#49 Melodrama, Part 2

By Shamus Posted Friday Aug 16, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 28 comments

Original Text: (From Shawn, believe it or not!)

1: You have undoubtably heard by now, Gary Gygax passed away this week. There are tributes and references all over the net, but I think Order of the Stick did it best. If you find yourself with some free time, you should celebrate Gary Con Around The World.

2: I’ll be at Fear the Con this Saturday, along with our gracious hosts from Fear the Boot. If you’re within driving distance of St. Louis, you owe it to yourself to come see us. I’ll be running a Savage Worlds Chainmail Bikini adventure. I promise to have an update next week on how it went. I’ll also be running a World of Darkness mortals game, and my goal will be to scare the crap out of all of my players. Sadly, both of my games are full, but you can always watch in awe.

3: There may be an extended hiatus in the future for Chainmail Bikini. You’ve likely noticed the update schedule has been somewhat erratic since the new year. I’ve moved into the exciting world of home ownership, which is also the exciting world of “Great Googeley Moogely How In The Crap Are We Going To Pay For All This And Still Buy Food?!?!” Due to this, I might need to take a break from drawing the web comics, to focus on the exciting world of Making Money To Pay The Bills.

If and when a hiatus is necessary, we’ll let you guys know well in advance, and leave the comic at a satisfying place for a pause. We might not have a break, but if we do Shamus and I wanted you, the loyal reader, to know about it in advance.

Later, and have a great weekend!

Shamus Says:

Ah. That original text. As timeless as ever.

It’s been interesting following the reactions to Steve. People disliked him intensely for attempting to sell Ramgar’s spear. So much so that this injustice overshadowed the actual joke – which was the absurdity (and visual fun) of seeing a character change players. People were mad at Steve for attempting to sell the spear, at Casey for allowing it, and at me for writing it.

I think one of the benefits of DM of the Rings was that everyone already knew the plot. They KNEW Gandalf wouldn’t stay dead, that Aragorn was going to be king, and that Gimli would get a big fat bag of nothing for all his efforts. Everyone knew where we were going, so the fun was in discovering how we got there and what was said along the way. Everyone knew who got shafted, so there wasn’t any sense of betrayal when it happened.

But here the audience didn’t have a sense of where this was going. The plot was more important, and arcs like this one brought it to a halt.

The “get screwed by someone running your character” is a tabletop trope as old as the game itself. There’s a lot of absurdity that we players just gloss over when it happens, and so there’s a lot of fun to be had with the idea. Maybe it would have helped to telegraph that everything would be okay in the end. Maybe I just needed to ride it out and wrap it up, knowing that all would be forgiven when we reached the outcome.


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28 thoughts on “#49 Melodrama, Part 2

  1. Asdasd says:

    Note: Steve died on the way back to his home planet.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      That seems likely, as he’s about to step on the burger on the floor, and will probably slip and fall and die.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I like it.
        Shawn & Shamus could just put his body in the background of future strips as an easter egg.

    2. Zekiel says:

      Wow that is a blast from the past!

  2. Paul Spooner says:

    Or maybe you needed to do an outline of the story up front, so people knew what to expect, and we could all laugh together at the characters misinterpretation of what was actually going on.

    1. Ancillary says:

      Would this require the DM to be the straight man/audience proxy instead of another card-carrying member in the confederacy of dunces?

    2. BlueHorus says:

      Isn’t that what Casey tried to do in th first strip, and then the players elected to fight goblins instead?

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’m not sure I love the idea but I’m thinking of how it could be handled. Maybe if the story was told as a retrospective by someone, start the arc with something like “and then then there was the time when Steve almost sold Ramgar’s spear”. Or it could work if we had a case of a competent, maybe even sadistic, GM who has these dysfunctional players that kept somehow surviving mostly through sheer luck, something like “and then I almost got rid of that OP spear when Steve showed up”. Of course that would make it a very different comics since part of the thing is that Casey is also highly dysfunctional as a GM.

      1. Syal says:

        I think if you’re trying to lay out the story ahead of time the best thing to do is split it up into named chapters and make the chapters the titles.

        Chainmail Bikini: the Nightmare of Deuce Baaj.
        Chapter 1: The Nightmare of Character Creation
        Chapter 2: The Nightmare of Pigs
        Chapter 3: The Nightmare of Overkill
        Chapter 4: The Nightmare of Steve
        Chapter 5: The Nightmare of ???????
        Chapter 6: Profit

        Then the individual comics are “N.O. Character Creation, Part 1”, “Part 2”, etc.

  3. Shen says:

    Woulda chucked in a line showing the DM was eager to get rid of Silvershaft because it messes up his campaign. Might have helped your unexpected sympathy problem as well.

    1. Mike P. says:

      Yeah, I definitely figured Casey was going to JUMP at this chance because of the frustration he expressed about The Spear earlier.

  4. Joshua says:

    “The “get screwed by someone running your character” is a tabletop trope as old as the game itself”

    Is it really? Everytime I’ve seen it happen, it’s usually just one of the other players playing two characters because someone is out, and then it’s just them running the character in combat. Someone playing that character in an incredibly OOC idiotic manner would be done for a laugh, but not taken seriously.

    As I said previously, this is a pretty big injustice. Imagine a DM telling a player that the Giant rolled a 21 to hit his PC, the player responds that they have a 23, and the DM says the giant hits him anyway. Even though the PC has sufficient HP, the DM tells him the character is dead anyway. Why should the player continue playing in the game when it’s obviously not remotely fair?

  5. BlueHorus says:

    Hehe, Marcus is slow on the uptake once again. They stopped caring about the XP four strips ago, dude.

    Also, this seems weirdly abrupt. Was Steve so unpopular that you wrote him out of the story quicker than usual?

    1. Joshua says:

      I’m guessing that’s the case. So far, apart from the first strip and a dumb comment about stabbing a swamp, all we’ve seen is Steve playing Chuck’s character and trying to sell his stuff, yet Marcus, Josh, and Ivy are all out for blood. Steve’s only been playing for maybe 20-30 minutes.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        The commentary from earlier strips all but confirms it:


        Steve’s appearance was kind of amazing. He showed up, became an instant fan favorite, and then stuck around for two weeks or so, and totally wore out his welcome to the point where the fans were clamoring for him to go away. I’d seen that sort of thing happen on many a tv show or what have you, but I’d never witnessed it first hand, and so quickly.


        I can’t remember any specific jokes now, but I’m pretty sure this vignette was cut short because the audience got so riled up about this injustice against Chuck.

  6. shoeboxjeddy says:

    Honestly, you didn’t take the “playing as someone else’s character poorly” far enough. Yeah, he changed his weapon, but he’s standing in front of the guy he made the deal with and can easily undo the deal. All that other stuff he sold sounded like 100% vendor trash. As an alternative idea, it might have been funny to repeat the “treasure chest trap” joke, with someone new in the group who was not warned by the previous example.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      The only thing Steve sold is the spear, right? Josh was the one lugging the Pile O’ Junk (TM). Somehow.

  7. Agammamon says:

    People were mad . . . at Casey for allowing it,

    I don’t know why – Ramgar wasn’t supposed to have it and its a literal OHK for the BBG of the setting if he gets close enough. This is entirely in keeping with the character of a DM who wants to railroad the players through his story – accept any stupidity on their part that sets them up to not be able to derail your plot later.

    1. Joshua says:

      Because it’s entirely appropriate for the DM to have a mature conversation with the player about how they need to take away a magic item because it’s destructive to the game, allowing the player a chance to discuss their opinions and possibly negotiate some kind of alternative (maybe Ramgar gets a Keen spear instead of an Undead-Bane one).

      It’s entirely inappropriate to take it through cheating the player and deliberately stealing their agency.

    2. Jeff says:

      The one and only person that determines what a player’s character actually chooses to do is the character’s player. (“Chooses to do”, as there are game mechanics where the character does not get a choice, such as via Domination, Confusion, etc.) The player can consent to having someone else choose their character’s actions, but that is still up to the character’s player – and only said player.

      This agency is inviolable, with absolutely no exceptions. These violations are the sort that end gaming groups – why is the player even there if someone else is controlling their character and their consent is irrelevant?

  8. Scampi says:

    I don’t know if this is a sign of me being seriously sleep deprived for a while now, but when I read “Gary Gygax passed away this week”, my first thought was seriously: “Oh no, not again.”
    Which, ironically, is a combination of phrases that was probably popularized due to his creation.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Aren’t you thinking of Douglas Adams?

    2. Philadelphus says:

      Look, I know we all want to keep on resurrecting him, but he’s just going to keep passing away of old age. Eventually we need to learn to let him go, folks.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      when I read “Gary Gygax passed away this week”, my first thought was seriously: “Oh no, not again.”

      Well, if there was anyone who was likely to try and become a demilich in real life, it would have been him…I guess the ritual failed ;-)

      1. Decius says:

        So long as his phylactery is intact, he’ll be back.

        1. Scampi says:

          Complete with a hardcore name including a Y AND an X: Gygax the lich. Sounds pretty badass to me.

          His still beating heart is being preserved within the very first D&D basic set sold.

    4. DGM says:

      >> “Oh no, not again.”

      He was just spending some time dead for tax purposes.

  9. Amarsir says:

    Perhaps you don’t need to be worried about the audience getting mad on your character’s behalf. That means they are engaged and thus you did your job successfully.

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