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<   No. 25   2003-02-14   >

Comic #25

1 Monty: {peering into snake pit} Snakes! No problem. I'll go first.
2 GM: Hang on. You're afraid of snakes. Fright check at -5.
3 Monty: No, I took Phobia: Spiders instead.
4 GM: {slaps head} D'oh!

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2011-11-28 Rerun commentary: At this point in the comic's development, I decided that it would be neat if all of the various "adventurous" themes were roleplaying games, run by the same GM character. This particular strip ended up being one of the very few occasions in which that model is seen being applied to the Cliffhangers theme. Monty Jones and the gang very quickly evolved away from the GM interaction style that stayed with Fantasy and Space for a long time.

It was never really a thoughtfully considered decision to drop the GM from Cliffhangers. It just sort of happened that Monty Jones was more suited from the beginning to telling stories, rather than one-off gags (though this is a one-off gag we see here). And when telling a story there's less need to have a GM interrupting things. So it just sort of evolved that way.

In many roleplaying games, phobias are one sort of character flaw that you can take to give your character a bit of an individual personality. Game mechanically, taking a flaw usually allows you to compensate for the negative effect by taking a few extra skills or advantages, so that the end result is more or less balanced. It may be that George Lucas was thinking of this when he gave Indiana Jones a fear of snakes, or maybe he just wanted an interesting character note without actually thinking about roleplaying games at the time. We may never know.

I'm very pleased with how the set for this one turned out. It's simple, but it represents pretty well a deep, dark pit in the ground with (at least one) snake at the bottom. The main reason I didn't include more snakes was that I didn't have any others at the time! I now have lots of LEGO snakes.

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