#54 The More Things Change…

By Shamus Posted Sunday Sep 1, 2019

Filed under: DM of the Rings 48 comments

Shamus Says:

This comic was made backwards. In days of yore, I’d write a joke, then Shawn would draw it. This one came art-first, the webcomic equivalent of a breech birth.

This comic grew in the making. It began as a few ideas that we’d kept from the original run but never got to use. We batted these ideas back and forth, but none of them felt worthy of being a final strip. Then Shawn drew this square kilometer of art and I felt the need to do it justice in words. (Compare this strip to the first one to see just how far he’s come.)

Each of us had about a dozen jokes we wanted to jam into this final strip, and it took a while to find a set that we were both happy with, that worked together, and that matched the art.

This is sort of a snapshot of what we had wanted to do with the series. When they were done with Deuse Baaj, they would have moved on to Star Wars or vampires or steampunk or pirates or whatever else.

Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

Shawn Says:

And there you have it! I’m going to stick by our theory that the wait was entirely deliberate, and meant to evoke early 2008.

If you’re curious, from my end, this comic took between 20 and 30 hours from start to finish. For reference, the average Clockworks page takes between 4 and 6 hours.

If you’d like to see a much, much larger view of today’s comic, sans word bubbles, it is the current vote incentive for Clockworks over on TopWebComics.com. That’s right, I’m bribing you all to go vote for my other comic by putting up something you want to see for this comic. I’m a bad man.

Anyway, this brings our adventure in Chainmail Bikini to a close. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Feel free to chat with Shamus or myself on his blog or my comic. Later!

EDIT 2019: And so ends this third (and hopefully final) reposting of the comic. Don’t forget that Shawn Gaston did most of the work.

About a year ago I had some idea for a new comic that I was SO SURE was brilliant. I lamented that I didn’t have an artist to work with. Then about a month ago, an artist contacted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to collaborate.

And now I can’t remember what the oh-so-awesome idea was.

Normally I dump ideas like that into a Google Doc, but I’ve gone through an entire year+ of docs (probably over 100 documents) and didn’t find anything. Did my past self daydream about this idea for days without ever writing anything down? I used to do that in the old days of this site, but I’ve learned to put everything into docs to prevent exactly this scenario.

Oh well. The point I’m getting at is: I might do another comic someday. I’m launching a new video series right now and writing another video game retrospective so my time is kinda spoken for, but it still might happen if the right idea grabs me. I don’t want to do a comic just for the sake of doing one, but if I think of (or remember) an idea that I’m excited about, it could happen!

Thanks so much for reading.


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48 thoughts on “#54 The More Things Change…

  1. Mattias42 says:

    …Wasn’t there some sort of kerfuffle in the Star Wars fandom about Wookies not being allowed to ever, ever, EVER become Jedi, for some reason? Despite it having been a thing for literal decades in the extended universe, including some fan favorite… well, Wookie Jedi?

    Think it was one of the last times Lucas descended from his giant throne tower of money to make one of those declarations before the Disney deal, even.

    Still, that aside aside, was a nice trip down memory lane seeing the comic again.

    1. Lino says:

      That’s weird, since I distinctly remember there being a Wookiee Padawan in an episode of the most recent Clone Wars which were canon (before they got dumped into Legends, at any rate).

    2. Narkis says:

      I’ve been somewhat active in Star Wars fandom, and I don’t remember that controversy at all.

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      There’s a wookie padawan in The Clone Wars.

      I think Wookie Jedi are allowed, it’s just a “conservation of awesomeness” thing where the Lucasfilm Story Group will probably not allow most writers to publish a story featuring one, to avoid diluting the concept.

    4. lucky7 says:

      I remember reading a (now Legends) comic about the shortage of Bacta which prominently featured a Wookie Jedi.

    5. Sannom says:

      There were Wookie Jedi for a while, then Lucas descended from his giant throne tower of money to say that Wookies couldn’t become Jedi (I think the post-ROTJ Wookie Jedi either died or was quietly abandoned on the wayside) before changing his mind later, with a Wookie Padawan being introduced in season 5 of The Clone Wars.

      The aforementioned (by someone else) Wookie Jedi Master who was a major player in the Bacta shortage story is also one of the only (if not the only) characters to speak of the concept of a “gray Jedi” in an official Star Wars story, in relation to Qui-Gon Jinn. It had nothing to do with the fandom definition of one though, as it apparently refers to Jedi who are often in disagreement with the Jedi Council. The Wookie described Qui-Gon as “always convinced that he was right, and baffled when anyone wouldn’t see things his ways”.

    6. shoeboxjeddy says:

      I think Lucas said it and people went “uh… sure George” and then kept allowing Wookie Jedi because it’s just a frankly racist thing to say. The only “no Jedi allowed” races that would make sense are droids (which are not alive and therefore don’t have a connection to the Living Force) and the Yuuzhan Vong (who were explicitly and violently removed from any Force connection, that’s essentially their whole deal until the end of their major storyline). And both of these are breakable if you squint hard enough.

  2. Lino says:

    And now I can’t remember what the oh-so-awesome idea was.

    Normally, I’d be mad at the world that such a good idea was lost. But this is so hilarious that I can’t even help but laugh (which just won me a strange look from my colleague)!
    Could you at least remember if it was gaming related? Maybe it had to do with one of your book ideas for a heist in a modern-day world where elves, orcs and whatnot live secretly alongside humans?

    1. Lino says:

      Also, I really like the concept you had for the comic where you change settings between chapters, and have the different characters DM the game. Too bad we’ll never get to see it.

    2. Shamus says:

      1) I know it WASN’T any sort of tabletop thing.
      2) I’m 45% sure it was possibly something about superheroes maybe.

      1. Lino says:

        Well, here’s to hoping you remember it or manage to track down that Google Doc!

      2. Abnaxis says:

        Star on Chest related/inspired?

      3. methermeneus says:

        Having great experience in the field of forgetting things, I translate this as “it’s about a tabletop thing, and there’s about a 55% chance that one character reads superhero comics. “

  3. The Rocketeer says:

    Yo, Shamus! If anyone wants that higher-res version without the speech bubbles and boxes that Shawn’s old comment mentions, I’ve got it saved.

    Speaking of, I like how Casey, Chuck, and Josh are wearing the exact same clothes after the time skip, which, while awfully convenient for Shawn, is probably exactly what would actually happen. Look closely, and you can see that the logo on Josh’s shirt is faded in the later panel. I’m not sure if this is deliberate or not, since Chuck’s shirt looks exactly the same. But Josh’s shirt might have been new in the first panel, whereas Chuck’s shirt, judging by the stain and by the fact that it’s a Red Dwarf shirt, is probably already as worn-out as it’s going to get. Marcus has ditched the tie and has presumably been keeping his hair on the edge what he thinks constitutes fashion. Only Ivy looks totally different: clothes, jewelry, hair, and glasses.

    1. ccesarano says:

      I was about to comment on that. I actually found it a really nice touch that those two had changed but the others were kind of just stuck as they were.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Well, Josh seems to have packed on the pounds a bit in the last panel. The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          I feel kinda silly that I put the two panels side-by-side to compare the shirts, and didn’t even notice Josh’s Dew gut.

    2. ElementalAlchemist says:

      probably already as worn-out as it’s going to get

      As someone that renders all clothes down to their component atoms before buying new ones, I can tell you that this is not how clothing physics works. There’s no plateau, it’s a straight downhill run.

      1. Sartharina says:

        I still wear several shirts I had back in High School almost 15 years ago. They look roughly the same as they did 10 years ago.

  4. BlueHorus says:

    I love the way the characters’ clothes/hair change over time (or don’t, in some cases). It’s a neat detail that feels very true to life*. Was that Shawn’s idea?
    EDIT: Ninja’d!

    Also, Josh is actually playing WoW during conversations. Wow. Not that I’d have tolerated him much beforehand, but man, that’s shitty.

    *Well, apart from Josh’s shirt. Is he really is a Mountain Dew kinda guy?

    1. Lino says:

      Well, apart from Josh’s shirt. Is he really is a Mountain Dew kinda guy?

      Well, he is a l33t gam4r. It would be strange if he didn’t wear a Mt Dew T-shirt.

    2. Decius says:

      Josh is overbooked and is still showing up to game night even though it’s also raid night.

      1. The Wind King says:

        If you go alllllll the way back to page one, he’s playing some sort of handheld, so it’s not that’s he’s overbooked, he’s just an asshole.

  5. Joshua says:

    What is panel #5 supposed to be?

    I really like the rhythm of humor in this strip, and I think works better for Shamus’s strengths. Unfortunately, “this comic took between 20 and 30 hours from start to finish”. Unless Shawn is being paid well for this, it’s not sustainable. :(

    1. Zaxares says:

      It’s either a reference to Shadowrun, or a custom game setting using the GURPS ruleset.

    2. Shamus says:

      That’s Clockworks, the comic Shawn did after this one.

      1. Caledfwlch says:

        Does anyone have an actual working link on that comic? I found this link: http://shawntionary.com/clockworks/, but the website is not responding

        1. Supah Ewok says:

          No, Clockworks went down a couple years ago and remains down. Shawn never got through more than 10% or so through its narrative. Last I’d heard he’d been doing purely text updates on Patreon, but that petered out too.

          It’s a shame. It was an imaginative setting, and as this ending comic shows, Shawn really had come into his own as an artist. While I was following him, though, he never managed to keep to regular updates for more than a few months before taking a year or two hiatus.

        2. Dork Angel says:

          That first link is just a spam link now. Oooh, my computer has allegedly got viruses…

    3. Supah Ewok says:

      Panel 5 is based on the cast of Clockworks, Shawn’s own webcomic. It was based on the plot and player characters of Shawn’s ongoing tabletop campaign at the time. The exact system was Savage Worlds.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        Man, I really like Savage Worlds as a ruleset. Too bad our local group fell apart.

        Funnily enough, I had a character like Chuck’s troll in the Battle for Oz setting. Except he was a bear-man. And he was convinced his hammer was sentient.

  6. Asdasd says:

    Oh my God, Top Web Comics. Now that takes me back. I used to read webcomics religiously. Scarygoround. Sam and Fuzzy. Octopus Pie. Penny Arcade and PVP, of course. Erfworld. Achewood. Force Monkeys. 8-bit Theatre. Dinosaur Comics. Wigu. White Ninja. Perry Bible Fellowship. Unwinder’s Tall Comics. And probably thrice as many again that I’ve forgotten entirely. I never really thought about it but in terms of time investment webcomics probably beat out everything except games and books.

    I think what excited me most about it was that while I missed a couple of the first generations of video games, I stepped onto the internet at the exact moment webcomics took off. I was in on the ground floor, and at an age where new things were something I’d actively seek out (rather than shaking my cane at like I do nowadays).

    And now I don’t read any. So that makes Chainmail Bikini one of the few I ever saw through to the end of its run.

    1. Lino says:

      Wow, that’s a lot! There was a time when I followed quite a few webcomics (not nearly as many as you, though), but one by one they started falling off my reading list.
      Now, the only two webcomics I still follow are Loading Artist, and to a lesser extent They Can Talk, and I occasionally drop by to see what a couple of others are up to.
      About 90% of the webcomics I stopped following were ones that had some kind of story going – I just got tired of waiting for a week or more just to get another page of a long-running story. I used to tell myself “Well, I’ll just wait for the whole chapter to get finished, and I’ll read it in one go!” which led to me leaving the comic on the back burner, forgetting abut it, and never coming back again.
      I tried going for more humour-based webcomics, but in time many of my old favourites just stopped being funny to me anymore.

      1. Thomas says:

        The other danger with narrative webcomics was always that they would peter out before the story was finished.

        There was a time when I would only binge completed webcomics, there are a lot of good ones out there: Guilded Age, Phoenix Requiem, Freak Angels (by Warren freaking Ellis), Juathuur, Darken, Dreamless.

        I used to follow a ton of active ones when I was younger. Now I still follow Girl Genius, Schlock Mercenary, Unsounded, Darth’s and Droids, Widdershins, Order of the Stick and Erfworld (although that one is struggling right now) and Penny Arcade, but there are so many good ones which have been left by the wayside

        1. Veylon says:

          I’m still a little amazed that 8-bit Theater actually ended after nine long years.

        2. Philadelphus says:

          Earthsong was another good story comic that finished up in 2016.

      2. Syal says:

        Huh, turns out The Adventure of Dr. McNinja started wrapping up pretty much exactly when I stopped reading it. I’m both happy and sad.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          I feel good about Dr. McNinja because the story ended strong instead of the comic just ceasing to update AND the creator moved on to do more comics, he didn’t just disappear from the comic industry completely. That’s the best outcome imo (8 Bit Theatre also had this same outcome).

    2. Fizban says:

      As with many things, webcomics are a thing that I feel like I should have been more “there” for (see also MMOs and people who had meaningful connections on forums and chat and other rise of internet stuff,). But the fact that I didn’t get internet until halfway through high school in like 2005 or something, when everyone else was moving on to driving and dating and a bunch of that stuff was already going stale or otherwise too huge to get into, yeah didn’t happen. I’ll always want some comics and serial stories in my RSS, but I’ve never sought out and consumed webcomics the way I have some lets plays and fanfics. Many of the webcomics I followed back then I also have dropped- I stopped caring about Penny Arcade or Ctr+Alt+Delete or VG Cats who knows how long ago, I dropped 8-bit Theater when it went on a string of unfunny “cluster f-bomb” strips and never went back to finish it even though it ended relatively soon after. And of course there’s a couple things on the list which just got abandoned themselves.

      On the other hand Order of the Stick is *still* going, the end near in sight. Goblins is still going, though I’ve no idea if it’s anywhere near an end, doesn’t seem like it (slower releases and many breaks over the years). Darths and Droids is still a thing, though I’ve had my reading on hiatus since they started on the sequels because I wanted to watch them first for proper contrast and still haven’t. And I did pick up a suggestion for Kill Six Billion Demons, which I’m glad I did (that one didn’t start till 2013 though). And there’s always xkcd and SMBC, but as “newspaper comics” rather than ongoing stories they’re a separate category.

      1. whitehelm says:

        Darths and Droids aren’t starting the sequel trilogy until after Episode IX comes out. After they finished Return of the Jedi they did Rogue One and are now doing the Star Wars episode of the Muppets.

      2. kincajou says:

        Stand still stay silent is my poison of choice in th webcomic world for the moment. Regular updates, amazing art and a great story!
        Fully recommended if you’re looking for something

  7. Nimrandir says:

    So . . . does this final comic indicate a ‘happy ending’?

    I mean, this group has stuck together for over two years by the last panel. Over the course of the various campaigns, every player (or their in-world avatar) has a moment where they’re smiling. When we reach the Clockworks panel, there are no complaints from the GM about the players’ behavior. Heck, by the end, Chuck and Casey are apparently enjoying themselves at the same time.

    Did our Bad News Bears of role-playing actually reach a stable equilibrium?

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I doubt ‘happy ending’ is right. I mean, Marcus doesn’t look like he’s having much fun, for one.

      ‘Stable equilibrium’ is better, and it’s been there since the beginning. I think Shamus said it in one of his blurbs – this is the only group these can ‘roleplay’ with, since no-one else wants them. They’re all gettng just enough out of it to keep coming back.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      Question, Shamus: have you ever considered doing another “campaign comic” using screen caps? (Whether of a movie/TV show or even a game.) Totally fair if you think you’ve said everything you want to say using that format, I’m just curious. DM of the Rings was my first exposure to the concept (which makes sense since it basically invented it), and I’ve periodically searched for other good ones, but while I’ve sampled quite a few over the years they tend to either peter off into non-existence or not really be funny (to be fair to the authors, writing quality comics on any sort of schedule is hard, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it myself). The only two I still follow (both for 8+ years at this point) are Darths & Droids and Friendship is Dragons.

      Edit: This was supposed to be a new comment, not a reply, whoops!

  8. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I’ll be honest this here is my favourite Chainmail Bikini page. I love the “different but same” characters in different systems*, the personalities and playstyles shine through, visually I think breaking the artstyle with the vampire panel was a great idea. Heck, I’d go so far as to say maybe this would have been a great opening page with another, very similar one at the end. It imeediately establishes the characters, it shows they have previous experiences with one another, it gives that “the more things change the more they stay the same” vibe and it would immediately set us in this mindset that we’re seeing one campaign in a series. It’s also just a bit heartwarming because if these people keep playing with one another surely they must, on some level at least, enjoy it.

    *I admit like many people above I thought of Shadowrun when I saw the 5th panel, but I think that’s fine because it makes it a bit easter-eggish.

  9. LCF says:

    That’s quite a nice ending.
    Thanks for all the fish!

  10. Pell says:

    You know, Shamus, if “ideas” are something you struggle with producing, I have about ten billion of them which I don’t need, and can probably find a thousand or so even after disregarding the ones lost in the depths of my labyrinthine filing system.

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