#13 The Sun-Tzu of Bartering

By Shamus Posted Friday Apr 5, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 21 comments

Sometimes, in order to keep the players on the rails, you have to bribe them. In order to bribe them, you need to know what they really want. Unfortunately, what they usually want is a way to escape the rails.

Little bastards.

Shamus Says:

Wow. Re-reading this a couple of years later, I was kind of surprised at how bitter Casey sounded in the above text. I would go so far as to say that sounds kind of out of character from how I imagine him. He’s supposed to be sort of idealistically clueless about how poorly his material is received. What was I thinking?

And here begins the running gag of pigs being carried by hoisting them over your head. A gag which never got old for me. (And was Shawn’s idea.)

Shawn Says:

I really like this strip. Aside from being perfect fodder for the drinking game and the fact the farm is still in some white featureless void, I think it works pretty well. This is, I think, a great example of a strip that’s both funny and moves the story along. Plus, panel 2 makes me happy. The guy with the pig over his head just kind of happened. I did enjoy how People Running Around With Pigs eventually became something of a running gag in CB.

Also, compare Sapphire here to her first appearance, just a few 8 comics prior. I think it took us about 15-20 strips to really find our legs with Chainmail Bikini, but we’re getting there.

As a complete aside, I found Wednesday’s Stolen Pixels hilarious, and I’ve never even played Mass Effect.

EDIT 2019: The Stolen Pixel comic Shawn referenced in 2010 is this one, where Dr. Breen interviewed Commander Shepard.

For those of you who missed it at the time:

For a couple of years I did a screenshot webcomic for the Escapist. It was originally designed to use screenshots from random games I was playing in order to make fun of them. Then partway through the run I discovered Garry’s Mod, which let you use characters, levels, weapons, and props from Source Engine games. You could pose characters and assign pretty much whatever facial expression you wanted. It was ideal for the kind of comics I was making. About half my comics were built in Garry’s Mod rather than trying to design jokes based on inflexible cutscene footage.

I stumbled on the idea of doing a late night talk show set in Half-Life 2 called After Curfew and starring City 17 Administrator Dr. Breen. His sidekick was Metro, a standard Metrocop from the game who turned out to be a huge Nintendo fan and a bit of a weeaboo. The fiction of the world was pretty strange. They were supposedly doing this show for all the oppressed denizens of City 17. This is a post-apocalyptic world where Earth has been conquered by aliens. And yet they were still getting new game releases and tapped into the gamer culture of 2010.

I loved writing After Curfew. I realize it’s not remotely the most popular thing I’ve done, but it was my favorite comic project. I used the Source engine level editor to build an entire virtual theater for the show, with the stage, seating, backstage areas, the whole thing. Most of it was never used. You can see bits of the set in the Breen Fortress seriesOf all the comics I’ve made, these are my favorite. Not terribly popular, but they were a joy to make., where the show is taken over by the Administrator from Team Fortress 2. You can see some of the backstage areas in the Halloween special AFTER After CurfewSadly, the prev / Next navigation bar is missing these days. So to read a series you have to keep going back to the index. That’s annoying..

Sometimes enterprising modders in the community would rip assets from other videogames and import them into Garry’s Mod. I’d import these assets and use them as interview guests. It was a bit fiddly. Very often major bits of the skeletal rigging wouldn’t work, and the facial rigging never worked. So the imported characters couldn’t emote and usually their hands couldn’t be posed. That obviously limited what I could do with them, but I made it work.



[1] Of all the comics I’ve made, these are my favorite. Not terribly popular, but they were a joy to make.

[2] Sadly, the prev / Next navigation bar is missing these days. So to read a series you have to keep going back to the index. That’s annoying.

From The Archives:

21 thoughts on “#13 The Sun-Tzu of Bartering

  1. Baron Tanks says:

    Moist of it was never used.

    Oh my, Shamus, you’re talking as saucy as good old Dr. Breen. Please, save it for the after show. You’re making me blush.

  2. Leipävelho says:

    A rerun of Stolen Pixels with added artists commentary would be nice, after the current re-release of Chainmail Bikini finishes.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      I’m not sure if there would be rights issues there. Probably not, since Shamus’ MMO series were evidently fine to repost.

  3. Mersadeon says:

    What I already loved back when I first read this comic: how, even as shadowy silhouettes the pigs have cute corkscrew tails.

  4. Jason says:

    Because of this series, I have been going back and reading DM of the Rings, and Darths & Droids, due to them both being mentioned in earlier installments.
    Now it looks like I have to go and read Stolen Pixels as well. Like Shawn, I also found it to be hilarious.

  5. Carlos García says:

    Actually, After Curfew is the part I miss the most of Stolen Pixels.

  6. Grimwear says:

    I notice the twitter drop down menu is gone? As someone who doesn’t have or use twitter (also isn’t allowed to look at conversations without an account, great job twitter) I still enjoyed the drop down menu so I could read what Shamus wrote without actually going on the site which I would never actually do.

    1. Droid says:

      Disable your Adblock. Worked for me. Doesn’t do anything else on this site.

      1. Grimwear says:

        My adblock doesn’t show it blocking anything but I disabled it all the same and nothing. It’s straight gone. I even opened Internet Explorer to see if it’s because I’m on an old version of firefox and nope not there either.

        1. Droid says:

          Ah, sorry, yes, the menu item “Twitter” is gone for me as well. It seems Shamus removed it from the top bar entirely. I thought your problem was that the menu item simply opened a blank white box instead of the Twitter drop-down thingie (that’s the problem I had and fixed with disabling Adblock).

          1. Droid says:

            Seems his Twitter profile is gone or switched to private, too. Shame.

  7. I still love how these “destitute” farmers have some gold and a +1 longsword.

    Depending on what system you’re using, a +1 longsword is worth more than their entire farm–several times over. They could buy an entire HERD of trained riding ponies for the price of the longsword.

    1. Scampi says:

      Exactly my first thought.

    2. Andy says:

      In 3.x, a +1 longsword is worth 2,315gp. Living a “poor” lifestyle costs 2sp/day, so for the farmer and his wife could live for ~5700 days off of the revenue.

      Or, put another way, a pig is 2gp.

      They’re giving away 1,157.5 pigs (and some pants) to ensure the return of … two pigs.

      1. Ciennas says:

        And then you discover that in the original write up, the pigs were MAGIC pigs that could see the future or something.

        1. tmtvl says:

          “The pigs can see the future. Too bad none of you chose to play a Druid.”

      2. For even greater irony, nobody in the party can use a longsword effectively in combat.

        1. krellen says:

          As an elf, Lady Sun-Sky should be proficient with longswords.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            IIRC in some earlier editions D&D clerics were not allowed the use of bladed weapons, of course D&D&D could be different.

  8. hewhosaysfish says:

    Pants: the greatest of treasures.

  9. Reagan says:

    If you’re still reading these comments — The buttons for back and next are still “there”. They’re just incorporeal. I used them the whole way through my reread last week. You just have to peek at the bottom of the window to see what it is. (TITLE OF CURRENT COMIC-next or however it’s formatted)

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