#40 Heroes of Might and Magic and Other Stuff

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jul 14, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 28 comments


Hey! This isn’t a three-panel vertical layout! And neither was the last one!

What gives?

Shawn and I began playing around with the format at #39, trying different layouts. I was still struggling to to do story and jokes in the three-panel format. Looking back, the material works pretty well for me, but at the time I was still standing in the shadow of DM of the Rings. Our webcomic was perfectly successful from a readership standpoint, but DMotR was a tough act to follow.

  1. Art was “free”, so it was big. (So every strip could have four or five jokes instead of one or two.)
  2. It brought in Tolkien fans and roleplay fans. (The Tolkien folks didn’t stick around for Chainmail Bikini.)
  3. Art was “free”, so it came out three times a week. (Which keeps the story flowing.)
  4. It was cutting a lot of new territory, while Chainmail Bikini had to be careful to avoid doing jokes that Knights of The Dinner Table and Dork Tower had done before.

So even though Chainmail Bikini was doing very well, it wasn’t quite measuring up to my previous comic, and so I was a little disappointed with my work. At the same time, I think Shawn was frustrated as well, although I’ll let him speak for himself on that.

In any case, at this point we began shaking up our workflow and approach to producing comics.

Shawn Says:

This is the last Chainmail Bikini strip that I did the layout and lettering for. #39 was actually Shamus’s first, and then he does all of them from #41 out. The odd thing is, this is probably my single favorite Chainmail Bikini comic we ever did, right here.

The main reason we switched to me doing the art, Shamus doing the writing and compiling was that in the original set up, it would take him about half an hour to write a comic and it would take me about 6 to 8 hours to draw and photoshop it. So we wanted to make that division of labor a bit more even. Unfortunately, I’d spend an hour or two obsessively going over the panel structure and word balloon sizing and whatnot once Shamus was doing the comics, so it didn’t really help. ;) But we’ll get to that on Friday.

 


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28 thoughts on “#40 Heroes of Might and Magic and Other Stuff

  1. Karma The Alligator says:

    Don’t hate the class, hate the player. Bards have many other ways to make themselves useful.

    1. evileeyore says:

      Nothing that another profession doesn’t do better. Bards are the Jackasses of All Trades…

      1. The Wind King says:

        Bards are the single greatest lore masters in the game, ain’t nobody that can touch a Bard on the sheer variety of Lore checks they can nearly always pull off.

        1. Hector says:

          Much more than that. Bards have a solution to every situation. The problem is that most players assume that the solution to every problem is hitting something really hard. If that doesn’t work, they blame the class.

        2. evileeyore says:

          What are Sages preciousssss?

          You gents are hyper focusing in on one edition of one game… I’m talking about bards in general. Garbage profession for anything other than prancing about in tights mouthing someone else’s words…

          1. BlueHorus says:

            And you’re focussed too much on the combat part of an RPG. With a good DM and enough imagination, you can do lot with pretty much any skill.

            I’m in a 5e campaign with a bard – he’s the only guy with a decent perform skill and man, has it come in useful. Free rooms at an inn when we’re all destitute, actually making money by performing at the inn, being the go-to guy for finding out random bits of lore.
            And we’d never even have seen that Dryad if he hadn’t drawn her in with music, let alone got her to point us in the direction of that quest…

          2. Nimrandir says:

            Last I checked, harpies are in every version of D&D and almost all other fantasy role-playing settings. Good luck stopping the meaty warriors from offering themselves up as food!

      2. Joshua says:

        Personally, I loved my Bard’s Bardic Inspiration from 5E.
        DM: “The Fire Giant rolls a 25 to hit you. Your AC is 22?” (Also is busy rolling 32 points of damage for the Fire Giant’s sword)
        Player: “My friend inspired me to some acts of greatness, so I’m going to use some suave moves to roll out of the way, which makes my AC…(*rolls*)..29. Looks like I rolled out of the way”

        Damage avoided is better than damage healed.

        1. Tuck says:

          Tsk tsk, you’re supposed to use the Bardic Inspiration boost BEFORE you know if the attack hits or misses.

          1. Matthew Downie says:

            It’s not the easiest ability to run. “When an attack roll is made against this creature it can use its reaction to roll the Bardic Inspiration die and add the number to AC after seeing the roll and before knowing whether it hits or misses.”

            That requires (a) The GM to not roll the die behind a screen, and (b) the GM not to announce the total before you have a chance to decide if you’re using the ability or not.

          2. Joshua says:

            Yeah, wondered if someone was going to say something about this. This is one of the weirdest examples of text in the game. Generally, PCs will figure out the Attack Bonus if the DM is rolling the dice in the open, so basic math allows them to know the total before the DM announces it. It seems to be there more as consistency with the opposite situation of making a roll against an NPC and not knowing whether the Attack hit or not.

  2. Wangwang says:

    Actually, I love bards. Where do you think the epic music in Lord of the Rings come from? Obviously there’s a band of bard offscreen.

    1. beleester says:

      I can’t take credit for this idea, but, some facts about Gandalf: Gandalf is famously well-traveled, knows all sorts of obscure lore about every place they go, acts as the party’s face when they need to talk to someone important, and has both skill with a sword and the ability to use magic. Knowing this, what would you say is Gandalf’s D&D class?

      That’s right, Gandalf is a bard.

      1. Joshua says:

        I’ve said this for decades. You’re also missing one important trait: His role is usually to encourage and inspire others to achieve greater feats rather than always trying to do everything himself (apart from the Balrog).

  3. Lino says:

    Another advantage DM of The Rings had was that it was based on an extremely well known universe and characters – half the fun for me was how you twisted well known scenes and character moments from Lord of the Rings. So, in this comic you guys not only had to think of original jokes, but also create and establish brand new characters, and so far I think you’ve done a pretty good job.

    By the way, it seems to just me or have webcomics kinda fallen by the wayside in recent years? I remember them being very prominent when I was younger, but now – not as much. Have any of you noticed this, or is it just me?

    1. Kyrillos says:

      They are still around, they’ve just kind of migrated to various aggregation sites. Less expensive hosting, and some of them have their own ad based monetization built in.

      1. Moridin says:

        I don’t think that’s accurate either. Almost all of the ones I read have their own site. I think it’s more that finding a good webcomic is no longer such a big deal, so they’re not being linked around as actively.

    2. Xeorm says:

      There’s a lot less money to be made from internet ads. Between the various adpocalypses and adblocking software even hosting a site is more expensive. Forget doing it as any sort of job.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        You can do it as a job, you just need to create an audience and then quickly turn that audience into a sustainable Patreon, with other funding avenues (books/merch) set up too. It’s not “safe” and certainly not easy to do, though.

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          I’ve heard some current and former webcomics artists say fallout from the 2008 economic collapse cratered merch sales and a lot of them quit around then. That’s also around the time that social media really went mainstream and I think a lot of creators lost original clicks (and thus ad revenue) on their own web portals because most people started reading on Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter–even creators who realized this and stopped posting strips directly to social media had to deal with “fans” reposting them anyway.

          Most of the survivors are the pioneers who started in the late 90s and built a large audience by being good or more importantly consistent. I don’t know to what extent Patreon and Teepublic and other such services have filled in the gaps, but it’s probably a lot harder to do now than in the 00s.

  4. Joshua says:

    Unfortunately, I think this comic has also strayed into territory that The Gamers had already covered before as well. The Gamers 2 Trailer specifically used the joke:
    “With my axe!”
    “With my bow!”
    “With my magic!”
    “With my biting social commentary!”

    1. krellen says:

      And 5th edition went all-in on that, such that the Bard’s offensive Cantrip is Vicious Mockery, where you do psychic damage to your enemy with your withering insults.

      1. Ruethus says:

        Given the sorts of bards I’ve played with, Vicious Mockery, as well as many of the other bard-related things, can suffer a lot from the player not having as much charisma as their character. Especially since we enjoy the gimmick of “if you’re using Vicious Mockery, we need to hear an insult!”, but sometimes we get disappointingly effective things such as “you’re a lizard!” that manages to make the cut.

        Things get even worse when the DM lets the bard in the party roll dice to Persuade party members rather than making the player himself convince the other players either in or out of character.

        1. Joshua says:

          Persuade only allows the character to successfully make a persuasive argument. It doesn’t mean the target loses all free will and must comply. But Persuade and Intimidate are both weird skills anyway.

        2. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Arguing that the player must come up with an effective insult or an inspiring speech in order to do that in game is only fair if you’re also making the Warrior do katas at a safe distance from the table to prove they could really do that sword flourish. Otherwise, you’re just bullying the players trying to play socially.

          1. Scampi says:

            I have to admit I like the idea of incentivizing creative insults for this occasion, though I think it shouldn’t affect the actual roll unless it’s agreed to be advantegeous to the player. A bad insult (i.e. one that doesn’t entertain the other players including the GM) should count as “basic”, anything better should have the potential to improve the roll.
            It may even create an incentive for creative banter while giving the player the opportunity to opt for something less interesting if he/she doesn’t want to think about it too hard or doesn’t have anything funny ready.
            If a GM and party likes the idea, one can even use houserules or such for situational boni against confused or unsettled enemies for any class if players enjoy such a mechanic.

  5. Groboclown says:

    This was my favorite joke from CB. So much so that I… borrowed it. (I attempted to gave a nod to it, while forgetting what the comic’s original name was.)

    This comic reminded me of an article from Dragon Magazine:

    12. What is a bard?
    a. A sophisticated, wandering musician.
    b. My DM doesn’t allow them.
    c. A piece of lumber.
    d. The hair on your face.

    That came out in ’87? Thanks for making me feel old again, Internet.

  6. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    This structure reminds me of a somewhat inverted version of my favorite Owlturd comic!

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