Lords of the Feywild

In this installment of Critical Hit – A Major Spoilers Dungeons and Dragons Podcast: The party tries to figure out how to get down a well. No, really…

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. This was great! An episode in which (SPOILER) the party stands around basically doing nothing is ten times more listenable than an episode of tedious combat. More like this, please!

  2. So I’m a linguist, and I would like to thank you for apparently designing this episode just for me. The research on Elven is kinda sketchy, but I can totally see Ket having the most vanilla Elven ever. No comment on Trelle, don’t want to upset Adriana. =)

  3. Amazing episode!

    I agree with Robert: an hour (or 24) of group discussion that does around in circles can be great fun to listen to. I immediately checked the time counter when the Sending ritual was finally brought up (btw, it’s 22 minutes in).

    I hope we get (at least) a few minutes of the same episode from Torq’s point of view in an upcoming anything!

  4. Damn it now all the people on my train think I’m crazy, you should warn us when an episode may cause insane giggles. Other than that great ep XD

  5. This episode was definitely humorous. One of the reasons I enjoy Critical Hit is that it is very much an actual play. [SPOILERS] We have all felt the pain of standing front of a door (or a well in this case) debating whether or not or how we were going to walk through for an hour (or more).

    • I think what you see in situations like this is the weird player/character interference Rodrigo talks about in his article on why he dislikes puzzles in his games. I don’t think Rodrigo intended the well to be a puzzle. And, in fact, it wasn’t a puzzle. It was intended to be “jump in this hole, appear in the Underdark,” just as it was for Torq (and, many many minutes later, for the rest of the party).

      The players expected there to be a catch, not for any in game reason, but just because players naturally assume that DM’s are going to try to trick them and that things that appear obvious aren’t, because that’s “how games work.” Especially after Torq jumped, I think it was incredibly odd that everyone sat down for a huge amount of time and stopped to “figure out the puzzle.” I guess some exceptionally cruel DM could have said “You all fall for a long time, and then you hit the ground. Your bodies explode on impact. This campaign is over. E-mail me your character pitches for next week.” I think that would be a very *bad* DM, and I definitely don’t think Rodrigo (especially in the context of Critical Hit) would ever do something like that, which is why, given that Torq already jumped, it was strange to see them sit down and try to figure “it” out, especially when “it” didn’t even end up being anything at all.

      Once Torq jumped in, whether jumping in was a good decision or bad decision or a trick or a trap or a puzzle or obvious kinda flew out the window, because he’d essentially committed them to that course of action. After someone jumps in the hole without reservation, hesitation, or caution, the DM basically has to decide if jumping down the hole will kill the character. In the context of this game, I can’t imagine any way the answer to that question is yes. Consequently, while some fun roleplay came out of their decision to sit there and debate for hours, it definitely felt like it ground the pace of the game to a screeching halt.

      Looking back at controversial episodes, a running theme for why people find them controversial is when roleplay interferes with the flow of storytelling. There are times when roleplay and storytelling flow together naturally: the interactions with the Gods in the Astral Sea, or the Great Pumpkin lost in the mists episodes, for two easy examples. There are also times when roleplay flies in the face of storytelling: Trelle not wanting to kill the moonsters or this episode. In the latter case, even when the roleplaying is good, it can feel jarring to a listener.

      For comparison, Rodrigo would probably not tolerate a player whose character was highly belligerent and sought to engage in combat at every available opportunity, even if it was consistent with his character and even if it was because that player really liked combat, because doing so would actively interfere with the campaign. Arguing over whether you’re going to kill moonsters, or whether saving Randus’s family is more important than saving Trelle’s forest, or how Elven definitions of democracy inform the method of killing a moonster, or sitting next to a well which one of your party members already jumped into and which clearly isn’t a puzzle because you know your DM hates puzzles are the roleplaying equivalent of a character walking into a bar and starting a fight because they haven’t had any good combat recently. It might be in character, and it might end up leading to interesting interactions (all of the above are definitely very interesting interactions), but it feels like meta-gaming, because it represents players saying “I understand what’s happening in this situation, and I am going to actively short circuit what’s happening, because *I want* to have this character interaction” in the same way a character who wants to have combat interactions would start fights or seek out situations where they wouldn’t otherwise occur.

      And, fundamentally, I think that’s the tension that exists in running a table top roleplaying game for an audience. While my diction obviously betrays my feelings on the primacy of story versus character freedom (be that roleplay or combat) I don’t mean to impugn the direction CH sometimes takes. It’s no secret that this crew favors the social and roleplay aspect of the game, so it’s unsurprising that Rodrigo gives roleplay opportunities extremely broad latitude while tightly controlling opportunities for combat. Rodrigo also emphasized that he wanted Season 4 to be much more free form and responsive to character choice than previous seasons. However, given the threadnaughts that sometimes appear about situations like this in the comments section, I thought I’d try to figure out why they happen beyond “Someone did something that makes me grumpy.”

  6. Terry Heying on

    Kudos to Matthew for his patience while the magic-y people get their act together, and major kudos to Rodrigo – I’ve had those moments where a party gets hung up and all I want to do is yell at them to get on with it, but you managed to not explode! From a DM/GM’s perspective, this was a hilarious and infuriating episode.

  7. stellarleader on

    In my 33 years I’ve watched/read/seen/listened thousands of stories, yet very few, if any, as hilarious as this episode was.

    I specially loved Randus and Trelle’s actions/reactions. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair.
    I love you all guys.

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