ACT III: It Ends Badly, Part 2

ACT III: It Ends Badly, Part 2

Scene Four:

The party is now face-to-face with their vaguely defined and poorly conceived nemesis. Deuse (Casey) begins what promises to be a very long bit of exposition. It is revealed that he is not a Necromancer: He’s a LICH.

Everyone is outraged. (Except for Marcus, who doesn’t know any better.) A Lich is way, way out of their league. They protest. Casey points out that there were sidequests available which would have let them to seek out the “seven parts of the Ageless Armor” and the “Twelve Shards of the Champion”, an armor and sword which would have given them the power to defeat Deus Baaj.

It’s obvious his plan for this campaign was for them to go on a long series of fetch quests, so at the end Casey’s Super Weapon could defeat Casey’s Super Villain. Luther the Gnome had the information needed to get the armor, and the sidequests in the Necropolis would have led them to the sword.

Casey is smug. He’s obviously trying to teach them a lesson about resisting his railroad plot, and he’s decided that a Total Party Kill is the best way to drive that lesson home.

Deuse resumes his Big Speech. Josh announces a sneak attack. He runs at Deuse. It turns out Deus has some artifact that puts people under his sway if they come within thirty feet of him.

Josh: No problem. My saving throw is…

Casey (Evil grin.): This one is charisma based.

Josh: Oh crap.

Josh has been undone by his own min-maxing and falls under the sway of the Lich, who tells him to jump out the window. Out he goes.

Josh argues that he SHOULD be able to grab the rope on the way down and save himself. Casey relents, and lets Josh do so, at the cost of taking 8d6 “rope burn damage”. Josh is now at the bottom and out of the fight. (We would have established earlier that it takes a long, long time to climb the tower. There is no way for Josh to get back into the battle in time.)

Chuck reminds Casey that he still has the spear of insta-killing undead. Casey had forgotten about this. They all laugh at Casey, because this campaign is about to be undone by his super-weapon from an earlier campaign.

Ramgar THROWS the spear to avoid entering the radius where he would fall under Douchbag’s control. Chuck rolls a one. The spear goes out the window and lands point-down, right beside Josh. (This is another nod to a classic FtB gaming story.) The players go back to being screwed.

Marcus sees that things are about to end badly. Having died so many times already, he really wants to escape this one alive. He decides to run for it, climbs out the window and begins climbing down the rope.

Lich’s turn now. Casey is being vindictive. Rather than fighting one of the two remaining players, he’s more concerned with making sure that nobody escapes alive. He spends his turn going over to the window and kicking the grapple hook loose, letting Topaz fall to her death.

Marcus tries to cast levitate. Casey overrules him, saying he can’t cast while falling. This is NOT in the rulebooks, and seems to be an ad-hoc house rule. They argue, but Casey comes up with very flimsy justifications for it and moves on.

(I’m thinking that MAYBE Josh saves her in some way I haven’t devised yet, or maybe she just pancakes at the bottom. Either way, she’s out of the fight. I’ve noticed readers have been getting upset at Marcus’ bad fortune. His deaths have been viewed as “mean” instead of “absurd”, and that’s not what I was going for. I might have used the “death” of Jade to help me gauge which way I should write this.)

Only two players left. Ramgar is unarmed and Lucretia doesn’t have any magic that can hurt this guy.

It’s now Lucretia’s turn. She walks over to Douchebag and stops one step short of his magical mind-control radius. She takes out the potion of “bring anyone, ANYONE back to life, anytime” – which I hope the reader has forgotten about until now – and chucks it at the Bad Guy with a simple underhand toss. It shatters and splashes him.

Casey tries to protest. But if this potion could bring back someone chopped into paste by a trap (see Act I) then it should certainly work on this guy. The players think this should destroy him (like throwing a Pheonix Down on an undead in Final Fantasy) but Casey isn’t ready to accept defeat just yet. Instead, he announces that Deuse Baaj is now… alive again? So they’re just fighting a Wizard instead of an undead Lich? He doesn’t even know how to handle this. He consults the rulebook.

It comes around to Ramgar’s turn again. Ramgar runs and delivers a flying leap-kick to Douchebag, who, if you remember, is still standing at the window from when he sent Topaz falling. Ramgar entering his sway doesn’t couse a problem, since he’s just a very heavy projectile at this point. His boot sends Douchebag out the window. Casey tries to react:

Casey: As he falls, Deuse casts feather fall-


Deuse plummets to his death where he lands on the spear at the bottom.

There is a pause where Josh stares at the impaled Deuse. Then, just for good measure, he gives the guy a halfhearted and disappointed poke with his knife.

I haven’t written a denouement, so our tale ends here. I hope this helps close the tale for you. I do thank everyone for reading.


Shamus says:

That’s how it ended. Hope you enjoyed it. Also, thanks to Shawn for getting the great re-posting project rolling. It really is nice knowing the comic has a proper home again and wasn’t lost to the bit bucket.

Thanks again for reading.

Discussion (33)¬

  1. neothoron says:

    The thing I like most about the ending is how everyone has his part in the villain’s demise:
    -Josh demonstrates the Mind Control field
    -Topaz negates casting while falling
    -Lucretia uses Chekhov’s gun
    -Ramgar… well, you know

    (Has Shawn drawn the bonus comic yet? Just curious ^^)

  2. Ocelorean says:

    These notes are nice for two reasons. Not only are we given closure for the comic, but we see a bit of insight into the process that goes into making the comic. Very well done, and I look forward to the bonus comic!

  3. Doomboy911 says:

    So you’re not going to produce any more stories?

  4. Arthur says:

    I love the fact that the denouement of the comic involves a cackling DM getting his just desserts from a plucky party of players in the OOC story, just as it involves a cackling villain getting his just desserts from a plucky party of adventurers IC.

    This actually struck me as one of the differences between DM of the Rings and CB. In DMOTR the GM seems to be a more ambivalent figure: sometimes they’re an OK referee hampered with grousing, crappy players, other times they are a just plain bad GM. In CB, Casey always came across (to me) as an absolutely horrible GM who took no pleasure out of the process of running the game for the players, or from the player’s own actions, and only really cared about his epic backstory and grand plot – which he completely fails to sell the players on, partially because he has no interest in letting them meaningfully contribute to it.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s the fact that in CB we saw more of the group’s OOC selves. Casey always looked miserable, pissed off, or pissed off and miserable, whereas the players – whilst sometimes really getting on each other’s nerves – did at least occasionally crack a smile, suggesting that despite all they were still good enough friends to take pleasure in the game and each other’s company. (Even Marcus).

    Either way. The plot summary only underlines this impression in my mind. Casey is a terrible GM, the party are a somewhat mismatched group of basically OK players. I could see the CB players being a great gaming group if they loosened up a bit and were more accommodating when it came to what each other wanted from the game, and if they had a GM who likewise was in tune with what they wanted to do, whereas I couldn’t really see Casey being anything other than a mean-spirited jackass (mainly because what he wants out of the game is utterly incompatible with the players having any sort of meaningful participation in the game).

    Ah, but in dysfunction lies comedy. :)

  5. Mr. Death says:

    Yeah, that last paragraph of yours Arthur is one of the things that just kills comedy for me: The nagging question of “Why the hell are these people sticking with this?” It was very hard for me to imagine anyone putting up with Casey’s blatant cheating and just crappy in general GMing for more than a couple instances. Especially the business with continually killing off Marcus’s characters; as someone who tends to put a lot into any character I make, repeatedly killing them off left a bad taste in my mouth.

    It’s why 40 Year Old Virgin, for example, was one of my favorite comedies. Most other comedies in that style, the four or five guys stuck together practically hate each other. In 40YOV, the whole ensemble was a bunch of basically likable guys, a group you could actually see hanging out, and you see they do care about each other.

  6. Shamus says:

    This is the most common objection to the series. Looking back, I think the comic would have worked for a lot more people if I could have established that:

    1) These people really do love the game and would rather play with Casey than not at all.
    2) Refuse to run a game themselves.

    This shouldn’t have been a hard sell. It would have satisfied this objection while giving a little additional depth to the players.

  7. Meredith says:

    I tend to agree with Mr. Death a bit: the group was so amazingly dysfunctional and unlikeable that it did take away from the funny at times. Still, the writing and art were both well done and the amount of effort put into this is very apparent. I’m glad you got it re-posted so johnny-come-latelies like me could still enjoy your work.

  8. [...] morning the last of the story notes went up, which brings the tale to a close. Er. Again. I must say I feel much better about it this time [...]

  9. Arthur says:

    See, for me it is in no way an objection – I like that, just like in the game, there is a clear villain. ;)

  10. jokermatt999 says:

    I definitely like that ending fight. It ties the series together nicely; shame the comic was never actually finished. Oh well, I’m glad you at least released the text version.

  11. Dr-Online says:

    I wouldn’t mind hearing/reading those FtB posts you mentioned, know which ones they are?

  12. Ramsus says:

    I gotta say that that’s a pretty awesome ending. While not what any of the party or the GM would have been aiming for it’s probably an ending they’d all be happy with and tell as an amusing story (or perhaps even brag about) to other people later on.

  13. d7 says:

    I could have sworn that I recalled seeing this illustrated Way Back When It First Ended. I suppose that the imagery of the comic and the text-only wrap-up has since blended together in my mind that I remember “seeing” the illustrations now.

    Am I the only strange person who misremembers seeing this ending instead of just reading it?

  14. Jacob says:

    I could swear the same thing d7. I also think I’ve heard the FtB podcast make references to the story that this ending nods to.

  15. BlckDv says:

    Er, wasn’t there supposed to be a “new” final comic after the text wrap? Just wondering as we’ve passed two update days. If there was an announcement that it would go up “blah” time later, my bad for overlooking it.

  16. Ravens Cry says:

    AH yes, just as I remember. Are you going to show the guest comic you got, the oen with the Necromancer Pig getting revenge on the Big Bad Wolf? That was awesome.

  17. Mr. Death says:

    Yeah, what happened to that ‘new’ comic? I thought it was supposed to go up right after this summary did.

  18. zrinkill says:

    Are we still getting the new comic?

  19. Shawn says:

    Soonish. I’m still drawing it, and it’s grown to a massive beast of epic massiveness. Sadly, between work, my other comic, and real life, I haven’t had enough time to really sit down and finish the art up. Hopefully it will come out this week.

  20. zrinkill says:

    Sweet …. I am really looking forward to it.

  21. d7 says:

    “Patience, the epic is causing the hold up,” is the best answer.

  22. David says:

    Gotta say, I’m mildly unimpressed. You started this rerun with a 51-comic “buffer”, you knew you were planning to do a bonus comic, and you guys only started work on it when the buffer had run out?

    I mean, I suppose it’s classic Webcomic Time Management, so you get points for authenticity. But jeez, guys, you’ve literally had months to get working on this thing.

  23. Shawn says:

    I actually pitched Shamus the idea for the bonus strip when we first started the new run, and did some early pencils for the art. Then I let the notebook sit on my shelf for half a year.

    The last comic will be out eventually.

  24. BlckDv says:

    Thank you for the info Shawn. I’m happy to know I had not overlooked it, and that we will get to see one last collaboration yet.

  25. Shawn says:

    For those of you keeping score at home, I sent the line art to Shamus, so he can make with the funny. Here’s what he said in reply:

    “This is terrible. The art you’ve made is so tragically AWESOME and so
    horrifyingly KICK ASS that people will never stop begging us to make

    You know, I could see you’d grown your skills, but it wasn’t until you
    came back here that I could see how much.

    I am speechless.

    I’m going to go smoke some Buddha, enter a deep trance, and see if I
    can come up with some fitting words for this monster.

    It’s all so perfect.”

  26. Ocelorean says:

    There /was/ some awesome lineart on that Livestream last night. I’m looking forward to seeing the color and words.

  27. Ravens Cry says:

    And so it ends, (again) not with a bang, but with a whimper.
    Say it ain’t so, Shamus and Shawn, say it ain’t so!

  28. Shawn says:

    Last comic is coming, one day.

  29. Robak says:

    some day… one day…
    I live in Hope of Delivery…
    Feels like the real thing once again :)

  30. Guru G. says:

    This seems oddly familiar somehow…
    I can’t help but think we should be getting filler art of Chuck any day now

  31. pirmas says:

    And then the count down that stops at “3″ like some bomb being defused in an action movie.

  32. Author says:

    This was very funny, and the Casey’s comeuppance so well excuted.

  33. Aldowyn says:

    … I just said in the comments to the last one that they used the potion to resurrect Topaz from the trap, which HAD to have killed her. So I guess I would be one of the guys who hadn’t forgotten Chekhov’s gun? Though, I did just read the whole thing in less than 2 hours.