Chainmail Bikini: Controversy!

By Shamus
on Oct 2, 2007
Filed under:
Rants

Chainmail Bikini is now on strip #8. We’ve just finished introducing Marcus’ character, and as part of that introduction one of the other characters forcefully groped “her”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll just have to read it or skip this.

This whole thing has caused a few people to object strongly to the comic, saying that I’m advocating “rape”. Conan’s fancy tiara, what the hell? I’ve held off responding because I didn’t want to jump in and argue with people before the jokes were finished. Now I’m writing about it here because the forums have finally cooled down a bit and I don’t want to get things riled up again. I don’t want to be a bad guest of FtB, so I’m a little more polite over there. I’m under no illusions about the impact my words will have on our detractors. Everyone has dug in at this point, but as the one who wrote the offending jokes I feel like I should step up and say something about this.

The situation depicted in the comic is actually pretty mild compared to a lot of real stories I’ve heard from players since I started writing DM of the Rings. There are players who have their characters rape (actually rape, not just grope) other player characters. They murder, torture, steal, and otherwise have fun at the expense of others. The story between Chuck and Marcus is tame in comparison. Really, what we have here is the metagame equivalent of a wedgie. We’re talking about comic characters who are themselves playing fantasy characters in a ridiculous world that none of us are meant to take seriously.

I don’t see the problem. This is a watered-down version of stupid stuff people do to each other in real games, all the time. The people who do this sort of thing deserve to be mocked in our comic as much as any other kind of gamer, if not more so. The series of jokes ended with Chuck enduring real-world violence at the hands of his victim for the actions of his pretend fantasy character. I really thought this would silence the critics, as Chuck didn’t actually harm Marcus in any way, but there are still people stamping their feet and demanding justice be done. I’m not even sure what they expect. Should Chuck endure real-world punishment for his in-game actions? Sensitivity training? Jail? Castration? Better yet, why don’t we just write a comic about a group of players who all respect one another in a friendly environment of collaborative roleplaying? Oh yeah! This sounds like a formula for comedy gold, man.

The main gripe seems to be that this series is sending the message that “rape” is “okay”. So let’s clear this up:

1) It wasn’t rape. It was, if we must ruin the joke by being explicit, a bit of boobie-grabbing.

2) It was in no way “okay”. Like everything else in the comic, this is a lesson in what not to do.

3) The perpetrator endured actual violence for his pretend actions.

4) This drama was played out between two pretend males who were pretending to be a male and female in a pretend fantasy world.

But most of all, the next time you think a webcomic is telling you its okay to rape people you should tell the people running the insane asylum you’re living in that you need more medicine.

LATER: Over in the forums, Roxysteve has charged me with racing right to the lowest common denominator.

Yeah. I actually did do that. A bit odd for the start of the comic, and not very characteristic of what’s to come, but there it is. We’re in the Screwing Around Phase of the game, before the players settle down and actually try to play.

At any rate, at least people have stopped accusing us of ripping of KotDT for once.

LATER STILL: Fair warning, some of the comments below get pretty edgy. I’m being more lax than usual, given the topic and everyone’s strong opinions.

AND FINALLY: This comment below is right on the money and has done a great deal to help me see the comic the way our critics are seeing it. Very interesting.

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  1. Joe says:

    Can we all agree to do away with the “censorship” argument? Not a single person on either this or FTB has advocated trying to get the police, ICANN, the National Organization of Women, the authors’ mothers or any other authority to remove and ban the strip. And that is the definition of censorship, the imposed editing or restriction of publication due to matters being deemed offensive. Commenting on an author’s work or appealing to him to change things in a calm rational manner is not censorship. It has nothing to do with it or banning, so please stop with the theatrics; you’re not defending the first amendment, but muddying the debate with irrelevant commentary.

    On a more personal level, Aaron, I love how you equate stealing a bicycle with rape. Definitely a touch of class, that.

  2. “Punning Pundit: People have said often, “This happened to me in a game once…”

    The humor of any given strip often seems directly proportional to how similar it is to the given reader’s experiences. I took what people wrote about their own gaming experiences, remixed it, and toned the worst parts of it down. Some people are able to see their own game through the absurd CB lens, and laugh at it.”

    Really? If this happened to me, I’d quit the game and find new friends. I seriously fail to see why anyone would put up with this sort of behavior.

  3. C David Dent says:

    Actually Shamus,
    I think you should embrace the “Morality Play” and for a few strips post things like “Murder is wrong” whenever one of the PCs kill someone in the strip, or put an asterisk next to silly inane comments by the players that say “The opinions of the characters do not necessarily reflect the opinions or position of the management.”
    I know *I* would laugh at that.

  4. C David Dent says:

    I also refer everyone to this excellent article:
    The Inevitably-Named “Rape in RPGs”
    http://www.gamegrene.com/node/447

  5. Cineris says:

    @Joe: The Penny Arcade comic is only funny because it’s implying sexual assault / coercion / molestation. The comic would not be funny if the misunderstanding were, say, that parent had the impression the kid were going over to Tycho & Gabe’s place to study algebra, and instead offered to help him with his algebra homework. The comic’s humor directly depends on mockery of maudlin sentimental treatments of what all of us can agree is, under normal circumstances, a very serious subject.

    My Offense-o-Meter, though pegging at about .01% from either of these comics, is less affected by the CMB comics. Anyone who thinks everything that players joke about at the table actually happens [in the game world] has probably never played an RPG. A good half of DMotR was the DM setting up this game world and laying out what should have been to these awe or fear-inspiring experiences, and the players nonchalantly ignoring virtually everything. Instead, they created their own narrative space where their characters are the ultimate badasses, unaffected by anything except the desire for experience, loot, and … experience.

  6. Dan says:

    I’ve been present at games where horrible actions were done for less-than-heroic reasons. This includes murder, rape, theft, vandalism, etc. These are not the kinds of groups that deserve praise, so kudos to Shamus for making fun of them. After all, that was the point of the comic: to insult such people, not raise them up as an admirable standard. I found the comic humorous and spot-on.

  7. axcalibar says:

    I motion to close this discussion and move on. The argument is getting nowhere. Everyone is firm in their position. Love it or leave it.

  8. Mrs T says:

    There is a middle ground, which Steven DenBeste staked out way up the page. It’s not terribly offensive, but it’s also not very funny.

    The problem I’m having with Chainmail Bikini is that there doesn’t seem to be a protagonist for us to identify with. In DMotR, the protagonist was the DM, who heroically tried to tell an epic tale through the ill-chosen medium of a role playing game. In CB, I’m not particularly interested in any of the characters, so I’m not having fun reading about them.

    I haven’t given up on it yet, but I don’t get the ‘OMG new comic–must read RIGHT NOW!’ feeling when I see in the RSS feed that there’s a new CB. I definitely had that feeling with DMotR.

  9. Heather says:

    I’ve been slack on my Chainmail Bikini reading lately. I saw this entry today, read the first few lines and then went to catch up on the last 3 eps. First, I laughed myself silly over the comics. Then I came back here, read the entire blog entry and have had many a good chuckle over some of the comments.

    I’m a female gamer, been gaming for over 20 years, and I’ve played male characters who made inappropriate sexual advances to NPC’s and other player characters. I’ve played female characters who made inappropriate sexual advances to NPC’s and other player characters. I’ve played a character whose background included a sister who’d been raped and murdered and therefore left my character pretty much asexual and a man-hater. I’ve also played a character who had been taken as a slave at the age of 6 and sold to a brothel, having been regularly sexually abused from that date to just a little before the start of the game campaign (character age 23). Heck, I even played a character who murdered virgins to raise zombies for the express purpose of having sex with them.

    In other words, I’ve covered a pretty broad spectrum of characters across the rape/sexual assault issue. The activity portrayed in this comic was pretty damn mild, let me tell you. That being said, I understand that some people find ANY hint of sexual assault to be offensive – but to jump up and down and scream that Shamus is advocating rape is taking the knee-jerk reaction just a bit far, methinks.

  10. Dana says:

    Hey Shamus,

    I once heard a comedian say that if you make a joke involving race, and you miss by even a little bit, you’re called a racist. I guess that it extends to this case as well, where if you make a joke about the sexes and miss you can expect to be called a sexist. As weird as it sounds, I think the problem is simply that the underlying joke isn’t funny enough.

    If a person reads what is supposed to be a JOKE, and it doesn’t make them laugh, then they seem to read it as a MESSAGE. And with all due respect to your new project, thus far (to me), the characters in the strip don’t seem to be coming off as funny so much as simply obnoxious. And this is not meant as a slam but is honestly meant to be constructive feedback, coming from someone who LOVED tDMotR and HAS NOT been offended by anything you’ve written.

    In fairness, though, the armies of political correctness seem to me to be legion these days. Which they have a perfect right to be, but you and I (and anyone else) have a perfect right to a differing viewpoint, if we want (and I call that freedom). The “victim mentality”, which I see as ubiquitous in these sorts of complaints, has no sensible boundary that I can see. As soon as one steps on the slope of “something that person said is responsible for my image of myself and/or how I feel”, I don’t see where it can possibly end (with a society of frightened mutes, presumably).

    I guess what I am saying is, I don’t expect people to act reasonably when race, sex, religion, etc. become issues. There is an unbelievable amount of anger, resentment, and suffering tied up in these divisive categories of group-identity which seem to pit us against one another. Anything that a person writes or says on such topics takes a chance of becoming a lightning rod for all of those negative feelings (including what I write here).

    Oh, and I wouldn’t take the ratio of positive to negative comments to be in any way representative of your overall audience. Those who have found a reason to be offended are the most likely to speak up (most vehemently), and the only way you will avoid offending anyone is not to say anything at all.

    P.S. Not that you had any responsibility to, but I believe that you could have side-stepped this controversy (if you wanted to) by having a strong response (WITHIN the game environment) by the female PC’s character (making the joke[s] on the player acting jerky, instead of the one being assaulted). I have noticed that most people seem to take laughter as CONDONING what is said or done, even though I (like a previous poster) seem to be able to separate appreciating humor from embracing (supposedly implied) message.

  11. Polari says:

    Didn’t bother reading the 70 comments, but I just want to say I don’t understand what the problem is. Some guy did something stupid in a game, which is, like, what the whole friggin’ comic is about. I’m not even in the mood to get any lulz out of this drama, so I’ll just hope Shamus keeps his cool and doesn’t let this affect anything.

  12. onosson says:

    I haven’t read the other thread, and only scanned through this line of comments. I wasn’t offended enough by the story to stop reading, but I must say that the events in question left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable. I think if I was at a gaming session with this group of individuals, I would definitely do my best to leave at the earliest opportunity. That describes how I felt while reading the comic, and it doesn’t bode well for the chances of my continuing to read for very long.

  13. tom says:

    my god people do you have nothing better to do than go ape over a freaking WEBCOMIC? its FAKE people! FAKE!!!!

    the thing that makes it funny is that the player is doing this just to piss the other player off, not the fact that the charecter has been raped. we are not laughing at rape, we are laughing at the fact that his attempt to piss off (and humiliate) the other player in the game was succesful.

    now please if you will either stop reading the webcomic or shutup.

  14. roxysteve says:

    [Shamus] Actually, I accused you of something much worse than appealing to the lowest common denominator. I accused you of setting up the shot then not having the stones to deliver it.

    Why do I say this? because you don’t need “Increased Stamina” to wedgie, grope or de-bra someone, so why did Chuck “Fatbeard” Ragmar say it? A situation was explicitly set up in epiosode 6 (ish) then backed away from, not by plotting but by saying “we never said that”.

    This is a “mighty bound” escape and I call shenanigans.

    Well, if we’re arguing about imaginary people pretending to be other imaginary people, it’s only right to use imaginary sanctions when it doesn’t feel (hur hur) right.

    And for the record, I’m not offended by the idea that someone would explore any of the themes mentioned in the blog entry, provided children were not present and no-one else at the table minded.

    I’ve even considered the possibilities of the mass torture-murderer myself, although I envisaged it as being more of a secret note passed to the DM reading “While I’m not being watched by the others I will do what we discussed before the game started, picking a victim and doing away with it* in the most ghastly manner imaginable comensurate with my easy escape and non-detaction by the good people of the town” than a detailed Role Playing of a Flaying.

    Imagine the looks passed around the table as the other players slowly become aware of the awful truth during a capaign notable in that wherever they go it seems a murdering maniac goes too. That would be the fun part, not the murders themselves. I’m guessing most would see this sort of behaviour as chaotic evil.

    Steve.

    * yes “it”. I would be a sociopathic psychopath in this scenario, with no empathy for my victims.

  15. Shamus says:

    axcalibar: Actually, I don’t mind people egging me a bit more. Lots of people have strong opinions on this and want to express them. I’d rather do it here than in a dozen different email exchanges. I’ve had my say, they can have theirs.

    No, we’re probably not going to change anyone’s mind, but I don’t think we need to.

  16. Nixorbo says:

    I’m wondering if all these people complaining about the comic in question ever RPed a chaotic evil anything (but hopefully a mage, my personal favorite).

    Because obviously implied rape is much, much worse than the senseless slaughter of an entire village (cross reference: Richard from Looking For Group).

  17. Shamus says:

    The comments that sting the most are Mrs. T’s and Steven’s: I knew CMB was going to be a different sort of challenge. We’re 27 panels into CMB now. Was DMotR very funny after just 27 panels? Was it the classic everyone remembers after 27 panels? Probably not, but I still need to keep my nose to the grindstone. I can’t expect everyone to laugh at every strip (particularly since I can’t make self-indulgent 2-page, 12 panel strips anymore) but I take these comments pretty seriously. Webcomics don’t fail because they’re offensive, but they fail quickly if they’re not funny.

  18. onosson: That’s it exactly. I’m uneasy, not offended enough to quit reading, but unsure about why these people are on my screen. I don’t want these people in my living room, and they aren’t an obvious enough parody for me to laugh at them.

  19. Esther says:

    A few observations, coming from a female gamer:

    — There are places between “absolutely inoffensive” and “advocating real-life rape,” no matter what many of the comments seem to imply. The comics, to me, fell in those places.

    — When there’s a joke about a stamina roll, and a joke about no longer being a paragon of chastity, that reads “sex” to me, not “second base.” Nonconsensual sex = rape. Whether or not that’s what you intended, it’s an easy way to read the story.

    — Please don’t use the phrase “a bit of boobie-grabbing” again. Seriously. I loved DMotR (jokes about Legolas’s sexuality and all), but language like that trivializes a common, and far too often acceptable, form of assault and harassment.

    — I’ve only felt the need to quit a gaming campaign once, and that was when the character of a male player (a friend with whom I’d played before) seriously threatened sexual assault on my female character. I knew that the *player* had no desire or intention of assaulting *me*, but even roleplaying it put me in a very painful position. The fact is that those situations are extremely difficult to navigate without triggering negative reactions in at least some of the participants.

    — So, does it happen in gaming? Yes. Should the GM in your strip have let the player get away with it? No. Should the strip have trivialized and poked fun at Marcus’s reaction to the situation? Not really, IMHO. Some situations are almost impossible to make a joke out of, and sexual assault (whether it was “second base” or intercourse) is one of them.

    You can make jokes about how guys react to female gamers or characters without having them rape one. Rape is about power, not sex; one player asserted his character’s power over another character, and a cartoonish “DIE, FATBEARD” doesn’t negate that power dynamic.

    (As an aside, this is why I dislike any kind of roleplaying situation where someone or something *makes* PCs do anything, whether through physical coercion or magical control. It’s not fun for the players, because you’re no longer controlling your play, and it can create real-life resentment against whoever stole that power.)

  20. “the thing that makes it funny is that the player is doing this just to piss the other player off, not the fact that the charecter has been raped. we are not laughing at rape, we are laughing at the fact that his attempt to piss off (and humiliate) the other player in the game was succesful.”

    Oh! See, that’s the thing that makes it unfunny for me. The fact that one player wanted to humiliate and piss off another player is disturbing. If that is the sort of humor that Shamus will be running with, I guess I’ll De-RSS the strip…

  21. Nape says:

    Because it’s not like anyone ever tried to harass or embarass anyone during DMotR…

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=645

  22. Aaron says:

    Joe: You totally missed the point of the bicycle statement. Also, taking personal shots at me is practically pointless, as I don’t know you and couldn’t care less about you personally (because i don’t know you, not through any sense of malice).

    Keep up the good work Shamus :)

  23. Sam says:

    The strip wasn’t really that funny though

  24. Adam says:

    Wow.

    Just wow.

    You people need to calm down, chillax a bit and then move on with your lives.

    No one bats an eye at combat XP, but any sort of action involving a woman is rape. Wow.

    And I don’t see the outrage with the Penny Arcade comic. The one that clearly hints at molestation – rape of a minor.

    That seems to me to be worse that your run of the mill rape, which people are going absolutely ballistic about.

    Come on, peeps. Tell me honestly. Is it because PA had an antelope?

  25. clodia says:

    I need to clarify my position. I was not comfortable with the joke. I wanted to hit the person who said “you know she liked it”. I still wasn’t offended, and wouldn’t want you to change it, even retroactively. I wouldn’t be comfortable with jokes that make fun of people who freeze up when they have to make important in-game decisions – but it is a valid joke. To me.

  26. haashaastaak says:

    I didn’t find it very funny, although I saw the intended joke. But I’ll stick around for a few more and see if I think any of those are funny. I probably will.

  27. Downtym says:

    Sam: The strip wasn’t really that funny though

    Are you kidding? The punchline “Fine, let’s strip to the waist. Have at you!” is an instant classic.

    Clearly, some people need to lighten up. I don’t know what kind of Roleplaying other people do, but I’ve seen the full gamut of every type of rude, dirty, crude, outright repugnant character action out there. I have actually been at a table where a PC gunned down random bystanders (Man, I’m telling you, Shadowrun is like an experiment in Wish Fulfillment if your real life alignment was Chaotic A**hole) because they just felt like it. Hell, entire planets, solar systems, and galaxies have been destroyed on the whim of, “I wanted to see what would happen.”

    For a long time, there was a running joke in a game I was in where I played a female character where I would, out loud, consider seducing an NPC that was being disagreeable or not negotiating (“Hey, I’m a fighter with a Charisma of 13 for a reason…”). Mind you, this was a character that I had written as being 15 and the DM had decided was 14 and was joked by everyone to actually be 12. Though, I never did bother to actually try to seduce any NPC’s; I decided that torturing them almost to death was a whole lot more fun (Man, that character was mean).

    And, technically, I was in a group where a PC was “willingly raped” by an NPC – it involved a doppleganger (LIKE YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING).

    Anyway, while I can see the other side’s argument of why it made them feel uncomfortable, I think you need to see the humor in the locker room jousting that’s going on in the comic. Seriously, imagine that situation with you (male) and your best (male) friends sitting around a table and you begin to describe your female character. If someone doesn’t quip, “Does she have HUGE TRACTS OF LAND!” then you need to find new friends because they’re not as funny as real friends should be.

  28. Joe says:

    Actually, Aaron, I took a shot at your comment; I directly implied that it was tasteless and inappropriate. There were a number of comments that I considered making that were of the more personal bent. I wrote and deleted several before submitting it because I realized they were inappropriate.

    And no, I completely understood your point, but you missed the point of mine. What I was saying is that all too many who thought this was hilarious seem to completely trivialize rape and its consequences. I also specifically meant that your comment seems to indicate that you are doing the same.

    In any event, there is one thing that I was thinking and would like to know…how many of those who really thought this was funny would still think so (and please think about it and be honest) if the female character were replaced by a male character? Not a single one of the reasons given as an explanation as to why this is funny state that it’s because the character was female, so if it’s funny in one case, it should be funny in another. After all, many cultures (especially some of the less structured, tribal ones) have raped the males they’ve defeated, so it isn’t unrealistic or absurd and the situation should be analogous.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s funny either way, but I would like to know. If it isn’t, however, then it would seem pretty clear that a significant part of the reason why people would find it amusing is that it is a man imposing his will on a woman, and that is disturbing.

  29. Deoxy says:

    OK, I wasn’t going to really comment (pretty much everything has been said), but this will irk me until the end of time:

    “Rape is about power, not sex”

    OK, I’m not a rapist, so perhaps I just don’t “get” it, but I just plain call bullshit on that. There are a multitude of ways to express power over someone that don’t involve sex. Untold, practically unimaginable numbers of ways.

    Rape IS about sex. Men get an erection when they want SEX. Having sex without an erection is rather difficult.

    Are there undercurrents of power-struggle in some or even many cases? Quite possibly. There are people who eat feces for sexual pleasure, so I’m sure there are at least a few rapists who actually do rape for power-related reasons.

    But rape is, by default, about power, not sex? Stop drinking the feminazi* koolaid.

    *feminazi – women who actively hate men, believe all men are evil, and proclaim to actually believe that there really was a time in history when women had there own society, including procreation, without men. Yes, there really are women alive today who believe that, or at least profess to. Yes, they are really, really messed up. They also hold themselves up as leaders of the feminist movement (many of them are in academia). They are why the word “feminist” has gotten a bad reputation; historic “feminism” has essentially accomplished its every goal Western society, and then some.

  30. roz says:

    And yes, as invited to by other commenters above, from now on I’ll choose not to read. Sorry Shamus – your Lord of the Rings was great But it’s no skin off your nose to lose a few readers.

    Bingo link

  31. Roy says:

    but to jump up and down and scream that Shamus is advocating rape is taking the knee-jerk reaction just a bit far, methinks.

    Okay, I haven’t read the strip and don’t have an opinion regarding it yet, but on here at least, the people doing the “screaming” aren’t the people who are saying “I didn’t find it funny” or “I found it offensive and here’s why” it’s the people who are supposedly defending Shamus. Who are the people telling others to piss off? Who are the people using all caps? Who are the people trying to insult and deride?

    Honestly, most of the people who were bothered by the strip have been pretty polite about their not liking it- a number of them on here have explained pretty clearly what their problem was. You don’t have to agree with it, but I think it takes a special kind of revisionism to look at those posts and the vitriolic responses they received and suggest that the former are the ones jumping up and down screaming.

    Unless, of course, you define screaming as “anything that suggests that something I enjoy might possibly be sexists or offensive in any way.”

    I also think that some of the reactions are weird in that the treat criticisms that the comic has sexist overtones or content as being the same as the statement “Shamus thinks that rape is awesome and/or endorses rape as being acceptable.” My interpretation is that that majority of the criticisms were the former.

    If you’ve got a gaming group that thinks that using “sissy” and “pussy” are acceptable insults, and that calling another guy at the table “girl” is a good way to humiliate him, it’s an example of the former. The fact that it’s two men taking part in the exchange doesn’t make it less sexist, because what you’re doing is saying that being a woman is bad, and being a man is better. It’s the use of female and femininity as emasculating and insulting.

    Ultimately, I’m sort of surprised by the reactions to the criticisms that I’ve seen, because they’re not really that different from some of Shamus’ own criticisms.
    The worst is the sexing up of all of the females in the game. I always roll my eyes when I go to select or configure my character in the game and find that the males look normal and the women look like strippers. The man gets body armor and the woman gets a titanium bra.

    In working my way through Prey, I came upon a scene where a kid was killed. One little girl turned into a ghost of some sort, and killed a little boy by impaling him on some alien equipment. This is about the worst thing I’ve seen in a videogame in a long time.

    Later that ghostly little girl showed up again and I was obliged to fight her. I’ll give the designers credit: It was indeed shocking, but man, what were they thinking? Yes, she was a ghost, but shooting guns at kid-shaped targets wasn’t what I signed up for here. I found it revolting.

    (and, from that same post: “I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be ALLOWED to make games like this. I’m just saying it’s repulsive and a bad move on the part of the developers.” That post also contains a great response to the people who so politely retort with “Don’t read it then!” to the people that were critical of Chainmail Bikini: “Of course! I hadn’t thought of that! Thats for pointing out the blindingly obvious and irrelevant fact.

    When I said, “I was obliged to kill them” eveyone else was able to figure out what the hell I was sating: I was obliged to kill them IN ORDER TO PROCEED THROUGH THE GAME.

    I’ll decide when I’ve had enough and put the game aside. In the meantime, I may or may not complain about parts I don’t like. Cope with it.”)

    A response of his that I found particularly apt at this point:

    “Shamus says:

    That said, this is one of the few times I have to say you’re completely and utterly wrong. There are no such imaginary limits on storytelling. If dead children are something the storyteller wants to include, then by all means they should do it.

    And so begins the deluge of ankle biting idiots of the internet.

    You just told me my own preferences were wrong. If you want to have a conversation with me, you could say, “I don’t react the same way” or “my experience is totally different.” Something along those lines. You don’t pound out some nonsense about how my own preferences and reactions to thematic elements are incorrect.”

  32. Deoxy says:

    Joe,

    it could be just as funny (perhaps funnier) if either the barbarian character or the guy playing him had already been implied in some way to be gay. It could also be funny in the numerous “Legolass” style jokes of DMotR if the victim had been described or insulted by the others as overly effeminate instead. These would all be very different jokes, but they could all be just as funny.

    Also, you totally missed the point of the bicycle comment. There were two basic ideas. One: PCs commit all kinds of crimes, many of them far, FAR worse than this, but no one complains. Hypocrisy. Two: Some people go out of their way to find things to fault men for (in the example, since they stole a bike from a GIRL, they are obviously sexist) or otherwise look for sexism.

    One last thing (to everyone): stop analogizing race and sex. The two are not remotely analogous. “Race” is social construct (you could create your own “races” of people across all currently existing “racial” boundaries using a different set of traits than skin color). Sex is a biological fact (hint: men can’t bear children). Men and women are inherently different in ways far beyond the obvious (bone structure, muscle mass, reproductive organs).

  33. M says:

    First: the one thing that “Chainmail Bikini” really, desperately needs is a cast page. I have a horrible memory for names…

    The joke was a bit too much for me until the ambiguity was cleared up – but I had to chuckle at the over-the-top violence of the next strip. He didn’t deserve to be physically attacked over it, but Chuck really was being an ass.

  34. Roy says:

    OK, I wasn’t going to really comment (pretty much everything has been said), but this will irk me until the end of time:

    “Rape is about power, not sex”

    OK, I’m not a rapist, so perhaps I just don’t “get” it, but I just plain call bullshit on that. There are a multitude of ways to express power over someone that don’t involve sex. Untold, practically unimaginable numbers of ways.

    Rape IS about sex. Men get an erection when they want SEX. Having sex without an erection is rather difficult.

    It is if you’re completely unimaginative. You’re making two claims here- both of them false.

    1. It’s impossible to have sex without an erection.
    2. That anything that involves sex is about sex.

    As to the first one: If a man performs oral sex on a woman, and he doesn’t- for whatever reason- have an erection, that’s not sex? What about when lesbians have sex? And that’s without getting explicit about things like toys or use of hands, etc. Sex is a pretty broad category of behaviors, many of which, but not all of which, involve an erection. It’s pretty limiting to think that sex has to involve an erection.

    As to the second: Just because something involves sex does not mean that it’s about sex. The last time I checked, marriage usually involves sex- are you going to suggest that it’s about sex? Because, I’m pretty sure that most of us think that it’s more about love and commitment. Maybe we’re the odd ones?

    There are, as you point out, a multitude of ways to express power that don’t involve rape. There are also a multitude of ways of having sex that don’t involve rape. Why should we think that rape is about one over the other?

    Rape is almost always about power and control. It’s about dominating the victim and humiliating him/her. If rape were really about men being unable to control their sexual urges, we’d expect to find only the most beautiful of women being the victims- and yet, that’s not the case. Women from every cross-section of life- poor and rich, fat and thin, old and young- end up being raped. Psychologist after psychologist find the same things- rape is an expression of violence, not lust.

    But rape is, by default, about power, not sex? Stop drinking the feminazi* koolaid.

    *feminazi – women who actively hate men, believe all men are evil, and proclaim to actually believe that there really was a time in history when women had there own society, including procreation, without men. Yes, there really are women alive today who believe that, or at least profess to. Yes, they are really, really messed up. They also hold themselves up as leaders of the feminist movement (many of them are in academia). They are why the word “feminist” has gotten a bad reputation; historic “feminism” has essentially accomplished its every goal Western society, and then some.

    And now it’s my turn to call bullshit. The strawman you’re holding up there doesn’t exist except in the most radical of instances. Show me one leading feminist scholar who believes those things, and I’ll eat my shoes. It’s not just feminists who think that rape is about power- it’s many leading psychologists most criminal profilers. And most feminists don’t hate men, and I’ve never seen one who actually believed that there was a time when “women had there own society, including procreation, without men.”

    It’s easier to bash the feminist boogey-monster when you paint with such broad and inaccurate strokes, though, isn’t it?

    One last thing (to everyone): stop analogizing race and sex. The two are not remotely analogous. “Race” is social construct (you could create your own “races” of people across all currently existing “racial” boundaries using a different set of traits than skin color). Sex is a biological fact (hint: men can’t bear children). Men and women are inherently different in ways far beyond the obvious (bone structure, muscle mass, reproductive organs).

    And when society at large stops treating race like a biological trait, it will make sense to stop making analogies between the two. The reality is that most people, and our society at large, treat race like as though it’s an inherent trait that people have- that it’s biological, not socially constructed.

    Of course, gender is socially constructed, too, but people treat that like it’s a biological fact, as well, so it sort of goes both ways.
    Meh.

  35. MintSkittle says:

    Seriously… can we stop overanalizing each others statements and move on?

    I wanna see Josh and the game-breaking munchkin I’m sure he’s gonna build.

  36. NobleBear says:

    Shamus, while I appreciate you needing to vent about those who found your work offensive I don’t understand why you need to justify what you’ve written to a few wound up detractors who can’t or won’t make distinctions for context.

    I understood what occurred between the characters to be a type of sexual assault (yes, even rape “her”), but thats what not only made #7 funny, but made #8 hysterical.I figured you had him “grope” her for the sake of keeping it family friendly.It’s aggravating to me that there are those with whom you can’t joke about anything.

    Anyway, thank you for allowing ME to vent and please keep up the good work. :D

  37. Red says:

    I’m a chick, yet I wasn’t offended. It didn’t even occur to me to be offended until I came here and saw people screaming “RAPEEEEE!!!!!111”

    ….

    I don’t know. I mean, ultimately, this is a comic about a game in which a gang goes around and fights people, killing flora and fauna wherever they walk, looting and pillaging and bringing death and bloodshed.

  38. Joe says:

    Okay, now I am getting close to the point of personal attacks, Deoxy. I just said I completely got the point that was being made, but that the comment itself, in the manner it was made, trivialized rape. The fact that that wasn’t the express purpose of the comment doesn’t negate the issue of trivialization.

    I completely understand the numerous comments that people have made about characters doing worse things in RPGs and the idea of people yelling sexism or racism at many different things. That doesn’t change my point in the slightest (especially since it was my response to that statement).

    That said, I have two more comments to make. The first is that rape is about power, not sex. It amazes me that even with a myriad of psychiatric research to back this up, people will still deny this, much as many do with the “myth” of global warming. Yes, it is impossible to do without an erection, but that erection is derived from a sense of power and dominance, and the ability to impose their will on another. It’s the same reason that all too many psychopathic men get erections while killing others, abusing others or even simply by being in a position of power. It’s also why many such psychopaths will attempt to rape certain kinds of people, even if they aren’t really attractive (such as those that prey on older women who generally were abused in some way by an older woman and seek to retroactively dominate her in revenge).

    Does it relate to sex? Sure, but we have always recognized that intent matters on a moral, philosophical, ethical, psychological and legal level, and in that same regard, sex has little to do with it.

    Lastly, given Roy’s comments above, I think there’s little more that I could say that he (and Shamus) haven’t already. So I won’t belabor the point any more.

  39. nilus says:

    Does the term “Feminazi” technically invoke Godwin’s Law. Because if it does I believe “Thread Over” should have been declared after post 93.

  40. Shawn says:

    Really, this is a blog where there were 100 comments about how to translate a d20 roll to a percentile roll, we should have known this would happen.

    ;)

    At some point I’m sure you’ll have to lock comments on this thread. Maybe when it hits 200?

  41. nilus says:

    Hit submit to soon.

    I think we all should get back to fighting about how much copy protection on PC games suck. Shamus should get to work writing the next few Chainmail Bikini. He should be worrying less about people calling him a sexist rape advocat and more worried about making more people laugh. I know a lot of people are liking it, there are those of us who aren’t finding it that funny. Try to stay away from implied Rape/forces groping jokes and maybe try out missunderstanding about child molestation and Antelopes. For some reason that combination just seems funnier.

  42. Joe says:

    Noblebear, I’m rather surprised to hear you be as dismissive of those who are critical of these latter strips as you are. I would have thought you would know me well enough to know that I am not one “with whom you can’t joke about anything”.

  43. Deoxy says:

    First, I used “sex” for “intercourse”. Sorry. Having INTERCOURSE (requirement for rape) is difficult without an erection. Better? Also, marriage is not a remotely good analogy. Rape is a SEX ACT, marriage is a long-term relationship (or one kind or another) involving living arrangements, sleeping, etc.

    Is there some level of violence and power-desire involved? I granted that already.

    But a man who is getting all the sex he desires will not rape anyone. End of story.

    It breaks down simply like this:

    A. No amount of power desire will bring about rape if there is no sexual desire.

    B. Extreme sexual desire without power desire can bring about rape.

    C. Therefore, rape is PRIMARILY about sex.

    Second, go eat your shoes. I read the transcript of an interview with her in which she stated it, plainly. I didn’t just make that up out of thin air (because it’s ridiculous and no one would believe it). No, I don’t remember her name, but she’s a professor of “womyn’s studies”. Yeah, that narrows it down to a few hundred raving lunatics, I know. It was about 5 years ago, give or take.

    “And most feminists don’t hate men”

    Of course not. That’s why I didn’t use the term “feminist”, but had to come up with another one. *I* am a “feminist” in that I regard equality before the law, for both men and women, as a good thing. I want women to be able to own property, to be able to vote, to be legally allowed to defend themselves forcibly and even lethally in necessary, etc, etc.

    I was specifically referring “the most radical of instances” (still many thousands of women, with a much higher rate of political activity, on the whole, than average), and I was explicitly stating that they hold themselves up as the leaders of feminism (which they do), not that they represent feminists remotely accurately.

    Thirdly:
    GENDER is socially constructed (to some degree), yes. RACE is socially constructed. SEX is not.

    Race is a social construct based on superficial traits of no importance: the color of one’s skin, the shape of one’s nose, etc. That is, it has nothing to do with capability and everything to do with appearance.

    SEX is based on which set of sex organs one has and the accompanying functional differences that affect the vastly overwhleming majority of people with that set of organs (as those organs drive hormonal balance, etc).

    For instance, men are both stronger than women and more expendable in the long term (one man can have offspring by many women simultaneously, but not the other way around), so men make better warriors, from a functional perspective.

    These differences affect essentially everything in life, even up to the structure and function of the brain.

    The color of your skin does none of that.

    You could invent new “races” using the relative length of ring finger to middle finger, or the length of ones toes, or any of several other traits, and each of these new “races” would be composed of black people, white people, and other colors of people in between, and everything could be just as it is now.

    You cannot do that with sex.

    The two are not remotely similar.

    Race may one day (hopefully) be a historical concept that is difficult to get one’s students to comprehend. Sex never will.

  44. Deoxy says:

    Does someone have a better term than “fminazi”, by th way? I’d love on (to avoid Godwin), but I can’t use “feminist”, as that’s really inaccurate (and a very messy and vague term now, because of said activists).

    Man-haters is too generic, really. “womyn” possibly? I’d like to find an easy to use term.

    I guess “radical feminists” might work, but that could have been used to mean women who wanted the vote (historically speaking), so I’m not so sure that’s good, either.

  45. Rhykker says:

    The quote one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, about people dictating what is off-limits for humor:


    [They’ll] say, “you can’t joke about rape. Rape’s not funny.”
    I say, “f*** you, I think it’s hilarious. How do you like that?”

    […]

    “[He] couldn’t help himself, […] he got horny, he lost control, he went out of his mind.”
    A lot of men talk like that. A lot of men think that way. They think it’s the woman’s fault.
    They like to blame the rape on the woman. Say, “she had it coming, she was wearing a short skirt.”
    These guys think women ought to go to prison for being cock teasers. Don’t seem fair to me.
    Don’t seem right, but you can joke about it. I believe you can joke about anything.
    It all depends on how you construct the joke.

    Carlin was popular for being controversial. He was great at constructing his jokes in such a way that, though they were not politically correct, they would not make people feel uncomfortable with the humor (ie, make people think, “should I be laughing at this? I don’t know if that’s right…)

    Take the above example; he clearly states that he is opposed to rape, and he is not making fun of the victims, but of the perpetrators and condoners of rape. And as a whole, the joke is hardly about rape at all – it’s about the fact that there is this ridiculous notion that some touchy subjects are okay to joke about and others are not.

    So I guess this is a case where the joke wasn’t constructed carefully enough. Maybe if it would have been handled differently, it would have been funnier and less offensive.

    Whatever the case, I’m sure you’ve made more readers from that strip than you lost.

  46. Kristin says:

    Sex is a biological fact. Gender is a social construct. Gender and race are about equal and have every right to be compared.

    Opinion: cut out the improved stamina line, and these comics were perfectly acceptable. Marcus didn’t have to make his opposed grapple roll, he could have appealed to the DM for a timely smite from one of the gods or something. The attacker’s character, however, should be punted from good, and probably neutral, if he had either of those alignments. Yes, alignment is about the whole life and not about one event, but if this is his first impression – not a good one.

  47. Adam says:

    Ok… I read over half of these and it all come down to this:
    IT WAS A JOKE

    I seem to be the only one on both sides at once. The punch line of inproved stamina could have been something like Inmporved graple. Also, it was funny. I laughed, why you ask? Because I have been the DM for almost 20 years now, I have seen it all up to and including a character being drugged stripped and raped by his own team mates (yes his). I do not like this and stopped it before it got to the end of that scene and cut for the night.

    Seriously, we play MMO’s and go out of our way to commit genoicide every time we log on. We play tabletop and raveage land and seek out inteligent life to extinguish. Role playing game are violent. Game in general are violent, but they alow us to make up the fantasies in fake envoirments.

    Joke, Funny.
    Punch line, meh.. could have been better.
    Topic, not far fetched from common happenings.

  48. Joe says:

    Really, Deoxy? There was a professor at an accredited university who claimed that a society once existed that procreated without men? And this didn’t offend you enough to quote her and comment enough about how horrific it is that someone so ludicrous should be placed in such a position of academic power that you could at least remember who it was (if not where or when)? Personally, that strikes me as extremely spurious.

    As to the issue of “a man who is getting all the sex he desires will not rape anyone,” why is that the vast majority either regularly get some other kind of sex or are unable to have sex except with a certain class of victims? We know that the most recent case of molestation/rape with the girl in the Las Vegas area was involved with a woman and that he had sex with her, so why did he need to risk his freedom (and, if it’s all about sex, his conscience) to attack a 3 year old? Not to mention that these men are notoriously charming and could generally have most any woman they want; so why would they choose to commit a felony and jeopardize their lives?

    Why is it that doctors writing for guidebooks for such conservative companies as Merck (Mark H. Beers, MD, and Robert Berkow, MD) recognize that this isn’t a matter of sex, but violence?

    For that matter, I went three years without sex during my sexual peak, something which wasn’t anywhere close to “enough sex”? Why didn’t I rape anyone? Or, conversely, why don’t rapists masturbate?

    But I’m sure you know better than a myriad of psychiatrists, neurobiologists, criminologists or the rest of us, so I’ll just take your statement as gospel truth. End of story.

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

    ok, this is stupid.

    If a character does something you find offensive then the character is a bad person, not the author. If fiction only depicted good hearted well adjusted people it would be boring.

    Now look at the faces of the other characters – they respond with shock and outrage. i.e. the comic shows that this is not ok, and some people are just too stupid to realise that because none of them chose to wax lyrical about it.

    Why didn’t it make a bigger point of the wrongness?
    1 – because realistic players probably wouldn’t have. Even those who found it disgusting and offensive would have dealt with it by trying to move past it into the proper story.
    2 – Because this is comedy, not a lecture on sensitivity training. A lot of comedy tends to be highly offensive.

    And You know what? I found this hilarious, but then my villains always tended to be sexually explicit.

  50. Namfoodle says:

    Wow, a lot of comments here. Gonna take a while to read it all.

    I totally missed the controversy at first because I won’t read the FtB forums. Green type on a black screen sucks, I don’t understand why anyone puts up with it. Are they running the forum on UNIX somehow?

    Anyway, I could see where the comic might push some people’s buttons, but it seemed relatively harmless to me. There’s no evidence that Chuck would behave badly in real life, he just decided to tease the other guy about his choice of character concept. It was in somewhat poor taste, but that happens. My friends and I give each other a hard time about our character concepts all the time, although it’s usually for trying to cloak blatant min-maxing with a ridiculous back story.

    When guys play female characters, it can be just one more thing that breaks suspension of disbelief. When my 40-year old, male, married with two kids friend starts talking in a falsetto because he’s trying to roleplay his high level female rogue in a social situation, I cringe. It’s just too silly.

  51. Namfoodle says:

    And why didn’t they roll for initiative?

  52. Phil says:

    Tackled this on my blog today. I’m in the ‘take a chill pill ‘ camp. The issue needed to be addressed and I salute you for doing it lie you did. Rape is unaceptable, so is sexual harassment. But tabletop RPGs have these issues because of the maturity level of those playing it. Censure of your means of expression will not make them go away.

  53. ArchU says:

    Worse stuff has happened in The Simpsons. I saw the humour in it although it wasn’t lol funny. I’ve been in games with players far more vindictive to other players (but going into the specifics wouldn’t be appropriate).

    I give the hype a “meh”. Stupid humans.

  54. theckhd says:

    I don’t know why I feel compelled to post here, since I’m fairly certain that nobody is still reading comments this far down; I suppose it’s because I want to provide another reasoned voice to balance out some of the more hot-headed comments.

    I personally found the comics funny, and wasn’t offended at all. However, I can see how some people would not find it funny at all, particularly people who are or have close friends who are physical abuse, violence, or rape victims. The scars from that sort of experience don’t heal easily, and I’m sure that it changes your entire world view in ways most of us will never be able to imagine.

    So in that sense, I support all of those people who came here to make comments like, “Look, I just didn’t find it funny, and even slightly offensive. I probably won’t continue to read the comic, just so you know.” I may not agree with them about how funny or offensive it was, but it’s their opinion and it’s valuable feedback for Shamus to have as a writer.

    But just as Punning Pundit doesn’t understand how people could find the comic funny, I don’t understand how people could construe this as Shamus advocating rape in any way. In my opinion, these people are either misunderstanding the basic premise of the comic, or intentionally trying to see something that isn’t there just to spark an argument.

    This comic is about a group of stereotypical gamers. Not average gamers, mind you, because I think the average gamer is a lot more down to earth. Stereotypical gamers. In other words, these characters are the extreme caricatures of people’s worst tendencies at the roleplaying table. From the very first strip, I could tell that this comic was going to be poking fun at those stereotypes in ways that overtly highlight those tendencies. Maybe I was mistaken in this, but the impression I got was that these characters were going to do all sorts of outlandish things that were quite obviously considered “bad form.” As a result, I expect Shamus to have them do and say things that he doesn’t personally support.

    And writing the characters this way makes a lot of sense, because it’s a very effective storytelling tool. In a few short panels, we’ve learned a lot about the characters that we wouldn’t have known without pages of descriptive text. After seeing the way Chuck has his character grope Marcus’ character, you immediately get the impression that:
    1) Chuck’s a jerk – he’s simply trying to get a rise out of another player, and he’s doing it in what’s likely the most inappropriate way possible.
    2) Marcus is supposed to be the stereotypical “whiny emo kid,” which also tells us a lot about what to expect out of the character.
    And that’s not all.
    Chuck’s attitude tells us a lot about the type of person he is. We expect him to pull this sort of impulsive, rude, inappropriate stunt in the future, and in all likelihood once in a while it’ll backfire and get him in trouble (for comedic effect, of course!).
    The fact that Marcus makes the opposed grapple roll (rather than complaining directly to the GM) tells us he’s got a bit of a competitive streak in him. The way he attacks Chuck afterwards tells us he’s not the cold, calculating revenge sort, but the impulsive type. Shamus may even elaborate on this further in the future, making him the type that throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. The fact that Marcus plays a female character with a chainmail bikini itself gives us clues to his personality, and though the interpretations would be ambiguous at this point, if Shamus is half the writer I’m convinced he is, he’s foreshadowing things we’ll learn about Marcus in the future. I’m sure there’s lots more, but I think that’s enough to support my point.

    So regardless of what you thought of the joke itself, it’s hard to deny that he managed to distill a huge amount of information about the characters into a few panels. I’m sure he could have done the same thing with a different, less controversial joke, but whether it would have been as effective is tough to say.

    Now for those who don’t understand how anybody could find this funny, here’s my take. I laughed because I recognize the stereotypes he’s presenting to us. It’s not the character on character rape that’s funny, it’s the fact that Chuck thinks that this is an acceptable way to act, and that Marcus reacts to it the way he does. I’ve known guys who act like this, and those of you who are lucky enough not to have probably at least read stories about people who do. We laugh at the sheer cluelessness of the comic’s characters, because unlike them, we know that this is not an acceptable way to act.

    In any event, I hope Shamus continues to write the comic the way he wants to write it, regardless which side of this issue that ends up leaning towards after reading all the feedback. It won’t be any fun for him to do it any other way. And really, if he’s not enjoying it, what’s the point? I certainly wouldn’t feel compelled to write things for other people on my own time if I didn’t get some sort of enjoyment out of it.

    Wow, anyone who finishes reading that wall of text above probably deserves a medal. I’ll stop now.

  55. Shamus says:

    theckhd: I’m still reading. I read the whole thing. Fans and critics alike.

  56. HeatherRae says:

    Excuse me, I can’t help myself…

    Jesus Christ on a pogo stick!

    I am just…my eyes are bleeding. BLEEDING! And it is all your faults. All of you. *points around* All of you who have not yet figured out that what happened a) wasn’t rape, and b) wasn’t even ABOUT rape.

    Chuck wouldn’t know what to do with a pair of breasts if they suddenly appeared right in front of him. It wasn’t about the breasts, it wasn’t about Sapphire, it wasn’t about that she had an X Chromosome rather than a Y Chromosome.

    It was about Chuck proving that he was better than Marcus. That he was more powerful, a better gamer, whatever. It had *nothing* to do with rape, not even remotely!

    This is a *pretend* comic with *pretend* players *pretending* to be *pretend* characters, and you people are trying to get Aesop’s fables out of this?!

    My eyes are bleeding from this stupidity.

  57. James Blair says:

    My impression of the comic is that it’s currently headed in a direction I don’t want it to go. I consider “the joke” to not be funny enough to overcome its bad taste. Yeah, I found it a little offensive, but I would have forgiven that if it was funnier.

    I still got the feed going… I’m willing to call it a “bad day” and let it go at that for now. If you don’t care if you offend people, that’s okay. Just don’t consider us “wrong” for being offended!

  58. James says:

    For all you complaining about the “Improved Stamina” punchline: “Improved Stamina” referred to the fact that Chuck initially said he was going to make-out with Marcus’ character. I think making out with someone takes stamina, don’t you?

    Chuck just took the making out one step further (groping), presumably because his roll was so much higher than Marcus’. Seriously, this wasn’t bad. I can laugh at this. Remember, while in the game environment, this is a guy and a girl. In reality, this is two guys doing what guys normally do: annoy the #$%& out of each other, especially when one of those guys happens to be emo.

    By the way, anyone who thought this was funny should listen to Brad Paisley’s “Cornography.”

    Here’s the link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=VFsMbdQ1d80 (yeah, ignore the HP crap in the background.)

  59. glass_snake says:

    @Namfoodle – Regarding the FtB forums, you can change the color scheme under your profile. The black and green is just a default skin, not the only skin.

  60. Dangerous_Jade says:

    Okay. My two cents, for what there worth.

    About me: Gamer, women, feminist, and very difficult to offend.

    Disclaimer: I enjoy Shamus’s blog because he is funny and intelligent. I do not think he advocates rape. I did not get a rape vibe from the comic. I am not trying to be mean or sarcastic, and I hope what I am saying doesn’t come across that way.

    That being said, the comic DID squick me out. I wasn’t offended, I just thought it was in poor taste. To me, I didn’t get any rape vibes, but I did get a “these two guys think its a riot to forcibly assault a women, and to use that as a means to emasculate someone” vibe. Honestly, although it was kinda icky, it takes a whole lot more then that to offend me, personally. But I absolutely understand why people are offended by it, and what I AM offended by is any attempt by anyone to dismiss or belittle their feelings. We are all entitled to our own opinions on this great big internet, but I think common courtesy should still be in effect.

    Honestly, I think the reason it bothered people was more because the joke failed. Offensive topics are funny because they are so over-the-top, but this was simply to close to a real-life situation to be comical. I think if presented a different way, it may have worked.

    The other problem I think is that the comic is only 7 or so strips in, and is still trying to find it’s voice. If this had been a character that had been established as an a-hole for quite awhile, I think we would have been more okay with it. It’s kind of the difference between a joke told by one person being funny because “thats how they are” and you know they are just kidding, and creepy when told by someone who you aren’t sure might actually mean it or not.

    All that being said, like a poster above me mentioned, I’m just not comfortable where the comic is going at this point either. Of course I’ll still read this blog, because I enjoy it and don’t think Shamus is an evil overlord wringing his hands ominously behind a computer screen trying to think of ways to offend women readers. I am just not comfortable with that level of humor, just as I and the people I game with would never dream of playing a characters that rape, kill kids, or whatever else. It’s just not what we consider to be a fun fantasy world.

    So I hope this blows over, we all agree to disagree, and I wish the best of luck to the comic. I hope I can pick it back up again once it’s found its voice.

  61. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    Jumping Junipers, batman.

    Let it GO already. It was good, clean, filthy tasteless humor, and the “molestation” within the game set up the perpetrator to get himself physically strangled in ‘real life’.

    In a comic, it’s amusing. Frankly, I don’t think the artist/author went far enough. Could’ve done with seeing some (more) elf boobs tonight.

    That said, it is a damned good illustration of things *that will get your character killed* if you do them in a real game where there is any kind of justice. Maybe the author should have the perpetrating barbarian character killed off, and force him to come back with some kind of Good character? :)

  62. Joshua says:

    Won’t get really into the subject, but I’ll add my two cents briefly.

    I got the impression that Chuck was supposed to strongly resemble the Gimli player from the DotR. The DM also seemed the same, while the two younger guys weren’t identical. Granted that the Gimli player was the closest thing to a protagonist and “in the right” character for DotR, it’s therefore a little shocking to see that character behave in such a manner.

    Also, I’ve actually attended a LARP where a player announced his intention to rape an NPC(played by a woman). Although she grudgingly went along with it, most people were creeped out by it. Wasn’t exactly very funny.

    Ditto for the people who are trying to eloquently express why the subject makes them uncomfortable, while many of the naysayers are resorting to straw-men arguments and other fallacies. Yes, however you want to argue the logic, there is a cultural difference about talking about killing vs. rape, especially in the context of a game.

    Ditto again for the strip not being as funny. In DotR, you had a popular movie serving as the backdrop for a “battle” between the DM and the players, with some minor arguments between the players themselves. Oftentimes, there was a set tone for who was in the right for that strip, whether it be the players berating the DM for railroading, or the DM being flabbergasted at Legolas’s silliness. It was actually interesting how you got to “switch sides” each week.

    In CB, so far, pretty much all of the characters are unlikeable and we have no reason to take any of their sides, and some feel no reason to wish to remain in their company. Now, some people enjoy that kind of dark comedy, but others don’t.

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