Page 1103 - Self Diagnosis

14th Aug 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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Self Diagnosis
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 14th Aug 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
Oh, hey, tomorrow's my birthday! Neat. Anyway...

Fluttercruel from the show was always going to be a challenge to adapt because, well, in real-life you can't force a person (especially an inexperienced actor) to instantly behave opposite to how they normally act, especially when it goes against their best interests. And I already wrote a joke where Fluttershy is really bad at being menacing to things she isn't mad at. So this was always going to have to come from a different, slightly more understated angle.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Guest 14th Aug 2018, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
That... came out of nowhere.
Greenhornet 14th Aug 2018, 12:42 PM edit delete reply
Loopholes: gotta love them. Or hate them, depending on who's on the receiving end.
Discord 14th Aug 2018, 6:12 AM edit delete reply
While I wait for the multi color one to appear, I'm going to spread my chaos even more.
Oh look, the dragon lands.
La la la, la la la, la la, la, la la.
Guest 14th Aug 2018, 6:15 AM edit delete reply
Happy early birthday, Newbiespud!
FanOfMostEverything 14th Aug 2018, 6:33 AM edit delete reply
Not only did Discord not say not to mention it, it could be said he gave Fluttershy an excuse. "No filter" could be read as her not being allowed to be cagey about her curse.
Digo Dragon 14th Aug 2018, 6:38 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
No filter can go both ways too. She could give a real opinion on what she thinks of the trickster's plans.
FanOfMosfEverything 14th Aug 2018, 7:08 AM edit delete reply
True. Instead of Fluttercruel, we're getting Sugarcoat. And I am entirely okay with that.
The Old One 14th Aug 2018, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
She's........angry. Not how I thought that was going to go, but it makes perfect sense. Her reactions through this bit are going to be based on the *player* being angry and frustrated and taking it out on the party.

Well played, Spud.

Also Happy Birthday
Mystic seer 15th Aug 2018, 4:12 PM edit delete reply
He done goofed.
Toric 14th Aug 2018, 6:35 AM edit delete reply
If I could belatedly toss my 2 cents into the Discord-GM VS. Fluttershy debate...this page. Rainbow Dash said outright a couple dozen pages ago that the Elements of Harmony were their trump card, and Discord even responded by indicating that he'd test their friendship. His entire strategy is predicated on rendering the Elements a non-threat, which is done by breaking the bonds of the ones using them.

Fluttershy the player AND character suffer from issues of confidence, as well as a fear for whether their friends will still like them. Discord's manipulations, then, play upon a fear she already had that she would do something or say something that ended the friendship, and Discord was obviously trying to push her into just that scenario. This is made more obvious to her by the fact that she and the others were isolated, and likely the others got a similar conversation.

From an ethical standpoint, given that nothing Fluttershy said about Discord's strategy is technically wrong, deliberately trying to disrupt the friendship of the players crosses a line, and I can't see my way clear to actually blaming Fluttershy for poor sportsmanship. Especially considering Discord's instructions to Applejack's player, he's going a lot farther in the out-of-game effects than is really appropriate, even if there's nothing strictly wrong with cursing the characters to sew chaos. Twilight's player's feelings are becoming genuinely hurt as she tries to talk to the others, and I think that it's only going to get worse as things continue and there's no apparent way to fight back.
Evilbob 14th Aug 2018, 9:22 AM edit delete reply
I think you're right, I wonder if the point you made might be exactly the problem.

It's often easy to conflate the OoC player and the character. Especially since as players, we often are so invested in our characters that we forget to step back and look at it from a more detached, impartial view.

For the villain character Discord, it makes perfect sense to disrupt the magical power that is most powerful against him.

However, I seriously doubt the DiscordGM actually is trying to break friendships of the players here.
And that conflation that you mentioned is exactly the crux of the issue.
It also doesn't help that these are mostly new players so the ability to be able to metagame and detach probably isn't in that skillset. Especially being able to use metagaming in a good way.

This may be one of those sessions where everyone'll need to do a, maybe 2 hours, post-session debriefing.
Draxynnic 14th Aug 2018, 2:02 PM edit delete reply
That's a valid point. Keeping in-character conflicts from becoming OOC is an advanced roleplaying skill, and this is the first campaign for Twilight and Fluttershy. They could be more affected than DiscordDM intended.
Mystic seer 15th Aug 2018, 4:36 PM edit delete reply
I don't think DiscordGM is trying to break up there friendship either but that doesn't mean he couldn't do a lot of damage to the players relationships anyway. The problem is he is so wrapped up in his own game and his own ego that he doesn't consider the potential harm his actions could cause.
ThatGuest 14th Aug 2018, 6:49 AM edit delete reply
I'll admit I've been Fluttershy before when players have an extremely obvious thing go right over their heads and things go wrong because of it.

Like announcing our presence to a villain that was scouring a crash site for us to make sure we were dead.

"But she was looking for us." "TO KILL US!" "Why?" "SHE TOLD US SHE WOULD AN HOUR AGO YOU IDIOT!"
ThatGuest 14th Aug 2018, 7:05 AM edit delete reply
Part of me is also kinda hoping we're about to get a massive direct rant directed at all the players' negatives they're letting get in their way. Just because I want a giant full page of Fluttershy ranting.
Needling Haystacks 15th Aug 2018, 10:25 AM edit delete reply
One of the few games I played I noticed a strategy the PCs could use that the DM had missed... as had the other players, for that matter. He nixed it as he hadn't prepped for that. So it's not just players. Story doesn't really fit here, so I'll save it for another time.

I feel like this when watching/reading things, though. I see as obvious things others miss.
Zaftique 14th Aug 2018, 8:05 AM edit delete reply
Question time!

Has there been a time where a GM wanted you to do some 180º IC RP? DId you go along with it or not?

Our D&D group is about to go to the Abyss to rescue my character's husband (whom she's never met due to being a mail-order bride and he was presumed dead when she arrived.... it's a long story), and when I was chatting with the DM I had mentioned how hilarious it would be if one of us got possessed while we were there. He was actually going to homebrew that out, but we decided it would be great RP if the stalwart, virginal Cleric of Hestia got possessed by a succubus for a session or two. ;D

Probably why I'm baffled that the gals are being so resistant to GM!Discord's game, I would be 100% on board with playing against character! You know it's temporary, have fun with it ladies!
ThatGuest 14th Aug 2018, 9:05 AM edit delete reply
Technically it wasn't DM requested but one rogue did manage to royally piss off my joyful, courage and friendship loving bard so much by abusing someone that I royally beat the crap out of him.

I sucker punched his character and during the whole fight he never landed a punch while I absolutely trashed him with my fists and whatever I could swing at him or smash him into/through.

No one blew off the bard's opinions after that.
BunBun299 15th Aug 2018, 7:08 PM edit delete reply
My character in a long running campaign is a dhampir thief. She was raised thinking herself a full vampire by her mother, and killed many people for blood, because what value did mortals have besides being either servants or food? The revelation that she was half human changed her so completely that she's practically a completely different person. Among other things, she's now a pacifist on the level of DC super heroes, when not being written by Zach Snyder. She will not kill, even to save her own life. Well, she'll kill animals or undead, but anything even remotely sapient is off limits.

I take this to a point in game play that our GM eventually tossed me an enchanted dagger that cannot kill anyone, if it ever inflicts "lethal" damage, it merely puts the victims to sleep. Guess he got frustrated with me looking for creative ways to help the team in battle.

Anyway, one cold night in a forest, we meet one of our recurring nemesise. A wolf who walks upright and talks, though he's not quite a werewolf. We don't really know what he is. But he starts hitting us with something like a Force Persuasion power, trying to convince us to give into more primal natures. For my character, this means giving into her blood lust, which she's spent 40+ years suppressing. Making her want to really give into her predatory nature.

I did what I could with this. Including my Dhampir thief contemplating sticking herself with the magic dagger for thinking this way.

My way to RP out of this was to bite herself in the arm, hoping the pain would clear her mind. It mostly worked. But I had to play her has badly shaken by this experience for a bit after.
Rastaba 14th Aug 2018, 9:47 AM edit delete reply
She is correct. He never told her to keep it a secret.
Guest 14th Aug 2018, 11:20 AM edit delete reply
He never told Pinkie or Rarity either.
Departure_Dave 14th Aug 2018, 11:32 AM edit delete reply
They decided to play along though, one way or another, while Flutter's player is deliberately out to spoil his fun.
Rico 14th Aug 2018, 12:11 PM edit delete reply
Shh, consensus says she's doing nothing wrong.
Guest 15th Aug 2018, 3:30 PM edit delete reply
"Playing along" doesn't mean "do things you are not asked to do".

Neither Rarity's nor Pinkie's curses have anything to do with them being unable or even discouraged to reveal they've been cursed.
Greenhornet 14th Aug 2018, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
But Rarity BELIEVES what she was told. She's acting out a sub-plot.
Draxynnic 14th Aug 2018, 2:01 PM edit delete reply
Main-GM also told FluttershyPlayer she could choose how much to roleplay it since the effect was weaker. One could presume that includes not keeping it a secret - the curse is strong enough to affect FluttershyPC, but not so strong that FluttershyPC isn't aware of the curse and angry about being cursed.

Applejack was specifically told to lie. Rarity's paranoia would stop her from revealing she's cursed (if she does reveal she's cursed, the others might take her massive diamond away for her own good). Fluttershy, however - an angry, filterless Fluttershy may well direct some of her anger and filterlessness at the curse.
MooseImperium 14th Aug 2018, 10:14 AM MooseImperium edit delete reply
What a coincidence! Mines today.
Capn_Boxers 14th Aug 2018, 2:09 PM edit delete reply
How very interesting.

I honestly can't tell if this is Fluttershy role-playing her curse or being legitimately upset and trying to ruin his plan or using the curse as an excuse to act like this because she's upset.

If she is trying to ruin his plan, I think she went about it the wrong way. Her statements are only going to divide the group further.
Vegetalss4 14th Aug 2018, 3:32 PM edit delete reply
Honestly I'm more surprised that neither Rarity nor Pinkie hasn't already revealed their curse, than I am that Fluttershy did reveal it. Unlike Applejack theirs doesn't prevent them and from an IC perspective there's no reason not to.
Shenkyei Rambo 14th Aug 2018, 4:33 PM edit delete reply
Chronic Lurker 14th Aug 2018, 4:51 PM edit delete reply
Happy birthday Spud! Wishing it now because tomorrow I am likely going to be sucked back into the black hole that is YouTube....again. So preemptive birthday wishes will be made!
Dakkath 14th Aug 2018, 10:00 PM edit delete reply
So, because Fluttershy spilled the beans does that mean AJ doesn't have to lie anymore?
Boris Carlot 15th Aug 2018, 10:41 AM edit delete reply
That would be revealing truth. If anything she's required to actively deny what Flutter's saying.
Archone 15th Aug 2018, 12:59 AM edit delete reply
A thought occurs to me...

There's a concept in psychiatry about the value of permission. Where you do something because someone told you that you can do it... and how important it can be to learn to give yourself permission to do something. This is especially important for people who have been conditioned to always subordinate themselves to authority (like in "Shawshank Redemption" where Red notes that after decades in prison he can't squeeze out a drop unless he gets permission from an authority figure to use the toilet).

Fluttershy's player has been very repressed all her life, clearly there's been some issues. Discord-GM's curse forcing her to speak her true thoughts without holding it in could also be seen as PERMISSION to speak her true thoughts and not hold it in.

After all, with all the others Discord-GM has handed them a curse tailored to not only be challenging, but in a fun manner. He didn't even bother trying to trick Pinky, he just asked her point blank to submit to the curse and start roleplaying as a new member of the Expendables. He's not trying to be mean, he's trying to provide a good time... is he giving Fluttershy permission to start being more confident and outspoken?
HappyEevee 15th Aug 2018, 7:34 AM edit delete reply
Interesting take on this. From my reading, it looks like DiscorDM and Fluttershy's Player have both been in bad relationships and are projecting their past experiences onto each other in the present. This would make some sense if Newbiespud is going to carry on the plot from the show where they become friends, because once they figure out the other one isn't the same as the person from the bad relationship I can see them being able to talk some things out with each other that they can't really talk about to the rest of the group.
ShinyFlareon 15th Aug 2018, 12:59 AM edit delete reply
A little late to the party, but I'm going to throw my 2 cents in. I am unquestionably 100% in Fluttershy's corner here; a DM is jerking them all around in and out of character, and when he gets called out on it, he pitches a fit and storms away pouting. It's no wonder Fluttershy's mad - I was too, in this exact scenario with my last DM.

This got...really long, so TL;DR - I am/have been where Fluttershy is now, it absolutely sucks, & I find her initial response & follow-up frustration to DiscorDM's behavior not only incredibly relatable but 100% justified.

Some context: my last group included me, my husband, the DM, the DM's girlfriend, and a guy who'd just moved to town. We didn't all know each other before - my husband & I had put up an LFG at our local game store. At first, things went all right; our DM was very engaged with his world, and there was a lot to unpack. His gf was a new player & sometimes had a hard time grasping the rules & engaging, but she was enthusiastic to spend time with him & other people.

However, problems started cropping up quickly. He'd warned us at the beginning of the campaign that he was known to run deadly encounters. None of us had a problem with this, but it quickly became apparent that the reason for this was because he had no idea how to balance combat & pretty much hated running or planning it. I was playing a sorcerer & would regularly go entire sessions without casting a single spell. He was also EXTREMELY invested in his world & characters - quite apparently to the detriment of his player's. My character in particular got put through the physical, psychological, & emotional ringer on multiple occasions because of an unfortunately low arcana roll on a Deck of Many Things he decided to throw at us while we were still only level 3 or so. More to the point, he was very fond of plot-integral away from table one-on-one RP sessions, much like DiscorDM is running here. Throw the cherry on top of him basically getting bored of his own campaign halfway through because he wanted to start building a new campaign world, add in a dash of "fascination with the macabre" (read: edgy, supposedly morally grey characters/scenarios, obsessed with death, 'just because I'm evil doesn't mean I'm bad,' etc), & that campaign was a mess.

In between campaigns, I offered to run a one shot for everyone. I had DMed one-on-one sessions for my husband before, but had never done anything for a group, so I kindly asked everyone to go easy on the newbie DM when it came to characters. Our DM comes to me saying he wants to play an evil-aligned Oath of Conquest Paladin, which was still UA at the time. Though I'd allowed UA material, I told him no, I did not want to run for an evil character. He then comes to me wanting to play a Hexblade Warlock - also still UA at the time, & also evil aligned. I ended up going back on my allowance of UA content, & though I think my one-shot went well, I can honestly say his character was the least interesting or memorable of the bunch, even though all my other players had to adhere to the same 'restrictions.'

When this second campaign rolls around, the one he's spent months building the world for, none of us are really feeling it. I wasn't even originally going to play in it, but was badgered into it so hard that I basically put as little effort into my character as possible. Though I wasn't the only one to call him out when things didn't make sense or question his decisions/judgement as a while, I will concede that I was probably the loudest.

I promise this has a point, & I'm getting to it now.

Since none of us were really feeling the campaign, he dejectedly decides to end it to keep working on the world. In the meantime, I offer to run a game of my own - not just a one shot this time, but a full campaign. I let the players know it's going to be a desert setting, using the Egyptian pantheon, knowing full well that old DM is going to want to play a grave or blood cleric.

Right on cue, that's what he comes to me with: specifically, a cleric of Set, & an argument for why Set should not be considered evil-aligned. I listen to his arguments, agree to consider it & consult my numerous books on ancient Egypt & its myths. When I do get back to him, I have concluded that, no, while I wouldn't consider Set to be CE, I don't find enough merit for him to be anything other than NE. Note, however, that this ruling was only on Set's alignment & that I did not actually forbid him from having his cleric be devoted to Set.

He then goes behind my back to my husband & singles me out as "crushing his creative spirit," saying he can never get through to or talk to me, that I never appreciate any of his ideas, & literally that I'm "too much of a goody-two-shoes to run or let [him] play anything interesting." When my husband defends me, he calls my husband a prick, earning him a prompt blocking on social media. When he tried to apologize, it wasn't an actual apology; it was a self-serving, guilt-tripping angst-fest about how he does support me as a DM, really, but my anger & silent treatment were tearing him up inside & he felt like such a shitty & worthless human being...

I haven't spoken to him since this all went down a little over a year ago. I went out of my way to assure his gf & our other player that I had no problems with them, & we remain friends, but I also have no plans to open up communication with him again anytime soon. I have been walked over & taken advantage of too many times in my life to have the patience for this sort of self-serving behavior, so I know exactly where Fluttershy is coming from with this frustration & the need to vent it - as I unfortunately just proved with this freaking novel of a comment.
ThatGuest 15th Aug 2018, 2:01 AM edit delete reply
I'd give you a standing ovation if I could. I've had to deal with a few players like that. The worst was one player who not only made horribly broken characters that just snapped the game in half but he also liked to switch characters 7-8 times in a campaign whenever he got bored with one. Eventually our DM just started refusing to let him play certain combos once things really started getting out of hand (I'm talking being able to cause 1k damage to a single target through a loophole/exploit)

In my own game I had a player who wanted to be a merchant but he continually wanted to take up more and more time just sitting in town buying, selling and manufacturing goods rather than adventure. I finally just told him that I wasn't going to set aside 2 hours each session just so he could play SimEconomy.

Both players quit after massive tantrums over stifiling creativity and picking on them.
Homac 15th Aug 2018, 3:44 PM edit delete reply
Honestly, I kind of feel the opposite? DiscordGM was trying to do something that felt at least pretty well planned out to try and test the party, while at the same time keeping them all involved, something that GM has had problems in the past arcs with.

To me, it felt like he reacted the way someone would if a player kind of went for the throat verbally, tearing into both him and his plan the way fluttershy did, even if she was, as GM pointed out afterwards, projecting a bit. His anger felt more like a push back from someone not just saying 'I don't like this' but 'your campaign sucks, you suck as a gm, and I'm not going to participate.' And maybe he took it badly, but everyone in the group is only human. I can say with confidence that if I'd been in Discordgm's shoes, I wouldn't have reacted well to a player not just sort of summarizing the campaign plan kind of rudely, but then flat out saying that she's not going to participate at all, 'trying to take the fun out of it', as she put it in the last comic.
Golden Raven 15th Aug 2018, 11:15 AM edit delete reply
Happy birthday, Newbiespud, and thanks for a great comic!
McRandom 15th Aug 2018, 2:16 PM edit delete reply
Happy Birthday, Newbiespud!! Thank you for all the work you've put into this comic over the years!
Ishidan 15th Aug 2018, 9:33 PM tail wack edit delete reply
Can't wait to see the sass that goes with the tail face slap that's coming.