Something Positive

  By Shamus   May 29, 2007   22 comments

The phrase “rocks fall, everyone dies” from yesterday’s DMotR is a sort of running joke on various RPG message boards. In the comments of that strip someone pointed me to this strip from the webcomic Something Positive. As this person points out, that probably isn’t the origin of the joke, but it’s probably what popularized the phrase.

I thought it was pretty cool to see, but later I realized that I had (inadvertantly) used a punchline used elsewhere, and that this might look like bad form to some. So, I thought I’d give proper credit and an explanation here so that it’s clear I’m not going to go around stealing everyone else’s jokes now.


20222 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. evord says:

    Reminds me of an old old foxtrot comic. Jason gets Paige to play AD&D with him and, after several hours of character creation, she enters ‘Jason Caverns’. It goes something like this,

    Jason: “Your party enters Jason caverns…Suddenly the roof caves in killing your entire party! Mhwhahaah! Your bodies will not be found for 100d4 years!”
    Paige: “I wonder if I can use these figurine’s weapons on you….”

    I had a GM who loved to drop mine carts / cows on people from orbit if they misbehaved in game.

  2. Gothiullr says:

    As far as I know the punchline comes form a roleplaying spoof card game called Munchkin. They have a card called “Rocks fall Everyone dies”.
    Like I said thats just the place i heard it first.

  3. Jonathan Usmar (aka "This Person who points out") says:

    Ooh, I’m impressed – I thought my comment was too far down to be noticed, you must spend a lot of time reading those comments.

    I think “Rocks fall Everyone Dies” is made more humorous by the repetition, so it truly is a shame that such a large proportion of people seem to think the first time they heard it was the first ever occurrence. So Kudos on attempting to site the source, even if we can’t seem to work out what the actual point of origin is.

    Just as long as noeone claims the “Eric & the Gazeebo” story happened yesterday to a friend of a friend of theirs I think we might be alright…

  4. Jim in Buffalo says:

    I just did a Google phrase search on “rocks fall everyone dies” (including the quotes) and there were 525 matches.

    There are even t-shirts with that on it.

  5. Alex says:

    “Rocks fall” is at least 10 years old; it’s been around as long as I’ve been gaming. In my time, I’ve also seen “a Colossal Red Dragon falls”, and even an Imperial Star Destroyer falls….

    Nonetheless, despite the fact that we can’t be sure of the original attribution, kudos to you for doing the right thing, and trying to give credit where it’s due.

  6. mom says:

    10 years from now, gamers will be doing a google phrase search, trying to find the origin of “Help, my dice are trying to kill me!”.

  7. Gothiullr Says:

    “As far as I know the punchline comes form a roleplaying spoof card game called Munchkin. They have a card called “Rocks fall Everyone dies”.
    Like I said thats just the place i heard it first.”

    Munchkin is way, way, way, way, way more recent even than the comic mentioned in the post above. I suspect the actual origin was probably a paralell evolution thing where lots of GMs who got really fed up wanted to kill the players, and with all the dungeons, rocks falling is the obvious thing. After that, it got popularised.

    I’m just interested in seeing how the DM gets out of this one, now that he’s said that they’re dead…

  8. Myxx says:

    A DM can get out of anything and everything… just like in SciFi, anything is possible in role playing.

  9. Alan De Smet says:

    When the game NetHack has an internal error, the last message it emits is “The dungeon collapses. You die…” This has been in the code since the early days of NetHack, so it probably dates to the mid-80s. I don’t know if it inspired “Rocks fall. Everyone dies,” but it seems like a possible influence.

  10. corwin says:

    That’s the running, mostly-joking threat among the DMs in my gaming group whenever the players get too rowdy.

  11. rflrob says:

    And here I was thinking it was a reference to NWN2…

  12. Roxysteve says:

    If I had to guess at the origin of this phrase, I would point to some text-based adventure game as the culprit. It sounds like some of the crap I got out of them over the years.

    I’m only guessing.

    I agree that the excellent game “Munchkin” cannot be the source, partly because of the dates involved and partly because Munchkin derives a lot of its humour from the “just a bit left of center” retreads of standard D&D sayings and aphorisms. The image that goes with “Leather Armour” for example (gruntgrunt).

    Anyone up for a game?

    Steve.

  13. Jim in Buffalo says:

    Now I’m going to have to go back through all the issues of DMotR and see if there were any gazebo jokes.

  14. mom says:

    Shamus,”Suddenly everyone was run over by a truck.” was probably the actual genesis of the joke in your mind.

  15. Downtym says:

    The first place I ever heard anything expressing what I think at this point is an old DM adage that goes along the lines of “X falls from Y, you die” was from Blackjack’s Shadowrun page in which he recounted the story of a cow falling from a Russian plane and destroying a Japanese fishing trawler.

    Here’s a partial text of the seminal idea (I would link to the actual article he wrote, but the link is broken. =( The link is http://archive.dumpshock.com/bjcorner/ShowBJ.php3?page=bovine.htm ):

    This week I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about cows. I’m sure, if you’ve GMd, you have (or at least been tempted to) drop a cow on one or more of your PCs. I’m sure there are even a few GMs out there who are calculating the physics necessary to loft a cow the size of Seattle into space so you can not only take care of the PCs, but all the idiotic results of their petty existence as well (i.e. fortified apartments they never leave, cyberdecks coated in Orichalcum, motorcycles equipped with SAM tubes, etc.)

    There’s also the infamous “I Got A Rock!” card from NetRunner whose depiction on the card was of a giant flaming meteor screaming out of the sky. The card itself would deal 15 “meat” damage to the opposing NetRunner – enough damage to end most games on the spot – and obviously sums up the frustration we all feel with annoying people.

    I think that much like folk tales and odd, regional sayings this phrase most likely has multiple origins that most likely point to frustration on the part of a DM/GM. I think the feeling of wanting a giant rock to fall from space and smite those that step off the plot train is familiar to many DM’s out there.

  16. Kouban says:

    Amusingly, almost 10 years ago (long before I’d ever heard of RFED), some friends of mine did an IRC RPG campaign, and when one of them decided to quit, the DM wrote him out by explaining that one of the houses he’d helped built collapsed on and killed him.

  17. Wonderduck says:

    “‘Rocks fall’ is at least 10 years old; it’s been around as long as I’ve been gaming.”

    Change “10 years old” to “25 years old”, and you’ll be closer to the actual date (that’s when I first heard it, and I’ve been gaming for 30 years)…

  18. Deacon Blues says:

    In point of fact, the artwork on the Munchkin card “Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies” is done by Randy Milholland, the genius behind “Something*Positive”. (The woman with the pigtail, standing atop the boulder preparing to hurl yet another rock, is Aubrey from the comic, who in turn is based on Randy’s friend Clarine Harp, a voiceover artist. Incestuous, ain’t it?) :)

    He’s also responsible for the Redneck Tree, so the next time you’re in a dense forest and hear a creaking voice say, “Boy, you gots a purty mouth,” you know who’s to blame…

  19. Retlor says:

    Yeah, I’ve heard that phrase in just about every campaign I’ve ever played in! I think it’s just one of those gamers memes.

  20. A friend of mine likes to drop the Monty Python foot on rowdy players. The rest of our group is more familiar with “A shot rings out, your character drops like a stone.” I’m sure theirs pleanty more, and I’m also sure they’ve been around as long as their’ve been DM’s or GM’s or story tellers who have had to deal with rowdy players.

  21. Marty says:

    I believe Alan De Smet has hit the nail… The phrase most likely is a bastardization of some line from an early text adventure game.

    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

  22. Hikari says:

    You guys are a bit loony

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