“I think Critical Role is what fucked everything up, honestly,” says Brett Farley, who refused to look up from his gamemaster’s screen for our entire interview. “You can just tell that he’s up there, enjoying crafting a story for his talented, invested friends and having a really good time, making memories as a group. That’s not what being a dungeon master is about, you know? It’s about trying to get six introverts with shockingly full social agendas into the same room twice a month and then controlling every part of their lives for the next five hours, giving and taking away as you see fit, not unlike a cruel God. Try and capture that in a fucking podcast.”
Dungeons & Dragons, unlike many other tabletops, has a dungeon master running the show; a player who’s not playing so much as bringing the characters through a story, handling the logistics of their choices and having many back-and-forth conversations with themselves in slightly different pitches of voice. Farley finds himself among this group of players with pride, but worries that the spirit of the game has been lost as time has gone on.
“You know you can just play it online now? You can just get everyone together, from anywhere in the world, and play D&D. I mean, fuck, if one person can’t make the trip you can just set them up on Discord in a chair and you’re good to go. How am I supposed to see the light leave their eyes when I absolutely demolish their character in the most personally humiliating way possible? What am I punishing? Bringing snacks when I asked? God, I just want someone to beat the shit out of me in bed.”
“Yeah, it just feels like Farley’s not as into it as he used to be,” says halfling rogue Olivia Berring. “Like, we’ve been playing his campaigns for almost a decade now, and D&D night has become a staple of the weekend. It really brings us together. But he gets really mad at us when we all show up early? I hope he’s doing alright. Man, a lot of rope in here, huh?”
Nerfwire checked back in on the group a few weeks later, and all players said that both the campaign and Farley’s attitude have become markedly more pleasant ever since he got deeply into sadomasochistic sex.
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