Remember When: There Was No ‘Mercer Effect’ to Worry About?

What is this ‘Mercer Effect‘?

It’s a very good question. It’s something we can explore.

Mercer you say? I think he might be Venger’s brother!

It all started on Reddit, where this poor beaten down guy wrote this:

How do I beat the Matt Mercer effect? from DMAcademy

Mercer did respond to this with a heart breaking response *eye rolls*

What he (Mercer) doesn’t understand is that there are a lot people out there who watch his videos and get certain a expectation of how a game runs, then run out to grab the books and try find a group. Which would normally be great BUT…

This is where the problem comes into play.

New players with expectations.

These new players (and I have seen this first-hand dozens of times) come to the group expecting you as the Dungeon Master to put on a show and follow the same game play method as seen on the Youtube show. They come up with what only can be considered power gaming spotlight hogging characters, because they want to mimic their favorite actor on the show.

The thing is, experienced Dungeon Masters all have their own style and method of playing the game. Some play by the book with minor adjustments, while others hand out a 3 to 5-page document for character creation rules.

I tend to hand out a small document during session 0 for character creation, so myself and all the players are on the same page. I list all the methods of character creation in this document and house rules I’ve come up with. During this time frame, we go over it and any questions and concerns can be addressed and as a group we make changes or just move forward.

Circling back, in comes this new player, fresh off the latest most awesome Mercer experience, books in hand, character already rolled up ready to go, not even bothering to look at the rules….throwing what is only considered a tantrum when you tell them “that won’t work in this world, please see the creation document”.

So HOW can we beat the Mercer effect?

It’s simple, don’t allow any of them in your game, the moment they tell you about their experience and list watching Mercer stuff, tell them to F OFF!


What you should do is when advertising for your game, via, Facebook or Reddit, you should be upfront with your game, describe what you expect of the players and what give the house rules document in a download.

You can also say something to the effect of that “if you are a watcher of Critical Role, great welcome to the hobby but please remember not every game you encounter will be like what you see on their show. They are professional actors hamming it up for your viewing enjoying, remember that and everything will be fine!”

Try also to be a little more patient with these new players, compromising a little. If they present a character idea, look it over and see how you could fit it into your world, if you can’t come back and meet them half way with some ideas.

During your game play, if they start acting out, you need to take a break the moment you start noticing it and speak to this player on the side, no need to embarrass the guy or gal in front of everyone. Talking to them like an adult on the side can go a long way to earning a lot of respect from your players, it not only shows you care about social situations, you care about their feelings.

NOW not all guys and gals come into your game with these attitudes, its just the extreme seems to be the one most encountered when running public games.

At this point in my gaming career, I play at my house, so I can be very picky about who comes to my house. I can’t let every Tom, Dick, Harry and Nancy just come over my house, I have to be careful.

Vince The Evil DM

Raised in the '80s and enjoys all RPGs, DC Comics and movies that don't push agendas. The Evil DM is an Ennie Award winning writer that has over 25 years of experience in tabletop gaming, is the host of various RPG Podcasts, including Roll for Initiative and Roll High or Die! He also has his own youtube channel where he hosts gaming advice for the OSR Movement.