Page 993 - New Placemats

30th Nov 2017, 5:00 AM in The Best Night Ever, Part 2
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New Placemats
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 30th Nov 2017, 5:00 AM edit delete
By now it should be obvious that we're not in Kansas anymore.

I wanted this episode, along with this grand overarching plot, to end in a certain way that screencaps of the show simply cannot carry. And the only way that could happen without changing mediums entirely was if someone could make "fake" screencaps in the style of the show, right? A tall order.

As the clock ticked down, I remembered ChrisTheS of Star Mares and his several guest comics. So I contacted him again starting in late June, and now here we are.

What saddens me a bit is that I'm only using a portion of this art and covering the rest up with word balloons. Thankfully, it looks like ChrisTheS is posting the full-size raw sequences for each comic if you want to follow his deviantART account and check them out.

On top of all that, there's a ton of Dusk City Outlaws/Tales of New Dunhaven content to push out this week! First up is a session that I managed to find someone else to run.
Tales of New Dunhaven Session 9 - The Castle Antidote Job: Libsyn YouTube

Notice: Guest comic submissions are still open until this arc is finished! Guidelines here.



Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 5:20 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Ah, so it's GM BBEG Escape Trick #67B, the "supposedly trapped by the balcony edge over a high drop" scenario. A capital choice!

*adjusts monocle*

The hardest trick of any GM in building a reoccurring villain is how to have them meet the players without getting killed in the encounter. You could have minions stand in for the villain, or have the BBEG call the players by phone or magic spell, but there's just no presence like having the villain show up for a civil chat. On the other hand, players tend not to be civil toward BBEGs.

I find that for certain types of BBEGs, you can try setting the meeting someplace public, where a show of violence on the PCs part is only going to make them look bad. Can work well if the BBEG isn't publicly known to be evil (or wanted by the local authority).

One of my favorite BBEGs was from Shadowrun, a former Johnson turn traitor who would on occasion invite the players to dinner at a very fancy (and well policed) restaurant just to gloat. He even pays for the meal! Players eventually stopped showing up because they couldn't stand it. XD
FanOfMostEverything 30th Nov 2017, 6:34 AM edit delete reply
#67B takes on some new dimensions in a world where pegasi are a character race. On the one hand, the PCs can more easily confirm the BBEG's survival. On the other, he can have henchman waiting with an air chariot.
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 7:42 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Indeed. I one time had a villain jump out a window in an apparent suicide and the PCs were all like "Well, that was an easy win."

And then the villain cast quickened polymorph and flew away in hawk form. The egg on the player's faces was epic.

(bonus lol: auto-correct thought I meant ponymorph)
Freelance 30th Nov 2017, 10:38 AM edit delete reply
Let's not forget, he's also a unicorn. He may also be able to cast teleportation magic as well.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 8:24 AM edit delete reply
I operate strictly on the 'no body, didn't happen' approach to boss recurrence.

And sometimes the boss is a warforged or similar artificial lifeform, which I can make more dynamic by giving them upgrades to compensate for the horrible injuries the PCs inflicted in their last encounter.

(For the record, I was doing this LONG before 'Shadow of Mordor' and its ORCS THAT WILL NOT DIE.)
Akouma 30th Nov 2017, 8:35 AM edit delete reply
Man, thinking of BBEGs gloating reminds me of the single dumbest thing I ever did in an RPG. So we were playing a game where everyone's a low-level super or techie, working as a UN task force to catch a particularly nasty serial killer in Mexico. I was the team's muscle and hacker (weird combo, I know.) Eventually we find the mastermind behind the whole thing, and we take him into custody. He's gloating on and on about how he's got connections and he's going to walk and we're just wasting time. Eventually I go up to him, point my comically large gun at him, and tell him to shut it. He goes "go ahead, shoot me" with a laugh. Unfortunately, for him, my character was already a borderline psychopath who REALLY shouldn't be goaded like that. So the short, less messy version of this story is that the BBEG is missing a foot now and has learned a valuable lesson about making use of your right to remain silent. And the UN got to make TWO arrests for the price of one that day!
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 8:42 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
"Well, your honor, our prisoner kept gloating how he's always one step ahead of us, so I obliged to even the playing field."
Desperado99 30th Nov 2017, 8:44 AM edit delete reply
@Digo: A team of shadowrunners who have that much time to plot and can't pull off a public assassination are barely deserving of the title.
Although I will admit, if they couldn't kill him, most of my characters would stop showing up too. They can buy their own fancy meals, thank you very much.
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 1:16 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
This is the same team that was hired by a Johnson to fake a public assassination of the Johnson hiring them... and they almost failed.
Chakat Firepaw 30th Nov 2017, 9:53 AM edit delete reply
One thing I will admit to as a GM is that I will cheat when it comes to having mastermind and tactical genius type BBEGs escape. I simply declare that whatever happened was planned for or actually controlled by the guy who is way smarter and/or far better at tactics than I ever could be.

That said, one BBEG escape I want to use is for an elderly Pathfinder Psychic that the players will think that they defeated at ~10th level. Sure, they killed the cult leader and rescued the young noble that was going to be sacrificed.

Or rather, they killed the _body_ of the cult leader and rescued the _body_ of the young noble. How were the PCs to know that the cult leader was of much higher level than they thought and their rescue was a convenient way of getting his new body, (acquired by Major Mind Swap just before the PCs broke into the sanctum), into society without suspicion.
Winged Cat 30th Nov 2017, 11:16 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
My favorite, from a not-serious campaign a long time ago...

The BBEG had a sidekick, a large sentient snail by the name of Escamon, who (for irony's sake) had super speed. Partway through the campaign, the PCs got the boss - but Escamon got away, and kept trying to pull off his adored boss's plan, more competently than the boss had. His catch phrase, every time the PCs tried to trap him: "Escamon, escape!"
Theo Winters 30th Nov 2017, 11:24 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, the BBEGs always have a plan to escape, that's their shtick. Though as much as I would love to have Elusive come back as a returning villain with so few scenes with Blue Blood it's unlikely.

About the only way to keep him around would have him become the 'man behind the man' for everything but never come out of the shadows, or go the Blofeld route and having him change his face every time they encounter him.

And I just realized that would mean that Elusive is really Chrysalis.
Dragonflight 30th Nov 2017, 12:06 PM edit delete reply
It would make sense that Elusive was Chrysalis. I suspected it all the way back when the animals were saying there were all sorts of suspicious ponies traveling in and out of Elusive's rooms. Sure it could be thieves, but the way the scene was played up, I realized it could be Chrysalis ponies as well.

So yes, that would be a way to make Elusive a recurring villain, and if so, it would be epic! :)
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 1:17 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yeah, I could certainly see that. Would be the perfect leader of the thieves guild. Can't catch someone who keeps changing their identity so well!
Evilbob 1st Dec 2017, 3:05 PM edit delete reply

Not showing up basically just seals the victory for the BBEG by default.

They shoulda at least gone and stuffed their faces so they'd be full for like, maybe a week. Maybe try to stick it to the BBEG by doing it with caviar and the most expensive foods.

Still. I like your GMing style, lol.
ANW 30th Nov 2017, 6:10 AM edit delete reply
For once, I'm glad I rolled a one.
Ever said that before?
Specter 30th Nov 2017, 10:22 AM edit delete reply
Many times, usually as a response to rolling to attack my allies, myself, for some great humor, and the occasional desire to not hurt the enemy.
Winged Cat 30th Nov 2017, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Or in a one-shot/short campaign in a system where 1s are critical successes.
albedoequals1 30th Nov 2017, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
Oh, that makes sense. Rarity's face in the previous page had a very ChrisTheS expression on it.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 7:34 AM edit delete reply
I seriously don't understand how people can identify me that easily... all I do is play paper dolls with body parts sourced directly from screenshots. Is it something to do with the proportions (since all of the pieces come from DIFFERENT shots and I size-match them by comparing line weights)?
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 7:39 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I dunno. Maybe you're just that renowned?
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
Not if my current view counts are anything to go by. My pages used to get up to 3000 views clicking through from EqD and now I'm lucky to break a thousand :(
Digo Dragon 30th Nov 2017, 8:45 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Guess I'll have to go clicking through your pages more often. Though, it's my observation that the pony fandom overall has shrank down in numbers/activity. I too see an average lower view threshold on my art.

Still, you do great work on these panels. They have good posing and layout to work with the text.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 9:13 AM edit delete reply
All those film theory classes finally paying off, I guess :)
Newbiespud 30th Nov 2017, 8:18 AM edit delete reply
I think, even with that process, it's possible for the microscopic artistic decisions you make to add up to some semblance of a "style."

Though I'd also go as far as to argue that MLP animation fans are exceptionally more eagle-eyed than your average animation fan, and that's not necessarily a compliment to them.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 8:27 AM edit delete reply
I wouldn't necessarily give them that dubious honor, given the number of threads I've seen on anime review sites complaining about tiny things in one studio or another's animation style that I would never have noticed, but which apparently make them the Worst. Thing. Ever.

The one thing common to every fandom is hyperbole.
Needling Haystacks 30th Nov 2017, 10:35 AM edit delete reply
I've yet to pull the paper doll trick with screenshots, but I've done the same with original art by other people that I was working with but didn't want to bother (I can't really draw myself). I had wondered if anyone else had thought of that trick, as it seemed both obvious and under-used. :P

I did suspect there was some vectoring copy-paste going on as most of the styles looked like they were actual show art artfully rearranged.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 11:26 AM edit delete reply
The accuracy of some of my vectors may be impeded by the resolution of the screenshot I took them from.
For the most part, whenever I need a new body part or face, I do a Google image search for "MLP (desired pose or expression)" and pick the best-quality screenshot I can find, trace just the part I need, and then set the line weight to 6 pixels and resize the vector and the original screenshot together until the lines are about the same size. Unfortunately, sometimes I get a really good source image and sometimes the only one I can find is really tiny or has terrible compression (and finding shots from certain angles is nigh-impossible - front and rear views are particularly troublesome).

For this, I needed to color-match the clothing to the video source used for the rest of the screenshots anyway, so I actually used the color-corrected video file instead of Google for once.
Composer99 30th Nov 2017, 12:05 PM edit delete reply
A lot of it's the facial expressions. I clearly recalled a few from last page that I previously saw a few times on <i>Star Mares</i>.

Also, artists just tend to have a distinctive style. It's a bit like how you can tell the difference between a Rolling Stones and Doors song, or between a piece by Bach or Mozart, after just a second or two of listening.
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 7:27 AM edit delete reply
RAWs for this page available here:
Thomas Kemp 30th Nov 2017, 8:21 AM edit delete reply
I'm sure those grappling hooks are just part of the scenery...
ChrisTheS 30th Nov 2017, 8:46 AM edit delete reply
Well, it IS a thief's balcony. They just accent the style of the wrought iron railings so well.
Winged Cat 30th Nov 2017, 11:09 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
I am glad that I was able to run the session to your standards. It was a total experiment.

That said, the climactic moment the job was built around seems to have worked well.
Rokas 30th Nov 2017, 4:01 PM edit delete reply
Ahh, the classic "trapped, but not really" trope. Gonna play it straight, I wonder, or some form of subversion?

You know what would really be a subversion? If he jumps over in an attempt to escape, but screws it up somehow and actually jumps to his death. Won't happen, of course; good villains are hard for a GM to make, while good PCs are up to the players to make. Always the Law of Least Work Possible. ;p
Foxy Loxy 30th Nov 2017, 4:42 PM MORE LIKE THIS! edit delete reply
I really feel like they did a wonderful job here from the work shown! You don't suppose you'd be willing to let them make more comic pages like this for your story would you?
Newbiespud 30th Nov 2017, 5:29 PM edit delete reply
Don't worry, there is... a lot coming down the pipe.
Xelmon 1st Dec 2017, 1:13 AM edit delete reply
Spud for president!
Xelmon 1st Dec 2017, 1:15 AM edit delete reply
Man, this is turning out to be rather epic! Great job guys, get hype!

PS; OOoooo, so this is why Star Mares slowed down! Way cool!
ChrisTheS 1st Dec 2017, 5:09 AM edit delete reply
Actually it was because my workplace moved across town :) And I also edit RPG books for an indie publisher and needed to catch up on my backlog for them. And also each page became more complicated and I couldn't keep up the every-other-day pace.

This project only took about three weeks altogether.
Mykin 1st Dec 2017, 7:06 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, this was has been great so far. Chris and Spud really need to team up more often.

@ChrisTheS: Editing RPG books you say? You got any examples of your previous work?
ChrisTheS 1st Dec 2017, 12:23 PM edit delete reply
Amethyst, Ultramodern4/5, Neurospasta, Apex, Jadepunk.
Xelmon 1st Dec 2017, 8:39 PM edit delete reply
Holy, you're a busy-busy man Chris!

Aaaa, well I gotta admit that I was checking FiD more frequently than Star Mares. Still enjoy the hell out of both works!

Also, 'This project only took about three weeks'... Man, I wish I could say that about anything. xD
dzonewolf 2nd Dec 2017, 12:26 AM edit delete reply
I have a bad feeling that he's about to turn into Discord.