1) Anything the GM wants you to have will always be something you can afford, regardless of how broke you are or much it should cost.
2) The shopkeeper will never buy anything that you are required to own for the purposes of the plot.
3) The shopkeeper will never have anything for sale that the GM doesn’t want you to have. But hey, if you feel the need to trade anyway, knock yourself out.
In retrospect the entire Stevegar scene really isn’t all that funny, aside from the visual gag of Stevegar himself. Ah well.
We’re nearing the end here kids. If you have any topics you’d like to see Shamus and I ramble on about in a future Bonus Commentary, ask away. The clock is ticking.
There are 4 more regular CB comics left, and then the text ending, expanded with some all new commentary and maybe a sketch or three, and finally one all new Chainmail Bikini comic strip. Feel the excitement.
People reacted VERY strongly to Stevegar. Once again I was caught off-guard by people having empathy for the characters and their plight.
In Loony Toons, Bugs Bunny is usually the invincible god of mischief and Daffy Duck is the recipient of lots of abuse. In general, people don’t see Daffy’s injuries and get angry about the violence and his constant setbacks, because the story is constructed in such a way to make it feel like it’s his fault. He deserves this, and we enjoy seeing him get his comeuppance. Within the story, we see that he’s bringing it on himself and he could make it stop whenever he wanted by simply leaving Bugs alone.
I thought of my characters as a bunch of Daffy Ducks. They’re all dysfunctional and they’re all presumably in this group of their own volition. They’re not chained to the table. They could go home whenever they wanted. For me, their dysfunctional game was just a given of the setting: They’re all here playing this terrible game for the wrong reasons and anything that happens to them is more or less their own fault for showing up.
I figured I could hurl abuse at them for laughs and everyone would see their misfortune as self-inflicted and justified. This didn’t really work. I could have Chuck act like an irritating jackass in one scene, and then a bit later people would feel sorry for him when his character got hijacked. People kept having empathy when I wanted to enjoy the schadenfreude.
But maybe I should have spent some time making the setting more explicit. I could hint that there are other tabletop groups out there, but these players have either been thrown out of those games, or they refuse to play those games because decent people won’t put up with their shenanigans.
- Perhaps Chuck got a reputation for being a sadistic GM where all of his campaigns ended in a TPK. He’s burned all his bridges with the local tabletop community.
- Nobody else will let Marcus into the game because he’s always trying to hog the spotlight rather than participate in the story.
- Josh chooses Casey’s group specifically because Casey is a terrible ref that lets him get away with lots of exploits and rule-bending.
- Ivy is KINDA an expression of my obsessive meta-gaming story analysis, and I liked the idea that her narrative analysis made her no fun to play with. “This guy seems much too nice. He’s obviously constructed to get us to like him, so either he’s about to die or he’s about to betray us. Therefore we can’t trust him to hold onto the Nega-sword while we explore the dungeon.” The comic didn’t really give her a chance to show it very often because the plot never really developed, but she’s supposed to be the voice of reason that wants to ruin the fun. Shawn’s suggestion that she have an unrequited / unnoticed crush on Josh was also a pretty interesting idea, although that would have taken me out of my comfort zone as a writer.
- Casey is stuck with these people because they’re the only ones who will tolerate his incompetent storytelling and railroading.
If I’d explicitly shown this stuff and made it clear that there were other, healthy tabletop groups in the world and none of them wanted to play with these misfits and rejects, then it might have made their misadventures seem like justice rather than injustice. Maybe?
I don’t know. I think it’s funny that I ran into the opposite problem that Mass Effect 2 did. In that story, the writer sort of took our empathy for granted and didn’t see a need to earn it. In my story I sort of assumed that nobody in the audience would have empathy and was constantly caught off-guard when they did.
As always, it’s much easier to objectively analyze the work of others than to analyze your own, because you’re often blinded by what you intended to say. This keeps you from seeing what you actually said.
 In the old days I wrote in raw text files, which are easily forgotten / misplaced in a computer migration. These days I use Google Docs for everything.
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