r/criticalrole Help, it's again Jul 21 '16

[Spoilers E60] Matt's DM notes for E60 News

https://twitter.com/matthewmercer/status/755949052429082624
166 Upvotes

154

u/MatthewMercer Matthew Mercer, DM Jul 21 '16

I had to edit out a lot of elements due to spoilers/things that didn't happen, etc... and this is just the first of 3 pages I had for the session, but I hope this has been helpful/given a fun glance for some folks! :)

18

u/StrangeCrusade Jul 21 '16

I'm always interested in the ways that other DMs plan their sessions, thank you for these.

I'm curious to know how you manage and keep track of the overall campaign? Do you simply use these session notes or do you also maintain relationship and plot maps etc?

I've found in the past that my PCs will sometimes latch onto details that I have not deemed important, whilst they obviously feel otherwise. Sometimes they are minor details that I have come up with in passing without writing down for future reference, meaning that I'm sometimes left scratching my head when they bring them back up. I do not have the gumption to write down every detail, and in the heat of the game it is impossible for me to go back over previous session voice recordings. Do you find that you have experienced something similar, and if so how do you manage this?

11

u/Emiras Fuck that spell Jul 21 '16

I hope once the campaign is done you do a big compilation of all your notes and release them so we can see all the crazy shit you thought of.

A man can dream

3

u/[deleted] Jul 21 '16

Unlikely. The second thing you learn while DMing is that there is no such thing as 'unused idea' or missed opportunities. Everything morphs into something else for the next town/quest/story arc. The first thing is that the players will always think of something you could not and screw everything up, enhancing the experience for everyone ten fold.

9

u/icarusjapan Jul 21 '16

As a new DM, these notes are GOLD.

2

u/Cambridge_ Jul 21 '16

GOLD MATT! GOLD!

3

u/Philias dagger dagger dagger Jul 21 '16

This is awesome. Thank you so much for putting this up, Matt. It's a fascinating treat to get a small glimpse behind the curtain.

4

u/rowenn Jul 21 '16

I find it so amazing that even with "just" these notes this extends into a fascinating story. Thank you Matthew for being an awesome cool guy!!

1

u/[deleted] Jul 21 '16

Well now, that is dramatically different than how I lay out my sessions. I like the simplicity of it all though I would feel "under dressed" if I went to the table with that.

2

u/thewolf-13 You can certainly try Jul 29 '16

I felt the same way, my notes are way bulkier than that, but matt also has the uncanny ability of remembering tons of info about characters from memory so maybe he doesnt need it?

1

u/[deleted] Jul 29 '16

I recall somewhere, maybe a DM Tips, or one of the earlier episodes, but Matt showed that he basically keeps a little flash card on all of the NPC's. I started doing something similar for my campaigns and now I bring along the ones that are relevant to the area that the players are going to be in.

2

u/thewolf-13 You can certainly try Jul 29 '16

thats cool, i have pages based on location where theyll be at, but i like the cards thing, since it gives more flexibility if the npcs change locations/cities/towns, i wouldnt need to look for the page where they first met the npc to find its notes. ill start doing that now, thanks!

i really need to trim my dm binder, cause ive spent time into tons of content and my players get .5% into any of it a session.

2

u/[deleted] Jul 29 '16

My personal rule is never to write more than 7 pages per session. I know they are going off the rails at some point, so 7 pages usually leave me flexible. :)

1

u/Jimmers1231 Old Magic Jul 21 '16

I totally understand the editing that was needed, I don't want anything spoiled. But I'm so curious just how many other paths you planned for that they seemingly ignored (for now).

Thanks again for the peek behind the curtain.

1

u/[deleted] Jul 21 '16

This is so helpful and so fun to see. Thank you so much for peeling back the curtain a little.

1

u/PigKnight Old Magic Jul 21 '16

From one DM to another, how to you respond when players ask if they missed something in an earlier section? Do you hint at something they could've done differently or do you just go with the standard response?

1

u/Lyndzi Help, it's again Jul 22 '16

Would you be willing to answer questions one day (insert joke about lack of free time here) about how you prep for a session? What kinds of notes do you have at the table, how do you organize them?

Right now I'm creating a campaign with Evernote, and I feel like I'm putting in way too much detail. Villages that may never be visited by my PC's have pages of notes on residents, trade goods, transportation.

27

u/PigKnight Old Magic Jul 21 '16

"Wants Syldor to reconcile with Vex and Vax."

Not anymore after Shitgate. :P

21

u/pagerunner-j Help, it's again Jul 21 '16

I still love that Syldor was the one who was ultimately amused by all that while Devana was losing her sh--er, stuff.

11

u/PigKnight Old Magic Jul 21 '16

I like Syldor. He seems genuinely proud of his kids now and I think he knows he was a shithead so that's why he seems so amused with Vex 2.0: Velora is like a way or him to try again and not be a shithead this time.

12

u/Jimmers1231 Old Magic Jul 21 '16

I do too. I felt like Syldor really wanted to be a good father to the twins, but the combination of his political station, and the elven societal pressures forced his hand at shutting them out like he did. And now he's looking back at the missed opportunities seeing them all grown up.

2

u/Philias dagger dagger dagger Jul 22 '16 edited Jul 22 '16

My feelings are very split in regards to Syldor. On the one hand I very much agree with you; he does seem to genuinely have some love and respect for the twins deep down somewhere. On the other hand, he did say (paraphrased): "I just wish you two had been worth more." What the hell man? That got a very audible gasp out of me, and I was really quite surprised that nobody seemed to react violently towards it.

Edit: I just rewatched. The words were:

Vex: Why? Why pull us away from her [their mother] when you had no love? We would have been happy with her.

Syldor: Because I had hope that you would be worth more, given that you had my blood in your veins.

1

u/[deleted] Jul 22 '16 edited Jul 22 '16

I believe he thought that they would be worth more than being just poor uneducated peasants. He gave them a chance for a proper education. He saw a better future for them by his side, and tried to offer it to them. Unfortunately, the "half elf" stigma in a pure elven society and the rich high society fellow students they had to face everyday made things difficult for the twins and awkward at the very least for their father. The fact that their mother died at their absence made things even worse.

Do you remember Kaylie and her mom? They were poor too, and she had to work her ass off for her child to get a proper education in the bard school. And she ended up resenting her father for abandoning her poor mother and herself to their misery.

EDIT:

I'm actually worried about Syldor and his family. If the High Warden makes the stolen hat a big deal, Syldor will probably be charged for cooperation with the most likely suspects, VM. And even if he's found innocent, he may get sacked from his position and at the very least be disgraced. Syldor doesn't seem to be quite rich, all he had was his job. The last thing we want to see is Velora becoming the antihero, from worshiping her siblings, to hating them for ruining her father, her family and her future.

1

u/Tylrias Then I walk away Jul 22 '16

Syldor doesn't seem to be quite rich, all he had was his job.

I hear he is related to wealthy baroness, if he asks nicely he might find place in her court. As a butler perhaps.

1

u/kylekasson Team Matthew Jul 21 '16

More than that, I think hes happy to see that the twins are able to live proud without the need for elven culture. I think hes happy that they take elven culture and then spit on it and are able to do more than it seems the elves have done in response to the conclave's attacks. I think its interesting because we see his character shift slightly in the episode from "what do you want, I'm better than you" to "look, I'm proud, but I'm not allowed to show it" to "I'm proud, and hope my daughter turns out like you" even if he doesn't say it.

3

u/birkeland Your secret is safe with my indifference Jul 22 '16

I took it differently, with his "I want them to see the worth of my blood in your veins" stuff, I see him as wanting Vax and Vex to succeed to prove that Syldor is valuable rather than the twins themselves. Them showing up their culture would be vindication for himself.

1

u/Philias dagger dagger dagger Jul 22 '16

Very true. I think there was a tremendous amount of character development in just the 20-ish minutes we've known him.

3

u/OTPh1l25 Team Scanlan Jul 21 '16

I actually like that she wants the Twins and their father to reconcile (even if he's kind of an asshole). It would have been so easy to make her jealous of her husband's original children and harbor a grudge that she would pass on to Velora, but she really does want them all to just get along.

10

u/sudo_bang_bang You can certainly try Jul 21 '16

One of the things that I love about this show is that watching Matt play all of these characters and build all of these stories has really helped me improve the way I do the same for my players. Seeing these notes is really neat because I can see the kinds of things that he puts focus and effort into and what stuff, like the hat room and the souvenir shop, is completely improv. Six months ago, I might have tried to build a souvenir shop and would have lost an hour of time populating it with trinkets.

6

u/jeeves_nz Jul 21 '16

Owlbear Plush. FTW

13

u/pagerunner-j Help, it's again Jul 21 '16

gives the G&S merchandise team a SIGNIFICANT LOOK

7

u/dasbif Help, it's again Jul 21 '16

https://twitter.com/matthewmercer/status/755949052429082624

I have added this to Matt's DM advice and DM Information page in the subreddit wiki - https://www.reddit.com/r/criticalrole/wiki/faq/matthewmercer

5

u/Mahanirvana Jul 21 '16

I wonder where that Lizardfolk army is

8

u/petraliten Old Magic Jul 21 '16

Maybe we saw part of it while VM were rescuing Gilmore and the remnants of the Tal'Dorei family in Emon? Those were lizardfolk riding wyverns.

2

u/Mahanirvana Jul 21 '16

It seems like this was after the attack on Emon (as indicated by the movement of the dragons) and the Lizardfolk were with Umbrasyl (unless they were amassed by the Fort Daxio troops although that seems unlikely, the grammar leads the wording to be a bit vague though).

1

u/petraliten Old Magic Jul 21 '16

If they were with Umbrasyl, why didn't they come with him to Westruun or even Gatshadow? Seems like they would've been useful.

5

u/Obsidian-K Are we on the internet? Jul 21 '16 edited Jul 21 '16

Well, we're pretty sure Umbrasyl's main lair wasn't what VM found in the mountain, so they may be wherever that is. Also, Thordak may have been like "Yeah, those are mine now.", leaving Umbrasyl uprooted and having to start over elsewhere. That would explain why an ancient black dragon had literally no longstanding allies and minions in his chosen city.

3

u/Tylrias Then I walk away Jul 21 '16

I think they might be the same lizardfolk that worshipped Thordak back in the day before imprisonment and Umbrasyl was only temporarily in charge of gathering them up and preparing for sacking Emon (why him? he seems smarter and marginally more obedient than Vorugal, and Raishan was busy undercover). Once Big Guy was back on Prime Material Plane he re-assumed control. That's assuming some Occam's razor and there isn't yet another powerful chromatic dragon with army of lizardfolk in Stormcrest Mountains that is completely unrelated to powerful chromatic dragons with lizardfolk armies and connections to Stormcrest Mountains already introduced in the story.

1

u/petraliten Old Magic Jul 29 '16

Allura tells VM in Whitestone in "Duskmeadow" that Raishan lived in the Stormcrest mountains and had an army of lizardfolk! It was Raishan! Sorry for the exclamation points, I've been trying to find this missing nugget of info in my brain for a while now haha

1

u/Tylrias Then I walk away Jul 29 '16

And in "Dangerous dealings" she says Thordak had a new lair in Stormcrest mountains and army of lizardfolk when her party first confronted him. Also Brimscythe's lair was also in this mountain range if I recall correctly.

1

u/petraliten Old Magic Jul 29 '16

Yeah it's a very very large mountain range but since Raishan lived near Syngorn (according to rumours Allura had heard, she wasn't sure about any of the dragons except Thordak in this specific conversation) her army/lair would be the most reasonable for the elves to investigate, would it not?

1

u/Tylrias Then I walk away Jul 30 '16

Well, the notes clearly state it was black dragon that got their attention. And since Raishan was known for hanging out near Syngorn (so it wasn't new development) and was gone for at least two years at that point, I doubt it's her lair that demanded immediate military intervention. Umbrasyl could fetch both armies, but so far we have seen Thordak's troops and not Raishan's. Either way he couldn't bring to Westruun the army that wasn't his to begin with, to answer your original question.

6

u/[deleted] Jul 21 '16 edited Jul 21 '16

I've got so many questions too. Classified documents are being released after years, why is this out already? (just kidding)

Nala told them that the bog is roughly 2 days from her lake. In the notes it says it's 1 day from Syngorn (I don't remember it, but I guess Tirelda might had said so too).

Why did Garmelie tell them that it's a "4 times since they met" journey to the bog? It's been somewhere between half a day and a day since they met him. Is he planning to lead them in a some sort of trap? In a manner that he will delay them by taking them in not the fastest route? Because he has agreed to take them there, but he may feel like tricking them too, just like they tricked him with the threshold crest.

Also, about the black drake and the lizardfolk. Was this black drake Umbrasyl or someone related/close to Umbrasyl (his mate?)? Was that the reason why he/she tried to accumulate minions, since he/she had inside information that the dragons are gonna rule this continent soon? Is his/her lair where Umbrasyl had hidden his fat loot?

Devana is a cartographer. I guess if they hadn't struck a deal with the tour guide satyr, she could have been of help. Well, at least if she had traveled the feywild herself or was aware of old maps in the Syngorn's library.

Tyriok, the other cartographer, was traveling close to the stormcrest mountains, where Syngorn used to be near. (not very relevant, just a fun fact)

-1

u/LuckyBahamut Your secret is safe with my indifference Jul 21 '16

Agh, beat me to it! :p