I started watching Critical Role in 2021 and quickly became enamored with the world Matthew Mercer built for his players. Although Critical Role wasn’t the first DnD podcast I listened to. My first DnD podcast experience was Not Another DnD Podcast which I started listening to back in 2018. I realize that the “mercer-effect” impacted me when I started playing DnD because I had such high expectations from my DM. I wanted to talk about this experience and share something I learned from it.
Me and my friends started a DnD group back in 2019. My friend wanted to try to DM and create his world. As mentioned, I had high expectations as to what I was hoping for from the story. Instead of going into this experience as a learning experience, I wanted a high intense story with real-world implications. I realize that I set myself up for failure. I set this campaign on a high pedestal when in reality, DnD allowed me and my friends to goof off and have a great time. I reflect on this campaign as a way that all my friends were able to get together regularly even though we all live busy lives.
I think the biggest way around the “mercer-effect” is setting little to no expectations when playing DnD. Playing through a campaign with an open mind can allow for random events to happen during game- play. Besides the expectations, I think it helps to have a gaming group that clicks with each other. I have played in campaigns that I grew bored with, but when I reflect on these sessions, I didn’t connect with the group I was playing with. In my most memorable and fun sessions, I think of all the random events that occurred and how much laughter was shared between friends.
DnD is supposed to be a fun, relaxing, and interactive game. If you’re playing DnD and you’re not having a good time, it’s not worth it to keep playing with that same group. It’s also completely valid to be a fan of Critical Role, Not Another DnD Podcast, or Ain’t Slayed Nobody and not want to play DnD. Many fans of these podcasts like interactive story telling, but don’t enjoy roleplaying themselves. The “mercer-effect” can create a negative environment in a gaming group, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Roleplaying is one of my favorite hobbies, and thanks to Critical Role it’s become more accessible and open to enjoy.