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Monthly Archive 04/2008
Welcome to Anti-Heroes! If you're joining us for the first time, then I suggest you check out the "About" page to get an idea of what all this is about. If you're too lazy to go there, then here's the abridged version.
Anti-Heroes is a webcomic, based in the same art style as Rich Burlew's "Order of the Stick." As with OotS, the story takes place within a world that is more-or-less governed by the rules set out by Dungeons and Dragons. However, the characters aren't exactly the kinds of people you'd expect to see as protagonists in a campaign. As already mentioned, more details can be found on other parts of the site, so I'll just leave it there.
Now, with the formalities out of the way, let's get on with the comic, and I hope you enjoy it.
How do Vampires comb their hair? Or do any self maintenance for that matter? I mean, did you see Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire? I don't care who you are, no one can just wake up like that every day.
In the Dungeons and Dragons universe, becoming a Vampire has a pretty huge effect on a character. You completely lose your Constitution score (all undead do), but you gain bonuses to pretty much everything else, not to mention gaining an almost ridiculous amount of special powers and abilities. One of these said bonuses is a +4 boost to your Charisma score, which is supposed to represent basically how attractive your character is. So having a vampiric character gaining a bust size makes sense when you think about it.
I think if I ever saw a ghost like that, I'd challenge him to a duel. Just for the novelty of being able to say I duked it out with some ectoplasm. Then I could go around introducing myself as a "ghostbuster" and women would flock to my side.
Assuming, of course, I live. But really, how hard could it be to beat a ghost?
Remember, when all else fails, blame it on the undead guy.
It's not uncommon for players to put their foot in their mouth when dealing with NPCs, which is more or less what I tried conveying here in this comic. The sad part is that some players tend to do it without any regret and basically say whatever they please to any NPC they encounter. Unfortunately for Andil here, Lana happens to be a bit more vengeful than your average NPC.
A little bit of trivia on the team of "heroes" we see here. Before I created Anti-Heroes, I had another comic idea I was playing with, but ultimately didn't bother continuing with it. The main characters of the original comic are the characters you see here (other than Lana, there was another rogue in her place). Xavier went from being a main character to cannon fodder in a very short amount of time, as you can see. I kinda feel sorry for him, but then I remember that I never really liked him to begin with. And it makes everything better.
I've always wanted to try a stunt like this one on a player in a D&D game, but I've yet to have a chance. Especially if it was the big-bad guy who did it. The players would have a life-long vendetta against him for that one. Or against me, but I'm willing to take that risk.
This was a fun comic to make, simply because it was really the first time I got to show off a bunch of different spell effects on the same page. Some of the spells in D&D can be pretty interesting, and coming up with the proper way to show them off is one of the fun parts of making a comic.
Aha! What's this? Something that resembles a plot? It is indeed! And it revolves around... a petty debt.
Hey, it's something.
Is it strange that a fantasy setting which was pretty much founded by Tolkien and his books has never heard of them? Probably no more strange than that goblin trying to borrow sugar. One has to wonder just what a goblin would be baking, especially underground.
I really liked drawing this comic, mostly because of Lana's different costumes. Out of them all, I still think her Bard outfit turned out the best, if only because of the little high-heel boots.
It's also amazing how players can be two completely different people before and after a new level in D&D. Multi-classing especially brings this into a new light, being that pretty much anyone can take a level from any other class they qualify for, even if the two classes are completely incompatible. It's a strange system. And before anyone complains about Lana's bad multi-classing, there is good reason for it in the future.
I've always wondered just where these little starting supplies come from when a character takes a new class in the middle of a campaign, especially for people like Wizards, since they get their trusty spellbook at level 1. I mean, if the characters are in-town or something, then it's fine, but what if they're stuck inside some horrible dungeon? Does the Character Class Fairy bring them this stuff in their sleep?
Once again, I've delved into the realm of the unknown with goblins. What is this assignment? Who is this guy's boss? Is his rash an allergic reaction or just a bacterial infection?
So many questions...
Gasp! Another serving of plot? Well, well, this should be getting interesting.
I also wonder who cans all that blood...
So that's where Andil and Laldera went! And it doesn't look like she's put any ranks in spot yet, either.
And who is this mysterious bounty hunter? Well, if you've been to the cast page, then you probably already know, but if you haven't, then feel the suspense!
There seemed to be some debate over whether Egon had brown or blond hair. I picked brown, since it looks that way in the movies, but in all the cartoons his hair was blond, so I'm not sure what to think anymore.
Oh, and representing Bill Murray in this art style is harder than it looks.
Frat-boy ghosts? That's right, people. Just because they're dead doesn't mean they can't be lively, right? Well, I guess yes, it does, but... You know what I mean!
Dwarven clerics are pretty common, simply because they just seem to go together so well. As for the hair, well, I drew that roughly and worried about fixing it after. The longer I saw it, the more I realized that it just worked for him. Well, no, it didn't, but that's what was so great about it. And so another joke was born.
This is one of the abilities that vampires characters can use, as I mentioned way back on comic #3. They can summon rats, bats or wolves once per day. This is pretty much the way I pictured it happening, too. It was only after I had already made half of this comic before I realized that the whole summoning bats thing was reminding me of Batman.
In fact, now that I mention it, I'd like to see Batman go up against a D&D vampire, just to see who would win. Whoever came out on top could be crowned the true king of the night!
One thing that always bothered me about this comic was that it seemed like the little bit of story I mentioned back in comic #10 was something thought of on the spot, and was replaced by this. Well, to make a long story short, no, that's not what I intended. I haven't forgotten about what was said in issue #10 and it will come back at some point.
But for now, mull this stuff over.
At some point in this comic, I said to myself, "Wow, there's enough undead here to star in a Michael Jackson video." And then it hit me. Why don't they?
I really don't know what kind of stuff Michael Jackson could really do if he was in D&D, but judging from the moves he pulled in his videos, this stuff seems pretty likely.
As you can probably see, I like mysteries.
There's a lot of spells in D&D that... just don't do anything useful. Hold Portal is widely considered as one such spell. And if there's anything I like doing, it's putting useless things to... use. I mean, given the right circumstance, a lot of seemingly useless spells can really come in handy.
Except for that Secret Chest spell. That one still doesn't make any sense to me.
Such are the things learned in college.
A ranger's spell list doesn't particularly come in handy when underground, but the rulebook doesn't say anything about improvising, now does it?
This was the first time we really see Kaal's incompetence so blatently, and it kind of developed into a recurring theme throughout the comic.
This also marks the last time we actually see Michael Jackson in the comic. His cameo lasted longer than I expected, but there was a lot more comedy potential with him that I originally realized, so he stuck around. Does this mean he'll be coming back for an encore performance? I dunno, but there's still a lot of stuff I could do with him, that's for sure.
The sad part is that there's a lot of players who are just like that. They'd sooner take your stuff and leave your corpse than actually spend a moment to worry about your character.
And another special quality of vampires is revealed. They heal all physical damage over time, and pretty darn quickly at that. It's because of all these little things that makes writing this comic increasingly difficult as Lana learns to use more and more of her new abilities. I need to come up with ridiculous plots so the characters can't simply pull out a simple trick and bypass the entire thing.
This is the same reason why being a Dungeon Master is a hard job. You need to take everything into account as your players go through, and even then, they still manage to find a loophole or something to get around something big you had planned. It's frustrating.
This is another comic that seems kinda detached from everything else that's going on, and I've never really liked it for that. It does seem like a lot of information for a little detail, but it gave me some practice drawing more detailed backgrounds, and I do intend to revisit this information sooner or later too.
The big reveal comes at last, complete with an extra row. Confound that last panel for being so big!
Sunlight©! Guaranteed to take care of those pesky vampires any time of the day... As long as it's not night! Or cloudy... Or raining...
I think we might need a new slogan.
This comic serves two purposes. One, it shows that Aldran doesn't like people getting in the way of his plans. In fact, he really doesn't like it. Another fun fact about this is that this comic is the first time we ever see him referring to Lana by name.
Secondly, it shows off some of his power. Time Stop is a very high-level spell, so in order to cast it, he must be pretty powerful himself, which was always alluded to, but never really blatantly shown. So now you know.
Everybody do the twist...
Yeah, I'm a sucker for plot twists. I always have been, and I enjoy writing them in. Though I realize that one too many twists will make them stale after a while, so I try to keep the big ones for big events, obviously. Events like this one.
So, apparently Keriss and Aldran (another fun fact: this is the first time in the comic we hear their names) have some past relationship. More details will come later on this little point, but for now, enjoy the heartwarming feel. Or something.
It's been done a thousand times before, but the whole idea of "embrace, then fighting" in a relationship is always funny to display in pretty much any medium. And given the context of their relationship, it worked between Aldran and Keriss so well.
If you're wondering about the title of the comic, it's referring to the TV Series Lost which I've been watching since season 1. The entire show is basically a collection of unsolved mysteries, where when any single one is eventually solved, five more take its place. The show has had its high and low points, but it's still pretty decent, if you've been following it.
But seriously, the writers need to throw us a bone here. We've been in the dark way too long.
Ah, another comic focusing on the group of so-called "heroes." I've always kind of liked writing for these guys, since I get to make fun of the average "heroes work together and save the day" idea. In fact, my whole point with these characters is to try and make them as annoying as possible, but still retain that idea that they're the good guys. And what better way to show off their dysfunctional nature than with inter-party bickering!
What? You've never dated anyone with a tail? Well, maybe you should...
He really is pretty melodramatic, isn't he? But hey, it gets the job done.
I think this issue pretty much speaks for itself.
I really can't imagine drinking blood in the morning. It would taste rather odd with cereal.
The poke at V8 was a friend's idea, but since I hate V8 as well, I figured it was good to throw it in.
Oh, and I realize that "phasmophobia" may not be the proper term for the fear of ghosts, but I found about five different "phobia" names for it, so I used this one. I just liked the way it sounded.
Aha. We have the name of a city! The world of Anti-Heroes grows a little larger...
All of the spells that Aldran lists are indeed actual spells in the Player's Handbook for D&D. Yes, this includes Leomund's Tiny Hut. Brought to you from the same guy who came up with Secret Chest, so you can probably guess just about how useful it is too.
Ghosts, much like vampires, get all kinds of neat abilities and bonuses when they take on the template. However, some of them are just plain weird, and the one described in the comic is one that always kind of confused me. Sure, it makes sense for balancing the game, but it just... doesn't make logical sense. Then again, a lot of things in D&D don't, so I suppose it works out.
Hey! Look at that! It only took me 47 comics to make a Monty Python reference.
If you don't get it, it's from a sketch near the beginning of Monty Python's Meaning of Life, which is not a movie for the feint of heart. Don't get me wrong, it's hilarious, but if you do decide to watch it, be thoroughly warned that it will likely catch you off guard at some point or another.
Here's an interesting fact: Apparently, brains really are bad for you. So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
And here it is! The first official "jumbo-sized" issue, coming in at just over double the size of a normal issue and complete with the introduction of three new characters. All in all, I'm fairly happy with how this issue turned out, though I would have liked the battle to go on a little longer, but I was running out of ideas to use, so decided to cut it short. Besides, I had important places for the characters to get to and I wanted to get them on said tracks as soon as possible.
Is this the end of Frank?! Well, Frank was a character I never meant to actually last this long. In fact, I originally planned to have him killed off during the fight with Keriss, but he just kinda stuck around. People really liked him, so I figured he could stay.
So are we saying goodbye? Tune in next time!
Frank! The others can still go after him, but the question is, will they?
So no, apparently we won't be seeing Frank again. I felt kinda bad taking him away like this, being how popular he proved to be, but I did what needed to be done.
Besides, I have new characters to introduce...
Behold, the smell of new characters! And there's still another to go, so keep reading.
Okay, so it's not really that much of a character as it is a ripoff of the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but that counts.
With the right roll, it's amazing what players can get away with on a bluff check. If a DM is smart, he'll take tons of things into consideration during the check, like the NPC's disposition toward the players, the situation, and most of all, the overall quality of the lie.
If, however, a DM doesn't pay attention to any of these things, then expect the players to verbally stomp over everything he comes up with. Remember, the players are not always the clever ones.
Does this mean there's something between Aldran and this mysterious captain?
You'll be finding out soon enough.
I wonder how screwed up the world would be if the sun suddenly rose in the North one morning. People would be horrified to realize that sundials across the globe would be rendered useless! It would be mass hysteria!
So it turns out Kaal really is good for something. Go figure.
Looks like things are going to get nasty...
If you've been to the cast page, then this probably isn't that much of a shocker. But if you're seeing this for the first time, then here's your answer to the black speech balloon you saw in issue #50. A simple illusion, but effective nonetheless.
Wait, Kaal did something useful again? What's the world coming to?!
In retrospect, the speech bubble composition in this comic is surprisingly confusing. I never even realized this during production. Interesting.
Interestingly enough, this "dance number" appears right after an issue in which the lyrics from a musical were being sung. Coincidence? Probably.
Yes, I realize that "SOAP" is spelled backwards on the box, but that's because it's a mirror image, and I didn't realize it until after I posted it. Besides, it kind of fits Kaal's character, so I figured I'd just keep it in.
As I mentioned earlier in the comic, I like visualizing the various spell effects in the D&D universe. As soon as I read about Shadow Evocation, I knew exactly how I could show it, and I think the result turned out a lot better than I could have hoped.
I am also aware that Finx should have more magic missiles than that, but think of it as if the others have already hit and that those two are merely the "last in the train."
If you got through today's wall of text, kudos, but why are you still reading? Seriously, go rest your eyes or something. This can't be healthy.
And another double issue. I like making these things because they give me a lot more freedom as far as content is concerned. In single issues, I just have those four rows to work with, and although I've pretty much trained myself to think in a specific way to maximize the space, it's nice to have this kind excess.
The only downside is that these issues take a lot longer to make, and do a real number on slowing down my computer.
And so the anti-heroes move on to Northhaven, hopefully without interruption, but we'll have to see. I have... other things to catch up on before then.
A late update, but I was busy this afternoon. Tomorrow's should be a bit earlier, though.
Also notice the little RSS logo underneath all the comics at the right-hand side. Click on that to subscribe to the RSS feed, in case anyone didn't already know. You can also click "Always Show" underneath the Author Comments title in order to keep my comments on each comic visible without having to click to open them each time. There are probably also going to be a few new additions here and there in the near future, and I'll keep people posted.
As for today's comic, I've always wanted to find a skeleton that actually worked like this. I mean, that's hours and hours of fun right there. Or maybe I'll just stick with my Lego.
EDIT: Had a bit of trouble with overwriting the previous comic. If something isn't displaying right, try refreshing. It should be all sorted out now.
Oh, Finx is not dead yet. Well, I guess, yeah he is dead, being a lich and all, but he's not dead dead.
And the anti-heroes are far from being done with him...
This comic also happens to mark the official launch day of this very website. Everything prior to this had already been posted on the forums at Giant in the Playground Games, but now it's all been relocated here. Hopefully, this will allow me to get a more broad audience, but only time will tell...
And at long last, the dysfunctional heroes make their reappearance. Though it seems like they've only ran into more bad luck. It'll be interesting to see just how far this little alliance will be able to get them.
And it looks like Finx's few ranks in Profession (Chiropractor) seem to be paying off after all. People said he was crazy, but who's laughing now?
I dunno where Finx took this course, but it must be pretty popular. I mean, the whole "my troops suck, but I can throw a million of them for everyone one of yours" philosophy seems to be a common thought among bad-guys. Of course, there are always the "elite" troops that are supposed to be that much better than the average mook, but in the end, they all fall to the hand of the heroes. You'd think these villains would learn after a while.
At least Finx is mixing it up a bit and using the heroes as the mooks. He may have flunked the course, but it seems he has some creativity after all.
EDIT: In the words of Crazed as posted on Giantitp.com:
"Also, site update. I did an upgrade yesterday that had the site down for a bit. Now the "always hide/show" feature will work longer (hopefully), and image validation for comments is no longer necessary after you post more than three comments on the same computer. I didn't receive any complaints about this, but I figured I should do it to make both of our lives' easier. Plus, I want to encourage people to use the comments more, so hopefully it'll be less of a hassle without the image validation."
EDITEDIT: I also received an email from a fan regarding another comic named "Anti-Heroes" appearing as the number 1 Google search result. Just a hint of warning, that is NOT this comic. The other one is uh... significantly NSFW. If you're doing a Google search for this website then at the moment, we're on the second page of results, so avoid that first link. You've been warned.