8/11/2014 - O-Chul, Redcloak, and MITD from Morland Miniatures
8/6/2014 - Gygax Magazine #4 (with OOTS!)
2/18/2014 - End-of-Book Hiatus
12/20/2013 - Calendars On Their Way
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Order of the Stick 961 Hearing is Believing
Erfworld 163 The End of Book One
Erfworld Now at Erfworld.com!
RSS Feeds: OOTS

The Duke's Wolf, Part Four by Amber E. Scott
The Duke's Wolf, Part Three by Amber E. Scott
The Duke's Wolf, Part Two by Amber E. Scott

The New World, Part 9: Barbarians by Rich Burlew
The New World, Part 8: Gnomes by Rich Burlew
The New World, Part 7: Names and Cultures by Rich Burlew
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Most of the time, when you see Frequently Asked Questions on a website, it's usually a bunch of questions the author expects will be asked, and he or she is trying to avoid answering them in the first place. Sadly, that didn't occur to me, and I get deluged with emails and private messages asking the same things over and over. But I pass the benefit on to you, because you can rest assured that every question on this list has, in fact, been frequently asked. Updated 3/4/05!

The Order of the Stick:
How come I only get about half the jokes? And what is a (gaming term)?
Will OOTS ever be collected for publication?
How do you make the OOTS strips?
How long does it take you to make each comic?
How come your art sucks so much? Can't you draw?
What does 'The Stick' refer to in the comic's name?
What are the character's D&D stats?
In Strip #X, why didn't character Y take action Z?
Wouldn't it be cool if X, Y, and Z happened?
Is Vaarsuvius male or female?
Hey, it's 12:01 on Monday/Thursday, where's the strip?
Can't you update more often?
Isn't the Order of the Stick technically Open Game Content?
Can I repost one of the comic strips to another site?
Can I translate OOTS into another language for my game site?
How far in advance do you plan OOTS? How long will it last?

Giant in the Playground Games:
Who is this 'Rich Burlew' guy?
What did you write for Wizards?
What was your Fantasy Setting Search campaign setting like?
What is 'Giant in the Playground'?
What's with the footprints?
Why should I care what you think about topic X?
What do the words on the sidebar mean?
I don't get all of the references in the Campaigns section.
Can I link to you?
Can we exchange links?
Can I reuse gaming material from this site?
Are you ever going to finish the "New World" series of articles?

Message Boards:
Who are the moderators? How come I got warned?
How come I can't curse on the message board?
What are the different levels of membership?
Can I post a whole lot so that I can get my membership level up?
How do I get a custom title?
Can I get you to make me a custom avatar for the message board?
Can I alter one of the existing avatars and use that?
What are play-by-post games?
How do I join a play-by-post game on this message board?

The Order of the Stick

Q: How come I only get about half the jokes? And what is a (gaming term)?

A: OK, now, the crucial piece of information you might be missing is that The Order of the Stick is a comic that parodies fantasy roleplaying games, specifically, Dungeons & Dragons. When the comic started out, it was only being seen by people who were already coming to my gaming site, so there was little expectation that anyone reading it wouldn't 'get' it. However, as we have spread in popularity, more and more people are finding their way to OOTS, and I'm hearing more about people who don't get all the references. I heartily encourage anyone curious about roleplaying games to go out and try D&D; despite my loving satire, I feel it is a fantastic game that has greatly enriched my life over the years.

Mind you, OOTS can be enjoyed by people who don't know what a d20 is. I try hard to make sure that the strip contains plenty of character-based humor so that even those not up-to-date on the latest rules will get a chuckle. But ultimately, OOTS will remain rooted in gaming jokes in the future. Top

Q: Will OOTS ever be collected for publication?

A: You should try looking around the site more before asking questions. The first OOTS book, The Order of the Stick: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, went on sale January 3rd, 2005, here in the Shop. Expect more books to come as soon as we can crank them out. Top

Q: How do you make the OOTS strips?

A: I use Adobe Illustrator, a high-end vector-based graphics program. Believe it or not, creating those little stick figures require an expensive design program and years of experience. Illustrator gives me the smooth blocks of color and nice lines that I think add a lot to the OOTS look. Plus, it allows me to save a series of frequently-used poses, which cuts down my production time. Top

Q: How long does it take you to make each comic?

A: About 2-3 hours each, assuming I don't get interrupted or distracted. That includes writing the dialogue and crafting the actual strip, but not getting the idea. Usually, I come up with ideas while I am on the subway or eating lunch, so I don't count that time. Top

Q: How come your art sucks so much? Can't you draw?

A: Grumble. Let's be clear: I choose to draw stick figures because I think they bring the right air of humor to the strip, and because they create a unique style. People often criticize the OOTS style under the assumption that I am incapable of doing 'better'. I would argue that there is no 'better' or 'worse' involved. I use stick figures because the stick figure style is what is right for the comic. If I were doing a serious fantasy epic, I would draw more realistic pictures. Top

Q: What does 'The Stick' refer to in the comic's name?

A: It mostly refers to the fact that they are stick figures.

Q: Yeah, but the characters also refer to themselves as 'The Order of the Stick'. Presumably they don't know they're being drawn as stick figures, right?

A: Very true. There is a story behind why they are called 'The Order of the Stick' within the context of the strip. That story, however has yet to be revealed. Top

Q: What are the character's D&D stats? Will you ever create character sheets for us to see?

A: There are no hard-and-fast stats for the characters. I find that if I were to ever commit exact stats to paper, I would feel limited in what I could have these characters do in the future. For example, I might want to make a strip spoofing a particular feat, only to find that I didn't give it to any of my characters. As a result, there will never be official game statistics for Roy, Elan, and the rest. As a rule of thumb, I tend to think of them as being around 7th-9th level or so; powerful enough to have a bunch of different storytelling options, weak enough that I can justify them running away from anything I throw at them. Top

Q: In Strip #X, why didn't character Y take action Z? If they had done so, they could have avoided a whole lot of trouble.

A: You just answered your own question. The strip is ABOUT the trouble these characters get in; if a tactic would result in an effortless solution to their latest problem, there would be little point in showing it, see? The characters are woefully inefficient as a result, and often take actions that are rarely seen in a real D&D game, like running away from moderate danger or 'forgetting' major abilities for the sake of a joke. But their foibles are what fuel the humor.

Writer and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski had a standard answer for overzealous fans who would ask him obscure questions like, 'How fast does a Starfury (the show's standard fighter ship) fly?' He would say, 'They travel at the speed of plot,' meaning that if the script called for them to get somewhere in a certain amount of time, they could, and if the script called for them to get there too late, they couldn't. The Order of the Stick travels almost exclusively at the speed of plot.

Q: Hey, in Panel X, the character is doing Y, but in Panel X+1, the character is doing Z. What happened?

A: Between panels, the character moved/cast a spell/had a spell cast on him/etc. There are limited panels in each strip, and I give priority to panels that tell jokes first, then advance the plot, and then, only if I have extra room, do I show transitional panels that are not strictly necessary. Use your imagination when it comes to exactly how it happened. Top

Q: Wouldn't it be cool if X, Y, and Z happened? You should totally do that.

A: Thanks, but I prefer to create my own plots. In fact, I try not to read anything where people suggest upcoming plot ideas because I hate it when people guess what is going to happen. I feel the uncontrollable urge to change what happens, just to prove them wrong. Petty? Probably.

Q: Hey, you used my idea I posted! Cool!

A: No, I didn't. Even if your idea that you posted completely matches what eventually happened, you can be sure I was not inspired by your post. Largely because I probably didn't read it (see above question). Top

Q: Is Vaarsuvius male or female?

A: I will never reveal the truth! Bwahaha! Keep in mind that while certain other characters might refer to V as being male or female, that simply reveals their perception, not the actual reality of the situation. Top

Q: Hey, it's 12:01 on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, where's the strip?

A: Relax. I post the strips when I'm done with them, they're not automated. Generally, I try to get them posted around midnight, but I have officially stopped considering them late at 9:00 am. It's just too much hassle to read through a hundred "Where's the strip??" posts on the message board. The strip arrives when I can get it posted, and if there's not a strip at all on a scheduled update day, there's going to be a good reason. I have missed updates recently, mostly as a result of being sick or injured or technologically challeneged, but I try to put up a filler image explaining the difficulty and when the new strip can be expected. Top

Q: Can't you update more often? Like three times a week? Or daily?

A: Well, I am starting to update three times a week as of March 2005. Thanks to the sales of my first OOTS book, I was able to quit my Day Job and focus on writing.

Q: OK, but if you quit your Day Job, can't you do one every day? They don't look that hard.

A: I might be able to, but I choose not to. See, I have a limited capacity to come up with OOTS jokes, and my fear is that should I attempt to craft a new strip every day, the quality will drop rapidly. However, I will be using the extra time to work on other writing projects, including a new comic strip for the RPGA and additional game writing for Wizards of the Coast. And keep on the look out for all-new print projects as well, some OOTS-based, some all-new.Top

Q: The Order of the Stick refers to concepts from the d20 game. Doesn't that automatically make the strip Open Game Content?

A: Nope. The Order of the Stick is a legitimate work of parody, and thus can make passing reference to copyrighted works for the purposes of satire without being a copyright violation (under the concept of 'Fair Use'). Further, none of the terms referenced are actually copyrighted; no one can copyright the phrases 'Spot check,' or 'Will save,' for example. The exact mechanics of those checks within the context of the game, and specifically the text used to explain those mechanics, are copyrighted and can only be used within the confines of the Open Game License. But the words themselves are not, and I am careful not to describe how any of these mechanics work in the strip itself. Top

Q: Can I repost one of the comic strips to another site? Can I alter the image and repost it?

A: Definitely not. The digital image of each strip is protected under copyright law, and reposting it or altering it without permission is going to almost always be a copyright violation. I need to be very careful with my intellectual property in order that I might be able to earn profit from my work, which in turn will allow me to create more of it. If I discover a site that is reusing my art, I will ask them to remove it, and I won't feel bad about doing so. Top

Q: I speak a language other than English. Can I translate the Order of the Stick for my game site?

A: At this time, the translation program is on indefinite hold. Some of the existing translations apparently suffered from accuracy issues, and all suffered from a lack of support from the translator, most of whom faded away after translating only a fraction of the strip's run. Also, there was no promotion or advertisement by the translators in their native language, resulting in a great deal of work for very, very few hits. Please do not contact me regarding translating OOTS into your native language until such time as I decide whether to continue the translation program. Top

Q:How long will OOTS last? How far in advance do you have OOTS planned?

A: Pretty damn far. I have ideas for story arcs that will last at least five years, though I don't have individual strips written more than a few days or weeks ahead. Keep in mind that although OOTS has a joke-a-day, it has plotlines that are set up far in advance of their resolution. OOTS does indeed have a finite lifespan, however, and I already know what the last panel of the last comic will be, so don't expect it to linger around forever. Top

Giant in the Playground Games

Q: Who is this 'Rich Burlew' guy?

A: Rich Burlew is me. Hi. I'm the owner of the website, author of the vast majority of things you will read here, everything not marked as having been written by someone else, in fact. In addition to this website and writing the Order of the Stick, I occasionally am asked to write freelance material for Wizards of the Coast, publisher of the D&D game. As time goes on, I hope to write for other game companies as well. You can read a bio of me under The Giant, to the left. Top

Q: Wait, you write for Wizards of the Coast? What did you work on?

A: My first work for them was sadly never published; I wrote a 125,000 word campaign setting as part of their 2002 Fantasy Setting Search. After that, I designed a dozen or so monsters for Monster Manual III. My next published project will be the Eberron Explorer's Handbook, due out in the Summer of 2005. Top

Q: What was your setting like? Will it ever be published?

A: Sorry, Wizards owns the rights to that setting now, and it is up to them whether they ever wish to discuss it, much less publish it. I am under a strict Non-Disclosure Agreement not to discuss it. Top

Q: What is 'Giant in the Playground'?

A: Well, I picked the name when I first signed on to the Wizards.com message boards in April 2001. As memory serves, I had been reading the boards but not posting for a few weeks when I saw a topic in which everyone who had replied thus far was a complete moron. In a fit of snippiness, I registered and decided to pick a name that would have a connotation of intellectual superiority. Now, I am also a lifelong fan of the Babylon 5 television show, and at one point during the early 4th season, Sheridan refers to the ultra-powerful Vorlons and Shadows as "giants in the playground, unaware of whom they are stepping on." The quote later made it into the 5th season opening credits. So I decided it had the right level of implication for the bozos to which I was about to respond.

After that, I started posting a LOT on the WOTC boards. I never thought I had built a reputation or anything, but in 2002 when I was announced as the finalist in the Fantasy Setting Search, a lot of people said, "Oh! I've read your posts. You know what you're talking about." At this time I realized that the screen name "Giant in the Playground" had as much brand recognition as my real name, so I decided to keep it for my website and future web activities. Top

Q: What's with the footprints?

A: It's supposed to represent a giant's footprints in a sandbox.Top

Q: Why should I care what you think about topic X?

A: Well, no one is saying that you have to. I post gaming articles pretty much as the mood strikes me, and if you don't find them useful, that's cool. If you do, even better. I like to think that I've put a lot of time and energy into thinking about this game, and that my ideas are quite good, but hell, I am very biased. Top

Q: What do the words on the sidebar mean?

A: Each represents a major topic dealt with here at Giant in the Playground.

Q: I don't get all of the references in the Campaigns section. Blue Magic? Umbers? What do these things mean?

A: The stories told in Campaign Delta are from my home campaign, which is set in a world called Illumination. (Actually, the setting is called that; the world is called Adros.) All of the details of this world are deliberately not public knowledge, as I hope to someday be in the position to self-publish it. However, the broad strokes can be found in various posts on the message board in the Giant's Campaign forum. The abbreviated answers are that in Illumination, arcane magic wielders are subdivided by color, not school, and umbers are half-ogres. Top

Q: I have a website too. Can I link to you?

A: Sure! Anyone is welcome to link to the Order of the Stick or Giant in the Playground Games; no need to ask. I do request that if you link to me, you use either a text link or one of the banners I have created. (You can find them on the Linking Banner page.) Please don't cut and paste a chunk of the strip and call it a button. If your link page uses a specific button size that you don't see represented, contact me and let me know. Chances are, I'll create one within a day or two. Top

Q: Can we exchange links?

A: As a rule of thumb, I don't link to a site strictly because they linked to me. I have to be truly interested in the content of that site and feel that it is a worthwhile resource for my readers. I don't link to people's blogs, for example, or sites whose main topic is far removed from comics or pencil-and-paper gaming. I also won't link to a webcomic unless I read it regularly and have read through its archives; don't feel bad if that means I can't link to you at this time. I don't often have a big chunk of time to devote to reading a lengthy archive for a new strip, after all. However, you are free to point out that you've linked to me and suggest that I check your site out, and if I like what I see, I have no problem with linking you. Top

Q: Can I reuse or repost gaming material from this site on my site (or in my book)?

A: Anything included within the tan shaded boxes is considered Open Game Content, and can be reused under the terms of the Open Game License. Rather than risk erroneously stating the terms of that license, I encourage you to look into the subject and decide for yourself if it something in which you wish to participate. If you reuse any of my Open Game Content, be sure to remember to update the Section 15 of your license to include this site's copyright information:

www.GiantITP.com 2004, Giant in the Playground Games. Authors Rich Burlew, Amber E. Scott

You may not reuse any of the material not shaded in tan without specific written permission from me, nor may use any of the shaded material without following the strictures of the Open Game License. Top

Q: Are you ever going to continue/finish the "New World" series of articles?

A: One of the hopes I have for having quit my Day Job is to eventually free enough time to resume writing gaming articles for the site. The New World articles are at or near the top of my list for revival should that happen. I don't know that the world will ever be truly "finished", but I expect to complete the series at some time when the remaining steps to finish one's own world would be self-evident. Top

Message Board

Q: Who are the moderators?

A: There are four main moderators other than myself for the message board: they go by the names Baron, Bogotter, X the Mage, and Wampa X. You should assume that they have my complete confidence in handling message board disputes, and you should assume that unless you hear otherwise directly from me, their word is law. Moderator posts are always in red text, to differentiate them from regular posts by the mods. The Board Issues forum has a fifth moderator, RawBearNYC, the technical mastermind behind the website and the message board. Chances are, he knows the answers to your technical questions better than I do, so listen to what he says.Top

Q: How come I got warned? I didn't do anything I haven't done on other message boards.
A: This isn't other message boards." We try to keep a higher degree of civility than to which some of you might be accustomed. There is no flaming, insulting, belittling, patronizing, degrading, or other derogatory speech allowed here. Period. We are not obligated to provide anyone with a forum to harass others, and we reserve the right to ban any member that violates our high standards. For more information on what kind of behavior is not allowed, consult the message board's
Rules of Posting. Top

Q: How come I can't curse on the message board?

A: For the same reason there are not curses (at least, not really bad ones) in OOTS: because young children sometimes read this strip. I have personally met fans in the 10-11 year old range, and I'd prefer that this site stay no worse than primetime network television when it comes to curses and explicit material. That said, because I realize that the strip has many older fans, expect that the comic will sometimes obliquely reference material that would not be appropriate to spell out.

Q: But that language filter is so ridiculous! It censors everyday words all the time.

A: Yeah, I know. But the moderators and I can't be around all the time, and with so many new members signing up all of the time, we can't rely on everyone to keep it clean. Thus, there are filters, ludicrous though they sometimes are. Top

Q: What are the different levels of membership?

A: New members are "Pixies in the Playground," until they reach 50 or more posts. Then, they become "Dwarves in the Playground," until they have mustered 250 posts, at which time they become "Barbarians in the Playground". Only those who have posted 750 or more times can call themselves "Ogres in the Playground." There is a fifth level, but it remains a mystery until at least one forum member reaches the magic number needed to attain the lofty title. Top

Q: So can I post a whole lot so that I can get my membership level up?

A: No. Posting for the sole sake of raising your membership level is considered spam, and we don't take lightly to spam around these parts. Anyone we believe to be deliberately spamming the board will have his or her post count reset to 1, sending you back to the ranks of the Pixies. Top

Q: I see some folks with spiffy custom titles. How do I get one of them?

A: Generally, the only way to earn a custom title is by winning one of our message board contests, held most months in the Contests forum. Custom titles stick around for about two months, then fade into the mists from which they came. Top

Q: Can I get you to make me a custom avatar for the message board, like the ones you made for the staff?

A: Sorry, the custom avatars are part of my way of rewarding the moderators and contributors. I don't have time to make a custom avatar for everyone on the board, not when there are 50 or so to choose from on the regular list. Top

Q: That's OK. Can I alter one of the existing ones to the way I want it and use that?

A: No. The avatars, like the comic strip, are copyrighted artwork. In order for me to protect that copyright, I have to ask that you not alter and reuse the avatar artwork on this (or any other) site. You may, however, draw a stick figure avatar of your own using any software you see fit, as long as you aren't using one of my images. Top

Q: What are play-by-post games?
A: Play-by-post is a way of playing D&D (or any roleplaying game) online without needing chat software or a specific meeting time. Basically, the DM makes a post to a thread describing what the players see/hear/experience, and then each player responds with his character's reactions. Posting times vary between game, from fast games that ask for players to post several times per day, to games that require only one post per week. Individual DMs also have widely varied preferences about posting format, how to handle die rolls, whether to speak in First or Third person, and other fundamental aspects of the gaming experience. Make sure to find out how your DM prefers to run his or her game BEFORE you join!
Top

Q: How do I join one of the play-by-post games?
A: The
Finding Players forum is designed to let DMs discuss their games without interfering with ongoing game threads. Simply find a thread that says it is still looking for players (they will usually mention it in the first post) and ask to join. Once accepted by the DM, you will be asked to make a character. When the game begins, it will take place in a thread on the Ongoing Games message board, and all posts will be made in the game format the DM has indicated. Try not to post into a thread on the Ongoing Game forum unless you have been accepted into a particular game; it disrupts the play experience of other players.Top