, there's actually a potentially clever turn in the MARTHA! scene (reflection back to when Bruce Wayne's parents were taken from him, making him realize that hatred has turned him into the man who pulled the trigger on his parents), but in execution... hoo boy.
Archone 20th Jan 2019, 12:26 PM edit delete reply
I agree with you, Spud. That's... been my point about Discord GM, in fact. You may have intended him to come across a certain way, but in execution to a number of readers he has been less "arrogant and manipulative problem guy," and more "gaming afficionado with a huge emphasis on roleplaying."

Which is not a bad thing, by any means - when Star Trek: TNG "grew the beard," it was after the writers realized female fans were more sexually attracted to Picard than to Riker. Cue Riker growing the beard and behaving more like a first officer than a "Kirk clone," and cue Picard having more adventures and romantic subplots.
Newbiespud 20th Jan 2019, 12:40 PM edit delete reply
If that's how you see Discord, then I think that reveals a lot more about you than my writing.
Mr Wednesday 20th Jan 2019, 4:59 PM edit delete reply
I couldn’t have put it better.
Archone 21st Jan 2019, 8:58 AM edit delete reply
Uh... Spud? Speaking as someone else who has also done a fair share of writing... if your target audience fails to draw the intended message from your work, you don't want to assume the error is on their end. By which I mean that the last time someone dismissed critique so blithely, it was the director for a TV pilot that had just bombed very, very badly, in what was undoubtedly the most insulting correspondence I have ever experienced. I say "Correspondence" because it was an e-mail to me, as one of his writers. For a show you have never heard of, because they never made a second episode and everyone moved on, largely due to the poor behavior of the director and the producer (who was also the father of the director and had allowed everything to fall apart while he was off in Europe for unrelated business). And yes, that TV pilot included a main character who, in the script used by the director, was presented as sympathetic even after engaging in actions that included violence, threats, and a... genuine air of sexual intimidation (which was more due to the excellent performance by the actor, but which really drove home how bad this was).

To some of your readers Discord GM may have come across in a certain way... but to many of us (because I'm not the only one to have been posting comments about it) he has seemed like a pretty decent guy who has been incredibly gracious about the way he's been getting treated by these people he agreed to come co-GM a game for. I honestly cannot think of a single person I have played with who would not have gotten up and left the table by this point, if they were in his shoes.
GrayGriffin 21st Jan 2019, 9:13 AM edit delete reply
You keep saying "many of us," but you're pretty much the only person left who keeps saying that DiscorDM did literally nothing wrong the whole time. Even his other supporters are admitting that he's made missteps in his behavior that he should try and correct, even if they are divided on how bad those missteps are and how much he has to apologize for.
Troubleshooter 20th Jan 2019, 11:37 AM edit delete reply

If no one has fun playing the session, then DiscordDM needs to learn a lesson in how to run games more smoothly.
GrayGriffin 19th Jan 2019, 8:24 AM edit delete reply
Aw, shut it, Discord. Bet if they decided to just leave it he'd be taunting them about "leaving Ponyville to rot" just as much.
Archone 19th Jan 2019, 6:24 PM edit delete reply
Yes, he could indeed shut it. And then he could just let them act on that plan before informing them of the consequences he never warned them of. As opposed to... giving them advance warning (something few GMs ever do without volition, and which some won't do even after you've rolled a Knowledge or Detection check) and even graciously conceding a point (of course that was with the Main GM, who has absolute authority under the Zeroth Law... but Discord has given every indication that he'd be equally gracious in acknowledging similar points made by players).

...Though Discord is wrong about one thing. He's saying "Good-aligned" as if nobody told him what's written on Rainbow Dash's character sheet under "alignment."
Toric 19th Jan 2019, 11:06 PM edit delete reply
The trick here is that the session isn't over. Discord is still the villain, and is still mixing in-game and meta tactics.

The way to read Discord's remarks with more consistency to his previous actions is to deter the players from playing any way but what he (and the DM) want them to. He's not warning them to help them, he's warning them to keep them from TRYING. This is evidenced by the tone he takes when he makes the "good-aligned" comment, which is clearly meant to discourage the npc research through emotional/moral appeal. The characters who suggested it ARE good-aligned, or at least value good objectively. Where it can be argued the warning is the product of wrapping up the session, the second comment is at its most harmless aggressive snark. As a player, when I get a direct warning from the GM, it's just as likely because they don't WANT me to do something as there being solid mechanical reasons I wouldn't have thought of. Being criticized for my alignment just for sounding out an idea that is only unreasonable if someone takes it a specific way doesn't strike me as the behavior of a friendly DM. That kind of jibe is more appropriate from another player at the table than the one who controls the universe your character is in.
Archone 20th Jan 2019, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
No, Discord is not the villain. Or should I say, Discord GM is not the villain. Discord GM is the GM. Discord NPC is the villain. There is a difference - the NPC wants to foil the protagonists, but the GM wants them to have an enjoyable and challenging game.

That's the point that keeps getting ignored here - the GM is much the code of a video game. Every enemy the player confronts, every challenge, every obstacle, every vendor and quest giver and NPC, they're all provided by the GM. But the goal is not to make the game unbeatable, the goal is to create a fun and challenging adventure to leave the player feeling that it was time and money well spent.

Now yes, there are times when a GM wants the players to follow a certain path (because that's the path the GM has actually PREPARED for, and if the players go in a different path then the GM is forced to scramble to accommodate that). But... reminding the player of a good aligned character that deliberately exposing NPCs to hazardous situations is morally questionable behavior is literally the kind of gentle nudge that gets described in sourcebooks as generous but fair GMing (I'm particularly thinking of a bit in the AD&D 2nd edition Player's Handbook, where the sample GM discourages the party's cleric from going off on a solo adventure by stating that "your superior has been feeling uncomfortable with you missing so many services. He makes a lot of harrumphing noises and looking at your holy symbol meaningfully.")
GrayGriffin 20th Jan 2019, 3:20 AM edit delete reply
You realize I'm referring to Discord-as-NPC, not DiscorDM, right? I've been separating them. I realize the villain is supposed to taunt the heroes, this is just a good-natured jab back and pointing out that there is no "absolutely good" way to handle it.
Archone 20th Jan 2019, 12:30 PM edit delete reply
No, I don't realize that. You've been mixing them up a fair amount in your posts. And as I said, this wasn't him taunting them, this was him saying, "that might not be a good idea." Which qualifies him as "nice GM." Also, as "GM who would not do well with the classic AD&D stuff."

(seriously, I've read some of the old modules. One had a crashed spaceship with a storage closet filled with mold. No way to detect what's on the other side, but if you open it then whoever's in front of the door gets killed instantly. No "X damage," no "saving throw to survive." Just "laugh in the player's face and tell them to roll up a new character.")
Lethologica 20th Jan 2019, 1:13 PM edit delete reply
Discord obstructing the party's investigation is fine.

The creative ethical reinterpretation of Applejack's suggestion is not what I like to see, because any action can be interpreted like that given sufficient lack of charity. In this case, the uncharitable part is assuming the researchers have neither agency nor competence, and thus the party asking them to help = the party handing Discord fodder for his games.

That said, DiscorDM acknowledges this point readily enough when the DM makes it (by giving the researchers their own considerations and incentives), so it's nothing serious.
GrayGriffin 20th Jan 2019, 6:36 PM edit delete reply
Um, what? Yes, I've used the Mane Six's character names as metonyms for their players, but I've constantly been referring to DiscorDM as DiscorDM. I refer to him as Discord on page 1161 in an edit, but that was in a rush and the comment already referred to him as DiscorDM before. And once on page 1115, but that's hardly "a fair amount."

Unless you're talking about page 1117, where Tempest accused me of never having watched the show after I pointed out the in-show context of the panels on that page, and literally all my comments about "Discord" were referring to Discord as he actually is in the show.

And yes, I'm pretty sure sarcastically saying "very responsible, very Good-aligned" is much more "taunting" than being a "good GM." You realize he could have communicated the same thing without sarcasm, right?
Archone 21st Jan 2019, 8:41 AM edit delete reply
"You realize he could have communicated the same thing without sarcasm, right?"

...This... would be an excellent example of what I mean. You're jumping on HOW he said something and choosing to interpret it in the worst possible sense. That, btw, is prejudice - literally, "pre judgement." Guilty until proven guilty. Especially since the way you phrase your statements about his use of sarcasm involved a small degree of... sarcasm, on your part.
GrayGriffin 21st Jan 2019, 8:46 AM edit delete reply

I don't know if I should even keep trying to discuss this when you're determined to take everything people say and run off in random bizarre directions with it, but sarcasm would be me saying "oh yeah, sarcastically mocking the players is totally a sign of a good GM." To be clear, this is an example. I am not actually saying this.
ANW 19th Jan 2019, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
I just realized something.
Where are going to live during this time?
Twilight's library is in the middle of this mess.
Rarity can't get to her shop.
Pinkie's room is next door to Discord.
Who knows what might have happened to Rainbow's cloud home.
Fluttershy and Applejack might have gotten lucky, but I don't think they can safely stay there, what with their new neighbor around.
GrayGriffin 20th Jan 2019, 3:21 AM edit delete reply
Well, if we are bringing in Starlight, maybe she'll have the Equal Village as her headquarters and they can stay there after solving her issues?
zimmerwald1915 20th Jan 2019, 7:48 AM edit delete reply
On the road and under the stars. Adventurers do it all the time.
Digo Dragon 21st Jan 2019, 5:59 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I'm sure there's a Manger 6 along the road somewhere to rent rooms. :3
Tempestfury 19th Jan 2019, 9:16 AM edit delete reply
DiscorDM is showing his potential here. Sure, he's shutting down the ideas that are being fielded to him, but one of them was done politely and respectfully, whilst the other one, whilst snarky, isn't exactly dickish behaviour.

Plus the quip from CelestiGM and DiscorDM's agreement is chuckle-worthy for sure.
DuoScratch 19th Jan 2019, 5:44 PM edit delete reply
Oh comes the true Villain...and they just got a handle on the Discord situation...
Kaze Koichi 20th Jan 2019, 8:13 AM edit delete reply
Oh, great. Discord's arc is going to drag forever, just like Gaia tickets' arc.
Archone 20th Jan 2019, 12:32 PM edit delete reply
Eh... Gaia's Tickets were actually a bunch of separate adventures joined together. It was a pretty good way for Main GM to handle things, really. "You have to go forth and claim a bunch of MacGuffins... one at a time. Each one requiring a successful adventure, each one bringing with it valuable XP for the climactic sequence."
GrayGriffin 20th Jan 2019, 6:37 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, I have to admit to being a little frustrated at realizing that "nearing the end of the arc" actually meant "nearing the end of the first part of the arc."
obscurereader 20th Jan 2019, 7:44 PM edit delete reply
Couldn't agree with you more, GrayGriffin. Couldn't agree with you more.

Least Discord!DM himself and Discord the character won't necessarily need to show up for most of it, hopefully?
Story Time 20th Jan 2019, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
Stop! Before we face the final boss, let's investigate the effects of what the final boss did.

Any story when the players just stopped to investigate instead of fighting?
HappyEevee 20th Jan 2019, 6:54 PM edit delete reply
Now I want to see the adventures of those two NPCs trying to sort out Discord's chaos... but this conversation shows good progress, polite discussion, and self-restraint on everyone's part, yay for moving forward with the game! :D
Guest 21st Jan 2019, 8:12 AM edit delete reply
Oh no...