12/22/2014 - |
Order of the Stick |
by Amber E. Scott|
by Amber E. Scott
by Amber E. Scott
by Rich Burlew|
by Rich Burlew
by Rich Burlew
So, obviously, The Order of the Stick is back. I've gotten a few emails from...let's call them, "passionately concerned readers"...who were under the mistaken impression that once my vacation was over, OOTS would return to a regular Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. Just to clear everything up, no, OOTS's update schedule will remain random for the foreseeable future. Taking three weeks off was very good for me, but it doesn't actually change any of the facts that caused me to switch to a random schedule in the first place.
The goal is still to have three comics a week, every week, but that may not be possible. The next best thing, therefore, is to "catch up" afterwards when circumstances force me to miss. I only produced one comic last week, so now I have posted four this weekóputting me only one comic "in the hole". So during some future week when the stars align more favorably (maybe next week, maybe not), I will again post four comics to bring me up to a three-a-week average since the comic's return from hiatus. And once I "zero out" my late comic balance, any additional comics beyond three that I do in any given week will go into a hypothetical buffer to guard against future absences. Or at least, that's the plan. We'll see how it plays out in reality.
First, for those who didn't see the notice at the bottom of the latest OOTS, my hiatus is beginning now and lasting until September 17th. I've decided not to use guest comics in the interim, if only because I want to step back from the site entirely while I rest and thus I don't want to have to format and post something every few days.
Some post-GenCon news, too. I am honored and thrilled that No Cure for the Paladin Blues did indeed win the Gold ENnie for Best RPG Regalia of 2007. Thanks to everyone who voted; this is the first award OOTS has won where I actually get a medal. I wonder if it would be gauche to wear it around the house? Probably.
In other news, Rob Balder and Tarol Hunt were selling some great t-shirts that them and I collaborated on, extolling the goal of universal goblin solidarity. They had a few leftover from the convention, so if you didn't make it to Indianapolis and you'd like one, they've set up a page from which you can order them (and some other Erfworld merch).
This news post is all about GenCon and the events therein, so if you're not going to GenCon, feel free to stop reading right now. There won't be anything here that interests you. OK? OK.
Ever since my announcement that I would not be attending, I've been trying to Officially Cancel certain events that GITP was sponsoring, to no avail. So far, no one from GenCon event registration has answered my emails requesting that they be taken off the schedule. Now, here, on the very eve of the convention, I am forced to admit the probability that at least some gamers will be showing up to events that are still listed as happening but, in fact, are not. I therefore will attempt to inform anyone who isn't already on a plane to the convention what events have been canceled, what events have been altered, and what events are full steam ahead.
The following events have been canceled:
- Return to Redmountain Hills (RPG00607 and RPG00608) If you purchased tickets, you should try to get a refund when you get to GenCon.
- The Order of the Stick Rides Again (SEM00065) Obviously, since I won't be there, the seminar in which I sit on stage and answer questions will be somewhat less interesting.
The following events are not canceled:
- Erfworld: The Seminaw (SEM00067) Rob Balder will be in attendance, though Jamie has bowed out. Location: Embassy Suites Hotel, Chancellor I.
- Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Shortening! (BGM00121, BGM00122, BGM00125, and BGM00126) Kevin from APE Games will be on hand to showcase our first OOTS board game expansion (more details on that later in the week). Location: Indiana Convention Center, 500 Ballroom, Board Game HQ.
The following events are significantly changed:
- Ultra-Mega-Superstars of Gaming Webcomics (SEM00083) This panel features Rob Balder of Erfworld, Tarol Hunt of Goblins, Aaron Williams of Nodwick, and Phil Foglio of Girl Genius, but alas, not Rich Burlew of OOTS. I strongly urge you to go listen anyway if you have any interest in comics whatsoever. Location: Westin Hotel, Grand I.
- Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Linear Guild (BGM00123 and BGM00124) APE will still be on hand to run these events, but the planned Linear Guild expansion is still in early playtesting phase, without a scrap of art to its name (thanks largely to my illness). As a result, these events are being spontaneously converted to The Shortening! sessions, allowing more people to get a preview of the new set. Location: Indiana Convention Center, 500 Ballroom, Board Game HQ.
Also, Rob Balder will be sharing a booth with Tarol Hunt in the Exhibitor Hall, where they will have a variety of merchandise from their respective comics as well as a nice pile of OOTS books that I've sent along. If you're having trouble finding Start of Darkness (or, for that matter, any of the OOTS books) in your local gaming store, Rob will have them on sale there. Look for the booth assigned simply to "Goblins".
Thanks again, and I hope to see all of you fans next year at the convention.
I'm proud to announce that No Cure for the Paladin Blues has been nominated for the ENnie Award for "RPG Regalia," which is essentially a category for all the stuff that people who play roleplaying games like, but isn't actually a roleplaying game itself. For those unfamiliar, the ENnies are awards given out by EN World in recognition of roleplaying game excellence. If you're interested in voting for the ENnies, you can do so here (the Regalia category is the 13th on the list).
Those of you who have been readers a long time know that I tend to go in cycles with the strip: a few weeks on time, followed by a few weeks where most of the comics are late (and some days are missed altogether). Oftentimes, Iíll make an announcement afterwards that I was sick. The thing is, I get sick a lot, and thatís not likely to change in the future. For more than two years, Iíve been experiencing a medical condition that often leaves me unable to work (or even sit at the computer) for 2-3 days at a time, and the symptoms tend to come and go in clumps. Iíll be fine for a few weeks, then have a few really bad weeks where I struggle to get any work done. This is part of the reason I never can manage to create a ďbufferĒ of strips in advance: I spend all of my working time catching up on stuff I was supposed to finish while I was sick. (No, Iím not going to tell you exactly what is wrong with me; itís nobodyís business. Suffice to say that it is nonfatal and my significant other takes good care of me.)
My job here at Giant in the Playground has been much more forgiving than my old Day Job in that it allows me a greater degree of freedom to work around my health problems. But over the years Iíve kept trying to grow the business bigger, take on more projects, keep more plates spinning in the air at the same time. And thatís really not a good idea. My symptoms have been getting progressively worse since the first of the year, with new and (frankly) scary ones developing alongside them. Therefore, as part of a deliberate effort to lighten the load on myself, we have made the decision to cut back on a number of aspects of my business that may impact you, the fan.
- The schedule for updating OOTS will return to ďat randomĒ. There will be three comics a week, most weeks, but the exact day and time those comics will appear will be randomóor rather, will seem random. Basically, when Iím doing well, I will post comics, and when I am not, I wonít. If I fall behind by a comic, it will be made up at a later date. Honestly, this is sort of what Iíve been doing for weeks now, Iím just making it official. As of right now, the schedule is, ďThere is no schedule.Ē Getting the comic updated is a top priority, but getting it updated at a specific time is just too difficult for me, since I canít predict when I will be sick. Removing the official schedule probably wonít affect the comicís frequency much, but it will remove the additional stress when Iím unable to meet the three-times-a-week deadline (and removing stress is a good thing, according to my doctor). Plus, you guys will all know in advance not to expect the comic until it gets here, so you wonít waste time staying up late for an update that wonít arrive for two days. You might want to subscribe to our RSS feed in order to be alerted near-instantly when a new comic is posted.
- No more conventions for at least a year. Iíve already cut my personal appearances way back, turning down many smaller conventions that graciously invited me to attend. The travel is too draining, not to mention the logistical difficulties. However, the big news here is that I am canceling my attendance to GenCon Indianapolis this year. GenCon has been a great event for us, where I get to meet and sign autographs for thousands of fans, so this was not a decision that was made lightly. In the end, though, we decided that it would be too difficult for me to attend and run a booth, not to mention certain scheduling conflicts with my doctor appointments. This will be a financial loss for us, but being as healthy as I can be is more important to us than making money. Note that not all of the events scheduled by GITP will be canceled, however; weíll announce at a not-too-far-in-the-future date which ones will still be happening.
- No more new projects. The thing is, most of what I do, you guys donít see until its finished. I didnít announce Start of Darkness until it was completed, so no one knew that I had been working around the clock for five months on it. So while I will be taking on no new merchandise projects for a while, you should be aware that there are 4-5 existing projects that are mostly done (some of which would have been available for GenCon). These will still come out as intended, so you should expect to see some new book and board game announcements in the next few months, after which it will taper back a bit. Of course, even then, regular compilations of the online strip will continue for as long as OOTS itself does.
- When the current story arc ends, I will be taking a few weeks off. The story is quickly approaching the conclusion of what will be the third book. When it gets there, I will be taking at least two weeks off before continuing. I may look into getting a guest artist for that time, I havenít decided yet. When the hiatus begins, I will inform you all exactly how long it will be and what (if anything) will appear in OOTSís place for those weeks. Erfworld will be unaffected (since all I do for that comic is post it).
I want to emphasize that this is NOT a plea for monetary aid; I have very good health insurance these days for exactly this reason. Donating money is not going to change anything about this situation. If anything about my message spurs you to want to donate money, here are a few of my favorite charities that could use your dollars more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this; talking about my personal issues is not the sort of thing that comes easy to me. I make this announcement in hopes that it will help you understand these decisions and some of the context in which we have made them. With luck, these efforts will result in a healthier me that can continue to produce the comic strip that so many of you have come to love (and others have come to tolerate because everyone else in your gaming group loves it).
So, I had sort of a health flare-up this weekend, and I had wanted to get a strip out today because I missed it yesterday, but that's not going to happen, I think. I need to rest. I wouldn't expect an OOTS comic before Monday.
EDIT: Oh, forgot to mention. Start of Darkness has finally finished printing. APE Games is mailing out preorders this week, and it should be in stores some time after that.
Hmmm. According to my watch, it's plug o'clock. Tome of Artifacts is a new d20 book from White Wolf (by way of Necromancer Games and Lion's Den Press) that details more than 100 major artifacts. I don't mean "magic items," I mean "artifacts". Like the ones with massive campaign-altering power but come with some sort of Terrible Price that must be paid as standard equipment. Real old school First Edition stuff. Each artifact has at least 2 pages of description, background, plot hooks, and extra goodies associated with it. I wrote a few of them, while my nefarious counterpart Keith Baker also penned a number. Anyway, if it's your cup of horribly cursed tea, you can get it at your local gaming store or order direct from White Wolf Online.
So, you may have noticed that it's past May 15th, and those of you who have preordered haven't gotten your copies of Start of Darkness. Or that they aren't showing up on store shelves. It's not just you; the printer made a mistake and printed the special "color insert" in black-and-white, so we have to go back and print those pages again. (Don't worry, it's not costing me anything.) Right now, the ETA for the book is June 13th, but as always, don't hold me to that.
OK, so I'm sure you all noticed that illness knocked me out of commission for a few days, but I'm back home and trying to make up for lost time. OOTS #447 is up now, this is Wednesday's comic, even though it's just past midnight on Friday. There will be ANOTHER comic later today, probably around midnight, so there will still be the full three comics this week. I have it on good authority that tonight's will be a double comic, too.
As far as Erfworld, I missed posting the klog page for Thursday on time, but it, too, is up now. I've been informed that whether there is any sort of update on Saturday is to-be-determined, seeing as how the artist, Jamie Noguchi, is getting married that day. Mazel tov, Jamie! Anyway, updates might be a little sporadic for a week therefore, with Rob possibly filling in with additional klogs if needed.
In the world of big news in gaming, Wizards of the Coast and Paizo announced that Dragon and Dungeon magazines will no longer be published. (You can read the full story here or here.) Wizards has apparently decided to shift its content delivery to an online model (for which I can hardly fault them, since that's pretty much what we do here, though not with any regularity). Obviously, this affects almost everyone who plays D&D; even if you weren't a regular Dragon reader, chances are you've had one in your hands at one point in your gaming career. I got my start in the hobby by picking up a copy of Dragon when I was like 11; I chose it for the cover art, and only found out it was about a game of some sort when I got home. I had less connection to Dungeon, since I was never much for prepublished adventures when I was younger, but still, both magazines had a long, rich tradition in the D&D community, from their TSR days through their sale to Wizards of the Coast and finally to their licensing to Paizo Publishing. As an institution of the D&D culture, they will be missed.
Now, I got this news only about an hour before anyone else did, but as far as I have been told, Order of the Stick will continue to run in all the remaining issues of Dragon. Right now, it's too early for any plans on when or how I might make the 22 OOTS strips I created for Dragon available. I was originally going to wait until I had about 60-70 Dragon OOTS before collecting them, but obviously that just ain't gonna happen now. But don't worry, obsessive completists, I'll find a way to get them into your hands somehow.
Monday's strip is going to be delayed until tomorrow; I've been sick all day with a fever and can barely sit up without coughing my head off. I actually slept right through the time the comic was due, and now that it's late anyway, I'm going back to bed and working on it tomorrow during the day. No promises on what time, but it will be up before Wednesday's strip, so there will still be three this week. Sorry for not getting a notice up earlier about this.
I've been putting this off until I was sure I could get the book done in time, but I'm pretty confident that the printer will be done on schedule...so here goes.
Giant in the Playground is proud to announce our fourth OOTS book, The Order of the Stick: Start of Darkness. The thematic companion to On the Origin of PCs, Start of Darkness tells the twisted tale of the villains: Xykon, Redcloak, and the Monster in the Darkness. Every page of this book is all-new, and never has been (and never will be) posted online; this is a print-exclusive. Weighing in at 112 pages, this book is 55% longer than our last black-and-white book and retails for only a few dollars more.
I'm ludicrously happy with this book, which I've been toiling away at side-by-side with the weekly strips here online for...wow, for a few months now. It should start showing up in your local game and comic specialty stores around mid-May (I'm shooting for May 15th, but as I said, that could change). However, you can reserve your copy direct from APE Games right now, if your local game shop doesn't stock OOTS products. (And shame on them if they don't!)
For more information on the book, you can read our product page for it, located here.
After too long an absence, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, the original Order of the Stick book, is back in print. If you joined the party late, you can now get your hands on the first 120 strips in print format, complete with commentary, bonus materials, etc., etc. It should be showing up on bookstore shelves in the next two weeks, but if you can't wait that long (or don't have a local gaming store), you can order it direct from our friends at APE Games, who have their copies of the book in their little primate hands already. Just click here to go right to the Dungeon Crawlin' Fools order page.
Good news for fans of Erfworld (and utterly inconsequential news to anyone else). In order to relieve some of the exposition needed to get the story up to speed, Rob is going to write a series of text-only entries from Parson's "klog", explaining what he has learned about the physics, magic, and customs of Erfworld. Not only will this free up valuable comic space that no longer has to be devoted to certain aspects of exposition, but it means that for a while, Erfworld will have a new page on Thursday, too. These pages will follow their own number sequence, which will sort of mess up the main sequence a little, but it'll all make sense when you see it. The first one is up right now, and regular Erfworld will be back on Saturday, as normal.
Long before the back page of Dragon Magazine was graced byThe Order of the Stick, it was home to the more-skilled-than-I Phil Foglio and the classic What's New (with Phil and Dixie) comic, which ran on and off through the 80's and 90's. Well, Phil is now posting some of those comics at philanddixie.com, so if you have any interest in gazing back to yesteryear to see one of the influences that helped shape OOTS, you can do so now for free. Phil was also nice enough to give me (and a number of other webcomics) a "shout out" today in his current webcomic, Girl Genius, (in this comic), which is fine piece of work in its own right, and features the best art I've seen Phil do in his long career. If you've never read Girl Genius, start here, at the very beginning.
Or, you can sit in your cubicle and read OOTS, as is apparently popular in some workplaces.
So you may be wondering why there hasn't been any news in...wow, five weeks. The fact is, the current crop of strips has kept me too busy to actually do anything newsworthy. And I'm finishing up the next book in my spare time...actually, I think I need to put quotes around the word spare there. In my "spare" time. Yeah, that's better.
I did, however, take the time to complete an interview with the fine folks at Sequential Tart, an interview-and-article site devoted to the comics industry. I know, I know, the comics industry? Why would they want to talk to me? Who knows, but they did. Enjoy.
Rob Balder, the scribe of Erfworld, has contacted me to say that in response to reader suggestions, Erfworld will now move to a Tuesday and Saturday schedule (rather than its current Tuesday and Thursday schedule) starting immediately. This will result in a smaller gap between each installment, rather than the current 4-day chasm between updates. It has nothing to do with the fact that Rob's apartment building suffered a two-alarm fire on Monday, honest. (Rob is OK, everything's OK, it just screwed up his workflow.) So no Erf today, Erf in two days. Got it? Cool.
There are some features that have been asked for so many times that they all start to blur together into one really drawn out question. One of those is an RSS feed for the comics. Well, it is here. As of right now, there are three feeds for the comics; we'll probably add more later for the News and such. Each will tell you when the comic updates automagically, so you only have to load the site when there's hot piping comic, ready to read. (Here's hoping this helps get our bandwidth bill under control!)
If you read both OOTS and Erfworld, then check out our combined feed: feed://www.GiantITP.com/comics/comics.rss. Of course, if you prefer one comic over the other, each has it's own feed: feed://www.GiantITP.com/comics/oots.rss for Order of the Stick and feed://www.GiantITP.com/comics/erf.rss for Erfworld.
As you no doubt have seen, today marks the 400th "Order of the Stick" comic strip. Since I missed out on my usual New Year's speech due to some issues in my personal life, now seems like a good opportunity to sum up 2006 for posterity.
I've been lucky enough to create stories (well, one story) for a living for about two years now, which is kind of bizarre. And while not ever strip (or story arc) is the favorite of every fan, you have been supportive and excited about these odd adventures of stick figure adventurers as they journey through trials both physical and emotional (and literal, in one case). Thanks to all of those who have stuck with the story through thick and thin, through the slow updates last July and August and all the double- and triple-strips in September and December. (I imagine the latter was a little easier to suffer through.) While there's no shortage of people who read the strip once in a while, it's the dedicated fans--the ones who overload the server at 11:59 pm hanging around waiting for the next update--that make this possible. Without you, I'd have given up long ago.
Speaking of servers, though, there have been a lot of changes at the website this past year. Some of them, like the new server, are less noticeable. People rarely notice when something is working right! Others, like the new look, the new message board software, and the start of new content, are more obvious. My hope is that there are more changes next year as we grow beyond being one guy's personal site. Some of that has begun, with enlisting friends to help provide you with free stories and gaming articles, but the truth is, it took most of the year just to get those systems in place. 2007 will be the year of actually starting to deliver on the promise of daily content of one form or another. At least, that's the plan.
A big part of that plan is to increase the Comics section beyond just OOTS, with our first such addition already in place. A few weeks after its premiere, I'm happy to see that Erfworld is finding an audience among GiantITP.com visitors, especially now that the plot is starting to kick into gear. It's not for everyone, but then, that's the point: to offer a complimentary alternative to OOTS, a completely different way of approaching the idea of the Fantasy Gaming-Themed Comic Strip.
So, yeah: 2007 will be the year of increasing the rate and quality of what we're already doing. The pieces are in place, now it's just time to make each one shine. I hope you'll continue to join me daily as we make Giant in the Playground into the best destination for gaming-related entertainment on the web--or anywhere. Thanks, and Happy New Year.
Oh, and the next hundred OOTS strips? Time to secure your safety harnesses and make sure your hands and feet are inside the vehicle at all times. It's going to be a wild ride.
Just a quick note to say that there will not be an Order of the Stick comic for Monday, December 25th, because of Christmas.
Also, I've gotten a bunch of emails praising me for recent references to Monkey Island. Which would be great, except that I've never heard of anything called "Monkey Island" and I'm certainly not referencing it with this plotline. Sorry. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.