Chainmail Bikini: Controversy!

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 2, 2007

Filed under: Rants 190 comments

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.


From The Archives:

190 thoughts on “Chainmail Bikini: Controversy!

  1. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    So you’re saying its OK to rape people as long as its pretend people pretending to do it and its not rape and you get punished for it and its shown as a bad thing? Fine. If you want to be an apologist for rape, that’s your bag. Rapologist.

    I kid. Yeah, those comments were ridiculous.

  2. Shinjin says:

    A 12 minute youtube example of this joke.

    Not Safe For Work.

    Tom et ses chums! Farador D&D [Part: 1 of 2]

    Tom et ses chums! Farador D&D [Part: 2 of 2]

    Hopefully this isn’t too inappropriate.

  3. Rebby says:

    First of all, it’s those peoples’ choice to read the comic strip, they don’t have to read it if they don’t agree with it (not saying I agree w/ rape, but its a game…). Second of all, you’re never going to please everyone. There are some people who dig and dig for something to criticize and they just like freaking out about stuff like this. Nothin’ you can do about that.

  4. Dan says:

    Wow, the biggest comedy crime this joke committed was that it wasn’t violent enough. This campaign waited nearly four episodes before flying valiantly off the rails. I think a trip to the hospital, with the DM having to make some quick conversions for the ensuing LARP would have been hilarious.

  5. MintSkittle says:

    I’d invite people to check out the A Team Chronicles at

    There’s a character there that does all sorts of horrible things to her teammates, and finally gets offed by one of the survivors.

    My point being that PC’s who violate other PC’s characters should expect retribution sometime in the future.

  6. I’ve also had a problem with the way your strip has played this out. I think part of my issue is that you let the offending player make semi-reasoned arguments about why his actions were ok, and the only rebuttal was “die fatbeard”.

    Also: dude, you made a rape joke. You didn’t make a joke at the expense of the rapist, but rather made a joke of the process. The fact that this happens not infrequently is not a defense– it’s the reason there are so few women gamers. As a guy who likes dating women who are into games, this is a problem.

  7. Craig says:

    I can’t think of a single campeign I’ve been in where EVERY player wasn’t abused in some way. One player always tried to roleplay the entire party into a standstill, so he was regularly knocked out and carried (he was a gnome) by the other party members. Once, the cleric freaked out and killed an old lady. They made passes at small boys for entertainment. Hmmm… maybe I need different friends…

  8. My reaction to it was that it didn’t amuse me. It’s supposed to be a humor cartoon, or so I was led to believe; I expect it to be witty.

    This wasn’t.

  9. baac says:

    People take this stuff seriously, even when it’s just pretend. What if one of the pretend characters made a pretend racist remark instead?

    I hate PC nonsense, and I’m a novelist and a journalist so I can’t stand censorship, but you poked one of the hives, my friend, even if it was only a gentle nudge…


  10. gedece says:

    Well, shamus, it’s a controversial strip, you can’t posibly expect it not to cause controversy.

  11. Laura says:

    I completely agree with Punning Pundit. There is no in-strip condemnation of Chuck’s actions; there is just Marcus’ anger, which is not the same as a rebuttal.
    The fact that this situation plays out in real life as you have portrayed it makes the whole thing WORSE, not better.

    But really, MY problem with is it that Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it’s not OK to violate people’s bodies like that. (Remember, Marcus’ attack is a headbutt, not a rebuttal!)
    There have been hints of sexism around here before, which have always made me uncomfortable, but they were always small, fleeting, and overshadowed by the quality of your work (and usually way more prevalent in the comments than in your work). I was holding out for this rape storyline to get better as well but your response–which strikes me as more of a knee-jerk reaction than a result of careful thought–I don’t think I can overlook it.
    I’ve taken you out of my bookmarks. I’ll miss you–but the hostility is overwhelming the quality, so I’m going to “choose not to read it.”

  12. Adam says:

    “What if one of the pretend characters made a pretend racist remark instead?”

    Isn’t racism more or less a staple of fantasy roleplaying? Ooh, my character will be deeper and more realistic if he hates elves/dwarves/humans/whatever for no rational reason!

    There’s a serious question…we’re not all that offended by fantasy racism, presumably because there are no real elves around to be offended by the deeply racist comments your dwarven barbarian makes. So, if you were roleplaying a fantasy species with a third sex (like the aliens from Alien Nation, say), would it be less offensive to roleplay sexually offensive acts if that madeup sex were the object of them?

  13. Rebecca says:

    To tell the truth, the comic does strike me as – well, somewhere between misogynistic and a “guy thing,” and therefore of no interest to me. It’s strange too, because I really liked the LotR one and there were no non-player female characters either. I feel like you need, I don’t know, a female consultant.

  14. Rob says:


    I hate dumb reactionists. If he had a character say “Hey guys lets rape that lady” it still wouldn’t be bad because (here comes the reality kick): IT’S A FREAKING PARODY! Relax. If anything you can read it as the opposite. I.E. The author is saying boobie-groping is innapropriate.


  15. nilus says:

    When I first read the strip I said “Wow was that a rape joke”. It could have been seen as a simple groping joke but the last line about “Improved Stamina” seemed to me to cross the line and imply something much more intimidate. Like others have said can’t say in all the years of bad Role playing groups that anyone has forcefully raped another character.

    Honestly the grope/rape doesn’t really bother me. I am honestly just not finding the comic that funny at this point. The jokes just don’t seem that original or all that funny. I loves DMotR so I have decided to keep checking out the comic for the first 10 strips, but if it doesn’t get more entertaining I think I will give up on it.

  16. Baac,
    I didn’t follow the threads on the forum, so perhaps I missed what you’re referring to. Did anyone suggest anything more than that Shamus had lost a reader? If not, I fail to see Shamus is being censored.

    As for your other remark: If the player is playing a racist, fine. Since the player is playing a rapist, I fully expect to see this carried into the game. Perhaps some of his other past exploits will come back to haunt the character. If he’s the sort of uncontrolled barbarian who can’t see a pair of pretty breasts without being compelled to grope, there ought to be an offended woman/husband/father/wife/sister/brother/someone looking for vengeance…

  17. Ann says:

    I wasn’t offended at all by the groping in CMB — in fact, I was snickering. I am female and played AD&D for about 10 years in a mixed group. Since the other woman’s husband was usually the DM, the specific sort of behavior in your comic didn’t happen, but we all knew the potential was there. There was one campaign set in Sanctuary that a couple of playing sessions were spent in rolling up visits to the brothels, via notes and whispers. Made for a really dull game for us two females. Yes, we did deal with it in character, and for a while everyone was angry at each other, but the group got over it.

  18. Shamus says:

    Laura says:

    “But really, MY problem with is it that Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it's not OK to violate people's bodies like that.”

    Looks like she’s not coming back, bu this is pretty revealing about where the “OMG RAPE” arguments are coming from. This misses the point by a million miles. This has nothing to do with “groping women”. If you read this and think Chuck would really like to grope a woman, I can’t really help you. I don’t even know where to begin. If you’re going to look at one guy humiliating another guy and call it sexism, and then ascribe that sexism to me… wow.

    Yeah. Please do stop reading. Cripes.

  19. Patriarch917 says:

    Unlike Laura, I don’t expect you to write insightful social commentary in which you teach us how to interact with each other in a respectful and gender sensitive manner. I don’t want the next few strips to consist of a “rebuttal” to the groping, all the other characters explaining to the offender the error of his ways, and Chuck learning a valuable lesson about how to respect women. I expect jokes about gamers and the outlandish things they do, or might do, so I can laugh at them.

    I fully expect you to mine this situation for every possible joke about gender bending, transvestitism, and all around gayishness. I played a half-elf beguiler once, and the whole party decided that I looked sexually ambiguous. It wasn’t part of my character concept, but I went with it and let them roll a d20 in order to randomly determine whether I would be called “he” or “she” by every NPC we met. This is the sort of thing that people do.

    For those offended by this sort of material, I feel a duty to warn you to stay away from things like South Park and The Internet.

  20. Adam says:

    “If you're going to look at one guy humiliating another guy and call it sexism, and then ascribe that sexism to me…

    I don’t know that ascribing that sexism to you is valid, but the time honored tradition of humiliating a male by forcing him into a female role is sexist by definition. Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything particularly shocking or controversial about it…it’s pretty much how guys interact, which is probably an unfortunate observation, but not one particular to the comic.

  21. Shinjin says:

    Sure, I can see the controversy in the strip. But is it really necessary that each and every strip be a condescending morality play? That seems to be what some are asking for. I know sexual assault is wrong. You know it’s wrong. Shamus knows it’s wrong.

    “Chuck thinks it would be fun to grope a woman against her wishes and no one he is playing with has told him it's not OK to violate people's bodies like that”

    This comment seems to suggest that there is no responsibility for the reader to run the strip through his/her own morality filter to come to this conclusion.

    The point of the strip (IMO) is that it is clear that what the player did is wrong.

    Suppose one of the pretend players decides to role play his pretend character as being in a bad mood. So the character goes and kicks a puppy. Is it really necessary for Shamus to come along and tell us that kicking a puppy is wrong? I don’t know about some people, but I really don’t need my hand held like that.

  22. Downtym says:

    I laughed at the comic. Mostly because it reminded me of things I’ve seen in real life. How is this not one of the classic jokes in D&D? A male player playing a female character is often subjected to ridicule by friends/coworkers/parents/pets/whoever else finds out. Hell, in MMO’s you have the ever-so-lovely term “Mangina” (YOU KNOW THE ROOTS).

    And hey, here’s another obvious stereotype that’s telling: A girl joins the group and all the other players except one have no idea how to act around her or her character. Why? Jesus, man, IT’S A GIRL!

    While it’s arguable that the type of comedy portrayed is “Base” or “Common” the fact is that it’s the exact kind of humor that is found in any gaming group ever. There’s a reason they call it “Common” humor.

  23. Jeff says:

    I agree that this was Not Cool.

    You had a character RP a sexual assault and give the standard rape-apologist lines in response. This, while squicky, could be fodder for a good strip (and not necessarily in a “morality play” style).

    But then you had to go and dismiss the whole damn thing by making the punchline about LARPing. Because we all know that the real problem with sexual assault is all those uppity victims who get upset at being groped.

  24. Maddy says:

    I am a woman. I was raped by a “friend” years ago. It was nothing like what happened Chainmail Bikini. What happened in Chainmail Bikini was funny, and the thought of rape never even crossed my mind. I was surprised as anything to read the comments here.

  25. Ian says:

    Wow…never in my wildest dreams did I even imagine that some people would be so bloody hypersensitive that they’d scream “rape” over that joke.

  26. baac says:

    Pundit: what I didn’t explain properly is a scenario where a pretend character made a real life racist remark, not a crack about elves, etc. (Who we all know are a bunch of pretty boys…)

    You can say ‘It’s the character who said it,’ but people are still going to go ape-poop. And I’m not referring to the appropriateness of the comment or the reactions, just the predictability of the results.

    And the censorship I was referring to was self-censorship. I sometimes find myself removing things from my work because I get too caught up in the reader’s reaction. If it serves the story or develops the character, it should be left and damn the consequences. But because of reactions like Shamus is experiencing, sometimes I cut… Mind you, I get paid by people who have to hire lawyers when I shoot my mouth off, so it’s a different situation.


  27. Jhianna says:

    Ah lovely. I’ve been a loyal fan of DMotR since the early days. I’ve been a gamer (yeah, I’m a chick) for close to 20 years.

    The whole barbarian PC force gropes the priestess PC left a bad taste in my mouth, but I’m not going to stop reading the strip. I usually point out why things like this make me uncomfortable and aren’t enjoyable, give the person the chance to not do it again, then move on if the same things keep happening.

    To you Shamus, it’s obvious that this thing is just a comment on things that go on in other groups (as you pointed out, usually in far worse ways). Can you at least try to put yourself in the other person’s head?

    Been forcibly groped by someone physically stronger than you? The comic pushes all sorts of buttons for anybody who has experienced that or worse in real life. I’ll tell you what I’ve told the countless guys I’ve gamed with: I play RPGs to escape the crap in the real world. I don’t play to be reminded that I’m physically weaker, considerably less powerful than those in charge, and subject to the whims of the cretin sitting next to me. Sure, I can try to prosecute the real life stuff after the fact, but can a guy going to jail scrub out the memories from my brain? Last time I checked, that wasn’t an option.

    And seriously? He gives the excuse “Besides you have to admit she liked it a little bit” and you didn’t expect to get flamed into next year?

    That being said – the barbarian being too commitment shy to form a party was a riot.

  28. Shamus says:

    It really is facinating to see the two divergent reactions to the strip. The line is very clear between the two groups, with almost no grey area. Nobody’s budging, and the two sides can’t even see each other’s positions. (Really, no matter how I look at the strip I’ll never see it the way Laura sees it.)

    There is something fundamentally different in the attitudes of the two groups in how they think about roleplaying. It’s very interesting. I’d explore it some more if it wasn’t pissing people off so much.

  29. Sharpe says:

    Meh, my gaming group had a woman in it who blatantly used her “equipment” to influence NPCs. I suppose my gaming group is sexist now as well.

  30. E_scapism101 says:

    I don’t find assault or rape funny in the least. Which is why I immediately deleted my bookmark to that comic and stopped reading it.

    It wasn’t a good joke Shamus. There are some things that just aren’t funny, no matter how you try to spin it. If that kind of thing is okay in a group of men, it shouldn’t be.

  31. Ian says:

    I think what everyone is forgetting is that this is an act of fiction.

    If someone writes a book about rape do you immediately scream “HE/SHE IS ADVOCATING RAPE”? When someone writes a book in the perspective of a serial killer, do you assume that they advocate murder?

    Get over yourselves. Far too many terrible things happen in the real world for you people to gets your panties in a bunch over what’s happening in a web comic. Sheesh.

    And besides, if you don’t like it, if you don’t agree with the subject matter, do what most logical people would do: don’t bloody read it. It’s as simple as that. No need to subject others to your bitching. Just stop reading.

  32. baac says:


    Not to stick my head in the lion’s mouth, but ‘assault’ is the basis of role playing… It’s the very basis of the LotR…


  33. Funny would have been the barbarian getting his butt kicked by his intended victim. Funnier would have been the difference between barbarian’s success/failure being made by the attributes of the Chainmail Bikini. Funniest would have been having the barbarian (the whole party?) showing up in the same outfit next session.

    Having the fat, middle aged, divorced guy sexually humiliate the emo kid? I can’t imagine how that could be funny.

  34. Shawn says:

    The only thing I don’t understand still, is the idea that by showing something we’ve automatically condoned or supported it. Now, I’m biased of course, but I think from Strip #6 on it’s pretty clear that Chuck is being a dick and everyone else at the table is either pissed off, squicked out or annoyed. It’s not like anyone is throwing Chuck high fives and thumbs up.

    Now I realize that some people aren’t going to find the last few strips funny regardless, but it just boggles my mind that because something bad happened, and we didn’t throw up giant neon signs over the last three comics saying “This is bad! Do not do this! Chuck is a bad, bad person!” that we were instead saying “Hey everybody! Tackling women and taking their tops off is awesome!”

  35. Shawn says:


    Clearly, everyone who works on the show Dexter supports and condones serial killing, don’t you know?

  36. Phlux says:

    I’m on your side Shamus. I read those comments over on FtB and couldn’t really believe how out of proportion some people take things. It’s like we’re all conditioned now to experience moral outrage at the drop of a hat.

    I mean come on, Chuck even says it’s “more of a second base kind of thing”. Do an urbandictionary search for Second Base and you’ll realize the extent of the harmlessness involved here.

    It’s inevitable that someone will (if they already haven’t) play the “I/my significant other/my sister/whoever, was a victim of rape/molesting/violence and it’s not OK to joke about it ever, no matter how innocuous” card, in an attempt to score points in an argument.

    My heart really truly and deeply goes out to all those who suffer from such experiences, but in my own humble opinion, when you lose the ability to laugh at something, it has beaten you…the terrorists have won…game over man.

  37. Zincorium says:

    What I don’t get is how the supposed action (which is not even rape, except by the loosest, most frenzied definition) is even relevant.

    One male character is annoyed by another male character who has decided to play a female. This is a gamer stereotype, which is what all the characters are. Some people really can’t get over cross-gender rping.

    Specifically to make the 2nd guy uncomfortable and possibly change characters, the first makes lewd comments and suggestively uses the grappling mechanics. Whoop-de-do. He then gets attacked for being an annoying SOB.

  38. Matt says:

    So does this mean people who “tea-bag” in Halo are advocates for homosexual acts?

  39. baac says:

    Shamus said: “Now I realize that some people aren't going to find the last few strips funny regardless, but it just boggles my mind that because something bad happened, and we didn't throw up giant neon signs over the last three comics saying “This is bad! Do not do this! Chuck is a bad, bad person!” that we were instead saying “Hey everybody! Tackling women and taking their tops off is awesome!”

    I think we have to state clearly here that you’re either with the gropers or you’re against them… That they form an axis of groping. We can’t let this stand.

    Clearly, I don’t have enough to do today…


  40. Shamus says:

    Matt: I actually thought about Halo when I wrote this post, and nearly brought it up. I do wonder how the “that’s not funny” people react to that, or if they would classify it as the same thing. Do they consider Halo multiplayer to be a hotbed of murder rapists?

  41. Ping says:

    Yes, the comic strip is just fiction. No, it doesn’t have to have moral commentary and be a deep and life-altering experience.

    But fiction in any form and to any degree must be relevant to real life. Especially humor, or it just isn’t that funny. So I look for parallels, situations I’ve been in, etc. And sometimes, I find them in more painful ways than I expect. I don’t read fiction about sexual assault. My sister doesn’t read it about murder. We both have very specific reasons for this, based on our own experiences.

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

    It is still a forced encounter of a sexual nature. Split that hair as finely as you want, but it was still a man forcing unwanted attentions on a woman because he was stronger.

    My reaction to any reference to sexual assault, however many degrees removed from reality, sets off a complicated and long-lasting emotional reaction. For every woman, sexual assault is always a danger. Less so in more liberal and advanced places, but it’s something that I am always aware of when I travel, when I walk up the street from the metro, when I hear strange noises at night. I don’t obsess about it, but it’s always there.

    To me, that’s no joking matter, whether it’s a prop in a joke about something else or not. Because it is such a powerful thing, it overshadows the other jokes the comic strip attempted to make.

  42. Rick says:

    Wow… All these people were initially on board to read a comic about a group of guys getting together in a fantasy world to slaughter things for loot. They were prepared to be humored by situations involving:
    1 – Murder for + items
    2 – Torture for treasure
    3 – Robbing for gold
    4 – Immolation for booty
    5 – for loot
    6 – Etc.
    But suddenly the thought of a fake sexual harassment is off limits. They’ve suddenly drawn a line in the sand. As if they are taking some moral high ground.

    Shamus – I was shocked to see this post as I haven’t read any of the Chainmail Bikini forums. The joke was humorous. It made me chuckle.

  43. Shawn: Are we looking at the same sets of strips? Between strip 4 and 8, the only people I see are: Fat guy, Emo kid, and the DM. In strip 6, I only see Emo kid. There is no one else at the table doing anything it all, let alone being “pissed off, squicked out or annoyed.”

    Perhaps I’m missing something?

  44. Thad says:

    In many ways, Marcus gave up the right to complain when he made his opposed roll. He went with the interaction. He could simply have said “nope, not going there”.

    That’s the difference between this joke here and actual rape: Marcus voluntarily continued the interaction.

  45. Davesnot says:

    Welcome to the same problems movie makers have.. if you’re popular you’ll piss a ton of groups off by telling even a tame story.. they’ll boycot this and that.. call you this and that.. ..if you’re a comic nobody sees.. you can do anything and nobody will care.. until you do something that actually gets picked up by others.. then you’ll get popular and well-liked.. until more popularity comes around… and then the cycle starts anew.

    Welcome to popularity.. a place we nerds will never truly understand… Enjoy!

  46. clodia says:


    Just so you know, as a woman who went to a woman’s college and is considered very feminist by those who know me, I’m not offended. You made it clear that the groper was being a dick. Showing actions in your comic is not the same as condoning actions. I don’t think you were condoning rules-lawyering earlier in the strip when one of the players attempted it!

    People need to breathe.

  47. Quanity says:

    I basically agree with Rick (#42) here. I’d like to see the reactions when the comic goes for action. I presume that soon we will be seeing some fights in the game, let’s say with orcs or animals or whatever. Then, according to logic, most of the people pissed off about the groping jokes should go “OMFG, the players are killing sentient beings! They’re killing semi-intelligent semi-humans! So you’re saying that it’s ok to go out and kill animals, especially apes? Curse you, Shamus, you’re a bad person!”
    Things will get much worse if at any point the players will encounter human enemies like thieves or evil wizards. “WTF? Did you just imply that self-administered justice and even death sentence are ok? I hope Satan personally rises from hell to collect your soul!”
    OK, the point is, RPG’s are always fantasy games (fantasy as in imagination, not literature). The reason people play them is because they can act different and do things they can’t do in real life. Same with playing video games. So what the hell is wrong about it when I set a whole town on fire, disembowel all soldiers, rape all women, make a tasty stew of all the babies and eat a live puppy for dessert? If I do this in a fantasy game, would I do it in real life? Probably, and this is a stretch, not.
    This reminds me too much of the whole “video games make kids violent”-debate. And I don’t see the point there either. Really, if people think this is offensive and sexist, then nobody could make fun of anything.

  48. mneme says:

    One reason I think you’re seeing two divergent opinions is that they’re both, more or less, true.

    1. It was clear that you were making fun of players who PVP the crap out of other characters, and ones who can’t deal with other people playing female characters or cross-gender in a mature way (see: aragorn/leg-o-lass). (the fact that it was a “grope” joke, not a “rape” joke was ambiguous early due to the “improved stamina” joke, but made clear in the text later).

    2. The joke was flat. The punch lines weren’t really funny, and the assault was actually over the line (now, if Ms. Chainmail Bikini had pulled out her greatsword while the barbarian was “busy” and done some permanent damage, well, -that- would have been funny).

    3. While it’s not actually an issue, now that you mention it, well, yes, there’s a lot of KotDT in that sequence–from the characters’ bizarre reactions to cross-gender roleplaying to the “in character sexist remark leads to physical trauma” that Knights, by being much more subtle about the issue, manages to pull off in a way this sequence doesn’t.

    I’m still waiting for things to improve, but I wouldn’t dismiss your detractors just because they’re out in left field; sometimes a mixed metaphor is still illustrative.

  49. khorboth says:

    wow. I read through the forums briefly. I'm commenting on this side because registering for things annoys me (personal issue).

    So… yes. The humor was edgy. To me there is only one excuse for that. It was funny. I will never be offended by a joke. I understand that some people have a line of offended past which they can no longer find humor. I don't have this issue, but the vast majority of people do.

    Shamus wrote briefly about the dichotomy of the group. Perhaps I can help bridge the gap.

    People saying it's inappropriate:
    Are there no jokes that you think are funny which still manage to offend others? How much warning label do we really need? Should Shamus put “views of the characters are not the views of Shamus Young or any member of the production team” on every strip? Do we need to break character in order to have Marcus calmly discuss the inappropriateness of in-game rape? Marcus is clearly upset with this concept and is trying to teach Chuck not to do it. If it offended you, please remember that it doesn't offend everybody and that doesn't mean we condone rape. Shamus didn't stick to totally G rated content in DMotR, and we certainly can't expect him to do so in a strip called “chainmail Bikini.” Sometimes it may offend, but have faith that Shamus will bring us more of the bickering and infighting that we have come to love.

    People who think it's stupid to be offended:
    Have you never been offended yourself? Can you think of no time in your life that someone has made a joke that offended you so much you couldn't laugh? Try to remember how that felt. Nearly everybody has a line. Shamus hit on a subject that crosses it for many people. Rape really is a serious matter, and many people simply won't get past that. How funny the joke may be doesn't enter into it at all. Let me try to demonstrate with some truly tasteless jokes. If you're offended by Shamus' strip, or easily offended in general, please stop reading this post now. Seriously, just skip to the last paragraph. I'm about to drop the absolute most offensive jokes I can think of to illustrate my point.

    Q: What's worse than an elephant with a head cold?
    A: The holocaust.

    Q: What's better than winning a gold medal at the special Olympics?

    Did you ever hear of Ku Klux Knievel? He tired to jump over 50 black men on a steamroller.

    A rabbi and a priest are walking down the street, and a little boy runs across in front of them with a baseball. The priest says “we should screw that boy!” The rabbi says “out of what?”

    Ok, how'd we do? How many of these were just so offensive that you couldn't laugh at them? Is religion no laughing matter? Or race? I'm sure there are worse jokes than these, but that's not the point. So, if you did laugh at all of them (or just think they're lame), I have to ask… Would you tell these jokes to your mother? Why not? I hope that this brings some perspective.

    And please DO NOT post your own offensive jokes. That's not what I'm getting at, and if it degenerates to that I hope that Shamus will remove all of them including mine.

  50. Maija says:

    Hi Shamus & all,

    I’m a female p&p roleplayer, larper by hobbies, and I wasn’t offended by the recent chainmail bikini comics. I think it’s sort of fun and interesting though, to read people’s reactions. Some of it could reflect the frustration of all female players in the vague space of “geekdom” where there we have also lotsa women now who like DD fantasy, read webcomics like Shamus’s, play games like Morrowind and Oblivion, and are constantly being subcategorized by their hobbies into a magical demographic group of (mentally) young, introvert and zit-faced males, by the grace of the sort of target audience a lot of geekery and fantasy stuff are aimed at by game designers and corporations, and therefore they feel uncomfortable sharing sexist jokes within their own sphere, where they already have this image problem imposed on themselves.

    I personally like every jibe at female fantasy stereotypes in this comic, ESPECIALLY involving chain mail bikinis, because I hope comedy will eventually help fantasy as a genre to at some far point in the future to get rid of the incredibly sexist and stupid female “armor” and other stupidities, although you might argue that overhyped sexism is a part of fantasy (if we go into Conan, or back into the target audience catering again :) )

    Just my 2c :)

  51. Lain says:

    First of all: I despite Rape or other humiliating and/ or violent interaction until it is explicit allowed by the submissive partner.

    Second: My name is not George W. Bush and I not ejaculate by developing something like Guantamo with all the funny gmaes happening there every day the last few years.

    Third: For hells sake, this is a comic!

    Fourth: Take this away, it is about a few guys, which play a game!

    I play RPG now for 25 years. I played guys and girls. My female character also get raped. I also played rapists, murderers and someone in my group even killed children, awakens them as zombies and have THEN fun with them.

    RPG can be a way to play with your darkest thoughts and fatasies without real consequences. So why not? As far, that NEVER EVER happens something like this in reality, you can think about and play and fantasy and, if you want, jerk off as long as you want.

    By the way: The most cruel, horrible, brutal sadistic players are Ladies. If you are Master or Player: Beware, when they get unleashed!

    One female player cast “Sleep” to the other player, she was secretly in love and his girlfriend, killed her by cutting her heart out and fulfilled an evil ritual for cursing the poor gal for all eternity.

    Because of the fact, that the player didn’t know – in reality likewise in fantasy – who it was, he really hates me, the DM. Believe me, even in reality this is hell…

  52. gedece says:

    Shamus, feel free to look trhough my posts in FTB (the ones in strip comments 6 to 8). Perhaps you’ll notice in some I was trying to explain the line you mentioned here.

  53. Cineris says:

    I just checked today’s Penny Arcade, and felt like it made my point admirably for me.

    Looks like you’re in good company, Shamus.

  54. There’s been a lot of discussion of why these strips weren’t funny. What I don’t know is why anyone thinks they are funny. I mean, someone must think this his at least worth a chuckle, or else no one would be discussing it. I would love to know what people are getting out of this set of strips…

  55. Jhianna says:

    Well I can say that I wasn’t really offended by the comic. It mostly made me think the entire Chainmail Bikini party is made up of 13 year old boys (emotionally and socially if not physically). But some of the defenses put up on here have made me feel distinctly unwelcome.

    khorboth has a point though – I’m not going to be able to get past rape, no matter how funny you make it. Unless… If I’ve signed up for a no-holds barred, we’re the vilest mofos on the block game – well then, be prepared for retribution after the fact. There were some fun things those Hera worshipers came up with way back when – let’s see how many we can re-enact.

  56. Mordaedil says:

    Overly sexist characters are fun, because they are a release of behavior we cannot really let ourselves be in real life, not because we innermost desire it, but because we have a tendency to want to illustrate the ridiculousness of a situation by acting it out sarcastically.

    If Shamus was for “rape” or violation of personal boundaries, he would likely have written that Marcus starts to cry or that the DM says “your character is now pregnant”.

    Mind, rape isn’t funny. But this was a character we’re not supposed to like, obviously, why else would he go to the efforts of playing an ugly barbarian and violate someone else’s character before they even begin? He’s showing exactly who he is and he’s doing a damn good job of it.

  57. Joe says:

    Okay, one of the primary defense arguments for this “humor arc” (not exactly a story arc) is that people are reacting to a sexual assault in a strip that involves massive killing, while not saying anything about the killing. The argument doesn’t stand up, however, given the premise of RPGs.

    While it isn’t universal, RPGs generally revolve around a group of PCs who operate as the heroes of the story. As such, while they end up getting hip-deep in blood and guts, they are presumed to be doing so for a greater good. They kill inhuman monsters to save innocent people, to prevent greater bloodshed, etc. If one of the PCs immediately jumped up and slaughtered some innocent children or murdered a PC’s girlfriend, for example, I think you’d see many of the same comments here as you’re seeing now in regard to that.

    As if the event itself wasn’t bad enough, the similarity to real life is cemented with the comments at the beginning of #8, “Besides, you have to admit she liked it, at least a little bit.” All too many rapists have gotten off scot-free with this argument, one that attempts to turn a victim of a violent assault to some pathetic whiner who isn’t happy with their “choice” to have sex.

    In any event, let’s say you completely ignore all of that and focus on the humor itself. On some level, the writers and all those who found this amusing, find the idea of one player (at the bare minimum) bullying another by having his character violate the other’s in a tremendously humiliating level, simply because he chose to play a female. So, there’s violent misogyny and emotional intimidation and degradation, and that’s supposed to be funny? At least when bad things happen to Cartman (given the references to SP made repeatedly here), it happens to a hate-filled, greedy, gluttonous, misogynistic, anti-semitic bastard (and generally, because of those traits).

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is funny, nevermind appropriate.

  58. Davesnot says:

    We are getting a warm chuckle remembering past p&p games and the mixed bag of people we played with.. those glorious gamers and all their human flaws.. those were good times and it is fun to remember them.

  59. nilus says:

    But the Penny Arcade strip is funny

  60. Shamus says:

    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.

  61. Shamus says:

    nilus: A quick scan of the comments will reveal that some people find these strips funny. Not everyone. Some people find it to be anti-funny, but the joke hit home for some people.

  62. TheBladeRoden says:

    *puts on eyeshadow and films self in front of a blanket*
    Leave Shamus alone! *cry*

  63. Joe says:

    Cineris, I’m not sure how the possible misunderstanding by a parent presuming something bad from something innocent (a common source of humor) relates to this strip at all. In this case, there is gross bullying and intimidation and simulation of sexual assault; the two don’t really correlate.

  64. Aaron says:

    I haven’t subscribed to the forums at Fear the Boot, but just reading this has me in absolute stitches. Is rape funny? Nope, not even a little. Is reading posts about a bunch of people who have read WAY too much into a pretend world about a pretend world? You’re damn right it is.

    Seriously people: GET. OVER. YOUR. SELVES.

    Shamus isn’t advocating ANYTHING. He has flat out told you rape isn’t cool. The comic isn’t about rape. It’s about a couple of (FICTIONAL) idiots who are getting annoyed with each other about their (FICTIONAL) characters. This has happened in my game group before, and will most likely happen again. Imagine that! We play games where we pillage, murder, and steal from other people/races/religious backgrounds. Mention ANY of that stuff and people laugh. Apparently it’s ok to steal, murder, and pillage your way through a game (or a comic) but not rape.

    It’s a comic. If you don’t like it, piss off and go read something that won’t offend you. Good luck finding it by the way. Walk into ANY library ANYWHERE and you’ll find something to offend everyone.

    “Omg! in this book I’m reading, Bobby stole Sally’s bicycle! The author must be a sexist bastard who should be hung from the tallest tree in the land!”

    Shamus, you keep doing what you’re doing man. If they don’t like reading it, they can (and should) go elsewhere. Reading is a choice, just like anything else. By the way, it’s Banned Books Week this week. I’d say the comic has remarkable timing!


  65. 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.

  66. “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.

  67. 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.

  68. C David Dent says:

    I also refer everyone to this excellent article:
    The Inevitably-Named “Rape in RPGs”

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.


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

  79. 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.

  80. 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).

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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.)

  84. “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…

  85. Nape says:

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

  86. 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 :)

  87. Sam says:

    The strip wasn’t really that funny though

  88. Adam says:


    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?

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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

  95. 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.”

  96. Deoxy says:


    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).

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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

  101. 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.

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

  104. 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?

  105. 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.

  106. 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”.

  107. 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.

    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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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.

  111. Adam says:

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

    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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

  115. Namfoodle says:

    And why didn’t they roll for initiative?

  116. 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.

  117. 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.

  118. 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.

  119. Shamus says:

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

  120. 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.

  121. 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!

  122. 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: (yeah, ignore the HP crap in the background.)

  123. 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.

  124. 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.

  125. 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? :)

  126. 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.

  127. Bruce says:

    Regarding Chuck’s actions, which have upset so many people, he seems like several of the people I play with. They are not evil or bad people, and not really jerks, they are good people who like to use the game to “try out” a different kind of moral code than they have in real life. Just because a person has his character do something objectionable in a game, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t know better, they are playing a character.

  128. BlueFaeMoon says:

    THIS is why I avoid forums like the plague.

    Forums AND raunchy barbarian-perverts yielding a lucky D20… all scum.

    Really, it doesn’t matter one whit whether I liked, disliked, or felt searing internal loathing for those specific panels. But the fact that there is a great deal more in life to worry about than FREAKIN CHAINMAIL BIKINI, has me wondering why so many feel the ‘urge-to-purge’. I’m obviously not getting the newsletter.


    I start to suspect some of these people have not ever even played D&D before. Heh, I remember this one time when the group disliked this one other player so much that they conspired to kill his character. It was murder. No way around that. It happened under the DM’s radar and the disliked player was shocked. It seemed to me that it would have been easier to say to him as REAL people, “Hey, you’re bringing down the game. Maybe you should join a different group.” He probably would have been suicidal. No, in true RPG fashion, we had to kill his character to get rid of him.

    SO… when there are REAL people playing a role playing game, sometimes those “antisocial” traits come forward in roleplay form. Obviously a hyper-homophobic would want to establish his Alpha Male status early on. Even at the expense of other men in the room. (specifically the one who is so obviously less “alpha”)

    I’ve witnessed it many times. It’s a great guffah moment. It often sparks long-term “get back” moments throughout the campaign (which creates those “inside jokes” that kinda binds us together); but seriously, it’s all just fun and games to the players.

    A comic based on a game that mimics pretend life…. I start to wonder if I can sue that damned Escher drawing for screwing with my equilibrium.

  129. ShadoStahker says:

    Found out about the controversy just now. Neither I nor my fiance even thought you were going in the direction that some people did. We both enjoyed it.

    As far as this happening in real life, it’s very true. The most humourous example of such that I can remember is the party throwing my Gully Dwarf (read: annoying) character to a group of Nymphs, in order to escape. Nothing was spelled out as to what happened, but it was implied. My character’s satisfaction was also implied.

    But I have to correct one thing from an above post.

    43 Punning Pundit Says:
    October 2nd, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Shawn: Are we looking at the same sets of strips? Between strip 4 and 8, the only people I see are: Fat guy, Emo kid, and the DM. In strip 6, I only see Emo kid. There is no one else at the table doing anything it all, let alone being “pissed off, squicked out or annoyed.”

    Perhaps I'm missing something?

    The guy on page 6, who is shocked at the end, is Josh, the munchkin. He is not Marcus (emo-kid). He is Josh and he is clearly shocked by what Chuck is proposing.

    Keep being funny, Shamus. I enjoy your humour, and enjoy that you don’t allow anyone to change your mind about what you think is funny and appropriate.

    My fiance and I tend to agree with your assessments.

  130. StereotypeA says:

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, rape ISN’T cool?

    I have some apologizin’ to do then.

  131. ohnoabear says:

    I think my main issue with the strip is that it came too early in to really get a feel for the characters and know what they’re like. Consider it this way: if a friend makes a tasteless statement and you know he would normally disagree with what he said, then you can assume he’s joking. If someone you just met said the same thing, you wouldn’t know whether or not he was joking.

    This strip is the same way: I don’t know what the guy playing the barbarian is like. I don’t know if this is in character or not; if he just doesn’t like the goth kid or if he does this kind of stuff all the time. I don’t have any context because it’s only the sixth strip. I don’t even know the names of the characters (either set); I’m just starting to get a feel for the comic and then bam! rape joke.

    The Penny Arcade comic that was referenced here is a good example. They and their characters have been around forever; you know they’re not child molesters, but the punchline is that they act like it. I don’t know what the guy in your comic is like yet, because the first real thing he’s done is try to have his way with someone else’s character. It’s too much, too soon.

    I’m sure you know these characters pretty well, since you’ve written the first bunch of them already. But your audience doesn’t have that luxury; the only way we’ll get to know them is through the comic.

    Those who still keep reading, anyway.

  132. Laura wrote: “I completely agree with Punning Pundit. There is no in-strip condemnation of Chuck's actions; there is just Marcus' anger, which is not the same as a rebuttal.”

    I guess I’m not seeing it: Look at strip #6. This third character is shocked and outraged by what’s happening. Then you get strip #7, which is entirely about one person complaining about the behavior while the perpetrator defends his actions.

    So you’ve got four people at the table: One person perpetrated it and we’ve seen that two of the other three people consider it inappropriate.

    More importantly, the ENTIRE JOKE is predicated on the idea that this is completely inappropriate behavior. Thus, any attempt to read these strips as, in any way, condoning the act is obviously absurd.

    Justin Alexander

  133. I don’t expect I’ll change anyone’s mind, but I do want to chime in, as another voice on a particular side of the argument.

    I didn’t find the joke funny. It felt too much like real life, without that special alchemy that turns it into comedy. There are characters who take actions like that within a game, and they do so because their players think it’s funny. Those people are sexist creeps, and I don’t find them funny.

    Note that this is not the same thing as saying Shamus is a sexist creep.

    A lot of women have experienced sexual harrassment of one sort or another, ranging from inappropriate comments through groping to actual rape. Those who haven’t, are often aware of the high odds of it happening to them eventually. So “an exploration of gender roles in the context of a roleplaying environment,” in a case like this, translates to “the offensive replication of an unpleasant reality.” Especially when Chuck’s defense of his action comes straight out of the real-life apologist playbook.

    Obviously this didn’t offend everybody, or even every female body. There have been women commenting, saying they found it funny, or at least that they weren’t offended. But I’m in the camp of people who found it just kind of icky.

    Maybe what it boils down to is — pardon my French — I think Chuck is, by the evidence so far, a fucking asshole without much in the way of redeeming qualities. And Marcus is an irritating example of what happens far too often when gamer guys decide to play girls. I don’t like any of the characters so far (with the possible exception of Josh, who has hardly spoken), and so reading the comic is kind of like spending time with the sort of gamer I would never want to be caught dead in a campaign with.

    The funniest bits of DMotR were, to me, things like “Give me your name, horsefucker!” (the botched Diplomacy roll) and its capping joke, “I would cut off your head, dwarf, but I don’t want to look up the mounted combat rules.” It was the least funny to me when the players were making cracks about “Leggo-lass” and other such humour that isn’t amusing when people employ it in real life.

    I’m going to keep reading, see if CMB finds its voice, and decide whether that voice is one that amuses me. But so far . . . not so much.

  134. Quanity says:

    Shamus, I regret to inform you that because of all of this, I will not be looking up your page anymore.

    The current page, that is :) I was following the discussion since I think the topic is important, but this has gotten so far out of hand that I’m losing my faith in humanity, which has worn extremly thin already. Up to now it’s just ridiculous how much over-interpreting and over-analyzing can evolve around other people’s opinions and, even worse, about a comic strip. Not that I’m surprised by it, I can see this every day.
    Whatever, keep up the good work! I guess your strip won’t be affected in any way by this discussion, and I sure hope it stays the way it is, cause it’s just right this way.

  135. Schmidt says:

    All this, over any actual ‘evidence’, proves we evolved from monkeys. This is nothin’ but flinging feces about, albeit Verbally (well, typed, but you know what they say about monkeys and typewriters).

    Now Shamus, I recommend once they get their game a goin’ you have them hit a Kobold village and massacare every male, female, and pups around. Wait… do Kobolds lay eggs? you may need to have someone stomp on eggs…
    Anyhoo, bring up the fact that they did a wee bit o local genocide and how it’s not even an eyebrow raiser.

    A Paladin might have had hours of whining to do to stay in character. Hell, he might’ve had something fun to say about the baby Kobolds on their spears. Then you’d have to draw said spears, and then make a quip about being pro-choice… about killing Kobolds at least :)

    The variance about the difference betwixt sex and violence in our modern society might make for some entertaining posts. If nothing else it’ll get some monkeys riled up, and as YouTube has proven many a time; theres nothing more funny to watch than Monkeys goin’ bananas.

  136. Da Rogue says:

    Okay, people really need to get off of their high horses and learn what a ruddy joke is. Shamus is 100% right. Guys are guys for one, and if you think you need to get bent out of shape over someone having fun with their friend (ie joking around) then yeah, get over yourself and stop being so self-righteous and judgmental.

  137. Jonathan says:

    Joshua is right! I can’t believe I didn’t notice until now: Chuck is a Gimli clone! The beards alone…

    Factor in that Chuck also made inappropriate advances on his friend’s (to use the term loosely) female character…

    These two facts have made one thing very clear to me: Shamus is biased against dwarves. The hidden message of CMB this week is that dwarves are misogynistic, rape-happy barbarians.

    Not cool, Shamus. Not cool.

  138. NobleBear says:

    Earlier, I had made some remarks that were written impulsively and had completely ignored those posts that had gone before, intending only to make my own statement and wander off to other points of interest.

    In doing so, I have marginalized and insulted at least some of those who have spoken out in their disapproval of the strips in question.

    To those who were harmed by my words, I apologize.

    While I had intended to show my support for Shamus, there are obviously better ways of going about it than to recklessly step on the toes of who’s opinions disagree with my own.

  139. Rolf Kreuzer says:

    I think the joke was not as funny as it could have been. Maybe it would have worked if, as Chuck tries to grope/rape he finds his “victim” not as unwilling as he thought it will be. Imagine how uncomfortable he would become if “Lady Sun-Sky” wants to “get it on” and Marcus or the GM demands it to be roleplayed… i think it would lead to Chuck getting all green in the face and shouting “STOP IT!”. ;-)

    So, now to find this Timemachine…

  140. Greg says:

    I got maybe 1/3 of the way through the comments and I’m starting to get a lot of deja vu so I’m going to comment with what I’ve read. Apologies if it’s already been said.

    Shamus, you say you’d explore how people get entrenched this way and can’t see each others point. Do it! Everyone loves curiosity :D

    Your claim that it was just about groping smells luck bull to me. The ‘improved stamina’ crack doesn’t make sense in that context, stamina is only relevant if you’re doing something…er…prolonged.

    I’ve got no issue with the comic, other than that I didn’t find it very funny (It’s a watered down version of things that I’ve already seen around gaming tables, so it doesn’t really say anything new) but it’s clear a lot of people did.

    I don’t think I’d have predicted the reaction to this comic an’ it looks like you didn’t either. So whether the joke’s offensive or not (which is a subjective thing anyway) it doesn’t make sense to think of you as wrong for posting it.

    I’d take the stance that there’s no objective truth in these matters, nobody really gets hurt in a comic, so right and wrong in showing this stuff is determined by what it does to the audience. I doubt that you’ve influenced anyone in a “I wasn’t going to rape anyone, but now I’ve seen this comic that shows no rational rebuttal for it in a hypothetical encounter between unreal characters generated by two other unreal characters I’m going to do it” but it does seem to have caused a considerable amount of distress.

    I figure at the end of the day everyone needs to minimise the suffering they cause in others, so regardless of whether you think the reasons that people become distressed are rational or not (That’s a pretty subjective judgement too :P) it kinda makes sense to stay off this stuff a bit in the future.

  141. Matthew says:

    Perhaps it’s bad form to quote the very site you’re posting to, but I just can’t resist referencing one of my all-time favorite bits of commentary from DM of the Rings XII: “You may be a group of unsightly men sitting around a card table on a Friday night, but your players will still be looking for chances to meet girls.” The fact is, serious subjects do not often get serious treatment at the table.

    In my last campaign, I was playing a female tiefling druid/master of many forms. At one point during the game, another character tried to rape mine in the middle of the night. It ended differently than in the comic, however, because you reaaaally don’t want to start a grapple check with something that can become a twelve-headed hydra at will, with a full attack consisting of 12 heads that hit for 2d8+6 damage -per head-. What I’m trying to get at is that rape and sexual assault, as a serious subject, are not funny. Rape that ends with the perpetrator getting devoured by an angry monster (or LARPed into submission)… well, yeah, that’s amusing. I laughed more at the declaration of “DIE, FATBEARD” than I did at anything else in this past week. Hell, I even laughed typing it in just now.

    I’ve found the comics to be very amusing thus far. It’s a fresh approach to “tabletop culture,” which I appreciate a great deal. While I can’t speak for others, my readership, at least, shall endure.

  142. Mark Caliber says:

    Oh my goodness.

    I saw this whole scenario coming since I read the title of the web comic.

    And it was confirmed when the cast was composed of four guys!

    Ugh. Shamus, you’re never going to please everyone, but one sure way to offend everyone is to TRY to appease everyone (to butcher a quote from Bill Cosby.)

    So, ignore the detractors and rock on. I mean, really. If you get too offensive, I’ll just stop reading you’re web comic.

  143. Zaxares says:

    Wow… There’s a lot I could write in response to this discussion, but I don’t have much time tonight, so I’ll keep it brief.

    1. I am a man.

    2. I did find the comics funny, and both the “Improved Stamina” line and the “Die Fatbeard!” line cracked me up.

    3. I do not condone rape or sexual harassment in real life or at the table between players.

    To me, this comic was a tongue-in-cheek look at a situation that can sometimes emerge at gaming tables. (For starters, I have players that frequently will roll dice to see how ‘well-endowed’ their characters are, and then constantly brag about it to others. … I’m not kidding!) The comic, in of and by itself, was great.

    The suggested implications of the comic and what it could mean for real players, however, is not so great. I’m sure that nobody would want to see their own character violated in such a manner, and for players who empathise really closely with their characters, this can be a very disquieting, even frightening, scenario. Sure, some people will just shrug it off and say, “It’s just a game. Nobody’s actually been hurt.” And they’re right, it IS just a game, but I know very well how distressing and hurtful experiences “in the game” can be to somebody who puts a lot of themselves into their character.

    Gaming should always be FUN, a place of refuge away from the stresses and worries and anguishes of real life. Therefore, always be respectful of another player’s limits and be very, VERY cautious about any inter-character interaction that directly or indirectly harms another player’s character. The stuff depicted in the comics is OK, as long as it stays in the comics.

  144. Oxyde2 says:

    In the end, this whole thing will be for the better.

    Those who for some reason don’t get the joke and get offended would probably not understand other jokes in the future and get upset everytime you throw in anything related to the male-player’s-female-character (which seems a very good source of recurring jokes). Getting rid of that kind of reader right now is a Win-Win situation. You don’t have to worry so much about “offending people”, and they don’t get upset at you (simply because they’re not reading it).

    Now, I’m going to criticize the execution. That joke felt a bit half-hearted, like you knew you could make it funnier and more cartoonish, but decided not to. The “DIE, FATBEARD!” made up for most of it, though. :P

    Honestly, the best way to act when dealing with people who are entrenched in their ideological positions is to just lock any posts/delete any comments of people who took it too seriously. If they’re not willing to accept arguments or even say “you have a point”, there’s no point letting them discuss anything. Would it make you a bit less popular? Sure. Would it make things a lot easier for you? Definetly. This is the internet, after all. Even if you just say “fluffy bunnies are cute”, someone is going to disagree with you. Maybe even get offended by your statement that bunnies of the fluffy type are pleasant to the eye.

    Now I want to see how the rest of the comic is going to work. Will the cleric have a grudge against the barbarian and only heal him well after he goes into his negative hitpoints? Maybe something worse? :D

  145. Site Relha says:

    My views here may have been posted before, but I couldn’t read the entire thing because my brain was screaming for mercy from the flame war.

    What happened in the comic is not rape, it is a guy antagonizing another guy for choosing to play a female character (This is also my response to people calling this comic “sexist”). The player with the female character could have chosen to ignore the other player’s challenge if he wanted.

    The player of the male character had gotten attacked in real life in response to an action he made in game (not even in game but in pre-game In-Character BS.) What more do you people want? That Shamus be given the death penalty for making a joke?

    In short, read for the funny, not the unintended under/overtones. Damn close-minded fools…

  146. Marmot says:

    I very much enjoyed the last several episodes. I’ll admit I removed the Chainmail from my bookmarks but through occasional links on your website I jump in and read. The last one was particularly amusing and I don’t see why anyone would get it wrong. Heck, it screams “DON’T DO THIS!!!” all over the place!

  147. Gyokuran says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what Esther (#85) has written.

    The #6 strip clearly implied a sexual assault (who needs stamina for groping?), so did further comments (defiled purity) even if #7’s aim seemed to be a watering down of the situation.

    Yes, rape is about power and I can’t say I’m comfortable with people who enjoy overpowering more emotional, idealistic players (“lawful good”) just for the sake of a sadisitic satisfaction of seeing them hurt.

    It’s a vicious character streak that transcends the level of RPGs as such, which is what many commenters comparing this act to ‘wrongful deeds’ like ‘burning down entire villages’ don’t seem to realize. Chuck’s stab wasn’t directed at anonymous beings in a fictional world, it was directed at an image of purity, a ‘brainchild’ created in another player’s mind and it’s raping was bound to hurt the player on many levels.

    Hint: Try to imagine a ‘game’ where someone is fantasizing aloud about raping your sister and as you fail to defend her you are forced to acknowledge your helplessness (the failing opposing roll) and watch her ‘imaginary’ rape taking place… Even if you try to think of it as a joke it really isn’t funny is it?

    What really matters here is the emotional distance of the player to his ‘creation’ at this point: fiction can be ‘real’ if corresponds with a mental image triggering a response, if it is *felt*.

    In real life, this guy would just leave the table and never come back. His mistake was to make the opposing roll rather then refusing to go into this stuff alltogether.

  148. Shamus says:

    Clue: He ALSO said it was a second-base thing. Myself, the author, defined it as such. Look at what is said:

    * Make out
    * Stamina
    * Second base
    * Lost virtue

    Those don’t really fit together, do they?

    He’s making this up as he goes. It’s incoherant, which makes it all the less “real”. The DM isn’t even involved. Where is this taking place? Nowhere, because they aren’t anywhere yet.

    The whole sister thing misses the point, yet again. If he was dealing with an ACTUAL female he wouldn’t have acted this way.

    Sigh. I suppose we can do a few more laps around this today, but I doubt we’ll get anywhere.

  149. a different laura says:

    While I don’t agree with most of what gyokuran says, I do think alignment is as much part of the reason the strips made me uncomfortable as gender, so I thank him for pointing that out.

    I guess I’ve been the Marcus in my gaming groups; I identify with being the idealistic player who’s made a lawful good character determined to uphold Purity and Virtue, only to have some jackass at the table belittle and defile them in some way. I recognize the silliness of getting so emotionally invested in a character that that genuinely bothers me, but isn’t that part of the point of the game?

    The fact that gender is mixed up in it just compounds the issue. Being made to feel powerless at the words of the most annoying person at the table is by no means akin to rape, but it is an unfortunate situation, and it’s part of the reason I no longer care to play D&D.

    I’m not offended and I’m not going to stop reading, but the storyline did make me feel a little glum.

  150. Iain Coleman says:

    A lot of why this doesn’t work well as humour, and why it’s ended up annoying people, is to do with the structure of the comic. I think Shamus really struggled with fitting a potentially amusing gag into the three-panel format, and ultimately didn’t manage it successfully.

    Here’s what I mean. Comic 6 Panel 1 has the line “I’m exploring gender roles within the context of a roleplaying environment”. The barbarian’s player throws these words back in comic 7 panel 2. It’s the punchline of a five-panel gag split over two comics. Structurally, this is a mess. It leads to a lame second gag to fill the rest of comic 7, but more importantly it means some sort of not-quite-a-punchline has to be contrived for the end of comic 6. That’s where “improved stamina” comes from. Whatever is said in subsequent comics, it is really hard to read comic 6 in isolation without inferring that the barbarian’s player intends to have his character vigorously sexually assault the female character. Because this is the last line of the comic, the additional implication is that we are meant to find this funny in itself. No wonder some people got offended.

    Now, imagine doing the same thing over a slightly longer single comic of four or five panels. You would cut the “improved stamina” line for a start – it would serve no purpose any more. Instead, the comic ends on “I prefer to think of it as exploring gender roles within the context of a roleplaying environment”. The first advantage of this is that it’s a lot funnier. The punchline is where it’s supposed to be, not buried half-way through the next comic. The second advantage is that the potential for offending readers is greatly reduced. It no longer reads as though we’re meant to find rape or sexual assault funny: the humour is in the elf’s player having his pretentiousness deflated in a basically harmless, if tasteless, way.

    I’ve felt these kinds of structural problems throughout Chainmail Bikini. I hope that Shamus does manage to adapt his writing to the demands of these shorter comics: these first eight have fallen flat for me, but I keep reading in the hope that the comedy gold of DMotR will start to shine through.

  151. Shamus says:

    Iain Coleman: That is astoundingly perceptive, to the point where at first I thought this was Shawn playing a joke on me. Yes, the entire series was written as a single DMotR-style strip and then “cut up”, inserting punchlines as needed. You even identified the location of the original ending / punchline. Amazing.

    The same is true for the earlier comics.

    Somewhere in the teens we get to the strips that I wrote after we settled on the three-panel format.

    And your explanation has done more to help me see how other people are reading this strip than the previous 150+ comments. Thanks.

  152. Ajnos says:

    I gave up reading each comment after #80 so if this has been touched on then I’m sorry. I didn’t (haven’t) thought the comic has really been funny yet. I am waiting for it to get into the stride before I decided to stick with it or not.

    The doofy *nudge-nudge* “stamina” joke wasn’t funny for me (I did roll my eyes though) because I don’t know these guys. What are they usually like? This is my first impression with them. I didn’t know what to expect. So far they seem uninteresting. Sort of the same, and where they aren’t the same they have facial hair, loud, yet dull. I get the sense that a lot of talk about the characters and what has happened before we, the reader, got here.

    So, I guess I feel a bit too left out, like we’ve been plunked down in media res /but/ been told this is the beginning. (Yeah, they’ve played before, I get that. It isn’t what I mean.) It takes a story, a series, anything serial a while to get it’s legs I know. Maybe it will. I’m undecided.


  153. Ajnos says:

    Wow. That’s sort of amazing. I looked at the comic again as Iain Coleman had detailed and it is funnier. I like the barbarian better, he seems less creepy and like the player might be funny as opposed to just obnoxious. It also seems like they know each other better, more of a give and take…. I’ll shut up now, but I just assume that comics are cut in ‘ways not for me to understand’ and hadn’t really considered it that way. Neat.

  154. Deoxy says:


    You are obviously unfamiliar with academia in America. If I wanted to keep track of all the utterly inane things that fell out of the gaping maw of every escaped loony employed in “higher education” today, I’d need a large computer database and a large time investment.

    Not to mention that I’m good with faces and awful with names. So sue me.

    Find it spurious all you want. It’s still true.

    All the examples you have given (rap of very old women, etc) are OUTLIERS. Sure, very old and ugly women get raped. CORPSES get “raped” from time to time – there are a few really sick people in the world.

    But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    Imagine with me, for a moment, that each male, upon reaching, say, 14, received their own ultra-horny woman, say, some kind of clone or something, not taken from the female population of the planet (and assume that women get a man, for that matter). That is assume that their sexual desires are met.

    You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming.

    Date rape is about power? Acquaintance rape is about power? Date rape drugs (where the whole point is to get sex without having to overpower her) is about power? Having sex with passed-out drunk women is about power?

    THOSE make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis).

    Let’s look at history for a moment. Conquering armies usually raped a lot of the women… but friendly armies passing through were pretty bad, too. Hence, well-run armies, historically, often brought prostitutes with them. This helped immensely in friendly areas (not to mention morale). If it were about power, that wouldn’t help.

    (Interesting historical note: “hooker” is a reference to a specific Civil War general, General Hooker. He had such a following of women for his army group, who came to be called “Hooker’s women” or some such, shortened over to time to just “hookers”.)

    Another point: if rape was about power, why are women the primary target? Men seldom rape other men. The only place that’s common is in prison, and there ARE NO WOMEN AVAILABLE there.

    Most of my friends, most of my life have been female. I have had friends who were raped, and I’ve seen the terrible effects it has had on their lives. It’s almost as bad as murder, maybe in some cases worse. It’s certainly worse than simple physical assault, even a fairly extreme one; a stab wound only leaves scars on the body, after all.

    Some cases (such as serial rapists who rape a certain class of person) are more complicated, and certainly, people can associate sexual pleasure with all kinds of weird things (nasty, disgusting example given in earlier post), but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  155. Iain — well done. I don’t have the experience with comics to pinpoint why it wasn’t working, or I would have tried that. (Had it been a short story, then I’d have given it a shot.)

    I’ll just toss in two more things, then quit.

    One comes from a comment upthread; I’m not going to go dig it out, but I agree that part of the problem is, this is what CMB chose to start with: jokes about sexual harassment, which (due to the strip breaks) were originally presented as jokes about rape — the lines that clarify what actually occurred don’t come until later, which, given the publication schedule, means some readers spent days with an even worse impression of the joke than they ended up with. You can’t undo people’s first impressions, no matter how much you may point out “but it said this later!” Having that be the first multi-strip gag of the comic may not have been the best way to start off.

    Second — and this one, I’m sure, will piss off plenty of people — but any number of the comments made in defense of the joke (“it’s just a joke,” “get a sense of humour,” “if you don’t like it then go away,” “guys act like this, get over it,” etc.) are exactly why any number of us don’t find it funny. Anybody ever seen that bingo scorecard? The scorecard is funny (’cause it’s painfully true). The comments used to fill that scorecard are not, as they are the source of a real-life problem.

  156. Heather says:

    Regarding Iain #152 and Shamus’ reply #153 – that could be why I found the strip so funny where others didn’t. As I explained in my comment (seventy-something-lowish), I read the last three strips in one go. So to me, it was like it was all one comic. So yeah, it could be the format that has people scratching their heads and saying, “where’s the funny?”.

  157. Miako says:

    1. author’s assertion: swarthy hates emo playing girls. is hassling him.
    2. my read: chainmail bikinis are stupid. swarthy is physically showing this (since disproved, actually)
    3. swarthy really wants to do things like that in reality.

    You know what? I don’t care.

    I fully expect to see next strip an interdimensional hammer coming out and thwapping McSwarthy.

    That’s comic justice for you.

    I do, however, feel a growing sense of detachment from all characters here. If no one piles on (as would have happened in any game i’ve ever played in), saying “dude, that was out of bounds. take that back NOW”

    Well, I don’t want to read about people that twisted right now.

    The instant strangling (BTW: the joke was unfunny, but the title? hiLARious!) happens first: then we get to see reactions.

    If we had already established anyone to relate to here, i would know what to expect next.

    I think this plotline, while very valid, is a horrid start to a comic. The “i’m hassling emo boy” could have been developed a bit more slowly.

  158. Rustyspoon says:

    My god. Seriously. This is just getting crazy. First of all, EVERYONE knows that rape is wrong. I don’t think we’re on disagreement there. Second, it’s Shamus’ comic, he can do whatever the hell he wants. If you don’t like it, just don’t read it. No one is forcing you to. Also, you don’t need to tell us that you’re not reading anymore, because we don’t care.

    I DID think the comic was funny. I think this comic is funny because I’ve played with some TERRIBLE groups before. This group is a very bad group, which is why the comic is funny. It reminds me of my own horrible experiences. I’ve played in sessions where exact situations like that happened. The game just slows to a crawl and everyone would just resort to killing each other. At the time I would just pound my head against the table due to the unbearable stupidity. Nowadays it’s funny because I can look back at those terrible experiences and laugh. We’re not laughing at a bad situation; we’re laughing at the level of stupidity that gamers can and often do fall to.

  159. Miako says:

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

    Have you ever met a man who has been raped by a woman before?

    An erection is easy to produce with a little bit of fear/bondage. If someone puts a knife to your throat, there’s pretty good odds that you’ll get an erection.

  160. Miako says:

    another response to deoxy:
    Gender is a societal construct. What you talk about is making fun of gender roles. If I was to say make fun of you for not being able to stitch straight (and thus why i am the better hero), that would be an example of sex funny. Likewise, if you said that my boobs were bigger than my muscles ever would be.

    physical and mental are different.

    “bitch” roles for men were at many times culturally acceptable. (note: i am not saying that prison is one of these)

  161. Shamus says:

    “Gender is a societal construct.”

    Yeah. Okay. This thread is now some sort of angry philosophical hydra. That whole discussion is turning into somekind of nightmare threadjack with about three or four hot-button topics in the mix. Between “Feminazi” and “Gender is a societal construct.” I think we have enough fodder to keep this thread flowing with invective for another week at least.

    Let’s not do that.

  162. No one will probably ever read this, but I have to say something.

    First of all I want to say that I love you, Shamus. DMotR is hilarious on many levels. I only discovered it a couple of months ago, but I spread to everyone in both of my RPG groups (DnD and SW) and they all love it, too. (Especially the DM/GMs, who find your notes at the end of each comic very interesting and informative.) I think you are a very funny man, and I also read your blog because you are intelligent and interesting and talk about things I like. Thank you for posting those videos, btw. Foux Da Fa Fa will never leave my brain.

    Secondly, I am a girl, I love gaming, and I was molested as a child, with consequences that have lasted for my entire life. So I have a fairly good background to comment on this subject.

    I like Chainmail Bikini’s style. The characters are fun and it looks like it will be interesting. I find it amusing, but I haven’t yet laughed out loud. (That’s pretty rare for me, though, even with very, very funny things.) I also am glad that you intimated that there will be a girl gamer eventually, because I’m hoping that I’ll be able to identify with her.

    On the current controversy: I’m going to have to fall into that painful middle group and say that I just don’t find it funny. The first few comics made me smile, at least, but this whole “humor arc” has had the same effect on me as a ten-pound weight. Hasn’t made my day better, that is to say, as I usually expect from reading your works. I continue to like the art and the characters, though, and I’m not going to stop reading.

    I don’t think this is because of your writing so much as it is just because I don’t find sexual assault funny. Ever. Even stuff that is hysterical to others just isn’t to me, if it involves any of kind of non-consensual assault. And yes, groping is a sexual assault, as mild as it was (and isn’t that a kicker, that we can assign degree to acts of violence? It isn’t quite right, really. It’s all bad.).

    I have been around guys who are making jokes about this kind of thing (the “locker room jousting” someone mentioned) and I can see that they are laughing and having fun. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I think you did the best you could with the topic, though, and I understand that you weren’t expecting this to happen. Sure, it’s funny to some people. Obviously, from the comments. Not everyone is bothered by this, not all women, and not all men.

    If I were you, I would just chalk this up to experience and move on. Now you know how sensitive people are, and you can work around it, or with it, as you choose. Some people will enjoy it, some people won’t. Welcome to the world. The great thing about DMotR was that it was universal, or nearly so. LOTS of people love both RPG and LotR. Your audience was waiting for you. Now you’ll have to find a different one, and they won’t entirely overlap. Good luck. I’m certainly going to be coming along.

    And to those who are crying “hypocrisy” that no one complains about the funny, funny violence: Listen, fools. People who were traumatized by violence in real life, or were always under threat of it, will probably be traumatized by RPGs that make constant reference to slaughter. Those people don’t play RPGs, because RPGs are supposed to be fun, and that wouldn’t be fun for them. They don’t read this comic. They aren’t here. But they do exist.

    The sad fact is that rape and sexual assault, and the threat of it, are far more prevalent in our society than typically violent crimes, though those are still around. And so you’re more likely to come across a person who will never, ever find sexual assault funny (like me) than you are to come across someone who will never, ever find violence funny (like a child of the Sudan, for instance).

    Good luck and God bless, Shamus.

    Much love from Different Laura.

  163. Miako says:

    responding to deoxy:

    _You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming._

    Yes. Rape is the experience of unconsenting sex. I have seen date rape drug recipes passed around frat houses before. Every weekend there were constant parties that involved Nitrous Oxide. These boys DID NOT need MORE SEX.

    _Date rape is about power? Acquaintance rape is about power? Date rape drugs (where the whole point is to get sex without having to overpower her) is about power? Having sex with passed-out drunk women is about power?_

    Yes, it is about the ability to not get rejected. The ability to say “she’s mine” — and not have to think about whether she wants it or not. Remember, about twenty years ago 50% of college students thought rape was acceptable under certain circumstances (guy had been paying dinners, giving her expensive crap).

    _THOSE make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis)._

    Factually untrue. Most rapes occur in the prison population. Most rape victims have experienced ‘date rape.’

    Let’s face facts, it is fairly easy to find women who will agree to have sex with a guy on a fairly regular basis. they’re called prostitutes. I do not believe that if every man was gifted with a skilled prostitute, that would eliminate rape. Give me ten and i’ll find stats.

    _Let's look at history for a moment. Conquering armies usually raped a lot of the women… but friendly armies passing through were pretty bad, too. Hence, well-run armies, historically, often brought prostitutes with them. This helped immensely in friendly areas (not to mention morale). If it were about power, that wouldn't help._

    I have gun, therefore I have woman! I dunno… that seems to make sense to me.

    Please to note that historically there were high levels of ‘gay’ sex in the military between heterosexual men.

    Also to note that it is possible that the army might attract more people who enjoy power (authoritarian types). Military is a very structured place.

  164. Miako says:

    yay! plz no thread police Shamus!

    Teh kittiz will kill you!

    Honestly, Deoxy is turning out to be someone who is at least nearby to the realm of sanity and numbers.

    There are no trolls here, and it is a productive discussion. plz allow to continue!

  165. Shamus says:

    Miako: Fine. Fire away.


  166. Roy says:

    I was going to let it go, but, great Jesus alive…

    You are obviously unfamiliar with academia in America. If I wanted to keep track of all the utterly inane things that fell out of the gaping maw of every escaped loony employed in “higher education” today, I'd need a large computer database and a large time investment.

    As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the pursuit of higher education, I find it really unlikely. At worst, it’s, as you say, an outlier, but even then, it sounds pretty suspicious. If I’d ever had a class where a prof tried to claim that everything we know about the evolution of human biology and the history of the human sexual reproduction was a MYTH, you can be damned sure that I’d remember what college, class, and prof said it. What you’re suggesting is that a professor told a class that one of the most widely presented, understood, and agreed upon fundamentals of human reproductive biology was wrong, and it left such a minimal mark on you that you don’t even remember what prof said it? How many profs like that can you possibly have had? What college did you attend, because I need to make sure that I don’t attend a university that would allow that kind of prof to remain.

    All the examples you have given (rap of very old women, etc) are OUTLIERS. Sure, very old and ugly women get raped. CORPSES get “raped” from time to time – there are a few really sick people in the world.

    But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    That’s completely and thoroughly untrue. I strongly urge you to educate yourself a little more about the nature of sexual assault and rape, because you’re spreading a number of really harmful myths here. There are any number of places you can go to get information about sexual assault- the US Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics has tons of important information about both victims and attackers, and most major colleges, any number of health or mental health journals, and dozens and dozens of websites all have information and anlysis about the relationship between rape and power.

    A good place to start would be to talk to the people at a rape crisis center near you, and learn a bit about the people that they deal with. The information might really surprise you, I think.

    Another point: if rape was about power, why are women the primary target? Men seldom rape other men. The only place that's common is in prison, and there ARE NO WOMEN AVAILABLE there.

    While women are the biggest target, children- male and female- are large targets, as well. 1 in 3 sexual assaults is against a child. The problem with male victims is that the stigma associated with the rape of men makes men even more unlikely to report rape than women. Roughly 10% of rape victims are men, and around 35% of children who are raped are boys. There are lots of explanations for why women are disproportionately targeted for rape, and I’m not sure that there’s any easy answer anymore than there’s an easy answer for why men disproportionately target other men for mugging or car theft.

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  167. Roy says:

    Whoops, the bottom got cut off:

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

  168. Roy says:

    Sorry Shamus, I forgot to close a tag.

    but to say that, for THE MAJORITY of men who have ever raped a woman, that it is about power instead of sex is just stupid.

    I really urge you to check out some of the leading studies and research on sexual assault and rape, because everything I’ve read about it suggests the same thing: Rape is about power, not lust. It’s not about getting off, it’s about violence or control or power over another person. Rapists rape for a lot of reason, but it’s only a tiny fraction who rape because they’re just horny guys who go to far or can’t control themselves.

  169. Da_Rogue says:

    I’m actually playing a Warlock now in my DnD group. He is chaotic neutral, but his background story implies that he was among the vilest of the vile. He and his former comrades did horrible inexcusable things (It’s quite the stretch from my old kleptomaniac halfling rogue; who was quite the riot at times). At times he sends an eldritch blast at birds minding their own business. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk down the street with my rifle and shoot every bird singing in the streets. Yes Chuck was being tasteless, yes he did something that I consider innappropriate, and yes this isn’t one of Shamus’ better jokes, but still if you don’t get the context in which it’s coming out, ¿Why are you reading a comic about a DnD session? If you’ve played DnD then you know the mentality of many of the players.
    Even I know the mentality and I have only played with extremely clean groups (its rare I know, but at a mormon college its a little bit easier to find.)
    So just keep it up Shamus. I’m sure the riotous laughter we all knew and loved from DMotR will shine through.

  170. roxysteve says:

    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?

    I believe I’m the only one centering on that aspect of the gag, so I’ll answer:

    No. It takes a willing partner. If you get winded while snogging you urgently need to see a doctor or seek a lower altitude in which to do it.

    === Putting my feet in the water with the certain knowledge that there be pirhanas in it ===

    [Rape as power rather than sex]

    Interesting that no-one (I don’t think so anyway) has pointed out that for a man*, sex is partly a power thing anyway **, especially as the hormones take over and one begins to live in the moment (as it were: trying to be delicate here). To be sure, the purpose of rape is to dominate the victim, but anyone who doesn’t understand where the endorphin rush of doing that comes from is missing a fairly serious peice of the puzzle. The sex “response/reward” setup is probably the most powerful drive a human has, and it is addictive (for a very good reason). Put that alongside an abberant behavioural model and it’s not hard to see a nasty accident looking for somewhere to happen.


    * Can’t speak for a woman, though all my inquiries as to how it works with my partners over the years leads me to believe that for many of them it is a more receptive experience. My partners have all described their drive as an “opening” feeling as opposed to the urgency that centers the typical male response, my own included. No I am not punning here.

    ** You may like to share that power with your willing partner, or exchange it completely of course. I traded mine in on a washing machine years ago.

  171. Joe says:

    Yeah, I’m done arguing with Deoxy. When you present data including expert opinions, statistics and research material to support your argument and that is ignored and rebutted with an argument that amounts to “I know this”, no real debate is possible.

    To try to take a different tack on things, I’m going to restate a few items as simply as possible.

    1. The “improved stamina” comment does imply something more than groping and was hastily inserted for a punchline without proper consideration (Shamus has already said so above, so please don’t argue this).

    2. As the punchline of a given strip, it generally would be meant to be considered funny, which many of us found distasteful and unfunny. It was already made clear that

    3. No one believes that Shamus condoned/endorsed rape, but that the strip unintentionally trivialized it and its consequences, which is probably the biggest reason why it seemed in poor taste to those who disliked it.

    4. Part of the reason why it was disliked so strongly is that it was simply too soon (in many opinions) for a character to engage in such an action. It essentially took a character we have no connection to and made him utterly reprehensible, if for no other reason, because he bullied and intimidated another player in a very harsh manner. This is not a good way to start off a character we’re intended to like.

    5. No one is trying to censor the author, but raising objections to the way the strip started. But just as he has every right to write his strip how he deems fit, others have the right to object to things within.

    6. Contrary to many of the comments above, there are few to no comments (I’m not going to reread all of them to verify that there are none) objecting to these strips that do so militantly, call Shamus names or start tossing verbal bombs. Those that objected explained why they took issue with it, many simply saying that if you’re going to deal with a touchy subject, you have to make it funny enough to overcome the distaste and that this one didn’t meet that threshold. If you disagree, fine do so respectfully, but also recognize that that’s perfectly fair commentary.

    In short, many of us who do like Shamus’ and his work found this strip and the ones following to be a rather abrupt departure, especially so soon into the series. It took a character that we’re meant to empathize with (since he’s a non-villain primary character) and painted him as someone who’s willing to simulate a sexual assault for the purpose of grossly bullying and intimidating another player, and rendered him completely unlikeable. And if the characters are regularly going to be doing such things, many of us will probably not read the strip, not because such things don’t happen, but because we’re reading this for its humor and it ceases to be funny if we can’t like the characters (also fair commentary).

    So please, no more comments about whether or not it was rape (it was sexual assault, by definition, and implied such in #6), no more comments about people saying Shamus supports rape (which is ludicrous) and no more “love it or leave it” comments (as any author wants input, even if it sometimes annoys them). There was a strip some objected to, they explained their reasons and issues relating to construction, characterization and general tastefulness, and Shamus heard them and will choose to act however he does so. Let those who are unwilling to read more go their own way, let those who are willing to see what comes next to do so, and those who have no issue can continue to read on.


  172. Nixorbo says:

    [Bender]Stay the course, pal![/Bender]

  173. Miako says:

    is chuck intended to be a villian?
    I note that in dndorks, there is a definite villian PC.

  174. Miako says:

    _Interesting that no-one (I don't think so anyway) has pointed out that for a man*, sex is partly a power thing anyway **, especially as the hormones take over and one begins to live in the moment (as it were: trying to be delicate here)._

    Eh? The orgasm is a pleasurable epileptic seizure (maybe that’s more dramatic in girls).

    I think that it is falacious to assume that all guys have the same instincts and sex drive.

  175. Deoxy says:

    “1 in 3 sexual assaults is against a child.”

    That includes “children” up to the day before they turn 18. Yeah, that‘s a useful stat.

    Regarding the prof: I WASN’T IN THE CLASS. It was an interview with her, and I read the transcript. If I had been in the class, I would darn well remember, OK? But I admit: I spent about 20 minutes web-searching for it, and I couldn’t find it. I DID find quotes from well-known and influential feminists from th past 50 years up the the prsent day that can be honestly summarized thusly: women are superior to men, men are essentially all violent and bad, and heterosexual sex is at least almost always rape. (No, I’m not using the bogus Katherin McKinnon quote, either.) It’s a lot of hideous crap, but if you want me to paste any of them in, just let me know.

    As to higher education examples: Go look at the output of “Middle East studies” departments, and you’ll see why universities that want something remotely resembling dialogue, reality, or even just not “It’s all the &^@%#$*& JEWS FAULT!!!!” have had to create an “Israeli studies” department. Women’s studies departments are pretty much just as bad. The crap they spout off is really ridiculous.

    _THOSE [Date rape, Acquaintance rape, Date rape drugs, Having sex with passed-out drunk women] make up the majority of rapes in this country. The men who commit them are generally pathetic, horny losers who feel incapable of getting a woman to AGREE to have sex with them (at least, on anything approaching a regular basis)._

    Factually untrue. Most rapes occur in the prison population. Most rape victims have experienced “˜date rape.'

    So, which is it? factually untrue, or “most rape victims have experienced date rape”? Make up your mind.

    Also, if most rapes occur in the prison population, we’re worrying about the wrong problem to begin with – women aren’t the real victims, men are! Is that really what you meant to say?!?

    I would say “it is about the ability to not get rejected” means it IS about sex, not power. The power to get sex! YAY SEX! That’s the point of most of those.

    Here’s a fairly easy, possibly useful test of my hypothesis (enough sex will diminish rape levels): check out the rates of rape in European areas where prostitution is legal and encouraged.

    No, that’s not a perfect test, I admit. Also, I never said it would ELIMINATE rape (I grant that there are a few sick people for whom rape is indeed about power, or many other twisted things), only that the rate would plummet (for example, by much more than half).

    “I have gun, therefore I have woman! I dunno… that seems to make sense to me.”

    What makes a lot more sense to me is: I want a woman. I can’t get a woman. Oh, look, with a gun, I CAN get a woman. Power as a means to an end (sex), not the other way around.

    _You honestly believe that the incidence of rape would be essentially unaffected? THAT is what you (and all your experts) are claiming._

    Yes. Rape is the experience of unconsenting sex. I have seen date rape drug recipes passed around frat houses before. Every weekend there were constant parties that involved Nitrous Oxide. These boys DID NOT need MORE SEX.

    Here’s something to think about, and I mean this in all seriousness: there are men, too many of them, for whom sex is THE end. It’s what everything else is for – to help them get more sex. They have given up (or never knew about) other pleasurable activities, or just find them inferior to sex (or believe to be because they are constantly told that sex is th be-all, end-all). Not need more sex?!? If such a man is not having sex NOW (or in the period immediately afterwards, when he can’t), then he, in his opinion, needs more sex. If you gave such a man a woman (or perhaps several women, as they might well grow bored with just one, as sex really isn’t so satisfying as they have been lead to believe) who catered to his every sexual need, and sufficient funds to not need to do anything else, he would simply hang out at home (or where ever) with them and have sex, ALL THE TIME (until it became so empty that he looked for other meaning to life). The frat house guys you are talking about have bought into this pathetic and sad “meaning” to life.

    (Incidentally, men who buy into that, don’t get to experience it to the point of burn out, and begin to have difficulty “performing” as life goes on not infrequently become violent to women, taking out their inadequacies and placing blame on them, etc. Even then, the real problem goes back, often, to sex, and the inability to have what they believe to be the point and meaning of life. It’s quite a sad thing, both for the man and, OF COURSE, his victims. This is all, IMO, a result of over-hyping and over-selling sex, primarily to men, but also to women.)

    Roy: But the woman with the greatest odds for getting raped is, far and away, a highly attractive one. Wearing something that accentuates that attractiveness. There is no competition on that.

    That's completely and thoroughly untrue.

    You are saying that a highly attractive young woman who walks down a dark alley at night and an ugly old woman who walks down a dark alley at night have the same chance of being raped?

    If that’s what you believe, there’s really no reason to have any further conversation. I’ll spend my time on more useful things, like banging my head against a brick wall.

  176. Miako says:

    Responding to deoxy:
    Re: one in three —
    that’s under the age of twelve. Any objections?

    Toss me a few names, deoxy. Don’t need the quotes, it’s not what I’m interested in. I’m interested in whether they said stuff “in cold blood” or whether you’re just getting a biased portion of the story (or they changed their minds later).

    so, you want some output from MiddleEastStudies depts that is nuanced and meaningful? From the entire department?
    Have you tried looking for highly accredited departments(National Resource Center is the term)? I’m pretty sure the diversity of opinion there is likely to be much higher. BYU, UCLA, Georgetown. You get my drift.
    None of the colleges I’ve studied at have had a Middle East Studies dept, so you may be seeing some bias in your search terminology.

    Deoxy, when i state that Most Rapes occur in prison, I mean that the same person is raped many many times over the course of a year. So yes, most rape VICTIMS are raped in date rape cases. but most RAPES occur in PRISON. Please try to read closer and to assume more intelligence on the part of your co-conversationalist (did i just write that?? i suck at it myself ;-) )

    Last week I went to a seminar on Human Trafficking. Who says prostitution is not as bad as rape, if not worse? Prostitution merely serves to NIMBY it, where the person who is forced to have sex without legal remedy is NOT YOUR SISTER.
    Sigh. Perhaps in an ideal world, prostitution could be a voluntary service. In the real world, however, it is not nearly as voluntary as you might imagine.

    And, to speak to your point on prostitution with another angle: there is a good proportion of men who are physically unable to perform while wearing a condom. Well, okay, it’s psychosomatic and related to instinct, but still…

    Still, if RAPE is about SEX, then the frat boys would never have had any reason to drug people. I can guarantee (having seen the lines) exactly how many people were willing to have consenting sex. So why the date rape drugs? You’re trying to take something that on the surface refutes your point, and just blindly insisting that “that serves my point.” I could be wrong, however, and you’re the one making sense so I look to the crowd (shamus if no one else is reading this far and I don’t blame them) for comment.

    20% of rape victims are over age 30. ( If we grant, for the sake of argument, that these were date rape cases. I think that significantly overrepresents the dating population.

    Can you do me a favor, deoxy, and please start citing scientific sources? I’m particularly interested in your claim about rape being about sex and not power. Preferably studies that talk about psychology and physical measures of arousal. I may be skeptical, but that doesn’t mean i’m closeminded

  177. Miako says:

    yes. Try this one:
    Soc Sci Med. 2007 Sep;65(6):1235-48. Epub 2007 Jun 8.
    Transactional sex with casual and main partners among young South African men in the rural Eastern Cape: Prevalence, predictors, and associations with gender-based violence.

    Basically, the biggest predictor of use of prostitution is genderbased violence (rape and domestic violence toward main partner).

    What do you make of that?

  178. Mari says:

    I’m glad to finally hear your thoughts on the subject, Shamus. I refrained from posting about the “rape” thing in the FtB forums because things were heating quickly. That’s why I just popped off private messages to you and Shawn offering a word of general encouragement and moved on.

    Since the subject is at hand again and you seem to be inviting input, I’ll share my own opinion. I don’t find rape remotely funny. That said, what was depicted in CMB didn’t really strike me as rape for the reasons you pointed out above. It just honestly didn’t occur to me to think “How tasteless! A rape joke!” In fact, I actually spewed a little coffee over strip 6 because the childish response of Chuck to Marcus’ extreme pretentiousness was funny to me.

    I can kind of see people’s point once it was made in a reasonable way but the strip still didn’t bother me, I just see where their issues are coming from.

    I also have to say, though, that I disagree with some readers’ interpretation of the “improved stamina” remark. The general consensus seems to be that stamina only applies to sexual intercourse, ergo a rape has certainly occurred. It’s not my place to question random strangers’ technique, but lemme just say that stamina can apply just as much to “making out” or foreplay (if not more) as it can to intercourse. If you don’t believe me, head to random unchaperoned teen parties and take a look around the public areas. Some of those kids don’t move anything but their hands and lips for hours! Bottom line is that the “improved stamina” quip didn’t make it clear to me that we readers were witness to sexual intercourse.

    Anyway, I just felt like offering my two cents and I have. I probably won’t be back to this entry to read the inevitable slurs cast upon my opinion. I do hope that you and Shawn don’t let this firestorm get you down or affect your work. If you guys have a clear vision of what you’re doing (and it seems like you do from comments Shawn has made in the forums) and are happy with it, it seems to me that you’re on the right track. People who enjoy what you’re doing will continue reading and people who don’t will probably not. Such is life.

  179. FreindlyFred says:

    Here people are, arguing over- let’s peel away the layers here- an “incident” which happened to an imaginary person, who is in turn being played by another imaginary person, in a flippin’ comic strip.
    This is one of those situations where the only response is a good horse laugh. Grow up. Get a job. Find something worthwhile to be outraged by. Go worry about the people being brutalized in Darfur. Shamus, I hope you’re not taking any of this silliness too hard.

  180. Roy says:

    That includes “children” up to the day before they turn 18. Yeah, that's a useful stat.

    It took me ten seconds to find an age breakdown of sexual assaults based on information from the National Crime Victimization Survey here.

    Here's a fairly easy, possibly useful test of my hypothesis (enough sex will diminish rape levels): check out the rates of rape in European areas where prostitution is legal and encouraged.

    No, that's not a perfect test, I admit. Also, I never said it would ELIMINATE rape (I grant that there are a few sick people for whom rape is indeed about power, or many other twisted things), only that the rate would plummet (for example, by much more than half).

    Well, that’d be great… except that the evidence doesn’t suggest that at all. Consider that prostitution is legalized in many parts of Nevada. According to your hypothesis we should find that Nevada’s rape rate is lower than almost anywhere in the United States, since men in that state have relative “easy access” to sex, right?

    And yet, according to the 2004 FBI Uniform Crime report the Nevada rate of rape was higher than the US average and was twice as high as New York's rate of rape. The rate of rape in Las Vegas, was three times greater than that in New York City. How, exactly, does that square with your hypothesis?

    If you’ve seen a study that suggests that legalizing prostitution has resulted in a dramatic reduction in rape rates, I’d love to see it, because what I mostly read is that it results in a dramatic increase in illegal sex trafficking, and child prostitution.

    You are saying that a highly attractive young woman who walks down a dark alley at night and an ugly old woman who walks down a dark alley at night have the same chance of being raped?

    If that's what you believe, there's really no reason to have any further conversation. I'll spend my time on more useful things, like banging my head against a brick wall.

    You could spend your time doing something useful like, say, educating yourself. I’m not pulling this stuff out of thin air- I’ve been providing you with sources. You’re spouting of common myths and misperceptions about rape as though saying “well, this is what I believe” makes it true. Do you think that you’ve got some incite that experts in the field don’t? You know more about rape than FBI profiler John Douglas does? Because he claims that rapists are usually fall into one of four groups: power-reassurance rapists who rape to alleviate feelings of inadequacy, exploitive rapists who rape on impulse as a means of proving their masculinity or to defend a macho image, anger rapists who use rape as a means of displacing anger and rage, and sadistic rapists who are aroused by the pain and violence they inflict on their victims.

    Or you could check out some of Dr. Nicholas Groth’s work. His interviews with rapists and the studies he’s done have influenced the nature of police and FBI sexual crime investigations. His groupings aren’t particularly different from Douglas’, though.

    Given that most rapes happen in a place of residence between a victim and an attacker who know each other, I don’t really see how examining the almost mythical case of the man in an alley is particularly significant- you’d be examining the minority case and holding it up as though that proves something about the majority.

  181. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I just have a hard time seeing what everyone is arguing about.
    To me the whole thing seems like a mute argument. Rape is funny, just like cancer and aids and fags and puppy death and drug addiction and Charlie goes to candy mountain and racist jokes about blacks, jews, Caucasians, hispanics, germans, polish, english, eskimos, and austrailians.

    “A comedians job is to find the line….then cross it”
    -George Carlin-

  182. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    oh yeah

    nappy headed hoe

  183. Joe says:

    Since there was a rational response from Mari, I’d like to give her the same. I understand your comment about “improved stamina” being applicable to prolonged foreplay, but I don’t think that correlates reasonably with a forced grapple.

    I would argue that if you take a male figure who forces himself onto a female character, grabbing her against her will and ends by boasting of his stamina, a very obvious conclusion is that he intends to rape her. It may not be the conclusion you reached upon reading it, but it should be rather easy to see how that conclusion is reached.

    As to “Friendly Fred” and others who talk about “growing up”, “getting a life” or whatever, it would be nice if people could show some respect for those whose opinions differed from their own. So you don’t agree with my opinion or others who feel the same; why is it such a big deal to you if we express those opinions to the author, if we do so in a respectful manner? Why not just speak to refuting facts or offer a counter-opinion without involving us or our supposed immaturity?

    Our expression of opinion on something that matters to us doesn’t negate our involvement in our everyday lives or other causes. I happen to know, for example, that one of the more vocal proponents along my side is actively involved in national politics, working for causes he believes in…how’s that for having a life?

    Just tone the rhetoric down, please…for everyone’s sakes?

  184. onosson says:

    I’m kind of skipping through the morass of commentary here, and reading Shamus’ replies and their antecedents. Hopefully you’re still reading this, man, because I think within all of this there are some comments that are giving you some good feedback about your writing (I would think that would be a good thing). The thing I got out of this ‘controversy’ is that I know a particular guy who is a lot like Chuck has been portrayed to be. He’s not a terribly bad guy, he has his good and bad points, but he is the most misogynistic person I have ever known, and often a bully on top of it, to the point where I want nothing to do with him. This comic started to remind me of that, and make me feel the same way I do around this person. That is making me desire to spend less time reading the comic.

    Just some food for thought. Unappealing characters make for tough reading/viewing. (and actually, now that I think about it, that might be why my wife hates Homer Simpson and the entire show – so maybe you’re not so far off track after all!)

  185. Synonymous says:

    Oh, come on. Even the weakest don’t need stamina for just making out. Then again, after the post that claimed that a person’s race was self-selected, I shouldn’t be expecting logic from the most extreme of the joke’s defenders here, as prejudice, to those who harbor it, is its own justification.

    If you cater to the lowest common denominator, as Roxysteve noted, sometimes that’s all with which you’re ultimately left. With the success of DM of the Rings, your next project had the blessing of a wide-ranging, built-in audience. It’s a golden opportunity few artists get, but you’re squandering it with this skeevy humor right off the bat. Think about what you’re throwing away before dismissing all those uncomfortable with the choices made as lunatics in an insane asylum.

  186. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I have decided to expand on what I had to say in comment 183 and 184. First of all I don’t agree with my brother Shamus’s approach to this “controversy”. While he is not very apologetic I don’t think he should have any apologies at all.
    Comedy is art, and if the artist who threw crap on a picture of the virgin mary doesn’t have to apologize neither should the author of DMotR/ proprietor of of 20 sided. We live in an immoral country where people and media pick and choose what we should have morals over. Shamus as some of you might not know is a christian. It is something he is not or should be ashamed of. He is offended when someone or something makes fun of Jesus. So what does Shamus do when his lord is poked fun at and berated. Well he doesnt watch whatever offened him, like south park. Shamus will engage then in a one man boycott. He on the other hand does not create some made up online handle to hide behind while he cries and spews his ideals on forums and comment threads.
    Screaming your opinion and getting mad at people online and telling them that they are wrong is just as effective as Shamus’s one man boycott. The difference is he is not irritating people around the world with his idiocy. He doesn’t think his stupid opinion is going to magically make a difference in the world. He doesn’t think people give a shit.

    And with all that said I leave you with another quote from the great George Carlin

    “Some people don’t like you to mention certain things, some people don’t want you to say this, some people don’t want you to say that, some people think that if you mention some things they might happen…….some people are really fuckin stupid.”

  187. Shamus says:

    Okay, this comment thread sucks and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of seeing the same blasted points go point-counterpoint as new groups of people join the fray without reading what has already been said. There is, as I suspected, nothing new to be said on the matter.

    The most illuminating post was #152, which has been ignored by most subsequent posters. We have a bunch of hot-button stuff about sex and politics flying around in a king hell-sized threadjack. We have hostility between posters.

    I’m sitting here plowing through this stuff, thinking about how not fun this is, and then I realized that I’m doing this for nothing. There is no point to this exchange.

    Thread is locked. Let’s go do something else.

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